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« Does Ezekiel’s Vision of a Temple Contradict Christianity? | Main | Challenge Response: Is Pig’s Meat Allowed Today or Not? »

May 04, 2016

Comments

#5 and 6 are key.

The answer to both is: It’s about total destruction.

#5:

A girl playing with Barbie = bad

A boy playing with Barbie = encouraged and good

Why? Destruction

#6:

A white woman believes she’s black = bad

A man believes he’s a woman = good and celebrated

Why? Destruction

Race binaries do not need to be destroyed, see? They actually need to be emphasized.

I’ll add a #8:

Why not dispel of the term “transgendered”.

What if I’m “transgendered” and I reject the qualification that comes with the term? I may have male parts, but I’m a woman in every way that matters. I don’t like being in the “transgendered” box. I’m a woman period. Are the militants ok with that?

Oh, and to play off #5: I may be 6’5” 250lbs with a beard and wear flannel, but if I’m a woman, I’m a woman. I don’t need a dress to validate me.

This is the world we’re told we need to embrace.

1) It's not that sexual orientation changes, but people's understanding of their own sexual orientation can change.

2) As people grow and mature, they gain better self-knowledge.

3) It isn't.

4) Good question. It's worth studying.

5) What? I don't understand the question.

6) Everyone should try to be patient with those who are confused about their own identity. With time, people often figure out who they are. There's no need for additional pressure from society.

7) Simply by not talking about it. We certainly don't need special laws about bathrooms. There's really no problem with bathrooms, but the only problem is with legislatures.

John Moore,

1) The idea that a person can be gay and not know it is absurd. Do you honestly believe this? I have to wonder whether there is some small light still left in your conscience that knows it's fabricating absurdities in favor of an insane ideology or whether your conscience is entirely darkened.

2) If you are claiming that gender identity is fixed and unchangeable and people only *discover* that they are a different gender after, say, 40 years of thinking they were a different gender than what they are, then how do people know what gender they are? How do you know that Bruce Jenner isn't really a man who has become confused about his being a woman?

Great and very informative article about this at https://sojo.net/articles/7-answers-questions-about-transgender-realities - well worth a read.

Dr Sarah,

1) The article misses the point. It concedes that aren't just born gay or just born straight. But the absurdity of Trevin Wax's original question still remains: does this mean the spouse of a person who comes out as transgender after marriage has suddenly become a lesbian? The article merely points out that some spouses stick with a person after their transgender revelation and some do not. But, again, that utterly fails to wrestle with Wax's question. Okay, sexual orientation can change... but it can change just because your spouse suddenly decides to be the same sex as you? That position reveals the absurdity of the transgender worldview, where simply thinking you're a woman makes you a woman.

The absurdity of that position is why John Moore tries to adopt another absurd position: you can be a woman your entire life and never know it and have male genitals and be attracted to females. For all we know, Barack Obama is the first female president. We can NEVER know, because a person might live their entire life not knowing their "true" gender.

Either way transgender activists try to spin it they end up with absurdities. The only sane position is to understand transgendered people as mentally confused. It's the only position that doesn't lead to these ridiculous scenarios of never knowing your gender or you having the power to change your spouses orientation simply by declaring yourself a woman or man today.

I am a liberal atheist who sometimes plays the role of gadfly to Christian apologists. I try to keep them honest, provide missing counterarguments and correct factual errors, in a spirit of mutual respect and truth-seeking. I sometimes listen to Greg Koukl’s Stand to Reason podcast. I like him as a person. He seems honest, good-natured and well-meaning. So I was deeply disappointed in his May 4 podcast, in which he extensively quoted and found “refreshing” the extremely ugly rhetoric of John Hayward’s “Bathroom Wars” article, which paints a completely false picture of the advocates of transgender rights.

There are deep disagreements between us, about sex and gender, about human nature, about morality. Both sides sincerely believe that they are right. What’s happening in society now did not come out of nowhere, as Greg seems to think. The “T” in LGBT has been there since the 1990s, even though the transgendered are a very small minority, even smaller than the LGB population. A stigmatized minority, often the victims of bullying, harassment and violence (a famous case being the murder of Brandon Teena, whose story was told in the 1999 movie “Boys Don’t Cry”), the transgendered have gradually been standing up for themselves, and have begun to win sympathy and understanding in the general population, against tall odds. To brand this movement to recognize the dignity and rights of a stigmatized minority as a totalitarian attempt to humiliate members of the majority seems to me hateful and twisted, and completely backward. After all, it is the majority who have regarded it as their God-given right to humiliate, condemn, ostracize and mistreat gays and transsexuals. They codified their negative attitudes in law, and taught their children to despise and hate. To brand resistance to this long history of oppression as totalitarianism and as a cynical attempt to dominate by insisting on a lie (when transgender advocates obviously believe they are defending a moral truth) is unworthy of you.

Fact check:

Greg said (at 34:50 into the podcast), “You look at societies & cultures down through the ages. There has always been binary sexuality -- across any culture. Is that just... boy, they all just simply decided by accident all together to somewhat enforce the same socially constructed gender principles or something? ... I’m a little bit embarrassed that I even have to make this point!”

Greg, you should be embarrassed. You seem to simply assume this to be true because that’s what your “common sense” tells you. But common sense is not always trustworthy. After all, it was once common sense that blacks and whites shouldn’t marry. It was common sense, in the South, that they should use separate restrooms, fountains and swimming pools. Bible-believing Christians thought this was obvious and moral. They didn’t perceive a victim, and were offended and perhaps felt humiliated when they were accused of being victimizers. We tend to take the way society was when we were growing up as the standard of common sense, and to assume that this reflects the universal human condition. But there are many counter-examples to your claim that gender has been binary always and everywhere. All you had to do was doubt your common sense enough to ask the question, and then do a web search. See, for instance, the Wikipedia articles Third Gender, Hijra, Muxe, Māhū, and Two-Spirit, and look at the PBS page on the native American documentary “Two Spirits” (http://www.pbs.org/independentlens/films/two-spirits/).

Greg said in his May 4 podcast (at about minute 27), “Human beings are gendered species, and being gendered doesn’t just mean having a body of a certain type. It requires having a mental awareness of the type that matches the body so the body can do its job. That’s just common sense.” I agree. But have you asked yourself, what happens if a person gets a mental awareness of a type that does NOT match his or her body? After all, this “mental awareness” is not something rational or voluntary. It is something that some combination of nature and nurture endows us with, in a way we are not conscious of, and do not choose. For instance, you as a man don’t have to check your genitals and consider their proper role in procreation in order to decide to feel arousal at the sight of a sexy woman (let’s say she’s your wife.) That psychological inclination is just part of who you are. Yet we all know that there are men who are not sexually aroused by women but are by other men, and likewise for women. In this case, some aspect of their “mental awareness” does not “match” their body in such a way that it can “do its job” of procreation. Transgendered individuals also show a mismatch, but of a different kind, having to do not (or not only) with the gender they are attracted to, but with the gender they identify with. How you evaluate this morally (you may consider such a state sinful) is a different question from whether the state exists or not. To get a feel for the jarring, counterintuitive but stubborn nature of such a mismatch, I recommend the French movie “Ma Vie en Rose”. It deals in a light, innocent tone with the difficulties a family faces when their six year old son, Ludovic, is convinced he’s a girl.

Greg and the author he quotes use ludicrously poor analogies for transgenderism, which makes me wonder whether either of them has ever known a gay or transgendered individual. The Monty Python character who, in the context of a Marxist discussion, says that he wants to be a woman because he wants to have babies, and claims this impossible goal as a right because he wants it; the white man who says he believes he is a 6’5” Chinese woman – these are certainly peculiar situations, and the claims are absurd on their face. Greg finds their common sense “refreshing” because he believes transgendered individuals’ claims are just as ridiculous. They violate his common sense. Well, viewed in a certain light, perhaps all gender roles outside of actual child producing and rearing functions are ridiculous. When we’re not actually trying to conceive or nurse children, why should we be interested in sex or relate to others as men or women? Yet we are and do. Gender saturates our culture, and every culture, in ways that make no simple rational sense. It affects our hair styles, our clothing, our language, our manners, our work, our recreation, our pay and power. All this varies by culture – there are even matriarchal cultures – but in every culture it seems like common sense. It is especially ridiculous when a person experiences one of these mismatches we have been talking about. What a headache! What uncalled-for suffering! Yet it occurs. It is not rank delusion or insanity, and it is not an isolated belief. On the contrary, the gender one identifies with saturates one’s personality, so it is not easily dismissed or changed. Though rare, these mismatches are common enough to merit serious thought about how to mitigate suffering, minimize humiliation, and maximize the ability of people to make the best of the hand they’ve been dealt. We’ve accommodated our buildings and restrooms to the handicapped at some expense, and some would say none too soon, out of concern for our fellow citizens. As Greg noted, transgendered individuals are extremely rare. He used this to argue against accommodation, but the argument could just as easily go the other way: what is the big problem? Why all the upset? You probably barely notice the transgendered people you do come into contact with. Why not normalize their status so they needn’t fear the police when they simply want to take a pee?

Fact Check:

A stigmatized minority, often the victims of bullying, harassment and violence

While this may have been true in the past, today it's largely a false narrative. Transgendered persons are largely respected and honored as heroic.

the transgendered have gradually been standing up for themselves, and have begun to win sympathy and understanding in the general population, against tall odds.

This is a narrative which begs the question. They are pushing the idea that they don't suffer from a mental illness. That nothing is wrong with them except their body. That narrative begs the question and pushes a specific agenda. That's not something we should sympathize with unless we already by into the transgender metaphysical narrative about women magically being trapped in men's bodies and vice versa.

To brand this movement to recognize the dignity and rights of a stigmatized minority as a totalitarian attempt to humiliate members of the majority seems to me hateful and twisted, and completely backward.

To brand transgendered persons as heroic seems to me twisted and completely backward. To say that someone who resists the coercive tactics of leftists to force society into compliance with the false transgendered magical metaphysics is hateful, twisted, and completely backward.

After all, it is the majority who have regarded it as their God-given right to humiliate, condemn, ostracize and mistreat gays and transsexuals.

This is a completely false narrative that exposes your own hateful and twisted view of those who believe transgenderism is a serious mental illness and that it is not within the transgendered person's best interest to entertain that mental illness as if it were completely normal. The narrative is also false in that there is no majority who regard it as their God-given right to do those things you list.

You're clearly extremely biased in your framing of the issue. And clearly out of touch with reality if you think there is some majority who believes in God-given rights of humiliation, etc.

They codified their negative attitudes in law, and taught their children to despise and hate.

False. If a homeless person on the street tells me he is the president Queen of England it is not hateful of me to disbelieve him. It is not hateful of me to support laws which seek to help the individual overcome his delusions. It is not hateful to resist his attempts to codify his delusions into law and have his delusions taught to children. Furthermore, it's not hateful of us to resist his attempts to teach our children to despise and hate Christians who resist his delusions of being the U.S. president.

Likewise, it's not hateful of us to resist the transgendered activists in all these ways.

To brand resistance to this long history of oppression as totalitarianism and as a cynical attempt to dominate by insisting on a lie (when transgender advocates obviously believe they are defending a moral truth) is unworthy of you.

To recast this cultural insanity and mental illness as a heroic resistance to "totalitarianism" (aka, common sense) is unworthy of you.

common sense is not always trustworthy. After all, it was once common sense that blacks and whites shouldn’t marry. It was common sense, in the South, that they should use separate restrooms, fountains and swimming pools.

If we should be skeptical of common sense then, a fortiori, we should be much more skeptical of the leftists who insist that by some magical mystery a woman can be trapped in a man's body or a woman can become a man simply by the magical power of their thought. If we should be skeptical of common sense then, a fortiori, we should be much more skeptical of the leftist's new ways of reasoning.

The Monty Python character who, in the context of a Marxist discussion, says that he wants to be a woman because he wants to have babies, and claims this impossible goal as a right because he wants it; the white man who says he believes he is a 6’5” Chinese woman – these are certainly peculiar situations, and the claims are absurd on their face. Greg finds their common sense “refreshing” because he believes transgendered individuals’ claims are just as ridiculous.

Funny that you offer us no reason to think transgenderism is not just as absurd. Just because more people play along with the one absurdity (a man being a woman) than another absurdity (a caucasian being Chinese) doesn't turn absurdity into normalcy... unless you believe in the magical logic of the leftists I guess.

Gender saturates our culture, and every culture, in ways that make no simple rational sense.

And this creates a real problem for the leftist, because their transgender logic when carried out consistently actually tells us that gender is whatever I think it is and is, therefore, something extremely shallow and malleable. Their twisted logic doesn't just lead us to think that men can be women if they merely decide they are women. It also leads us to think that all the things we associate with being a man are actually things that are associated with being a woman. So for instance, I can say I'm a woman and still dress and act like a man. I don't have to change a single thing about my life when I decide to be a woman. I can just start using the women's bathroom and marking down "Female" on all the forms that I fill out for work or surveys. The rest of my life remains completely unchanged, because the twisted logic of the left is that gender is whatever I want it to be.

The twisted logic of the left even goes so far as to go beyond male/female binaries such that I could declare that my gender is noodledarian. Then I can demand everyone accommodate my noodledarian identity. For instance, why is noodledarian relegated to second class citizen status on government forms by not being specifically identified in the way that male and female are? Why am I being discriminated against by all these businesses that have restrooms assigned specifically for males and females but no restrooms assigned for noodledarians? This is the consequence of the absurd logic of the transgender activists.

what is the big problem? Why all the upset?

That's been spelled out plenty of times. If you still don't know the answer to that question, it's probably because you have your fingers in your ears and are yelling "La la la la la!" so as to drown out anything that doesn't conform to the false narrative you've constructed.

The problems are that (1) because of their biological differences women have a right to privacy as they go to the bathroom (that's why we have male/female bathrooms to begin with) (2) millions of parents will not feel safe with their daughters being naked in the same locker rooms as naked men (and trans people have already been caught abusing this. See here: http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Man-Dressed-as-Woman-Arrested-for-Spying-Into-Mall-Bathroom-Stall-Police-Say-351232041.html here: http://www.dailywire.com/news/4522/man-drag-caught-macys-womens-restroom-secretly-amanda-prestigiacomo here: http://www.dailywire.com/news/3995/convicted-sexual-predator-and-lgbt-activist-behind-robert-kraychik and here: https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/u-of-t-college-forced-to-cut-gender-neutral-bathrooms-after-peeping-inciden) and (3) normalizing a mental illness is not in the best interest of the mentally ill and the general population.

You probably barely notice the transgendered people you do come into contact with.

That would be false. Most transgendered persons can't afford the very expensive surgery that is needed to make them actually look like women or men. In most cases it's very obvious that it's a man dressed as a woman or a woman dressing as a man.

Why not normalize their status so they needn’t fear the police when they simply want to take a pee?

By that logic, why not abolish all gender differentiated locker rooms? Men should have access to women's bathrooms and locker rooms regardless of whether they think they are a woman, so that we don't need to fear the police when we want to take a pee or a shower. ... Again, the absolute absurdity of trans activists.

I think TGC should concentrate on answering their own questions before they start throwing rocks at others.

Shame on them.

GH5,

Do you understand the point/nature of the questions posed?

Why don’t the logical answers just come flowing in?

KWM,

TGC has caused great disgrace to the Church's witness.
Child sexual abuse, coverup, abusive leadership.

So shut up TGC, and go away.

Goat Head 5

GH5,

I'm not familiar with TGC's history, but let me introduce you to genetic fallacy.

What about the questions?

Do they deserve to be addressed?

KWM,

Guess you ought to get familiar with TGC's history.

Don't really care about the questions if TGC is asking them.

And no, questions don't deserve anything....they're questions. A lot depends on who's asking.

GH5,

Lots of people ask those very questions. You don't want to address, no biggie.

BTW, I don't have time to look up the history of every organization out there, but you should look up genetic fallacy, because committing it makes you look foolish.

Glad you were able to contribute to the content of the thread though.

KWM,

Sigh.

When someone who hasn't destroyed their Christian witness asks these questions, maybe they'll be worth talking about.

It simply doesn't matter what TGC says. It isn't worth the time spent. Because TGC doesn't have credibility to ask anything of anybody, just like I wouldn't give the time of day to anything said by a Catholic Bishop who protected pedophile priests.

The source matters.

Someone who is smart would give more credence to martial arts advice from Bruce Lee and would wisely ignore martial arts advice from someone who had no experience in martial arts.

Regardless of an abstract logical fallacy, a wise person considers the source.

If you don't want to consider the source of these questions, no biggie. You might want to consider that being ignorant of TGC's history could make you look foolish, however.

GH5,

I had to smile.

When I was typing about your foolishness in not understanding the genetic fallacy, I knew you’d say that not being thoroughly knowledgeable of TGC’s history could be foolish too - but I was fine with it. And I was right!

Allow me to explain something: Not understanding very basic fallacies, especially on a forum like this, points to foolishness. In addition to the genetic fallacy, perhaps you should look up the definition of foolishness too. Not being acquainted with the details of sexual abuse allegations of an organization doesn’t really fit – But in GH5 world it does!

The source matters.

This proves you have no idea what the genetic fallacy is or why it applies. Your entire comment proves you don’t have the slightest idea. It’s not like we’re debating a story from the National Enquirer – where the source matters because it's directly linked to reliability and content. If a convicted felon asks why be moral, GH5 says, "No way! consider the source!"

See, here, we are talking about very specific questions asked by many Christians, not just the TGC. The questions stand alone. STR is asking them. I'm asking them. I know many Christians that ask these very questions.

So what about the questions?

OR

Would you like another slice of genetic fallacy for your full tummy?

MFGA (Make Fascism Great Again), (if you are still there) first: I am not a “trans activist”. I don’t speak for anybody but myself. I’m just someone who likes to try to think things out for himself, and that’s what I’m doing here. I’m also a concerned citizen, a liberal (which I think of as being more a moderate than a leftist), a lover of science, and an atheist. (I think of atheism as just being common sense. But I know common sense is not infallible, so I also call myself an agnostic, meaning I don’t claim to know for sure about God. I just have a very strong opinion that no personal God exists.) I believe Christianity is false, and many of the moral judgments conservative Christianity leads to I find misguided and inimical to my values. That’s why I’m here, to try to protect this country and its people from conservative Christians by attempting to argue you out of your errors, or at least to convince you to moderate your views, as hopeless as that goal may seem. I also enjoy arguing, or let us say (optimistically) reasoning together. I think it’s fun.

I’ll begin with a mea culpa. I wrote, thinking of what I called “the long history of oppression”:

After all, it is the majority who have regarded it as their God-given right to humiliate, condemn, ostracize and mistreat gays and transsexuals. They codified their negative attitudes in law, and taught their children to despise and hate.

You called me on it, and I admit that was a bit over the top. The Christian-dominated majority society did pass laws criminalizing homosexual behavior – sexual acts as well as cross-dressing – and homosexuals could not live openly. Punishments included incarceration and chemical castration. (Remember poor Alan Turing? By the way, did you know that he modeled the Turing Test on a game in which you had to tell the difference, by questioning alone, between a man and a woman?) They were harassed in the places they did congregate. If they were exposed they could be fired, could not get security clearances, could not serve in the armed forces, were not welcome in churches or “respectable society.” They had to live a lie. Christians said they were going to hell, they were mentally diseased, and they were mostly child molesters. All that was just “common sense” and “the way it should be.” But this was not teaching anybody to hate or to despise. Children weren’t taught those things. Usually they weren’t told anything about such topics. But as children do, they learned by example, and innuendo.

To my description of the transgendered as “a stigmatized minority, often the victims of bullying, harassment and violence,” you answered:

While this may have been true in the past, today it’s largely a false narrative. Transgendered persons are largely respected and honored as heroic.

Pardon me, but are you serious? Do you also believe that racism is a thing of the past? I did a little research. Here are some facts. According to the FBI’s latest hate crime statistics (and hate crimes are seriously under-reported), considering just “single-bias incidents”, in 2014 there were a hundred hate crimes motivated by gender identity and over a thousand by sexual orientation. (www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2015/november/latest-hate-crime-statistics-available) Time magazine published an article in August 2015 titled “Why Transgender People Are Being Murdered at a Historic Rate”, reporting 15 murders so far that year. (http://time.com/3999348/transgender-murders-2015/) It quotes a transgender rights advocate as saying, “We’re seeing a marked increase in the public awareness about transgender people and really incredible progress for trans rights, especially from a legal perspective. At the same time, we still represent and are part of a community that experiences incredibly high rates of unemployment, poverty and violence.” According to the National School Climate Survey conducted by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) in 2013 (the latest available) 65% of LGBT students heard homophobic remarks frequently, 30% missed at least one day of school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable, 85% were verbally harassed in the past year, and there is evidence that “hostile school climates negatively affect educational success and general well-being.” I find it hard to imagine that the current religion-inspired frenzy over accommodating the transgendered will not, at least in the short term, increase hostility and harrasment.

I hear Christians like Albert Mohler invoke Genesis when denying the existence of the transgendered. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” This is taken to contradict the idea that somebody could be not altogether male or altogether female, but some odd admixture of the two, like a female soul/mind in a male body or vice versa. Now obviously I am no expert on interpreting the Bible, but I just listened to the talk by Stand to Reason’s Tim Barnett entitled “Is the Bible Full of Contradictions?” He attributes all alleged contradictions to false expectations applied to the Bible. And the first false expectation he discusses is: “Selection (or omission) of certain facts is a denial of other facts.” He uses the example of just how many and which women discovered the empty tomb. John names one, Mary Magdalene; Matthew names two (Mary Magedalene and “the other Mary”); Mark adds Salome and Luke adds Joanna. Tim calls John’s description “spotlighting” – John doesn’t deny the presence of the other women, he just focuses our attention on Mary Magdalene. He tells the story selectively; he simplifies it. These stories don’t contradict each other, Tim claims.

Well, if the Bible says “male and female created He them,” does that mean He didn’t create transgender men or transgender women? Maybe this is just a matter of selection. Perhaps they were just left out. Like frogs and salamanders. On the fifth day God created the creatures of the water and the air, and on the sixth day he created the beasts of the earth. But when did he create the amphibians, which begin their lives in the water, then grow legs and live on the boundary between water and land? If the story doesn’t mention them, if they don’t quite fit into the simple categories of Genesis, does that mean God did not create or intend them? Are they the spawn of Satan? Obviously not. Likewise, I would argue, for transsexuals. There is no contradiction between the existence of transgender people and Genesis. The book is silent about them.

Greg Koukl and John Hayward in the article Greg cited on his May 4 podcast both assume that the recent social shift toward recognizing the dignity and rights of transgender individuals is a leftist plot. This is a false “narrative”, as MFGA (Make Fascism Great Again) likes to say. The Log Cabin Republicans, for instance, an LGBT Republican group of long standing, welcomed Caitlyn Jenner as a transgender conservative Republican when she came out. Gay and transgender people and their families, friends and supporters are of all different backgrounds and political persuasions.

Greg Koukl said, at about 36 minutes into his May 4 podcast:

“So I don’t know. I do not have hardly any confidence that conversations with people on an issue like this is going to get through to them. At least, not initially. A lot of the nonsense that people get socialized to believe in college, when they grow up they shed like an old skin. They become parents. They enter the real world (this doesn’t always happen, but oftentimes) people just get smarter when they get older.”

In other words, the trending beliefs about transgenderism are just leftist ideological nonsense, and people tend to learn from experience as they get older, especially as parents, that it’s not true. That may be true for people who don’t have firsthand experience with transgendered individuals. And that’s quite likely, because such individuals are rare. However, parents who find themselves with a genuinely transgendered child learn something quite different. Here is a 10-minute video and transcript about such a child and his/her parents and the psychologist who is working with them and other such families as part of a long-term scientific study: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/biology-gender-identity-children/. Called “Is Gender Identity Biologically Hard-Wired?”, the video belongs to a series that the PBS News Hour is doing on “Transgender in America”. It recounts a biological rational for understanding how and why transgenderism occurs and supplies evidence supporting the theory, including neurological and psychological evidence. There is much more to be learned. The brain tissue evidence, for instance, is only suggestive, not conclusive. But this is not just quackery, or leftist ideology, or “cultural insanity” or nonsense. These are serious scientists dealing with the real problems of real people, trying to understand and to help by bringing their knowledge and expertise to bear. Unlike Christian conservatives, they are not starting out with an assumption that they know the answer and sticking with it, either regardless of data and experience or (more commonly for conservatives) completely without them. They’re doing experiments. They’re interviewing, testing, and observing outcomes over long periods. Maybe one reason that the left and right differ so much on this issue is that liberals are open to changing their opinions when new information comes in.

MFGA likened the transgendered to “a homeless person on the street [who] tells me he is the president.” Both people, he claims, are delusional, and consequently should be “helped” to overcome those delusions. But we are all familiar with such street people. They are schizophrenics. They are genuinely, seriously mentally ill. I dare you to watch the PBS video and to say that happy, well-adjusted transgender child resembles a crazy street person in any meaningful way. Moreover the psychological testing that is reported there (and here: http://www.psychologicalscience.org/index.php/news/releases/transgender-kids-show-consistent-gender-identity-across-measures.html) reveals that such trans boys have attitudes toward gender just like any normal boy, and are not confused at all. He is very clear about his gender. His opinion about his gender differs from yours, but maybe that’s because you refuse to understand that psychological gender can differ from anatomical sex. You say, by calling such people mentally ill and delusional, you are not being hateful. But if psychologists, family members and friends who know these people disagree with you, aren’t you being ignorant, denigrating, offensive and inaccurate by branding them with such labels on no basis but your a priori metaphysical assumptions?

Gerald Lame,

One of the resources you link to in order to prove that trans people are oppressed in society also shows that people are more oppressed for their religious stances.

Furthermore, we should be skeptical of the claims of hate crimes against trans people and homosexuals, since there are many well known cases of trans people and homosexuals falsely reporting hate crimes.

The idea that they are an oppressed minority is a NARRATIVE that they try to make true by making up hate crimes. That's not to say that there are no instances of hate or crimes against trans people, but that we can't trust the overall narrative that they are hiding behind.

Well, if the Bible says “male and female created He them,” does that mean He didn’t create transgender men or transgender women? Maybe this is just a matter of selection. Perhaps they were just left out.

That's logically possible, but since we can see that there are only two sexes we have no reason to think the Bible is leaving anything out when it talks about God making humans male and female.

The trans activist logic is clearly a fiction. Based on their same logic, I could be gendered noodledarian, just because I think so. It's not just male and female and some mixture of the two. It's male and female and whatever you decide. The problem then is not that the Bible is underdetermined in this area but that the whole scheme of the trans activist is delusional. They've created a false category of "gender" that is divorced from sex.

The Log Cabin Republicans, for instance, an LGBT Republican group of long standing, welcomed Caitlyn Jenner as a transgender conservative Republican when she came out. Gay and transgender people and their families, friends and supporters are of all different backgrounds and political persuasions.

That's because the Republican party is hardly representative of conservativism. That's why Donald Trump is the Republican nominee, even though he obviously isn't a conservative. Lots of Republicans are indistinguishable from social leftists.

It recounts a biological rational for understanding how and why transgenderism occurs and supplies evidence supporting the theory, including neurological and psychological evidence.

Lots of neurological disorders have a biological basis.

I dare you to watch the PBS video and to say that happy, well-adjusted transgender child resembles a crazy street person in any meaningful way. Moreover the psychological testing that is reported there

Yes, the trans boy resembles someone who is mentally disturbed.

He is very clear about his gender. His opinion about his gender differs from yours, but maybe that’s because you refuse to understand that psychological gender can differ from anatomical sex.

And Rachel Dolezal can be very clear about being a black woman. That doesn't make her right. And if she created some imaginary category called "Gace" that meant she was black despite her race being white then it wouldn't make her any less delusional.


You say, by calling such people mentally ill and delusional, you are not being hateful. But if psychologists, family members and friends who know these people disagree with you,

The mere fact that they disagree with me doesn't mean they are right and I am wrong.

aren’t you being ignorant, denigrating, offensive and inaccurate by branding them with such labels on no basis but but your a priori metaphysical assumptions?

It's not an a priori metaphysical assumption. It's an empirical fact that Bruce Jenner is a man. The only crazy metaphysical assumptions going on here is your own and that of your fellow trans activists, who take a magical view of metaphysics where thinking your a girl magically transforms you into a girl. Or thinking you are noodledarian magically transforms you into noodledarian.

The Christian-dominated majority society did pass laws criminalizing homosexual behavior – sexual acts as well as cross-dressing – and homosexuals could not live openly. Punishments included incarceration and chemical castration.

This historical narrative has no logical connection to the debate as it stands today. Maybe pedophiles were treated horribly in the past or maybe they were praised as heroes in the past. Whether it was one or the other has no logical bearing on the debate today. Likewise, whether transgendered people or homosexual people were mistreated in the past has no logical bearing on the debate today.

So why is it that homosexual and trans activists constantly focus the majority of their time telling us stories about the past? It’s a poisoning the well tactic. First, they want us to falsely associate the view that homosexuality is wrong with the view that homosexuals/transgendered persons should be punished by law. If we can look at past abuses of homosexuality/transgendered persons and disapprove of them then we may make the logical leap to thinking that moral disapproval and abuse go hand in hand. In other words, we may jump to the conclusion that we have to throw out the “attitudes of the past” which (they incorrectly think) means embracing all the new attitudes about homosexuality and transgenderism. Secondly, they want us to feel sympathy for homosexuals and transgendered persons because they know that if you feel sorry for a person or group of persons you are more likely to uncritically accept them and their point of view. By pointing that out I’m not saying that we should *not* feel sorry for transgendered persons or homosexual persons. But feeling sorry for them should be logically distinguished from embracing their views as correct. Unfortunately, the majority of people fail to draw such distinctions. They simply go with the flow.

But here are the facts: transgendered persons persons may have been treated poorly in the past. But this doesn’t tell us anything about whether transgenderism is a mental illness or whether we should buy into the transgendered magical metaphysic. Transgendered persons may have been oppressed by law in the past. But this doesn’t tell us anything about whether laws should be made to conform to the transgendered magical metaphysic today. The historical narrative is irrelevant to the salient points of the debate today.

And as a matter of fact, why should we have any significant objection to criminalizing sodomy or transgenderism if we don’t already buy into the trans/homosexual worldview? We used to have laws against adultery. We don’t today. But just because we don’t have those laws today doesn’t mean the laws were wrong or barbaric. I think a lot of people are quick to dismiss laws against sodomy or cross-dressing as wrong, even though their reasoning behind it is rather poor and sometimes it is question begging (e.g., it assumes that sodomy is morally acceptable behavior). Personally, I'm ambivalent to anti-sodomy laws. There is some rationale for them in the same way there is some rationale for anti-adultery laws. I don't think that if we had laws against sodomy it would be the end of the world.

Thinking sodomy should be illegal does not logically entail that you hate sodomists. I think drunk driving should be illegal. But I have a family member who has been in trouble for drunk driving and I love that family member.

The whole narrative that the liberal is banking on here is one driven by emotion that hopes we will conflate and confuse issues.

MFGA, to my questions “What is the big problem? Why all the upset?” you gave three bullet points. Your second went: “millions of parents will not feel safe with their daughters being naked in the same locker rooms as naked men (and trans people have already been caught abusing this),” followed by four websites. But as a matter of fact none of your examples involved ANY trans people, so your claim of abuse was a slander on them.

Two of the articles were about peeping toms who got the bright idea to dress in drag so they could surreptitiously spy in women’s restrooms. There was no indication that they were anything but heterosexual perverts.

Another was about a college which had gender-neutral bathrooms and single shower stalls. They had had this arrangement for TWENTY YEARS with no problems until two recent incidents when male college students had used their cell phones to peak down on women showering. Despite groundless speculation in the article you cited, this too had nothing to do with transgender issues. Many college dorms, when they went co-ed, got gender-neutral bathrooms. The new problem that administrators have to face is the prevalence of cell phone cameras. This is not a transgender issue. I see signs in the men’s shower room at the Y now, prohibiting the use of cell phone cameras.

The fourth article you cited was so grossly distorted that it took me awhile to catch on to what it was really about. This was about the Charlotte N.C. non-discrimination law which the N.C. legislature later controversially quashed. This was a highly controversial ordinance involving many actors on both sides. Pictures in the Charlotte Observer show a packed counsel chamber. It turned out that one of the advocates of the measure, Chad Sevearance, the head of Charlotte’s LGBT Chamber of Commerce, 18 years ago, when he was twenty and acting as a youth minister, had fondled a 15-year-old boy and been convicted for this. Sevearance is not transgendered. When his history became known, after the first vote defeating the measure, he resigned. The Daily Wire, by spotlighting Sevearance and calling him “a lead agitator” for the measure, and then describing him and his group as wanting “showers for little girls to be open to grown men in the name of ‘nondiscrimination’,” a complete falsehood, portrayed the law as a veiled attempt by sexual predators to molest children. It was anything but. If this is the kind of news source you rely on, I can see why you have the grossly distorted opinions you do on this subject.

Gerald,

You insist that none of the people involved were transgendered, but by trans activist logic we can't actually know that unless we ask them whether they thought of themselves as women at the time of the incident. It's reasonable to assume that at least two of those people were trans, since they were dressing like women--and you don't need to dress like a woman in order to access women's bathrooms by the twisted trans activist logic. At the very least, they were transvestites.

Your attempt to downplay the pedophile in the "fourth" article falls flat. He was president of one of the groups leading the push for the policy.

Even if we assume that *NONE* of the people I mentioned were trans they all still support the same point I made earlier: because so many people are perverts and prone to abuse this law it's reasonable that people view this as a problem for the safety and privacy of their wives and daughters. Each case exposes the problem of the magical metaphysics of the trans activists where a person only has to say that they think they are a girl in order to gain access to a girl's locker room.

So even if none of the sources I cited involved trans people, they still illustrated my point perfectly.

MFGA wrote:

“One of the resources you link to in order to prove that trans people are oppressed in society also shows that people are more oppressed for their religious stances.”

You’re referring to the FBI hate crime statistics. I’m certainly opposed to crimes motivated by animus to anyone’s religion. There are about 10 times more religiously-motivated than gender-identity-motivated hate crimes reported. But of course people who have a religion far outnumber the transgendered, by at least several hundred to one (not that transgendered people aren’t religious; many are), so the transgendered are far more at risk of being a victim. Incidentally, the majority of religiously-motivated hate crimes are against Jews, followed by Muslims. (www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/hate-crime/2014/topic-pages/victims_final) I just did a rough calculation, and found that, by FBI statistics and Google-supplied population estimates, transgender people in the U.S. are at about the same risk of suffering a hate crime for their gender identity as Jews and Muslims are for their religion.

You say we should be skeptical because there are well-known cases of false reports. There are such cases. I don’t know their frequency. Perhaps we know of most of them because their motivation is attention-seeking. And remember, these are reports submitted by police departments to the FBI after an investigation and review. We can expect that any false reports that come to light would be deleted from the data base.

You write,

“The idea that they are an oppressed minority is a NARRATIVE that they try to make true by making up hate crimes. That's not to say that there are no instances of hate or crimes against trans people, but that we can't trust the overall narrative that they are hiding behind.”

That’s quite a conspiratorial worldview you’ve got. It doesn’t correspond to anything I am aware of. Who is supposed to be hiding? Why? From what?

What about the murders I mentioned, in the TIME article? What about the school survey results I mentioned? All a conspiracy?

Do you believe there is still racism in this country? Certainly we’ve come a long way, but also certainly there are a lot of people who haven’t come that far. It seems just as ludicrous to me that you would deny anti-gay and -transgender bias and occasional verbal and physical abuse as that you would deny that racism still results in similar behaviors. Do you deny that gay bashing was a thing? That gays or cross-dressers were beat up or murdered for that reason? And you think that just stopped? When was that? You say that history is irrelevant, but things change unevenly, rapidly among some populations, slowly or not at all in others.

Also, now you say that, come to think of it, criminal penalties for sodomy and transgenderism might not be a bad idea. So your argument should be, not that there is no oppression of LGBT individuals, and they are just faking it, but that their oppression is good and justified and should be legalized and stepped up.

You know, when evangelicals started losing their battle against the so-called “gay agenda” in this country, some of them went to Africa. They mounted a very successful propaganda campaign/revival, warning against the kind of conspiracy you seem to believe in, and portraying all homosexuals as would-be child molesters. They succeeded in getting a law passed in Uganda which punished homosexuality with prison or death. You might want to take that as a model. After all, in the Old Testament stoning was the punishment.

The idea that you could believe that sodomy and transgenderism should be criminal offenses, and then you would turn around and treat LGBT people with respect, and not discriminate against them or insult or ostracize them strains credibility. And even if you completely separate what you believe about a person’s morality from how you treat them, that is unlikely to be common. Violence and harassment of people who are believed to be living immorally but failing to be punished, and who are even thriving and being protected by the government, seems far more likely. So if there are many people who hold views like yours (and there are), the so-called “oppressed minority narrative” can hardly help but be true.

Gerald,

Again, notice that you spend all your time trying to establish a certain narrative. But the narrative is irrelevant to the issues at hand. Beating up a transgender person doesn't mean the transgendered person isn't suffering from a mental illness. Beating up a transgendered person doesn't mean the transgendered person should have access to whatever bathroom he wants. Beating up a transgendered person doesn't mean we should all play along with the transgendered person's delusion about being a woman trapped in a man's body.

Here is why I'm skeptical of your statistics on how at risk transgendered persons are for hate "crimes."

1. We know of several cases in which trans and homosexuals have fabricated hate crimes. And we have no reason to think that the police have caught and exposed every instance of a fake hate crime. So we have reason to think that the statistics on hate crimes against trans people are over-inflated due to false reports. You claim that these false reports are 'attention seeking' but more likely these are false reports that are meant to spread the liberal narrative of oppression.

2. We know that many college-aged people consider innocuous comments or beliefs to be microagressions and candidates for hate crimes. For instance, some students at Mizzou were encouraged to call the police if they were offended at hurtful speech. So there is reason to believe that at least some of the reported hate crimes are not hate crimes at all, they may just be offensive statements or statements that were misconstrued as offensive.

3. From personal experience, I've been called a bigot and said that I'm hateful simply for believing that homosexuality is sinful. So I know that some leftists are so delusional as to think that moral disapproval is equivalent to hate and that it needs to be censored.

4. The left has a clear motive for pushing a narrative of oppression, whether or not that is grounded in reality. Narratives of oppression have proven influential for the general population, which doesn't stay very informed about issues or have much at stake in the culture wars. This means that the left and trans and homosexual people have a vested interest in maintaining a narrative of oppression even if it's largely a fiction. And in light of 1-3 this provides me with a further reason to be skeptical of their narrative.

5. The homosexual and transgender movements have the backing of major corporations, the entertainment industry, and the political elites. So even if Joe Schmoe in Appalachia wants to beat up a trans lady, that hardly makes the trans lady a victim of systemic societal oppression. Not to mention the fact that Joe would be prosecuted by law if he were to do such thing. So the gay and trans communities also have the force of law backing them.

I could add to this a lot of anecdotal evidence. For instance I've seen people wearing gay affirming t-shirts in public and I've seen gay men holding hands in public and no one treated them poorly or gave them dirty looks. I've seen men dressed as women in public and no one treated them poorly (although people clearly felt awkward upon first glance) or beat them up. On the other hand, I've seen a Christian physically assaulted for handing out tracts. I've seen Christians verbally abused and spit on for evangelizing in public.

I could add to this public evidence. Last year an Oregon shooter targeted and murdered Christians. Last year two gay men who were celebrating the gay marriage ruling went out of their way to spit on a Catholic priest they saw. (I can give links if you want). Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner has said that he receives more hate for being Republican than being transgender.

I would love it if someone did the following experiment. Go to Disney World any time of the year and wear a shirt that says "Being Gay is Okay" or "Transgenderism is not an Illness" and see how people in the park treat you. Then go back another day wearing a shirt that says "God is not okay with being Gay" or "Transgenderism is a mental illness" And see which shirt gets more negative reaction from people. I have no doubt that the latter shirt will receive a lot more negative attention and I wouldn't be surprised if you were kicked out of the parks.

That’s quite a conspiratorial worldview you’ve got. It doesn’t correspond to anything I am aware of. Who is supposed to be hiding? Why? From what?

That's not a conspiracy, it's a figure of speech that you are misconstruing. For instance, if I said that you are standing on the graves of the trans people who have died for political purposes then I don't mean you are literally standing on dead trans people. Likewise, when I say that activists are hiding behind a narrative I mean they are doing things similar to your own behavior in this thread: expending a lot of energy trying to establish a sob story to try and win people via their hearts instead of their heads.

Also, now you say that, come to think of it, criminal penalties for sodomy and transgenderism might not be a bad idea. So your argument should be, not that there is no oppression of LGBT individuals, and they are just faking it, but that their oppression is good and justified and should be legalized and stepped up.

You've introduced yourself as someone who likes to think things through and keep arguments honest, but you're falling apart here. Clearly thinking something should be criminalized does not entail that we support whatever happens to a person outside of that criminalized context. You're actually doing exactly what I said in my last comment: you're relying on an emotional narrative to try and conflate issues. So you rely on the emotional punch of the "trans people are being murdered narrative" to try and obfuscate the issue of criminalization, such that if I support the latter then I should be fine with the former. Maybe you need to try and think things through a lot more than you've done so far.

The idea that you could believe that sodomy and transgenderism should be criminal offenses, and then you would turn around and treat LGBT people with respect, and not discriminate against them or insult or ostracize them strains credibility.

I guess that says more about your character than mine. ... Do you think a Christian baker should legally be allowed to refrain from baking a cake for a gay wedding? If you don't think that should be legal then I guess you don't treat them with respect, you insult them, and you ostracize them. Fortunately I think more people than not are bit more restrained than you and have a better grasp on tolerance and living in an ideologically divided society.

Violence and harassment of people who are believed to be living immorally but failing to be punished, and who are even thriving and being protected by the government, seems far more likely. So if there are many people who hold views like yours (and there are), the so-called “oppressed minority narrative” can hardly help but be true.

First of all, your speculation about the connection between thinking sodomy should be criminalized and beating up or abusing gay people is ridiculous and baseless. Lots of people think pot should be illegal. They don't go around beating up and absuing pot heads. Second, the fact that gay and trans people are in fact thriving due to having the backing of virtually every major corporation, the political ruling class, the education system, and the entertainment industries is itself evidence that the myth of widespread oppression is a complete joke.

I agree that the oppression narrative, whether true or false, is irrelevant to the issue at hand. Once again I went overboard with the emotion and got sloppy. I apologize. But I didn't dwell on this because I wanted to convince you with a sob story. It was a separate issue. I do genuinely believe that this is a story of bravery, of a minority standing up against all kinds of pressure exercised by the majority, convincing them, and winning. Even that small story in the PBS video of a little girl who, despite parental disbelief, her embarrassment, and even the testimony of her own body, insisted on being treated as a boy. And now she's proud of herself, feels right, at home and happy. It doesn't matter to me whether in some metaphysical sense she is right or wrong. I think her story and the bigger story are inspiring, and it bothers me that you don't see it.

For the record, I do think a Christian baker should legally be allowed to refrain from baking a cake for a gay wedding. As a matter of fact, I just got into an argument defending the right of a Christian marriage counselor to refuse a gay couple as clients. I haven't thought out how this right should be circumscribed. It has to be limited, perhaps to activities that involve a person's creative participation. It can't extend to refusing to serve coffee or to rent a car or apartment. Perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps no such line can be drawn. But I would like to accommodate religious belief as much as possible, and avoid forcing people into choosing between their conscience and their livelihood.

But to the main issue: I think it may be something called essentialism. You believe in it; I don't. (If I'm wrong, tell me.)

The idea is roughly this: there is some essence to being a man or being a woman that is simple and unitary. It's like your creation stories: "And God said..." The power of a word, of a name, brings something into being by naming its essence. Being a man is one thing. Being a woman is another. It's completely on or off. There is no in between, no matter of degree, and this is because there are no parts to being a man or a woman. It's an internal essence which you can't see or touch or change.

One reason some people reject the idea of evolution as absurd is because they are essentialists about species. You either are a chicken or you aren't. A chicken can only come from another chicken, so how could evolution ever happen? It's absurd, because the essences of species exist and are wholly different. There is nothing in between one species and another because essences are unitary and not made of parts. They were ordained once and for all by the word of God.

Modern science has a different view. A chicken is defined by its genome, which is written in its chromosomes as a long string of chemical letters with a four-letter alphabet. The genome is not unitary; it has millions of parts. And those parts can change, gradually, from one generation to another. Over millennia some other species evolved into this one, even though every parent produced an offspring that resembled it.

The human species is like that. And men and women are like that too. No simple essence defines them. They are complex, intricate combinations of parts -- physical parts, psychological parts, social parts, cultural parts.

The human genome contains about seven hundred megabytes of information. Here is what Dr. Joshua Safer of Boston University said in that PBS piece I recommended:

"In most people, chromosomes, body parts, [and] gender identity align. So, somebody with a male chromosome, somebody with male body parts is going to have male gender identity. That is the usual circumstance.

All of these are independently controlled biologically, and therefore it is no surprise that, in a given subset of the population, one part is not aligned, that whatever genes are controlling that happen to be different for that individual, and that’s what’s happening with transgender individuals.

In other words, various different genes produce typical male characteristics and typical female characteristics. Normally the typical male ones go together and the typical female ones do too. But not always. So perhaps you can get parts of a brain which control psychological gender-related characteristics developing like a typical female's in a male's body. The puzzle pieces get sorted differently.

That's the theory. It's certainly a possibility. And if it's true, then thinking about "man" and "woman" as simple metaphysical essences just misses the point and obscures the reality of what's going on.

One other thought: There is so much about gender that is culturally determined. How could somebody be genetically disposed to wear dresses as opposed to pants, for instance? Or to want to wear make-up or play baseball? That can't be in the genes. So doesn't that mean it's just a voluntary choice? Here's my thought:

Many song birds aren't born knowing their songs. They have to learn them by listening to adults sing. But how do they know which birds to listen to? Why don't they learn the songs of a different species instead of their own? There has to be something genetic, built in from the first, which tells them who to imitate. I think it must be that way for human gender roles too. There is something built into us that tells us to imitate girls or boys, men or women. It tells us, "I am like them." So we learn the cultural patterns of behavior for that gender, but there is something built into our biology, into our brains, which controls that choice. It may not always be completely rigid, but it can be very insistent, and sometimes, you might say, it goes haywire. Is the result a disease or a personality trait? You make a value judgment and call it a disease, but you do so on the basis of an essentialist metaphysical assumption which has no basis in fact. And if there is no practical way to change it, it serves no purpose but only inflicts suffering to treat it as a defect instead of an intrinsic part of that person's identity, to be respected and nurtured.

I agree with you that the person with the trans-denigrating T-shirt would meet the most negative reaction. I think that’s because (despite the wearer’s sincere belief) it is factually and morally wrong.

I do genuinely believe that this is a story of bravery, of a minority standing up against all kinds of pressure exercised by the majority, convincing them, and winning.

I don’t think it’s a story of bravery when you have all the cultural power houses and the protection of law backing you. It doesn’t take bravery for someone like Bruce Jenner to come out as trans when he is surrounded by the entertainment industry that supports him, the media that supports him, the political elites that support him, and he has the protection of law surrounding him. It might take more bravery for some kid in Kansas to come out as trans, but again it’s not a heroic sort of bravery when you know you have the full weight of all the cultural elites and rule of law behind you.

The idea is roughly this: there is some essence to being a man or being a woman that is simple and unitary. … There is no in between, no matter of degree, and this is because there are no parts to being a man or a woman. It's an internal essence which you can't see or touch or change.

No, it’s not based on some metaphysical belief about an essence that can’t be seen or touched or seen or changed. It’s simply an empirical fact that the human species, like many other animal species, are divided into two sexes: male and female. For the human species to continue the male sex needs to be conjoined to the female sex.

The human species is like that. And men and women are like that too. No simple essence defines them. They are complex, intricate combinations of parts -- physical parts, psychological parts, social parts, cultural parts.

The trans activist case is not analogous to evolution. Evolution is a theory about how change occurs. It doesn’t tell us that cows are pigs. It doesn’t tell us that if we find some similarities between cow brains and pig brains that pigs must be cows. It might, at best, tell us that cows have a common ancestor with pigs. But no one thinks that just because we might find similarities in how cow brains and pig brains operate that, therefore, there is no essential difference as it currently stands between cows and pigs.

And in the case of evolution you can appeal to physical evidence that species have a common biological ancestor. You point to certain lines of biological evidence to say that cows and pigs had a common ancestor. But nothing in that carries over to the magical metaphysic of the trans activist worldview. No one is requiring biological evidence that Bruce Jenner is really a woman. And your story would actually undercut that because, according to your story, there is no clear thing about what it is to be a woman.

When trans activists push their bathroom policies, they do NOT want you to have any sort of test to say whether a person really is trans or not. According to the trans activist your own simple thought “I’m a woman” makes you a woman. And according to the trans activist, your gender isn’t confined to being a woman. You can be “pangender” or no gender or make up your own gender. Where is the biological or scientific evidence to support these make-believe categories?

So perhaps you can get parts of a brain which control psychological gender-related characteristics developing like a typical female's in a male's body. The puzzle pieces get sorted differently.

First of all, notice that the trans narrative is being shoved down everyones throats even though they don’t have evidence for it yet. If the science is still out on it, why is the U.S. president making executive orders forcing everyone to embrace it? Secondly, since we are being pushed to accept this narrative before the science is even done on it, why shouldn’t we be skeptical of the science now that we have reason to believe that people are vigorously pushing for this narrative to be confirmed?

But the fact is scientists are now saying that there is no difference between female and male brains. So now, in order to prop up the trans activist narrative, scientists are going to have to go back and find that there is such a thing as a female brain after all? That will be embarrassing. But politically motivated science won’t be anything new I guess.

That's the theory. It's certainly a possibility. And if it's true, then thinking about "man" and "woman" as simple metaphysical essences just misses the point and obscures the reality of what's going on.

That wouldn’t be sufficient to substantiate the transgendered story. Right now scientists are finding that there is no simple category for “male brain” vs. “female brain.” This doesn’t mean that the categories between male and female are fluid, since these are brains of people who even trans activists would place solidly in the male or female category. Rather, it means that you aren’t going to be able to peg someone as a female based on their brain… which I guess is sort of bad news for the trans community.

By the way, if we don’t find anything in the brains of trans people to account for this, do you think the trans community is going to admit they were wrong? Would you be willing to say that transgenderism is, therefore, a mental fiction? I doubt it. I think the trans community has settled on what they want to believe and now they are just going to search for something to legitimize it to the public. If they can find some brain difference, then great! If they can’t… oh well.

One other thought: There is so much about gender that is culturally determined. How could somebody be genetically disposed to wear dresses as opposed to pants, for instance? Or to want to wear make-up or play baseball? That can't be in the genes. So doesn't that mean it's just a voluntary choice?

I agree that there are things associated with being feminine or masculine in our culture that have no objective basis. But that doesn’t logically entail that there is no objective core to masculinity or femininity. For instance, suppose that a culture adopted the stance that to be masculine involved raping women. Wouldn’t you say that these people are objectively wrong? I think so. But you can’t be objectively wrong about what it means to be masculine if what it means to be masculine is simply a cultural fiction.

There has to be something genetic, built in from the first, which tells them who to imitate. I think it must be that way for human gender roles too. There is something built into us that tells us to imitate girls or boys, men or women. It tells us, "I am like them."

The entire idea of gender, in this sense, is a fictional category. There is male and female sex. We have no evidence that there is something called “gender” that defines a woman apart from her sex. If you can just make believe that there is this thing “gender” which makes a woman a woman then you are the one who is suggesting some metaphysics beyond what we can see or touch. If you can make-believe a category of gender, then why can’t I make believe the category of gecies. Gecies is what defines your species. So I’m actually a cat. A cat brain and a human brain do have some things in common, after all. But no one should be subjected to a cat scan before it can be determined whether their gecies is really cat—all they have to do is say they are a cat. Now when will Barack Obama force all schools to put litterboxes in the bathrooms?

P.S. You can’t argue against me being a cat based on my species. I acknowledge that my species is human, just like Bruce Jenner’s sex is male. I’m saying there is another mystical category, like gender, that REALLY captures what it means to be a cat. It’s called “gecies”.

I agree with you that the person with the trans-denigrating T-shirt would meet the most negative reaction. I think that’s because (despite the wearer’s sincere belief) it is factually and morally wrong.

First of all, that over looks the point of my thought experiment. The point was not to tell which one is factually and morally wrong. And such an experiment would be insufficient for telling us which is factually and morally wrong. I could have walked through 1940s Germany wearing a shirt that says "Jews are Pigs" and everyone would have approved... but not because my shirt was factually and morally right. Likewise, that people would have more negative reaction to someone wearing a trans-denigrating t-shirt does not tell us that the t-shirt is factually or morally wrong.

Second, the point of my experiment was to tell us which group is more socially accepted. As you admit, trans people are more socially accepted than people who think transgenderism is a mental illness.

It doesn't take bravery NOW for a black man to say "I'm black and I'm proud." (Anachronistic, I know. I'm showing my age.) But that's because there WAS a heroic movement which changed attitudes in the society, so that what was once said without a second thought is now condemned, and so now no corporation can afford to condone or cooperate with open racism. The respect a black person now claims is not a gift of the power elites, it's something that black people won by fighting for it.

Likewise, queens battled cops at Stonewall. Queers fought to get the government to fight AIDS. Men and women risked everything to come out and stop living a lie -- celebrities as well as common people. They marched, protested and lobbied. They wrote plays and TV shows and books. They ran for office. And now to a large extent they've prevailed. To pretend that their success -- this shift in values and perceptions -- is not their doing, not the result of a brave struggle, but something foisted on a gullible public by sneaky leftist elitists hiding in the shadows, is to be blind to history.

Something I have foregone mentioning up to now, but which slaps me in the face nearly every time I read you: there is something almost hilarious about a Christian complaining about "magical metaphysics." A sinner was ‘dead’ but once saved he is ‘alive’. He will die and be buried but will go to heaven before his body is resurrected, which will be the same body somehow only wonderfully different. Heaven and hell are real except no longer above or below. Jesus died, rose bodily into heaven, but is alive here with us. Christians are “in Christ”. He is wholly man and wholly God. God is benevolent and all-powerful but lets evil happen. He is just and loving but condemns those who fail to believe in Jesus as the Son of God to eternal torment. He had to let his son die to save us from his punishment for our sins. Washing in blood is cleansing. There is no end to the magical metaphysics of Christianity. So how can you criticize anyone for embracing and living by beliefs which are absurdly false on their face? You should see yourself in their brave denial of the obvious.

You have been railing against something transgender proponents do say but I have not: that a transgender woman is “really” a woman, or “a woman inside a man’s body.” This has exercised you greatly and epitomizes, I think, the “magical metaphysics” you’ve complained about. I think there is essentialism on both sides, and I think essentialism is wrong. If there is some one single essence of “man” and another of “woman” and a person must have only one or the other, then we can get into a metaphysical argument over which one a trans-person is. But if a person is a complex system comprising many features, and if sex and gender are too, then “woman” and “man” are simply conventional labels we use. It is a matter of convention that we classify gender into two – a convenient convention in most cases, but not all. As I pointed out in my second comment to Greg labeled “Fact check”, other societies use other systems. Navajo culture has four: man, woman, masculine female and feminine male. In this society, where we use two words, a decision has to be made how to apply them to the transgendered. This is not purely a matter of fact; it’s a matter of what is best for all concerned. I don’t know what the legal implications of this point of view are. I’m not a lawyer. But that’s the way I see it.

So you were right when you wrote, “No one is requiring biological evidence that Bruce Jenner is really a woman. And your story would actually undercut that because, according to your story, there is no clear thing about what it is to be a woman.” I would just add, there is no ONE clear thing about being a woman, there are lots of them, and they don’t all always go together.

When I brought up evolution, I was not just talking about evolution. I was also talking about genetics and the nature of species. If essentialism were true, and there were some single, unitary essence that defined each species, then evolution would be impossible. But instead we have modern genetics, which finds the differences between species to be encoded in thousands of genes, which can vary, nucleotide by nucleotide, in millions of ways. A species is now defined by a gene pool, which encompasses lots of variation within the species. Darwin found that in many cases it was somewhat arbitrary whether and where to draw a species boundary between varieties of a plant or animal. Gradually gene pools can split apart and evolve in different directions, until there is a very clear species boundary which can’t be crossed by mating. But until then, the boundary may be ill-defined.

So I’d say, men and women aren’t like pigs and cows. They’re more like closely related varieties of rose. It can take an expert to say which variety a rose is – it might share some characteristics and genes of one and some of another – and sometimes there’s no good answer. (I made that up about roses, but I expect it’s true.)

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about. I don’t know about you, but I know many Christians believe that their souls go to heaven as soon as they die, and only later they will be reunited with their bodies at the resurrection. If that is true, do you think there will be a difference in heaven between women’s souls and men’s souls? Do you think they’ll retain their gender without their body, or at least without this earthly body? In other words, are souls gendered? Do you think you will still be a man in heaven, as opposed to a woman (I’m assuming you’re a man), or will the difference be erased?

It occurred to me that this might be a way for Christians to reconcile themselves to transgenderism. Because if souls have gender, who’s to say that God doesn’t sometimes play a joke and put a woman’s soul in a man’s body and vice versa? I mean He does play some whoppers, and they’re often hard to get. Take sickle cell anemia. I never did get that. Or dwarves. Or congenital heart disease. Or schizophrenia. Alzheimer’s – now there’s a stumper. God can do anything, so who are we to say? If Kaitlyn Jenner says she’s a woman, maybe she’s talking about her soul, and who would know better about that than her?

Just a thought... And if it’s true, then come the resurrection, everybody (at least if they know Jesus) is going to get the right body for their soul -- unless God has more jokes to play.

Here’s an interesting parallel: the new transgender school rules say that a trans person’s word must be accepted as to his or her gender identity, without proof. No doctor’s or psychologist’s note is necessary, no proof of lifestyle, not even a note from one’s parents. Likewise the courts, when considering the free exercise of religion, do not ask people for proof of their religious convictions. They take them at their word that their religion dictates this or that. They don’t ask for a note from their pastor. They don’t examine other aspects of a person’s life, to see if they’re truly religious or just faking it. Because the courts don’t want to get into judging the substance of a person’s religion. I’m not sure what to make of this. But I do keep running across parallels between religion and transgender identity: both are considered by some rank and obvious lies. Each plays a central role in the person’s life who is genuinely religious or genuinely transgender, so central that it defines them and their relationships with others, and is at the center of their thoughts and actions. I respect freedom of religion, even though I don’t believe in any. And I respect freedom to claim what one perceives to be one’s gender identity. At least I do as long as each is a serious and sincere undertaking. I’m glad we have those freedoms, even if the ones who claim them turn out somehow to be sadly mistaken.

It doesn't take bravery NOW for a black man to say "I'm black and I'm proud." (Anachronistic, I know. I'm showing my age.) But that's because there WAS a heroic movement

Whether some action is heroic depends on the moral quality of the motive itself. So transgendered persons and homosexuals can't be cast as heroic unless we assume that they are correct in their positions.

Likewise, queens battled cops at Stonewall. Queers fought to get the government to fight AIDS. Men and women risked everything to come out and stop living a lie -- celebrities as well as common people. They marched, protested and lobbied. They wrote plays and TV shows and books. They ran for office. And now to a large extent they've prevailed. To pretend that their success -- this shift in values and perceptions -- is not their doing, not the result of a brave struggle, but something foisted on a gullible public by sneaky leftist elitists hiding in the shadows, is to be blind to history.

The idea that the LGBT movement was a result of actions like Stonewall and, therefore, not the result of "sneaky leftist elitists hiding in the shadows" is a false dichotomy. The fact is that it was both. And I would say that the only reason the LGBT movement was successful was not because of things like Stonewall (which by themselves would have likely only stirred up public resentment) but because of the sneaky leftist tactics which sought to win the argument by judicial and executive over-reach, and by media (movies, music, and television) which attempted to bypass the rational argument and aimed for the emotional. The gay marriage example is a perfect illustration of this. When the gay marriage advocates left the issues up to public debate and the democratic process they consistently lost. They only started "winning" when they cheated the system by infiltrating the political elite who then circumvented the democratic process and the public discussion.

Something I have foregone mentioning up to now, but which slaps me in the face nearly every time I read you: there is something almost hilarious about a Christian complaining about "magical metaphysics."

That's funny because that's exactly what I've though every time I've read you opine about morality. There is something hilarious about an atheist trying to defend a position on moral grounds, since atheism has no foundation for objective morality.

So is there something strange about a Christian criticizing transgenderism for having a magical metaphysics? No, these aren't parallel. Christian metaphysics is ultimately grounded in classical theism. We don't believe that people magically rise from the dead on their own. We don't believe that people will magically get new bodies just by the power of their thought. Rather, we believe that there is an omnipotent God who, as an omnipotent being, is obviously capable of creating new bodies since he is capable of creating the entire universe. He is capable of raising people from the dead, since he is capable of creating life in the first place. That's not analogous to transgenderism. Last time I checked transgendered persons don't argue that God performed a miracle and transformed their former male selves into female selves. And even if they did argue in that way, would you believe them? No, so that route clearly isn't one you can follow them down.

I think there is essentialism on both sides, and I think essentialism is wrong.

This idea of "essentialism" is, I think, a fiction of your own imagination. I haven't argued for anything called "essentialism" at any point and nothing in my position depends upon it. You've said that essentialism believes we have some unseen, untouchable, and unchanging essence. But as I pointed out earlier, my case doesn't presuppose any of that. Even if we assume that an essence can change or be destroyed that isn't sufficient to prop up the transgendered magical metaphysic where thinking you're a woman makes you a woman. How exactly is that supposed to work in your view and and what are the necessary and jointly sufficient conditions of this "non-essentialism" such that I can become a woman by thinking I'm a woman but I can't become, say, black by thinking I'm black or six feet tall by thinking I'm six feet tall?

If there is some one single essence of “man” and another of “woman” and a person must have only one or the other, then we can get into a metaphysical argument over which one a trans-person is. But if a person is a complex system comprising many features, and if sex and gender are too, then “woman” and “man” are simply conventional labels we use.

First, all of this is presupposing the ridiculous distinction between gender and sex... as if one could be a woman by gender but not by sex. But that distinction is itself just stupid. By divorcing gender from sex we come up with the ludicrous idea that you can not only be a male by gender and a woman by sex but that you can be "pangendered" or "nongendered" or simply fabricate some other gender out of thin air. It's an empirical fact that human beings have two sexes and that in 99.99% of the cases the person is either male or female.

Second, in your attempt to defend transgenderism in such an ad hoc fashion you are creating a position that is NOT the position of the LGBT community. Caitlyn Jenner's position is not that his being a woman is merely his own convention. The LGBT position is that there is something objectively woman about Caitlyn Jenner. And I'm sure they won't think you're much of an apologist for telling everyone that it's just a personal fiction. In fact, that's closer to my position: it's a personal fiction. You just think we should all play along with everyone's private fictions and I think we shouldn't.

Third, while a person's biological sex obviously is determined by a complex system and many features, that doesn't tell us that women can be trapped in men's bodies or vice versa. Species is determined by a complex system and many features... does this mean you believe that I can be a cat?

Gradually gene pools can split apart and evolve in different directions, until there is a very clear species boundary which can’t be crossed by mating. But until then, the boundary may be ill-defined. So I’d say, men and women aren’t like pigs and cows. They’re more like closely related varieties of rose.

Nope, they are pretty clearly distinguished in 99.99% of cases. Caitlyn Jenner is a man in every single respect, except his beliefs. There is no ambiguity there. That's just an empirically ludicrous statement to make.

Here’s something I’ve been wondering about. I don’t know about you, but I know many Christians believe that their souls go to heaven as soon as they die, and only later they will be reunited with their bodies at the resurrection. If that is true, do you think there will be a difference in heaven between women’s souls and men’s souls? Do you think they’ll retain their gender without their body, or at least without this earthly body? In other words, are souls gendered? Do you think you will still be a man in heaven, as opposed to a woman (I’m assuming you’re a man), or will the difference be erased?

The answer to all these questions is I don't know. I have no problem saying that a soul is gendered though.

It occurred to me that this might be a way for Christians to reconcile themselves to transgenderism. Because if souls have gender, who’s to say that God doesn’t sometimes play a joke and put a woman’s soul in a man’s body and vice versa?

Under some conceptions of the soul that would be logically possible (though not on all Christian conceptions of the soul: e.g., hylomorphism). But just because something is logically possible does not lead us to believe that the bare possibility is ever actualized. God could put a cat's soul in a human's body... but why should we think that God has done this? Just because a person claims to be a cat (and people have made this claim) is not sufficient reason to believe the claim. And given that we know people often suffer from psychological disorders in which they disassociate from their body in some way (e.g., thinking their limb does not belong to them, thinking their race is different, thinking their species is different) it's far far more plausible that the person who thinks their gender is different is just exhibiting another form of this psychological illness.

Here’s an interesting parallel: the new transgender school rules say that a trans person’s word must be accepted as to his or her gender identity, without proof. [...] Likewise the courts, when considering the free exercise of religion, do not ask people for proof of their religious convictions.

You've got the points of analogy confused. If you tell me that you're an atheist (or a Christian) you are telling me that you have a certain set of beliefs. Fine. It's not implausible to me that you're an atheist or a Christian. These are belief systems which are capable of being believed. But if you tell me you are a woman you are reporting on more than your beliefs. And if you are ONLY reporting on your beliefs then fine. I have no problem accepting Caitlyn Jenner's claim to believe he is a woman. But why should I adopt that belief!?

Also, the government doesn't just accept a person's religion no matter what. The government never accepted the Mormon's religious beliefs about polygamy. Likewise, the government has no reason to make other people conform to the beliefs of transgendered people and treat them as if they are what they believe they are. One reason, in regards to bathroom policy, is because it has a very high risk of harm and abuse for those the policy effects. Another reason is that indulging a person's mental illness as if it were fact is not helpful to the mentally ill or to the general population.

Imagine an isolated society – call them Ubrics – divided into two tribes, alpha and beta. The alphas run things and the betas do the work. Also the alphas tend to be a lot smarter than the betas. In fact this society has one word meaning ‘alpha’ and ‘smart’ and another meaning ‘beta’ and ‘dumb’. Everything runs along peachily, until... There’s this beta who notices that, when it comes to figuring things out, he’s a lot better and quicker than most alphas. Over time he meets a few, just a few, betas who’ve noticed the same thing, and they start to get the idea that they are really alphas. But of course this is ridiculous. They were born betas. They have all the physical characteristics of betas – green eyes, red hair, bulbous noses – but they are alpha at solving problems. They are alpha at seeing things first. When they started calling themselves alphas people said they were crazy. Things were confusing.

One thing that helped clear things up was the invention of the concept of intelligence. People began to say that someone’s intelligence could be alpha although they were beta, or beta although they were alpha. Opponents of this development (who tended to adhere to the ancient religion) sneered, “That is presupposing the ridiculous distinction between intelligence and tribe, as if one could be an alpha by intelligence but not by tribe. But that distinction is itself just beta. By divorcing intelligence from tribe you could simply fabricate some non-alpha non-beta intelligence out of thin air. It's an empirical fact that Ubrics have two tribes and that in 99.99% of the cases the person is either alpha or beta.”

As long as they argued, the conservatives never understood the distinction, and when trans-alphas (alpha betas) began to assume the garb and play the roles once reserved exclusively for alphas, and then even insisted on being treated as alphas, there was a great hullabaloo. -- End of story

Your story fails to track with the facts surrounding the transgendered debate. In your story betas have green eyes, red hair, and bulbous noses. Now let's suppose that the alphas have brown eyes, black hair, and hook noses. One day a beta decides that he would like to be an alpha so he creates another category, zetas, who are really brown eyed, black haired, hook nosed alphas trapped in beta bodies.

Your story also begs the question because it assumes that betas really are smart so we know that being smart is not synonymous with being an alpha. And presumably the betas could demonstrate that they were intelligent, despite not being alpha. But to suggest that being a woman is not synonymous with your sex is ludicrous and trans people can't demonstrate that they are women despite being men.

The better story would be this: one day a beta, who is dumb, decides that he wants to be smart. But his IQ is objectively low (within the dumb range). So the beta creates a distinction between intelligence and smart. According to the beta, he can be smart though not intelligent. So he is alpha and smart even though he is dumb on every objective measure. Sounds to me like a dumb beta just making a dumb false distinction :)

”Whether some action is heroic depends on the moral quality of the motive itself. So transgendered persons and homosexuals can't be cast as heroic unless we assume that they are correct in their positions.”

This is an interesting claim (I genuinely mean that), or actually two claims, one about motive, one about correctness of position.

If correct positions are required of a hero, and if slavery was wrong, and if fighting for the Confederacy meant defending slavery, then there were no Confederate heroes. Does that seem right to you? If we disapprove of a war, either because it was immoral or misguided, does that mean that we should recognize no heroes of that war, say Viet Nam heroes or Iraq War heroes? What about revolutions that go bad, like the Arab Spring in Egypt? Perhaps that was the wrong thing to do, at that time, in that place. People’s knowledge is always limited. They can be mistaken, yet they act.

If a fireman rushes into a burning building to save a child, but he’s mistaken and there is no child, does that mean he was not heroic? Maybe. What if a soldier bravely leads a charge which, in retrospect, was foolish, and leads to needless deaths, as in Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade”? It celebrates heroism. So what was the motive, and what was the position, and how are they related?

You can have a motive to do something noble and good which turns out to be neither. The people who have struggled for LGBT rights believe they have been fighting for a good and noble cause. Depending on your perspective, they may be right or wrong. What does that mean for the moral quality of their motivation?

Maybe we shouldn’t concentrate so much on the heroic. The concept of heroism is complex and can mean different things. A simpler question is, can we, and should we, admire moral qualities in people whose beliefs – the beliefs that motivate their actions – differ from ours? What if we don’t approve of the goals of their actions? Can we still admire them? Should we?

It seems to me that we unduly constrict our appreciation of the moral qualities of our fellow human beings if we only admire actions we hope we would do with our current knowledge and beliefs. But the situation is complex, and I have no easy answers.

I agree with your conclusion here that these are complex judgments from complicated scenarios.

If correct positions are required of a hero, and if slavery was wrong, and if fighting for the Confederacy meant defending slavery, then there were no Confederate heroes. Does that seem right to you?

This assumes that one's only motive in fighting on behalf of the Confederates was the preservation of slavery. I think we all recognize that the civil war was slightly more complex than that, although that was the central issue it boiled down to (or, rather, caused it to boil over). Anyway, I have no problem saying that whoever fought on behalf of the Confederacy for the preservation of slavery was not acting heroically in that endeavor.

If we disapprove of a war, either because it was immoral or misguided, does that mean that we should recognize no heroes of that war, say Viet Nam heroes or Iraq War heroes?

Individual acts of heroism not directly related to the war are still possible. For instance, if my troop gets ambushed and I carry an injured comrade to safety in retreat then that may be heroic in itself. But that's not necessarily always the case. Had Hitler become injured in WWII and someone Nazi soldier saved his life by carrying him to a hospital I would not be inclined to honor that soldier as a hero. These judgments involve many complicated factors, like the level of culpability of soldiers who joined the military and were then sent to a war that they morally objected to. Or that a war may be initiated on just grounds but then turn into an unjust war as it unfolds.

If a fireman rushes into a burning building to save a child, but he’s mistaken and there is no child, does that mean he was not heroic? Maybe.

Heroic acts are not limited to successful acts. Another complicating factor is how obvious it was that there was no child in the building. Or how obvious was it that the charge of the Light Brigade would end in slaughter and what might be the consequences of the alternative?

You can have a motive to do something noble and good which turns out to be neither. The people who have struggled for LGBT rights believe they have been fighting for a good and noble cause. Depending on your perspective, they may be right or wrong. What does that mean for the moral quality of their motivation?

That depends upon the culpability of the beliefs themselves. Some might be sincerely mistaken while others might be willfully ignorant or, as the Bible puts it, suppressing the truth in unrighteousness.

The concept of heroism is complex and can mean different things. A simpler question is, can we, and should we, admire moral qualities in people whose beliefs – the beliefs that motivate their actions – differ from ours? What if we don’t approve of the goals of their actions? Can we still admire them? Should we?

I agree with that. But this is also the reason we have the saying that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions.

Christians often criticize atheists for their ignorance of Christianity. They mock their criticisms because they are based on misunderstandings. They are aimed at straw men, so Christians can laugh, and deplore such arrogantly willful ignorance. I’m not interested in mocking you. I want to make you understand. But I’m failing.

You mock, but the main target of your derision has very little to do with what transgender people and their advocates actually claim or believe. I have been trying to correct your misunderstandings, but no matter how I try to explain, you cling to your false and ridiculous story, and are very happy with it, as that smiley face showed. You are not trying to understand your opponent, you are simply reasserting over and over again, in different ways, your false narrative.

So-called “magical metaphysics” is supposed by you to assert that “thinking you’re a woman makes you a woman,” that is, transforms you from a man into a woman, magically. You claim that transgenderism is merely a matter of having a false belief and nothing more, like believing you’re a cat. You say “Caitlyn Jenner is a man in every single respect, except his beliefs.” You completely ignore all mental life except beliefs.

When I said “I’m assuming you’re a man” I really knew better. The way you dismiss and ignore emotions, you could never be a woman. You spoke of gay-friendly movies, music and television as “sneaky leftist tactics ... which attempted to bypass the rational argument and aimed for the emotional,” as if we don’t learn to understand other people through our emotions. With the help of movies, music and television we learn something about what it means to be different kinds of people from ourselves. With high-quality art, we learn to reject stereotypes and come to a fuller understanding of the human condition in all its variety. Emotions work with knowledge, not always against it.

Of course emotions can be used to manipulate. Think of Jonathan Edwards working his audience up into a frenzy. People fell on the ground. They went into convulsions. Fear gripped them and their souls were captured by Christ. Think of church hymns, sung in unison, reinforcing beliefs. Think of emotional sermons from the pulpit, telling people what to believe.

The only ideology I know besides magic which accords belief a magical power is Christianity. The only proper function of belief is to track the truth. But in Christianity, belief becomes the magical ticket that will get you into heaven and save you from hell. Talk about attempting to “bypass rational argument”, by bribing and threatening people with all kinds of rewards and torments for their belief or disbelief, Christianity pressures them into believing no end of absurdities with the flimsiest of proof: a single book full of pseudonymous collections of urban myths, folk tales and exhortations from an age before the ability to fact-check.

There is a great variety of beliefs among transgender people and their advocates. But no one claims (to my knowledge) that simply believing you are a woman makes you one. The question is why someone would believe they’re a woman. On what basis? If there were no basis in reality, that would be an instance of the kind of mental illness you speak of. But the assumption is that there is a reality that causes someone to make such an assertion. It may be very complex and private, but it is not simply a matter of believing with no basis.

You are blind to the possibility of a basis because you do not accept that anything purely mental is part of gender. And you claim to reject gender as a foolish fiction. But you know better.

That was revealed when you actually put yourself in a position to imagine what it might be like not to have your body with its sex, and you admitted the possibility that a soul may be gendered, that you might still be male without a male body. What would be male about you? Something mental. That’s all that’s left. Gender is mental. You don’t seem to get it. It is not just a sexed body that makes a man or a woman or a boy or a girl, it is a gendered mind. And that is a mysterious and complex thing.

When I suggested that “men and women aren’t like pigs and cows. They’re more like closely related varieties of rose,” you answered,

Nope, they are pretty clearly distinguished in 99.99% of cases. Caitlyn Jenner is a man in every single respect, except his beliefs. There is no ambiguity there. That's just an empirically ludicrous statement to make.

It would have been ludicrous if I’d been speaking just about bodies, but I was thinking about minds too. It’s obvious by now that there is a great variety of gendered mental attitudes and feelings and thoughts and ways of identifying in humans, and these features are distributed in a mixed way across sexes, just as shapes and colors and fragrances can be distributed in a mixed way across varieties of roses. This is not “empirically ludicrous”, it is a plain fact.

Many years ago I knew a man who was beginning to transition into a woman. (I’m not using “a man trapped in a woman’s body” imagery. He didn’t either, as I recall.) I was not convinced he was doing the right thing. In fact, I was skeptical. He said he could only feel love for his children as a woman – when he felt himself to be a woman. That is, he could feel a mother’s love, but he didn’t know a father’s love. In various other ways his emotional life was different, fuller and more satisfying as a woman than as a man. And so he was transitioning. He was beginning to take hormones, grow breasts. His wife was very unhappy. I thought he was trapped by a rigid and impoverished concept of manhood, and that he should work on that, instead of taking this drastic measure. But he was determined.

This is just one story. There are thousands, all different. I’m inclined to believe (on slim evidence and very limited personal experience) that children who rebel early and strongly against their assigned gender are likely to have a strong biological/neurological impetus to do so, and that people who transition late in life are likely to have some complicated psychological story. I may be wrong. But my point is that in none of these cases is it a bare matter of a belief that one is a woman in a man’s body or vice versa. It always involves realities of mental life that are the basis, reason and to a large extent the content of that belief – realities including thoughts, emotions, desires, sensations, attitudes and perceptions of one’s self and others. All these are features of persons which figure into their identity. When a person says “I identify as a woman” or “I identify as a man” he or she is speaking out of and representing all this rich and complicated mental life. To persist in caricaturing this as equivalent to saying “I’m a cat” or “I’m six feet tall” is to willfully miss the point.

When I said

“if a person is a complex system comprising many features, and if sex and gender are too, then “woman” and “man” are simply conventional labels we use. It is a matter of convention that we classify gender into two...”

I was NOT saying that Caitlyn Jenner’s claim to be a woman is “a personal fiction”. After all, a convention is something shared. You seem to believe conventions must be completely arbitrary. But the image I have in mind is related to the expression “carving reality at the joints.” There is a continuum of variation. In order to speak about it we classify, giving names to ranges. That means we have to draw lines, to decide where to cut. As I mentioned, the Navajo cut the range of variation into four genders. We divide it into two. You insist on genitalia and chromosomes being the only criteria. But there are other features, mental features of being a man or a woman, that are important to people. We are witnessing a shift in choice of criteria and consequently in where that line is drawn.

Finally, essentialism is not “a fiction of [my] ... own imagination.” It’s a well-known concept. You can look it up. I ran across it in the context of evolution – reasons for rejecting it – but it has been used in the analysis of attitudes toward gender too. I am not saying you argued for it, but that it is an unconscious assumption of yours, which seems to limit your ability to understand other points of view. The facts that you always assume that a person is wholly male or wholly female and that you never consider multiple attributes or mixed attributes as relevant, indicate to me that your concept of the difference between men and women is of something unitary, which can’t be broken down into multiple properties which may be distributed in unusual ways. You wrote,

“... no one thinks that just because we might find similarities in how cow brains and pig brains operate that, therefore, there is no essential difference as it currently stands between cows and pigs.”

Paying attention only to “essential differences” and ignoring multiple nonessential differences and similarities is essentialism.

Gerald,

Most of your last comment isn't substantive or worth responding to. You spend a lot of time talking about mockery. But it's not mockery to label the absurd as absurd. Furthermore, you're being a hypocrite by your own standard. You don't like me calling the trans metaphysic magical, but then you label the Christian metaphysic magical. You spend a lot of time talking about emotions, but emotions don't define reality and they are not a substitute of reasoned argument, which is how the left uses them.

There is a great variety of beliefs among transgender people and their advocates. But no one claims (to my knowledge) that simply believing you are a woman makes you one.

The only other option transgendered persons could possibly appeal to is emotion. They could say that feeling like a woman makes you a woman, but that's hardly less dumb than saying that thinking you're a woman makes you a woman. Furthermore, when we take time to analyze this it turns out that feeling like a woman isn't a sufficient condition for being a woman based on the trans activists. What ultimately matters to them is self-identification: I could feel like a woman but still choose to identify as a man and no trans person is going to tell me I'm wrong. Conversely, I could feel like a man and choose to identify as a woman and no trans person would tell me I'm wrong. Thus, ultimately, what matters to the trans activists is what I believe about myself. So nice try... but that's a fail.

You are blind to the possibility of a basis because you do not accept that anything purely mental is part of gender. And you claim to reject gender as a foolish fiction. But you know better. That was revealed when you actually put yourself in a position to imagine what it might be like not to have your body with its sex, and you admitted the possibility that a soul may be gendered, that you might still be male without a male body. What would be male about you? Something mental. That’s all that’s left. Gender is mental. You don’t seem to get it. It is not just a sexed body that makes a man or a woman or a boy or a girl, it is a gendered mind. And that is a mysterious and complex thing.

1) I admitted it was logically possible on some metaphysical conceptions of the soul (one's that you surely reject) and not possible on others. The fact that a soul can be gendered does not entail that gender is mental such that if you think you are a woman you are a woman. Pointing to a possibility does not establish plausibility. So you can't make the move from "it's possible under some conceivable scenarios" to argue that I should entertain it as a serious contender. Given that we know people suffer from all sorts of psychological illnesses in which they disassociate from their body in some ways it's far more plausible that the trans person is just exhibiting another form of this psychological illness.

2) Furthermore, on the conception of the soul wherein a soul could be differently gendered than the body (creationism) we have no reason to say that this ever actually occurs. Under the creationist scheme God creates the soul directly and conjoins it with the body at the moment of conception. Why would God create a soul that didn't match it's physical sex? Furthermore, if God were to do such a thing then it wouldn't make it normative, such that we should treat a transgendered person as if they didn't have something wrong with them. Under the creationist scheme God presumably creates people with sinful natures. It's still a sin. Still an abnormality.

3) And even if it meant that a particular person was a woman trapped in a man's body it wouldn't meant that trans activist bathroom policies make sense. They still should be opposed for the reasons I listed above.

It would have been ludicrous if I’d been speaking just about bodies, but I was thinking about minds too.

Since the mental life doesn't determine reality it's useless for you to focus on the mental. You tell a story about a man who could only feel love for his children as a mother. First, this makes no sense since a mother's love is conditioned by her having given birth. Since this man did not and could never give birth to children his love for his children simply could never be of the same qualitative type as a mothers. So your friend was confused. Secondly, love isn't just a feeling. So he was confused at that point too. Third, reality isn't determined by feelings anymore than thought.

To persist in caricaturing this as equivalent to saying “I’m a cat” or “I’m six feet tall” is to willfully miss the point.

That's not a caricature. It's a fact of the logic of the trans activists. Self-identification as a woman is sufficient grounds for making me objectively a woman. Likewise, self-identification as a cat should be sufficient grounds for making me objectively a cat.

I was NOT saying that Caitlyn Jenner’s claim to be a woman is “a personal fiction”. After all, a convention is something shared.

Making it a shared fiction is hardly more impressive.

You seem to believe conventions must be completely arbitrary.

Some are and all of them are not grounded in objective reality. Thus, neither is Caitlyn Jenner's.

There is a continuum of variation. In order to speak about it we classify, giving names to ranges.

You're just making this up, ad hoc. There is no continuum of male to female. Caitlyn Jenner doesn't think he is 50% woman. He thinks he is 100% woman in the wrong body.

You insist on genitalia and chromosomes being the only criteria. But there are other features, mental features of being a man or a woman, that are important to people.

Sex is the only objective measure we have. There is no evidence that there is such a thing as a mental woman that is not also a woman in regards to sex. This is just fantasy.

I am not saying you argued for it, but that it is an unconscious assumption of yours, which seems to limit your ability to understand other points of view.

False. I pointed out that my case doesn't rely on "essentialism". Even if gender can be changed we have no evidence that it does change.

Furthermore, you keep harping on this claim that I don't understand the other point of view. That's another fiction you keep telling yourself. Just because I reject the other point of view does not entail that I don't understand the other point of view. Also, you keep making up nuances to this view ad hocly. You're not defending what trans people have argued for. Instead you're trying desperately to sew together some patchwork metaphysic they never dreamed of to prop it up.

The facts that you always assume that a person is wholly male or wholly female and that you never consider multiple attributes or mixed attributes as relevant, indicate to me that your concept of the difference between men and women is of something unitary, which can’t be broken down into multiple properties which may be distributed in unusual ways.

If the attributes are mixed between men and women then we have no basis upon which to say that these are attributes of men or women just as such. Again, you're just desperately grasping to create some metaphysic where you can plant the flag of transgenderism on behalf of your friends.

Does it every occur to you "Why am I trying so hard to make something up to preserve this narrative?"

“You keep harping on this claim that I don't understand the other point of view. That's another fiction you keep telling yourself. Just because I reject the other point of view does not entail that I don't understand the other point of view.”

You demonstrate that you don’t understand it by insisting on mischaracterizing it. I don’t like you referring to the so-called trans “magical metaphysic” because it doesn’t exist; it’s based on a misunderstanding. (I have nothing in particular against magic. If I believed that believing you were a woman could magically turn you into one, I’d acknowledge it. I might even do it.) But you believe you can escape death by calling on the name of Jesus. You don’t think that’s magical, it’s just supernatural. I’m hazy on the distinction.

I told you to begin with that I’m not a trans activist, and that I try to think things out for myself. I’ve been trying to explain to you how I conceptualize what’s going on, how it makes sense to me. You call it ad hoc but it is simply my current best understanding, consistent with my views of related issues. I’m not committed to agreeing with everything every trans person or supporter may say, and I don’t follow media devoted to expressing their views. You have made some claims about those views that seem bizarre to me. For instance, you claim “I could feel like a man and choose to identify as a woman and no trans person would tell me I'm wrong.” On what basis do you say that? Can you supply some evidence? I can accept that a person born female who thought she felt like a man could still identify as a woman. But if a man feels like a man, what would be the point or sense of his identifying as a woman? That makes no sense to me, and if someone is saying that, I would like to hear a justification.

You may be confusing the idea that, as a rule for how we should treat each other publicly, we should accept and show respect for how people self-identify themselves, with the idea that merely self-identifying as something determines what a person is. For instance, if you claim to be Jewish, your employer can be required to give you Saturdays off if it’s not an undue hardship on her. That’s showing respect for self-identification. But that doesn’t mean that if an atheist self-identifies as a Jew in order to get Saturdays off, no one can tell him he’s not Jewish. Self-identifying as Jewish doesn’t make you Jewish, and self-identifying as trans doesn’t make you trans. At least, that’s my view.

You say,

“Since the mental life doesn't determine reality it's useless for you to focus on the mental.”

It boggles my mind how you can say this. Mental life is PART of reality. And of course mental events determine other mental events and they determine actions. Most of what concerns us in our lives is mental. But when you say “mental life doesn't determine reality” you must mean by “reality” physical reality. So you are assuming that the only thing relevant to a person’s gender identity is their physical body, their anatomy. That’s what’s at issue, and you simply assume it. But that assumption is being superseded by a different view, which also makes sense, just different sense. There is nothing more logical about one view than the other.

You demonstrate that you don’t understand it by insisting on mischaracterizing it. I don’t like you referring to the so-called trans “magical metaphysic” because it doesn’t exist; it’s based on a misunderstanding.

That's just an assertion. The fact is that your own characterization of the transgendered movement does not align with it.

But you believe you can escape death by calling on the name of Jesus. You don’t think that’s magical, it’s just supernatural. I’m hazy on the distinction.

First, I didn’t create the contrast with “supernatural”. That’s something you are introducing here to try and elide any distinction. Magic, as I’ve used it here, is when a person fools everyone into thinking some mysterious event has occurred via mundane actions that are ordinarily not capable of producing such an event. So, for instance, a magician reaches his hand into a hat and pulls out a rabbit. Reaching a hand into a hat is a mundane event that does not ordinarily result in a rabbit popping out. Likewise, the trans activist magical metaphysics fools the leftists into thinking that thinking you’re a woman mysteriously transforms you into a woman.

I’ve been trying to explain to you how I conceptualize what’s going on, how it makes sense to me.

And in the process of trying your hardest to find some rationale for the trans activists you’ve had to abandon key parts of the trans activist apologetic. For instance, according to trans activist a person can be non-gendered or pangendered. But according to you we have a sort of gender ruler with male and female on the two opposite ends and then a person has to fall somewhere along that ruler. According to the trans activists what determines a person’s gender is how they self-identify (according to the May 13th statement from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education). But according to you (or at least according to the position you are adopting in your latest comments) you’re skeptical that self-identification is sufficient to establish a person’s gender.

And since you’ve just been making this up on the fly as we have this conversation and you’re pushed into a corner, it means you’re the only one who is advocating this unique view of reality. Congratulations. Guess you’ll have to start your own third way movement… Maybe you can call it trans-trans gender? I guess the only thing you care about is the conclusion you reach, not how you got there. You’re desperate to reach a conclusion that is at least somewhat similar to the trans activists… because an atheist who doesn’t conform to the leftist ethic would be weirder than a man in drag.

You call it ad hoc but it is simply my current best understanding, consistent with my views of related issues.

That’s not mutually exclusive. It’s the best you were able to come up with on the fly here.

I’m not committed to agreeing with everything every trans person or supporter may say, and I don’t follow media devoted to expressing their views.

No, you’re only committed to agreeing with their conclusion.

You have made some claims about those views that seem bizarre to me. For instance, you claim “I could feel like a man and choose to identify as a woman and no trans person would tell me I'm wrong.” On what basis do you say that? Can you supply some evidence?

Doesn’t demand evidence for ad hoc conjectures that gender is a fluid continuum… demands evidence that transgendered people say what they’ve been saying in the media all year… Why? Because liberal brainwashing.

The U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education released a letter on May 13, 2016 where identifying as a female is what definitionally makes a person a female.

I can accept that a person born female who thought she felt like a man could still identify as a woman. But if a man feels like a man, what would be the point or sense of his identifying as a woman? That makes no sense to me, and if someone is saying that, I would like to hear a justification.

First, there is an easy answer to that… but I’ll get back to it. Second, you’re asking the wrong question. The question should be this: is there anything in the transgendered worldview that would imply that a man who self-identifies as a woman, even though he feels like a man, is wrong in his self-identification? And the answer is obviously NO. So even if no one ever actually has identified as a woman while feeling like a man that doesn’t entail that my scenario is a mischaracterization of trans activists. Now to get back to the first part. The easy answer would be that the man has decided that if a person can have the wrong biological sex then it’s also possible that he has the wrong physiology and chemistry. Maybe he is a woman who feels like a man because the chemistry that controls his feelings is as mismatched as his genitals. And the man decides to self-identify as a woman to see if this fits him better. Upon self-identifying as a woman he decides that, yes, he is in fact a woman. So he feels like a man but self-identifies as a woman and according to the U.S. government he is a woman.

You may be confusing the idea that, as a rule for how we should treat each other publicly, we should accept and show respect for how people self-identify themselves, with the idea that merely self-identifying as something determines what a person is.

First, this is clearly not what trans activists believe. The claim is clearly that the person’s body is the wrong sex. This entails that the person’s true self is a woman. But how is this true self determined? Merely by self-identification. The proof of this myriad (and you’re just playing ignorant for convenience sake). For instance, Caitlyn Jenner winning woman of the year award. The idea that society doesn’t actually affirm that Caitlyn Jenner IS a woman, and yet wins woman of the year, makes this behavior completely ludicrous.

Second, suppose that we adopt this other position (which again you are trying to hash out ad hocly as we have this conversation—because you’ve already determined the conclusion you want to reach and now you’re just trying to find some way to get there). So no one actually believes that Caitlyn Jenner is a woman. What’s the argument that we should accept someone’s self-identification when it comes to things like winning women of the year? Or how about first female president. If Obama decides next year that he is really a woman what is the argument that history text books should record him as the first woman president?

For instance, if you claim to be Jewish, your employer can be required to give you Saturdays off if it’s not an undue hardship on her. That’s showing respect for self-identification. But that doesn’t mean that if an atheist self-identifies as a Jew in order to get Saturdays off, no one can tell him he’s not Jewish. Self-identifying as Jewish doesn’t make you Jewish, and self-identifying as trans doesn’t make you trans. At least, that’s my view.

Then you have absolutely no basis for saying who is or is not trans. Can you answer this question: is Caitlyn Jenner a transgendered woman and how do you know?

Mental life is PART of reality.

We are talking about two different things. My mental life is part of reality, but my beliefs (which are a central part of my mental life) don’t determine reality just as such. For instance, my belief about the round table being four sided is impotent regarding the fact that the table is not four sided. Now it may be a part of reality that Caitlyn Jenner has the belief “I am a woman” as part of his mental life, but whether or not he is a woman is not determined by the belief.

So you are assuming that the only thing relevant to a person’s gender identity is their physical body, their anatomy. That’s what’s at issue, and you simply assume it. But that assumption is being superseded by a different view, which also makes sense, just different sense. There is nothing more logical about one view than the other.

My rejection of the trans activist narrative doesn’t require the assumption that gender is merely physical. It only requires the assumption that gender is not determined by self-identification. Furthermore, I’ve stated that the only objective standard we have is the person’s sex and that creating this idea of being a woman apart from sex is nonsensical.

Now you’ve tried to say that maybe there is something objectively woman about a trans person whose sex is male. Your reasoning is that maybe there is something mental that is objectively woman within some male sexes. And as I pointed out the problem with this theory is that it’s unfalsifiable. If we found that some males exhibited some mental qualities that females exhibited and vice versa this would no more prove that some males are mentally female than that your categorizing some mental features as male or female is fictional. Furthermore, according to liberal feminist narratives, the very act of trying to compartmentalize some features as male and other features as female is misguided and sexist.

I suddenly realized something when you couldn’t comply with my request for evidence for a claim you made, but answered with bluster instead: “demands evidence that transgendered people say what they’ve been saying in the media all year.” I realized that your only source of knowledge on this subject is probably conservative media like the links you supplied, which included lies and distortions.

(The DailyWire story (which gave the false impression that a child molester was the main sponsor of a popular Charlotte ordinance) made the outrageous claim, without attribution, that an LGBT group “wanted showers for little girls to be open to grown men in the name of ‘nondiscrimination’.” The LifeSiteNews article about photos in gender-neutral college dorm washrooms had anti-transgender activists commenting that the existence of the washrooms was a product of transgenderism and “political correctness so extreme it surpasses all sense of reality “, even though the article itself noted that the washrooms had been gender-neutral for over 20 years, long before transgenderism was an issue, and it didn’t mention that this is a common practice across the country. The new development was not gender-neutral washrooms but cell phones, so the article missed the real story in order to rail against some of conservatives’ favorite targets.)

I suffer from a common flaw: when a person speaks with complete confidence I take them seriously. Here you have been telling me what transgender activists believe, but all you know is what the conservative media tells you about them. Am I right? Have you ever read an article by an advocate of transgender rights? What you have been spouting all this time, your central thesis, repeated over and over again, is that transgender activists claim that “thinking you’re a woman mysteriously transforms you into a woman,” that being transgender is simply a matter of belief. I have been trying to tell you that is wrong, but you have not budged, and have accused me of contradicting this purported ideology.

We are both speaking out of some ignorance, but my point of view is closer to the one we’re discussing, while yours is shaped by politically- and religiously-motivated antipathy and the lies and distortions of the anti-gay anti-trans conservative press you rely on. If you’re trying to understand another’s point of view, it’s not best to get it from their enemies.

I googled “transgender definition” and got this page from a transgender advocacy organization: www.transequality.org/issues/resources/transgender-terminology. It gives these definitions:


Transgender:“A term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth....”

Gender Identity: An individual’s internal sense of being male, female, or something else. Since gender identity is internal, one’s gender identity is not necessarily visible to others.

Nowhere do these definitions mention “belief” or the idea that belief determines gender. Instead gender identity is based on a subjective state, an “internal sense of being”. This is a mental state or characteristic which may include belief but is not merely a belief. It includes also what the belief is based on, namely an internal sense of being male or female (or something not quite either).

You claimed that “according to the May 13th statement from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education”, “what determines a person’s gender is how they self-identify.” But that’s NOT what the statement says. The departments’ “Dear Colleague” letter of May 13th states:

Gender identity refers to an individual’s internal sense of gender. A person’s gender identity may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.”

So what determines a person’s gender is NOT how they self-identify, but their internal sense of who they are. The letter does say, “The Departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX,” and “that when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school will begin treating the student consistent with the student’s gender identity.”

The point may be subtle, but it’s led to a lot of confusion here, so let’s be clear. Someone is to be TREATED according to the gender identity they identify as theirs, but self-identification is not held to MAKE them one gender or another. Their gender identity is based on their internal sense of gender. Self-identification is not held to have the power to magically change someone’s gender. Neither is belief.

I keep thinking we’ll reach a dead end, there’ll be nothing more to say, we’ll agree to disagree, and that will be it. But there keep being issues that need to be clarified, and the tangle seems interesting enough to make another try.

Two issues I want to take on: 1) ambiguity of “self-identify”, 2) language as conventional.

1) Ambiguity of “self-identify”: My previous post took “self-identify” to refer to the making of a statement identifying one’s gender. If someone asks you who you are, you can “self-identify” in this sense of “identify” by giving your name, declaring that that’s who you are. That’s what you seemed to mean when you said a man could decide to self-identify as a woman although he felt like a man – he could declare himself a woman, and you thought trans activists believed that that declaration would actually determine his gender to be a woman. I demonstrated in my last post that that is not the “party line”. What constitutes gender identity is not self-identifying in the sense of declaring oneself a particular gender. Gender identity is the internal sense of being that gender.

But there is another sense of identify, which is not a statement but more a perception or a judgment. For instance, “He examined the photo and identified his wife standing in the shadows.” To self-identify in this sense could mean, of all the people who could possibly make a judgment regarding a person’s gender, when that person him or herself makes the judgment, he or she is self-identifying. You seemed to have this other sense of self-identify in mind when you discussed Caitlyn Jenner in your last (9:24AM) post. You first quoted me:

”You may be confusing the idea that, as a rule for how we should treat each other publicly, we should accept and show respect for how people self-identify themselves, with the idea that merely self-identifying as something determines what a person is.”

and then replied:

”...this is clearly not what trans activists believe. The claim is clearly that the person’s body is the wrong sex. This entails that the person’s true self is a woman. But how is this true self determined? Merely by self-identification. The proof of this [is] myriad (and you’re just playing ignorant for convenience sake). For instance, Caitlyn Jenner winning woman of the year award. The idea that society doesn’t actually affirm that Caitlyn Jenner IS a woman, and yet wins woman of the year, makes this behavior completely ludicrous.”

I was not denying that the magazine was affirming Jenner as a woman.I was using “self-identify” in the “declaration” sense. In that/ sense, self-identifying isn’t guaranteed to be true, but it should be respected in social situations. But by saying that it should be used as a rule for how we treat people, I didn’t mean to imply that we shouldn’t in general accept that self-identification as valid. I think we should. I just wanted to make clear that the declaration itself isn’t what makes it true.(There may have also been a problem with ambiguity of "determines" -- "makes" vs. "reveals".)

You say, “The claim is clearly that the person’s body is the wrong sex. This entails that the person’s true self is a woman. But how is this true self determined? Merely by self-identification.” Paraphrasing: "But how is the true self revealed? Merely by self-judgment." That’s true. The person’s own judgment is accepted as authoritative. This is how his or her gender is decided or found out by others, by listening to her. In that sense, it is "determined ... merely by self-identification,” I agree.

That was tangled. Did I manage to straighten it out for you?

2) Language as conventional: Consider an eBook. Are eBooks books? Traditionally books were made of paper and ink, had covers and pages. But even then “book” was ambiguous. There could be two books sitting on the table, yet they could be the same book. But that book wasn’t made of pages, it was made of words. An eBook isn’t either of those books exactly, though it resembles them both. The word “book” never meant an eBook until there were eBooks. Now it does. All words are conventions – social agreements about what sounds convey what meanings. That convention, the word “book”, just shifted slightly, expanded, to include something new but not completely novel. That’s how language works. It changes to encompass new meanings.

Is a trans woman a woman or a man? A she or a he? Traditional women had vaginas and breasts. A trans woman may not. Traditional men didn’t wear dresses or think of themselves as women. Trans women do. Whether we call a trans woman a woman or a man, a he or a she, is a matter of convention. But of course it’s not just a matter of language. Shall we treat her as a woman or him as a man? That also is a matter of social convention. We have a choice. Christians believe the Bible says they are sinful and we should not accept them. Perhaps we should punish them, or shun them, or shame and humiliate them. Or perhaps we should treat them as mental patients without their consent. Others say, “I know them. They are my friends, my family. They are good people. They are a little odd, but they're also normal in their way. I don’t want to hurt them. And I believe that the best way to help them is to show them respect and treat them as they would like to be treated, that is, as any other women.” It is a matter of convention, not metaphysics. Shall the meaning of “woman” expand? We get to decide.

I will agree with you that the transgendered narrative is more complex than I had been painting it. That’s not because my depiction of it was wrong, as you try to claim, but because there are two different narratives and the one you’re trying to defend by modifying it is internally contradictory.

I suddenly realized something when you couldn’t comply with my request for evidence for a claim you made, but answered with bluster instead

I did answer your request by citing the DOJ and DOE, as well as the indirect evidence from how trans activists are treating Caitlyn Jenner. Furthermore, my claim was not “bluster” rather I pointed out how you are inconsistent in how you have a very low bar of evidence for propping up your own speculations and a very high bar of evidence for my claims.

I realized that your only source of knowledge on this subject is probably conservative media like the links you supplied, which included lies and distortions.

You haven’t demonstrated a single lie or distortion. Furthermore, even if my only source of knowledge was conservative media that doesn’t entail that the media is not directly reporting the claims of trans activists or that the media is distorting or lying about the trans activists. You’re just engaging in an ad hominem.

(The DailyWire story (which gave the false impression that a child molester was the main sponsor of a popular Charlotte ordinance)

The Daily Wire article says that the man was “one of its chief proponent” and you offered no evidence against it. I guess you’re the one guilty of misrepresenting your opponents.

made the outrageous claim, without attribution, that an LGBT group “wanted showers for little girls to be open to grown men in the name of ‘nondiscrimination’”

That’s not outrageous. That’s the logical implication of their policy proposal. You can only deny it if you take the position that (1) only those who claim to be women will be allowed access to girl’s showers, (2) simply claiming to be a woman actually makes you a woman, and so (3) all them men gaining access to girl’s locker rooms are are actually women because they claim to be.

The LifeSiteNews article about photos in gender-neutral college dorm washrooms had anti-transgender activists commenting that the existence of the washrooms was a product of transgenderism and “political correctness so extreme it surpasses all sense of reality “, even though the article itself noted that the washrooms had been gender-neutral for over 20 years, long before transgenderism was an issue, and it didn’t mention that this is a common practice across the country.

Again you are the one who is deliberately misconstruing the facts. You pretend as if 20 years ago (latter half of the 90s) transgender activism was a non-issue in Canada when in fact it had been an issue in the late 70s and early 80s, with Canada carving out social accommodations for trans people precisely in the mid to late 90s when this bathroom policy would have been implemented.

The new development was not gender-neutral washrooms but cell phones, so the article missed the real story in order to rail against some of conservatives’ favorite targets.

Another dishonest characterization, as if voyeurism is only possible with a cell phone. Rather, the cell phones are what made it possible to go beyond hearsay.

I suffer from a common flaw: when a person speaks with complete confidence I take them seriously. Here you have been telling me what transgender activists believe, but all you know is what the conservative media tells you about them.

Well you are certainly exhibiting your flaws here as you assert with complete confidence that all I know is what conservative media tells me about them. And as I pointed out before, even if it was the case that I only know what conservative media tells me about trans activist it doesn’t logically follow that conservative media is misrepresenting trans activism. In your attempt to paint the media sources I pointed to earlier as mischaracterizing issues you’ve only demonstrated how your own prejudice is going to cause you to spin the issues.

Have you ever read an article by an advocate of transgender rights?

Yes. Several.

What you have been spouting all this time, your central thesis, repeated over and over again, is that transgender activists claim that “thinking you’re a woman mysteriously transforms you into a woman,” that being transgender is simply a matter of belief. I have been trying to tell you that is wrong, but you have not budged, and have accused me of contradicting this purported ideology.

Yes, and that’s exactly what you’re doing. You’re now in full on denial mode. According to the article ‘Understanding Your Own Sexuality and Gender’ on teenhealthsource.com (http://teenhealthsource.com/giso/understanding-sexual-orientation-gender-identity/):

How do I know what my gender identity is? The only person who can define your gender identity is YOU.

This means that whether I’m a woman or man is entirely up to my chosen definition. According to transgendered woman Mari Brighe “Girl/boy are labels to describe just two of the many possible gender identities, so to designate them for others is to deny them agency in their own identity. […] That point about agency is a really important one. Something that most folks find to be a pretty important right is our right to define our own identity and the terms of the narrative of our own life. This is why people react so strongly when their characters come under attack; it an undermining their fundamental right define who they are as people. […] It’s unfair and cruel to teach young trans people that they’re not entitled to define their own identities, that their gender identity is more tied to how they look than how they feel, that the designations made on their birth certificates are immutable concepts, especially when we’ve come so far as a community.” (http://www.autostraddle.com/let-it-go-for-the-last-time-trans-women-were-not-born-boys-255055/)

On Quora someone asked “If I don't want to identify as a man or a woman, can I make up my own gender?” And Alice Vanish, who identifies as “nonbinary”, answered “Absolutely! Gender is really whatever you make it to be, and this is a list of many terms for nonbinary gender experiences that people have coined.”

Notice that the common thread in every case is self-identification.

We are both speaking out of some ignorance, but my point of view is closer to the one we’re discussing,

Wrong. Your point of view entirely diminishes the role of self-identification, a “really important” point and a “fundamental right” according to transgendered writer Mari Brighe.

while yours is shaped by politically- and religiously-motivated antipathy and the lies and distortions of the anti-gay anti-trans conservative press you rely on.

Genetic fallacy. You are just as politically motivated and you’re motivated by your anti-religious commitments and sources with their lies and distortions.

If you’re trying to understand another’s point of view, it’s not best to get it from their enemies.

And like I just did above citing transgender people directly.

Nowhere do these definitions mention “belief” or the idea that belief determines gender.

Again we see how you can’t honestly frame the issue. You consistently misconstrue things. Self-identification is nothing if not a belief. Transgendered persons also are quite consistent in their admission that feelings are not an accurate gauge of gender. For instance I asked transgendered woman Tess Norris, one of the top contributors to the Transgender section on Quora, if self-identifying as a woman would be good enough to make me a woman, even if I felt like a man. While Tess said it was “hard to answer, becsuse I’m not entirely sure what it means to feel like a man but self-identify as a woman” he also said that “there’s no one way to ‘feel like’ a man or like a woman.” Tess also said that to claim to be a woman is “just what self-identification means.” Notice that Tess is being inconsistent though in understanding self-identification. On the one hand he implies that it has something to do with feeling like a particular gender but he also said very clearly that self-identification is just claiming to be a specific gender. After pushing Tess a bit more on this issue Tess said that that “If there’s no part of you that feels like a member of a certain gender, trying to self-identify as that gender is deeply inauthentic — in effect, it’s like trying to consciously lie to yourself.” This implies that what really matters is how you *feel*. But notice that this answer is no inconsistent with what Tess said about how there is no way to feel like a man or a woman. Tess had also said, earlier, that he believes he was a woman even when he didn’t feel like a woman. According to another top contributor, Kate, “how you feel has very little to do with anything.” According to Kate what we need is a “core understanding”. But what the necessary and sufficient conditions of this core understanding are is a complete mystery. I think we see a lot of confusion and inner tension like this in the trans narrative because the view is inherently problematic. Some transgendered persons want to say that there is an objective reality to being a woman or a man, but they have no idea how we are supposed to access that and so their view devolves into gender-skepticism. Other transgendered persons are committed to the view that there is no objective reality to being a man or a woman and so they will be like Alice Varnish and allow you to create your own gender reality.

Ultimately if tease out the objectivists like Tess and Kate I think it’s obvious that belief about one’s self has to be at the core. There’s really no other option since they explicitly reject feelings as reliable indicators.

Instead gender identity is based on a subjective state, an “internal sense of being”. This is a mental state or characteristic which may include belief but is not merely a belief. It includes also what the belief is based on, namely an internal sense of being male or female (or something not quite either).

Even transgendered persons who adopt this line of reasoning (and it’s clearly not all or most) cannot consistently hold to that narrative. Tess, for instance, claims that his gender was female even when he didn’t feel like a feel male or “understand it at the time.”

Furthermore, you are over interpreting your source. In contemporary usage talk about feelings is often just shorthand for talk about beliefs. People often say “I feel like…” and go on to state some belief.

So what determines a person’s gender is NOT how they self-identify, but their internal sense of who they are.

That’s a distinction without a difference in this case. Talk about an internal sense does not entail anything beyond a belief. I have an internal sense of being conservative, but I have no distinguishable concept or awareness of some conservative “feeling”.

Someone is to be TREATED according to the gender identity they identify as theirs, but self-identification is not held to MAKE them one gender or another.

That’s clearly false and if we assume this is what the trans community believes then their actions become even more incoherent. You fall of the cliff of gender-skepticism where you have no idea who is male or female. Caitlyn Jenner won women of the year award, according to you, even though no one knows, including Caitlyn, whether Caitlyn is a man or woman.

he could declare himself a woman, and you thought trans activists believed that that declaration would actually determine his gender to be a woman. I demonstrated in my last post that that is not the “party line”. What constitutes gender identity is not self-identifying in the sense of declaring oneself a particular gender. Gender identity is the internal sense of being that gender.

You didn’t demonstrate and I’ve quoted transgendered persons who say things that contradict that. But as we unfold these transgendered narratives we see that they are internally contradictory. For instance, many transgendered persons, like Tess, claim there is nothing we can point to about what what if feels like to be a woman or a man. Furthermore, they claim that they could be (and have been) a gender without having any sense of being that gender. Other transgendered persons clearly claim that man/woman categories are entirely fictional and that I can decide whatever I want.

In that/ sense, self-identifying isn’t guaranteed to be true, but it should be respected in social situations.

False. Self-identification should not be respected in social situations. I should not be able to self-identify as Native American and receive financial benefits from the government consistent with my self-identification. I should not be able to self-identify as a woman and have access to any facilities or benefits afforded to women.

I just wanted to make clear that the declaration itself isn’t what makes it true.

And you never answered my question relevant to this: is Caitlyn Jenner a woman, and how do you know? Are you a man or woman, and how do you know?

The person’s own judgment is accepted as authoritative. This is how his or her gender is decided or found out by others, by listening to her. In that sense, it is "determined ... merely by self-identification,” I agree.

So you’re simply adopting gender skepticism—we have no way of knowing who is or is not a woman—we also have no way of knowing if we are or are not women if you believe what other trans activists have said—and declaring that since we have no connection to or access to this objective thing called “gender” we have to just take people’s beliefs and treat them in accordance with it. Again, that clearly contradicts what trans people say. Tess and other transgendered persons I’ve talked to and read would be very angry at your claim that we don’t know if Tess is really a woman or if Mari is really a woman. Granted, that contradicts other things they’ve said. You’re trying to iron out the contradictions by elevating one set of claims over another set of claims. But when you do that you are departing from what transgendered persons claim.

And your view makes little sense even on its own merits. Even if we ignore everything else transgendered persons have said. If we just isolate your claims, why should we believe there is this objective thing called gender that no one has reliable access to? At this point you’re better off adopting the other transgendered narrative that gender is just a fiction and whatever you make it… but you’ve already firmly planted your feet against that in your attempt to argue with me.

Is a trans woman a woman or a man? A she or a he? Traditional women had vaginas and breasts. A trans woman may not. Traditional men didn’t wear dresses or think of themselves as women. Trans women do. Whether we call a trans woman a woman or a man, a he or a she, is a matter of convention.

Again you are departing from the typical trans narrative. According Mari Brighe “Trans women are women. Period. End of story. We’re not “women who used to be men.” We’re not “men who identify as women.” We’re not “males who identify as women.” We’re not “men who became women.” WE ARE WOMEN. Stop putting qualifiers on our womanhood. It’s offensive, hurtful and cruel to insinuate otherwise.”

And according to ThinkProgress LGBT editor Zack Ford, some men have menstrual cycles and some men get pregnant. Why? Because your distinction between a woman and a trans woman is false. There are only women and men and your “trans women” and “trans men” qualifiers are cruel.

You’ve created this ridiculous scheme to try and iron out the contradictions in the other ridiculous scheme. Meanwhile the conservatives you are so prejudiced against have a simple empirical view: there are two sexes for the purposes of reproduction (whether by God’s design or evolutionary happenstance) and feeling like a woman doesn’t mean you’re a woman (which trans people sometimes agree with) and thinking you’re a woman doesn’t make you a woman (which trans people also sometimes agree with, because they have no consistent narrative).

Thanks for your first-hand investigation into what trans activists say. I found it interesting.

I turned bold on by accident and it seems to have continued into your comment, or was that you on purpose? Let's see if I can turn it off. There. Did that do it?

I didn't try to type in bold. I think it's a bug that this blog platform has. I've seen it happen before on this website and I think a moderator has to fix it.

I think this should fix it.

I don’t want to get into a long tit-for-tat, but when you quoted me and then said that “you assert with complete confidence that all I know is what conservative media tells me,” you cut the quote short. My very next sentence was “Am I right?” By asking for your confirmation I meant to soften the statement and turn it tentative. Now I stand corrected.

You in turn have repeatedly characterized me as crafting an ad hoc story to defend transgenderism merely because I’m a devoted leftist. You say I’m politically motivated. It’s true I’m a liberal, but in this case I’m much more motivated by the welfare of people who don’t fit into the boxes that have been traditionally on offer than I am by any political ideology.

You’ve got me wrong. You see, at one time I thought I might be transgendered. Many years ago, for a short time, I attended some transgendered support groups. This was long before anybody (or at least anybody I was aware of) was spouting the current baroque politically-correct gender ideology which sometimes seems crazy even to me. Legal rights were a distant dream. It was just people struggling with how to live as fully as they could as the people they felt themselves to be inside. Getting fired from jobs. Hiding their gender identity from the military. Dealing with rejection by families and co-workers. Working on appearance and voice.

There are these two different things going on. Certainly there’s interaction between them, but to start with, on the one hand you have this reality of people who feel themselves (in many different ways, and in many different degrees) to be the opposite gender. I think this has been going on forever, and will go on as long as there are genders. They try to understand themselves, informally, using whatever conceptual tools they have. On the other hand, you have ideology and ideologists. Those attempts at self-understanding become philosophies and then party lines. Political philosophy and politics also come into play. There’s a fight for rights, so people need to formulate understandings of transgenderism and rights that will support that struggle, and they have – many.

It’s a bit like the relationship between working people and the leftists who got them to organize into unions and then fought for workers’ rights, and then fought among themselves over fine points of ideology. They didn’t create the workers or their problems. Ideologies change, but the workers will remain, hopefully in better shape than before. So will the transgendered, who are also often a lot more conventional, even conservative, than their more radical advocates.

I’m not committed to any particular transgender ideology. I just want to see their lot improve, so I have been tremendously encouraged by recent developments.

I think of that man I told you about who was transitioning. This wasn’t in a trans support group, but another context. He was middle aged, but when he dressed as a woman he looked like an old lady. I couldn’t really perceive him as a woman (thus the male pronouns) and this hurt his feelings. I think of him, carefully, femininely, conservatively dressed and made up – so much effort, so much heartache endured, in order to present and be accepted as a woman. So much on the line: desire simply to be treated as the woman he felt himself to be, with respect; fear of humiliation. I think of her being told that she can’t use a women’s rest room, that she must use the men’s. It doesn’t matter what you think she is, that’s cruel, and I want our society to be better than that.

You say,

Talk about an internal sense does not entail anything beyond a belief. I have an internal sense of being conservative, but I have no distinguishable concept or awareness of some conservative “feeling”.

I think this is called the fallacy of overgeneralization. With one example you purport to prove that something else cannot be the case. How do you know that an internal sense of being a certain gender is anything like your sense of being a conservative? How do you know what it entails?

Your example itself may be flawed in a couple of ways. First, are you saying that you have an internal sense and that that sense is identical to a belief? If there is nothing but the belief, what is internal about it? What is sensed? Do you also have an “internal sense” that Obama is president? According to you, both are only beliefs, so how can one be an internal sense and not the other? Second, I believe it is possible that although you are not currently aware of having a conservative “feeling”, you could become aware at some later time that you had had such a feeling all along. Let’s say you had a sudden awakening and became a liberal. Then when you thought back on your former self, your attitudes, your feelings about things, your sense of who you were in the world, you might recognize that you had been saturated in conservative feelings through and through, and that you didn’t feel like that person anymore. It’s like a fish being taken out of a fish bowel and looking back and seeing the water, or suddenly noticing the hum from the refrigerator.

You said Tess believes he was a woman even when he didn’t feel like a woman. She could be saying that she didn’t recognize feeling like a woman as what it was at the time, but now she has learned to identify her feelings, she realizes they were there all along. Or (more probable, I’m guessing), she is so convinced that her identity is that of a woman that, since she is still the same person, she surmises that she must have been a woman then. Notice, this is just the opposite of your “magical transformation” story, and I think it’s the dominant narrative (at least it’s the classical narrative), that the person was always the gender they now identify as their own.

There are at least two main difficulties in talking about all this.

One is the slipperiness of words. You keep attributing to me things I never said because you take the wrong meaning from my words. You also do that, I think, to the trans people you quote.

Self-identification can mean many different things. Is the identification a statement or a perceptual act? If a statement, who are you identifying your gender to, yourself or others? And is the statement a proposition about the world (“the fact is, my gender identity is female”) or a speech act (“I hereby declare myself female,” like the speech act “I resign”, which makes it true by saying it)?

The word “determine” is also slippery. The OED under subheading II gives its meaning as “To bring to an end a dispute, controversy, or doubtful matter; to conclude, settle, decide, fix.” But the matter can be settled by decree, or by judicial judgment, or causally (speed determines impact), or “determine” can mean “To ascertain definitely by observation, examination, calculation, etc. (a point previously unknown or uncertain); to fix as known.”

To my innocent statement that

Someone is to be TREATED according to the gender identity they identify as theirs, but self-identification is not held to MAKE them one gender or another.

you replied

That’s clearly false and if we assume this is what the trans community believes then their actions become even more incoherent. You fall of the cliff of gender-skepticism where you have no idea who is male or female. Caitlyn Jenner won women of the year award, according to you, even though no one knows, including Caitlyn, whether Caitlyn is a man or woman.

I have no idea how you got to these conclusions. How did I fall off any cliff? I was not expressing any kind of skepticism. Is the problem with the words “make” or “self-identification”? I meant this: “Declaring one’s gender identity is not held to CAUSE someone to be one gender or another. It simply reveals it to others, and should be taken as authoritative.” What does this have to do with having “no idea who is male or female”?

Of course knowledge and skepticism are relative things. Lance Armstrong never doped. He was tested, so we knew it, we thought. But he cheated and we were wrong. Could Jenner be lying and just playing for attention? Yes. But there’s no reason to believe that. Could Jenner be wrong about herself? Hmm. Maybe you have a point there. But maybe not. I’ll try to be careful. I think it’s like this (at least, under my version of what transgender means): Jenner is a woman because she believes it AND she has sound subjective reasons for doing so, in the form of feelings, an internal sense, etc. If it were a bare belief, with no basis for making that judgment, I think that that’s hard to imagine, but if it were true, it would simply be a delusion, and false. Or, as Tess said, it would be deeply inauthentic, and a lie to oneself.

The second difficulty in talking about all this is the elusiveness of what it could mean to have an internal sense of being a man or a woman.

You are right to notice a tension between much of transgender ideology and feminism. Very roughly, we might divide people into gender lovers and gender haters.

Feminists have sought to debunk the concept of gender. As you noted, various properties and behaviors can be exhibited by either sex, so they are not uniquely masculine or feminine. Feminists can look at trans people and say, “You’re just falling for gender stereotypes. No quality or expression belongs solely to men or women. Women can be any way they want.” Gender haters.

It is a little odd that you would use feminist arguments to undermine the validity of the transgender concept, because conservative Christians believe in gender stereotypes. They celebrate the differences between men and women, and tend to believe that even the culturally determined ones were ordained in the Bible by God. Conservatives tend to be gender lovers in that sense (it’s not just bare sexual anatomy that differentiates the sexes, but differences in proper social roles, behaviors, attitudes, styles of dress, etc.) Trans people are gender lovers too, it seems to me. Otherwise there’s no point in being trans anything.

By the way, you misquoted Tess. You said,

“... many transgendered persons, like Tess, claim there is nothing we can point to about what ... [it] feels like to be a woman or a man.”

What she actually said, according to your previous quote, was “there’s no one way to ‘feel like’ a man or like a woman.” (emphasis added). That is, there are many ways, perhaps none of them unique to men or women.

I’ve watched you try to fit this into your logic, and conclude that therefore there is no way one could feel like a gender different from their sex, because there is no possible evidence for it.

We’re talking about a rich psychological reality here that you have no experience with. You apply your logic but it doesn’t find anything to grab onto. So you confidently conclude that this phenomenon doesn’t exist.

I wasn’t transgender, at least not in the way people who drastically change their lives are, and certainly not like children who know for sure from the beginning. So maybe I don’t truly understand either. But I try to understand by analogy to my own experience, which is closer, I take it, than yours. Here are some ways to think of it:

Think of an actor learning a part. They cast around for some sense of who this person is, and then they get it. Let’s say it comes with a walk, a posture, an accent, and most definitely a sex. This part, this personality the actor assumes, in general is either a woman or a man. You might object, “How can he know? There is nothing we can point to about what it feels like to be a woman or a man.” Maybe, strictly logically, looking at each characteristic separately. But that’s irrelevant. What comes to the actor is a particular person, and that person is either a man or a woman in all kinds of ways that men are men or women are women in our society, and of course the character knows which one he or she is. If you ask her, she’ll tell you, that is, she’ll self-identify her gender. How does she know? Who cares? She knows.

Next step: People have different parts of their personalities. They are like one person with their co-workers, another with their family, another in the bedroom, and another drunk at the game or behind the wheel. Some people are more different in different situations than others. Some never change much, and some can be like different people. So far so good? Some people have parts of their personality that differ from their birth-assigned gender. If you ask them how they know when they are in that personality that they are male or female, they probably won’t be able to tell you. They just are that. It’s part of their identity. It's not only a matter of how they perceive themselves, but how they perceive the world, and their place in it.

I have parts of my personality that are female. When I’m in that mode, I can feel things which I can’t feel when I’m not. But I have a large part of my personality which is male, or gets along fine as a male, and I don’t really have enough of a fully-rounded female persona to make my way socially in the world as that person. Other men have very large important parts of their personality invested in a female persona. And for them, sometimes it seems to make most sense to go all the way with that, and publicly declare it to be their true identity, and to make their outward appearance and body conform to it.

Maybe truly transgender people would disagree and even be offended by this analysis. But that’s the best I’ve been able to do to fit this troubling, irrational aspect of life into my generally scientific way of understanding the world. A much more natural way is to think in terms of essences or souls. Also people tend to think they are one unified thing, and that it has to be one thing or another. So someone in the situation I’ve described, with this important piece of gendered personality, could easily understand their situation in terms of a single true soul or self trapped in a body of a different gender. And that has a poetic truth to it. It may also have an emotional truth to it.

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