National Geographic publishes “gender” issue, still doesn’t satisfy SJWs

I don’t see any problem discussing the issues of gender roles, transgender people, and their activism, nor do I think we should discriminate against trans or “other-gendered” folk. Like gays, I think they feel a biological compulsion for their behavior and emotions, and we should respect that—and call them what they wish.

But I’m not sure whether National Geographic, which historically dealt with travel and social issues, should be the place to have this discussion. Here are two new covers of the January, 2017 gender issue. The first features Avery Jackson, a 9-year-old transgender girl from Kansas City who began her transition at age 4:

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The alternative cover features a non-binary intersex, a bi-gender, two transgender females, a male, a transgender male, and a male:

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With their increasing osculation of faith, and now this, National Geographic is increasingly dealing with social issues rather than scientific/geographical ones, and I’m not quite sure why. The magazine was purchased by Murdoch, and perhaps they’re trying to stem decreasing revenues with a bit of sensationalism. Or perhaps they’re becoming National Sociologist. 

One explanation for the topic is provided at the magazine’s site by Susan Goldberg, the head editor, “Why we put a transgender girl on the cover of National Geographic“:

The most enduring label, and arguably the most influential, is the first one most of us got: “It’s a boy!” or “It’s a girl!” Though Sigmund Freud used the word “anatomy” in his famous axiom, in essence he meant that gender is destiny.

Today that and other beliefs about gender are shifting rapidly and radically. That’s why we’re exploring the subject this month, looking at it through the lens of science, social systems, and civilizations throughout history.

In a story from our issue, Robin Marantz Henig writes that we are surrounded by “evolving notions about what it means to be a woman or a man and the meanings of transgender, cisgender, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, agender, or any of the more than 50 terms Facebook offers users for their profiles. At the same time, scientists are uncovering new complexities in the biological understanding of sex. Many of us learned in high school biology that sex chromosomes determine a baby’s sex, full stop: XX means it’s a girl; XY means it’s a boy. But on occasion, XX and XY don’t tell the whole story.”

. . . But let’s be clear: In many places girls are uniquely at risk. At risk of being pulled out of school or doused with acid if they dare to attend. At risk of genital mutilation, child marriage, sexual assault. Yes, youngsters worldwide, irrespective of gender, face challenges that have only grown in the digital age. We hope these stories about gender will spark thoughtful conversations about how far we have come on this topic—and how far we have left to go.

I put key sentence here is in bold (my emphasis): “On occasion, XX and XY don’t tell the whole story.”  How common are these “occasions”? The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA has a document by scholar Gary Gates giving these data:

  • An estimated 3.5% of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and an estimated 0.3% of adults are transgender.
  • This implies that there are approximately 9 million LGBT Americans, a figure roughly equivalent to the population of New Jersey.
  • Among adults who identify as LGB, bisexuals comprise a slight majority (1.8% compared to 1.7% who identify as lesbian or gay).

Lesbians, gays and bisexuals don’t, I think, count as those who feel they’re of different gender from their birth sex; they simply prefer sexual partners who are male, female, or both, and don’t conform to their own biological sex. True transgenders, who feel they’re of a different sex from their “birth” sex (whether identified by genitalia or chromosome constitution), constitute 0.3% of the population.

If you use the data on transexuals, and plot on a graph the frequency of people who identify as transexual versus those who identify (chromosomally, morphologically, and as sexual proclivity) as male versus female, you’d get two giant peaks (one at “male,” the other at “female”, with a valley in between representing transexuals. If you added lesbians, gays, and bisexuals, you’d still get a total frequency of those in the valley of about 3.8%, meaning that 96.2% of people conform to the genders of male and female (roughly 48.1% at each peak). If that is a gender “spectrum,” then it’s a spectrum on which the vast majority of people fall into two distinct classes, with a lower-frequency tail between these peaks.

This isn’t for a moment to imply that gays and transgender people are “freaks,” “abnormal”, or shouldn’t be treated with respect and dignity. All it means is that it’s false to imply that everyone is sexually fluid, or that the gender “spectrum” is roughly even, with no peaks. That’s simply not the case.

Sadly, even National Geographic’s attempt at empathy wasn’t good enough for some.  At Feminist Current, for example, writer Meghan Murphy objects to the first cover on numerous grounds, including that Avery was raised by a conservative family in the South:

Some have questioned the ethics of putting such a young child on the cover of a magazine, especially if this child is truly struggling with a disorder. Also troubling is the regressive presentation of Avery, decked out in a colour and posed in a way that is traditionally considered “feminine.” McNamara claims the cover “drives the point home that being transgender isn’t a choice, but just something you are,” implying that this feminized presentation represents something innate. Rather than saying that kids are drawn to various colours regardless of their sex and that boys should feel just as comfortable in pink as girls, the supposedly “revolutionary” cover conveys the opposite message: that this male child must be a girl because he wears pink.

Where does socialization and societal expectations factor into this “revolution?” Will it address the fact that boys are told they cannot wear dresses (lest they be called “girls?”)

While indeed Avery may be suffering from what the DSM calls “gender dysphoria,” having declared himself to be a girl numerous times, both Jackson’s and National Geographic’s choice to focus so heavily on a feminized appearance is telling. Conservative America wouldn’t accept a boy in “girly” clothing, but shouldn’t liberal America see things differently? And if a child truly does suffer from body dysmorphia or gender dysphoria, why are sparkles, pink, and “princess dresses” the primary focus of discourse surrounding these conditions? Surely we can support kids to be whoever they want to be and dress however they like without further reinforcing sexist stereotypes…

. . . Is this really what a “gender revolution” looks like? A boy whose “femaleness” is proven by stereotypically “girly” clothing and colours and an apparent rainbow of “genders” that excludes women entirely?

Gender, under patriarchy, is not the “spectrum” so many well-meaning liberals claim, but is, as feminist activist Lierre Keith says, “a hierarchy.” Gender functions in our society to devalue those born female and systemically empower those born male. A true “gender revolution” would fight stereotypes that say girls are inherently drawn to wear pink dresses and grow their hair long, while boys have short hair and are “rough-and-tumble.” It would, in fact, challenge society’s idea of gender itself, acknowledging that some humans are born female and others are born male, but that this doesn’t mean one is passive and submissive while the other is aggressive and dominant.

Others have objected that Jackson’s post is sexualized and provocative. I didn’t even see that; you have to be sniffing out improprieties to object to stuff like that. Every image must absolutely conform to the political agenda of those advocating trans rights.

I agree that there are ethical problems with presenting children so young on the cover, as there are issues about the proper age of consent. But presumably Avery dresses as she wishes, and perhaps she wishes to present as many young girls do: wearing pink and sparkles. Is that a problem? After all, the magazine has photos of eighty nine-year-old transgender people, and ten to one not all of the transgender girls are wearing pink. Is it the fact that Avery is the cover image that’s a problem?

Here are some photos from one essay that I think is in the paper issue (the entire issue is not free online). I don’t see a preponderance of pinkness or sparkliness in the women, and the boys dress diversely; the only consistency is that members of each gender try to dress as non-trans people of the sex they feel they are:

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As for what a true “gender revolution” is, Murphy really means a shift to equal treatment and valuing of men, women, and transgenders. She’s mostly talking about feminism and stereotypes, though I feel that the higher aggressiveness of men, at least, has some biological basis. (Again, that’s not to say that I think it should be accepted as the norm, just that it’s partly genetic and, on average, differentiates males and females.)

Murphy objects to the second cover, too:

While the cover features a male, two “transgender females,” an “intersex non-binary” person, a “transgender male,” an “androgynous” person, and an individual who identifies as “bi-gender,” notably absent is… A woman!

Her article shows tweets with similar sentiments, including this one:

What I don’t get here is the claim that a woman is absent from the cover. In fact, there are two transgender women, and these are usually said to be, simply, “women.” That is, if you feel like a woman, you are one. I don’t have particular objections to this, but if that’s the sentiment held by most activist Leftists, then there are indeed women on the cover. If they don’t agree with that, then they’re saying that there’s something different about being a transgender woman and a “regular” woman, and I suspect it’s that the latter have two X chromosomes and a vagina. But that’s not the line taken by much of the Regressive Left.

The lesson is that you can’t have your cake and eat it too; if the Left sees transgender women as the same as non-transgender women, they can’t object to the absence of “real” women.

This all exemplifies the divisions that are fracturing the Left, and I can’t see us going back to even a remotely unified movement. What with the growing prevalence of identity politics, with each group having their own personal agenda; the use of “purity tests”, so that if you don’t conform to a specified agenda you’re a racist, a sexist, a transphobe, and so on; and the profound differences among progressives in those agendas—all this means we’re in for trouble, especially when, in an Age of Trump, we need more cohesion.

222 Comments

  1. Ken Phelps
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:31 am | Permalink

    “What I don’t get here is the claim that a woman is absent from the cover. In fact, there are two transgender women, and these are usually said to be, simply, ‘women.'”

    It’s always amusing to watch the PC brigade gnawing on their own linguistic tails. It’s almost as if their language has ceased to map reality…oh, wait…

    • GM
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

      There was the infamous case of the diversity officer in some university who was a F2M transgender person and was not approved because he was a white male and so students protested…

  2. Christopher
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Just recite the new left mantra “everything is racist, sexist, and/or homophobic”, because everything you say will be seen as racist, sexist, and/or homophobic, including what I just said there, and that, and that too, and that as well…

  3. Phil_Torres
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    Hmm, I think Meghan Murphy made some great points. There is actually a tension between the work of feminists to get rid of these ridiculous, culturally-determined norms about what “Being female” means, on the one hand, and the transgender perspective that actually reinforces the gender binary (and all its arbitrary accretions in our particular society). Glad that Murphy is thinking critically about these issues, because they deserve to be dissected and explored. And yes, one of the consequences of the rise to prominence of transgenderism is a further receding of women’s issues. Please, before making confident claims about complicated issues, read the actual scholarly literature on these issues — some of it is silly, but some of it is quite sophisticated. (I could recommend books/articles.)

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      I’m sorry, but read the Roolz. Don’t tell me what to do before I write. And note that not everyone agrees with you that “being female” is a biological rather than a cultural norm.

      And why is the addition of trans issues to women’s issues to be decried? Is there a limit to the number of issues we can talk about, so that discussing trans issues somehow pushes “women’s issues” further into the background? And then wouldn’t it be that discussed racial issues ALSO pushes women’s issues further into the background?

      • Marcus Gregory
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bigger failure of reading comprehension as this article. This is one of the stupidest things I’ve ever read.

        Coyne utterly fails to get Murphy’s most basic point: transgender is bogus, and these “women” are just men enacting stereotypes.
        Jackson is not a girl. He is a boy, who is facing a life of unnecessary medicalization and suffering because his homophobic conservative parents didn’t like the idea of a flamboyant son.

        Murphy has been fired for expressing these views. These views are scientific, and based on biology as opposed to tendentious post-modern claims. They are the precise opposite of the views of the mainstream left. The notion that a woman is merely a “feminine person” is shockingly sexist and regressive, yet somehow it’s gained currency.

        Coyne then proceeds to excoriate the same mainstream Left who have attacked Murphy, for wanting to “have its cake and eat it”.

        “I suspect it’s that the latter have two X chromosomes and a vagina. But that’s not the line taken by people like Boodolph.”

        Yes. Yes, that is exactly the line she does take. And if you’d actually understood a bit of what she wrote you’d have known that.

        • Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:42 pm | Permalink

          Well, your comment is unspeakably rude, so you won’t be posting here any more. As for your claim that transgender is bogus and an enactment of stereotypes, well, lots of people think otherwise, and I’m not sure how you can say that that is a “scientific” view.

          As for the comment “like taken by people like Boodolph,” I meant “much of the regressive left”, not her, and have changed the text to reflect that.

          But you’ve committed a roolz violation, insulted the host, and I suggest you go spew your “scientific” knowledge elsewhere. I suppose you’d say that gays are just “enacting a stereotype”, too, wouldn’t you, Mr. Gregory?

    • Sigmund
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

      You are veering a little close to ‘The Courtier’s Reply’ there, Phil.

    • daddybones45
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

      These “ridiculous culturally-determined norms” are actually biological choices made by the privileged sex: the female. All that we are socially is based on what we are biologically and cannot be transcended. Feminism is no more than a top-down, statist war on human reality for control and profit, not a liberation movement for women. It never was. I doubt that any of the books or articles you’d recommend are scholarly so much as ideological, but I’ll hold full judgement and would be interested to see a list. I would strongly recommend you read Steve Moxon’s new tome which contains up-to-date neuroscience disproving the last vestiges of Feminist garbage: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Sex-Difference-Explained-Society-Purging/dp/1540526844/

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

        Is this real or are you a Poe?

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

        You come over here endorsing a book written by a guy that even UKIP wouldn’t have because of his unabashed admiration for Anders Breivik and think anyone will take you (or him) even remotely seriously?

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:50 pm | Permalink

        “contains up-to-date neuroscience disproving […] feminism” 😂

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:24 pm | Permalink

        Sure. And when I try to maintain a healthy weight by not bingeing on fats and sugars it’s a top-down, statist war on human reality.

        When I resist the urge to clock the guy I catch checking out my wife it’s a top-down, statist war on human reality.

        When we use medicine and technology to live well past our evolutionary sell-by date it’s a top-down, statist war on human reality.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      Problem is that SJW ideology is not consistent in itself, and not consistent with other SJW ideologies next door, or with itself tomorrow. The reason for this are Safe Spaces. I’ve participated (though not fitting in) and “studied” them and they are entirely driven by peer pressure and utmost ideological solidarity.

      You get points for stating things others find agreeable, and you can be banned for dissent. They are very keen to mark insiders from outsiders, and thus draw unusually sharp lines, even within a comment section space (you can have a more muddy community but the regulars might be the “true” community core).

      Hence, they tend to take a life of their own where a mix of telephone games and what accepted authorities say dictate what the tribe believes. It’s safe to repeat things, and much better to err in one direction, hence ideas tend to “drift”. There are also more points to believe in controversial things than in the commonly accepted. This contradiction of trying to be on a secure ground, yet trying to out-social-justice each other is what pushes the ideology forward towards extremes (some say towards “purity” but this metaphor is unhelpful as there is not one single purity they arrive at).

      On top, they often fractured by thought terminating clichés that are responses to various ideological threats which are not a coherent ideology. One query demands response X, and the next demands response Y. There is no reward in putting X and Y next to each other and discuss them critically. You get points for claptrap, easily agreeable stuff, but due to Safe Space design get ever more outlandish.

      Only authorities can attempt to come up with something new, and when they fail to convince the tribe, they make for a costly signal: they can become Witch of the Week, bridges are burned and the ursupers continue as the new authorities (theory of overcoming cheap signals better explains what goes on than “virtue signalling” in my view).

      Ophelia Benson was seen as too “TERF” at Freethought Blogs, and then treated viciously, because at the right moment, she didn’t want to switch around as she was supposed to. The tribe then split over other things, and then another time over the word “stupid” whether its okay to use or whether it should be considered beyond the pale as “ableist” (not kidding).

      Example case here: SJW for example normally want to be gender binary-critical, and love the ”oppressed” snowflake identities. Everything is personal choice and it’s all fluid. In some extreme flavours it’s even considered homophobic or transphobic to prefer only heterosex or biologically-other-sexed individuals. When evangelicals and their sexual re-education (“pray the gay away”) are the opponent, SJW suddenly are invested in biologically (“innate”) sexual orientation again, albeit briefly. When that ideological threat goes away, and the tribe faces a new challenge, they re-align their views once again, to the preferred “fluidity” and sex/gender are again purely cultural.

      It’s a resampled, postmodern, cultish subculture. They have their roots in so-called “Left Academia” (I dispute whether this is really left), but their views are mostly incoherent drivel made up on the spot. Years have passed and our own comical Atheist SJW faction still has never produced more than anecdotes, whine and accusations. The intellectual artillery never fired even once. There is nothing “quite sophisticated” about it.

      • zugzwanged
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

        There is plenty of opportunistic inconsistency in certain progressive circles. However, it is important not to confuse this with the principled disagreements between relatively internally consistent viewpoints on the left, of which there are a great many.

        • Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:43 pm | Permalink

          And I agree. I even coined a missing fallacy, I called the “Frankenstein Fallacy” of mashing together different (contradicting) views under one label, then attributing the inconsistent view to representative members (e.g. “Christians believe in a personal God, but also in a “Ground of Being” — that’s inconsistent”, Frankenstein Fallacy because a single Christian rarely believes both things at once). However, the title of Jerry’s post indicate SJWs and my observations are on them.

      • HaggisForBrains
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 5:15 am | Permalink

        Good analysis, thank you.

  4. Lynn
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    I agree with most of this post, except that I think you have mis-characterized the tweet by @boodleoops. She actually is arguing that women are not the same as trans women because the are xx humans and have unique challenges and political issues because of thier biologically female bodies. She is a so called ‘radical feminist’ and very much opposed to modern gender theory. She is rather controversial because of this.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

      Yes, I know that; I’m not stupid. I am just claiming that the main sentiment of Leftists towards trans women is simply that they are women and should be seen as such and treated as such. Likewise with trans men, up to the notion of saying that men can menstruate and get pregnant (trans men, of course). I am of course aware of the schism in the Left about this, which I point out at the end of my post.

      • Lynn
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:33 am | Permalink

        Apologies, I certainly didn’t mean to imply you are stupid. I just thought you might not be familiar with her and her writing, I find her voice interesting on gender issues and worth reading.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      I notice the term “radical feminist” thrown around a lot these days (often in the context of TERFs). What is the determinant of radicalness, and why is it so often used as a disqualifying claim, as in “I will not respond to so-and-so’s points because they are a TERF”? I’ve seen comments like that delivered as a “mic drop” in almost every thread I’ve followed on feminism in the past three years or so.

      • Cindy
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

        If you believe that biological sex is real, you’re a TERF

        If you believe that lesbians are not bigots if they are not attracted male genitalia, you are a TERF

        If you believe that straight men are not bigoted if they won’t have sex with natal males who id as female, you’re a TERF

        If you believe that biological females can get pregnant, you’re a TERF.

        TERF is thrown around as a slur to put an end to any and all conversation. Yes, actual TERFs do exist – they are the women who hate men – but TERF, as it is generally used, refers to anyone who dares to question the narrative. Just as ‘misogynist’ and ‘rapist’ are thrown around so very carelessly to slur anyone who disagrees, no matter how slightly, with the tenets of third wave feminism.

        • Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          That’s not exactly true. The word TERF is only used against women, and specifically against radical feminists.

          It is never applied to men, and it would t make any sense at all to declare an anyone a Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist if they are not, in fact, feminists.

          • Cindy
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

            Actually, I was involved in a conversation last night in which Milo Yiannopoulis was characterized as a TERF by a couple of folks who believe that biological sex is all made up.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

            Ah, thanks for explaining what ‘TERF’ stands for. I didn’t know what it meant.

            On reflection, I still don’t know what it means, but at least I now know its name.

            😉

            cr

      • Lynn
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:43 am | Permalink

        It seems mostly a divide based on trans issues. I’m not entirely sure how I personally feel about it on all fronts, but I think the radical feminists have some good points in so far as how female oppression is often tied to female biology and this is worth considering in regard to transgender policy.

        • Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

          I get that it’s a difficult issue, I’m just wondering why the word “radical” has been invoked to characterize a more traditionalist position, and why that invocation is taken to be disqualifying. What does “radical” even mean in this context? (I would usually take it to mean militancy or advocacy of armed revolution).

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

            My understanding is that this split in third-wave feminism is over transsexuality and gender-identity issues (among other things). There are those who identify as “radical feminists” on both sides of this split. They are “radical” in that they propose societal solutions that go well beyond the workplace-equality, reproductive-rights, etc., agenda of second-wave feminism.

            At least that’s my mansplanation. 🙂

          • Karen
            Posted December 24, 2016 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

            “Radical” means “root”; in radical feminism it means that the root cause of women’s oppression is patriarchal gender relations (rather than legal systems or class). Thus radical feminists seek to abolish gender, which is viewed as a hierarchy or caste system.

            • Posted December 24, 2016 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

              That description brings a lot of things into clarity. Thank you.

  5. GBJames
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    Meanwhile, the country has been taken over by extremists bent on destroying every public institution they can lay their hands on.

    Never mind…

    I’m off to practice correct pronoun usage.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

      “Meanwhile, the country has been taken over by extremists bent on destroying every public institution they can lay their hands on.”

      Your comment can be taken as criticism of the “controversy”, or our host bothering to cover the controversy. I assume you meant the former.

      • GBJames
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        Yes, the former.

        “The Left” (my side) spends its energy on identity politics, pretty much ignoring the economic basis on which “the left” was built. We are now seeing the consequences play out.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:46 am | Permalink

          Wait until the robot upgrading happens!

          • Heather Hastie
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

            Have you seen the British TV series ‘Humans’? Robots with personalities that learn, think, and feel. What their rights should be is playing out as part of the drama. Good series, well written and well acted.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

              I will get to it one day. Right now Amazon Prime Video has finally come to Canada so I’ve committed to the first season of Man in the High Castle, based on the Philip K Dick novel if he same name.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

                We watched the first few episodes last night. I petered out part way into the 3rd. I’m not sure I can stick it out through the whole thing. Someone tell me if it gets more gripping. Right now it seems kind of formulaic.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

                The novel wasn’t so on the nose. I’ve only seen the first two episodes.

  6. Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Maybe it’s a quantized spectrum, not a continuum. A wide blank space with a few spectral lines. The discussion always seems to get muddled with dinstinguishig sex vs social expression. There probably isn’t a definable linear spectrum between “masculine” and “feminine” either, better described as a cloud of social gender associations on dress, mannerisms etc. I know some people who identify as “gender fluid” but I can’t tell if it refers to biological sex identification or to gender expression. If it’s the former then maybe it would be better described as “stochastic sex identity.”

  7. somer
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    All this sensitivity to an efflorescence of composite sexualities seems sensational coming from a Murdoch magazine that now blatantly panders to Putin, given Trump likes him and thats where the money for Murdoch will be. the article blatantly celebrates a return to authoritarian and ultra conservative values in Russia, whilst ignoring the corruption and kleptocracy and lauding the way too drastic too fast “economic reforms” wrought by Yeltsin and supported by laissez faire enthusiasts like Murdoch – and indeed by the Clintons – and Yeltsins that are the whole reason kleptocrats bought out the resources and democracy is completely discredited in Russia.

    http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2016/12/putin-generation-russia-soviet-union/

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

      I am sorry to hear about this pandering to Putin.
      I think, however, that Yeltsin and those who supported him shouldn’t be blamed too much for the reforms. It is not easy to dismantle command economy and replace it with market economy. I don’t know a single country that has done this transition and is happy with the way it was done.
      My opinion, supported by experience, is that the faster this is done the better, because transitional stages of economy are non-functional, and humans as endotherms need very regular food supply ;-). If a delay is needed, it is just for cultural reasons – to let the population see that what doesn’t work, really doesn’t.

      • somer
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

        Actually I should have made it clear – I blame Yeltsin for that under him state resources were just taken over by kleptocrats including his family – although given the authoritarianism of the russian system and history maybe it was always bound to be seized by a dictator and given over to kin based nepotism. The extremism of communism kept kin based corruption largely at bay but was hugely inefficient. At the least, the West should have given more recognition to Gorbachev who was at least trying to move the system to a less authoritarian model. The transition period under Yeltsin was definitely disastrous for most russians and they see Putin as a stabiliser. The russians appear to subsequently just see democracy as a kind of western plot

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

          Indeed, without Yeltsin there would have been no Putin and if Gorbachev had taken Yeltsin more seriously perhaps thibgs would have been different. But, I think the true stabilizer was Putin’s economics guy Hermann Gref.

  8. Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:07 am | Permalink

    Almost everyone in that second cover looks like a freak to me. Tattoos, ripped jeans, braids. I object to people not wearing suits, and ties, and nice dresses, at least wear clothes without holes in them. :p

    • DrBrydon
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Yes, as Paul Linde sang, “Kids! I don’t know what wrong with these kids today!…Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?”

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        “Yes, as Paul Linde sang, “Kids! I don’t know what wrong with these kids today!…Why can’t they be like we were, perfect in every way?”

        And he was right, I don’t know about the perfect thing, but kids have been getting worse since the 50’s. And I say that as a kid of the 60’s, and 70’s who raised some in the 80’s, and 90’s. In the 60’s I was happy if my parents gave me a quarter for the corner store, by the 90’s you were a bad parent in their eyes if you didn’t buy them a tv, and vcr, now if they don’t have a computer, and Iphone they’ll call child protective services on you.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

        Yeah, things haven’t been the same since Conrad Birdie got drafted.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:17 am | Permalink

      What is really weird is that those ripped jeans cost more than jeans in perfect condition.

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        “What is really weird is that those ripped jeans cost more than jeans in perfect condition.”

        More evidence that they are freaks. :p

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      And why is her hair pink?

      Something genetic?

      cr

  9. Historian
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    I think that on the left of the political spectrum only a relatively few people are obsessed with this issue. The vast majority believe that people should allow to identify themselves as they wish and those wishes should be respected. This issue is not highly ranked on the list of their most pressing concerns. However, for the right-wing the issue of gender identify is something that terrifies them because people who do not identify strictly with the gender they were born into are threat to what some conservative theorists refer to as “natural law,” which for many is the equivalent of God’s law. Hence, for right-wing politicians the more this issue receives public attention, the better for them. It’s a perfect wedge issue for them to gain the support of the Republican Party’s religious base. Nothing makes these politicians happier than creating a ruckus when a person born male, but now identifies as female, attempts to use the girls’ bathroom in a school. The ability of right-wing politicians to use these type issues illustrates how much more successful they have been than liberal politicians in mobilizing their respective bases.

    • Randall Schenck
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      I was thinking, sense National Geographic has taken up this subject and so much on religion, possibly they could explain to us why religion treats these folks in the ways that they do.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:46 pm | Permalink

      Yes. I think the Right also flogs these matters as an opening for holding the line on (and perhaps rolling back) the ground it lost on gay rights and same-sex marriage.

  10. jardino
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    I stopped taking this rag about 25 years ago. Although the photography was (perhaps still is) superb, reading the text was like chewing cotton wool.

  11. Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    ‘Feminism’ is like ‘socialism’ in that it is an umbrella term that covers often incomparable ideas.

    Second wave feminism regarded gender as a social construct and something largely to overcome; so, if a boy likes wearing pink and a girl likes climbing trees they are transcending stereotypes and that’s great.

    Third wavers, whatever they may say, seem to reject biological sex and celebrate gender in that someone anatomically male can become female by adopting feminine mannerisms.

    That’s actually a reinforcement of gender stereotypes, and why second wave feminists like Germaine Greer, Julie Burchill and Ophelia Benson who oppose such stereotypes have found themselves out of step with modern feminism.

    I think there are certainly a lot of feminists holding onto a mix of second wave and third wave ideas who have not thought them through and who are unaware of the incompatibility of both ideologies. Throw in an unconditional support for cultures where gender roles are far more strictly enforced than in the west and you have a situation where the cognitive dissonance can only be dealt with by displacing it into incoherent rage.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:30 am | Permalink

      Incompatible ideas. Ducking autocorrect.

    • James Walker
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:19 am | Permalink

      A friend and colleague of mine has an interesting discussion on the … evolution 🙂 of the term “gender”:

      https://debuk.wordpress.com/2016/12/15/a-brief-history-of-gender/

      • James Walker
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

        Sorry I meant to post this higher up, not as a response! (In my defense, I’m jetlagged.)

      • Posted December 20, 2016 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

        This is great. Every online discussion should start with clear definitions of terms. So often, apparent antagonists are arguing past each other and would actually agree if they shared the same understanding of the words each other used.

  12. Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I think the issue of a sex spectrum has been adequately debunked in an earlier post.

    When it comes to a ‘gender spectrum’ what does this even mean? If you say you are feminine because you are, say, nurturing rather than mechanically minded, you aren’t actually placing yourself on a gender spectrum, you are ascribing nurturing and mechanical mindedness to particular genders.

    That’s a reinforcement of gender roles.

    • darrelle
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 8:08 am | Permalink

      Your simple example just clarified something I was having trouble understanding. Thanks!

  13. GM
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:39 am | Permalink

    This isn’t for a moment to imply that gays and transgender people are “freaks,” “abnormal”, or shouldn’t be treated with respect and dignity.

    Actually it does mean that — ask yourself what the selection coefficient of being transgender would be in the wild and how we look at all other phenotypes with such a selection coefficient.

    Of course that does not mean such people should not be treated with respect and dignity, but it is a denial of objective biological reality to refuse to acknowledge that they have a disorder (genetic or developmental if they are legitimately intersex, a mental one if they were born physically normal as males or females).

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

      There you go with the “naturalistic fallacy” again.

      Do you think every outlier by definition suffers from a “disorder”? Are those who score in the top 1% on the Spearman g factor for intelligence “disordered”?

      Or is it only those with a reduced selection coefficient that you deem socially undesirable and, thus, “disordered”?

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

        +1

        We frequently chastise those who invoke the Bishop’s Wife and claim that truth should be abridged in the service of keeping society functioning.

        But, damn, if I haven’t come across a lot of people lately using an appeal to nature as an excuse to let their baser instincts run rampant.

        • GM
          Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:35 am | Permalink

          And damn if it doesn’t seem like almost everyone around me wants to live in fantasy la-la land where little ponies, puppies kittens are frolicking around in the sunshine, there are no such things as laws of physics and humans are not biological entities subject to the same evolutionary forces all other organisms are. And not only wants to live in fantasy la-la land, but perceives the world as if they do live in such a place.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 8:44 am | Permalink

            No, they just make a distinction between what is biologically ‘natural’, and what is ethical. I’ve presumably evolved to find the thought of two men having sex unappealing – for obvious selection-based reasons. That doesn’t mean I leap to the conclusion that my queasiness implies something about the morality of the act itself. I think it’s fair to ask that people who object to things like transgenderism and homosexuality do a little more to support their argument than just relying on the ‘yuck factor’:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisdom_of_repugnance

            And BTW, PC comes in for a lot of stick, a lot of it more than justified, but remember that it began as a way to push back against societies that have for millennia referred to homosexuals and other sexual minorities as ‘freaks’ – when they weren’t chopping their heads off. It’s all very well to claim that you’re just being realistic, and ‘the laws of physics say…’, etc., but there’s a reason we don’t describe society in entirely naturalistic terms. There’s a difference between referring to ‘freak weather events’ and referring to ‘freak human beings’, even if you’d say you’re simply referring in both cases to statistically anomalous collections of particles.

            • Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:27 am | Permalink

              “No, they just make a distinction between what is biologically ‘natural’, and what is ethical.”

              Bingo. I don’t understand why so many people have a difficult time making this distinction in a gender/sexuality context yet see no issues with contradicting biology in many other contexts: diet, medicine, the expanding circle, etc.

      • GM
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:28 am | Permalink

        Do you think every outlier by definition suffers from a “disorder”?

        “Outlier” != “phenotype that severely impacts reproductive fitness”

        As I said, anything else that hurts your reproductive fitness by even a fraction of the amount that being transgender does is perceived as a serious medical condition to be treated. And usually there are large branches of the biomedical industry dedicated to treating it.

        That’s just how it is — if you are truly transgender, you generally do not reproduce.

        Not being able to reproduce (note to those who will come up with a fallacious objection to that: this is a very different condition from not wanting to do so) is a disorder under any reasonable objective biological analysis of the situation.

        The “naturalistic fallacy” has nothing to do with it.

        I clearly said such people should be treated with the same dignity and respect that we treat everyone else. How many times do I have to say it?

        We treat people with fertility problems and do not think of them as subhuman. But we do not pretend that they have no problems.

        It is a very dangerous route to go down to pretend that intersex and transgender people do not have a disorder. No culture can be so dissociated from objective reality and hope to survive for very long.

        • Tim Harris
          Posted December 19, 2016 at 5:42 am | Permalink

          The Catholic Church seems to agree with you, GM, at least about homosexuality, which it describes as an ‘objective disorder’.

          • GM
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:29 am | Permalink

            A homosexual can reproduce if he/she wants to. An intersex individual cannot (with some exceptions). A post-SRS/HRT person can’t either.

            Please, stop trying to evade having to deal with the core of the argument

          • GM
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:36 am | Permalink

            P.S. As I have noted on a number of other occasions, the more postmodernist lunacy takes over the mainstream, the more frequently sane rational scientifically minded people will be finding themselves in uncomfortable alliances with the Catholic church.

            Which means that “You’re on the same side as the Catholic church” should not be used as an argument (and it’s not as if it ever was a good one to begin with).

          • Tim Harris
            Posted December 20, 2016 at 2:19 am | Permalink

            I don’t see much core to your argument, beyond the either/or rigidity that is characteristic of the Catholic church and that you seek in the theory of evolution and your appeals to ‘reproductive fitness’. A transgender person who has not had a sex-change operation is of course in much the same position as the homosexual person where the possibility of having children is concerned. On your terms, you should be declaring that it is those who have had a sex-change operation and are no longer capable of begetting or bearing children who are ‘disordered’ ‘under any reasonable objective analysis of the situation’. And I imagine the Catholic church would warmly agree with you.

        • Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

          A man or woman with fertility issues has a specific, identifiable physiological malfunction that is amenable to one of a number of actual treatments.

          Can you specifically name the malfunction non-cis people have and what treatments they need?

          You say they should be treated with dignity and respect. Is that compatible with claiming their choice means they have problems and are disordered? What skin is it off your nose? This isn’t about living in postmodern la la land, this is about being a decent person.

          • Cindy
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:48 am | Permalink

            For the record, I have come across transexuals who consider it a disorder, if only because, from the earliest age that they can remember, they felt that their body was ‘wrong’. They suffered tremendously, every day, feeling trapped in a body that was alien to them. Such an unbearable situation in fact, that without transition, suicide was deemed to be the only solution to end the suffering.

            This is why I despise trans trenders, who claim the mantle of oppression whilst being perfectly happy with their bodies.

            • Posted December 19, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

              I feel for those individuals.

              Perhaps if society were more accepting their situation wouldn’t seem so wrong to them. Looking masculine while feeling feminine would just be one of the options. But that’s hard to do in our society.

              I hasten to add that that this is a big perhaps. I can’t claim much insight, if any, into the experience of these individuals.

          • GBJames
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 10:16 am | Permalink

            “You say they should be treated with dignity and respect. Is that compatible with claiming their choice means they have problems and are disordered?”

            Their “choice”?

            Leaving that bit aside, I would think the answer can reasonably be “yes”. People with schizophrenia have a disorder and should be treated with respect and dignity. Why shouldn’t people with any disorder be treated with dignity and respect?

            • Posted December 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

              Their choice to live as they feel they should, or to give in to the pressure to conform.

              The question is whether it really qualifies as a disorder. Insisting that it’s a disorder when it isn’t necessarily a disorder doesn’t seem compatible with dignity and respect, to me. What specifically qualifies these people as disordered? I was trying to get at this point above when I implied that the comparison to fertility issues (or schizophrenia) is not apt. Where is the objective pathology?

              • Cindy
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 1:37 pm | Permalink

                I have spoken at length with Yorick, a trans man who had to transition otherwise he would have killed himself. (Yorick has a youtube channel in which he explains what it is like to be transexual)

                He explained that having to wake up every day, feeling that his body was not his, that it felt like some alien thing attached to him, and that living with a female body with a mismatched mind = torture.

                Put Yorick alone on a desert island. Yorick is still going to feel gender dysphoria – that his body does not match his mind.

                Put a gay person on a desert island. Most likely, with no social pressures, no disapproving society, the gay person will not become self-hating.

                At one time I thought that being trans was akin to being gay, but after speaking with transexuals who have actually suffered with the condition, I have since changed my mind. It’s a disorder, even if wholly natural.

                Yorick considers his condition to be a mental disorder.

              • Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

                Well, I’m not so sure about the desert island scenario; I’d wager societal gender stereotypes help create the dysmorphia some experience: “if you look like this, you should feel like this”.

                But if these people themselves feel it’s a disorder then who am I to object.

              • Cindy
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

                This is a complex subject and there is no ‘right’ answer. What I have come to learn, through my research, is that there is no one cause of transexualism. I use the term ‘transexualism’ precisely to describe those who feel that their body and brain are mismatched. “Transgender”, on the other hand, is a new term, and it describes people who want to be known as ‘non-binary’, ‘pansexual’ or one of the other 71 genders yet are perfectly happy with their bodies and wish to change nothing.

                As Yorick has explained, his feelings have nothing to do with what society expects of him. He has simply always felt that his body was not right for his mind, society or not.

                A recent study seems to back up Yorick’s explanation of his feelings of gender dysphoria:

                https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/is-there-something-unique-about-the-transgender-brain/

                Trans people have brains that are different from males and females, a unique kind of brain,” Guillamon says. “It is simplistic to say that a female-to-male transgender person is a female trapped in a male body. It’s not because they have a male brain but a transsexual brain.” Of course, behavior and experience shape brain anatomy, so it is impossible to say if these subtle differences are inborn.

                In a study published in 2014, psychologist Sarah M. Burke of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam and biologist Julie Bakker of the Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience used functional MRI to examine how 39 prepubertal and 41 adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria responded to androstadienone, an odorous steroid with pheromonelike properties that is known to cause a different response in the hypothalamus of men versus women. They found that the adolescent boys and girls with gender dysphoria responded much like peers of their experienced gender.

                So, I would say that trans men like Yorick probably have a biological basis for their GID.

                The second type of transexual is the person who very might well be suffering some sort of dissociative disorder. Third Way Trans is a former trans woman who desisted after studying psych and realizing that his problems were social/dissociative and not biological, as in Yorick’s case. You can also Google Walt Heyer, who has had a similar experience (the mistake Walt makes is to assume that every trans person is like him and suffers dissociative disorder, which is not true)

                https://thirdwaytrans.com/2015/02/24/link-between-gender-dysphoria-and-dissociation-found/

                Thirdwaytrans website is a really good resource, and I recommend it if you are interested in learning more about one type of transexualism.

                I have also learned, from reading dozens of de-transition stories, that many people, often gay men and women, are shamed for their sexuality to the point that they think that they must be a girl trapped in a boy’s body or vice versa. There are dozens of de-transition stories out there from butch lesbians who, feeling great shame from the social disapproval for not looking/behaving like the gender stereotype associated with their birth sex..Here is one such story: https://hotflanks.wordpress.com/

                Lastly, there are the autogynephiles, which I won’t get into right now, but yes, they do exist, and these are the people who shame lesbians into having sex with them: https://terfisaslur.com/. Autogynephiles are not a monoloith: one showed up here on an article about Alice Dreger’s work regarding AGP and she was really nice. But there are AGP who are misogynist, narcissistic fetishists.

                From the studies that I have seen, AGP have typical male brains, whilst HSTS (trans women who are attracted to men, aka homosexual transexuals) have feminized brains.

                I hope that gives you a rough idea of the depth of the subject. I have done a lot of research but have only really scratched the surface. I hope that it all makes some sort of sense, I just shovelled a bunch of snow and I cannot brain today! *and my cat keeps knocking down my woodpile, why kitty why*

              • GM
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

                Insisting that it’s a disorder when it isn’t necessarily a disorder doesn’t seem compatible with dignity and respect, to me.

                Some examples:

                1. People who are sterile. Do we acknowledge that they have a real medical issue. Yes we do. Do we treat them with respect. Yes, we do

                2. People with schizophrenia. Do we acknowledge that they have a real medical problem. Yes we do. Do we treat them with respect. Perhaps not in the past, but attitudes have changed. We try to help them.

                3. Cancer patients. Do we look at cancer as a serious medical problem. You bet. Is anyone seen as less of a human for developing one? No, not really.

                Etc. etc.

                The only exception seem to be people born intersex and transgender individuals — you either have to accept those as perfectly normal expressions of human diversity, or you are a bigot.

                But once again, what is the selection coefficient of being born intersex? Well, you don’t reproduce.

                So if w = 0, then s = 1 - w = 1 .

                It literally does not get worse than this (on the phenotype level at least). The only comparable conditions are:

                1. Being born completely infertile (and you are when you are intersex most of the time)
                2. Being born with some condition that will ensure your death before you reach reproductive age.

                In both of those cases, especially the second one, if it wasn’t about being intersex, doctors and everyone around you would be extremely alarmed.

                Then let’s say you are transgender but physiologically “normal”.

                What is the selection coefficient?

                Well, now there is the possibility that you do have kids and only transition later in life. But if you are deeply struggling with your condition all your life, it’s quite likely that you are not going to do that, because of the general mess that your life is. And if you get transitioned before you even hit puberty, as is increasingly common to do, we’re back to the s = 1 situation.

                Let’s pencil in a rough estimate of s = 0.75 for being transgender (could be 0.5, it doesn’t really matter much).

                That is still very very very bad, pediatric cancers hurt fitness a lot less than this.

                This is the reality you have to deal with.

                To insist that being trans or intersex is perfectly normal is to deny that reality. And that is never a good thing to do — any culture that does down that path is doomed to extinction (just as any genotype with s = 0.75 is).

                And once again, this has nothing to do with treating individual human beings with respect and dignity.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:35 pm | Permalink

                “Insisting that it’s a disorder when it isn’t necessarily a disorder doesn’t seem compatible with dignity and respect, to me.”

                Then I think the problem is yours and your’s alone. By your logic a person suffering from a severe birth defect should not expect to be treated with dignity and respect.

                A child is born with a cleft palate. Another is born desperately wanting to be the other sex. A third is born with clubfoot. All have a defect. All deserve respect and dignity. None should be in a position to demand linguistic changes designed to obscure the fact of the defect, however.

              • Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

                No, that’s not my logic. I’m not saying anything about how people with disorders should be treated. I’m suggesting that calling something a disorder when perhaps it’s not legitimately a disorder is disrespectful.

              • Cindy
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

                If it isn’t a medical condition ie disorder then it shouldn’t be covered by insurance or single payer, as it is here in Canada.

                And such an outcome, imo, is rather disrespectful, since those with a biological basis to their transexualism *need* to transition.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

                Seems to me that the more serious disrespect is shown by refusing to call a disorder a disorder.

                “No, child, that cleft lip isn’t a disorder. You’re just special” does nobody a favor.

              • Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:55 pm | Permalink

                Agreed. I would call into question the aptitude of the comparison.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

                ” I would call into question the aptitude of the comparison.”

                I don’t see why. They both are treated surgically.

              • Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

                One is an objective malfunction that would hinder a person regardless of how accepting society is. As I’ve pointed out a couple of times, it’s possible gender dysphoria is caused, at least in part, by society’s expectations: “if you look like a make you shouldn’t feel feminine”. The hindrance comes from society. If we had a perfectly accepting society perhaps more of these individuals would feel like looking like a man but feeling like a woman would be one of the options. And if it were one of the options I don’t see why we’d need to fix it. But as Cindy has written, it’s also possible these people would experience dysmorphia anyway, in which case perhaps it is best described as a disorder. I don’t think I know enough to comment further, but I do see a difference between dysmorphia and cleft palate.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

                When you start down the “it’s possible” path you can end up in many places.

                It’s possible that cleft lip would be seen as a beauty mark, much to be desired.

                It’s possible that special social prominence is granted to children with Down’s Syndrome.

                It takes a special form of denial to insist that this means these conditions are not disorders.

              • Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

                No; there are obvious, objective, problems that people with cleft palates or Down Syndrome experience. A Down syndrome individual may not possess the intelligence to perform tasks required for independent living. A child with cleft palate or lip may have trouble nursing, eating, learning to speak. What are the obvious, objective problems with transgenderism – ones not resulting from societal pressure?

                Even if I concede that transgenderism is a disorder, there is still an appreciable qualitative difference between it and Down Syndrome.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

                Well, mb, I’m willing to give enough respect and dignity to transgender people to accept their description of being trapped in the wrong body. They suffer from this feeling. But YOU won’t acknowledge it because it isn’t a physical defect. Well, you can’t see schizophrenia either. Let’s pretend that isn’t a disorder, either, OK? Please be consistent.

                After all, it is possible that people with schizophrenia would be granted special honored status in society.

              • Posted December 19, 2016 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

                Every defect is a physical defect.

                If a transgendered person wants to call themselves disordered or defective, fine. I most certainly will acknowledge that. Perhaps they are legitimately disordered. I am not pronouncing on the matter.

                But I will not insist to a transgendered person who feels they are not disordered that they are. Their “defect” isn’t creating a problem for them in the same way as Down Syndrome creates a problem for someone. Their problems stem from society and stereotypes.

            • GBJames
              Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

              “Their “defect” isn’t creating a problem for them in the same way as Down Syndrome creates a problem for someone.”

              What special authority do you have for such a declaration? What does “in the same way” even mean? These are different disorders. Of course they aren’t problems “in the same way”.

              And on what basis do you get to simply declare that their problems derive from society and stereotypes? These are simply ideological assertions.

              • Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

                GB, come on. I always enjoy your comments and they add a lot to the discussion here at WEIT. I think we can have this argument without sniping at each other.

                I’m not claiming to declare anything. This is a discussion on a blog. No one’s searching WEIT for musical beef’s pronouncements on reality. You don’t see the value in discussing things you’re not sure about? Everything I’ve written has been couched in “perhaps”, or “it seems to me”.

                So, it seems to me that experiencing dysphoria because society has inculcated the idea that you should feel the way you look, but you don’t, is not a disorder like Down syndrome is a disorder.

                But this amount of pushback has me thinking that I should read up and then reconsider.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

                Well, I will say this. We’re probably pushing the limits of Da Roolz and should probably call this off for now. The Paw of the Cat falls on those who over-occupy the conversation.

          • GM
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

            Is that compatible with claiming their choice means they have problems and are disordered?

            Choice? But aren’t they claiming that they absolutely need to have SRS+HRT or they would kill themselves because they just cannot live in the body they were born with?

            If it’s not a choice, then it is a highly maladaptive medical/psychiatric condition. Simple, straightforward, objective biological fact that I am still to see addressed in this thread.

            On the other hand. if you are saying it is a mere “choice”, then you should have no problems with people cutting of their limbs, deliberately blinding themselves, and all the other endless such examples. That is perfectly normal by your own logic.

            Which, for the record, I am willing to concede — go ahead, do whatever you want, as long as it does not infringe on other people’s rights and freedoms.

            But if it is just “choice”, you have zero rights to impose your “identity” on the rest of society by forcing people to use made up pronouns, build a third bathroom on every floor on every building and other stuff of the sort.

            • Cindy
              Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

              I have addressed it with links to a bunch of studies, once the comment is out of moderation!

              This is a very complex subject, and difficult to address in one comment!

            • Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

              You misunderstand. The choice to either live true to themselves or to squelch it, as I explained to GBJames. Not the choice to be transgender. I am happy to accept their word that it’s not a choice just as they accept my word that my identity is not a choice.

              • GM
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

                OK, so then we’re back to it being a highly maladaptive medical condition.

  14. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    About the colour pink — I found myself thinking about it as well and I think it reveals my own hang ups about girly things growing up in an age where being a girl was being less. So, when I see a girl in pink I feel a revulsion and it’s because I tried to avoid wearing it or being around it or anything else girly as a girl because I didn’t like what came with it – the intellectual vacuousness, the expectation to be quiet and polite, the compulsion to shun knowledge and to look pretty. So, I can understand the knee jerk reaction to the pink but some kids just like pink – to most kids, it’s just a colour. Some girl kids like girly things and maybe some boy kids do too and that’s just who they are. I have many friends with kids who are real girly girls and that’s just what they like – it doesn’t make them dumb. This is what I tell myself after my initial repugnant reaction.

    As for the women not being in the second picture. I noticed that too. If they distinguish between “male” and “transgender male” the lack of a “female” really stands out. What bothered me in the days of plain old “cross dressing” was that men were shown as more beautiful. I was jealous of how beautiful these men were as women and knew that even a man could be way more pretty than me, an ugly woman. I don’t know what to think of all this, just that it’s quite odd as a woman to experience.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      Pink is pretty much a little girl thing they grow out of before their teens. It’s certainly not a sexually-charged colour like red or black.

      If you are a teenage boy invested in the colour pink then you aren’t identifying with girls in your own age group as they are probably goths with tattoos and piercings who associate pink with being infantile.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        Tell that to the industry that keeps making pink everything for women – and the annoying pink ribbon campaign for breast cancer! It’s probably is infantile, as you say, but the world seems keen on infantilizing grown women.

        • Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:44 pm | Permalink

          I can’t think of an adult woman who wears pink other than Lady Penelope in Thunderbirds.

          The Labour Party got a lot of stick for the Pink Bus they campaigned in for women’s votes at the last election.

          And most lipstick is red.

          Pink just isn’t a colour associated with adults.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

            3 words: Pink Ribbon Campaign

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          Personally, for some obscure reason, I don’t like pastel pink as a colour (except for flowers). It just seems like a half-hearted watered-down version of red.

          I do agree it’s idiotic making pink things for girls (and baby-blue for boys, for that matter). A hardware store recently was advertising tool sets (hammer, screwdrivers, etc) for women – yes, in pink! I would imagine their sales were exactly zero, since no male is ever going to be seen dead with a pink one and no woman who is feeling ‘masculine’ enough (excuse gender stereotype) to want a hammer is going to buy a girlie pink one either.

          cr

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

            I remember in the 90s Jerry Seinfeld did a bit about men harrassing women on the street were guys who were out of ideas about how to talk to women. I think companies making things in pink are guys out of ideas of how to get women to buy their product. 🙂

          • Merilee
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

            My daughter-in-law has one of those pink toolkits ( her dad bought it for her) and she gets a real chuckle out of it. She’s a very talented athlete, great mother to my one-year-old granddaughter, great partner to my son, and can be quite girly when she gets out of her trackpants or board shorts.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

              Ah, I was going to make a caveat to my comment along the lines of ‘except for guys who buy it as a present for girls’ but frankly I doubted any guy would be so reckless as to risk it. It seems your daughter-in-law has a good sense of ironic humour.

              cr

              • karaktur
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

                Bought my wife a pink tookit. Tools have a way of walking away but there little risk of her pink hammer or screwdriver coming up missing even though there are two men in the house who on occasion use a tool. She loves it. Mine is red.

            • Saul Sorrell-Till
              Posted December 19, 2016 at 10:02 am | Permalink

              I really do remember loving my little plastic toolkit as a kid. Hammering away at non-existent DIY problems around the house, whilst also wearing a cape, pretending to be some kind of handyman superhero. It’s baffling to me in retrospect, but boys genuinely do seem to like that kind of stuff. I’m utterly useless at DIY now, so it was hardly a path I followed in later life.

              Maybe we just like imitating grown ups, and we’d do so whatever the jobs our role models did.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 10:26 am | Permalink

                When my son was little he was totally captivated by two things: dinosaurs and earth moving equipment. He had his own word, “Bice”, which applied to both of these things.

                Neither my wife nor myself provide a model for employment in the backhoe-and-bulldozer trades.

                Raising two kids, a boy and a girl, was excellent first-hand training in the absurdities of pomo relativism.

              • Merilee
                Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

                Does your son still like the big machines?
                Mine knew all the types of earthmovers, and brands, from a very young age. “Case front-end loader” he would cry as we drove through the countryside. He didn’t get this from his dad or me, but I learned a lot in the process. He has made himself a good living driving all sorts of these beasts in paradise on earth, Whistler, BC.

              • GBJames
                Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

                Heh. In my son’s case, no. He got himself a BA in philosophy and history, worked in university administration for a while and is now going after an EE degree. I don’t remember exactly at what point his interest in “bice” faded.

          • nicky
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:04 pm | Permalink

            In the Brussels area traditionally pink was for baby boys and light blue for baby girls. Even the files in St Pierre, Brussel’s biggest hospital at the time, were pink for boys and light blue for girls.
            I guess we are talking (assigning colour preferences for boys and girls) a real culturally determined phenomenon here.

            • infiniteimprobabilit
              Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

              I think we must be, since the colours seem to be completely arbitrary.

              cr

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:38 pm | Permalink

                (Just like blue for Dems and red for Repubs in the US – the opposite of most countries where red = left-wing and blue = right-wing).

                cr

              • Merilee
                Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

                Yeah, I always have to think twice about red vs. blue, as I live in Canada and vote in the U.S. Same with “tableing motions”; it means the opposite for Canucks vs. Yanks.

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:33 am | Permalink

              Pink for girls is a fairly new thing in the West as well. It was the opposite way around in the past. But, my experiences of infantilization and bad marketing is also cultural.

              • infiniteimprobabilit
                Posted December 21, 2016 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

                Instant karma – She Who Must Be Obeyed has confiscated my tatty orange beach towel and ordered me to use a much larger towel which happens to be two shades of pink.

                I’d be embarrassed but I long ago decided I’m embarrassing enough anyway so who cares, I don’t. 😉

                cr

              • Tim Harris
                Posted December 21, 2016 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

                Well, at least you haven’t been terfed out…

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted December 21, 2016 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

                Maybe I have and didn’t know since I just learned that term! 🙂

          • Linn
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 10:10 am | Permalink

            The funny thing is that looking at old pictures (and I mean 100+), you can see plenty of boys in dresses, and I’ve even read that some of those old dresses for boys were pink.

            It’s not as if the first standing humanoid decided that pink was a feminine colour, while blue was a boy colour.
            It’s somethng many western countries simply decided on for some reason. Though, where I live, more teenage boys wear pink than girls. Pink shirts have often been the most popular type of shirts for boys and young men. Pink headbands were also immensely popular for boys in the school that I went to.

            Unfortunately, when it comes to toys, I’ve noticed a greater gender segregation since I was young (and I’m only 29). Lego is divided into blue and pink now and the pink boxes for the girls contain almost only finished sections.
            Appearantly girls aren’t supposed to be creative and build stuff.

            Even worse is all the princess and wedding stuff. I was looking at christmas presents with my boyfriend recently (he was trying to find something for his niece) and I got nauseous when I saw there was a damned wedding dress with accessories for 4 year olds. There’s always been princess stuff, but it’s the first time I’ve seen them sell wedding dresses for that young girls.
            As if being a good wife is all girls can amount to.

            • Merilee
              Posted December 21, 2016 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

              That’s realy bad to have so many finished Lego sections, especially if there are more of those for girls, and mainly in pink:-(. My three brothers and I grew up loving the old plain red ( and a few white windows?) ones. My daughter actually enjoyed Lego more than my son. I’m hoping my two baby granddaughters will grow up more Lego-ish than princess.

    • Rita
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

      I’m actually old enough to remember a time when it was OK for a man to wear a pink shirt. How did it get to be so strongly identified as an exclusively girl color?

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        “I’m actually old enough to remember a time when it was OK for a man to wear a pink shirt.”

        One of my favorite pullover sweaters is pink, I guess I didn’t get the memo.

      • James Walker
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Excuse me? I have always worn pink shirts. Nobody told me it wasn’t okay 🙂

        Though one time someone (a straight man) told me that my wearing a pink shirt was a sign that I was confident in my masculinity. I said, no, it just means I like the colour pink 🙂

      • Posted December 19, 2016 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know, but I remember my grade 6 teacher, Mr. Niiya, had one, and once pointed out that this was an ok thing. (I forget what exactly he said.)

        • Posted December 19, 2016 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

          Oh, I guess I should mention that was the 1988-1989 school year.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

      I used to have a pink button-down shirt I’d wear with a grey chalk-stripe suit. Looked good, too, if I do say so myself. And I don’t give a good goddamn who thinks it was girly, since I’m too tough and macho to care (plus, it was a gift from my wife, and she made me wear it). 🙂

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 6:58 pm | Permalink

        Haha. I like some pink things and I’m trying to get over my pink phobia with accessories like pink scarves.

      • Merilee
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        I like pink dress shirts on men. My dad wore them sometimes and also a great pink tie he wore with a Loden green jacket.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

          Pink shirts seem to be the exception. Maybe because they’ve been around since before some marketroid thought ‘lets make pink things for little girls’.

          So I suppose it’s the occurrence of pink in utensils and appliances – phones, tools, computers – that arouses the ‘girly’ image.

          cr

    • steve
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:00 am | Permalink

      I brought in a bunch of gardening gloves, heavy leather work gloves, and winter gloves from home for students to wear while digging holes and lifting bags of concrete for an outdoor classroom project.

      The grade 10 – (14 -15 yr old) boys fought over my wife’s pink gardening gloves.

      Even now that the project is done, and I have not taken the gloves home yet, they rush to be first to look in the bag to grab the pink gloves just to wear during class.

      So there you go. Pink is not a girly colour here.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:44 am | Permalink

        I think it’s becoming less of a thing in the generations that followed mine.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

        Where’s ‘here’?

        I guess pink was once acceptable even for cars if you were flamboyant enough –

        but I’ll leave it to that bastion of political correctness, Top Gear, to pronounce on its current status as an automotive fashion colour:
        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkWf4crJ9uI

        cr

  15. Limor Geisler
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    The think you are missing the point of the critique. It reads to me like the author objects to the transgender narrative as it is being presented because it undermines the political claims of women as a group. She sounds like an old school political/civil rights feminist, not a transgender activist. The two groups are often at ofds.

  16. Cindy
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Rebecca Reilly Cooper has a really good article on the difference between ‘sex’ and ‘gender’:

    https://sexandgenderintro.com/

    Very informative and well written.

    And in another thread on this site, I was talking about ‘trans-trenders’ – here is one such example:

    https://4thwavenow.com/2016/12/17/a-mums-voyage-through-transtopia-helps-her-daughter-desist/

    16 year old Jessie believed that she was trans because she spent too much time on Tumblr and all of her friends were identifying as trans. As PCC pointed out, true trans folk are exceedingly rare. It is a medical condition involving true suffering – of the folks that I have spoken with who have transitioned, it was either transition or suicide. Transition is *absolutely* the cure, for lack of a better word, for folks with crippling dysphoria.

    Trans trenders like Jessie are identifying as the opposite sex due to social pressure. I also wonder if third wave feminism is not somewhat to blame for this – women and girls are told, repeatedly, that being a girl is the worst thing in the world. That every man is ‘Schrodinger’s Rapist’, and that they will be discriminated against because of their sex. Wouldn’t life just be easier as a man? I would also suspect that many young men are finding it easier to come out as trans because they have been vilified by SJWism – “toxic masculinity” and all that.

  17. DrBrydon
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    . . . Is this really what a “gender revolution” looks like?

    No revolution turns out the way its originators image. As Marx observed in The Eighteenth Brumaire, “Men make history, but they do not make it as they please….”

    I wonder in this “revolution,” what will happen to those who continue to accept for themselves more traditional views of being male and female?

  18. Saul Sorrell-Till
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Douglas Murray makes the point somewhere, I can’t remember where, that this is the kind of stuff westerners will be arguing about ‘when the bomb drops’. We’ll be engaged in furious, bad-tempered rows about whether xe or she is a xer or a her or a xim or a him, and in the meantime the more pressing threats will have built up to a critical mass and we’ll all be fantastically adept at categorising our fellow humans but not so good at standing up for liberal democracy, fighting relativism and emphasising the need for progressives of all kinds to pull together. And then we’ll lose, in a very big, unprecedented way.
    I don’t agree with all of what Murray says, and his attitude towards Brump/Trexit has been disappointingly ambivalent, but he’s got a point on this.

    Obviously the defense of minority rights is a good thing, and it doesn’t even bother me that much that the left places every third human into a separate node on the great Flowchart Of Oppression; what is of concern is the fact that this is pretty much all they seem to do.
    There are entire campuses of left-wing ‘liberals’ for whom the defense of liberalism is pointless, boring and uncool. Probably racist too. To get up and express a belief in its fundamentals would be an academic faux pas – like making a tasteless joke at a wedding.

    This is the point Murray was making – it’s that they, we, have become politically fat, lazy and complacent after half a decade of being broadly in the cultural and societal ascendancy and have stopped paying any attention to defending the fundamentals that underpin our world, the same world that allows for discussions like this to take place, and for front covers like National Geographic’s to happen at all.

    • Cindy
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      +1

    • bric
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:20 am | Permalink

      I totally agree, I’m gay, born with a ‘physically normal body’ but also with (I learn from #13) a mental disorder; I’m sure your putative Vice President would like to sort me out. However after surviving this long in a disordered state I really don’t give a fig what anyone calls me.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Love your choice of “fig” in this context. 🙂

        • bric
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

          This particular fig was Biblical, not Dionysian (much higher value!)

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Don’t mind #13; he’s the Trump & Putin fan who thought Hillary was gonna start World War III.

    • Historian
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:29 am | Permalink

      I am unaware of the fundamentals underpinning our world that liberals are not talking about. Perhaps you’re talking about climate change – oops! The right-wing doesn’t want to talk about that. Perhaps it is income inequality and the nature or our economy – oops again. This is another topic the right doesn’t want to talk about. Perhaps it is foreign policy that goes beyond bombing the hell out of other countries. Wait, I’m wrong again. Going to war is what the neocons want to do, at the drop of a hat.

      While liberals heartily supporting LGBT rights, talk about gender theory is not something the vast majority of them think about on a daily basis, despite what takes place on some campuses. Indeed, I would argue that the vast majority of liberals are oblivious as to what these esoteric debates are about and couldn’t care less. To criticize the left for being immersed in gender theory battles is the equivalent of the right-wing accusing liberals of being engaged in deep discussions about the validity of the Marxist dialectic. This, of course, is what conservatives did, with a great deal of success, for more than 40 years during the Cold War although such debates were limited to the minuscule American Communist Party

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

        For me the fundamentals of liberalism are free-speech, the universality of human rights(which implicitly carries with it a rejection of cultural and moral relativism), equality before the law, the importance of democracy, secularism and, more broadly, the pre-eminence of reason as a way to solve our problems. Everything else emerges from these principles.

        Perhaps these are the issues that set the greatest minds on the academic left ablaze, but if that’s the case they’re very quiet about it. I don’t even see how they’re going to end up discussing these issues in the first place with the balkanisation of social studies into gender and race-based flavours. The academic left has splintered into a kind of tentacular sprawl whose shape often seems to actively stymie the discussion of anything but the usual subjects.
        However, if you want to cite a few recent papers that are even neutral towards, never mind supportive of, the aforementioned liberal principles then I’d be open to reading them.

        BTW, I’d make a distinction between liberals and leftists. Liberals, or genuine liberals, often talk about these issues. That’s what we’re doing now.
        The left however includes all varieties of political subspecies and plenty of them have developed worldviews which look on liberalism with varying degrees of contempt. Just think of the Bernie or Bust-ers, or Glenn Greenwald or Chomsky, or the people who went out on the street to protest after Trump’s election yet who hadn’t even bothered to vote, or the crypto-Stalinists and Maoists in Jeremy Corbyn’s team, who have no interest in ever being elected and who look on the Labour Party as a vehicle for far-left activism and one-eyed Stop The War Coalition sanctimony.

        • GBJames
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

          I’m pretty much in line with you, Saul. I do want to ask something, though. You say:

          “people who went out on the street to protest after Trump’s election yet who hadn’t even bothered to vote.

          Do you have information that there were a significant number of such people? I don’t know of any, although I may just be ignorant.

        • Historian
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

          I would generally agree with you on your description of liberalism in the first paragraph. I do think, however, that the issue of cultural relativism is complex, but I don’t want to get into that debate here.

          Relative to the points you made in your comment, I find it interesting that you referred to the academic left. To the extent that the academic left (which would include traditional liberals) adheres to your description of it would require empirical research that I am not aware has been done. Of course, since you define leftists as people who don’t discuss fundamental issues then you have said nothing.

          You concentrate on academic leftists; I concentrate on the vast majority of people who call themselves liberals, believe in the liberal values you enunciated, and have little knowledge or concern about academic debates. Conservatives have had great success in attempting to associate the typical liberal with academic leftists (who may or may not be liberals depending on your definition) and their campus acolytes. In at least the United States, conservatives have been largely successful in what crudely can be called smear tactics. Liberals do indeed believe in the pre-eminence of reason and this has been a major cause in their undoing in the political arena. Unlike conservatives, they have failed to realize that appeals to reason do not work with a considerable portion of the electorate. Appeals to fact free emotions are usually much more successful. I think Trump has proven this point.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

            “To the extent that the academic left (which would include traditional liberals) adheres to your description of it would require empirical research that I am not aware has been done.”

            As would your following claim about what leftists and liberals talk about on a regular basis: “talk about gender theory is not something the vast majority of them think about on a daily basis, despite what takes place on some campuses. Indeed, I would argue that the vast majority of liberals are oblivious as to what these esoteric debates are about and couldn’t care less.”

            I don’t see any empirical research that supports your claim and I note you didn’t bother citing any of the kind of academic papers I suggested might bolster your argument.
            You also elide the gap between liberals and leftists again.

            You hop and shift from one argument to another so I find it difficult to discern what you’re trying to say.

            • Historian
              Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

              You mention Douglas Murray and you “remember” what you think he said. I would not call this citing an authority. If you think Murray has something worthwhile to say, you should do the research and provide the link. I am not going to do your research for you.

              If liberal voters were concerned with gender theory, I would think Hillary Clinton would have referred to this term during this campaign. Of course, she supports equal rights for the LGBT community, but this hardly means liberals think in terms of gender theory, even if they have a notion what the debate is about. You are attempting to do what conservatives always do: conflate a small group of academics and activities on the left with what the great mass of liberals are concerned about.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

                … Hillary Clinton … supports equal rights for the LGBT community …

                Yeah, and she was slow to take a drink after being led to that water, too.

                Anybody remember Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and DoMA?

              • Historian
                Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:50 pm | Permalink

                Ken, yes, Clinton was slow to embrace LGBT rights. But, this is immaterial to my argument. If she thought her constituency cared about gender theory, she would have talked about it, regardless of her personal feelings. She’s a politician and just as she did a 180 on the TPP, she would have talked about gender theory if she should thought it would win her votes. However, then and now, except for a few academics and activists, nobody cares a whit about it.

              • Saul Sorrell-Till
                Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:15 am | Permalink

                I didn’t refer to Douglas Murray as an authority. I didn’t ask you to cite him, or do any “research”(?).

                Re. the academic left, I glean their preoccupations the only way I know how: from reading what they write about, and the way the subjects evolve based on the politics of identity. If you think it’s controversial or absurd to conclude that in general the academic left tends to see the world through the lens of identity politics and relativism then there are many entire subdisciplines dedicated to proving you wrong, eg. gender studies, African-American studies, queer studies, etc.. As I said, if you want to cite some papers from the academic left that do support fundamental liberal principles, that do something other than declare them ‘problematic’ I’d welcome them.

                I didn’t base my argument on what ‘liberals talk about on a day-to-day basis’. I’m a liberal. I talk about this stuff. Genuine liberals tend to be the only people talking about this stuff in fact. But again, you refer to liberals and leftists as though they’re synonymous. I don’t really know how many more times I can point out the difference between what a liberal like, say, Sam Harris or Nick Cohen believes, and what a left-wing anarcho-libertarian like Chomsky or Greenwald believes.

                To constantly elide the gap between the two political positions is not helpful to the clarity of your arguments.

                Either way, this doesn’t seem like a particularly productive discussion, as we seem to be talking past one another.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Good points all around and I love “the great Flowchart of Oppression”. 🙂

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

        I keep meaning to draw it up but it’s a touch too complicated. And eventually I would have to judge whether having one leg means you’re more oppressed than if you are schizophrenic, that kind of thing, and it somehow feels like dodgy ground. I used a points-based system initially but that felt even more tasteless.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:23 pm | Permalink

        Me, too. But what’s with this one-in-three number? Can’t we all be victims — and above-average, while you’re at it?

        • Mark Perew
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:33 pm | Permalink

          Surely being left off the flowchart is a form of oppression.

        • Saul Sorrell-Till
          Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:51 am | Permalink

          But I am special. My mum told me I am and she doesn’t lie.

          “Can’t we all be victims — and above-average, while you’re at it?”

          …I like the idea of mothers everywhere telling their child “just remember sweetie, you are above average, and you always will be to me. You’re my above-average little darling”.

          • Cindy
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:53 am | Permalink

            Cats are the only victims.

            I have formulated a theory, and this is it.

            Kitties are not only special, but they are oppressed, especially when they do not get treats on demand, or their food dish is not 120% full.

            Where is your empathy for the most oppressed who live among us?

    • Historian
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

      I was amused by your reference to a “flowchart of oppression.” I know that you used term sarcastically, but there is a truth to it. Namely, there have been groups in society that have been historically oppressed and, to some extent, also today. The question is what society, through the actions of government, could or should do to rectify this situation. Liberals believe that government has a moral obligation to take action to rectify this situation through such measures as universal healthcare, better education, and providing them with economic opportunities. By the way, such actions would also help the white working class, although it has been tricked by conservatives to believe otherwise. I do not know if you call this moral relativism or not, but I am all for it. You can call this identity politics, but I still support it. And, despite the smears of the right-wing, most liberals believe in equal opportunity, NOT equal outcomes. Conservatives, on the other hand, believe that government assistance to the oppressed should be limited and that people constrained by the circumstances of birth should somehow miraculously pick themselves up by their bootstraps despite the near impossibility of this happening. Conservatives may be able to point to a few rare instances of this happening, but they are exceedingly rare.

      An extremely stratified society, such as exists today in the United States, is an inherently unstable one. It breeds discontent and could result in some sort of revolution, although what form that it would take nobody knows. A more equal society (which doesn’t mean absolute equality) promotes social stability and the reduction of tribalism. This is because then virtually all people would feel they have a stake in society. This is what liberals strive for. Unfortunately, they have recently shown little success. Indeed, from their perspective, their goals are more distant than ever.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        There seems to be a habit on the part of some on the left to not just aim for some kind of social equality among races and genders, but to actively overshoot these aims: ie. they would like people who have been historically oppressed not just to gain equality with their oppressors but to reverse the relationship to a certain extent and actually get to do what their oppressors did for centuries. It’s the equivalent of a child saying ‘but you did it to me’ when they get told off. So we have this tendency among some campuses to allow ethnic minority students to put up ‘no whites’ warnings in their ads for housemates, or to do group therapy sessions in which they surround and harangue certain students for their innate privileges. Free speech is the most telling signifier: whichever societal group has the most power will tend to fear freedom of speech. At the moment it’s the left who have the most power in the media and in academia and, overall, in society too, at least for the last half-century, and as a result there is a moderate but nevertheless significant pushback against free speech coming from them.
        These are all examples of a kind of overcompensatory ideology where equality and neutrality aren’t enough: it’s not enough that the powerless be raised up they should be given special licence to behave worse than others; it’s not enough that a fundamental tenet of liberalism like free speech be enshrined in society – we should be able to skew it in our favour.

        • Historian
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

          To me, the “some on the left” part is a very small part of the left, particularly when you claim that some of the oppressed strive to be the oppressors. Your anecdotes prove nothing. Your assertions are nothing more than your opinion. Since you are fond of research, I await a citation to a reputable research project that provides statistical evidence for your contention. Yes, I am expressing an opinion as well. And I find your “some on the left” assertion as meaningless. If you cite to me the anecdotes of a dozen people, it hardly means that they are representative of the left or liberals.

          • BJ
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

            Haven’t you seen the recent polls showing that majorities on college campuses now believe free speech isn’t necessary/is a bad idea?

            • Historian
              Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

              Perhaps you are referring to the extensive Gallup Poll of college students on free speech from April 2016. I provide citations when I can find them.

              http://www.gallup.com/poll/190451/college-students-oppose-restrictions-political-speech.aspx

              One conclusion is that “Students Far More Positive Than U.S. Adults About Security of First Amendment Rights, but Race a Key Factor for Assembly.” Also, yes that students favor some restrictions that most readers of this site would not agree with, such as restricting “offensive” costumes. Still, the attitude of students is more complex than some commentators realize.

              In any case, my response to Saul dealt not with free speech on campus, but my argument that there is little evidence that the oppressed want to become the oppressors. Again, the views of college students do not necessarily reflect those of larger bodies. It would be interesting to see ten years from now if the views of current college students will have changed once they had gotten to live in the real world a while.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted December 18, 2016 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

                “Students Far More Positive Than U.S. Adults About Security of First Amendment Rights”

                I suspect that may be because they have no experiential link to the great existential struggles of the last century. They were born after the iron curtain fell, and even their grandparents have no recollection of European fascism and WW2.

          • Saul Sorrell-Till
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:39 am | Permalink

            Well then we’re at a bit of a stalemate old bean. My post certainly wasn’t meant to be an assertion. It was my view of how much of the academic left is behaving at the moment. I don’t remember heading it with Saul Proves This Is The Way Things Are.

            I’m sorry that you find what I say meaningless. I find your arguments bafflingly specious, in that you have a habit of getting palpably irritated about arguments the other person hasn’t actually made, and you are imprecise in your use of political definitions.

            This is going absolutely nowhere.

    • JR
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:36 am | Permalink

      You should make your point without the ridiculous scare mongering references to “the bomb.” Unless the Strategic Air Command and NORAD have dismantled their surveillance systems and spend their days talking about gender pronouns, “the bomb” isn’t really relevant to this discussion.

      • Saul Sorrell-Till
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:42 am | Permalink

        I don’t think it was meant by Murray to refer to a nuclear bomb going off – I think it was more ‘when the shit hits the fan’.

  19. Mark Perew
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    sub

  20. Mark Sturtevant
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:07 am | Permalink

    The faces of people who do not fit the gender binary are indeed being presented more frequently in the mainstream, and I dearly hope we are on the long road to more general acceptance. A recent example which is getting a lot of commentary is from Cover Girl.

  21. colnago80
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    What is missing from this discussion and, perhaps, from the articles in NG are hermaphrodites, who constitute a small fraction of transgenders. As they have the sex organs of both sexes, they don’t fit neatly into any gender category.

  22. DiscoveredJoys
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    With their increasing osculation of faith, and now this, National Geographic is increasingly dealing with social issues rather than scientific/geographical ones, and I’m not quite sure why.

    It seems to me that many popular ‘science’ magazines and articles are going down this route. My suggested reason is that there is so much demand for ‘content’ that the publishers seize the limitless supply of opinion rather than the more limited supply of ‘proper’ scientific reporting.

    The risk is that artfully presented opinions, repeated time after time, can form the consensus whether justified or not. Rather like politics really.

  23. craw
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    I remember a time when the Left objected to sexualizing children.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

      It’s not sexuality though, it’s gender.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

      Of course you do, because that time is now.

  24. Kevin
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    Why not crusade for the sexually rights of crickets? There is no end to the benighted quest of the SJWs.

  25. articulett
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    I do wonder why National Geographic chose to put “male” on the right not a corresponding “female” on the left.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      No sense of symmetry?

  26. zugzwanged
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    I think it is important to recognize differences between positions on the left. Although I disagree with her on a number of points, Boodolph (Rebecca Reilly-Cooper) is an extremely thoughtful voice on this and other issues.

    There isn’t a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it, but a matter of principled disagreement between people on the left. Boodolph’s position is a considered and, as I see it, a largely consistent one, founded upon a particular strain of feminist theory. I highly recommend reading her treatment of the issues here for a sense of where she is coming from.

    The pejorative term ‘SJW’ has reasonable targets, but Boodolph really isn’t one of them: she is a serious feminist thinker who merits the sort of careful engagement that she grants to other positions (not least to biological thought as it relates to the issue of gender). I only wish that, instead of the current breed of dogmatic ‘SJWs’, we had reflective and careful thinkers like Boodolph. We would still have disagreements, but we could all really get somewhere.

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

      Agreed; I know there is a serious issue here, but I can’t help but thinking that many transgender folks, especially those with ambiguous genitalia, hormonal problems, or other things, may really feel that they are members of another sex, and then what should we do about it? I guess I don’t have a problem with considering them women, just like I don’t have a problem with considering gay people as expressing an honest imperative that they feel.

      • zugzwanged
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the response.

        I think it is helpful to distinguish recognized intersex conditions from transgender persons (and some use the terms ‘transgender’ and ‘transsexual’ with differing senses). Transgender persons are highly varied, but I strongly suspect that the experience of a great many of them has a primarily biological basis. The experience of being ‘trapped in the wrong body’ that some describe probably has some sort of basis in fetal brain development, or something like that.

        I think that most decent people, Rebecca Reilly-Cooper among them, want to treat transgender persons with dignity and respect. Most such persons, Reilly-Cooper among them, I suspect, will be happy to refer to transgender persons using their preferred pronouns, etc.

        However, it is essential to distinguish between transgender persons and transgender ideology at this point. It is quite possible to be respectful to transgender persons while having huge issues with transgender ideology. There are also a number of transpersons who speak out against transgender ideology.

        Transgender ideology tends to demand far, far more from us than merely treating transgender persons with respect. On the one hand, this transgender ideology can run directly against science. So, for instance, Nick Matte, in his recent debate with Jordan Peterson, declared: ‘Basically, it’s not correct that there is such a thing as biological sex… ‘Cisnormativity’ is basically the very popular idea and assumption that most people probably have, that there is such a thing as male and female and that they connect to being a boy or a girl, or a man or a woman.’ Increasingly, such claims are being supported by the weight of the law, which is why people like Peterson are speaking out.

        It can also run directly against the concerns of certain feminists (especially second wave feminists), for whom the oppression of patriarchy is largely founded upon the material conditions of biological sex differences. The historic and continuing oppression of women is closely related to women’s reproductive capacity. However—and this is where the problem arises—transgender ideology typically refuses to acknowledge any sense in which transwomen are not full women. As a result, they directly resist the definition of women employed in the feminism of Reilly-Cooper and others as cissexist (frequently expressing themselves in a far more vehement fashion—’die TERF!!!’ etc.).

        When most regular people refer to transwomen as ‘women’, they do so believing that they represent an exceptional case that, for the sake of social politeness, ought to be accorded the dignity of being addressed in their preferred fashion. Many will also believe that there is some natural basis for their self-conception. While doing this, however, they will also tend to believe strongly that these exceptional cases do not negate the natural male-female rule and that transwomen, while appropriately addressed as women socially, are not women in an unqualified fashion. They will also tend to view such cases as disorders of sexual development, sexual development that is naturally (cis)male-female.

        Transgender ideology, however, tends to insist that no such qualifications are permissible. Transwomen are women, period, and any suggestion that they are not full and real women—women in every sense of the word—is transphobic and ought to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Likewise, any use of the word ‘women’ that implicitly excludes them is transphobic. Many will protest at such notions as the penis being a ‘male’ organ, for instance, because women can have penises too. It should be obvious that such a position, given full rein, can cause all sorts of confusion. It is like blind people complaining that it is discriminatory hate speech when science teaches that the eye serves the purpose of sight, because this denies their lived experience and their full humanity and that, from now on, we must speak of eyes without reference to sight or risk legal penalty.

    • Saul Sorrell-Till
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

      I try not to use SJW, just because it’s been voided of so much of its meaning by right-wingers. I know plenty of brilliant, principled liberals, all of whom are very much anti the illiberal-left, but they would definitely count as ‘SJW’s to a certain mindset.

      Besides, a warrior for social justice is a good thing to be. Associations aside it’s admirable.

      It’s like when some Blimpish tory starts spluttering about ‘do-gooders’. That always amuses me – bloody do-gooders, going around, doing good. It’s telling that they can turn the phrase into an insult.

      • Mark Sturtevant
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

        I remember reading that the term SJW was first articulated as a pejorative against them. But, since it did not immediately imply anything bad at all, it has been fairly well embraced by the SJW’s.

        • Cindy
          Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

          I like to distinguish between *social justice activists* and *social justice warriors*

          To me, SJA’s have true compassion for others, and they actually put effort into helping those less fortunate.

          SJW,s, on the other hand, get offended on twitter, and verbally abuse you if you are not ideologically pure enough. In fact, they would rather browbeat you for being ‘racist, sexist, misogynist and transphobic’ than actually change your heart or your mind, because their ‘activism’ is about virtue signalling and has F all to do with actually helping the oppressed.

          • zugzwanged
            Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

            It seems to me that ‘social justice warriors’, as distinct from activists, tend to be distinguished by a number of features:

            1. SJWs tend to operate with a Manichaean ideology (radical good versus radical evil).
            2. SJWs have a totalizing ideological drive, while activists tend to be more driven by concrete and particular injustices.
            3. Activists tend to be more receptive to empirical research, while SJWs predetermine reality with their ideology.
            4. One can forge common ground with social justice activists on specific issues, even while disagreeing with their wider system of beliefs. This is much harder to do with SJWs.
            5. SJWs tend radically to pathologize, stigmatize, and persecute people who disagree with them.
            6. Social justice activists tend to have a better understanding of the fact that most problems in the world result less from evil and wilful oppression than from ignorance, lack of political prudence, will, or agency, etc. This enables them to change things with rather less denouncing of people.

  27. j. baldwin
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t a pop-mag like National Geographic just run a story that rehearses the facts, as JAC does, and come to the rational conclusion that a small % of our population, representing a significant number of people, have been systematically excluded from American social life; and, further, that the only decent thing for us to do now that we realize this is to provide access to that which they have undeniably (but through nobody’s fault) been denied?

  28. Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    Hi Professor Coyne,

    Boodolph here, although that’s just a silly name I am using on twitter because it’s Christmas. A very quick google of my twitter handle would have revealed that my real name is Dr Rebecca Reilly-Cooper.

    You appear to have edited this piece and the reference to me since I first read it, without a note explaining what corrections you have made, or why. In your first version of this post, you wrote:

    “If they don’t agree with that, then they’re saying that there’s something different about being a transgender woman and a “regular” woman, and I suspect it’s that the latter have two X chromosomes and a vagina. But that’s not the line taken by people like Boodolph.”

    Among people who are well informed on current trends in gender politics, I am reasonably well known for holding precisely that view. Indeed, both myself and Meghan Murphy have spent much of the past couple of years arguing against the idea that there are no relevant differences between natal women and transgender women — sometimes at considerable cost to our careers and livelihoods.

    I was going to comment to ask you what you might have meant by the phrase “people like Boodolph”, so I am somewhat relieved to see you have thought better of it, and replaced it with a vague reference to the “Regressive Left”. However, given that neither of the women identified in this post actually hold the view you attribute to us, it is strange that we should be the targets of your criticism. Perhaps you could explain why you have chosen Meghan, and to a lesser extent, me, as exemplars of this “Regressive Left” position on gender, when in fact neither one of us has ever held it, and are known for having publicly attacked it?

    • Posted December 18, 2016 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

      There is indeed a note explaining what I did, it’s this comment: https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2016/12/18/national-geographic-publishes-gender-issue-still-doesnt-satisfy-sjws/#comment-1427278 a comment made before you submitted this post. I am commenting on the tendency I see for feminists to attack transgender women as “not real women,” and I do understand some of the basis for it, and am sympathetic with some (but not all) of those arguments. However, my feeling is that this is a bad road for feminists to go down, since a lot of transgender people have biological reasons (hormones, ambiguous genitalia, etc.) for their transitions, and many have surgery–a serious sign of a conflict between one’s “sex” and one’s “felt gender.” If gender were truly a social construct, as many RLs believe, then I think the existence of such transgender people show that it’s not.

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 8:40 pm | Permalink

        If sincerely “identifying as” something one is not (by any objective measure) and/or feeling distress about this incongruence are the criteria for saying a phenomenon is real (vs a “social construct”), then the scientists here should be able to rationally explain why a man believing he is a woman is more legitimate than the following: Rachel Dolezal believing she is black; an anorexic believing she is fat and needs to diet unto death; and the recent case of a woman blinding herself with drain cleaner because she has always believed she ought to be a blind person.

        http://people.com/celebrity/jewel-shuping-blinds-herself-with-drain-cleaner/

        If you are intellectually honest, you cannot apply one standard of scrutiny to one group of people who deny biological reality (in this case, that there can be a real, disembodied, dualistic self inhabiting a “wrong” body), but ridicule other, equally fervent believers and refuse to apply the exact same standard to their sincerely held self conception or “identity.”

        Also, please note that intersex people and those with ambiguous genitalia are not the same as people who “identify” as transgender, as any intersex activist will tell you.

      • Linn
        Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

        I think many people are also forgettin intersex people and hermaphroditism in this discussion. There are several people that are born with xy chromosomes but completely normal female genitalia for instance. It’s interesting how much diversity there is in the world.

        I’m glad you also wrote that homosexuality and the gender “spectrum” are two different thing. Too many people (usually homophobes) like to confuse the two.

        Ever gay man I know (also the feminine ones) love their penis and the male body (that’s why they’re gay after all), same goes for lesbians and female bodies. The bisexuals (that are always forgotten) also feel comfortable with their bodies.

        I won’t reiterate everything I said about this in the thread about the fake Attenborough video, but suffice to say that I think sexuality is far more of a spectrum and more complex than having the wrong body.
        For instance, there have been cultures where pederasty has been considered acceptable. I wouldn’t think the people in those cultures have a different genetic makeup than the rest of us, so I think it goes to show how diverse our sexual range is (without having to involve different preferences even).

        Since I’m so interested in these things (some would say disturbingly so), I have my own social theories for the acceptance of things like pederasty in some cultures, but won’t bore you with it.

        • GM
          Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:45 am | Permalink

          There are several people that are born with xy chromosomes but completely normal female genitalia for instance. It’s interesting how much diversity there is in the world.

          There are all sorts of variations, this is true.

          But that doesn’t mean those are normal healthy variations that were somehow “meant to be” that way — they all arise from something going wrong with genes, chromosomes or development (or some combination thereof).

          And usually there are serious consequences for reproductive fitness.

          Which is why 99% of humans are XX females, and XY males with a fully functioning and normally positioned SRY gene, normal androgen sensitivity, etc.

          XY females are infertile, exceptional cases aside (PMID: 18000096)

          • Tim Harris
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 5:54 am | Permalink

            Ah, General Motors again, zooming again down that splendidly straight highway, with no turnings-off or byways, he likes so much to zoom down.

            • GM
              Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:38 am | Permalink

              If you have something of substance to say, please do so.

              Otherwise please refrain from spamming the thread

          • Linn
            Posted December 19, 2016 at 9:54 am | Permalink

            I guess you’re kinda agreeing with my post then that being born in the wrong body is not as much part of a spectrum as sexuality.

            I actually agree with some of what you’ve written, though I would phrase it slightly differently.
            I use my own definition of disorder/disease that’s built upon the definition I was taught in medical school.
            In my definition, a disorder is something that reduces function/quality of life, even in a perfect non-discrimating society.
            The definition has served me well, even though it’s not an official one.

            By using that definition, being born in the wrong body can be considered a disorder because you would need surgical treatment, even in a perfect society.
            Homosexuals or atheists (which are both minorities on the human spectrum) would not be considered to have a disorder, since they will function well in a non discriminating society.
            It’s also worth mentioning that sexual desires seems to vary more with culture and situation. Situational homosexuality can be seen in examples of prisoners, soldiers, sailors, among women in harems, pederasty in ancient cultures etc, showing that humans have an ability to overlook our primary preference as long as we’re horny enough.
            On the other hand, you don’t really see a lot of people wanting to change their genitalia, which makes me think it’s more set in stone.

            I’m of course assuming we’re all talking about true transsexuals here, not the ones that simply dress as the other gender or something (which certainly varies wildly by culture).

            I think the part where you stepped wrong was when you said transsexuality is a mental disorder (in a post above). It certainly involves the brain (just like everything else), so you’re not completely wrong, but calling it a mental disorder makes it seem like it can be “fixed” by therapy or psychiatric drugs, but they actually need surgery. And considering how easily the term mental disorder is thrown around, it doesn’t really support your case.

            Other than that, I find it an interesting discussion for sure.

            • GM
              Posted December 19, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

              By using that definition, being born in the wrong body can be considered a disorder because you would need surgical treatment, even in a perfect society.

              Well yes, the selection coefficients are quite environmentally invariant in this case, that is correct. We’re in agreement.

              I think the part where you stepped wrong was when you said transsexuality is a mental disorder (in a post above). It certainly involves the brain (just like everything else), so you’re not completely wrong, but calling it a mental disorder makes it seem like it can be “fixed” by therapy or psychiatric drugs, but they actually need surgery. And considering how easily the term mental disorder is thrown around, it doesn’t really support your case.

              I actually don’t just call it a “mental disorder”, I say that being intersex is a “genetic and/or developmental” disorder, being transgender is a “developmental and/or mental” disorder (off topic, but a GWAS on transgender people would be a really interesting thing to do).

              I understand that stigma associated with the term “mental disorder”, but you arguing from consequences is a very bad idea in general. You have to call things as they are.

      • Tim Harris
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:50 am | Permalink

        ‘…if the Left sees transgender women as the same as non-transgender women, they can’t object to the absence of “real” women.’ But the ‘Left’ is surely not a monolith, and I honestly wonder why you suggest that it is. Clearly some – probably many, perhaps a great many – people on the Left do not accept that transgender women are no different from non-transgender women.

    • Merilee
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 6:11 pm | Permalink

      Sub

  29. Yossarian
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 2:47 pm | Permalink

    I won’t tell you what to do but I would recommend reading Rebecca Reilly cooper, whose tweet you quote, a political philosopher who has written – imho brilliantly – on sex and gender and gender identity

    • Yossarian
      Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:12 pm | Permalink

      In fact I now see from her twitter feed that RRC has tried to comment here but held in moderation. Which is a shame

      • Posted December 18, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        “Held in moderation” is not a shame. It is the responsibilty of our host to maintain a civil discussion board on a provocative topic. As you can see above, Ms Cooper’s comment has been posted. Moderated comments do not appear instantly like tweets.

      • darrelle
        Posted December 19, 2016 at 8:53 am | Permalink

        It means nothing. Comments from new identities are automatically held for moderation. That is a standard feature of pretty much all blogging software and many bloggers make use of it. People can’t watch their blogs 24/7 to review all the new comments that the software has held for moderation based on its settings. It takes time.

        • yossarian
          Posted December 19, 2016 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          I really meant it was a genuine shame her comments didnt yet appear as hearing from ‘the horses mouth’ so to speak is usually a useful contribution to the debate. I meant to suggest no criticism of Prof Coyne’s exercise of his right to moderate!

  30. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

    Well some of them looks like wimmins to me.

    As Joe Brown famously said, nobody’s perfect.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CYUfPTeE0DM

    cr

  31. nicky
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 10:53 pm | Permalink

    “…Avery Jackson, a 9-year-old transgender girl from Kansas City who began her transition at age 4:”
    This sounds scary. What does that mean, beginning a transition at age four? I hope it does not include hormone blocking or hormonal ‘therapy’, let alone surgery. Apparently these things are done with youngsters.
    It is a medical fault -and criminal immo- to do this in children and adolescents. Most, if left to their own development, will identify with their biological sex reaching maturity.
    Life of a transsexual is not easy, and suicide in the hormonally and surgically altered appears to be high.

    • Posted December 25, 2016 at 4:18 am | Permalink

      Unlikely, given that many jurisdictions require people to be at least sixteen (in most, it is eighteen) before offering hormones or surgery. Why would anyone give sex hormones to a four year-old, given the fact that they are not even remotely close to producing any themselves?

      This young kid will have transitioned socially, and that’s all.

  32. Marc-Olivier
    Posted December 18, 2016 at 11:17 pm | Permalink

    You wrote : “That is, if you feel like a woman, you are one. I don’t have particular objections to this”

    I don’t understand. If a black person says he feels white, then he is white?

    Is there something I’m not understanding?

    If a black person is trying to be a white human and uses technology, I don’t mind saying he is a white dude now (because in the future, I think we will be able to change 100% from a color to another).

    But without any physical changes, a simple desire to be something else is really not enough. Are you saying you do not have any particular objection to this declaration : “If I feel like a hamburger, then I am one”?

    We need to dissociate gender from sex. A woman (sex) V.S. feminine (gender). A woman can be masculine and/or feminine. But a man is not a woman. And I’m not a hamburger.

    Your declaration need some clarifications.

    Have a good day.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:30 am | Permalink

      I can answer this.
      Your comparisons are a false equivalence. A person who is anatomically male & has XY chromosomes may declare in all sincerity that they are a girl at an age when children begin to feel their gender identity. They are not lying, but really do feel that way in the same sense that you and I sensed what our gender identities were at an early age. Through no fault of their own, they are put into a terrible situation because those individuals are frequently not accepted for who they know themselves to be. As a result, there exists a high rate of suicide and and a variety of other signs of harm, again, through no fault or intent to deceive. No one would choose to do this!

      Out of a sense of compassion and a desire for letting everyone belong where their minds tell them they belong, we should get behind all who declare they are some other area of the gender identity spectrum, and let them identify in whatever way they want. There is no scenario on this earth where a person would seek to be on that kind of journey unless they had no choice, according to their own minds.

      Your other examples, like a black person declaring they are white, is a situation that simply does not exist in the same manner and so is not comparable. We develop policies and views to address things that really happen, and should not be distracted over things that do not.

      • Marc-Olivier
        Posted December 20, 2016 at 7:16 am | Permalink

        “[A male] may declare in all sincerity that they are a girl at an age when children begin to feel their gender identity.”

        If you talk about gender identity, then you are out of the subject. I’m talking about sex. Not feeling to be feminine or masculine, but feeling to be male or female.

        Here, the quote : “That is, if you feel like a woman, you are one.”

        If you feel feminine, then it’s okay. If you feel like a woman, then it’s just wrong, because it is the same as feeling like a white person if you are black. Maybe it’s because english is my second langage, but “woman” for me is the female human.

        In analogy : “pig”, the female pig is a sow. The male is a boar. The human male is a man, and the human female is a woman. So man and woman are intrinsically linked with sex characteristics. We already have the words for gender : feminine and masculine. When we try to communicate, we should use the words for what they stand for when they are valid. I believe they are valid and useful.

        “They are not lying, but really do feel that way in the same sense that you and I sensed what our gender identities were at an early age.”

        I know that. I believe I may not have been clear on that, or you may not have read me correctly. Your accusation of false equivalence fall flat.

        I believe you are confusing sex for gender, and I believe you are confusing a demand to follow logic and valid words for a refusal to accept trans in general.

        Have a good day.

  33. @eightyc
    Posted December 19, 2016 at 12:16 am | Permalink

    Actually, they want more than just people respecting what they want to be called.

    They want to make it illegal for people to call them anything other than what they want you to refer to them as.

    That’s thought control and needs to be fought every step of the way.

  34. JR
    Posted December 19, 2016 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    Lesbians, gays and bisexuals don’t, I think, count as those who feel they’re of different gender from their birth sex; they simply prefer sexual partners who are male, female, or both, and don’t conform to their own biological sex. ”

    You think? Gay and bi men are men and lesbian and bi women are women. Being homosexual or bisexual does not make one any less of a man or a woman. The vast majority of LGB people are not “transgender” and the majority of “transgender” people are not LGB.

    “LGBT,” which purports to lump LGBs together with transgender” people is a deeply misleading and fraudulent construct. It was invented by SJWs and trans activists in the 1990s for political purposes (specifically to co-opt LGB organizations and gain control over their capital and human resources). It does not reflect reality.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Your last paragraph lost me. Even those who want to restrict rather than expand the rights of all people understand that ‘LGBTQIA’ etc. is simply a handle to refer to the different groups b/c they share a common cause in their efforts to be afforded certain rights.

  35. Posted December 19, 2016 at 5:20 am | Permalink

    “If that is a gender “spectrum,” then it’s a spectrum on which the vast majority of people fall into two distinct classes, with a lower-frequency tail between these peaks.”

    I think that is only because you are forcing people to identify as male or female. If you consider all of the (physical, emotional and behavioural) traits associated as being “male” or “female” then I think you will find that it really is a spectrum.

    It’s semantics again. You don’t put gays on the spectrum because you are predefining sexual preference as independent of gender definition. (Which it is, using traditional binary genders.) However, if gender is a spectrum from which you may have some male and some female aspects, gays could be defined as predominantly one sex but with the sexual preferences of the other.

    Of course, there is also “gender” versus “sex”. But this division itself only works if gender does not itself have a biological basis. Otherwise, we are just talking about physical phenotypes versus behavioural ones.

  36. chris
    Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    Gender is a social construct.

    LGBTIQ people are born that way.

    Pick one.

    • Mark Sturtevant
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 6:35 am | Permalink

      The second one, but only because it has the fewest contradictions. Only there are some contradictions in that one as well since not all are born with minds that hold forever to one gender. There are also those who oscillate from one identity to another.

    • nicky
      Posted December 19, 2016 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

      Some interesting ideas at http://quillette.com/2016/12/17/not-my-rights-movement/
      The big difference is (and I think it is) that LGB’s ‘gender’ is not conflicting with their biological sex. In all the other gender identities’ (TIQCAPGNG, etc.) there is. Although I think that some people have genuine ‘gender identity’ problems (not least hermaphrodites), I think a lot of it is puerile fashion, craving attention.
      I’m thinking of giving up gender altogether and just stick to sex 🙂

  37. Mike
    Posted December 19, 2016 at 7:48 am | Permalink

    It’s humanity , in all its glorious complexity, just get on with living your life.


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