rainbowA couple of years ago now (2011) I had a particularly nasty run in with a quite horrible person named Kynn Bartlett that would kind of set the stage for my various clashes with the ‘Social Justice Crowd’ for some time to come. In the course of that argument I allowed their obnoxiousness to bait and goad me and made the mistake of referring to them as ‘it’ (though in my defense, in trying to track down who exactly they were there were a ton of conflicting names, genders and other bits of conflicting data scattered around the net).

Since then I’ve been on a bit of a journey with regards to the trans community. Even prior to Kynn/Caoimhe (or whatever else they go by now) my brushes with the community hadn’t left a good impression. Though they weren’t as awful as Kynn would turn out to be. Still, perhaps that coloured my perception a bit in a way I hadn’t allowed it to with other marginalised groups and it shouldn’t have.

I still find a great deal of Social Justice activism pointless, stupid and self defeating (even if I agree with the goals) but in this instance I acknowledge that I ‘done wrong’.

Even someone accused of the things Kynn has been accused of is owed an apology, however late, for insults offered that go beyond the pale- even in the heat of the moment. So I offer it.


That said, my intellectual position on the topic hasn’t changed much. I consider gender in biological, chromosomal terms and gender identity to be separate to that. Others divide this as sex and gender but my preference is for a biological, scientific model and as such see the terms as interchangeable (gender identity just sounds better than sex identity to me and may cause confusion with sexuality). So, from my perspective, you are born male or female (with some rare intersex conditions also possible) but you can choose to present with a male/female/other identity. That doesn’t change what you are and so long as you’re respected as a human being and your choice is respected – so far as is possible given biology – I don’t see that as a problem. Ideology must always conform to reality. I do think there are limits on exactly how far you can expect people to be willing to bend though.

  •  I think prospective partners should know that you began life different to how you are now. Honesty in all things.
  • I do think trans women should be excluded from women’s sporting events. A lifetime of androgens and muscle development creates an unfair advantage and was the reason sports segregation occurred in the first place (biological basis).
  • I do think trans people should be allowed to use the toilet etc facilities of their expressed gender, rather than their biological gender. At the same time, I understand how this might upset people.
  • I don’t think trans people should be offered up as freak-fodder for television and newspapers. At the same time I understand why people are fascinated with people who are different and why they might be curious and/or shocked. Though, frankly, anything anyone does will shock or offend somebody.
  • I don’t think gender identity is (entirely) a social construct, rather that this is an overlay over our innate, biological gender.

What I’ve found especially interesting on this journey is the interaction between the trans community and ‘TERFS’ (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists). Each group – radical feminism and transexual – seems to innately upset and grind on the nerves of the other.

The trans community simultaneously provides empirical evidence that different hormone mixes can change behaviour, physiology and emotions. They change their bodies to conform to a female ‘norm’ and – by and large – present ‘feminine’ behaviours, clothing, adornment and traits that others would reject as impositions of patriarchy or meaningless social constructs. At the same time the TERF types are trying to argue for some ineffable ‘femaleness’ (which has some basis in biology and in lived experience growing up as a girl) and excluding people who might otherwise be allies and friends on that basis.

It’s interesting to me because this clash exists at the fundamental fracture point of all gender theory and everything that stems from it. Nature versus nurture, biological versus memetic, mind versus body. Not that it stops TERFs being huge arseholes.

Anyway, there you go, like everything else my opinions are always in flux and subject to new evidence. I was just reminded today that I should (and prefer to) admit when I’m wrong and I’ve been keying up to do this for a while.

Sorry again Kynn. You’re a horrible arsehole, but you’re also a lady.

5 responses to “Transapologies

  1. I get the feeling there’s some amount of backstory here that I’ve missed (and I’m glad) so I limit myself to just what’s here, in general, rather than regarding Kynn.

    I think I agree with most of what you wrote, but there are two pieces I disagree with.

    First: “my preference is for a biological, scientific model”.

    I’m not seeing that as the true distinction you’re making. I don’t see what’s more scientific or biological about going by chromosomes and genitalia than going by observed behaviors (“[chosen] to present with”??) and what a child or adult reports about themselves. You’re simply preferring simple traditional evidence to more current, somewhat more time-consuming evidence. You’re not being more biological or scientific.

    And, from a scientific standpoint, why have two words (sex and gender) that mean the same thing? Science aims for precision and clarity, which we get from the division between sex and gender (the “identity” is irrelevant, just as sexual orientation “identity” is irrelevant, even though identity is one of the three aspects of sexual orientation — the other two being attraction and behavior).

    Gender is in the mind. The mind is constructed by the brain. The brain is biological, physical. It shouldn’t be dismissed as any less legitimate than genitals.

    Second: “trans women should be excluded from women’s sporting events”.

    Should trans men be excluded from men’s sporting events? Is there anywhere trans people can compete?

    It’s not exactly that I disagree, but that I don’t think there should even be “women’s sporting events”. There are sports, and whoever does the best, or at least attracts an audience, should be in them. Period. If we need to have two tiers, that’s fine. But people should be classified by actual ability, not their sex or gender.

    To take a brief tangent, an an atheist, I reject the idea that children are born Christian or Muslim. These are things which are imposed. Gender isn’t like that, but there is something in common. Gender, like sex, is probably determined before birth. But since we don’t know what a child’s gender is at birth, it’s inappropriate to impose one based solely on genitals or chromosomes.

    • Yeah, there’s backstory – which this is mostly addressing – but I thought I’d expand on that to reflect on the last couple of years.

      The idea that gender is just a social construct is an ideological presupposition from feminism etc. I do not consider the study into it to be particularly scientific precisely because it starts from its conclusion. It’s similar, but not identical, to the way creation scientists start from their assumptions and seek evidence to support it. Social sciences often suffer from bad evidence, presuppositions and cognitive bias.

      Trans men I would also exclude on a similar basis, though they’d be at a disadvantage if they competed with men and an advantage (effectively doping) if they competed with women. Not having gender divisions in sporting events would be one solution but women would, then, be virtually excluded from the entire field – which seems unfair but I haven’t devoted enough time to the issue to have a truly rounded PoV.

      Because I’m not a sports fan 🙂

      Boy or girl, tall or short, black or white, these are things determined at birth unlike religion or politics and as such I see it as recognition, rather than imposition. I consider ‘gendering a child’ to be an OK thing to do where an ideological/faith imposition is not. Suggesting children should not be gendered at birth is something I regard as an extreme, fringe position that can cause more harm than good.

  2. Pingback: My Views on Transsexuals - Bitchspot

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