Transgender

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  • "I want to sleep with my girlfriend," versus "This is who I really am, deep down, as a person."

    These are somehow on a level? In any way? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph what a fucking stupid thing to even imply.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    It's odd though, isn't it, to use biological criteria as the linchpin?
    I’m not. And, indeed, there are those that do not like that idea as they fear it could lead to denial based on not meeting that criterion.
    However, pointing out that there is a biological lends support to the idea that this is not a choice.
    It has been, rightly, pointed out that this is not what has led to greater acceptance of the lesbian and gay community. However, transgender is more rare and the likelyhood of someone in this category being your neighbour or workmate is lower.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    lilbuddha Feminism should be about inclusivity. Greer is trying to maintain it by exclusivity.

    I would have thought that feminism is about equal rights for women, which have historically been denied by men (patriarchy). There may be an ultimate goal of inclusivity in which the socio-political distinction between the sexes has ceased to exist, bringing an end to patriarchy and the need for feminism, but in the meantime the emphasis is the achievement of equality. That being the case the distinction between the sexes has to be recognised in order to address historic and contemporary inequalities, with positive discrimination in favour of females as, for example, in all-female short lists for public offices and private business board members. A policy of inclusivity would necessitate the non-recognition of the distinction between the sexes in the contexts outlined above, which would result in the maintenance of the status quo under the bogus disguise of meritocracy. To characterise Greer as wishing to "maintain exclusivity", whatever that might mean, is like charging the NAACP as being only interested in blacks.
  • It would seem to me that the ring theory is helpful here: where you remember who is at the center of the crisis, and remember that compassion and understanding should flow from the "outer circles" inward, and to turn to our own outer circles (but never the inner ones) for the support we need. In that theory, No Prophet's relative (sorry, can't remember which way the relative was transitioning, so don't know which pronoun to use-- again, awkward) is in the center ring. Someone in center ring doesn't owe anyone any explanation, has no obligation to make those outside the center ring feel more comfortable or less awkward about the transition, just as someone with stage 4 cancer doesn't have an obligation to make us feel less anxious about the mortality issues that might raise for us. No Prophet and others in the outer circle have an obligation to give their relative/ transgendered friend their love and support, without trying to 2nd guess their experience.

    The hitch that maybe is missing here is that No Prophet or others in the middle rings (close to the center ring but not the identified person) should have outer rings where they can express their feelings-- people who are further removed from the center ring but are related to No Prophet or whoever is in that middle ring. The genius of the "ring theory" is to be aware of which direction you are facing at any point in time, particularly for those in the middle ring. If you facing inward (toward center ring) your job is to offer compassion and support. You bring your own feelings-- discomfort, fear, anxiety, whatever-- out only when facing outward to your own outer rings, but should have those outer rings you can turn to. Ideally, the Ship could be an "outer ring" where No Prophet could express feelings of discomfort. But that would fit better in heaven on a prayer/support thread rather than here in purgatory where it's being raised as a point of debate, indicating a lack of support for the person in the center ring.

    That's very useful. I realize there are 2 rings within this family. The young person's and their parents's. I'm busy with both. And the two rings aren't doing well together.

    The ship as an additional ring indeed. I'm not responsive to others' feelings well or at all on this thread. Intellectualization to the point of pathology. I do that.
  • Perhaps this doesn't really rest on science? It's considered social justice and honouring something felt as true? Which cycles me back to consider adults and children as not comparable.

    OK, I think I'm starting to understand some of your thinking. Let me paraphrase, and tell me if I have understood you correctly.

    Let's assume that we're talking about a trans woman (a biological XY male who identifies as female). You hear her say "I am a woman" or "I feel like a woman" and want to ask whether this represents some kind of objective reality - whether you can run some medical tests and get back a result that says "woman".

    If so, I think you're asking the wrong question. If someone tells you that their leg hurts, you don't order a battery of tests in order to determine whether it really hurts - you accept that the leg hurts, and figure out how to make it better.

    As you have found in your reading, we don't yet know what causes transgenderism, although there are a few suggestive correlations. We don't even know that there's only one cause - perhaps there are several different "kinds" of transgenderism. But I'm not sure that knowing what causes it should affect how you deal with trans people.

    See, when our trans woman "feels like a woman", that is true. That is an honest and accurate statement of the way she feels - the way she sees herself. As far as she is concerned, she is a woman. And if she's unhappy at being perceived as a man (because she has a man's name and a male appearance) then we can help her change her name and alter her appearance so that the image that she sees in the mirror, and the image that other people see, better conforms to her idea of her own identity.

    You seem to be concerned that our trans woman might make a mistake. That she only thinks she's a woman, but is mistaken, that her problems are caused by something else, and if you fix the cause of her other unhappiness, then her desire to be a woman will go away. There do exist people who more or less fit this description. There aren't very many of them, but the number isn't zero.

    And so you argue caution, and wait-and-see, and extra checks, and whatever else, because you suspect that the woman isn't really trans at all.

    The thing is, I think you're imagining "wait" as some kind of neutral option, and it really isn't. There aren't any neutral options. Because for the large majority of trans people, being treated as the wrong gender out of "caution" is anything but neutral. The large majority of trans people do not go on to decide that they have made a mistake.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    lilbuddha Feminism should be about inclusivity. Greer is trying to maintain it by exclusivity.

    I would have thought that feminism is about equal rights for women, which have historically been denied by men (patriarchy).
    Women want to be treated as equal to men. This should mean recognising other groups who want the same sort of equality as the struggles follow the same logic. Historically, white women have not seen it that way. But that was wrong then and there is no excuse for such rubbish now.

  • RussRuss Suspended
    Ideally, the Ship could be an "outer ring" where No Prophet could express feelings of discomfort. But that would fit better in heaven on a prayer/support thread rather than here in purgatory where it's being raised as a point of debate, indicating a lack of support for the person in the center ring.

    Ring theory as you've explained it makes sense. And yes, we on the Ship are further from the situation(*), and therefore according to ring theory it is appropriate that any unsupportive thoughts that No Prophet may be having are expressed outward to us rather than inward to those involved.

    But if I read it right No Prophet is looking to explore and process doubts, and gain in philosophical understanding of these issues, rather than just "dump" negative feelings. For which Hell might be the place...

    (Tell me if I'm reading you wrong, NP)

    Unpopular though it may be these days, there is more to life than feelings. There is such a concept as truth...

    Some of the time, people aren't interested in truth but only want to vent their feelings. But that's not what most of us come to Purgatory for.

    And we all know that science doesn't give us instant and eternal truth. That it's more a case of limited evidence suggesting that reality may work in a particular way, and more research needed.

    So those who are really basing what they say on the science will have a degree of tentativeness about their conclusions. Which is not immediately observable in every post on this thread...

    (*) recognizing that some Shipmates will have (or hopefully have successfully come through) crises of their own. Insights welcome, but if it's still too raw to stand being challenged, lads(**), you might want to consider whether you'd be more comfortable on a different board.

    (**)friendly Irish term applied equally to young people of either sex.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    But I'm not sure that knowing what causes it should affect how you deal with trans people.

    I'd delete the "I'm not sure" part of that and add a "not" before "affect".

    The rest of what you write really supports the position here where doctors take things slowly, and not even prescribing hormones until the trans person has lived a year as a person of the gender they understand themselves to be.
  • cliffdwellercliffdweller Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    What about: I am sad to lose you, I am going to miss you? Rather than: don't leave me?

    I don't want to start sub-editing what people say in intense grief/anger over death. When I heard my best friend was dying, I burst into tears, and swore at him. He laughed, the twat.

    The point isn't to create a lot of angst or rules about what you can/cannot say. The point is really just to keep in mind that when you're speaking to the inner circle you are focusing on him/her & their needs, not on yourself. You can't help a spontaneous outburst of emotion, and letting someone know you'll miss them is probably appreciated. But you also wouldn't ask your dying friend to shoulder your grief on top of their own. Or, in this case, you don't ask your transgendered relative to bear the burden of your discomfort. But you can also keep in mind that you do have your own "outer circle"-- people who are closer to you than to the "inner circle". You can turn to them to process grief-- or discomfort

  • Aren't there two different hormones under discussion here? The puberty blockers - which stop puberty as part of the wait and see for teenagers, and the hormones that are part of the transition process.

    For the youngster I knew, puberty blockers would have been very helpful to help them process their feelings without being ambushed by menstruation each month,
  • That's fine, cliffdweller. One thing I wonder about is the sadness that some parents feel, as their child transitions. Should that be hidden? I don't know. Our kids often have X-ray eyes anyway, so they know that mum is sad, but maybe it's best if she's not sobbing over the old dresses every morning.
  • But too many parents are not good at coping with their children not wanting to be what they, the parents, want - be it the ballerina that the mother was desperate to be and is hoping to sublimate that dream through the child, or the son who has no interest in the family business. It's a standard trope of parent-child relationships. There are too many parents who see their children as extensions of themselves, not people in their own right with the right to make their own choices and decisions.

    If there is too much invested in a child fulfilling the parent's dreams, then there is too much parental hope and expectation dashed when the child has no desire to follow the path mapped out for them. (Or the child who is born disabled, or the child who is gay.)
  • Gòod points, Curiosity. I guess there are limits to authenticity, within one's family, or with anyone. If you felt sad about your child doing X, would you hide it? Actually, I'm hopeless at hiding feelings. I remember when my son started secondary school, bursting into tears, poor bugger, that's him.
  • How helpful is it to a child to inflict your parental sadness on them when they are not what you want? Particularly if they are dealing with being transgender or gay? They are dealing with enough guilt and sadness themselves, without having to shoulder everyone else's. It's this ring theory.

    As a parent your job is to support your child and enable them to become a functioning adult, your sadness at them making decisions you don't like is something you share and deal with with your peers.
  • Well, I just find that unreal. But each to their own. I don't think I would be sad about a gay son, in any case. But I was sad when he went to school, is that breaking the ring?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    From what I understand, the sadness of parents is often to do with the fact that they are saying goodbye forever to their, say, daughter, and getting to know a son - the same person, but also a new person, because a boy is different from a girl. And certainly in the son’s mind, being a male is a completely different identity from being a female. So there is a loss of the daughter the parent thought they had, but also an embracing of a new son.

    I don’t have kids, so I can’t imagine this in a concrete way, but I can imagine if my dad were to say he was a woman inside and wanted to change his body to be a female body. I would be supportive, but I think I would find it a bit odd to adjust mentally, because in my mind he is a man. And I would be concerned about the effects of hormones and surgery on his mind and body, especially as he is getting elderly. I know this is very different from a teenager doing it, but equally, it happens.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Leorning Cniht When our trans woman "feels like a woman", that is true. That is an honest and accurate statement of the way she feels - the way she sees herself. As far as she is concerned, she is a woman.

    fineline If my dad were to say he was a woman inside and wanted to change his body to be a female body. I would be supportive, but I think I would find it a bit odd to adjust mentally, because in my mind he is a man.

    To my mind these two quotes raise an interesting question regarding the nature of identity: Is it something that an individual can decide for himself/herself (or whatever), or is it dependent on how one is identified by others (society)?

    Who is right as to the sex of fine line's dad? Fineline or his Dad?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    Kwesi wrote: »
    Who is right as to the sex of fine line's dad? Fineline or his Dad?

    People normally use ‘her’ to refer to me, because I have a female body, but you can use ‘his’ if you like. It makes no difference to me, and our bodies are invisible on an online forum anyway. But I am not necessarily the norm in not minding. A lot of people do identify strongly with a gender - either the one that matches their body, which is nice and easy for them, or the one that doesn’t, which is the topic of this thread.

    I think people do have a right to decide how people refer to them - plenty of people refuse to answer to a shortened version of their name, for instance, when someone decides to use it without their permission. Obviously they can’t dictate people’s thoughts - and realistically, if my dad did decide to have a sex change (I should add this is hypothetical - he is, as far as I know, a cis man, though I doubt he knows the term ‘cis’) I might still be seeing him in my mind as a man for a while, as all my life he has been a man. The mind can be slow to adjust, even with the best will in the world.

    I think I would be asking him questions to find out what being female means to him, so I could understand his identity better (and see, even here in my imagining him being a woman, I am still automatically using the pronoun ‘him’, which would of course be the incorrect pronoun in such a scenario). But of course there is a big difference between someone who is trying hard and acknowledging they’re finding it hard to adjust and someone who is refusing to change pronouns and dismissing it as nonsense.

  • This is part of the conflicts over sex/gender, isn't it? I thought Kwesi's long piece above was very good, e.g. that if I feel like a woman, then that is the truth. But of course others say that what counts is the biology. This seems very much an internal/external distinction.

    Incidentally, I often feel baffled by these discussions, as I don't partìcularly feel like anything. I don't know what feeling like a man means. I know that I look like one, big deal. So it's not particularly trans people that I would interrogate, but everyone. Well, there are plenty of stereotypes and injunctions. Man up - what a laaf.
  • I noticed on some of the vitriolic threads on mumsnet, which for some reason has hosted fierce debates on trans, that the anti-trans people have a mantra, " a trans woman is a man". In other words, I get to determine who you are. How does that work ?

    I think it became so fierce that mumsnet has changed its moderation policy, to block transphobic stuff. I guess trans is threatening.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Gòod points, Curiosity. I guess there are limits to authenticity, within one's family, or with anyone. If you felt sad about your child doing X, would you hide it? Actually, I'm hopeless at hiding feelings. I remember when my son started secondary school, bursting into tears, poor bugger, that's him.
    Sadness at one's fledgling leaving the nest is different to sadness at coming out. It isn't about "authenticity" but about the parent owning why they are sad and dealing with it, not burdening their child with even more crap.

  • How helpful is it to a child to inflict your parental sadness on them when they are not what you want? Particularly if they are dealing with being transgender or gay? They are dealing with enough guilt and sadness themselves, without having to shoulder everyone else's. It's this ring theory.

    As a parent your job is to support your child and enable them to become a functioning adult, your sadness at them making decisions you don't like is something you share and deal with with your peers.

    Yes. As parents, even of cisgender kids, we walk a balance of being honest and authentic, and not burdening them with what are our issues to sort thru on our own. I remember when I updated my daughter that her father and I were disagreeing about custody & visitation. She initially thought I was asking her to choose, and started to answer very somberly. I clarified that I was just updating her so she'd be aware both of us wanted and cherished her. When I explained that this was an adult decision: if Daddy and I were not able to agree then a wise judge with much experience in these matters would decide, she literally skipped away chanting "I'm a kid, I'm a kid, I'm a kid..."

    I would hope that if one of my kids were to come out as transgender I might simply explain that it would be an adjustment for me so please be patient if I mistakenly use the wrong name/pronoun (I already call them by each others' names all the time). But please know you have my complete and unconditional love and support.
  • This is part of the conflicts over sex/gender, isn't it? I thought Kwesi's long piece above was very good, e.g. that if I feel like a woman, then that is the truth. But of course others say that what counts is the biology. This seems very much an internal/external distinction.

    If a person feels like a woman, then that is true. That is how they feel. If they have an XY male body, that is also true.

    There seems to be a lot of discussion about which one is real. Which is the "true" source of sex/gender - the person's bodily biology, or their internal sense of self? Again, I'm not sure that it matters. Isn't this just the biological cause discussion all over again? It's just another way of asking what causes transgenderism - how does it work?

    Biologically, that's an interesting question, but I don't think it's an important question when it comes to asking how to deal with trans people.

    Trans people are people who are born with bodies of one sex/gender, but feel like they belong to the other. These are facts. The large majority of such people feel much happier when they live life in the gender to which they feel they belong, rather the one that their body resembles. I don't have good numbers for this claim, but am certain that it is true.

    And that's about as far as I think I need to go. I don't have to understand what causes transgenderism, and I don't have to be concerned with esoteric questions about truth and reality. These are people. We can choose to do something that makes them happier. That choice doesn't cost us anything. What more is there to think about?
    Incidentally, I often feel baffled by these discussions, as I don't partìcularly feel like anything. I don't know what feeling like a man means. I know that I look like one, big deal.

    Actually, I agree with you. I am a man, but I don't really know what "feeling like a man" means. Perhaps that's because my sense of sex and my body are congruent, so there's no distinction between my body and how I feel, and so I can't separate them. I don't know, but I also don't think it matters.

    What matters is what trans people say they feel. The fact that I don't understand or recognize the things they say doesn't make them any less true - just that they are things outside my experience.

    And again, we come back to this one simple truth: when trans people talk about how they feel, those aren't lies. The fact that I can't recognize in myself anything like the sense of sex / gender that they describe doesn't matter. They're not lying. They are describing their experience of life.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    Gòod points, Curiosity. I guess there are limits to authenticity, within one's family, or with anyone. If you felt sad about your child doing X, would you hide it? Actually, I'm hopeless at hiding feelings. I remember when my son started secondary school, bursting into tears, poor bugger, that's him.
    Sadness at one's fledgling leaving the nest is different to sadness at coming out. It isn't about "authenticity" but about the parent owning why they are sad and dealing with it, not burdening their child with even more crap.

    Damn, I wasn't a perfect parent.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    I’m thinking that teens appreciate honesty and can probably tell if you are hiding feelings from them. Maybe an honest admission of ‘I really want to support you, and I’m glad you’ve been able to tell me, though I confess I’m finding it a bit hard to get my head round, because this is something new to me,’ would be more welcome than a parent pretending they are totally fine with it all. It would also open the door for honest discussion and enable better understanding between parent and child.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    Damn, I wasn't a perfect parent.
    Nice. But you put leaving the nest in the same post as dealing with coming out. Perfect parenting isn't a real thing. Trying not to make thing more difficult for your child than you must, is.

  • Leorning Cniht, terrific post. It's interesting how there is a clash between how I might describe you, and how you experience yourself. The death of positivism, maybe, well not the death but going into abeyance? I'm not the same as your description of me.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Leorning Cniht We can choose to do something that makes them happier. That choice doesn't cost us anything. What more is there to think about?

    quetzalcoatl I noticed on some of the vitriolic threads on mumsnet, which for some reason has hosted fierce debates on trans, that the anti-trans people have a mantra, " a trans woman is a man". In other words, I get to determine who you are. How does that work ?

    It would seem, Leorning Cnight , that according to quetzalcoatl's evidence not a few females disagree that the acceptance of trans-females as females is not costless to them.

    "What we have more to think about," are the concerns of the respondents to Mumsnet, (of which I am personally unaware), and whether we consider them legitimate or not.

    Your question, quetzalcoatl's, "In other words, I get to determine who you are. How does that work ?" is that identity has an important social dimension. It's not a question of "I get to determine....." but " We (society) get to determine..........." If, for example, we accept Decartes dictum "I think, therefore I exist," what happens if I cease to think or lose my mind? Do I cease to exist? The answer, hopefully, is that other minds continue to recognise my existence and my relationship to them.

    Another observation I would like to make is that the concept of trans operates within binary concepts of sexual identity, but does not the whole debate demonstrate that this binary classification is inadequate? If that is the case would a recognition of more sexes redefine the issue in a more constructive way.

    Incidentally, I'm writing this watching a football match comprised entirely of blokes. Perhaps the World Cup is ripe for gender balance.

  • Leorning CnihtLeorning Cniht Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    Kwesi wrote: »
    Another observation I would like to make is that the concept of trans operates within binary concepts of sexual identity, but does not the whole debate demonstrate that this binary classification is inadequate? If that is the case would a recognition of more sexes redefine the issue in a more constructive way.

    There are people that identify as non-binary, third-gender, agender, or something else. Those options exist as ways for people to choose to define themselves (they don't have much official recognition, in the sense that most official paperwork (birth certificates, driving licence, passport, ...) insists that you choose male or female, but they exist as words and concepts.) That's not how the trans people I know see themselves.

    For my trans friends, binary gender is an adequate description - they just don't have the gender that matches their chromosomes. And they don't want to be treated as some extra sex - they want to be treated as a "man" or a "woman" - not as a "transman" or a "transwoman".

    quetzalcoatl's report of the Mumsnet debates seems to indicate a strong strain of Germaine Greer-style "feminism". I'm a white man - I don't really know what it feels like to be the victim of systematic discrimination, but the idea that trans women are a male plot to take over female spaces is far-fetched at best.

    The people who complain about trans women competing in female sporting contests have more of a point - that particular discussion is one where perhaps both sides have merit. Once you go beyond a competition for people, and have contests for different sub-groups of people, you probably can't make a perfect division. Are trans women "unfair" because of the legacy that their male childhood leaves on their bodies? Or is it unfair to exclude a woman just because she's trans?
  • Lamb ChoppedLamb Chopped Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    The thing I don't get is a simple one. Apparently there are loads and loads of people who feel that their minds--their souls, their spirits, whatever you call the non-body part of you--has a gender/sex. I have never felt this. My body is female. My soul/spirit/nephesh is just me. It would still be me if I were housed in a male body, or a cat's, or a dinosaur... This makes it hard for me to comprehend a mismatch in gender, since I'm aware of no gender that isn't strictly biological.*

    *Yes, of course I'm aware that there are social/cultural expectations of men/women, but IMHO those do not actually constitute BEING a man or woman, particularly since they are often screwed up. It does lead me to wonder if people have internalized those standards to the point that they "feel feminine" (= I feel most comfortable with social expectations placed on women) and therefore think their nephesh is feminine.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    The thing I don't get is a simple one. Apparently there are loads and loads of people who feel that their minds--their souls, their spirits, whatever you call the non-body part of you--has a gender/sex. I have never felt this. My body is female. My soul/spirit/nephesh is just me. It would still be me if I were housed in a male body, or a cat's, or a dinosaur... This makes it hard for me to comprehend a mismatch in gender, since I'm aware of no gender that isn't strictly biological.*

    Me also. Except I do identify as human. I was quite taken aback when I first learnt about gender identity, and I asked people a lot of questions to get a sense of it. I think I am what is known as agender. Or nutrois is another word for it.
  • Or it may just be that, as noted above, for those of us who are cisgender, there's nothing to notice. It's like the old saw re a fish not being aware of the water. If your gender has always felt comfortable, why would you be aware of it?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    I will add, because maybe people are thinking it, that quite a few people react to this by saying I can’t possibly know if I have no sense of gender identity or if I would be equally comfortable in a man’s body, and that I must simply be so comfortable as a woman that it’s never even occurred to me to notice my female identity. I would respectfully disagree, but equally I’m very aware that it’s not in my power to convince people of my inner sense of gender or lack thereof. I shrug it off, because it’s not really part of my identity, but I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have a strong sense of gender that you want to be recognised as part of you, and yet have people disbelieving you because your body doesn’t match it.

    (The same also happens with being asexual - many people are convinced that everyone experiences sexual attraction, and that those who say they don’t are simply repressed. I assumed for years I must be repressed, even though it didn’t really make sense, and it was a moment of self-recognition to learn about asexuality. It can be a huge relief, if you are different from the norm, to discover a vocabulary that describes your experiences, after years of trying to fit yourself into a vocabulary that doesn’t quite fit you. All this must surely also apply to trans people, and to me makes it so important to accept and try to understand, even if it is confusing.)
  • Was sent this by parents of the young person about whom I began the thread. Basically describes the tangle. The (apparent*) rapid onset and rapid medicalization. Basically at loss with the 2 rings aren't I. Perhaps "rapid onset gender dysphoria" isn't thought of quite the same everywhere.

    *appears actual in our case, apparent perhaps in others?
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    edited June 2018
    I crossposted with you, cliffdweller, but yes, you said the thing I was anticipating with my post. Many reasons and examples I could give, though I’m not sure it is necessary or appropriate for me to be convincing you of my lack of gender identity. I mean, I am not sure it adds to the discussion, and it may be a distraction from the topic, and you are not someone in my life for whom it is important for me to be understood by. And in general, should people whose gender identity is different from the norm need to be attempting to prove it to sceptics?
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Or it may just be that, as noted above, for those of us who are cisgender, there's nothing to notice. It's like the old saw re a fish not being aware of the water. If your gender has always felt comfortable, why would you be aware of it?
    I was going to post the very same thing.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    I remember once on another forum site mentioning that I had no sense of gender identity, and a few people argued with me, and demanded to know how I could tell, and I was trying to answer their questions and they kept disbelieving, until I happened to give an example that made them say ‘Ooh, well, that’s different. Why didn’t you say that from the start, and then we would have believed you.’ And I felt quite taken aback, as I hadn’t known what would or wouldn’t convince them, and didn’t understand why I needed to make them believe me. It felt like they were being kind of presumptuous.

    It’s worth bearing in mind that when people say they have no sense of gender identity, it’s likely to be something they’ve examined and analysed, and not just a random declaration of something they’ve never thought about and don’t understand. Many cis people have a strong sense of gender identity - being comfortable in it doesn’t stop them being aware of it.
  • finelinefineline Kerygmania Host, 8th Day Host
    I think there is a danger that if you decide you can disregard someone’s self-identification as agender, you can also disregard someone’s self-identification as trans. Comfort or discomfort aren’t proof that gender identity exists or doesn’t. You could equally argue that the person with gender dysphoria is just uncomfortable in themselves, that they have no idea what a man or a woman is ‘supposed’ to feel like, that the concepts are nebulous, so they are speculating based on their discomfort. Which is of course what many do argue.
  • LuciaLucia Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    I think I am also in the slightly baffled camp. I am willing to accept as valid and real that there are people who experience a sense that they are a different gender from their body. But when I think about it I have no idea of what that would mean in reality. I find it very hard to identify what makes me female beyond the fact that I have a female body. Both men and women seem to have a wide variety of personality types and preferences in life so it doesn't seem to be about that. ie it's not about what clothes you want to wear or what activities you want to take part in. Even names are cultural, many names from other cultures would signal nothing to me about whether the person is a man or a woman and some names are used by both sexes so names only signal something about gender in particular social contexts, it's not an innate quality to a name.
    I can't really imagine what would feel different about being male apart from having a different body although I can see that maybe other people would have different expectations of me.

    Clearly I don't need to understand what someone else is experiencing to be supportive and accepting but intellectually I am curious!

    I also wonder if some of the conflict with feminism is if you see feminism as saying that women should not be seen as so very different from men, that whatever men can do, women are also capable of doing and being. Yet in some ways transgender suggests that there is something fundamentally different about the different genders that can only be accessed if you are accepted as part of that gender, whether it be male or female. To me this seems at odds with the notion that men and women are actually very alike apart from socially constructed constraints and norms. Or maybe I have misunderstood feminism as well!


  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    Lucia Yet in some ways transgender suggests that there is something fundamentally different about the different genders that can only be accessed if you are accepted as part of that gender, whether it be male or female. To me this seems at odds with the notion that men and women are actually very alike apart from socially constructed constraints and norms.

    Lucia, I think you have hit the nail on the head as to why transgenderism is particularly problematic for many traditional feminists. Whereas for feminists the differences between the sexes are essentially socially constructed, for the trans-gendered the differences are rooted in an individual's biological and psychological inheritance or nature. Consequently, transgenderism's insistence on the primacy of nature over nurture in differences between the sexes brings into question the whole rationale of the feminist movement. Indeed, it raises major questions regarding our understanding of differences between the sexes and the roots of masculinity and femininity: women are, indeed, from Venus and men from Mars if we follow the transgender route.

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    fineline wrote: »
    Many cis people have a strong sense of gender identity - being comfortable in it doesn’t stop them being aware of it.
    It isn't that it stops them being aware, but that they do not have to.
    Lucia wrote: »
    I also wonder if some of the conflict with feminism is if you see feminism as saying that women should not be seen as so very different from men, that whatever men can do, women are also capable of doing and being.
    Feminism is more that women would not be seen as less than men. It is not that they should be as men with boobs and vaginas, but that those appurtenances should not be seen as limiting.
    This does not conflict with trangender acceptance.


  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    fineline wrote: »
    Many cis people have a strong sense of gender identity - being comfortable in it doesn’t stop them being aware of it.
    It isn't that it stops them being aware, but that they do not have to.

    And thaaaaaat, children, is what privilege is all about.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    However, pointing out that there is a biological lends support to the idea that this is not a choice.
    It has been, rightly, pointed out that this is not what has led to greater acceptance of the lesbian and gay community.

    Tangent:
    Isn't it at least one factor? I think it probably affected my views on the subject, and it seems relevant to the discussions within churches -- telling people that they shouldn't choose to behave in a certain way is much more reasonable than imposing perpetual celibacy on them because of something they have no choice about.
    [/tangent] before this gets sent to Dead Horses.
    At the risk of oversimplifying an important and complex reality, I think for many people who are responding poorly to transgenderism, it's really just about the willingness to suffer discomfort for someone else.
    This is part of the conflicts over sex/gender, isn't it? I thought Kwesi's long piece above was very good, e.g. that if I feel like a woman, then that is the truth. But of course others say that what counts is the biology. This seems very much an internal/external distinction.

    If a person feels like a woman, then that is true. That is how they feel. If they have an XY male body, that is also true.

    Maybe Cliffdweller's suggestion is true in some cases, but to me it seems that a) the whole concept is, as I said before, hard to get one's head around ('a biologically male person who is actually female' sounds similar to 'a square circle'), and b) it appears to attach more evidential value to feelings than to verifiable facts. I can't be alone in finding b) uncomfortable, as it could open the door to all sorts of things that are much less benign than transgender acceptance.

    It's undoubtedly true that if someone feels like a woman, that is how they feel, but feeling something doesn't always prove that it's true. If the verifiable fact is that the person has a male body and XY chromosomes (although the latter on their own aren't 100% proof of maleness), the most obvious explanation, at least to people unfamiliar with the concept of transgender-ness, is that their feelings are mistaken. In most cases where someone has a feeling that contradicts the facts, we do conclude that they are mistaken, or even delusional, so the question is what distinguishes transgender from other situations. Three possibilities occur to me:

    1) Is it more plausible than the others? Certainly a female brain in a male body seems more plausible than a black brain in a white body, and both are very different from someone claiming to be a poached egg, but are male and female brains really that different? -- most psychological differences between men and women seem to be about averages rather than absolute differences. (The idea of gender being a social construct doesn't really help -- race is much more of a social construct).

    2) Is there is scientific evidence of transgender-ness? I haven't had time to read the links people suggested above, but from what people on this thread have said, it seems that there is indeed some evidence, but that it's not altogether compelling.

    3) Is the pragmatic approach in this situation to look at what works rather than what is or isn't objectively true? As I understand it (I have no direct experience), it's an observable fact that some people feel that they are a different gender from their bodies, that attempts to change their feelings to match their bodies usually don't work, and that they usually become happier when they are treated as, and their bodies modified to match, the gender that they feel. This answer (which isn't very different from what Leorning Cniht said in the part of the post that I haven't quoted) seems to me to be the most likely to persuade the sceptical. However, I'm still not sure how well it works as a distinction from transracialness or other types of mismatch -- answering this question would presumably require more study of people in those situations.

    Incidentally, I often feel baffled by these discussions, as I don't partìcularly feel like anything. I don't know what feeling like a man means. I know that I look like one, big deal.

    Actually, I agree with you. I am a man, but I don't really know what "feeling like a man" means. Perhaps that's because my sense of sex and my body are congruent, so there's no distinction between my body and how I feel, and so I can't separate them.

    And I agree with both of you on that.

    fineline wrote: »
    And in general, should people whose gender identity is different from the norm need to be attempting to prove it to sceptics?
    Someone in center ring doesn't owe anyone any explanation, has no obligation to make those outside the center ring feel more comfortable or less awkward about the transition,

    People are more likely to accept something if they understand it. Someone who is suffering from the mental turmoil of feeling they are in the wrong body, and who may well themself be unfamiliar with the concept of transgender, is unlikely to be well placed to provide an explanation, but that doesn't alter the fact that for many of those around them (at least it would be a fact for me if I was one of those people) an explanation from somebody would be very helpful. It seems to me that part of the issue with the recent emergence of transgender-ness into wider public consciousness is that people who have never had much cause to think about it suddenly find themselves expected to accept it without much explanation, and may find themselves accused of bigotry for stating what has always seemed to be obvious.
  • Human sexuality is made up of multiple components which transpire at different places in gestation. This is why androgen insensitive females (XY people who never developed male characteristics and for all intents and purposes are female) exist. To get your XY person with male genetalia who feels male requires a series of events, any of which could go the other way, although obviously the chances are greatest that you'll get an XY male who feels male. But it's hardly any surprise when you get something else, given how complex the whole damned system is.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    However, pointing out that there is a biological lends support to the idea that this is not a choice.
    It has been, rightly, pointed out that this is not what has led to greater acceptance of the lesbian and gay community.

    Tangent:
    Isn't it at least one factor?
    Certainly could be a factor for some. However, I think the single biggest factor for gay and lesbian folks is people having them as their neighbours, workmates and family. Seeing them in everyday situations and realising that they are people, not abstracts.

  • GwaiGwai Epiphanies Host
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Feminism is more that women would not be seen as less than men. It is not that they should be as men with boobs and vaginas, but that those appurtenances should not be seen as limiting.
    This does not conflict with trangender acceptance.
    I think very much depends on the feminist. I've certainly met whole swathes of feminists who cared deeply that women were functionally the same as men but with different bodies.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Gwai wrote: »
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    Feminism is more that women would not be seen as less than men. It is not that they should be as men with boobs and vaginas, but that those appurtenances should not be seen as limiting.
    This does not conflict with trangender acceptance.
    I think very much depends on the feminist. I've certainly met whole swathes of feminists who cared deeply that women were functionally the same as men but with different bodies.
    That is weird, IMO. Physiology and psychology are interdependent. Not a 1:1 correlation and culture is a factor, but definitely not divorced.

  • Or it may just be that, as noted above, for those of us who are cisgender, there's nothing to notice. It's like the old saw re a fish not being aware of the water. If your gender has always felt comfortable, why would you be aware of it?

    I wouldn't say it is comfortable if we're speaking of my ability to fit into social norms for women, where in many ways I am and always have been a remarkably bad fit. But my take on the resulting social pressure and criticism (rather intense) has always been "y'all can just go to hell now," so I can't say I ever internalized it. But no, i can't say gender plays much if any role in how i think of myself to myself. (Neither does species)

  • Penny SPenny S Shipmate
    It has been very interesting to read this thread, since the first place I came across this issue was very different, and included people who had been attacked - verbally, and in one case with a threat to their job - by a particular subgroup of trans male to female people. It included links to people (and Mumsnet, which has been threatened by approaches to advertisers) who had been threatened with physical attacks, and in one case (gone to law) actually physically attacked. It included the case of the person who had taken up a political post intended for a woman, but who had then concentrated on trans issues. It included situations where women's groups were challenged on discussing issues of menstruation, breast-feeding, pregnancy, and such matters because "not all women experience them". It included cases of groups denied meetings because venues were threatened by the sub-group. (Milwall football stadium, for example, and a pub hosting a child clothing swap group.)

    The particularly odd threats were the ones where the trans persons had threatened that, if they were not recognised as women, they would rape the other party, (still having the means to do so.) And the ones where they, still with their penises, threatened to denounce lesbians who refused to sleep with them as discriminatory transphobes - as if a lesbian would sleep with anyone regardless of other personality matters. They are making people afraid, and finding themselves having to arrange meetings secretly.

    So it is refreshing to come across a discussion about the majority of normal trans people. The ones who are going to be negatively affected if the noisy tiny minority get too much publicity.
  • Going back to Shubenakadie's phrase, a biologically male person who is actually female, I thought that gender has been described in non-biological terms for a long time. People often cite de Beauvoir, one is not born a woman, but one becomes one, or later on, the idea of doing gender, or for Judith Butler, performing gender. (But this is part of the confusion around gender.) But at any rate, gender identity becomes a personal experience, not something externally described. But I think the idea of gender is staggering under the weight of so many meanings.
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