« Your interesting word open thread | Main | Hype »

April 17, 2021

Comments

Looks like you double-posted the thread.
(Fixed that -- wj)

At least in European liteature the archetype of a trans character seems to be the seer Tiresias who lived 7 years as a woman (and gave birth to his daughter Mantho) before changing back. At least to one version of his story he got on the wrong side of Hera when he was called as a judge in a dispute between her and Zeus about which sex enjoyed sex more (since he was the only one who knew it both ways). [Hera blinded him for revealing that women enjoy it ten times more].

my friend is of the opinion (corectly I think) that gender identity is not really someone else's business

In one sense, sure. See yourself however you want.

But as soon as you expect/demand that others interact with you based on that gender identity, it starts to become their business as well. That doesn't necessarily mean that other people's view is all-important. Just that it cannot be ignored as irrelevant either.

I've been giving some thought to the part of the issue that is bathrooms (and locker rooms, which I suspect is of a piece). It seems to me that it falls into two major sections:

  • What are those who currently use a single-sex facility going to be comfortable with?
  • What are the risks of sexual assault?
One the first point, I would say that the desires of the many probably should outweigh the desires of the few. The trans individuals may want to go somewhere, because they would feel more comfortable. But that doesn't triumph over the comfort of everybody else. After all, we're not talking about a type facility which is otherwise not available.

As a caveat, I wonder if the reactions would differ, depending on whether the trans individual had surgically transitioned yet or not. At a guess, post-surgery trans individuals would likely not be a major problem.

As for the second, McKinney notes the problem of rape. But he also (perhaps inadvertently) notes that homosexual rape can happen, too. Let's face it, there are indeed rapists in the world. But the vast majority of folks do not fall into that category. And I'm not sure I see rape as typically a crime of opportunity -- which is what the concern on this front seems to come down to.

Also, IANACP (I Am Not A Criminal Psychologist ;-), but my impression is that rape is most often about asserting dominance, rather than about sex per se. In a mixed-gender facility, what we would have is straight men in an entirely parallel situation to what gay men have been in all along. Is there any reason to assume that straight men are any less capable of self-control than gay men? Not sure I'm buying that.

As I may have mentioned, I'm still working thru my position on various parts of the issue. But that's where I've gotten to so far on this subset of the question.

The Heinlein is, as usual, conceptually interesting while monstrously compromised in execution by unexamined assumptions of gender essentialism and patriarchy. But then this is true of a lot of the SF written in that period - even Russ' The Female Man suffers from some deeply transphobic assumptions. Still, they and Le Guin's Left Hand started an important conversation and offered us mental real estate to visit and live in. That's what SFF is supposed to do.

Still, I'd be hard pressed to teach either text to a class of first year undergrads because the battles they pick to fight do not fit the current culture and needs, and time spent teaching the historical context is time not spent trying to understand the deeper cultural norms and values that shape how we see our sexual and social selves. The latter is more urgent, so that is where the conversation goes.

Meanwhile...: I would say that the desires of the many probably should outweigh the desires of the few. The trans individuals may want to go somewhere, because they would feel more comfortable. But that doesn't triumph over the comfort of everybody else. After all, we're not talking about a type facility which is otherwise not available.

I balk at this formulation because the two points that wj formulates are only two separate points for people with a gender presentation that fits neatly within norms. It's not a matter of *comfort* for the gender non-conforming which bathroom they use and who they share it with. That's a matter of actual physical safety. The issue of comfort is so far down the list of priorities that it seems like a luxury to the trans activist pushing for non-gendered restroom facilities.

Every time my friend who is a trans man enters a gendered public restroom, he is doing so under the threat of actual physical danger. If he enters a men's bathroom, he is at risk of being assaulted by transphobic men intent on teaching him a lesson. If he enters a women's bathroom, he runs the very real risk of being reported to the police and subject to arrest and a host of other problems that trans people have in our barbaric carceral systems.

All of which is why I have only limited patience with issues of psychological comfort.

As far as the sports conversation goes, I think that treating trans participation as an issue of fairness to women really only serves to reinforce the cultural prejudices that relegate women's sports to perpetual second class status in the first place. We pay lip service to the value of sports in school as character development, but what gets celebrated (and financially rewarded) in our culture is not competition, cooperation, and self-development, it's spectacle and victory and ability.

Saying that trans participation in women's sports ruins fairness is an admission that we see women's sports as inherently inferior. No one has the least concern about trans men ruining men's sports. No one worries that the trans man may, by living true to his own sense of self, forever be at a disadvantage in gender segregated sports.

Which is why I insist that the problem goes a lot deeper than just a threat to fairness in women's sports. We have patriarchy and ableism issues that need to be confronted as well.

Which is tough to do when the average sports fan just wants to eat bad food, bask in the collective enjoyment of vicarious tribalism, and be distracted by drama and spectacle for a while.

And I say that as someone who feels the pull of all that myself.

The bathroom issue is more important than the sports issue. Bathrooms are a basic necessity for everyone. No one has an automatic right to participate in whatever sport they want to.

Every time my friend who is a trans man enters a gendered public restroom, he is doing so under the threat of actual physical danger. If he enters a men's bathroom, he is at risk of being assaulted by transphobic men intent on teaching him a lesson. If he enters a women's bathroom, he runs the very real risk of being reported to the police and subject to arrest and a host of other problems that trans people have in our barbaric carceral systems.

Critical to this discussion is how big a risk in each case? Every time I walk out the door, I'm at risk of some gun nut deciding to "make a statement" by shooting up the place I'm going. Mostly, it's a pretty low risk. But, as our repeated experience shows, definitely not zero.

nous argues that the problem is that our culture needs to change. Accepting, for the sake of discussion, that he is right on both the direction and amount of change needed, it's still not something that is going to happen quickly. (Even gay marriage, which happened with lightning speed as such things go, took a couple of decades. Even as lots of previously homophobic families discovered family members coming out of the closet. Without trans individuals in nearly as many families, this will take longer.)

So, do we do nothing until the culture finally changes? And, since I think we can agree that's not acceptable, what do we do initially? Just demanding cultural changes doesn't address that. And may well slow down the rate of change.

Saying that trans participation in women's sports ruins fairness is an admission that we see women's sports as inherently inferior.

male humans are generally bigger and stronger than female humans and this gives them an advantage in sports where strength is an advantage. that's really all there is to it.

my fastest high school 100m time was 12.5s. i had no training for it and no idea how to run a sprint like that (there is definitely technique to sprinting). i only ran it timed once or twice so the coach could see who he could put in that race - and it wasn't me. 12.5 isn't competitive for boys, even in the small rural upstate NY conference i was in.

but my untrained, practice run of 12.5s would have put me in 30th place in the state of California* last year, if i was a high school woman.

if a boy of my very modest speed transitioned in HS and ran on the track team in a similar conference, and then learned how to actually run it, he would utterly dominate.

that's what the fairness concern is about.

if i was a woman and was faced with someone with a male body, i'd feel like maybe things weren't fair, too.

*only state I can find good times for.

I think that treating trans participation as an issue of fairness to women really only serves to reinforce the cultural prejudices that relegate women's sports to perpetual second class status in the first place.
...
Saying that trans participation in women's sports ruins fairness is an admission that we see women's sports as inherently inferior.

I completely disagree. Certainly women's sports ought to get more attention, respect, and money. But that's entirely separate from the issue of fairness to those participating when trans individuals are added to the mix. The latter would be a problem, even if tomorrow women's sports started magically getting treated like men's sports on all accounts.

See though, the idea of gender segregated sports are so ingrained that the deeper assumptions I am pointing to don't even register.

Bigger men have a physical advantage over smaller men in many men's sports. Boxing and wrestling are split into weight groups to ensure that the sports remains competitive (but still, the larger fighters make more money and draw more fans than the lighter groups as a rule).

Within genders there is already a huge element of competitive advantage tied to physiology. We choose to ignore these difference and let people choose or let "nature" do the separation for us.

Biological sex (which is not at all as simple a matter as xx/xy) is only one of a host of physiological determinants of individual performance. But we have elevated this particular difference to be The Difference on which most issued of fairness reside.

One of my nieces has three kids - twin girls and a boy. At a very young age - very young, like 4 or 5 - one of the twins basically decided to be a boy. Picked a new name for himself, got a short haircut, wore boys’ clothes. When he began school, he participated in school as a boy.

This has not been without challenges. His father has been... less than supportive. He’s been outed as a girl at school, with predictable grade school kid drama. There has been a lot of counseling. But he lives as a boy. He is a boy.

He’s 10 now, and adolescence is on the horizon. I’m not sure how they’re going to address that. I imagine some kind of puberty-delaying medication may be involved, beyond that I have no idea.

I don’t know where he goes to the bathroom when he’s at school. He is a highly competitive athlete, all on boys’ teams. His family are all fine with it, and just love and accept him as a boy. Even his father is coming around.

I don’t know what the long-term scenario is going to be. I will say the idea of gender assignment surgery disturbs me, because it’s surgery. it’s a permanent alteration of your body, which seems like a kind of mutilation, to me. But that’s my issue, not his, and will be his choice to make, not mine. I do agree with Marty’s comment that it’s not a decision that a 10 year old should be making.

I don’t know why my niece’s kid was compelled to be a boy, even though he had been born a girl. I say ‘compelled’ because I don’t think there was much choice about it. He’s been a boy for more than half his life now, it’s obviously not a passing fancy. It hasn’t made his life or his family’s lives any simpler. It’s what he needs to do, for reasons that he can’t really articulate other than the simple existential fact that he experiences himself as ‘boy’.

Humans are complex beings, and the things that make us ‘male’ or ‘female’ go beyond the obvious anatomical structures we’re born with. How much of how we see ourselves is innate, and how much is a response or adaptation to the world we’re born into - family, culture - is well above my pay grade. I have no idea.

What I wish is that people were given room to express themselves and live their lives according to how they perceive and experience themselves. I’m not saying anything particularly original when I say that binary categories like ‘man’ and ‘woman’ are likely too narrow and simplistic to capture the range of actual human experience.

I have a straight male friend, long-time married, who has come to think of himself as queer because he was and I guess is attracted to ‘girly’ things - woman’s clothes, wearing nail polish, not interested in competitive sports. He had a hard time with it growing up, and now in his 60’s is still coming to terms with all of that. I do not in any way mean to disparage or diminish the very hard work and sacrifice that has gone on for generations to make it possible for people who don’t fall neatly into cis-gender lines to live their lives, but it also makes me angry that he feels obliged to find a category for himself, at all. It makes me angry that people can’t just be themselves, however that expresses itself.

I understand that some folks may be uncomfortable with, for instance, the idea that someone with a penis might use the ladies’ bathroom, but I think people need to be realistic about what the actual risks are. It’s highly likely that all of us have, at some point, shared a rest room with a trans man or woman. It’s equally likely that that occurred without incident, and without our even being aware of it.

Trans people are not going into bathrooms to assault other people. They just want to use the bathroom. That may seem weird to folks, but surely we are capable of summoning up the mental space to accommodate something that basic.

It might make some folks uncomfortable, but it makes it possible for other folks to exist - to have a place, the most basic presence, in life.

This, from the Guardian, is related, methinks

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2021/apr/17/wilhelm-reich-the-strange-prescient-sexologist-who-sought-to-set-us-free

I’d grown up in the 1980s as a gender non-conforming child in a gay family, under the malign rule of Section 28, a homophobic law that forbade schools from teaching “the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship”. To know that this was how the state regarded your own family was to receive a powerful education in how bodies are positioned in a hierarchy of value, their freedoms privileged or curtailed according to more or less inescapable attributes, from skin colour to sexuality.

There's been a trend at the more extreme end of the ultramarathoning scene where women have started winning races outright. Somewhere around the 195 mile mark the physiological advantage shifts to favor physiologies more commonly found in women than in men.

Can a trans woman compete in an ultramarathon as a woman? Is a trans man at enough of a competitive advantage over cis men to disqualify him from competing as a man, or are the benefits of having some physiology more associated with women counterbalanced by other effects of the hormone therapy?

How long can a para-athlete's running blades be before they flip into affording competitive advantage against their non-para compatriots?

If relative length of limb is an advantage, then should we also demand that non-para athletes' limbs be scrutinized for fairness?

Welcome to transhumanism and the "appeal to nature" fallacy.

And for the gods' sake, let everyone pee in peace and safety.

See though, the idea of gender segregated sports are so ingrained that the deeper assumptions I am pointing to don't even register.

They register with me, and if I can justify taking the time I'll even offer a couple of examples of what I think you mean. I'm afraid, though, that if I start typing, I'll still be here Monday morning, and the comment will be as long as a novel and still not finished, so...maybe not.

For the moment I'll just offer a reminder to frame your comments about gender-segregated sports.

Part of the reason we have gender-segregated sports at all is that for a long time, girls and women weren't allowed to play sports at all. Then some people fought to carve out a space where they could play and compete.

There were no sports for girls in my high school when I was growing up in the 1960s. That wasn't true everywhere in the US, but it was true in my small town and in many others.

The athletic director at MIT when I was an undergrad said that granting varsity letters to the women (including rowing and sailing teams that were competitive at the national championship level IIRC) would "devalue" the men's letters. The male students, bless their hearts, thought he was an idiot and supported the push for women to be awarded letters.

The first women's marathon at the Olympics wasn't run until 1984 (before that, women were considered too "delicate" to run marathons). The first women's cycling race was that same year. Joan Benoit won the marathon, Connie Carpenter won the cycling road race. (I was out bicycling that day in Milwaukee. Everyone I passed waved at me.)

Many women, even young women of my daughter's generation, are aware of this history. It is not something lightly to be relinquished, this space that was carved out.

I understand, and believe, that trans girls and women are girls and women. And yet, cleek's point is part of reality too.

Gender is an infinite topic, and sports is an infinite topic, so I dunno if this is wise. But maybe more anon about competitive advantage even so.

An observation that I hope isn't taken as flippant. A college girlfriend once noted, in the context of watching all but two games of March Madness (the year Houston lost to NC State) that we were basically sports homos. It wasn't made in a nasty sort of way, so I didn't get bent out of shape (I didn't share the observation with the group, though I don't think anyone else would have been horrified by the observation) There is a lot of stuff baked into that sports cake methinks.

Sorry nous, we cross-posted; I hadn't seen your 6:27.

You don't have to go to those extremes to find examples that illustrate your point about competitive advantage.

I point you to Cindy Blodgett, who played girls high school basketball in Maine about ten years before my daughter did. Blodgett's team, Lawrence HS in Fairfield, went 84-4 during her four years and won the Class A state championships all four years. When Blodgett came along, every other girl playing for every other team among the Class A schools had to reliquish any hope of winning a Gold Ball as a high schooler. She set umpteen all-time records at UMaine and played for several years in the WNBA. She might as well have been from a different planet.

Even before that there was a girl who was almost seven feet tall at a Class D high school in downeast Maine. IIRC her school won the Class D Gold Ball every year she played. No other girl in a Class D school....etc.

We aren't going to ban girls from girls teams for being preternaturally talented or preternaturally tall, just because their existence means other girls are going to be shut out of certain possibilities. So why should we ban trans girls...etc.

Shit happens, get over it, is the not so hidden message. Enjoy sports for other reasons than winning gold balls or gold medals.

But I don't totally agree with this conclusion; I think it's more complicated than that. I have an argument in the opposite direction related to cleek's comment about sprint times, and I'll try to get to it in a bit.

What I wish is that people were given room to express themselves and live their lives according to how they perceive and experience themselves.

Careful. You're beginning to sound like a libertarian... :)

Some kids who view themselves as trans grow up to be gay. Or, at least, more or less satisfied with being gay. Trans activists don't like this. They view it as infringing on, stealing from the trans community. Perhaps like some in the deaf community disliking deaf children getting implants so as to hear.

I do want to take a moment here to acknowledge JanieM's point about the importance of Title IX and of access to sports. That history is important and should not be erased.

That point is also entangled with my earlier comments about Joanna Russ' The Female Man. It's an important text, and I love it. I think it is one of the essential texts of Science Fiction. There are parts of it that I find problematic, but I can understand and sympathize with her reasoning, especially in the context of the time. And I understand that embracing parts of trans rights erases parts of what Russ was fighting for in that book, and even see what Russ was fighting for as a noble fight.

Despite that, I think that the intersectional feminists have a better, more productive way of examining our moment than do the gender critical feminists, even while affirming the gender critical feminists sense of loss.

It's a tough thing to negotiate.

Some kids who view themselves as trans grow up to be gay. Or, at least, more or less satisfied with being gay. Trans activists don't like this. They view it as infringing on, stealing from the trans community.

Can you point me to a few of these activists arguing these things (preferably to the primary source and not a secondary analysis)? I'd like to understand where they are coming from.

Every trans person I know is extremely patient with other people's struggles with gender identity because their own journeys were anything but straightforward. It's only when these discussions become public debates that the conversation gets fraught.

You’re going to find a lot of people who don’t give a shit about transhumanism. And you’re going to find that people’s sports related concerns about preternaturally gifted girls aren’t the same as their concerns about women who used to be biologically male. Just look at the obsessive way app tell fans pay attention to stats - “was male until 15” is going be something nobody will ignore. And if you’re talking about competitive sports, going from a no-shot male to a world class woman is an competitive advantage than nobody is going to ignore, no matter how much fun it is for anyone involved.

I wish there was a solution. But right now, there’s only a problem.


Can you point me to a few of these activists arguing these things (preferably to the primary source and not a secondary analysis)?

I may not be able to find a link as I think I got that from podcasts with authors of books on gender dysphoria in children. Some activists take the view that plans for transition should be started immediately for children who express dissatisfaction with their gender rather than take a wait-and-see approach.

Every trans person I know is extremely patient with other people's struggles with gender identity because their own journeys were anything but straightforward.

Individual members of a community can be very different from the activists in the community.

Individual members of a community can be very different from the activists in the community.

Yes, but most of the transpeople I know are also activists and trans scholars, so...

I'm interested to see how the question of transitioning is discussed and what, precisely, the people involved in the discussion count as the transition process. There's a lot of room for misrepresentation and bad faith in presentation on all sides.

And you’re going to find that people’s sports related concerns about preternaturally gifted girls aren’t the same as their concerns about women who used to be biologically male. Just look at the obsessive way app tell fans pay attention to stats - “was male until 15” is going be something nobody will ignore.

I totally agree with this but ran out of steam before I could articulate the rest of the thought train. I have been running an abstract conversation about this in my head (and an out loud one with the only person I talk to about this stuff) for a long time, and the bit about "preternaturally talented" athletes is a sort of devil's advocate statement of a position that I don't actually inhabit myself.

I recently saw a long Twitter thread (don't have a link) making an argument for including trans girls and women in girls and women's sports. A central piece of the argument was that it's not really the big deal that the right wing (and others) make of it because the numbers are vanishingly small. There aren't very many trans people to begin with, and there are even fewer who want to participate in sports. So even if non-trans girls and woman are harmed somehow, it will only be a few of them, so what's the big deal?

The writer didn't seem to realize, or at least didn't acknowledge, that that argument cuts both ways. If it's only a few people being harmed, why should it be the non-trans people rather than the trans people? Especially since your (cleek's) sprint time example shows that any single trans athlete actually changes things for lots of non-trans athletes.

I haven't seen any polling on how the vast majority of girls and women feel about this issue, so I don't know how much it's being over-hyped by the usual suspects. If lots and lots of people care, then I agree that there's no easy solution.

*****

Individual members of a community can be very different from the activists in the community.

Activists or not, the trans community is no more monolithic in its opinions than any other definable group.

Likely I got my impression of transgender activists from interviews with this author who is critical of how the sudden increase in female gender dysphoria is being treated. My impression is that female gender dysphoria is taking the place of problems like anorexia.

"Until just a few years ago, gender dysphoria—severe discomfort in one’s biological sex—was vanishingly rare. It was typically found in less than .01 percent of the population, emerged in early childhood, and afflicted males almost exclusively.

But today whole groups of female friends in colleges, high schools, and even middle schools across the country are coming out as “transgender.” These are girls who had never experienced any discomfort in their biological sex until they heard a coming-out story from a speaker at a school assembly or discovered the internet community of trans “influencers.”

Unsuspecting parents are awakening to find their daughters in thrall to hip trans YouTube stars and “gender-affirming” educators and therapists who push life-changing interventions on young girls—including medically unnecessary double mastectomies and puberty blockers that can cause permanent infertility."
Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters

For women in martial arts, competing against trans women may not mean just losing. They could end up in hospital or dead.

So CharlesWT, the quote in your 8:41 seems a little, ah, overwrought to me.

"Unsuspecting parents"!

"In thrall to hip trans YouTube stars"!

"Craze"!

"Seducing our daughters"!

She moves from a very precise statistic to "whole groups of female friends"!

It's manipulative rabble-rousing. I can't take anything written like that seriously.

I really don't find Shrier a reliable voice for representing the views of any trans activists:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/checkpoints/202101/review-irreversible-damage-abigail-shrier

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/political-minds/202012/new-book-irreversible-damage-is-full-misinformation

I don't trust polemicists as a rule.

I can't take anything written like that seriously.

Well, they're plugging the book, trying to hook people into buying it. It may not have been written by the author. Reading the "Look inside" may let you judge whether it's overwrought or not.

I've heard interviews with this author too.

"Is our gender something we’re born with, or are we conditioned by society? In The End of Gender, neuroscientist and sexologist Dr. Debra Soh uses a research-based approach to address this hot-button topic, unmasking popular misconceptions about the nature vs. nurture debate and exploring what it means to be a woman or a man in today’s society.

Both scientific and objective, and drawing on original research and carefully conducted interviews, Soh tackles a wide range of issues, such as gender-neutral parenting, gender dysphoric children, and the neuroscience of being transgender. She debates today’s accepted notion that gender is a social construct and a spectrum, and challenges the idea that there is no difference between how male and female brains operate."
The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society Kindle

For women in martial arts, competing against trans women may not mean just losing. They could end up in hospital or dead.

FWIW, and from my admittedly limited experience of martial arts, this is not that likely. Or, at most, is only true for a very limited set of arts.

Also - just to throw a curve ball into the trans athletes discussion:

My niece's kid plays soccer on boys' teams. And does really well. So whatever solution or work-around we come up with to address 'unfair competitive advantage' needs to leave space for kids, and people, like him - people for whom the hypothetical 'male advantage' is either not in evidence or is irrelevant.

Hard to say how to square that circle.

His advantage may be transitory. His body strength may start to peak while the strength of other boys his age will continue to grow.

My niece's kid plays soccer on boys' teams. And does really well.

I'm not sure what point you're making, russell.

No one here or anywhere, as far as I know, is worried about trans boys playing in boys leagues.

Charles
Some kids who view themselves as trans grow up to be gay. Or, at least, more or less satisfied with being gay.

How do you know this? This libertarianism is great if it tells you how satisfied everyone is with their lot in life!

and
For women in martial arts, competing against trans women may not mean just losing. They could end up in hospital or dead.

I do martial arts and I think nous does as well, though I've not put anyone in the hospital. Yet. (for various definitions of 'put') It would be wonderful if you could relate your experiences in martial arts to the commentariat.

Related to Soh's book, issues were raised about Soh when she was at Oxford Union

https://cherwell.org/2021/01/22/debra-soh/

In their statement, Oxford SU LGBTQ+ Campaign outlined Debra Soh’s qualifications: “a Canadian neuroscientist who made her reputation studying paraphilias (that is, sexual fetishes and associated behaviours) before leaving academia and taking a hard turn into criticising the idea of gender identity, supposed early transitions in trans youth, and efforts to outlaw conversion therapy. She is not an academic, and when she was, trans health was not her field; she is hardly qualified to comment on these issues and her positions are unequivocally transphobic.”

Her PhD was Functional and Structural Neuroimaging of Paraphilic Hypersexuality in Men

My feeling is that if she is flogging her book on Bill Maher
https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/ep-500-allan-lichtman-dr-debra-soh/id98746009?i=1000442346830
one should take things with the requisite amount of salt.

Some kids who view themselves as trans grow up to be gay.

How do you know this?

I think one of the authors above made that claim based on her research.

Or, at least, more or less satisfied with being gay.

I think this may be speculation on my part as I thought just growing up to be gay might be a little too pat.

It would be wonderful if you could relate your experiences in martial arts to the commentariat.

No personal experience. I should verify what I've heard on a podcast before repeating it. Most of the reported injuries involved MMA which has more injuries anyway. And most of the reports involved a single trans woman fighter. And most of those reports turned out to be...overwrought.

"• During her two-year Mixed Martial Arts career, Fallon Fox fractured one opponent’s orbital bone, also known as the eye socket. In the past, Fox has characterized the injury to her opponent as a skull fracture.

• The photo of the woman with the bloodied face was from an MMA fight that did not involve Fox and which took place several years after Fox’s last MMA bout.

• MMA is a combat sport and has an overall high rate of injury."
Social media posts mislead about transgender MMA fighter’s injuries to opponents

one should take things with the requisite amount of salt.

That applies to all sides of an argument.

Just to be clear, "how do you know this" was only related to the second sentence, the first sentence was to provide context. I grew up to be a mostly satisfied Japanese university teacher, but a musician was what I wanted to be.

I grew up to be a mostly satisfied Japanese university teacher, but a musician was what I wanted to be.

I grew up to be a mostly satisfied jack of all trades in the computer/programming world, but a cosmologist was what I wanted to be.

This is going to be fun. ;-)

*****

That applies to all sides of an argument.

"Requisite" is a word that allows for contextual adjustments.

Any side of an argument that, say, Marjorie Taylor Green is on, or Bari Weiss, or Clickbait, or, well, the list can go on -- mountains of salt. In fact, most times there isn't enough salt in the universe. If nous or russell makes an argument -- no salt needed.

As far as I can tell, Dr. Soh completed her Ph.D. at York, but never found a position in her field as a researcher after completing her dissertation. Her public bio leans into the idea that she was "cancelled" for her dissenting views because trans activists drove her out.

Which is a really sparkly way to launch an alternative career as a contrarian after coming up dry on the academic job market.

Just an educated guess.

Bari Weiss

What is the problem with the nice, gay, Jewish woman?

For a number of people, being "cancelled" seems to be about the best thing to ever happen to them.

What is the problem with the nice, gay, Jewish woman?

Hopefully that's a rhetorical question...

But if not, IMO and judging from what I saw when she was booted from the NYT, pretty much everyone who posts and comments here at ObWi is a better writer, and less self-absorbed, and far less whiny. It's no contest.

What is the problem with the nice, gay, Jewish woman?

Hopefully that's a rhetorical question...

But if not, IMO and judging from what I saw when she was booted from the NYT, pretty much everyone who posts and comments here at ObWi is a better writer, and less self-absorbed, and far less whiny. It's no contest.

Hit "Post" by mistake. I also meant to ask: whaddya mean, "nice"? ;-)

From the podcasts and interviews I've heard her on, she seems like a nice and interesting person. I haven't read much of her writing.

I’ve read enough of her writing to know that I don’t wanna listen to her on a podcast

McKTx tells us, as a matter of legal experience, that rapes in public restrooms are a problem. I believe him.

I suppose that almost all rapes are perpetrated by people with penises. So one solution would be to ban people with penises from using restrooms.

In my view, that would be too much of an imposition on non-rapists with penises. We should instead try to design safer restrooms.

McKTx sees a related problem of potential rapes in female restrooms by purported transgender women with penises. Again, we could stop this by banning people with penises from using female restrooms. Or we could instead try to design safer restrooms.

I'm not sure what point you're making, russell.

I guess my point is that it’s going to be challenging to define a set of rules for trans people participating in sports that are fair to everyone. And I’d find it a shame if whatever approach was taken ended up excluding kids like my niece’s kid. That’s not something anybody here is arguing for, but I’m sure there are folks who would argue for it.

It’s not just trans people, there are people like Caster Semenya - anatomically female, identifies as female, but with XY chromosomes and a high level of testosterone.

I got no answer, I’m just asking the question.

we could stop this by banning people with penises from using female restrooms.

I’m seeing some problems with enforcement here.

:)

Women's sports are a good thing. There's a problem in deciding where exactly to draw the line on eligibility. It's none of my business: women should decide.

Women's sports are a good thing. There's a problem in deciding where exactly to draw the line on eligibility. It's none of my business: women should decide.

I’m seeing some problems with enforcement here.

Anyone thinking seriously about enforcement might wonder whether the people proposing the laws actually understand the implications. But in fact, they don't give a shit about the enforcement implications, because they know very well that enforcement will not fall on them and the "normal"-presenting people they like, it will fall on the oddballs. It will open the way, or increase the likelihood, of people reporting anyone who doesn't conform to gender stereotypes to their satisfaction, above all women who don't present as feminine enough for some people.

Or what are they going to do, have attendants at each restroom to make people strip and prove they have the right equipment?

What does this remind you of, anyhow? Demanding proof of citizenship or the equivalent from brown people. Calling the police on black birdwatchers. Etc.

*****

As for your niece's son -- "fair" is a very difficult concept, at the heart of the whole question of whose ox gets gored in sports. nous's proposal that we should rethink the whole concept of why we play sports is the best way out, but it's pie in the sky as far as the real world goes, and at the present moment. Short of that, someone or other is going to think the system isn't "fair."

But if it makes you worry less about kids like him -- who would be, in some people's eyes, a girl playing in the boys leagues -- even aside from the trans question, girls have been playing on boys teams for a while now. My daughter announced, when she was 7, that she was going to play baseball with her brother the following year when she was old enough, not softball with the other girls. My son's coach's wife announced loudly, right there in the stands, that girls weren't allowed in the boys league, they had lawyers, etc. etc.

I looked at her incredulously -- this question had been taken all the way to the Supreme Court and resolved in 1972.

Luckily, my son's coach was all for it.

More after caffeine.

A court decision in 1985 allowing a girl to play on the football team.

A quote:

Dr. Robert Neumann, superintendent of the high school district, said safety and ''concern for girls' welfare'' was one reason underlying the policy.

''The other consideration is we want to protect girls' sports from invasion by boys,'' he said. ''If we see that girls can cross over into boys' sports, then boys will cross over into girls' sports. The real issue is one of equality of opportunity. If the boys were allowed to cross over, we'd be limiting the opportunity for female athletes.''

Field hockey is a battleground on the "who plays where" issue, because there basically are no field hockey teams for boys.

OK. I have been avoiding discussing the trans issue, even when it was brought up on the other thread, because my views have undergone (and are still undergoing) something of a change. But now we have a specific thread about it, with links about the situation in the UK, it feels dishonest to withold.

When McKinney first brought this subject up, a couple of years ago I think, I answered him that I would be perfectly happy being in a ladies' restroom with a trans woman, which was true. My entire attitude to trans issues was based on a couple of trans women I had known, who had suffered greatly through their male youth and adulthood, and gone through much to try and kill their feelings. The one I knew best had been a colonel in the British army, had finally transitioned, and was ecstatically happy to finally "be a woman" (her words), and always dressed and presented as a rather feminine one at that, although unfortunately she looked a bit like Winston Churchill in drag. I felt nothing but affection and respect for her, and knew of no other kinds of trans women (particularly having read Jan Morris's Conundrum).

However, since then I have been made aware (and not by Mumsnet) of a great deal of information I did not then have. A very close friend, a criminologist, has told me that she was examining some violent crime statistics in a particular area, and saw that violent crime by women had jumped 25% in a couple of years. When she pursued this, through contacts, she discovered that one woman was responsible for the entire increase: a trans woman. I imagine everyone on ObWi understands the importance of accurate, uncorrupted data, even if many other people do not.

We did talk here, when first we discussed the subject, about the issue of trans women who self-identified as female but did not go so far as to get what is called “bottom surgery”, and were excoriating lesbians for saying they were not interested in sleeping with “chicks with dicks”, and calling them transphobic. I thought when I was first told about this that it was a joke. It isn’t.

In this country, it has become normal to define anybody who argues against the concept that “a trans woman is a woman” , (as well as the proposition that if you say you are a woman, you are one) as transphobic. I have a friend who works in the voluntary sector with a burly guy, with a beard, who has had no surgery or hormones, identifies as a woman and insists on being called a woman, using a woman’s name and pronouns.

I remain happy to use whatever pronouns anyone prefers, and I would never call any trans woman a man (although I am suspicious of one with a beard, and a penis and testicles). I have also only very recently become aware of the term Autogynephilia, and am having to factor it in to my consideration of some of these issues. As far as I am concerned, women are women, trans women are trans women, men are men and trans men are trans men. I have had to conclude that self-ID laws are wrong, and dangerous. Unfortunately, in the US and to something of an extent in the UK, saying this automatically labels you transphobic, and various people have had their careers endangered (or ruined) by saying so.

Despite having the nickname “she who cannot be cancelled”, J K Rowling is now accepted in the US and amongst young people here (there is a huge generational gap in attitudes towards trans rights) as a transphobe, despite in my opinion never having said a transphobic word.

Trans people are extremely vulnerable to abuse and violence, and must be protected. But so are women, and so must they be. Self-ID laws would allow malign and abusive people to go into shelters for abused women where men are strictly forbidden. The same applies (and according to my criminologist friend this has in fact happened) to women’s prisons.

It is no doubt an exceptional case, but the case in self-ID Canada of the “trans woman” who has insisted on going to female-only waxing salons, booking appointments to wax “her”penis and testicles, and then sued them and put them out of business when they refuse gives one pause, and may make sense of the feminists’ insistence that so much of this cause is misogynistic in origin.

I said in one of my comments on the GA voting law that a right once bestowed may be used. It would be extremely inconsistent of me not to apply this to other issues.

On the question of women’s sport, I rather agree with cleek (although I think nous’s points are very interesting). The case of Caster Semenya is really difficult, and I am glad that cases like that are extremely rare. I saw Martina Navratilova’s documentary on this subject, and I found her sensitive to the trans community. I respect her opinion, and I do not think her a transphobe.

The self-ID law in the UK was quashed, at the last minute. No doubt the argument will run and run.

On the issue of trans kids, we are in the middle of a great re-examination. In recent years, I am told, unprecedented numbers of young girls, a surprising number of them on the autistic spectrum, have been reporting as trans. There is a concern that this may be as much to do with perceived gender stereotypes to do with “femininity”, and the new high profile of the availability of gender reassignment, than the previously understood conditions of transgenderism. Many people, like me, accepted that kids knew they were “in the wrong body” from an early age, and that preventing puberty (which we were told was reversible) was a mercy. The jury is very much still out on this now, after the recent case against the Tavistock. An independent enquiry, run by a retired President of the Royal Society of Paediatrics and Child Health (whom I know slightly – luckily she is clever, and unsusceptible to intimidation) is currently sitting to examine the facts of this issue.

So, my views on this are still in something of a state of flux. I am sympathetic to much of what russell says, cleek says, and what Janie says. And in an ideal world nous’s views would also be more than an ideal.

For the record, there is already a rule in place for the Olympics (among other places):

It was not until 2004 that the IOC allowed transgender athletes to participate in the Olympic Games.[6]

In 2015, the IOC modified these guidelines in recognition that legal recognition of gender could be difficult in countries where gender transition is not legal, and that requiring surgery in otherwise healthy individuals "may be inconsistent with developing legislation and notions of human rights".[7][8] The new guidelines require only that trans woman athletes declare their gender and not change that assertion for four years, as well as demonstrate a testosterone level of less than 10 nanomoles per liter for at least one year prior to competition and throughout the period of eligibility. Athletes who transitioned from female to male were allowed to compete without restriction. These guidelines were in effect for the 2016 Rio Olympics, although no openly transgender athletes competed.[9]

This does not seem workable at the high school level.

Also, Pro Bono's suggestion that women should decide begs the question of who's a woman and who isn't, which is what the whole debate is about.

Another point to debate: we in the US should unhitch children's sports from the schools. I once wrote an op-ed about this after a columnist for the local paper opined, very snidely, that homeschooled kids shouldn't be allowed to play sports for the local school teams. Unfortunately, that was so long ago that there's no internet-archived version to link to.

Different sports have different physical requirements. Basketball favors height. Weight lifting favors big muscles.

Baseball is relatively unusual in that the physical characteristics it favors, excellent eyesight and fast reflexes, aren't correlated with gender.

I do understand that many of you might feel that I have been "got at" by transphobic UK opinion!

GftNC, I don't mean to poke, but as I said in the piece, I think a lot of this is driven by politicians here in the US, who would prefer another issue to divide people on. I agree that things are in a state of flux and it is probably the worst time to be making laws. I'm not sure if the British system of legislation is better at preventing the sorts of grandstanding laws that you see so often here in the US.

Unfortunately, I don't think the monetizing of outrage is limited to politicians. As far as I can tell, it seems to undergrid Facebook's business model. Welcome to the new normal unfortunately.

lj, I'm certain you're right about the divisive, grandstanding politicians. It was sickening to see Trump (and other Rs) seizing on the women's sport issue so gleefully. We agree with each other that this is the worst time to be making laws - there is still too much to determine, and some people are going to suffer in the interim no matter what.

Don't mean to sound like a transphobe, but I draw the line at someone who wants to ID as a "woman" but keep all the primary and secondary physical characteristics of a man, right down to the beard. In what way do they identify as a woman?

Liking "girly things" (makeup, frilly clothes, Barbie dolls) is not IMO any kind of gender characteristic, but an anesthetic/style preference. Ditto what we used to call "tomboy" behavior (liking sports, not liking dolls). Our understanding of genders and gender behaviors should damned well be broad enough to encompass people who like the peripherals of the "other" gender without having to identify as that gender.

IOW: You shouldn't *have to* identify as trans in order to enjoy playing sports, playing with dolls, wearing frilly clothes, playing in mud, and wearing makeup.

GftNC, thanks for the long, thoughtful comment. It deserves a very long reply on a number of fronts, but for now I'll just offer my top two headlines.

Citing things (and I don't mean you, but rather the framing of the issues in the public forum) like a trans woman committing crimes as being of any relevance to how trans women should be treated in general is like citing the looting of stores in the midst of a BLM protest as being of any relevance to Black people's rights to full citizenship, or the fact that some homeschooling parents abuse their kids as a reason to ban homeschooling.

One thing is not actually relevant to the other, but is used to whip up sentiment against one unfavored minority or another.

My second reaction is to being called transphobic if I don't want to date people with penises. This is right up there with my reaction to Gloria Steinem saying that any woman who doesn't call herself a feminist is a masochist. In case I don't get around to the longer version, my basic reply to Gloria et hoc genus omne is: FUCK YOU.

A very close friend, a criminologist, has told me that she was examining some violent crime statistics in a particular area, and saw that violent crime by women had jumped 25% in a couple of years. When she pursued this, through contacts, she discovered that one woman was responsible for the entire increase: a trans woman. I imagine everyone on ObWi understands the importance of accurate, uncorrupted data, even if many other people do not.

As the morning goes on, this passage keeps coming back to me.

GftNC, what is it supposed to imply? Were they the crimes you mention later, e.g. of going into women's spaces and committing crimes against the women there? If so, that's a problem that has to be dealt with -- and I don't know how, but self-ID laws would obviously make it harder.

But if they were crimes that anyone could have committed -- assault and robbery on the street, let's say -- then what does the fact that it was a trans woman have to do with anything?

Some trans people, like some non-trans people, like some white people, like some black people, like some Asian people, like some men, like some women, like some non-binary people, like some gay people, like some straight people, like some homeschooling parents, like some parents who send their kids to school...commit crimes. Most don't. "We" shouldn't make laws targeting an entire group because -- inevitably -- some members of that group are bad actors. But that is the inevitable thrust of the grandstanding class once they've decided on their villain du jour. (Is there an equivalent phrase that means "of the the year" or even "of the decade" instead of "of the day"?)

de l'année?...

CharlesWT -- my French is too sketchy to know for sure, but it sounds good. :-)

The point is the accuracy, or corruption of data, the need for which is involved in various academic disciplines. Most violent crime is committed by men. It would be wrong to say the violent crime in question was committed by a woman if it was committed by someone who had spent much of their adult life as a man,with the male hormones etc that this implies. Which is why I think separate categories are required for trans men and trans women.

I imagine everyone on ObWi understands the importance of accurate, uncorrupted data, even if many other people do not.

Following up on my 12:43, as the sentence above followed GftNC's citing of the criminologist's data on crimes by women:

Accurate data is important. But it doesn't mean much without context. You know what Mark Twain said....

For instance, one might wonder: if these were crimes by a trans woman against non-trans women, abetted by her ability to get into women's spaces, how much crime of that sort is there compared to crimes against trans people? As with the sports questions, a balancing of benefits and harms needs to be done, and there are no easy answers. But if we're going to rely on data to inform our deliberations, then we need more than isolated facts, quite possibly (even if not in this case) cherry-picked to create a particular impression. (Mark Twain again.)

GftNC, my 1:19 was written before I saw your 1:12. FWIW.

As with the sports questions, a balancing of benefits and harms needs to be done, and there are no easy answers.

And that is where I see the biggest problem regarding the whole issue. There are those (on both sides) who insist that only the harms/benefits to one side can be considered. That is certainly how I read nous' comments. (I acknowledge that this may not have been the message he was trying to send. But it is definitely the one I was receiving.)

We can argue about how heavily to weight the various harms and benefits. But discounting them entirely, on either side, is simply not helpful. At least, if the goal is to find the best (or, if you prefer, least bad) way to address the issue. If the goal is only to score debating points, of course, that's a different story.

As to data on who commits crimes, it seems relevant to ask: what decisions does the data support, or maybe even drive? At what cost in privacy for suspects, and in the ascertaining of each suspect's status by whoever's doing the arresting?

To make having GftNC's four bins practical, a set of criteria would have to be devised to determine who goes into which bin. Maybe the IOC criteria would work, although that doesn't help us with trans men AFAICT. It seems like everyone arrested would have to provide some kind of evidence as to which bin they belonged in.

Also, why only four bins? What about non-binary people? Intersex people?

It's complicated.

*****

wj: do you think anyone here is only trying to score debating points? I'm not asking for names, just wondering if you think that's what's going on in this discussion in general.

It seems like everyone arrested would have to provide some kind of evidence as to which bin they belonged in.

The problem there is that, AFAICT, the only way to "determine" whether someone is transgender (if they have not surgically transitioned) is to take their word for it. Which seems like a seriously frail reed for data.

Janie: I don't know whether anyone here is only into it for the debating fun. But it is one explanation for absolutism, of which we do occasionally see some. (Maybe even from me ;-)

I've absolutely no objection to (and see the value of) a granular analysis of crime: the circumstances, the victims, etc. But for raw data which only deals with the sex of the perpetrator, I think it a corruption of the data to list a perpetrator as a woman if they have spent most of their life (as my ex-colonel friend - who had transitioned in her 60s - had) as a man. I think I've made it clear already, but for the avoidance of doubt, I do not now believe that trans women are women and trans men are men. I believe they are separate categories, who should not be subject to bigotry, or be vulnerable to persecution or violence, and have equal human rights and protections. It may be necessary, in fairness, to differentiate between trans individuals who transition in adulthood or after adolescence, and those who block puberty and transition as children, but this is one of the difficult issues which will have to be decided in due course if my kind of view prevails.

Janie, we cross-posted again.

On one thing we can certainly and unequivocally agree: it's complicated.

The problem there is that, AFAICT, the only way to "determine" whether someone is transgender (if they have not surgically transitioned) is to take their word for it. Which seems like a seriously frail reed for data.

That's a little garbled.

For people who haven't surgically transitioned, but who say they're the gender they don't appear to be (based on an intrusive physical examination, of course), you could check testosterone levels, as the IOC does. Just for example.

For people who have surgically transitioned, you still need them to tell you, otherwise why would you even wonder? And then you probably need their medical records to be sure they're telling the truth.

Again, it's complicated. Unless you ask everyone, examine everyone, and look at everyone's medical records, there are going to be cases where you have no idea which bin people belong in. And of course you still have to have determined what the criteria are for the bins.

Which is a lot of overhead and possibly a lot of harm. Which is why I asked what the data would be useful for.

If I am reading your 1:29 correctly, wj, then I think you are reading my comments correctly...

I don't have solutions, all I have are critical questions and observations of some of the things tangled up in the thicket of our conversation here.

I agree, once again, with JanieM's questions about the use of the criminology data. I look at the arguments being made there and I wonder what we would think if those same arguments were being made about crime statistics by race. I've certainly seen both of these arguments being made at this blog, and it's interesting to consider which people defend which data to infer a pathology of criminality.

Myself, I wonder things like how the individual's mental health and history play into the statistics.

As a result of their marginalized status, TGNC youth are more likely than their non-TGNC peers to experience a number of trauma-related risk factors associated with poor physical and mental health outcomes, including poverty, homelessness, and violence. Even with gender-affirming treatment, TGNC youth may be at an elevated risk of harm. According to a 2015 survey of TGNC people in the United States, 29% of respondents were living in poverty, which is more than twice the rate of the rest of the American population. Along with other lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer and/or questioning youth, TGNC youth experience homelessness at alarming rates, together making up 20% to 40% of the >1.6 million homeless youth in the United States today. Often as a result of discrimination, rejection, and/or violence at home, TGNC youth are unable to remain in their family homes. Once homeless, they are more likely to interact with the juvenile criminal justice system and are at an increased risk of physical abuse or assault, mental health issues, engagement in transactional sex, and substance use than are those who do not identify as members of sexual or gender minority groups.

https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/6/e20181537

My base position on all of this is that our approaches to issues related to transgender and gender non-conforming youth need to center on the individual and on being gender affirming in that we take seriously what the individual says about the individual's subjective experience. I'm also of the opinion that gender affirmation should be as incremental and gentle as the underlying distress allows. It's possible to be both gender affirming and build safe spaces and rituals that allow for the pressure to be resolved without a pre-determined outcome.

I've watched one friend go through the entire transition process, and made my own transition in how I had to affirm him at different steps of the journey. Another friend (who I mentored in their teaching) has resolved that pressure (for now) with a genderqueer identity and non-binary presentation. I don't care if they have a masculine hypothalamus and male genetic expression of sexual characteristics, they want to register their dissent with the restrictions that society seeks to force on them. I'll support them in their culture hacking.

My wife has taught many young people who identified as trans. Some had gender affirming parents and some did not. Fortunately, all were healthy and aware enough to find ways to negotiate those challenges. But I always think that if E had had N's parents, E would have ended up homeless, and at risk of substance abuse, sexual assault, and the need to engage in transactional sex as a way to deal with the consequences of having been thrown out of the house.

Another friend had her second grade son come to her in deep personal distress, not wanting to go to school and wishing he were dead because the people at school insisted on treating him as if he were a girl. No YouTube. No real media exposure. P was one of those academic parents that tried to limit that sort of influence on a developing child. P chose to affirm her son's assertion of gender and had to change her son's schooling when the school he was enrolled in refused this course of action.

My own observations in these cases lead me to think that these young lives were at risk whatever the choice of action. There are lots of people who have an ideological investment in the outcome of these young lives. My investment in them is that they survive and find a way to feel fulfilled and accepted.

Further unpacking of my 3:19 - one of the reasons that I support my friend who is non-binary genderqueer is because, by creating the possibility of such a space, they are helping to widen and lengthen the space of understanding and decision for the young people I mention. That liminal space can help relieve pressure on young people who have been traumatized by being "trapped" in the gender selected for them. Genderqueer is a sort of magic circle in which possibilities that had been closed are open, but without the pressure of finality. I think that sort of identity play is important, even for an older white cis-het able dude like me.

Who cares if it is biologically based. I'd also accept is as a productive fiction so long as it helps people.

At what cost in privacy for suspects, and in the ascertaining of each suspect's status by whoever's doing the arresting?

As far as this goes, putting these questions into the purview of the police, at least in the US, is a terrifying prospect.

I think it interesting and important to question the use of criminology data, but since many (or even most) statistics on social or economic issues are broken down by sex, I do not see any reason why data on crime should be exempted. And in fact, I see plenty of reason it should not (for example, in the UK in any year the number of women killed by men versus the number of men killed by women, trans people killed by men etc - and of course in all those cases the majority of the killers are men).

I hope it goes without saying that I'm also keen that any individual suffering mental distress on gender (or any other) grounds should be helped as much as possible, in as timely and efficacious way as possible.

As far as this goes, putting these questions into the purview of the police, at least in the US, is a terrifying prospect.

I had all but forgotten until this reminded me -- I sat in on a session of a student-led seminar on "Queering the Law" when my son was in law school. They were very good about using readings from both sides of each issue they discussed, but what sticks in my mind in this regard is the articles illustrating how, in dealing with trans or gender nonconforming people who are victims of crimes, the police are more a part of the problem than a part of the solution.

Quelle surprise.

Pro Bono's suggestion that women should decide begs the question of who's a woman and who isn't, which is what the whole debate is about

If the vote is so close that trans women make a difference, I would include them.

In any case, I'm ducking responsibility for deciding this one.

the problem is the way we build bathrooms.

we could stop building "women's rooms" and "men's rooms". don't make them unisex, just do away with the whole group toilet concept. each stall gets it own tiny sink, mirror and exterior door. just like a row of port-a-johns, but with real plumbing.

yes, it would take up more space and be harder to clean. but it would totally solve the bathroom problem.

the problem is the way we build bathrooms.

So we do nothing, until we rebuild all the (public) bathrooms in the country? cleek, you're sounding like nous on this one.

In the backwoods of far northern Vermont a few years ago, I stopped to get gas and use "the facilities," of which, as is common in such places, there was only one.

On the bathroom door was a sign that said, "All Genders."

I thought it was a nice touch.

When did I ever say “do nothing?” All I have argued was that the way we do things currently endanger TGNC people without actually protecting any of the people we claim to want to protect with segregated restrooms.

The UC system has already done some work to make bathrooms more TGNC friendly. Some bathrooms were made gender agnostic. By and large, though, trans women use women’s restrooms and trans men and people who DGAF use gender agnostic restrooms or men’s rooms depending on urgency, logistics, and security concerns.

Just because I approach things from a utopian perspective doesn’t mean I’m not a pragmatist.

in dealing with trans or gender nonconforming people who are victims of crimes, the police are more a part of the problem than a part of the solution.

Hardly surprising. I don't know about the states, but in the UK this was also the case for many years when the police were dealing with rape victims generally, and to some extent with victims of domestic violence. Also, and very horrifyingly, in recent cases involving gangs grooming very young girls from vulnerable or chaotic backgrounds (often as young as 13) for sex and trafficking, it turns out that when the girls (or sometimes their mothers) appealed to the police for help, the girls were treated as prostitutes, or blamed for complicity in their own abuse. I believe that this police behaviour is changing nowadays, but probably not quickly enough.

When did I ever say “do nothing?” All I have argued was that the way we do things currently endanger TGNC people without actually protecting any of the people we claim to want to protect with segregated restrooms.

It was an extrapolation. When anyone raised concerns, you made the agrument you say, and maintained that the culture must change. Period. But without addressing the concerns. AND without offering any suggestions for what might be done short of substantially changing the culture. Which, as I noted above, takes decades.

If you think you made some pragmatic suggestions for short term relief, my apologies for completely missing them. But that lack (as I perceived it) is where I got "Do nothing."

So we do nothing, until we rebuild all the (public) bathrooms in the country? cleek, you're sounding like nous on this one.

i never said "do nothing".

i do not expect bathrooms to be redesigned. i simply pointed out that the bathroom problem is caused entirely by the existing bathroom design paradigm and that the problem can be avoided completely by an extremely straightforward redesign.

More public bathrooms should be a part of the Biden infrastructure plan. Our country is, frankly, an embarrassment in this regard. Facilities in places such as airports and train and bus stations should have a full time attendant.

Also, businesses serving the public should all have at least one bathroom available to The Public....none of this "for customers only" BS.

In regards to trans....is Hurst still around?

businesses serving the public should all have at least one bathroom available to The Public....none of this "for customers only" BS.

In this case, I suspect that "those people" who the businesses want to keep out are primarily the homeless.

Interesting how wj sees my questions as a demand that society change and I see my questions as an opportunity for him to reconsider his line of reasoning.

Can one develop an immunity to hemlock? I should probably look into that...

Interesting how wj sees my questions as a demand that society change and I see my questions as an opportunity for him to reconsider his line of reasoning.

There's a reason I noted that the message I was receiving might not be the one you intended to send.

#1/x

This topic generates a never-ending supply of loose ends and unanswered questions. I want to at least name some of them before we go wandering off to some other topic.

I’ll collect some quotations from the comments, make some comments on the comments, add some personal “confessions” (don’t get excited, there’s nothing juicy), and weave together some of these thought trains along lines that I find fruitful. Then hopefully tomorrow I’ll get some actual work done.

You don’t have to read it if you don’t want to, LOL.

GftNC wrote:

I do not now believe that trans women are women and trans men are men… I believe they are separate categories, who should not be subject to bigotry, or be vulnerable to persecution or violence, and have equal human rights and protections. It may be necessary, in fairness, to differentiate between trans individuals who transition in adulthood or after adolescence, and those who block puberty and transition as children, but this is one of the difficult issues which will have to be decided in due course if my kind of view prevails.

This suggests that GftNC knows, or thinks someone knows, what a man is, and what a woman is. More to come on that thread.

liberal japonicus wrote:

my friend is of the opinion (corectly I think) that gender identity is not really someone else's business.

For most purposes I would agree. But not always.

And here’s a passage from one of nous’s links:

First, I feel the evidence is pretty clear to me that, contrary to the slogan “gender is a social construct” (endorsed by Shrier in large part), neurobiological evidence has found that gender identity resides in the hypothalamus and, as such, is largely immutable. Put rather simply, it is literally true that trans individuals have the body of one sex, yet the brain of another. Such individuals deserve respect and compassion, should be free of harassment and bullying, deserve to have their preferred pronouns and name respected, and should be free to find love, marry, and have or adopt children as they see fit.

This is obviously relevant somehow to GftNC's belief that "men" and "women" can be identified somehow, and distinguished from "trans men" and "trans women." (Never mind non-binary people etc.)

#2/x

In the 1990s I participated in several workshops offered by Danaan Parry and Jerilyn Brusseau of the Earthstewards Network, under the general umbrella of “Essential Peacemaking: Women and Men.” (Google if you want, this is going to be long enough without the backstory.)

I was usually the only gay person in the workshops, and also (not unrelatedly) the only person who repeatedly challenged some of the basic premises of the workshops. One basic premise was that humans consisted of two groups: woman and men. Danaan used to kiddingly say, “Look who showed up!” (Implying that no one showed up but women and men because no other kind of human existed to show up.) Another basic premise was that men and women were different in ways that could be generalized.

This was one of my first challenges to the workshop orthodoxy: having been in relationships with both men and women, I could point to the fact that in one relationship I was the “rational” one and the other person was “emotional” and in another relationship it was vice versa (generally according to my partners when they were mad at me).

My point being: The heterosexuals in the workshops had a fair amount of common experience, which they generalized as having its roots in gender. I begged to differ. Or at least to suggest that they were overgeneralizing like crazy.

Also in that general time frame, I read Kate Bornstein’s Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us and Jan Morris’s Conundrum, so I knew I wasn’t all alone on the planet in questioning some of our culture’s basic premises about gender.

I’ve got piles of writing about gender from that time, mostly between myself and people from those workshops. It’s kind of weird that I mostly keep quiet about it now, because while I was busy taking my kids to basketball practice (among other things), the world leapfrogged over me on this subject. I went from being the only person I knew who was questioning a bunch of basic “truths” about gender, to being an old fogy who doesn’t know the lingo and has a very weird mix of opinions about the things that trans activists are pushing for.

ETA: the number at the top.

#3/x

GftNC never gave me a substantive answer to my question about why we need to collect data about trans people and crime; we collect lots of data so we should collect this data too, because otherwise the data we already collect will be “corrupted.”

I won’t press the point, I’ll generalize it.

Why do we need to know what gender people are in the first place?

Well, it depends on the context.

In the context of Maine marriage law, for instance, in one sense gender hasn’t mattered for decades -- i.e. there has been no mention of “husband” or “wife” in the statutes since the spouses were made equal partners in IIRC 1967. You still had to have one of each gender until same-sex marriage was approved in 2012, but there was no distinction made between them.

But before I go deeper into when/why we might need to know people’s gender, some additional personal history.

As a kid I was what we called, then, a tomboy. I played with the boys whenever they’d let me, and I was a math nerd. This was not stuff other girls did, nor did I like to do a lot of the things that other girls liked to do.

I had a fleeting wish now and then to be a boy, but that was just because boys got to do the cool stuff, and I knew that even at the time. I never felt the way Jan Morris describes feeling as early as the age of three: that she was born into the wrong body. (I know some people disapprove of this framing these days. I’d tell them to take it up with Morris, but sad to say, she died late last year.)

I was talking about this with a counselor once, and she suggested that I could stop stewing about it if I would just picture a spectrum – men at one end, women at the other, shades of difference in between, and I was somewhere in between.

But I would go further: it’s not a spectrum, it’s a plane, with statistical clusters marking the people whose anatomy, hypothalamus, and hormones (or whatever; I’m sure that’s oversimplified) line up, and also probably marking people whose qualities fit well with their culture’s expectations for the genders. The rest of us are scattered around, some, yes, along a sort of spectrum that leads from the “men” cluster to the “women” cluster, but others dotted rather randomly.

Tons of interesting stuff. I should give more details about my road to where I am and where I see it going. Though bear with me, it takes a bit to get there.

I have a good friend who I roomed with in college my last year. His last year, he came out to me and also more generally. (Already, we see the kinds of problems the narrative imposes. If I say 'to me', it might seem like it was a big step for him and I was a confidant, if I say it was 'he came out' as a general statement, maybe it was less to me and more to others. Already, it's difficult to get a handle on what it meant without knowing our relationship and our interactions as well as the relationship and interactions of other friends and the circle we were in. But onward)

The step of coming out then allowed him to point out times when he felt excluded etc. He is also a linguist and was quite good about pointing out default assumptions at play and how those ended up putting him in a box.

I was fortunate to have someone at a point in my life who I could trust and who I could be open to about how I may be guilty of a lot of behaviors that I was totally unaware of, echoing what nous said about swapping parents of two people he knew. I know I have made piss poor arguments to defend my status, protect myself from saying I was wrong, and I know that attitudes run deep, so it isn't like flipping a switch.

What he really made me realize is the whole web of assumptions we make about people, relationships, identity. After uni, I went overseas, first to Europe and then to Japan and it made me much more aware of how these assumptions can be helpful or hurtful. I sometimes think life would have been much easier had I been in a place where I knew what the assumptions were and I agreed with them. But in picking at that, I realized that those assumptions are never value free, they always come with a price. And if I'm not paying that price, someone else is.

Modern capitalist society seems to be set up to have us remain ignorant about the prices that other people pay. And quantifying those prices is always pretty fraught. But we have to keep doing that to make sure society progresses to something better than it is now.

#4/

During the years when I was doing the EP workshops and reading a few books about gender, I used to travel through life watching my own thoughts go back and forth between the conventional framework (the world consists of males and females) and the one I was gradually working out in my own mind (it’s way more complicated than that).

It’s kind of like the difference between Newtonian mechanics and relativity. Newtonian mechanics is perfectly adequate for a lot for day to day stuff and in a lot of contexts, but it has its limits. A model of humans as consisting of men and women works for some purposes, but it too has its limits.

Among other things, my switching back and forth between these two frameworks was related to the question I cited in #3: Why do we need to know what gender people are anyhow?

It seems to me that sometimes we need to know and sometimes we don’t.

There are probably far fewer contexts where we need to know than we think they are. (For some value of “we” – I’m throwing a word around that I don’t even like using.)

I said earlier that GftNC knows what a man is and what a woman is, or at least she knows, or believes, that trans men and women aren’t that. But apparently a lot of trans men and women know what that is too, and the author of the article nous cited (which I quoted in #1) does as well, because he knows that the information is rooted in the hypothalamus. The article talks about gender identity without so much as a nod to the possibility of a “non-binary” category of humans.

It seems to me that given the purposes for which we think we want to know people’s genders, it’s useless to talk about “knowing” what men and women are. Rather, we’re going to have to legislate (in the broadest sense) what men and women are.

That process has already begun in relation to sports. In that context, I think it’s important to note that the notion that “gender identity” is coded in the hypothalamus doesn’t help much with the issue of who should be allowed to play women’s sports. It’s anatomy that’s more relevant, with testosterone having been designated as the stand-in. (For the record, I lean toward a more restrictive sports solution than trans activisits would be happy with.)

And to GftNC’s contention that we need four bins to identify who’s committing crimes: I don’t think men, trans men, women, and trans women are going to cut it. GftNC has already suggested that in that framework we still may have to carve out distinctions between people who transitioned early and people who transitioned late or not (physiologically) at all.

So, it’s complicated.

I have one more possible strand, concerning whether it’s anyone’s business what anyone else’s gender is, and whether it’s transphobic to say you don’t want to date certain people.

But it’s late, so maybe tomorrow.

P.S. It isn't even that we're going to have to legislate what "men" and "women" are. It's that in any context where we want to limit who participates, we have to define the boundaries of the group or groups that we want to distinguish for a particular purpose.

Men's sports become not so much "men's" sports as the unlimited class. (russell's great-nephew playing boys sports in a girl's body is an example of this: if you're good enough, you can compete in the unlimited class.)

Women's sports are then restricted to a more defined and constrained group of people.

...

More eventually.

Another P.S. to clarify: russell's great-nephew is doing great right now. When he's fifteen, as CharlesWT pointed out, that may change. At some point along the way teams will have tryouts and cuts, and some kids won't make the team. It's not inconceivable that someone in a girl's body could make the boy's team, but it's not going to be all that common. See cleek's original observation about his sprint times.

It isn't even that we're going to have to legislate what "men" and "women" are. It's that in any context where we want to limit who participates, we have to define the boundaries of the group or groups that we want to distinguish for a particular purpose.

Eventually, we may decide that, in order to define the boundaries, we are going to need more clarity than we currently have on why we need those boundaries at all for a particular situation. Because gender may turn out to have been a convenient shorthand, rather then the best choice for some situations.

However, we won't get there soon. So most likely we'll end up with our usual approach: make ad hoc provisions for a few special cases (narrowly define or overly broad). Then a few more cases. And only after a long time decide to write a global definition.

After all, look at how long, and how piecemeal, our approach to defining race has been. We started, arguably, with just 3 races. Labeled, for convenience, black, white, and yellow. First problem (for the classification system): mixed race children -- because there were always people who didn't prioritize "purity" when it came to sex. Then, what to do with members of peoples who didn't fit at all. Currently, we seem to have settled mostly on self-indentification, based on a mix of race and ethnic group, for governmental data. But individual interactions are still another story. Still a ways to go there.

Not three, four:

Red or yellow, black or white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world.

Talk about a classification system where we might well ask why we need to know.... Well, in an ideal world, anyhow.

"Red" didn't turn up until after 1500. But yeah, for the US, it was 4 by the time we got going.

why we need to know

Sometimes, maybe even mostly, it's to have some label beyond "those people" for discriminating against. Which is outside the range of good reasons for most of us here, most of the time.

But sometimes, there actually is a legitimate reason why which group you're in makes a difference. And it can be a problem when everyone is barred from knowing, or even asking. A problem not just for others, but for the individual as well.

until 'knowing' is utterly unobtrusive, let alone invasive, we're just going to have to take each other's word on it.

because, if we have to know who's going into which bathroom lobby, everyone is going to have to be tested: always, regardless.

From my favorite newspaper

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/apr/18/being-trans-transgender-rights-issues-rowan-moore-felix-moore

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Blog powered by Typepad