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Where gender parity meets transgender

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Posts

  • Ethereal IllusionEthereal Illusion Registered User regular
    Sure, I can answer those questions. It's really just as simple as treating the person as their identified gender.

    1. Can you really call a man who is with a preop transexual woman straight? I would say no.

    That man is straight. Let's assume the woman dresses female, acts female, and otherwise fills the role of a female. A gay man likely would not be attracted to that at all. Genitals don't mean everything in a relationship. There's much more to it than what kind of sex they have. Saying otherwise is denying the identity of the trans woman, which ties into your third question.

    2. Is there anything wrong or bigoted about saying you would not date someone if you found out they were transexual (let's assume no desire for kids anyway)?

    Mortious answered this rather well with that scenario. Holding that thought as a general rule, though? I guess it seems bigoted, but everyone has preferences. It's a bit like saying "I wouldn't ever date an Asian girl." Someone might tell you that you need to not confine yourself to certain groups of people, but I don't think people would say it's bigoted. Dating is a rare case where you get every possible say in who you will allow for yourself.

    3. Is it wrong to think of transsexuals as different from other members of their chosen sex? Does preop/postop matter?

    It's wrong to "other" someone or deny their identity, yes. There's differences in life experiences and biology, but those shouldn't restrict someone from being the gender they feel they are. Think of the word trans like any other adjective, like "tall man" or "red-haired girl." It denotes a certain set of expectations, but does not make a trans person different in the sense of gender. Genitalia do not matter. Don't place so much importance on them.

    4. How do people who are supportive of transexuality feel about those stories of men with families leaving them because they want to live as women? How about where the man makes the choice, and when the family is not accepting he leaves and becomes a woman? To me, it seems really selfish in either case.

    It's very complicated. Often those women will start families, and try to live as men and start thinking they'd be able to suppress their feelings. This isn't the story all the time, but it doesn't really work that way. The feelings tend to grow stronger, and leaves the person feeling completely miserable. So, they do the only thing that will make them feel better. Is that really so selfish? Taking care of yourself so you don't live a life of complete sadness or seek alternate destructive paths? You have to understand they're only doing what they must. Sometimes, the families stay together even! Though, it's understandable if the wife wants to leave because she's not a lesbian. They can do what any other divorced couples do with custody. If they refuse to let the trans woman into their lives but she is willing to provide support and care, how is that selfish? That's their issue to deal with. When you get married and have kids you do not give up your right to be who you are.

    1. If genitals aren't important, why ever get the operation? It seems to me that manipulating another person's penis is not an activity straight men engage in. At the very least, it seems to imply a pretty fluid sexuality. Put another way, if a straight man engages in a sex act with a cross dressing homosexual man who he just met, without knowing, is that a "straight" encounter? What if a straight man seeks out transsexual women who are pre op, but is not attracted to or interested in men who regard themselves as men?

    2. I agree that it is ok to have rules on who you will date which would make people uncomfortable if they applies to friends or hiring decisions.

    3. There is a limit to respecting the identity we choose though, right? If I claimed to identify as black, I don't think anyone would respect that self identification. I know there are obvious differences, like it actually being possible to adopt the appearance of the other gender, but I don't really follow why it is bigoted to say "that is a transgender woman" instead of "that is a woman." I think it is a distinction with a difference, akin to how we regard biological women with natural breasts differently than those with implants.

    4. I don't think we can agree here, because I do think it is irresponsible to choose personal happiness over obligations to family. That said, I am not big on divorce either, so the analogy to divorce only reinforces my view of the decision as somewhat selfish.

    1. The operation isn't to suddenly make you a "real woman" or something like that. It's to allow the person to feel comfortable in their body and possibly engage in activities that feel more natural. Or maybe it's so they don't have to tuck when wearing certain clothing. Or maybe they do it so they don't scare off potential partners who aren't open to such an idea. There's probably other reasons, but I don't think anyone gets it to say they're now in a straight relationship. Many trans women even redefine their genitals into something more in line with female anatomy, using terms like "girlcock" or thinking of it as an external clitoris. If you shift your perception as such, which isn't hard to do considering many of the parts are analogous, I think it's quite obviously straight.

    For your example, the man believed the crossdressing man was a woman, so that is what he was attracted to. It was straight for him, but gay for the other man. As for your other example, the chaser seeking only pre-op trans women, it might go either way for him, depending on what his thoughts about what he's doing are. I'd still call it straight, but depending on his personal perceptions, I could be wrong about that.

    3. If a procedure could identify our innate gender, things would be a lot easier. That doesn't exist, so the only person that can tell you what they are is themselves. So, you have to trust them on gender. Let that be something we're allowed to self-identify. Limits occur when there's evidence to the contrary.

    4. Then that's a viewpoint that fits into another topic, I suppose.
    MrMister wrote: »
    Trans people want to be thought of as their identified gender. They want to know others see them that way. So, they take up roles that will express that idea. Culture assigns a gender value to a role, so it becomes adopted by those wanting to appear as that gender. I think that's the only thing that's really happening here, regardless of if the person is trans or not. There's no feminine essence requiring traditional roles, and a woman can perform whatever role she wants. Though, if doing that causes society to do something like refer to her with male pronouns, she might be dissuaded from doing it in the future.

    On the picture you give, if I understand you right, gender is distinct both from biological sex and from social/performative roles--it's just that people often use the customary social and performative cues as a way of communicating to others what their gender is, as, for instance, when a woman wears a dress in part to let others know that she is a woman. But then the puzzle is: what is this other thing which is distinct from, but commonly signaled by, certain social roles? For instance, suppose that I was wondering what gender I was. I know what's between my legs and all, but biological sex is distinct from gender and hence does not settle the matter. And I know how my behaviors, and my desired behaviors, fit into an overall gendered social landscape: that, for instance, I like my comic books about superheroes, not about high school romance, and that this is something it is often a social cue for maleness. But social roles are also distinct from gender, and hence do not settle the matter. So I am flummoxed. What gender am I? How do I find out? And now I might start wondering not only how I could know the answer, but how there could even be one: it might begin to seem like there isn't anything out there to find out. Once I know both my biological sex and the social roles I inhabit I know everything there is to know, with nothing left over.

    This sort of general argument--if it's not P, or Q, then what could it possibly be?--has an obvious limitation. Namely, someone could come in and say: well, it's R (or S, or...). And I'm not trying to exclude the possibility that there is some such R which we can sensibly interpret as gender and which makes all the desired results shake out. It's just that I'm curious what it is, and I think that there is some impetus, given the role that it plays in social and political arguments, on making it clear.
    As for your last question, it's still just a problem of interpreting gender in very simplistic terms. Many trans people just change their physical self and nothing else, which fixes the dysphoria issues without changing much, if anything, in the way they live. Alternatively, consider a trans woman who's always wanted to participate in female roles before transition, but did not because she feared the stigma she'd face while presenting as male. After transition, she's not bending her life because she now must act as a woman, but rather it's just something she's always wanted to do.

    Dysphoria is, I think, the easiest case to understand. What I find more puzzling is the cases which do not include dysphoria--which, I gathered from that link Feral posted, are the majority. It's those that I'm trying to figure out. Along similar lines to the above, we can ask of the non-dysphoric: suppose I decide to start wearing floral dresses and painting my nails. What's the difference between my doing that as a transition to presenting as a woman and my doing that as a man who just happens to wear dresses and paint his nails? Before feminism, the second option was unavailable: you just couldn't be a man who happened to like and do those things, so by doing them, you must therefore have been trying to be a woman. But now times have changed, at least in certain quarters, and so now the question seems pressing.

    Of course, I can think of differences that will typically be present between people who self-express as trans and people who just have non-standard sartorial choices, most of which revolve around the strength of the desire and its totality. But what I'm wondering about is which of those actually constitute a difference in gender, and hence, more directly, what gender is.

    I think the piece (the R) you're missing is innate gender. It's the component I mentioned above. It's something a person feels; something a person knows just by being them. Cis people do tend to get hung up on this topic, because since their biological sex is inline with their innate gender, they never feel anything out of place. The innate gender is there, but it never becomes an issue. It's rather frustrating for a trans person to try and explain it. It's a common topic. I've even seen a cis person express desires to go on the hormones of their opposite gender just to feel what it's like, which might actually work. Maybe imagine if everyone started treating you as a different gender, using the respective pronouns without your consent. You might think "That's not correct at all." Mostly, you're the gender you feel you are, whether that be male, female, bigender, genderqueer, agender, or something else. It might be difficult understanding and coming to terms with it, but if you feel comfortable as you are, that's probably what you are.

    As for saying most don't experience dysphoria, I don't see the link where it says that? What I described, the feeling that you can't shake that something isn't right, is gender dysphoria. It does not mean you experience body dysmorphic disorder. It doesn't have to be debilitating in any regard. All that needs to happen is for there to be signals that inform the person that their assigned sex is not correct. I think this probably exists in nearly all transgender people to some degree. As for your example, the difference is only what you say it is. If you're a man who wears dresses and pants his nails, rock on. The times have changed precisely because people realized there's all sorts of motivations for breaking gender norms. In trans communities, it's very common practice to ask a person "what are your pronouns?" before you use any. This is because you don't know without asking. There's no way to know. It's also a belief of mine this should be extended to everyone you meet. It's the only way to know for sure.

    camo_sig2.png
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Sure, I can answer those questions. It's really just as simple as treating the person as their identified gender.

    1. Can you really call a man who is with a preop transexual woman straight? I would say no.

    That man is straight. Let's assume the woman dresses female, acts female, and otherwise fills the role of a female. A gay man likely would not be attracted to that at all. Genitals don't mean everything in a relationship. There's much more to it than what kind of sex they have. Saying otherwise is denying the identity of the trans woman, which ties into your third question.

    2. Is there anything wrong or bigoted about saying you would not date someone if you found out they were transexual (let's assume no desire for kids anyway)?

    Mortious answered this rather well with that scenario. Holding that thought as a general rule, though? I guess it seems bigoted, but everyone has preferences. It's a bit like saying "I wouldn't ever date an Asian girl." Someone might tell you that you need to not confine yourself to certain groups of people, but I don't think people would say it's bigoted. Dating is a rare case where you get every possible say in who you will allow for yourself.

    3. Is it wrong to think of transsexuals as different from other members of their chosen sex? Does preop/postop matter?

    It's wrong to "other" someone or deny their identity, yes. There's differences in life experiences and biology, but those shouldn't restrict someone from being the gender they feel they are. Think of the word trans like any other adjective, like "tall man" or "red-haired girl." It denotes a certain set of expectations, but does not make a trans person different in the sense of gender. Genitalia do not matter. Don't place so much importance on them.

    4. How do people who are supportive of transexuality feel about those stories of men with families leaving them because they want to live as women? How about where the man makes the choice, and when the family is not accepting he leaves and becomes a woman? To me, it seems really selfish in either case.

    It's very complicated. Often those women will start families, and try to live as men and start thinking they'd be able to suppress their feelings. This isn't the story all the time, but it doesn't really work that way. The feelings tend to grow stronger, and leaves the person feeling completely miserable. So, they do the only thing that will make them feel better. Is that really so selfish? Taking care of yourself so you don't live a life of complete sadness or seek alternate destructive paths? You have to understand they're only doing what they must. Sometimes, the families stay together even! Though, it's understandable if the wife wants to leave because she's not a lesbian. They can do what any other divorced couples do with custody. If they refuse to let the trans woman into their lives but she is willing to provide support and care, how is that selfish? That's their issue to deal with. When you get married and have kids you do not give up your right to be who you are.

    1. If genitals aren't important, why ever get the operation? It seems to me that manipulating another person's penis is not an activity straight men engage in. At the very least, it seems to imply a pretty fluid sexuality. Put another way, if a straight man engages in a sex act with a cross dressing homosexual man who he just met, without knowing, is that a "straight" encounter? What if a straight man seeks out transsexual women who are pre op, but is not attracted to or interested in men who regard themselves as men?

    2. I agree that it is ok to have rules on who you will date which would make people uncomfortable if they applies to friends or hiring decisions.

    3. There is a limit to respecting the identity we choose though, right? If I claimed to identify as black, I don't think anyone would respect that self identification. I know there are obvious differences, like it actually being possible to adopt the appearance of the other gender, but I don't really follow why it is bigoted to say "that is a transgender woman" instead of "that is a woman." I think it is a distinction with a difference, akin to how we regard biological women with natural breasts differently than those with implants.

    4. I don't think we can agree here, because I do think it is irresponsible to choose personal happiness over obligations to family. That said, I am not big on divorce either, so the analogy to divorce only reinforces my view of the decision as somewhat selfish.

    1. The operation isn't to suddenly make you a "real woman" or something like that. It's to allow the person to feel comfortable in their body and possibly engage in activities that feel more natural. Or maybe it's so they don't have to tuck when wearing certain clothing. Or maybe they do it so they don't scare off potential partners who aren't open to such an idea. There's probably other reasons, but I don't think anyone gets it to say they're now in a straight relationship. Many trans women even redefine their genitals into something more in line with female anatomy, using terms like "girlcock" or thinking of it as an external clitoris. If you shift your perception as such, which isn't hard to do considering many of the parts are analogous, I think it's quite obviously straight.

    For your example, the man believed the crossdressing man was a woman, so that is what he was attracted to. It was straight for him, but gay for the other man. As for your other example, the chaser seeking only pre-op trans women, it might go either way for him, depending on what his thoughts about what he's doing are. I'd still call it straight, but depending on his personal perceptions, I could be wrong about that.

    3. If a procedure could identify our innate gender, things would be a lot easier. That doesn't exist, so the only person that can tell you what they are is themselves. So, you have to trust them on gender. Let that be something we're allowed to self-identify. Limits occur when there's evidence to the contrary.

    4. Then that's a viewpoint that fits into another topic, I suppose.
    MrMister wrote: »
    Trans people want to be thought of as their identified gender. They want to know others see them that way. So, they take up roles that will express that idea. Culture assigns a gender value to a role, so it becomes adopted by those wanting to appear as that gender. I think that's the only thing that's really happening here, regardless of if the person is trans or not. There's no feminine essence requiring traditional roles, and a woman can perform whatever role she wants. Though, if doing that causes society to do something like refer to her with male pronouns, she might be dissuaded from doing it in the future.

    On the picture you give, if I understand you right, gender is distinct both from biological sex and from social/performative roles--it's just that people often use the customary social and performative cues as a way of communicating to others what their gender is, as, for instance, when a woman wears a dress in part to let others know that she is a woman. But then the puzzle is: what is this other thing which is distinct from, but commonly signaled by, certain social roles? For instance, suppose that I was wondering what gender I was. I know what's between my legs and all, but biological sex is distinct from gender and hence does not settle the matter. And I know how my behaviors, and my desired behaviors, fit into an overall gendered social landscape: that, for instance, I like my comic books about superheroes, not about high school romance, and that this is something it is often a social cue for maleness. But social roles are also distinct from gender, and hence do not settle the matter. So I am flummoxed. What gender am I? How do I find out? And now I might start wondering not only how I could know the answer, but how there could even be one: it might begin to seem like there isn't anything out there to find out. Once I know both my biological sex and the social roles I inhabit I know everything there is to know, with nothing left over.

    This sort of general argument--if it's not P, or Q, then what could it possibly be?--has an obvious limitation. Namely, someone could come in and say: well, it's R (or S, or...). And I'm not trying to exclude the possibility that there is some such R which we can sensibly interpret as gender and which makes all the desired results shake out. It's just that I'm curious what it is, and I think that there is some impetus, given the role that it plays in social and political arguments, on making it clear.
    As for your last question, it's still just a problem of interpreting gender in very simplistic terms. Many trans people just change their physical self and nothing else, which fixes the dysphoria issues without changing much, if anything, in the way they live. Alternatively, consider a trans woman who's always wanted to participate in female roles before transition, but did not because she feared the stigma she'd face while presenting as male. After transition, she's not bending her life because she now must act as a woman, but rather it's just something she's always wanted to do.

    Dysphoria is, I think, the easiest case to understand. What I find more puzzling is the cases which do not include dysphoria--which, I gathered from that link Feral posted, are the majority. It's those that I'm trying to figure out. Along similar lines to the above, we can ask of the non-dysphoric: suppose I decide to start wearing floral dresses and painting my nails. What's the difference between my doing that as a transition to presenting as a woman and my doing that as a man who just happens to wear dresses and paint his nails? Before feminism, the second option was unavailable: you just couldn't be a man who happened to like and do those things, so by doing them, you must therefore have been trying to be a woman. But now times have changed, at least in certain quarters, and so now the question seems pressing.

    Of course, I can think of differences that will typically be present between people who self-express as trans and people who just have non-standard sartorial choices, most of which revolve around the strength of the desire and its totality. But what I'm wondering about is which of those actually constitute a difference in gender, and hence, more directly, what gender is.

    I think the piece (the R) you're missing is innate gender. It's the component I mentioned above. It's something a person feels; something a person knows just by being them. Cis people do tend to get hung up on this topic, because since their biological sex is inline with their innate gender, they never feel anything out of place. The innate gender is there, but it never becomes an issue. It's rather frustrating for a trans person to try and explain it. It's a common topic. I've even seen a cis person express desires to go on the hormones of their opposite gender just to feel what it's like, which might actually work. Maybe imagine if everyone started treating you as a different gender, using the respective pronouns without your consent. You might think "That's not correct at all." Mostly, you're the gender you feel you are, whether that be male, female, bigender, genderqueer, agender, or something else. It might be difficult understanding and coming to terms with it, but if you feel comfortable as you are, that's probably what you are.

    As for saying most don't experience dysphoria, I don't see the link where it says that? What I described, the feeling that you can't shake that something isn't right, is gender dysphoria. It does not mean you experience body dysmorphic disorder. It doesn't have to be debilitating in any regard. All that needs to happen is for there to be signals that inform the person that their assigned sex is not correct. I think this probably exists in nearly all transgender people to some degree. As for your example, the difference is only what you say it is. If you're a man who wears dresses and pants his nails, rock on. The times have changed precisely because people realized there's all sorts of motivations for breaking gender norms. In trans communities, it's very common practice to ask a person "what are your pronouns?" before you use any. This is because you don't know without asking. There's no way to know. It's also a belief of mine this should be extended to everyone you meet. It's the only way to know for sure.

    I think the only thing left to discuss is 3. I'm not sure that I understand why having a penis isn't evidence of maleness in the exact same way white skin is evidence you are white. Can you explain why these things are distinct?

    I'd love it if more people answered my original 4 questions too!

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • redxredx I(x)=2(x)+1 whole numbersRegistered User regular
    edited July 2012
    Albinos exist.
    Light skinned non-whites exist.
    Mixed race people exist.
    Skin color is a poor predictor of how people wish to interact with society.

    I feel all of these are directly analogous to sex and gender.

    redx on
    This machine kills threads.
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Actually, let me step back and clarify my first post, I'll leave the 2nd one up.

    The reason I chose that hypothetical, is because up until that point the relationship is good, and she's 100% indistinguishable from being born female. So if the only thing that changes the nature of that relationship is that she's transgendered, that's what, I feel, makes someone bigoted.

    The reason I brought up that I don't find the secret important, is that it's necessary for the hypothetical. That's a separate issue from whether the transgender aspect is important.
    Previous threads on this subject have devolved into tangents on the size of secrets, when it's revealed, the nature of the secret etc.

    I think this all leads into what I see as the most central issue here: is it bigoted to not "believe" in transgenders? If we decide that all people must agree on the legitimacy of a transgender person's self reported gender, then it seems bigoted to see a difference regardless of whether the person has had an operation. If we think that reasonable people can disagree on whether transgender people are really their birth gender or self identified gender, then recognizing a distinction between transwomen and "normal" women seems to be ok.

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • ArchArch Actually just 981 bugs in a human suitRegistered User regular
    So, in short, the puzzle is: how do we interpret transpeople's claims that their gender doesn't match their social roles in a manner that's consistent with feminist claims that gender alone has no bearing on what social roles are appropriate?

    This is going to be a cop out, but honestly I don't think I know enough to say about this. I need to think and read a bit more before I can really answer this because I think it is a really sticky (potentially) question. I also don't know what more I can say beyond what I have already posted, but I will read the thread and try and come to some conclusions.

    Is that cool?
    @MrMister

  • SynthesisSynthesis Honda Today! Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Albinos exist.
    Light skinned non-whites exist.
    Mixed race people exist.
    Skin color is a poor predictor of how people wish to interact with society.

    I feel all of these are directly analogous to sex and gender.

    I have a cousin, whom I am close with, with a very dark complexion. When he was younger, he had skin as dark, or darker, than most black people I know in my age group.

    He's an ethnic Taiwanese (unlike my mixed self). His sister's skin complexion is close to mine.

    In a lot of cultures, skin tone is not a great indication of historical roots.

    Orca wrote: »
    Synthesis wrote:
    Isn't "Your sarcasm makes me wet," the highest compliment an Abh can pay a human?

    Only if said Abh is a member of the nobility.
  • MrMisterMrMister If you shoot an arrow, and it goes real high--hooray for youRegistered User regular
    edited July 2012
    MrMister wrote: »
    Trans people want to be thought of as their identified gender. They want to know others see them that way. So, they take up roles that will express that idea. Culture assigns a gender value to a role, so it becomes adopted by those wanting to appear as that gender. I think that's the only thing that's really happening here, regardless of if the person is trans or not. There's no feminine essence requiring traditional roles, and a woman can perform whatever role she wants. Though, if doing that causes society to do something like refer to her with male pronouns, she might be dissuaded from doing it in the future.

    On the picture you give, if I understand you right, gender is distinct both from biological sex and from social/performative roles--it's just that people often use the customary social and performative cues as a way of communicating to others what their gender is, as, for instance, when a woman wears a dress in part to let others know that she is a woman. But then the puzzle is: what is this other thing which is distinct from, but commonly signaled by, certain social roles? For instance, suppose that I was wondering what gender I was. I know what's between my legs and all, but biological sex is distinct from gender and hence does not settle the matter. And I know how my behaviors, and my desired behaviors, fit into an overall gendered social landscape: that, for instance, I like my comic books about superheroes, not about high school romance, and that this is something it is often a social cue for maleness. But social roles are also distinct from gender, and hence do not settle the matter. So I am flummoxed. What gender am I? How do I find out? And now I might start wondering not only how I could know the answer, but how there could even be one: it might begin to seem like there isn't anything out there to find out. Once I know both my biological sex and the social roles I inhabit I know everything there is to know, with nothing left over.

    This sort of general argument--if it's not P, or Q, then what could it possibly be?--has an obvious limitation. Namely, someone could come in and say: well, it's R (or S, or...). And I'm not trying to exclude the possibility that there is some such R which we can sensibly interpret as gender and which makes all the desired results shake out. It's just that I'm curious what it is, and I think that there is some impetus, given the role that it plays in social and political arguments, on making it clear.
    As for your last question, it's still just a problem of interpreting gender in very simplistic terms. Many trans people just change their physical self and nothing else, which fixes the dysphoria issues without changing much, if anything, in the way they live. Alternatively, consider a trans woman who's always wanted to participate in female roles before transition, but did not because she feared the stigma she'd face while presenting as male. After transition, she's not bending her life because she now must act as a woman, but rather it's just something she's always wanted to do.

    Dysphoria is, I think, the easiest case to understand. What I find more puzzling is the cases which do not include dysphoria--which, I gathered from that link Feral posted, are the majority. It's those that I'm trying to figure out. Along similar lines to the above, we can ask of the non-dysphoric: suppose I decide to start wearing floral dresses and painting my nails. What's the difference between my doing that as a transition to presenting as a woman and my doing that as a man who just happens to wear dresses and paint his nails? Before feminism, the second option was unavailable: you just couldn't be a man who happened to like and do those things, so by doing them, you must therefore have been trying to be a woman. But now times have changed, at least in certain quarters, and so now the question seems pressing.

    Of course, I can think of differences that will typically be present between people who self-express as trans and people who just have non-standard sartorial choices, most of which revolve around the strength of the desire and its totality. But what I'm wondering about is which of those actually constitute a difference in gender, and hence, more directly, what gender is.

    I think the piece (the R) you're missing is innate gender. It's the component I mentioned above. It's something a person feels; something a person knows just by being them. Cis people do tend to get hung up on this topic, because since their biological sex is inline with their innate gender, they never feel anything out of place. The innate gender is there, but it never becomes an issue. It's rather frustrating for a trans person to try and explain it. It's a common topic. I've even seen a cis person express desires to go on the hormones of their opposite gender just to feel what it's like, which might actually work. Maybe imagine if everyone started treating you as a different gender, using the respective pronouns without your consent. You might think "That's not correct at all." Mostly, you're the gender you feel you are, whether that be male, female, bigender, genderqueer, agender, or something else. It might be difficult understanding and coming to terms with it, but if you feel comfortable as you are, that's probably what you are.

    I think there are non-obvious problems with the idea of innate gender, problems that are at least somewhat similar to Wittgensteinian worries about the intelligibility of 'private language.' Two preliminary notes:

    First, I assume that when we talk about our innate genders, we intend a quality that is comparable across people. By which I mean to say, that it makes sense to say of two people that they either share or do not share their innate gender. I do not mean that they must be possibly identical, but just that there must be the usual degrees of similarity that unify our terms generally and allow these sorts of judgments ('this and that are both blue' does not imply they are identical shades). Anyway, I take this to be more or less the point, because the reason for positing an innate gender is supposed to be that it allows for something underneath it all which is shared by the cisgendered man and the biological woman who desires to transition to presenting as a man; something which furthermore is not shared by the cisgendered woman.

    Second, I'll grant the assumption that you simply know, by introspection, what your innate gender is.

    What about other people's genders, though? I may be able to know mine by simple introspection, but I presumably cannot know anyone else's in that same manner. But then how do I know whether mine is the same as anyone else's? Suppose my sibling and I are both wondering whether we have the same or different genders. We can each look within and see our own, but that doesn't help because we cannot see the other's in order to compare--and comparison is what would be necessary for supporting a claim to either sameness or difference. And, as before, we can look at each other's anatomy (if we are sufficiently young this is less creepy), but that doesn't settle the matter so it's of no help. And finally, we can look at the ways we behave and expect to be treated socially--wearing loose-fitting tees and climbing trees--but again, that settles nothing and is again of no help. And so we appear to be back in the same predicament as before. If I cannot say whether my innate gender is the same or different from anyone else's, then it does not, as it was supposed to, explain any of the phenomena we were hoping for earlier. Being able to see my own innate gender, as if it were a piece of inner furniture, doesn't seem to help with situating it relative to the genders of others.

    If innate gender were just a free-floating object available to introspection, it's hard to see how it could supply the meaning for ostensibly public terms like 'man' and 'woman.' Assume for a moment that it does: 'man' designates the possessors of one innate gender, 'woman' designates the possessors of another. Now, even if we imagine that English speakers have worked this out such that they correctly apply this term amongst themselves, there are going to be problems with translation. For instance, suppose that I have run into Spanish speakers for the first time. I notice that they use 'hombre' and 'mujer' to designate their largest gender categories. Now I wonder: does 'hombre' mean 'man,' and 'mujer' mean 'woman,' or is it the case that actually 'hombre' means 'woman' and 'mujer' means 'man?' The answer depends on whether the people to whom the Spanish apply the term 'mujer' possess the same innate gender as the people to whom we apply 'woman,' or whether instead the people to whom they apply the term 'mujer' actually possess the same innate gender as the people to whom we apply 'man.' But notice that no conceivable evidence we could collect seems to settle the question. After all, we can cannot use introspection to compare our innate genders, since we cannot use introspection to look inside them; and the facts about how 'hombres' and 'mujers' are arranged anatomically and social-wise do not settle anything about their innate genders. So it seems we must be stuck in a situation of complete indeterminacy in our translation efforts: as far as we know, 'mujer' means 'man.'

    This, I think, cannot be right. And hence, it cannot be the case that gender is a completely free-floating inner object, conceptually and logically distinct from biology and customary social roles. It needs to be explicated somehow in terms of one or the other, on pain of falling into a ghostly obscurity. I am not saying this cannot be done: rather, it should be done, though I do not know how to myself.

    This may seem kind of dickish: like I am deploying waves of sophistry in order to discredit the very real experiences of transgender people. What are my abstruse reservations in comparison with the fact that transpeople, suffering from severe oppression, find this language useful for organizing and describing it? I am aware of this, and I want to emphasize that I'm neither trying to delegitimize transpeople's experiences nor claim that they aren't real. At worst, I'm saying that abstract theoretical concerns are such that they show that certain ways of describing gender--as, for instance, a free-floating inner object--must be misleading. But people all the time talk about their very real (and very painful) experiences in misleading ways. For instance, Pentecostalists are certainly having very powerful feelings when they speak in tongues; I just think that they aren't actually correctly describing those experiences when they say that they are of the holy ghost speaking through them.

    I suspect, in fact, that something similar is going on with the more recherche categories you mention--for instance, bigender and genderqueer. Which is again, not to say that people do not self-identify that way for reasons, but just that those reasons might not be the ones they think: namely, they gender might not really be the sort of thing which forms a multifold continuous space along which self-identification is the primary locator. Much of this thought on my part was prompted by looking at the graphic of the Genderbread Man in one of these previous threads and thinking: that seems largely made up.

    Also: @Arch , yeah that's allowed :P

    MrMister on
    Apothe0sis
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Actually, let me step back and clarify my first post, I'll leave the 2nd one up.

    The reason I chose that hypothetical, is because up until that point the relationship is good, and she's 100% indistinguishable from being born female. So if the only thing that changes the nature of that relationship is that she's transgendered, that's what, I feel, makes someone bigoted.

    The reason I brought up that I don't find the secret important, is that it's necessary for the hypothetical. That's a separate issue from whether the transgender aspect is important.
    Previous threads on this subject have devolved into tangents on the size of secrets, when it's revealed, the nature of the secret etc.

    I think this all leads into what I see as the most central issue here: is it bigoted to not "believe" in transgenders? If we decide that all people must agree on the legitimacy of a transgender person's self reported gender, then it seems bigoted to see a difference regardless of whether the person has had an operation. If we think that reasonable people can disagree on whether transgender people are really their birth gender or self identified gender, then recognizing a distinction between transwomen and "normal" women seems to be ok.

    Good point, but I see a difference in interacting with someone and dating someone. You can acknowledge someone's identified gender, and interact with them as if you consider them that gender (pre or post-op), but you don't have to date them. So in my opinion it would be bigoted to judge them based on being a transexual, or not date them based on them being a transexual. However, if you don't like them as a person, don't find them attractive because, those are valid reasons not to date them.

    People and relationships are complicated, and if I was more articulate I could try and put forth my personal views and beliefs in more detail. That's why I'm engaging in only one aspect, which I tried to simply.

    I'm going to use "you" and "your" for the next part. I'm not using it as if it's your view point SKFM.

    Your mental perception of your partner is female, your physical perception of her is female. Her mental perception of herself is female, her physical perception of herself is female (post-op), society's view etc.
    So for all intents and purposes, she is currently a generic representation of a female in a modern western society, then I fail to see how that one detail changes your perception negatively unless you have a problem with transgenders (as a group, not that person specifically)

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
    La Moyenne Mort
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »
    Actually, let me step back and clarify my first post, I'll leave the 2nd one up.

    The reason I chose that hypothetical, is because up until that point the relationship is good, and she's 100% indistinguishable from being born female. So if the only thing that changes the nature of that relationship is that she's transgendered, that's what, I feel, makes someone bigoted.

    The reason I brought up that I don't find the secret important, is that it's necessary for the hypothetical. That's a separate issue from whether the transgender aspect is important.
    Previous threads on this subject have devolved into tangents on the size of secrets, when it's revealed, the nature of the secret etc.

    I think this all leads into what I see as the most central issue here: is it bigoted to not "believe" in transgenders? If we decide that all people must agree on the legitimacy of a transgender person's self reported gender, then it seems bigoted to see a difference regardless of whether the person has had an operation. If we think that reasonable people can disagree on whether transgender people are really their birth gender or self identified gender, then recognizing a distinction between transwomen and "normal" women seems to be ok.

    Good point, but I see a difference in interacting with someone and dating someone. You can acknowledge someone's identified gender, and interact with them as if you consider them that gender (pre or post-op), but you don't have to date them. So in my opinion it would be bigoted to judge them based on being a transexual, or not date them based on them being a transexual. However, if you don't like them as a person, don't find them attractive because, those are valid reasons not to date them.

    People and relationships are complicated, and if I was more articulate I could try and put forth my personal views and beliefs in more detail. That's why I'm engaging in only one aspect, which I tried to simply.

    I'm going to use "you" and "your" for the next part. I'm not using it as if it's your view point SKFM.

    Your mental perception of your partner is female, your physical perception of her is female. Her mental perception of herself is female, her physical perception of herself is female (post-op), society's view etc.
    So for all intents and purposes, she is currently a generic representation of a female in a modern western society, then I fail to see how that one detail changes your perception negatively unless you have a problem with transgenders (as a group, not that person specifically)

    I agree that dating is different. What I do challenge is the idea of the post op as a generic representation, since they did not live their whole lives as women. This doesn't have to be insurmountable (lots of people have traumas to deal with) but it is a difference. If there is no difference, shouldn't trans people stop considering themselves transsexuals after surgery?

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »
    Actually, let me step back and clarify my first post, I'll leave the 2nd one up.

    The reason I chose that hypothetical, is because up until that point the relationship is good, and she's 100% indistinguishable from being born female. So if the only thing that changes the nature of that relationship is that she's transgendered, that's what, I feel, makes someone bigoted.

    The reason I brought up that I don't find the secret important, is that it's necessary for the hypothetical. That's a separate issue from whether the transgender aspect is important.
    Previous threads on this subject have devolved into tangents on the size of secrets, when it's revealed, the nature of the secret etc.

    I think this all leads into what I see as the most central issue here: is it bigoted to not "believe" in transgenders? If we decide that all people must agree on the legitimacy of a transgender person's self reported gender, then it seems bigoted to see a difference regardless of whether the person has had an operation. If we think that reasonable people can disagree on whether transgender people are really their birth gender or self identified gender, then recognizing a distinction between transwomen and "normal" women seems to be ok.

    Good point, but I see a difference in interacting with someone and dating someone. You can acknowledge someone's identified gender, and interact with them as if you consider them that gender (pre or post-op), but you don't have to date them. So in my opinion it would be bigoted to judge them based on being a transexual, or not date them based on them being a transexual. However, if you don't like them as a person, don't find them attractive because, those are valid reasons not to date them.

    People and relationships are complicated, and if I was more articulate I could try and put forth my personal views and beliefs in more detail. That's why I'm engaging in only one aspect, which I tried to simply.

    I'm going to use "you" and "your" for the next part. I'm not using it as if it's your view point SKFM.

    Your mental perception of your partner is female, your physical perception of her is female. Her mental perception of herself is female, her physical perception of herself is female (post-op), society's view etc.
    So for all intents and purposes, she is currently a generic representation of a female in a modern western society, then I fail to see how that one detail changes your perception negatively unless you have a problem with transgenders (as a group, not that person specifically)

    I agree that dating is different. What I do challenge is the idea of the post op as a generic representation, since they did not live their whole lives as women. This doesn't have to be insurmountable (lots of people have traumas to deal with) but it is a difference. If there is no difference, shouldn't trans people stop considering themselves transsexuals after surgery?

    Maybe they do? I don't see why both transexual and gender has to be mutually exclusive. Before surgery they see themselves as a woman in a man's body, after the surgery they see themselves as a woman in a woman's body. So they see themselves as two things, a transexual and a woman.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
    La Moyenne Mort
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »
    Mortious wrote: »
    Actually, let me step back and clarify my first post, I'll leave the 2nd one up.

    The reason I chose that hypothetical, is because up until that point the relationship is good, and she's 100% indistinguishable from being born female. So if the only thing that changes the nature of that relationship is that she's transgendered, that's what, I feel, makes someone bigoted.

    The reason I brought up that I don't find the secret important, is that it's necessary for the hypothetical. That's a separate issue from whether the transgender aspect is important.
    Previous threads on this subject have devolved into tangents on the size of secrets, when it's revealed, the nature of the secret etc.

    I think this all leads into what I see as the most central issue here: is it bigoted to not "believe" in transgenders? If we decide that all people must agree on the legitimacy of a transgender person's self reported gender, then it seems bigoted to see a difference regardless of whether the person has had an operation. If we think that reasonable people can disagree on whether transgender people are really their birth gender or self identified gender, then recognizing a distinction between transwomen and "normal" women seems to be ok.

    Good point, but I see a difference in interacting with someone and dating someone. You can acknowledge someone's identified gender, and interact with them as if you consider them that gender (pre or post-op), but you don't have to date them. So in my opinion it would be bigoted to judge them based on being a transexual, or not date them based on them being a transexual. However, if you don't like them as a person, don't find them attractive because, those are valid reasons not to date them.

    People and relationships are complicated, and if I was more articulate I could try and put forth my personal views and beliefs in more detail. That's why I'm engaging in only one aspect, which I tried to simply.

    I'm going to use "you" and "your" for the next part. I'm not using it as if it's your view point SKFM.

    Your mental perception of your partner is female, your physical perception of her is female. Her mental perception of herself is female, her physical perception of herself is female (post-op), society's view etc.
    So for all intents and purposes, she is currently a generic representation of a female in a modern western society, then I fail to see how that one detail changes your perception negatively unless you have a problem with transgenders (as a group, not that person specifically)

    I agree that dating is different. What I do challenge is the idea of the post op as a generic representation, since they did not live their whole lives as women. This doesn't have to be insurmountable (lots of people have traumas to deal with) but it is a difference. If there is no difference, shouldn't trans people stop considering themselves transsexuals after surgery?

    Maybe they do? I don't see why both transexual and gender has to be mutually exclusive. Before surgery they see themselves as a woman in a man's body, after the surgery they see themselves as a woman in a woman's body. So they see themselves as two things, a transexual and a woman.

    That makes sense. I want to thank everyone for responding to my questions. I definitely have a lot to think about.

    7zh9uu9etcor.jpg
    Chanus wrote:
    It's been a butt come true! I get to work with the absolute best boobs in the business. What more could a money ask for? Kids, aim for the freeloaders !

    @chanus
  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Trans people want to be thought of as their identified gender. They want to know others see them that way. So, they take up roles that will express that idea. Culture assigns a gender value to a role, so it becomes adopted by those wanting to appear as that gender. I think that's the only thing that's really happening here, regardless of if the person is trans or not. There's no feminine essence requiring traditional roles, and a woman can perform whatever role she wants. Though, if doing that causes society to do something like refer to her with male pronouns, she might be dissuaded from doing it in the future.

    On the picture you give, if I understand you right, gender is distinct both from biological sex and from social/performative roles--it's just that people often use the customary social and performative cues as a way of communicating to others what their gender is, as, for instance, when a woman wears a dress in part to let others know that she is a woman. But then the puzzle is: what is this other thing which is distinct from, but commonly signaled by, certain social roles? For instance, suppose that I was wondering what gender I was. I know what's between my legs and all, but biological sex is distinct from gender and hence does not settle the matter. And I know how my behaviors, and my desired behaviors, fit into an overall gendered social landscape: that, for instance, I like my comic books about superheroes, not about high school romance, and that this is something it is often a social cue for maleness. But social roles are also distinct from gender, and hence do not settle the matter. So I am flummoxed. What gender am I? How do I find out? And now I might start wondering not only how I could know the answer, but how there could even be one: it might begin to seem like there isn't anything out there to find out. Once I know both my biological sex and the social roles I inhabit I know everything there is to know, with nothing left over.

    This sort of general argument--if it's not P, or Q, then what could it possibly be?--has an obvious limitation. Namely, someone could come in and say: well, it's R (or S, or...). And I'm not trying to exclude the possibility that there is some such R which we can sensibly interpret as gender and which makes all the desired results shake out. It's just that I'm curious what it is, and I think that there is some impetus, given the role that it plays in social and political arguments, on making it clear.
    As for your last question, it's still just a problem of interpreting gender in very simplistic terms. Many trans people just change their physical self and nothing else, which fixes the dysphoria issues without changing much, if anything, in the way they live. Alternatively, consider a trans woman who's always wanted to participate in female roles before transition, but did not because she feared the stigma she'd face while presenting as male. After transition, she's not bending her life because she now must act as a woman, but rather it's just something she's always wanted to do.

    Dysphoria is, I think, the easiest case to understand. What I find more puzzling is the cases which do not include dysphoria--which, I gathered from that link Feral posted, are the majority. It's those that I'm trying to figure out. Along similar lines to the above, we can ask of the non-dysphoric: suppose I decide to start wearing floral dresses and painting my nails. What's the difference between my doing that as a transition to presenting as a woman and my doing that as a man who just happens to wear dresses and paint his nails? Before feminism, the second option was unavailable: you just couldn't be a man who happened to like and do those things, so by doing them, you must therefore have been trying to be a woman. But now times have changed, at least in certain quarters, and so now the question seems pressing.

    Of course, I can think of differences that will typically be present between people who self-express as trans and people who just have non-standard sartorial choices, most of which revolve around the strength of the desire and its totality. But what I'm wondering about is which of those actually constitute a difference in gender, and hence, more directly, what gender is.

    I think the piece (the R) you're missing is innate gender. It's the component I mentioned above. It's something a person feels; something a person knows just by being them. Cis people do tend to get hung up on this topic, because since their biological sex is inline with their innate gender, they never feel anything out of place. The innate gender is there, but it never becomes an issue. It's rather frustrating for a trans person to try and explain it. It's a common topic. I've even seen a cis person express desires to go on the hormones of their opposite gender just to feel what it's like, which might actually work. Maybe imagine if everyone started treating you as a different gender, using the respective pronouns without your consent. You might think "That's not correct at all." Mostly, you're the gender you feel you are, whether that be male, female, bigender, genderqueer, agender, or something else. It might be difficult understanding and coming to terms with it, but if you feel comfortable as you are, that's probably what you are.

    I think there are non-obvious problems with the idea of innate gender, problems that are at least somewhat similar to Wittgensteinian worries about the intelligibility of 'private language.' Two preliminary notes:

    First, I assume that when we talk about our innate genders, we intend a quality that is comparable across people. By which I mean to say, that it makes sense to say of two people that they either share or do not share their innate gender. I do not mean that they must be possibly identical, but just that there must be the usual degrees of similarity that unify our terms generally and allow these sorts of judgments ('this and that are both blue' does not imply they are identical shades). Anyway, I take this to be more or less the point, because the reason for positing an innate gender is supposed to be that it allows for something underneath it all which is shared by the cisgendered man and the biological woman who desires to transition to presenting as a man; something which furthermore is not shared by the cisgendered woman.

    Second, I'll grant the assumption that you simply know, by introspection, what your innate gender is.

    What about other people's genders, though? I may be able to know mine by simple introspection, but I presumably cannot know anyone else's in that same manner. But then how do I know whether mine is the same as anyone else's? Suppose my sibling and I are both wondering whether we have the same or different genders. We can each look within and see our own, but that doesn't help because we cannot see the other's in order to compare--and comparison is what would be necessary for supporting a claim to either sameness or difference. And, as before, we can look at each other's anatomy (if we are sufficiently young this is less creepy), but that doesn't settle the matter so it's of no help. And finally, we can look at the ways we behave and expect to be treated socially--wearing loose-fitting tees and climbing trees--but again, that settles nothing and is again of no help. And so we appear to be back in the same predicament as before. If I cannot say whether my innate gender is the same or different from anyone else's, then it does not, as it was supposed to, explain any of the phenomena we were hoping for earlier. Being able to see my own innate gender, as if it were a piece of inner furniture, doesn't seem to help with situating it relative to the genders of others.

    If innate gender were just a free-floating object available to introspection, it's hard to see how it could supply the meaning for ostensibly public terms like 'man' and 'woman.' Assume for a moment that it does: 'man' designates the possessors of one innate gender, 'woman' designates the possessors of another. Now, even if we imagine that English speakers have worked this out such that they correctly apply this term amongst themselves, there are going to be problems with translation. For instance, suppose that I have run into Spanish speakers for the first time. I notice that they use 'hombre' and 'mujer' to designate their largest gender categories. Now I wonder: does 'hombre' mean 'man,' and 'mujer' mean 'woman,' or is it the case that actually 'hombre' means 'woman' and 'mujer' means 'man?' The answer depends on whether the people to whom the Spanish apply the term 'mujer' possess the same innate gender as the people to whom we apply 'woman,' or whether instead the people to whom they apply the term 'mujer' actually possess the same innate gender as the people to whom we apply 'man.' But notice that no conceivable evidence we could collect seems to settle the question. After all, we can cannot use introspection to compare our innate genders, since we cannot use introspection to look inside them; and the facts about how 'hombres' and 'mujers' are arranged anatomically and social-wise do not settle anything about their innate genders. So it seems we must be stuck in a situation of complete indeterminacy in our translation efforts: as far as we know, 'mujer' means 'man.'

    This, I think, cannot be right. And hence, it cannot be the case that gender is a completely free-floating inner object, conceptually and logically distinct from biology and customary social roles. It needs to be explicated somehow in terms of one or the other, on pain of falling into a ghostly obscurity. I am not saying this cannot be done: rather, it should be done, though I do not know how to myself.

    This may seem kind of dickish: like I am deploying waves of sophistry in order to discredit the very real experiences of transgender people. What are my abstruse reservations in comparison with the fact that transpeople, suffering from severe oppression, find this language useful for organizing and describing it? I am aware of this, and I want to emphasize that I'm neither trying to delegitimize transpeople's experiences nor claim that they aren't real. At worst, I'm saying that abstract theoretical concerns are such that they show that certain ways of describing gender--as, for instance, a free-floating inner object--must be misleading. But people all the time talk about their very real (and very painful) experiences in misleading ways. For instance, Pentecostalists are certainly having very powerful feelings when they speak in tongues; I just think that they aren't actually correctly describing those experiences when they say that they are of the holy ghost speaking through them.

    I suspect, in fact, that something similar is going on with the more recherche categories you mention--for instance, bigender and genderqueer. Which is again, not to say that people do not self-identify that way for reasons, but just that those reasons might not be the ones they think: namely, they gender might not really be the sort of thing which forms a multifold continuous space along which self-identification is the primary locator. Much of this thought on my part was prompted by looking at the graphic of the Genderbread Man in one of these previous threads and thinking: that seems largely made up.

    @MrMister

    I was initially going to post about your other post, but I think that'd be largely redundant now. I have it half done, and I'll post it if you want, but it was pretty much just an explanation of what's now being referred to as "innate gender" and how it's distinct from expression, roles, and sex.

    You know, I started to write another post and I'm not certain I disagree with most of what you say, but I am not sure I think the premise of it being completely distinct from sex is true. Rather, I think that biological sex is a mishmash of often linked fields - an XY individual likely has the SRY gene which likely will cause testes to develop and likely lead to a specific level of testosterone, etc. I think innate gender is likely what could be called brain-sex - that particular arrangement of neurons that are linked to various other parts of sex. It is obvious, I think, that a brain-transplant would preserve the innate gender of the brains, if such a thing exists.

    Now this needn't be a singular component, though we speak of it as one. It clearly isn't a singular component, actually - phantom penis among trans-men, for example, is extremely unlikely to have its root in anything other than the somatosensory cortex in the suffering individual. Any other component is extremely likely to be elsewhere, as the somatosensory cortex really just concerns itself with somatosensory issues, as far as we know.

    Now, body maps are one thing, but what would it mean to have other transgendered brain parts? The body map can be compared to the body, the rest... well, here's where your issue comes up. You can't compare an innate gender to another.

    I think we do have what, to an individual, is more or less an objective gender with which to compare. Infants are born into societies with men and women - if they can get any clue at all as to which member they belong to, then they have what might as well be an objective definition of masculinity or femininity - an infant can't tell that 'men act like this, women like that' is any less objective than 'milk comes from breasts'.

    So, I think it is plausible (we're leaving the realm of what's about as likely true as epistemology allows, now, into what's more or less a plausible thought experiment) that portions of the brain are some specific gender. This is obviously something that could be true but cannot be confirmed until neuroscience advances pretty far. In any case, if some portion expects to learn to be more or less like mother*, or more or less like the curvier adults, or the people with some other arbitrary-but-already-gender-linked trait, it's going to 'know' that things are wrong when expected to be like the other ones. Any two individuals can compare gender based on that unchanging (within their timeframes) categorization - 'I'm like this category, the one that my mother is,' 'oh, not me. I am like those other ones.'

    I guess a simplistic version of what I'm saying would be that people don't need to compare genders to each other, they just need to be able to compare against the same thing. People presume that women have the same gender identity because women, as individuals, end up becoming attached, so to speak, to being women as a group.

    I think this would also allow for the other categories you mention, incidentally - one could tell that one really should be acting like both, to some degree, or perhaps like neither, if one fails to attach themselves to a group.

    *This idea is likely pretty distasteful to many - inherent differences between men and women that are inescapably linked? I don't think it needs to be distasteful, however - we pretty readily accept that gay men have brain portions more like straight women and our notions of equality don't collapse. And there are some pretty clearly gender-marked regions of the brain. And infants do classify people into groups pretty early, though I'm not sure when they start classing by gender.

    Plus that idea isn't likely true, but it can't really be ruled out at this point. It is an example of the way things could be, though, so I think it's useful in this discussion.

    Again, that's pretty much entirely speculation, but if an infant had any marker to 'attach' themselves to the bodies, roles, or customs of other individuals, then they could easily infer what the other ones 'should' be.

  • Ethereal IllusionEthereal Illusion Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Trans people want to be thought of as their identified gender. They want to know others see them that way. So, they take up roles that will express that idea. Culture assigns a gender value to a role, so it becomes adopted by those wanting to appear as that gender. I think that's the only thing that's really happening here, regardless of if the person is trans or not. There's no feminine essence requiring traditional roles, and a woman can perform whatever role she wants. Though, if doing that causes society to do something like refer to her with male pronouns, she might be dissuaded from doing it in the future.

    On the picture you give, if I understand you right, gender is distinct both from biological sex and from social/performative roles--it's just that people often use the customary social and performative cues as a way of communicating to others what their gender is, as, for instance, when a woman wears a dress in part to let others know that she is a woman. But then the puzzle is: what is this other thing which is distinct from, but commonly signaled by, certain social roles? For instance, suppose that I was wondering what gender I was. I know what's between my legs and all, but biological sex is distinct from gender and hence does not settle the matter. And I know how my behaviors, and my desired behaviors, fit into an overall gendered social landscape: that, for instance, I like my comic books about superheroes, not about high school romance, and that this is something it is often a social cue for maleness. But social roles are also distinct from gender, and hence do not settle the matter. So I am flummoxed. What gender am I? How do I find out? And now I might start wondering not only how I could know the answer, but how there could even be one: it might begin to seem like there isn't anything out there to find out. Once I know both my biological sex and the social roles I inhabit I know everything there is to know, with nothing left over.

    This sort of general argument--if it's not P, or Q, then what could it possibly be?--has an obvious limitation. Namely, someone could come in and say: well, it's R (or S, or...). And I'm not trying to exclude the possibility that there is some such R which we can sensibly interpret as gender and which makes all the desired results shake out. It's just that I'm curious what it is, and I think that there is some impetus, given the role that it plays in social and political arguments, on making it clear.
    As for your last question, it's still just a problem of interpreting gender in very simplistic terms. Many trans people just change their physical self and nothing else, which fixes the dysphoria issues without changing much, if anything, in the way they live. Alternatively, consider a trans woman who's always wanted to participate in female roles before transition, but did not because she feared the stigma she'd face while presenting as male. After transition, she's not bending her life because she now must act as a woman, but rather it's just something she's always wanted to do.

    Dysphoria is, I think, the easiest case to understand. What I find more puzzling is the cases which do not include dysphoria--which, I gathered from that link Feral posted, are the majority. It's those that I'm trying to figure out. Along similar lines to the above, we can ask of the non-dysphoric: suppose I decide to start wearing floral dresses and painting my nails. What's the difference between my doing that as a transition to presenting as a woman and my doing that as a man who just happens to wear dresses and paint his nails? Before feminism, the second option was unavailable: you just couldn't be a man who happened to like and do those things, so by doing them, you must therefore have been trying to be a woman. But now times have changed, at least in certain quarters, and so now the question seems pressing.

    Of course, I can think of differences that will typically be present between people who self-express as trans and people who just have non-standard sartorial choices, most of which revolve around the strength of the desire and its totality. But what I'm wondering about is which of those actually constitute a difference in gender, and hence, more directly, what gender is.

    I think the piece (the R) you're missing is innate gender. It's the component I mentioned above. It's something a person feels; something a person knows just by being them. Cis people do tend to get hung up on this topic, because since their biological sex is inline with their innate gender, they never feel anything out of place. The innate gender is there, but it never becomes an issue. It's rather frustrating for a trans person to try and explain it. It's a common topic. I've even seen a cis person express desires to go on the hormones of their opposite gender just to feel what it's like, which might actually work. Maybe imagine if everyone started treating you as a different gender, using the respective pronouns without your consent. You might think "That's not correct at all." Mostly, you're the gender you feel you are, whether that be male, female, bigender, genderqueer, agender, or something else. It might be difficult understanding and coming to terms with it, but if you feel comfortable as you are, that's probably what you are.

    I think there are non-obvious problems with the idea of innate gender, problems that are at least somewhat similar to Wittgensteinian worries about the intelligibility of 'private language.' Two preliminary notes:

    First, I assume that when we talk about our innate genders, we intend a quality that is comparable across people. By which I mean to say, that it makes sense to say of two people that they either share or do not share their innate gender. I do not mean that they must be possibly identical, but just that there must be the usual degrees of similarity that unify our terms generally and allow these sorts of judgments ('this and that are both blue' does not imply they are identical shades). Anyway, I take this to be more or less the point, because the reason for positing an innate gender is supposed to be that it allows for something underneath it all which is shared by the cisgendered man and the biological woman who desires to transition to presenting as a man; something which furthermore is not shared by the cisgendered woman.

    Second, I'll grant the assumption that you simply know, by introspection, what your innate gender is.

    What about other people's genders, though? I may be able to know mine by simple introspection, but I presumably cannot know anyone else's in that same manner. But then how do I know whether mine is the same as anyone else's? Suppose my sibling and I are both wondering whether we have the same or different genders. We can each look within and see our own, but that doesn't help because we cannot see the other's in order to compare--and comparison is what would be necessary for supporting a claim to either sameness or difference. And, as before, we can look at each other's anatomy (if we are sufficiently young this is less creepy), but that doesn't settle the matter so it's of no help. And finally, we can look at the ways we behave and expect to be treated socially--wearing loose-fitting tees and climbing trees--but again, that settles nothing and is again of no help. And so we appear to be back in the same predicament as before. If I cannot say whether my innate gender is the same or different from anyone else's, then it does not, as it was supposed to, explain any of the phenomena we were hoping for earlier. Being able to see my own innate gender, as if it were a piece of inner furniture, doesn't seem to help with situating it relative to the genders of others.

    If innate gender were just a free-floating object available to introspection, it's hard to see how it could supply the meaning for ostensibly public terms like 'man' and 'woman.' Assume for a moment that it does: 'man' designates the possessors of one innate gender, 'woman' designates the possessors of another. Now, even if we imagine that English speakers have worked this out such that they correctly apply this term amongst themselves, there are going to be problems with translation. For instance, suppose that I have run into Spanish speakers for the first time. I notice that they use 'hombre' and 'mujer' to designate their largest gender categories. Now I wonder: does 'hombre' mean 'man,' and 'mujer' mean 'woman,' or is it the case that actually 'hombre' means 'woman' and 'mujer' means 'man?' The answer depends on whether the people to whom the Spanish apply the term 'mujer' possess the same innate gender as the people to whom we apply 'woman,' or whether instead the people to whom they apply the term 'mujer' actually possess the same innate gender as the people to whom we apply 'man.' But notice that no conceivable evidence we could collect seems to settle the question. After all, we can cannot use introspection to compare our innate genders, since we cannot use introspection to look inside them; and the facts about how 'hombres' and 'mujers' are arranged anatomically and social-wise do not settle anything about their innate genders. So it seems we must be stuck in a situation of complete indeterminacy in our translation efforts: as far as we know, 'mujer' means 'man.'

    This, I think, cannot be right. And hence, it cannot be the case that gender is a completely free-floating inner object, conceptually and logically distinct from biology and customary social roles. It needs to be explicated somehow in terms of one or the other, on pain of falling into a ghostly obscurity. I am not saying this cannot be done: rather, it should be done, though I do not know how to myself.

    This may seem kind of dickish: like I am deploying waves of sophistry in order to discredit the very real experiences of transgender people. What are my abstruse reservations in comparison with the fact that transpeople, suffering from severe oppression, find this language useful for organizing and describing it? I am aware of this, and I want to emphasize that I'm neither trying to delegitimize transpeople's experiences nor claim that they aren't real. At worst, I'm saying that abstract theoretical concerns are such that they show that certain ways of describing gender--as, for instance, a free-floating inner object--must be misleading. But people all the time talk about their very real (and very painful) experiences in misleading ways. For instance, Pentecostalists are certainly having very powerful feelings when they speak in tongues; I just think that they aren't actually correctly describing those experiences when they say that they are of the holy ghost speaking through them.

    I suspect, in fact, that something similar is going on with the more recherche categories you mention--for instance, bigender and genderqueer. Which is again, not to say that people do not self-identify that way for reasons, but just that those reasons might not be the ones they think: namely, they gender might not really be the sort of thing which forms a multifold continuous space along which self-identification is the primary locator. Much of this thought on my part was prompted by looking at the graphic of the Genderbread Man in one of these previous threads and thinking: that seems largely made up.

    Also: @Arch , yeah that's allowed :P

    This is a very grounded argument and I do think it's important to look at. It doesn't seem dickish at all. Understanding yourself, who you are, and why you are that way is a popular pursuit of philosophy.

    Let me try to present to you this perspective on determining gender. The term innate gender is not to be considered something of the metaphysical. It should be synonymous with "brain gender." This immediately links it to biology, but NOT the typical markers that are commonly used (sex organs, karyotype, or male/female secondary sexual characteristics). Unfortunately for neurosciences, especially cognition, this area is still filled with questions that do not have simple solutions yet. A post-mortem dissection of the brain could possibly be used to determine a gender. We might be able to look at a person's BSTc region and be able to make an accurate guess by comparing neuronal configurations. Alternatively we might be able to look at formation of gender at the source, by monitoring exogenous sex hormone exposure in utero. These techniques may not exist or even provide a complete picture of what is gender. It's a start down the path of understanding gender as a function of the brain, though.

    I realize this concept opens the doors to sexism. So be it. The thought that genders are equal shouldn't stand due to idealism alone.

    I really enjoyed your example of the Spanish speakers. Just for fun, I can come up with two scenarios where "mujer" means man and "hombre" means woman. 1) The entire population could all be transsexual. I don't think they'd be a very happy society though. Or 2) Genetic variation between populations allowed for a "reversal" of the spectrum, without any side-effects. Both extremely unlikely situations, of course.

    With regard to your last thought, saying that gender is only a binary spectrum and anything else is made-up actually seems less logical to me than the alternative. There's an incredible amount of variation in biology. A few people here and there are bound to be novel outliers.

    Are there any complications with this model?

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  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    edited July 2012
    That's basically what I was fumbling in trying to say.

    Also, yeah, I want to echo that I don't think it's dickish at all.
    A post-mortem dissection of the brain could possibly be used to determine a gender. We might be able to look at a person's BSTc region and be able to make an accurate guess by comparing neuronal configurations. Alternatively we might be able to look at formation of gender at the source, by monitoring exogenous sex hormone exposure in utero. These techniques may not exist or even provide a complete picture of what is gender. It's a start down the path of understanding gender as a function of the brain, though.

    This wouldn't actually work very well! Or rather, it would only work if we already had other signs of gender incongruence. Here is a pretty good read about it. Basically, since people with severe gender incongruence are so rare, a test needs to be absurdly specific or markers need to be absurdly gendered to avoid being mostly false positives. The variation within a sex is usually so great that analyzing for a marker is likely to turn up more people without mental incongruence than with it.

    Shivahn on
  • Ethereal IllusionEthereal Illusion Registered User regular
    Fumbling? I think you worded it quite elegantly.

    Thanks for that link! Very good supporting data in there. I particularly remember one night coming across the 2D:4D ratio on wikipedia, not getting results I wanted and then freaking out for a while. Silly me for thinking you could determine gender by looking at your hand.

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  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    Fumbling? I think you worded it quite elegantly.

    Thanks for that link! Very good supporting data in there. I particularly remember one night coming across the 2D:4D ratio on wikipedia, not getting results I wanted and then freaking out for a while. Silly me for thinking you could determine gender by looking at your hand.

    Ha, you have no idea how many times I measured my fingers. And then tracked down the articles to make sure I was doing it right and measured many more times.

    I think it's practically a universal experience at this point.

  • MrMisterMrMister If you shoot an arrow, and it goes real high--hooray for youRegistered User regular
    edited July 2012
    With regard to your last thought, saying that gender is only a binary spectrum and anything else is made-up actually seems less logical to me than the alternative. There's an incredible amount of variation in biology. A few people here and there are bound to be novel outliers.

    Are there any complications with this model?

    It sounds like you're more or less defining gender anatomically, but just in terms of brain anatomy rather than genital anatomy. I have no problems with this proposal: it sounds right to me. But I would note a couple things about it.

    First, if gender is a matter of brain anatomy, then sincere self-reports can be wrong. That is to say, I can think that my gender is one way while in fact it is another. In some cases, it's plausible to think that sincere self-reports cannot possibly be wrong, like cases involving present sensation. If I sincerely claim not to be in pain, then I must not be in pain; for if I were in pain, then I would be feeling pain, and if I were feeling pain then I would not sincerely claim not to be in pain. Many philosophers have thought that your mind is 'transparent' to itself in that manner, at least for things like present sensation. If gender were a felt inner quality, it might behave similarly. Indeed, I think this is a motivation that some people have for claiming that gender is a felt inner quality--they want it to be the case that one cannot be sincerely mistaken about it. But if gender is instead a manner of brain anatomy, then this will not be the case. There's nothing impossible about being sincerely mistaken about your brain anatomy.

    Second, once we see that nothing about gender guarantees sincere self-reports are right, then that gives us reason to be suspicious of those self-reports. People are, in general, very bad at constructing even minimally adequate psychological theories just on the basis of introspection. For instance: remember that fad about kinetic, auditory, and visual learning? From what I've been given to understand, that turned out to be entirely made up. There are no meaningful differences along those axes and no science supports it; 'you're a kinetic learner, and that's why you've done poorly in the classroom' is a nice way of saying you're bad at school. But despite it being entirely made up, people identified themselves that way, sincerely believing that they were kinetic learners. We don't need to look far in order to multiply the examples endlessly. Astrology (I'm this way because I'm a pisces!); outdated psychological diagnoses (I'm this way because I've got multiple personalities!); mystical/traditional worldviews (I'm this way because my chi is fire-based!); the aforementioned speaking in tongues (I shout gibberish because I'm possess't with the holy ghost!). So even if someone says, and sincerely thinks, that they are neutrois, bi-gender, or whatever, and that this is the best explanation of what's going on in their mental and social lives, I'm suspicious that they actually are until I see something even minimally scientific that indicates such a thing is possible.

    And such a thing surely could be. As you point out, there is a lot of variation in many biological traits (though also: less so in others. Either you're sickle-cell anemic or you aren't; either your pee smells after you eat asparagus or it doesn't; etc.) And the story that @Shivahn tells is one which gives a possibile explanation of gender wherein this sort of variation is possible. But I just think that, at the present moment, such stories are highly speculative. And although we have overwhelming evidence that brain gender and genital anatomy can come apart in a variety of ways, we don't have nearly the same when it comes to the full spectrum of business under description by, say, the Genderbread man. That's why, in light of the above general point about how bad people are at understanding themselves by introspection, I am reluctant to accept anything like the Genderbread spectrum as established. One of the great things about queer activist culture is that it's extremely accepting, and loathe to appear to discredit anyone's apparently sincere utterances. But while this makes for a tolerant and politically admirable community, it does not, I think, lend itself to the most rigorous science of human nature. In order to validate kinetic learning as a real thing, for instance, we need more evidence than just the fact that a few people sincerely professing that it works for them.

    MrMister on
    Apothe0sis
  • Evil MultifariousEvil Multifarious Registered User regular
    I am on my phone so this thread's long posts are awkward to read, but I wanted to answer MrMister's question:

    a transgender male to female individual who wears dresses and paints nails is performing a gender role because they feel that 1) their anatomical gender is male (pre treatment, if they want it) 2) their real or true gender, or their gender identity, is female, and 3) wearing dresses and painting your nails is what females do.

    the first two are biological, while the third is cultural, if you want to draw a line. there are plenty of trans folks who don't even do step 3, or do it very minimally.

    a non trans man who does those things is either performing feminine gender roles without thinking they are the "right" ones (an actor or literal performer for example) or he is doing them as actions independent of gender, because he likes dresses and painted nails. Or he is doing it to be deliberately transgressive and he likes that part.

    so if a person's sense of their gender identity is not their anatomy or what their peers tell them, then it must have a separate origin - brain sex, as is being discussed. it is as close to essentialism as you're going to get, I think - there is generally a sense of maleness or femaleness. as I asked before, though, if your genitals and your social roles aren't the content of that gender sense, then what is? is it just a binary or variable in your head? I can see MrMister's issue with the absence of content, but biology transfers a lot of information. is it implausible that sense of not just your own gender but gender in general as a binary is built in, even if it isn't actually binary in reality? would a person who had only lived with men and who never met or heard of women be able to feel dysphoria or be trans? would a person have an idea of the other gender, or a sense of absence without that knowledge/ experience? I mean, some animals are born able to walk within minutes of birth.

    but it seems we just don't know what the content of brain sex is.

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  • OrganichuOrganichu jacobkosh Registered User regular
    how do you mean 'independent of gender'? it's hard for me to parse that sometimes we paint our nails because that's a female thing to do and sometimes we paint our nails because we like to paint our nails. that seems like a really strange extrication from cultural context.

  • IncenjucarIncenjucar QA Tester -> Game Producer Seattle, WARegistered User regular
    Painted nails and a dress?

    Goth dude in a utilikilt.

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