Men and women
We cannot agree if men and women exist—hence some ask the question, “What is a woman?”. In the quest to answer this question, a scatter graph similar to the one below will often be deployed—as it is deployed to demonstrate races exist—upon which you can see clumps that constitute characteristics for either sex. The distinction is not clean, yet there is a general clump that corresponds to what has traditionally been called “woman” and a general clump that conforms to what has generally been called “man”; ergo, men and women exist, except the graph does not show that—the conservative who invokes science to defend sexual dimorphism is wrong, just as progressive liberals say.
You see, what you have there are general tendencies—you even have some intermediate people, probably literally intersex in the biological sense, who have the line of best fit driven straight over them; they become statistical road kill. The line of best fit is not a value judgement, just a scientific device—it does not exist to delineate the difference between “man” and “woman”, you would draw a similar line if this scatter graph were about penguin flippers.
The left-wing case, perfectly scientific, goes as follows: we can see from the chart that gender is clearly not a duality. Now, this chart represents clusters of characteristics and what I’d like to do is take some hormones and have some surgery and, after those have been completed, we can adjust my “dot” on this graph and I will be closer to the line of best fit—possibly technically just over into the female clump. Now you have to call me “a woman”; and you have to do that because we also know, scientifically, that cultures change—we know what it is to be a woman among the Masai or among the Indians is not the same as in Duluth; and we also know that fifty years ago most women in Duluth did not go out to work, while today most do.
Now, we do not disagree that cultural artefacts—the semiotics of gendered relations in the West—correlate, somewhat, to the scatter graph above; and yet the correlation has never been perfect—there have always been “bearded ladies” and other oddities and, in fact, you could rearrange these data on the graph into a number line, with dots above each number, and you would see that gender is clearly on a spectrum. Now, all we want to do is play around with our position on the spectrum, make a few physical changes and a few cultural changes, and there you go—that is all that transgender people, who have terrible mental health and have been historically been oppressed, want. In fact, to accept this reality would decrease—we have other statistics here—gendered violence against trans people.
After all, if I invent a gene therapy that could take a crippled person—as represented on a scatter graph—and made them walk again, you would not object that there was some “inherent dignity” to being crippled and say we cannot let this dot move across the graph. I mean, only a religious fundamentalist—some Buddhist fanatic—would say, “He’s crippled because he has bad karma from his previous life, it would be a grave mistake to interfere with the dharma and make him walk again.” It’s just this kind of religious bullshit we’ve been fighting against for centuries.
You see, there is no reason you could not wipe out the culturally assumed categories “male” and “female” from the chart and call each cluster we happen to observe “X” and “Y”—if not “Zer” and “Xir”. In a way, it’s about time we did this because science is universal and value-free—and it really assumes a great deal to call these categories “male” and “female”; it would be more scientific to make the language gender-neutral—just like we removed the Hippocratic oath and its undemocratic patriarchal assumptions. Now, if I want to move from cluster “Zer” to cluster “Xir”, why not?
You know, we have ethics—check out rational altruism if you want to understand this in more depth—that say we want to avoid pain, we want to avoid things that are measurably negative to experience (I have a scatter chart to show how people feel pain right here on my hard drive too); and, also, if someone wants to do something that only affects their own body and doesn’t hurt anybody else, why shouldn’t they? I mean, you insist on calling my friend Susan “mister” and that really, really hurts her—why do you want to inflict pain on someone for no reason, just some bullshit religious idea that has no support from a scatter graph?
Conservatives in the West are only conservative liberals. Their objections to developments like transgender ideology are reflexive common sensical; and they appeal with the language of science and rationality to their opponents, being liberals at heart—they place the blame on post-modern nonsense. However, they are on weaker ground—you cannot derive “man” and “woman” from a scatter graph. You can derive two clumps that roughly conform to the way people have culturally used those terms over time—in the patriarchal West (yeah, yeah, thanks Susan—I know).
The progressive liberals, the trans lobby, and the feminists will win because they are on stronger ground—when they say “the science” supports them, they are entirely correct. The science not only includes the medico-scientific view itself, it also includes the view that cultures differ and change over time and that we should make no value judgement about that, and it also includes the view that morality is about pain reduction and unless you can demonstrate that an action physically harms people you cannot condemn it. Taken together, these three factors are what “the West” is at the moment—transgender ideas flow naturally from this worldview.
You want to say the clumps refer to a dyad—yet that is not there. The graph depicts clumps, it shows, in fact, that gender is heterogenous—that there is no “eternal sacred duality of man and woman”, just tendencies; and, after all, everyone has always acknowledged that there are masculine women and feminine men and vice versa—and now we have a scientific account for that. There is no reason not to play around with your position on the chart, no reason not to change the culture too. You might view the fact I have chopped off my cock and balls as self-mutilation—yet I could equally gouge flesh from my leg with a claw hammer and, so long as I never gouged anyone else with my hammer, there are no grounds to interfere with my peculiar practice unless I actually threaten my own life (and, indeed, even then the grounds are tenuous for liberals). “He’s not hurting anyone.”
So conservative liberals who think they have “the science” on their side in the transgender debate are wrong; and they are wrong because they project values onto the results—and what they project are archaic values. Really, they should strike a neutral pose—just examine the facts, consider if anyone would be hurt if this happened, and then act accordingly. You might think—in a prejudiced way—that it is peculiar that Bob is now called Susan, yet he has not hurt you in any physical way, in any empirically demonstrable way, by making this change. Hence when you refer to him as a bloke, you do so to wilfully cause him pain—and that is immoral. The pain caused is demonstrable; now, you might think otherwise, be told otherwise at that mega church you attend; but, really, we thought you were an educated and intelligent person—not some bigot…that is just something you believe, not science.
The conservative liberal derives an “ought” from an “is”—he has abandoned science, he has abandoned empirical thought and rationality. “How does it affect you, what I do with my body? I don’t believe in unprovable mumbo-jumbo—just butt out, you bigot.” It is a true reply within the context we work—nothing in the scatter graph supports an opposition between men and women, if anything it “problematises” what was once an Apollonian clean-limbed division. You know where I’m going with this…leftist views are themselves bound up with the materialist scientific worldview, rightists who think that “the science” shows divisions between the sexes and the races are mistaken—the science actually makes the boundaries less clear, they become fuzzy clumps intersected by a neutral line of best fit. No eternal dyad there. If anything, scientists have been too presumptuous by lazily using the terms “man” and “woman” for these results—they should have neutrally used “X” and “Y” from the beginning.
The chromosomes are a dyad, though…the Dawkins-type chuckles, “I do find it most peculiar the way these religious people—Jungians and what not—claim to see ‘syzygies’ and other such nonsense in DNA; just like some people imagine they see the Virgin Mary in their toast. I had a chap the other day who wrote to me and insisted that the DNA double-helix is shaped like a Hermetic caduceus—very imaginative chap, but total nonsense. Still, it makes a change to have someone assert the god Mercury is directly responsible for our DNA as opposed to old Jehovah...”
In other words, even if there is duality in the chromosomes it is not the same as the duality “man-woman”; the “construction of sex” includes hormones, physiology, cultural context (not to mention intermediate situations like “fragile X” syndrome where these are deformed—though “deformed” is rather judgemental language); and while the chromosomes might not be malleable, enough is malleable that the aggregate dot will move from one clump to the other. In a sense, to see men and women at all is unscientific—a huge presumption you made there; and, really, people like you have all sorts of presumptions about race as well…too terrible.