Google makes its living by hoovering up all the bright people it can find and then encouraging them to get on with being bright. It’s not therefore all that much of a surprise to find that we’ve one of those few sensible arguments about trans rights coming from a Googler. However, do note that a decent argument isn’t necessarily a correct one. Which leads to our being able to say two things about this one:
People once believed the sun circled the Earth. It was a perfectly sensible model by which they understood the universe. The important word here is “model”. At the time, almost everyone thought that this was accurate. As with our contemporary idea of gender, the model closely matched the observation of physical “reality”.
The philosophers and theologians of the middle ages believed that the sun went around the Earth and that to suggest otherwise was heretical, ungodly and just really, really stupid. Imagine scholars of that age writing on the internet about new theories that the Earth went around the sun – these opinions would read a lot like most of the comments we get today about gender. Basically: “This is just ignoring common sense”; “What is the world coming to?” and “Let’s burn these queer freaks.”
Which they did.
A tad of rhetorical hyperbole is entirely permissible in such arguments. Although I would note that one of the major societies which really does “burn” those queer freaks positively encourages people to go trans instead. That’s why some rather large portion of Iran’s womens’ football team is made up of transwomen. The governmental (note, not in that country, societal) point being that it’s better to have the surgery than commit the sin of homosexuality.
But the argument itself? It’s an entirely reasonable one. Everyone once didn’t believe in heliocentrism, now they do, there was an interregnum of competing ideas with accusations of heresy and all thrown around. Binary gender, physical gender, was once believed by all, now maybe it isn’t.
Which is where the correct part of the argument is. We are indeed in one of those interregnums and we’ve not got a wide societal agreement about what the correct answer is. Which is the very problem we’ve got, we don’t agree.
The obvious solution, as it always is, is classical liberalism. You’re a consenting adult causing no harm to third parties? Get on with it then. And?
Classical liberalism also being today’s most unfashionable answer to anything presumably because of its success.
Which leads to our second thing. Heliocentrism is observably correct. Is this also so of the varied claims about trans and gender? If they are then obviously, as with other provably correct theories like continental drift then we’ll end up with a societal agreement on what actually is the correct answer. If those claims aren’t equally provable then what?
Which is I think where we are and where we’re going to be. The very nugget at the heart of the claim is true. Sex, that biological reality, isn’t 100% binary. It’s close enough for daily life definitions but not still that 100%. Gender, the social construct, might well be subject to less of the 100%. I also don’t think that society in general is ever going to agree that a bloke with tackle is a woman simply because they say so this morning.
No doubt that makes me a hater, ah well.
The reason I don’t think we’re going to get that societal agreement is, well, perhaps a tad odd. It’s because the definition of “woman” (and this runs the other way around as well, to man and so on) is a useful one. It describes something that we want to be able to describe. Doesn’t matter how much anyone who doesn’t accord with that societal definition of woman insists that’s what they are, we’re going to keep on making the distinction. Even if we accept the entire set of trans claims, women’s brains perhaps, women in everything but the physical details of gonads at birth, we’re still going to be usefully making that linguistic distinction. Thus we’re never going to end up with that societal agreement.