That there are transexuals and always have been is an obvious statement about the human condition. That one may be of whatever sex it occurs to declare as might be a useful piece of societal politesse but it’s not a reflection of that reality outside the window – as so much of societal politesse is not. Which gives us this lady who has just given birth, a lady who is insisting that she is in fact a man. Nope, a man who gives birth is not a man, she just ain’t:
The dad who gave birth: ‘Being pregnant doesn’t change me being a trans man’
Well, yes it does actually. Having the operating plumbing of a woman makes you a woman.
The parallel argument here is PJ O’Rourke’s about sex – if you prefer gender – differences more generally. Sometimes they’re not important, as when trading bonds, sometimes they are, as when making babies. In order to make sense of that world out there we need to be using the correct terms when we are talking about those areas where it makes a difference.
To leap arguments for a moment, the man with shriveled testicles from mumps is infertile, not impotent. The aged man without access to modern drugs may be impotent and not infertile. Distinctions in descriptions matter.
The UK’s Gender Recognition Act 2004 allowed people to legally change gender with a gender recognition certificate. Last year, the government opened a public consultation on proposed changes to the act that would allow trans people to self-identify (bringing the UK into line with countries such as Denmark and Ireland). This would mean that a person no longer has to undergo an arduous and expensive process of presenting evidence to an anonymous gender recognition panel; they would simply sign a statutory declaration, akin to an oath.
Around here we’re fine with whatever social politesse people decide they want to follow. I’m prepared to agree – in public at least – that Diane Abbott is the Right Hon, that Harriet Harman is actually a QC. Just as I’m entirely willing to be polite and address those who let me know by their favoured pronoun of Miss, Ms, or Xe.
However, there are limits to such and that’s when these differences are important. There is actually some loon out there demanding that as a male to female trans Xe should be given cervical cancer checks. All women get them, not to give them to Xe would be to discriminate in a manner insisting that Xe is not a woman. I am pretty sure I’ve heard of one moving the other way who is insisting upon PSA tests despite the basic fact of not having a prostate to get cancer in.
The point being that while we may all agree to treat as the gender or sex of choice much to most of the time it’s ridiculous to demand that one is in fact that sex when one is transparently not. And therefore there are going to be time when one is not treated as such. Sorry, you know, reality?