What's going on with all this gender stuff?

Dr Lobster*
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Now, I will admit, I don't follow any of it too closely, but some comments made by Rishi Sunak have been bouncing around social media with incredible volume (and degrees of bile) and I will say I'm genuinely perplexed by it all.

I'll put all my cards on the table here: humans can't change sex. There is no pill or process I can go through as a biological male which will switch me into a women, who can then get pregnant and bear a child. Male and female, men and women are fundamental categories of biology. That to me is what sex is: women can have babies, men can't.

It seems there are some people, who identify as transgender, like India Willoughby, who genuinely believes they have transitioned and are now a biological female and many people now go along with it.

When did this happen? when did the terms men and women become an identity and something you can just become? and how can it be reconciled?
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Neil
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Dr Lobster* wrote: Fri 06 Oct, 2023 18.26 Now, I will admit, I don't follow any of it too closely
I'd suggest doing some reading

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgender isn't the worst place to start

You are, of course free to express your opinions/beliefs, but I would also suggest preparedness to accept that this is a complex area.
Dr Lobster*
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Neil wrote: Fri 06 Oct, 2023 21.14 I would also suggest preparedness to accept that this is a complex area.
Hello Neil,

I know gender identity is a hugely complex area, and although it’s not something I’ve ever really thought about, I accept that for some people it is immensely important aspect of their identity.

I tried to be careful with the wording of my post: there are clearly two very different domains - the material reality of the biological that none of us can truly escape, and the idea that sits on top of this another layer, what we call gender identity that’s actually very fuzzy and has no universally agreed definition of where it begins and ends.

How do we even begin to bring these two ideas together ? How do we acknowledge biological reality whilst also affirming the identity transgender people?
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WillPS
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Counter-question, what's the problem with people changing genders?

I see a lot of hysteria like 'rapists in womens prisons' and 'paedophiles in female loos/changing rooms' but surely making these issues one of gender ignores the fact that homosexuality is a thing (so I hear, anyway) and thus enforced gender division does not solve these problems. (Unless it's the case that it's fine for people to rape in prison and for paedos to abuse public facilities so long as they respect birth-gender lines, in which case I just don't feel like I can be on the same page ethics-wise.)
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Martin Phillp
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What we're seeing about trans people is similar to how gay people were treated in the past, scaremongering about women's spaces and the potential of being attacked by cisgender males in women's clothing orchestrated by people who are fearful of people who in their own minds are a different gender to the body they were born in.

I can't ever really relate to being trans because I'm comfortable with the gender I was born in, but we should be accepting of how a person wants to live their life.
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tillyoshea
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I'm perplexed by it, too.

I'm continually baffled by the pretence that 'man' and 'woman' have a single, fixed meaning, even though we all use them ambiguously all the time. When I talk about man landing on the moon, or the chairman of a company, or the foreman on a building site, or 'that young woman over there', or 'ladies, gentlemen and children', I really haven't got anatomy in mind. Even as a doctor, I rarely use the word 'man' to mean 'person with a penis', because - presumably unlike our Prime Minister - I simply don't spend much of my life thinking about genitals.

One in 100 people are born with bodies that don't have the 'standard' male/female appearance; the proportion of the population which is transgender is a fraction of that. One in 500 people requires surgery on ambiguous genitalia. One in 1,000 people is neither genetically XX nor XY. Most of the time, it really doesn't matter: nobody cares about whether the appearance of their genitals is the same as how they present themselves socially. Of course, there are tricky issues about whether they are assigned to 'male' or 'female' prisons, hospital wards, etc, but we've managed this for decades without any social outrage, taking these things on a case-by-case basis. I'm not sure why the Prime Minister or anyone else suddenly feels the need to pass moral judgement on the congruity between genitals and identity.

I mean: can't we just live and let live?
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Dr Lobster*
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WillPS wrote: Sat 07 Oct, 2023 00.33 Counter-question, what's the problem with people changing genders?
I think that's a really interesting question. So to answer it, and your wider point, we need to clarify what we mean by changing genders.

As far as I can tell, a trans identity is understood to be any of the strands below, each building on the one above - for simplicity, since we're both guys, let's assume we are referring to me going through a male to female transition:

1. I tell you that I feel like I am a women, but make no changes to my appearance, or presentation.
2. I start to look more feminine by changing my clothes to a typical female style, use makeup, have a typically female haircut, and behaviours etc
3. I start taking cross sex hormones and develop secondary female sex characteristics - my breasts develop, my skin is smoother, my body shape changes etc , most people looking at me would assume that I am male.
4. I have facial feminisation surgery, laser treatment to remove facial hair, surgery to change my voice, and other cosmetic procedures to make me look completely feminine - I would look outwardly female and most people looking at me would not know I am a biological male
5. I have full sex reassignment surgery,

I do not know if the scale I have proved above is broadly complete, if there are other permutations we can add them - the point is, a transition is exactly that - it has a beginning and an end point, and some intermediate stages and it is understood that transition doesn't always end at number 5, it can end at any point.

Now, In isolation, none of this matters to anybody. Who cares, right?

The issues and complexities arises when we interact with others.

At what stage can I call myself a women?
At what point on that scale, does a one become a lesbian if they are attracted to women?
At what point would you send me to a female prison?
tillyoshea wrote: Sat 07 Oct, 2023 12.00 Of course, there are tricky issues about whether they are assigned to 'male' or 'female' prisons, hospital wards, etc, but we've managed this for decades without any social outrage, taking these things on a case-by-case basis
Is it because now, the problem is essentially different? Certainly in my lifetime, somebody who we used to refer to as a transvestite or crossdresser would be at 2 or 3 on the above scale, whilst a transexual would be at point 5.

We now have a problem where people at point one or two assert they are women when historically, being a transexual would have meant you want through some physiological change, now it's just a feeling. I think it's the problem of self ID, the notion that one can self ID into being a biological female which just makes no sense.

We know somebody at point 5 on my scale is ultimately still a biological male - but i feel that women in particular would be more accepting of biological males who identify as women.
cdd
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I think it’s worth continuing the thought experiment above by considering a hypothetical female (born F, identifies F) who looks extremely masculine. How much effort should they be expected to go to to be treated as a woman, socially or legally?

I would not wish to treat this person differently because of their appearance or superficial presentation, and I assume you agree. This does, however, erode the arguments around appearance in the other direction.
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WillPS
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Dr Lobster* wrote: Sat 07 Oct, 2023 19.34
WillPS wrote: Sat 07 Oct, 2023 00.33 Counter-question, what's the problem with people changing genders?
I think that's a really interesting question. So to answer it, and your wider point, we need to clarify what we mean by changing genders.

As far as I can tell, a trans identity is understood to be any of the strands below, each building on the one above - for simplicity, since we're both guys, let's assume we are referring to me going through a male to female transition:

1. I tell you that I feel like I am a women, but make no changes to my appearance, or presentation.
2. I start to look more feminine by changing my clothes to a typical female style, use makeup, have a typically female haircut, and behaviours etc
3. I start taking cross sex hormones and develop secondary female sex characteristics - my breasts develop, my skin is smoother, my body shape changes etc , most people looking at me would assume that I am male.
4. I have facial feminisation surgery, laser treatment to remove facial hair, surgery to change my voice, and other cosmetic procedures to make me look completely feminine - I would look outwardly female and most people looking at me would not know I am a biological male
5. I have full sex reassignment surgery,

I do not know if the scale I have proved above is broadly complete, if there are other permutations we can add them - the point is, a transition is exactly that - it has a beginning and an end point, and some intermediate stages and it is understood that transition doesn't always end at number 5, it can end at any point.

Now, In isolation, none of this matters to anybody. Who cares, right?

The issues and complexities arises when we interact with others.

At what stage can I call myself a women?
At what point on that scale, does a one become a lesbian if they are attracted to women?
At what point would you send me to a female prison?
Not sure I have a different answer for those last 3 other than 'who cares', too. The last one is a bit loaded because of the rape stuff, but why is gender part of that argument - how much rape goes on in prison every single day? How about we sort the issue out rather than cherry picking isolated incidents and pointing to it as if it's a problem of tolerating people being what they want to be?
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Dr Lobster*
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WillPS wrote: Sun 08 Oct, 2023 09.12 Not sure I have a different answer for those last 3 other than 'who cares', too. The last one is a bit loaded because of the rape stuff, but why is gender part of that argument - how much rape goes on in prison every single day? How about we sort the issue out rather than cherry picking isolated incidents and pointing to it as if it's a problem of tolerating people being what they want to be?
I don't think gender is part of the argument with prisons, it's biological sex. Most sexual assaults are committed by men against women, and according to this report, there were 1000 rapes in prisons over the last decade, so, even in single sex spaces, it seems to be a massive problem, with most of the assaults perpetrated by men (I can't find exact figures for the last couple of years right now, but seems to be more than 9 out of 10 cases), so superficially at least, putting women in mens prisons, or man in a women's just seems like a bad idea - and prisons aren't nice places, they have people in them that have committed very horrible and brutal crimes with no remorse so I'm not sure this is an easy problem to solve.

Now, even though you might not care about the answers to my questions about transition - doesn't mean nobody else does and, if we are going to ever reach a consensus on this issue, we do need to arrive at some answers and agreement and understanding from the groups we seek to insert ourselves in and that was the question in my first post - we know there is a difference between men and women - simply, it's our reproductive roles - and we know that sex is different to gender. We know that transition can't alter those differences completely. How do we reconcile the two? Can we really just shrug our shoulders as say, "well I don't care", and in this example ask women to accept a biological male, with male genitals, as women? I'm not so sure we can make progress with that mindset.

The nub of my response to your first point wasn't to try and get you work out and put a stake in the ground as to what a women is - we all know this - we all came out of one after all - but at what point in gender transition that I can generally, by most people, be accepted as a women. It is because I say so? Is it just by how I look? is it about genitals? or is it further?

Think about the question again - even if you don't like it - and your answer can't capture the subtleties that exist in your mind - in my transition - at what point, 1 to 5 (even if those phases of transition aren't perfect)- do you think it's acceptable that I could I call myself a women and identify as a lesbian, and be accepted as such?

cdd wrote: Sun 08 Oct, 2023 02.28 I think it’s worth continuing the thought experiment above by considering a hypothetical female (born F, identifies F) who looks extremely masculine. How much effort should they be expected to go to to be treated as a woman, socially or legally?
Well, none, because they are a biological women. I have two people in my family who fit the description of the above, they've always looked the way they do and always seemed to be happy in their own skin, and as far as I know, have always been treated as women.

I would never seek to treat anybody with anything other than kindness and respect, regardless as to whether they are male, female, transgender, or anything else. But men and women are not the same, and they can't always be treated identically in all aspects of life, and ultimately that's the price we pay as a dimorphic animal - our biology and society can't equalise men and women, because women have babies and men don't.
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