A School Assignment
Were I a student from the schools of Titan, sat on Saturn’s moon beneath the rings above me, I might, if I could, turn my gaze from the sky back to proof-reading my assignment for a course on the biology of the Solar System. Upon reaching my description of the Earth-bound but star-fated, I might re-read what I had written, and so I might read this:
“The human (Homo sapiens) has two fundamental categories: that is, male and female. These categories refer to an individual’s reproductive role, as the species is sexually reproductive, with a binary of male and female that are both required to produce offspring, due to the fact that they produce and release opposite gametes (sperm from the male, and eggs from the female) within their vastly different sexual organs.
The two categories denote physical and chromosomal make-up – the genotype hidden within and the phenotype expressed outwardly – as well as giving insight into the hormonal balance within the person, which plays an underlying role in the psychology and behaviour innate within and expressed throughout the individual’s life (though this has a multitude of other influences, and is not beholden to biological sex). If an individual never reproduces, the category of male or female does not lose relevance: it is relevant when looking at the chances of inheriting or developing certain diseases and other health issues, including mental health; it plays a role, as already mentioned, in the psychology and behaviour of the individual throughout their life; and it is relevant to sex as pleasure – if an individual is male and homosexual, then they are attracted to other members of the same biological sex, and thus to other humans who are male (i.e., with an XY chromosome, rather than the female XX, and a penis and testicles, rather than a vagina.)
While there always exist individuals who, for one reason or another, find themselves uncomfortable in their physical body – for example, feeling that they are male despite being born female – as well as those who are born with a mixture of female and male genitalia, these are exceptions, and the overwhelming majority of all human beings fit comfortably into one of the two fundamental categories of their species: male or female.”
There is no punishment for blasphemy on the satellites of the ringed-giant, even if there were anyone around who considered this work to be so. And so how should my teacher mark this portion of my work? What feedback should I receive? What grade should I be given?
If the teacher is good and sane, unbiased and informed on the class they are teaching, there should be a tick, an A, and a “well-done” stamped in English – because I’m not going to world-build a fake Sci-fi language just for this point I’m making.
So why, then, would a gradually increasing number of Earthly teachers and professors not do the same, in the increasingly unlikely case of one of their students even handing this in to them?
why on earth,
does my description of a certain aspect of the biology of our species no longer go without saying?
The title of this piece is what it is because it has become eminently reasonable to begin to fear for the future of the right to think what one likes and say what one thinks on important issues, in the face of an increasingly draconian, heretic-hunting illiberalism, with a bit of a fetish for dogma and orthodoxy. What is being left – though many are realising it just, perhaps, in time – on these kinds of issues, no matter how sincerely caring your disagreement might be, is a choice of two positions: a no man’s land where everybody shouts at you, or pick an extreme and switch off. And if you pick the former you will be hounded into the void or into the latter. Gender, of course, absolutely being one of these topics, having fallen into that state which all now seemingly do: of going unreasonably far along a reasonable path.
There is a lot to discuss within and surrounding the issue of gender and the gender movement, but I will not deal with a lot of it here, though certain things may get touched on in the process that aren’t, however, being dealt with in detail. This essay is going to focus on two things: the strange, to me, phenomenon of not identifying as male or as female without being transsexual, and subsequently inventing copious new pronouns and labels, and; the denial of the objective fact of the biological binary of the human animal.
People who fall outside of traditional gender norms and roles, whether that be in appearance and physicality, or in mannerism, fashion, interest, or emotion, or all of that altogether, have always been profoundly vulnerable to the worst sides and faces of all societies, and that vulnerability still remains. It must be excruciatingly difficult at times to deal with all kinds of intolerance and bigotry. And I think, in the West, among the dangers faced, there is something that is doing much insidious harm and is on track to do much more of it, down the line, and that is the current state and trend of the gender movement itself, ostensibly speaking for – yet, perhaps, simply over – all of the people in question.
Let’s assume you are biologically female (an insult, apparently; a criminal offense). If you were a dockyard worker, scratching your crotch and your ass, having a beer before and after work with a bunch of guys, you would be taking part in what has traditionally been considered, at least in places like North America and Britain, as male culture. If you were to then say, “Well, I don’t really feel female, I identify more as male”, then you are giving into the very thing that the gender movement is supposed to be against. Nothing about that life or your person should make you question whether you are a woman or not. Because you are biologically female. And so, you are a woman.
Let’s assume you are biologically male (a criminal offence, it seems; an insult). If you were effeminate in your mannerisms and speech, wearing your hair long and sleek, painting your nails and getting more into make-up, you would be manifesting what has traditionally been considered, at least in places like North America and Britain, as female behaviour, and personality. If you were to then say, “Well, I don’t really feel male, I identify more as female”, then you are giving into the very thing that the gender movement is supposed to be against. Nothing about that life or your person should make you question whether you are a man or not. Because you are biologically male. And so, you are a man.
If you are transsexual, then to say you do not identify either as male or as female makes sense. This is about being uncomfortable in a particular physical body. Perhaps in early development the hormone balance swung one way, and so you began developing as male. But soon after it swung back, yet you were already set on the path towards being a boy and a man, resulting in you feeling uncomfortable in your body, feeling that your body ought to be female. And so to not identify as one of two things, in this case to not identify as male, and wish to be the other – to me, this is where the “I don’t identify as male/female” is understandable, and perfectly apt. But if this does not apply to you, if you are not uncomfortable being physically male or female, and you do not wish to alter your physical body, but you still say that you do not identify as male or as female, then are you not limiting what a man or a woman can be? You are saying that there is something about you, about your personality, your interests, your opinions, your emotions, that you feel does not fit under the label ‘woman’ or the label ‘man’, something about you that cannot or should not be present in somebody who is to be considered male or female, man or woman, boy or girl.
The gender movement is supposed to be stripping male and female of everything except to be descriptive of a person’s biology. Instead, it is now stripping male and female of the only thing that they actually mean (hear perfectly sane adults proclaim things like “woman with a penis” for a man who decides he is a woman), and loading them back up, through new avenues yet still paved with intolerance, with everything else, by the creation of new and special labels for those who do not fit with what has traditionally been considered normal and acceptable for men or women.
Here’s a yes or no question:
Are you biologically male?
If the answer is yes, then you are a man or a boy, and if somebody wants to refer to you in the English language, then ‘he’ and ‘his’ and ‘him’ and ‘man’ and ‘boy’ and ‘male’ all apply. And from that point, you can be whoever you want to be, you can have whatever fashion you want to have, you can be interested in whatever you end up interested in, you can have whatever personality you develop, and these can change yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, and at no point do they mean that you should question the answer you give when somebody asks about your gender. If you hesitate to consider yourself male for any reason other than biology, and pertaining to your physical body, then surely you are placing or accepting, implicitly and tacitly, limits on what and who men and boys can be.
Here’s another yes or no question:
Are you biologically female?
If the answer is yes, then you are a woman or a girl, and if somebody wants to refer to you in the English language, then ‘she’ and ‘her’ and ‘hers’ and ‘woman’ and ‘girl’ and ‘female’ all apply. And from that point, you can be whoever you want to be, you can have whatever fashion you want to have, you can be interested in whatever you end up interested in, you can have whatever personality you develop, and these can change yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, and at no point do they mean that you should question the answer you give when somebody asks about your gender. If you hesitate to consider yourself female for any reason other than biology, and pertaining to your physical body, then surely you are placing or accepting, implicitly and tacitly, limits on what and who women and girls can be.
I don’t identify as male.
I am male.
I don’t identify as white.
I am white.
If I were enraptured by the culture of the USA, now and since my youth, and had never held any sense of nostalgia or connection to my place of birth and upbringing and its culture, I might not identify as English.
But that would not change the fact that I am English. And if someone were to raise the point that I am English to contest my interests and personality, and to try and shame me into binning my baseball cap and putting on a monocle, I would simply continue being me, and continue being English, all at the same time, demonstrating that the fact of being English does not constrain me from immersion in other cultures, and that my breaking away from any attempted constraints does not alter the fact that I am English either.
Identifying as male, or white, makes them more than just physically descriptive, but so does actively not identifying with them – this is to load these labels inherently with things beyond the physical and the biological. As I have already mentioned, the current, snowballing zeitgeist is the opposite of what the gender movement is supposed to be for. New generations have been handed progress, with the arrow pointing to progress more to gain, and yet they have reversed, perversely, course.
Neither does androgyny mean that someone is not male or female, it only means that they have significant crossover of masculine and feminine features. Take David Bowie as an example: the way he was, the way he dressed, his manners and mannerisms, his personality as a whole, all changed freely whenever they happened to change, he had no constraints on him. And here’s the thing: I have just used ‘he’ and ‘him’ and ‘his’, and no-one reading will have winced at it. As he was not transsexual, there was a never a question over whether these were appropriate pronouns. The point, his point, was that he was free to be who he was, whatever that meant at any time and at all times, and the whole time he was still male, he was still a man. Because that fact, that simple, biologically descriptive fact, should not mean that he couldn’t go which and what ever way he wanted. Were he a young man now, today, the trend and trendiness of how absurd this movement is becoming would sweep him swiftly toward proliferating pronouns and the worship of new and plenteous labels, or worse: to a reassignment surgery that is absolutely not appropriate to his situation, and even less reversible.
If your son, at any age where he still looks to you for guidance, says “I feel more like a girl”, then perhaps the best advice would be to encourage him to think over and discuss why he feels that way, why he thinks that only girls may have and hold whatever it is that is causing that dilemma, rather than jumping with joy at this opportunity to prove your committed progressivism, and whipping out that safely stored pamphlet on sex-change operations, and ordering a course of hormones. This is such a complex thing and serious issue, and is so integral to the physical and mental health of an individual for their lifetime.
Biology underpins absolutely everything about us. But simply because biology underpins absolutely everything about us does not mean that it dictates everything, and we are not entirely beholden to it. To tie, explicitly, ones fluctuating personality to ones biological sex, particularly in childhood and adolescence when it fluctuates the most, is to feed confusion and to do harm to the individuals going variously through this thing, and to make an obsession out of labels, instead of a transcendence of them. Even without resorting to the surgery and hormones mentioned above, it is wrong to shove a child or a young person toward this kaleidoscope of labels that do not mean anything, when boy or girl, male or female, are still perfectly appropriate, and should be seen as limiting.
It seems to me that when a lot of people say ‘gender’ they are talking about ‘personality’, but a lot of others use gender as essentially an exact synonym for biological sex.
Not only are traditional gender roles socially constructed, but this current gender spectrum and gender fluidity are entirely social constructs too, and they have no more objective, normative merit than the idea that men go to work at the office and women stay at home to cook. The only thing that is actually real is the thing that is currently being – slowly but surely – transformed into some kind of horrid, bigoted, blasphemy: that male and female are biological facts, and, despite individuals manifesting rare exceptions that blur some lines, there are no others in this set of categories. All else is personality, be whatever that may.
‘Male’, ‘White’, ‘English’ – these are descriptive of me, and while they are sometimes necessary to be known, sometimes boxes to be ticked, they are not information on who I am, nor do they limit me in who I might become. When seeking for exactly that freedom when it comes to gender, we need not lie about the nature of reality, we need not mis-educate, de-educate, we need not go anywhere near as far as we have quite apparently already gone.
Thus far I have been talking about how I see this “I do or do not identify as…” phenomenon. This, itself, can be purported by those who do not at all deny that there is male and female, or that there are differences between the two fundamental categories of the human species. However, I opened this essay with a, I guess, satirical raising of a further issue that increasingly comes along with all this: denying that there is a binary, and denying that there are any relevant differences between men and women, girls and boys, or in fact, any differences at all.
This isn’t even limited to the worst and fringe extremes any longer.
Those holding the reins of this movement, and those who go blissfully along with it, whilst they talk of being gender-less, they are certainly not agenda-less. The current situation must be so confusing to children and young people, when the overzealousness and simple-minded indulgence of the people they look to for guidance fails them, sends them away with a superficial confidence standing precariously over underlying chaos. Young people who need to experiment freely with who they are are being encouraged to fix themselves in place with either a label to stamp upon their breast and re-packaged within a different box, or with incredibly risky, potentially dangerous, interference into the hormones and sexual organs of their body. Young people who need to learn to be strong in the face of the world are being taught to cry and rage, and to destroy reputations and careers when their gender notions are challenged, and not indulged. Children who need to be taught well-grounded and well-founded scientific information and taught how to think critically, to question, and to speak up and to speak their mind, are being indoctrinated, lied to, failed, through politically-charged talking, fluffy animals, and a teacher’s smiley face.
Where they see themselves as progressive, liberal, and open, so many of the leaders and followers of this movement demonstrate, more and more, time and time again, that they are closed-minded, anti-science, and anti-free speech. They believe they are fated to be looked back upon as the heirs and children of the Suffragettes, and the Abolitionists. Instead, they emulate the Catholics, and they embody the Creationists. There is the dogma to be preached and to remain unquestioned, simplifying and politicising an issue that could otherwise be mined for truth. There is the response of mockery, condescension, silencing, or ostracism to blasphemy and blasphemers. And there is the fact that the dogma does not align with everyone’s common sense and empirical knowledge of actual reality. All that’s needed now is a building and a book.
Unreasonably far down a reasonable path… it is a terrible mess, and it will stay that way as long as people continue to be too cowardly to speak up, even just to ask a question. It will stay that way, that terrible mess, and get worse, as long as people continue to weigh the potential awkwardness of whatever room they are in, and their online popularity, as higher risks and greater costs than the denial of science and the betrayal of children. Many of those who are silenced, shouted down, and ostracised, are transsexuals and others going through this dilemma of person-hood who do not agree, who do not fall in line and hold the opinions that they are ostensibly supposed to hold. As if they did not already have challenge enough, the very movement that is supposed to represent and help them is now another.
What I have written is not bigotry, nor hate, nor whateverthehellitisnowophobia. It has been entirely possible to fervently disagree with this much of this gender movement from a place, truly and only, of caring about all the people involved and their human rights. All the people involved. All whom this affects, and will affect. That is everybody, because we share a society and a language. No matter the threat of being shouted down, name-called, witch-hunted, and ostracised, if you do not agree with it, if you think that it has gone too far, if you think that it is not right, then fucking say so.
So people can hear you.
Just The Two Of Us
There are two fundamental categories within the human species, and they pertain to an individual’s genotype and phenotype, and their role in sexual reproduction. These two categories – a binary, if you will – have vast crossover in many ways, particular when it comes to emotions, behaviour, interests, and overall personality. However, an individual’s psychology is affected by the underlying hormone balance within them, brought about by their biological sex, and thus all those things mentioned can be, and are, influenced by it. Yet, despite much crossover in non-physical traits, and some in physical, the objective fact of the biological binary means that human beings are sexually dimorphic. That is, that they outwardly express their differing genotypes, resulting in the manifestation of physical differences, in musculature, in skeletal features, and, most crucially, in genitals and sexual organs.
They are different, inside and out.
In many languages, which of these two fundamental categories an individual falls into will determine what personal pronouns are used in reference to him or her, and her or his role in society has near universally historically been limited or boxed-in by the pure chance of early development that lands a person on one side or the other of the binary. That need not – must not – remain the way of things, and if there are to be any typically ‘male’ or typically ‘female’ personalities, lifestyles, or careers, then they must (and might) come about naturally, and not through force of convention or law.
Despite much crossover, and despite exceptions, nearly all human beings fit into one of these two fundamental categories, physically and psychologically, particularly once puberty has been passed through, and usually before even then. The names given to them, in English, are:
‘Female’ and ‘Male’;
‘Woman’ and ‘Man’;
‘Girl’ and ‘Boy’.