Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Department of Justice Doesn't Know what Sex Is

Here's the most astonishing part:
An individual’s “sex” consists of multiple factors, which may not always be in alignment. Among those factors are hormones, external genitalia, internal reproductive organs, chromosomes, and gender identity, which is an individual’s internal sense of being male or female. [my emphasis]
[I should have quoted this too:
For individuals who have aspects of their sex that are not in alignment, the person’s gender identity is the primary factor in terms of establishing that person’s sex. External genitalia are, therefore, but one component of sex and not always determinative of a person’s sex.]
   This, of course, is not true in any way, shape or form. It is nowhere in the vicinity of the truth. Not to harp on this again, but: sex is a biological matter. Male and female are the sexes. (And there are a few intermediate--intersex--cases, as, again, is common with natural kinds.) Sex has nothing whatsoever to do with "gender identity."
   This is a move to an even more radical, confused position than we've seen from the administration recently. Before we were getting: (a) "gender identity" is more important than sex; now we're getting (b) "gender identity" is part of sex.
   It's appalling to see the DoJ rocketing forward to force a position onto the country...and beyond appalling to see it appeal to confused concepts produced by activists and the kind of activists pretending to be scholars that one finds in the average gender studies / women's studies department. Honestly...these are not experts. They do not understand the issues better than the average intelligent person. They are not scholars seeking to understand the truth, they are activists seeking to push politically-determined conclusions.
   Furthermore, the DoJ seems on the verge of suggesting that, since the sexes are composed of clusters of properties, hell, you can just throw whatever property you want in there.
   This is all facilitated by the strategic obfuscation that has been promoted by gender studies activist/scholars. 'Gender' was introduced by old-school feminists to be a very clear term to do a very important job: distinguish between biology and behavior. It was introduced in order to make a simple and important point: your biology need not match your behavior. The genders are masculine and feminine (and you could also count androgynous as a third gender if you want. Doesn't really matter.) So: males need not be masculine, and females need not be feminine. There's nothing defective about you if your gender fails to match your sex in the statistically normal way. That's an important point, even if it's familiar to us now.
   But this point has been lost--or intentionally obscured--in the pursuit of ever more outlandish, radical, and philosophically ambitious points about the alleged "social construction"* of gender. Currently the term 'gender' is used so indiscriminately that it's basically invoked to obfuscate rather than clarify. The term that was specifically introduced to identify a characteristic that contrasts with sex is now being used to constitute part of sex. (Of course 'identity' is now often tacked onto gender to add yet another layer of confusion...but I'm not going to sort that out too.)
   Look: the DoJ is 100% wrong here. It's not a little wrong, it's completely wrong. There may be a different way to push the case, but this way is not right. The crucial paragraph above, though consistent with the kind of nonsense currently fashionable on the left, is just plain wrong. In fact, it's even worse than I've made it out to be here, but I'm going running, and I'm tired of this bullshit. What we've got here are arguments that are so bad, and misunderstandings so profound, and legislative overreach there is simply no explanation other than this one: the relevant parts of the DoJ, like the relevant parts of DoE OCR, have made up their minds, and they are cobbling together shitty arguments composed of largely incoherent concepts to rationalize a position they are committed to on non-rational grounds.
   If the DoJ were pushing a right-wing policy on the basis of such patent philosophical confusions, philosophers would be crawling out of the woodwork to shriek about it. But that obviously isn't going to happen here.)
   Of course, you can be right for the wrong reasons...though I doubt that they're right in this case. And it'd be an accident if they were. But everyone should be outraged that these decisions are being made as they are, and these policies are being pushed on the basis of patently confused and fallacious reasons. 

* "Socially constructed" is itself a term that's so ambiguous, vague, and otherwise unclear that it's almost guaranteed to destroy any conversation it's introduced into...  So that's not helping.

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