Friday, June 16, 2017

"M, F, Or X: Oregon Becomes The First State To Offer 'Not Specified' Gender Option On I.D. Cards"

I don't see anything wrong with this, practically speaking--which is what probably ought to matter for stuff like this. If we're happy to get by with not specifying sex on driver's licences and suchlike, then why not? We might say, in libertarian mode: that's one less way in which the state is keeping tabs on us. Of course a natural-born citizen's sex will be recorded on their birth certificate. And, as we now think of things anyway, it's important to have a record of this.*
   Anyway: because I'm mostly interested in theoretical points, here are some:
   First, this passes muster if the 'x' simply represents, roughly, not specified, and if it's open to anyone to not specify their sex.

   Second, male and female are not "genders", they're sexes. As I've noted, the old-school feminist distinction between sex (the biological kinds) and gender (the behavioral kinds) was accurate and important. They were right to insist on the distinction...sadly, since the '70s, "gender feminism" has replaced liberal/egalitarian feminism as the most influential part of the movement, and gender feminism is eaten up with philosophical confusions. One of them is that politics trumps truth. And their current political obsession is transgenderism. It's convenient for the currently-fashionable theory of transgenderism to blur the sex/gender distinction--one advantage of this is that they can trick people into thinking that gender is both "socially constructed" and the same thing as sex. At any rate: in this story, it's really sex that is or ought to be at issue, since male and female are sexes. And if the Oregon law makes sense, it's just saying: you don't have to specify your sex on your driver's licence.
   Third, as Rebecca Reilly-Cooper has noted: "non-binary" is not a gender (nor could it describe a sex). Probably what people mean is androgynous...but that's not hip and dumb enough. As I take RRC's point: 'non-binary,' if it's anything at all, is a descriptor of gender in general, not of individuals. Gender is a matter of degree, and genders lie on a continuum--ergo gender is, if you insist on putting it this way, "non-binary." But Smith is not "non-binary." To call Smith "non-binary" is like calling Smith a matter of degree, or calling the gender continuum itself androgynous. It's a kind of category mistake.
   Eh...that's enough for a very sleepy morning.
   tl;dr: this is totally cool if understood correctly. But in our current state of confusion (and sowing confusion on these matters is a tactic of the PC/popomo left), it probably won't be understood correctly.

  * I say "as we now think of things" because I'm sympathetic to the idea that we might want a less-extensive state that knows less about us generally. The left only wants this to happen with respect to its pet causes (e.g. illegal immigration, sex)...but I think those positions are more difficult to defend without being part of an overall theory of a less-extensive state.


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