Saturday, February 11, 2017

Debra W. Soh: Are Gender Feminists And Transgender Activists Undermining Science?

   This is worth thinking about:
Unlike gender feminists, transgender activists firmly believe that gender is a biological, rather than social, reality — but of course they don’t believe that it’s necessarily tied to sex at birth. They also believe that gender identity is quite stable early on, warranting a transition not only for transgender adults, but also young children who say they were born in the wrong body.
   Here's something many people have noted: that side of the discussion actually tries to have it both ways, arguing variously that gender is entirely "socially constructed" and has nothing to do with biology...and also that certain facts about brain structure prove the reality of transgenderism. And, of course, if gender has nothing to do with sex, and transgenderism is really about gender, then hormone treatment and surgery would not be in the picture. They'd be irrelevant.
   Another thing in the mix here is that, whereas old-school feminism used to insist on minding the sex/gender distinction (and I think it was right about that) the current trend seems to be to blur the distinction again, in part as a beachhead toward trying to argue that sex itself is "socially constructed." Actually, they tend to mind the distinction when it's convenient and blur it when it's convenient... (And almost any discussion in which the phrase "socially constructed" appears immediately spirals into confusion.)
   Anyway...I've thought about publishing a popular piece on this stuff, but I've just go too much going on for the foreseeable future to deal with the blowback it would be likely to generate professionally. Any philosopher bucking the PC/feminist/transgender orthodoxy on this has got to be ready for a shitstorm. If the analogous confusions were crucial to a prominent conservative position being publicly debated, scores of philosophers would be all over it, shredding it with extreme prejudice. But since the confusions are on the left side of the disagreement, you'll notice that there's dead silence about them.


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