Saturday, February 22, 2020

"Chase Strangio": There's No Such Thing As A Male Or Female Body

The same bunch of sophomoric fallacies we always get in these pieces from the partisans of the Super-Sciencey Pro-Science Party Of Science(tm). It really is bizarre that they can get away with openly proclaiming the patent sophistries their position rests on over and over and over again. These are the same people who think they understand climatology well enough to deserve certainty about extremely complicated questions involving projections of past trends into the distant future...but they seem to have failed--or never taken--freshman critical thinking.
   Basically such arguments always deploy the continuum fallacy to argue for barely-understood, extreme version of nominalism that would undermine all science. But, since consistency is the hobgoblin of racist minds, they never consider the consequences of their view. This is all really a kind of macrocosm of the left's ability to argue that Bruce Jenner is a woman but Rachel Dolezal isn't black...and you're a racist* if you even think for a second that the two cases have anything to do with each other.
   There is one paragraph in there that's semi-worth gesturing at, though:
At birth, we classify infants as male or female based solely on the appearance of their external genitalia. Notably, this classification serves population control and surveillance and not medical purposes. The medical experts I have spoken with could not identify a single medical purpose for assigning sex at birth and explain that the components of sex are far more complex than just external genitalia and include, at least, chromosomes, genes, hormones, internal genitalia, gender identity, and secondary sex characteristics. By embracing a narrative that one is born with a “male body,” we reinforce the idea that only the bodies we assign male at birth— bodies that have medically normative penises— are male.
Doctors do observe the baby's anatomy to discern whether it's male or female. This is easy, and a quick visual inspection apparently suffices in the vast, vast majority of cases. Because sex is strongly bimodal. Like all natural classes, there are borderline cases. But, in this case, very, very few. Cases that can't be determined by quick visual inspection can usually be determined in some way. Though there are a very few genuine people who fall right between male and female. That's a real phenomenon--but nothing new. And it in no way indicates that no one is male or female. In fact, Peirce argues that borderline cases are a sign of real classes.

   At any rate, "Strangio" goes on to argue that recording sex "notably" "serves population control and surveillance and not medical purposes." The second conjunct is obviously false--it serves many, many medical purposes. Does it serve "population control and surveillance"? Well, I mean, it's an observable fact about people like their race, height, and hair-color... So it can be used to identify people... So in a sense, sorta. Anyway: as I've said before: if such considerations--rather than anti-liberal, anti-scientific ones--were what drove these arguments, it would be different. If someone wants to make a case for a radical libertarianism that denies the government any knowledge of the citizenry (including addresses, salaries, maybe even citizenship status) well...we could think about that for the long run, crazy as it is. But that's not what they're arguing for. They're arguing for yet another carve-out: no change except sex is magic so the government shouldn't get to know that bit. In general, people on "Strangio's" side of things tend to want larger and more expansive government, and more government control--e.g. of which firearms we can possess, and even what we can say and write. So don't give me that dishonest pseudolibertarianism.
   "The medical experts I have spoken with could not identify a single medical purpose" for "assigning" sex at birth... Does anyone believe this is true? It's an obvious lie. Also: we don't "assign" sex at birth: we observe and record it.
   Sex is more complex than just external genitalia. But that's really not relevant. What it means is that, again: in a very few cases observations of genitals doesn't tell the whole story--but in almost all of the rest of the cases, further observation does. And that does not mean there are "no male bodies." It means that--very seldom--you can't tell one via casual observation.
   Anyway, after all this, "Strangio"s case spins even further out of orbit. As with all such pieces, the sophistries pile up so fast that it'd take hours or more to even just sort them all out, much less carefully explain why they're wrong.
   Behold, the flagship case of the contemporary progressive left...

[On the bright side: the comments are extremely brutal--i.e. rational. Scattered amongst them are some trans-progressive nonsense...but most of them are right on target and extremely critical of the nonsense in the piece.]


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