Saturday 22 July 2023

"What is a woman?"

Trans issues, for some, have become a "litmus test" as part of the so-called "culture wars." Asking the question "what is  a woman?" -- asking it even of Prime Ministers, as a "gotcha" -- has become a litmus test, a method of confronting others in the so-called "culture wars."

Which makes the whole issue tiresome.

And largely obscures the real issues.

What is the real issue? Answer: that everyone is entitled to pursue their own happiness in their own way -- as long as they don't force that on others. Everything else comes from that. -- including questions about sports and toilets. 

In some ways, anti trans-activists are opposed to people pursuing their individual happiness.

In the same way, pro trans-activists are in favour of forcing some people's choices on others.

Both buggers are confused.

Yes, there are some legitimate issues involved here. Medicine can now transform people in some pretty fantastic ways, in ways that help some people see themselves better.  It might take some time to get used to that. Some time for both sides and our human institutions to get used to it, and to all the implications of it. (Sometimes sports and bathroom use might get more complicated because of that.) That doesn't mean shouting at each other about it; it might instead mean thinking about these things a bit more deeply.

Radical, I know.

I'd suggest both sides might think about it a bit more. A lot more. 'Cos both sides, as currently structured, are wrong.

Yes, there is a reliable definition of a woman: a woman is an adult female human being. So far so simple. Without that definition, we'd have no ability to define a girl (young woman), or a lesbian (a woman sexually attracted to women).  But let's understand what a definition is: it's not a closed set with firm boundaries. It's a description of what exists in the world, identifying and describing the particular units subsumed under a particular concept, under a given label. But things change. If new things are identified, or created, we can create and recognise new and wider (or narrower) concepts, new labels, and new definitions. So much, so uncomplicated. (Or so you would think.)

Point being that definition comes after existence. Not before. So the definition (adult human female)  doesn't thereby determine what that adult should do. Or become. In this context, individual adults themselves come first.

Let's recognise that each person, each adult, is an individual -- an individual entitled to pursue their own happiness in their own way. That modern life offers them more choices in that pursuit than ever before. That they might sometimes be mistaken, especially about something as deeply-seated as their sexuality, and need guidance. And they might be wrong. But it is their right to choose. A right however that gives them no special right to force their choices on others.

Maybe we just try respecting each other. How about that, eh? How about we all try to act as adults.


Anonymous said...

The most rational comment I have read on this tiresome issue. Seems to be a trigger issue for some. Maybe it has overtaken immigration in the outrage stakes.

Peter Cresswell said...

Thank you sir/madam. That's among the most rational comments I've read from an anonymous commenter. ;-)

Anonymous said...

It all sounds very rational until one is confronted with a lifelong feminine teen daughter going from “I might be bi” to “fuck you, I’m on hormone treatment and having my breasts removed as soon as I can.” Late stage disphoria, social contagion, lock-downs interrupting normal social function/dating etc, online groomers coaching teens on breaking contact with parents, activist medical “professionals” encouraging transitions - and normal people being to cowardly to call this out as a societal tragedy driven by left-wingers.

MarkT said...

Anonymous - I sympathise, but maintaining rationality is even more important when dealing with those who aren't acting rationally. That includes taking responsibility for the things you do have the power to control, and recognising those things you can't (other people's choices). I don't think it helps to blame it all on "left wingers".

Anonymous said...

This post needs to be bumped up top in my opinion. I have disagreed with Free speech Union about this matter in the last couple of days, due to their support of someone who randomly abused a couple minding their own business in a restaurant because they looked trans, gay, whatever. As usual you had the organisation figured out before me.

Peter Cresswell said...

"This post needs to be bumped up top in my opinion." Thanks Anonymous. I fear I'll have many opportunities to repost it in coming months, as the arguments and confrontations rumble on. Please feel free to disseminate it more widely. :-)