I don’t place neatly anywhere on the political spectrum being that for politics to be relevant, humans must continue to exist and I anticipate our replacement by AI in the coming centuries. Nevertheless because most of my closest friends run in left leaning circles, I encounter a great deal of angry, hurt pushback on the matter of transsexuals.
I grew up during the heyday of gay rights activism in the 80s and 90s. So that was always normal to me. I think that’s how it is for most people, we absorb and accept whatever the cultural mores are during our upbringing. So gay people are totally fine by me and the gay men and women I count among my friends and family know that.
The trans issue caught me by surprise, because during the push for gay rights it was insisted by the likes of John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and other popular television personalities that to even suggest there would come anything “after” the success of the gay rights movement was absurd / the ‘slippery slope fallacy’.
But now, here we are. Gay couples can marry in most states and will win the fight in the remaining few without much trouble. This was supposed to be the end of it, an ideal state of equality achieved forever. So why is there in fact another movement hot on the heels of the last one, this time requiring everybody on the planet change how they conceive of gender for the comfort and happiness of 0.01% of the population?
I am perfectly content that they have every right to dress as they please, and engage in body modification. Those are personal liberties they are entitled to. However it doesn’t stop there. They then require me to humor them when they say that they are absolutely, in all ways equivalent to the biological sex opposite their actual one. In other words, that trans men are real men, and trans women are real women. That’s simply not the case, from a scientific standpoint.
Their demand crosses a line in that it requires my participation, and worse, requires me to affirm beliefs contrary to science. Many of them are under the wrong impression that science backs them up, because public figures like Bill Nye have made statements supportive of transsexuals on television.
Bill Nye is an engineer, not a scientist. Although there was in fact an episode of Bill Nye the Science Guy in the 1990s where it was plainly stated that chromosomes determine whether one is a man or a woman. That part of the episode was censored when it made it to Netflix:
Moreover, what scientists in the public spotlight say on television about controversial issues like gender is very different from what it says in the literature for the relevant fields. Because there is no penalty for lying to the public on television, but scientists generally do not get away with lying in research papers for very long.
I hold truth in very high esteem. The fact that truth sometimes hurts people’s feelings is not a good reason to bury, compromise or destroy it. If we’re going to require everybody to humor the wrong beliefs that trans people hold about gender, why not also require everybody to humor the wrong beliefs of creationists?
After all, creationists are every bit as hurt when people contradict and ridicule their worldview. Creationists are also vastly more numerous than trans people, at about 45% of the US population. By comparison, trans people account for .01% if counting only men with gender dysphoria. It’s even less for women. Once again, not even a single full percent, nor even a tenth of a percent, but a tenth of a tenth.
Yet this vanishingly small number of people and their hobby to larp as the opposite sex is apparently of such incredible global importance that it is increasingly becoming required by every employer that their employees affirm the transsexual perspective of gender as factual…or lose their job.
That’s sufficiently shocking even to trans advocates, they’re often skeptical that anybody’s been fired for not using preferred pronouns when I bring it up. If I don’t provide a citation swiftly, some even conclude I am lying and that it’s never happened. Only to rapidly change their tune once I show otherwise, from “It has never happened” to “Good, he deserved it”.
Imagine if creationists, or even garden variety Christians demanded the same deference in the workplace! Imagine if the government and every business required employees to affirm the truth of Christianity or be fired. Why is it legally required for conventional employment that we humor one wrong belief, but not another? Why not require everybody to humor all wrong beliefs?
What about flat Earthers? It hurts their feelings to be told that their beliefs concerning the shape of the Earth are wrong. Are we going to therefore require all employees of any business, or the government, to affirm that the Earth is flat? Or remain neutral on the matter…?
A big reason of why I’m sensitive to this is that I attended a fundamentalist Christian middle school where evolution was scorned and mocked, while creationism was taught as fact. I protested this and was ridiculed for my trouble by both other students and teachers as well.
I eventually learned I’d just have to zip my lips and pretend to agree in order to make it through, but I absolutely hated it. It made my skin crawl having to answer tests in a way I knew was false. Once I graduated, I swore I would never again compromise like that.
But that is exactly what is now required of any business or government employee. I’ve escaped that fate only because of this site, where speech is not yet subject to such draconian, politically motivated control.
Why freedom for them, but not for me? They have the freedom to dress as they please, to get implants that simulate the secondary sexual characteristics of the sex they identify as, to take drugs that diminish the expression of the secondary sexual characteristics of their actual sex…but I am not allowed to openly express my opinion that none of that actually makes them the sex they identify as?
Freedom for me, but not for thee. Is that really how it’s going to be from now on? Why not freedom for both of us? The trans person’s freedom to dress as they wish and modify their body, and my freedom to express how I feel about it?
That’s not to say I am oppressed. That would of course be a rich joke indeed. But common protestations to the effect that the scientific perspective of sex and gender is of secondary importance next to the suffering of trans individuals is an appeal to emotion. Christians were also tortured for their beliefs. That does not make Christianity true, nor obligate us to pretend that it is for the sake of Christian happiness.
It is frequently argued that humans are not sexually binary because there exist men who can’t produce sperm due to an accident or birth defect, and women who can’t produce eggs. But this is like saying that because some people are missing a leg, humanity is therefore not bipedal.
It is also frequently argued that the existence of a miniscule, tiny, vanishingly small fraction of a percent of people who are legitimately intersex means that humans are not sexually binary. This is an absurdity. Trans people are overwhelmingly not intersex by birth, and seem to be using intersex people as a shield of sorts.
On top of this, the incredibly tiny number of intersex people is more consistent with what we should expect to see from a birth defect than if it were a third gender or something. Is every birth defect now a gender? Are they no longer disorders, because that would be mean?
I’m on the autism spectrum, but have never been shy about acknowledging that it’s a birth defect. I have problems with my brain, a lot of people do. But I am not so far gone as to demand the entire world self-censor for my comfort and happiness. My offense is not that important.
Likewise, somebody else’s offense should not be reason enough to curtail my freedom of speech. If simply stating in a calm tone and polite language that HRT, breast implants and women’s clothing do not actually make a man into a woman is offensive (or that Earth is round, or that it is older than 10,000 years), then the definition of what constitutes offensive speech has become unreasonable.
There are people so deeply wedded to their beliefs that even simple disagreement, no matter how diplomatic, is egregiously offensive. But whose fault is it that they hold indefensible beliefs? Which person is being unreasonable? The one that expects to be humored by everybody they’ll ever meet, or the one who expects the right to give an opinion about somebody else’s belief without being professionally ruined by it?
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