When we wonder if developmental defects bring our definitions of the two repeat two sexes into question, we are lost.

Hermaphroditism isn’t a third sex. Exotic chromosomal combinations don’t pose challenges to the definitions. Androgen insensitivity is a defect in males.

Gender has no scientific meaning.

Most, nearly all, “trans” are fakes who need to hear “no” a lot more.

No, I will not use your preferred pronouns.

No, I will not refer to a single person with a plural pronoun. Go get a friend, then you can be "they."

No, you may not use the women's bathroom. If you go in there I will call the cops.

No, you are not "ma'am."

No, you don't look anything like a woman. You look like something out of a nightmare. or that 1939 movie.

Expand full comment

@Steve a clarification. The tissue that develops into a penis in response to androgen is homologous to the clitoris, not to the vagina.

Expand full comment

The meaning of words naturally changes over time. I perceive that "trans women are women" is (on one level) an attempt to assert a new and modified definition of the English word "woman"; they are trying to change the (socially constructed) boundaries of the categories described by those words.

There is nothing in the objective universe which requires that the English word "woman" has always and will always mean "adult human female"; a cultural shift in usage would be consistent with some other language changes over time. The question isn't "is it true?" in this case (which is not something objectively determined), but more like "is this new definition more useful for clarity of communication?".

As I see it, a key purpose of replacing the traditional meaning of "woman" is not to enhance communication, but to weaponize it as a back door tool for creating a whole suite of social changes in one fell swoop.

This is hard to discuss when the same word has multiple meanings in the same discussion. So let's temporarily call the word associated with the traditional definition "woman1" and the word for the new definition "woman2". 

The political activist are asserting that "trans women are women2" (ie: under some new definition). But part of their goal is to confuse woman1 and woman2 - by implying that if trans women are women2 (new definition "women"), then they must automatically be treated exactly like women1 (old definition "women"). So in one that one fell linguistic swoop I mentioned, trans women (women2) would automatically have all the rights as women1 - playing on women1's teams, going to women1's prisons, etc.

It's clear to everybody that "women's sports" originally referenced women1 (ie: biological females), and the distinction about who they were designed and implemented was defined as women1. But if we use the same word for both women1 and women2, then trans women automatically qualify, right? It's a word game.

Part of why I see this as devious is that "trans women are women2" is promoted as simple acceptance, being kind to them since it's the right thing to do, live and let live. But then once you've kindly agreed with the polite fiction that trans women are women (ie: women2), that acceptance will be weaponized to make it seem like you've agreed that they are women1 and must be treated as indistinguishable. Every human regulation or law that was written for women1 should then be bulk transferred to women2, rather than debate each such possible transfer of rights on its own merits (like which prison a trans woman2 should be sent to, which need not have the same answer as, say, bathrooms.)

But opposing the idea that "there is no meaningful difference between biological women and trans women" is also treated as doing harm to them. At the least, it's being mean to an oppressed person and thus a social justice sinful act (let's use the word closest to the moral weight they assign it). But that's harming them psychologically, and causing harm is violence, and we don't tolerate violence, we punish it. Just pretend, it'll make them feel better about themselves and they'll be less likely to off themselves; so why wouldn't every decent person take that small step?

That is a long ways from "seeking to enhance communication through forming a new consensus around more useful meaning associations". It's arrogant and coercive manipulation of language as a back door means of gaining more power over others.

And all this was not necessary. My early DEI trainings told us that gender and sex are different (and CSJI folks were constantly 'correcting' people about that). Sex is biological/physical/objective while gender is mental/psychological/subjective. And being transgender was defined as a disparity between those two, while being cisgender was having them aligned. I didn't like the way there were coercing that language change (sex vs gender as new distinct and non-overlapping categories), but it was a useful change for communicating so I was willing to adopt it (and still do). And it would allow us to say, eg, that women's sports were for biological females, because the distinction between sports leagues is based on biology, not mental state. Somebody giving a workshop on women's issues could choose whether to use sex or gender as their dividing line, depending on which made the most sense in their context. (This was the approach used in a sacred sexuality community I was involved in at that time; if an exercise involved dividing people into such groups, we'd think about whether sex or gender should be the criterion this time).

That framing would still allow us to be kind to trans folks by accepting their Gender Identity as real (at least subjectively "real", like somebody being in love could be subjectively real), and having empathy for their disconnect between sex and gender. We could meaningfully debate whether prisons would most logically be segregated by sex or gender (with both sides agreeing on the meanings of the terms). In those days a trans woman might even say that they were biologically male but their gender felt like a women's (which is what made them trans vs cis).

But just a few years later and the same CSJI people have abandoned their former "truth" about sex vs gender. Now trans women often claim to be women in terms of sex and gender, and it's considered transphobic to focus on the distinction between sex and gender. Newsrooms are banning the words "biological sex" or "biological male/female" - because they don't want it to be acceptable to even discuss the distinction between biological sex and mental gender which they recently promoted so hard. Trans women are calling themselves not just women, but claiming to be biologically female, and to have periods. The prescribed response it that one must support delusions and agree with every framing or demand, lest one be transphobic.

This sudden shift from "decent people must distinguish sex and gender as different" to "decent people shall not speak of any differences because a trans women is of the female sex if they say so" is one of the signs for me that we are not seeing good faith attempts to clarify language to aid in understanding each other and seeking reasoned compromises, but more a devious weaponization of language to achieve political supremacy and compel compliance.

Expand full comment

“The meaning of words naturally changes over time. I perceive that "trans women are women" is (on one level) an attempt to assert a new and modified definition of the English word "woman"; they are trying to change the (socially constructed) boundaries of the categories described by those words. “

We’ve reached a point where every time some idiot uses a word mistakenly we have to endure some Smile horseshit about “language evolves.” The word "unique," for example, is supposed to mean “singular,” but now it’s a synonym for “distinctive.” You hear people say "very unique" which sounds so amazingly wrong, since the correct meaning is an either-or, and has no degrees like "very."

This isn’t evolution. This is error. There are such things as errors, and we are too tolerant of them.

The redefinition of the sexes is as erroneous as any could be, driven by no expansion of freedom, and harmful in every way.

(awaiting the inevitable and turbo-charged tedium of "who gets to decide")

Yes, words do change. Any word for odor comes to have negative connotations; Shakespeare actually wrote

𝐴 𝑟𝑜𝑠𝑒 𝑏𝑦 𝑎𝑛𝑦 𝑜𝑡ℎ𝑒𝑟 𝑛𝑎𝑚𝑒 𝑤𝑜𝑢𝑙𝑑 𝑠𝑡𝑖𝑛𝑘 𝑎𝑠 𝑠𝑤𝑒𝑒𝑡

because back then "stink" was a pleasantry. "Smell" is already suspect and even "aroma" is getting it.

But changes should be motivated, just look how much trouble the altered meaning of the Second Amendment has put us into. "Well-regulated militia" now means "any retard who can afford a gun."

My favorite example of a motivated redefinition: the strong nuclear force. It was once believed that atomic nuclei, with positive charges unbalanced by negative ones, should fly apart from electrostatic repulsion, but they don't. The SNF was supposed to be what held them together. Now we know they exchange pions to hold together, but the term remains and now Strong Nuclear Force (more properly called chromodynamics) is the force inside protons and neutrons, which are another kind of "atom" in their own right. And very, very weird.

That change was motivated. Referring to men dressing as women and saying they 𝑎𝑐𝑡𝑢𝑎𝑙𝑙𝑦 𝑎𝑟𝑒 women is not motivated. It's illness.

Expand full comment

I will happily and unapologetically be cast as “transphobic” under that revised definition and I will boycott and shun all those who play along.

It isn’t kindness to reinforce a dangerous delusion. It’s dishonest and it reinforces where real support would be to get these addled people into psychiatric treatment.

Because, and I keep repeating this, only one in a thousand “trans” actually have Gender Identity Disorder, a round number taken from the statistics, not from hyperbole.

The rest are fad-following attention-grasping fakes and I for one am not playing along.

Expand full comment

Well articulated. It sounds as if a movement was hijacked by power-seekers. Any idea when and by whom?

Expand full comment
Nov 27, 2023·edited Nov 27, 2023

Not so much hijacked as created. Yeah: top-down, big money. Stryker and Pritzker come to mind. Look 'em up on Google. Jennifer Bilek has done a lot of research on the money behind the movement.

Expand full comment

While hijacking movements is real, in this case I might describe it more as shifting rhetorical tactics. The clarity that distinguishing sex and gender was bringing turned out to sometimes play against the later demands that there be no meaningful distinction between trans and cis "women", so it was dropped - for the most part silently, as if the "truths" taught in earlier DEI sessions had never been spoken, the scripts just changed and now a new unquestionable "truth" becomes mandated by mostly the same group of people. (ie: Activists and DEI "educators", not speaking of all trans people, many of whom are pretty sane but quieter)

Expand full comment

That makes sense. Although all the language policing is starting to feel more and more like a hijack of common sense!

Expand full comment

I've been talking with a transwoman on my own Substack for the past week who's polite, and a little deluded IMO. I'm hoping to perhaps learn from her why they're so hell-bent on wanting everyone to confirm their identity. I have my own theories, obviously, and I've stated them quite vocally here and elsewhere, but I'm still interested in hearing her out to see if I can learn something new. It's interesting that they're so one-track-minded about how we have to accept their definitions of 'womanhood' when our opinions, obviously, are less relevant. Seems like a nice person, but I still get a strong sense of male manipulation.

Expand full comment

Wondering why you threw in that "male manipulation" bit at the end; what evidence is there of that? Do women (or does anyone) need any help cultivating delusions?

I suppose by "trans woman" (the compound word is decades from fusion; we still separate "theme park" and "homework" took over a century) you refer to a man pretending to be a woman. We should not honor this manipulative nomenclature; this person's designation should modify the reality of maleness, "trans[sexual]-identifying man," otherwise we need to draw diagrams to keep up with the ever-proliferating ensemble of sub- and infra-genders. Fuck that.

Do you really need to wonder about that "one-track mind?" Really? How much more obvious could it be? You have a person so weak-minded and so lacking in personal authenticity that he has placed all the eggs of identity into the single basket of "trans" delusion and will fall apart as soon as the bottom rots out of that basket. Or as soon as someone "misgenders" him or denies him the women's lavatory. He is pitiable but I am not pitying because these people are nuisances and they like to get people fired for not playing their game.

With only one in a thousand actually afflicted with GID, these people are on borrowed time. The backlash has arrived and it will grow, and this makes me glad.

Expand full comment

At this point I see trans-women's rights as an effort by toxic males in dresses seeking the destruction of women's rights. Interestingly, trans-men are far less vocal and insistent upon ending men's rights.

Woman needs no cis or biological prefix; only trans-woman requires a prefix. Call me what you wish, I've grown weary of the shrill cries of "A trans-woman is a woman PERIOD!"

Another thing that I hold in disdain is the attempt to equate sexual preference with gender identity. A trans person might be a homosexual in denial, making it alright in their own mind with trans, but it doesn't change their gender, just their sexual behavior. Masculine or feminine attributes may or may not be linked to sexual preference or gender in accordance with societal expectation, but men and women remain men and women.

I wouldn't really care about people wishing to present as the opposite sex if it did not violate the established rights of others. Let's not bullshit ourselves, a naked man displaying his penis in the women's nude space of a fitness center is not presenting himself as a woman. He is undeniably displaying his manhood. If he flashed in the parking lot, he could be arrested for indecent exposure and in many states become a registered sex offender. Why does, "I identify as a woman" make it OK in a women's protected space? That is taking it too far and richly deserves push back.

Expand full comment

“I wouldn't really care about people wishing to present as the opposite sex if it did not violate the established rights of others.” 💯💯💯

Expand full comment

Steve, thank you for using your time and brains to discuss with people. In this case, a person, who, at least gives in when confronted with how obscenely nonsensical and illogical their stance is. My blood boils with indignation when persons use tired old rhetorical devices and stupid similes to make their point. As in, “insects bother me therefore I exterminate them, so when people bother me, it makes sense I do the same.” And, “I'll concede the point as I have not read up on this recently and it’s too much trouble to look up. “, is both lazy and passive aggressive.

It’s just all frustratingly weaselly. As with the current conflicts around the world, numerous people just cannot stand to live in spaces where everything is just BAD. They feel safer taking a side, even if that means flubbing, manipulating and peddling half-truths and incompetent opinions, AND stepping on and over the same values and ethical standards they selectively use to make their points.

I however do think categories ought to be set in stone, otherwise what is the point of categorizing? If new stuff or insights crop up, you can create new categories to suit the new findings, or even better categorically nix the lacking category. But a category, wrong or right as it may be, is still a category.

Expand full comment

"frustratingly weaselly": thank you! I've been looking for new words to express my feelings about some people's stated opinions about various things, and you've just provided some fresh ones. I appreciate it. Frustratingly weaselly. Oh, yes. I've also found that "sleazy" is a fun word and so appropriate as well to far too many things.

Expand full comment

Incinderary conversation. You are inspirational! Are you familiar with Joshua Norton, the erstwhile "Emperor of the United States?"

Expand full comment

Very familiar. How long the joke went on, how willing the press and populace were willing to play along with him. He issued decrees and proclamations that were followed as though he really was imperial.

Fascinating figure.

Expand full comment

Exceptions do not make the rule (if anything they reinforce it if the quantity in the “rule” is significantly greater than the exceptions.)Hence biological sex is largely binary, with some exceptions; NOT the other way around.

Expand full comment

This is how I view those who truly feel the need to transition (though please God, without surgery and pharmaceuticals). There are a comparative few among us who truly achieve some semblance of happiness and purpose by assuming a different gender. These people are harmless, they have a benign mental illness. They are the Emperor Nortons of the day. The current push, however, of the alphabet people, is all about amassing recruits and nothing more. Harming a terrifingly large number of people.

Expand full comment

One thing that makes this debate so never-ending is that, as in the debate over CRT, the definitional goalposts keep moving all over the football field. So, when pushed, there tends to be a retreat. Willful disregard of reality. The following is from a recent online conversation on Substack with a trans woman. It's as if Lia Thomas and "sex is a spectrum" never happened.

ALL I ask is for trans women to acknowledge that they are trans women. Why is that so hard?

"All the anti-trans stuff is happening now because the right wing lost the gay culture war, and they explicitly targeted trans people as a new focus and point of division.

The New York Times actually recently had an article about this, though there is a lot it doesn't cover about the planning behind that original 2016 attempt at targeting trans people: https://www.nytimes.com/2023/04/16/us/politics/transgender-conservative-campaign.html

You are also using a clear straw man. Nobody is saying "trans women are literally women." That is, nobody is saying trans women have XX chromosomes and are born with a uterus and such. I mean that makes no sense. What they are saying is in terms of gender identity, trans women are women. That is, in their sense of who they are, often from very early in childhood, their gender identity is that of a woman.

There is plenty of scientific research to back this up. And the growing acknowledgement of trans children comes from years of real research on trans people that shows that gender identity is a distinct thing and typically develops at a young age (around 3-4).

If you don't want to recognize that, you are arguing against fairly well established, at this point, scientific fact. If you do recognize that scientific fact, the recent stuff being done against trans children looks especially cruel."

Expand full comment

“You are also using a clear straw man. Nobody is saying "trans women are literally women."

Oh, yes they are. Where have you been? They’re saying exactly that and labeling any denial of exactly that as “hate” and getting people fired for it.

We are expected to believe that a man who identifies as a woman” literally is one, with menstruation and all the rest, that denial of this is bigotry, that biology is hate

Read about Colin Wright’s experience seeking academic employment.

Expand full comment

That age 3-4 thing (more accurately, 4-6) is true GID, and occurs in one boy in 30,000, one girl in 100,000. Source: Black’s Medical Dictionary, 2017 edition.

Averaging, that’s one in 65,000. These people are real.

The “trans” claim about one in 65, and under DSM5, GID has been replaced with “gender dysphoria” and diagnosis has been replaced with the frivolity of self-reports, mostly by impressionable and conforming teenage girls.

Playing along with this fad does harm. Terrible harm, psychological and somatic. Including surgical sterilization.

Stand up for truth, starting with nomenclature. They are not “trans women,” they are “transsexual-identifying men,” and vice versa.

And “nonbinary?” Shun them unreservedly.

Expand full comment