10 Things You’re Actually Saying when You Ignore Someone’s Gender Pronouns

A friend of mine recently shared this article on social media.

In response, here are the things you’re actually saying to me when you ask me to use your preferred pronouns instead of those that correspond to your birth sex.

  1. You’re asking me to be dishonest for you. If you want to misrepresent yourself (or simply hate your body) that’s your prerogative, but I resent you asking me to lie to, for and about you. Living honestly is important for ME too. A tolerant world would allow us both to express our truth.
  2. MY sense of safety is not important to YOU. By redefining women not as people who produce ova, but as people who do/should wear sexualized and inconvenient clothing, or are vain, or prefer and are meant for submissive sex, you’re contributing to a world in which we aren’t safe. When our womanhood is thought of as behavioral, we are blamed for our own victimization and it is seen as justified. These definitions are especially offensive when they arise from people who aren’t women.
  3. You would prefer it if I stopped being honest with you. I might choose to call you by your preferred pronouns because you and your friends have bullied me, but I’ll be lying to you because I believe (and am allowed to believe as a fully competent, confident, thinking human) that my definition of woman is at least as valid as yours.
  4. As a corollary to the above, you expect me to bend my opinions to suit yours (not coincidentally as someone who is socialized male might expect).
  5. As another corollary to the above, you don’t mind bullying me.
  6. You’d prefer for me to humor you than you care about you. You’d like me to contribute to your delusion that you pass, which I see as harmful, as I’ve personally watched you be continually let down by the very real evidence that you don’t. You’d like me to join an ideology that punishes you for being a gender-nonconforming male and excuses your gender expression only if you renounce (and possibly mutilate) your physical sex.
  7. Women don’t matter. We can be erased or colonized. Our experience of our oppression can be disbelieved and ignored. The only thing that matters is men’s opinions on what women are and should be. And men shall define how we are allowed to react to matters that concern us.

Broken

My ex is on hormones now. The grief of losing him has faded a good deal, having mostly made its way into anger, bitterness, and annoyance at losing my comfortable life and having to start over in my late 40s. And at the same time, a bit of guarded excitement at choosing my own path and meeting new people to appreciate and like and desire and perhaps someday love.

But at this news, I feel a new sort of grief. It’s the grief of watching someone I once loved become so thoroughly and apparently irretrievably broken.

Is Versus Ought and What to Do with Reality

Recently I saw someone defending the notion that there’s no such thing as biological sex. Intersex conditions exist, no one can test your chromosomes, hormone levels vary, blah blah blah. Same shit, different day. Except this time it was also a different commenter.

This particular post came from a guy who used to be known for his rigorous debating style. He knew the fallacies, avoided them himself, and pointed them out when others used them. He conceded points when he was wrong. And he wasn’t so much an outright rejecter of reality in the name of ideology.

Thing is, the biology argument is a weak argument and he should have recognized that. It implies that if we could test a particular transgender person’s biology for chromosomes, hormone levels, ladybrain, or whatever other anomoly is being posited as present, and find it absent, we’d be justified in rejecting the transgender person. I know that this particular poster wouldn’t go for that, so that makes this argument disingenuous. A more reasonable argument, for him, would be not that a transgender person’s biology is unknowable, but that their behavior isn’t hurting anyone and deserves civil protections.

There’s a concept in philosophy called “is” versus “ought.” Is deals with objective reality: A transwoman has XY chromosomes and lacks ovaries and a uterus. Ought deals with morality: We ought to not discriminate against a transgender person. The commenter in question was conflating the two.

Despite current claims to the contrary, people have, for thousands of years, been assessing the sex of everyone around them every day with nearly 100% accuracy. Never has a teenage girl or boy taken a driving test, visited the BMV, and then been asked to “drop their pants” (as some claim sex-based restroom policies will require) before the clerk placed an M or an F in the “sex” field on their license. Nor has there been any great spate of men and women being charged the wrong prices for haircuts or dry cleaning. General Practitioners recommend prostate exams and mammograms and pap smears to their patients with complete confidence, without a prior genital check to make sure they’ve made the right recommendations to the right people.

Religious couples, with some regularity, remain celibate until marriage; yet completely absent are those stories of folks being shocked by their accidental same-sex unions when the clothes come off on their wedding night. Getting pregnant and avoiding getting pregnant would both be a crap shoot if it weren’t perfectly obvious to all parties who is producing sperm and who is equipped with a birth canal. Instead, we see family planning going rather successfully for the vast majority of people.

The average two-year old can point at and identify a man or woman just as she can identify a cat, dog or duck. In fact, getting it wrong is rare enough to be seen as comical (see the Saturday Night Live skit about perplexingly androgynous “Pat.”)

Though it doesn’t need saying, fuzzy edges don’t invalidate categories. An infertile person doesn’t disprove sexual dimorphism any more than a person without a leg proves that humans aren’t bipedal. Salads may be sweet or savory and they may or may not contain lettuce, but that simply doesn’t cause us to look at a bone-in ribeye, throw up our hands in confusion, and claim, “This might be a salad!” We can say that Pamela Anderson is a blond without an extended debate on exactly what hues and shades and in what number constitute that hair color. And we can say that Kanye West isn’t one without first sending in a chemist with a spectrophotometer.

So let’s be intellectually honest. Sex exists, even if some find the fact triggering or inconvenient to their political goals. If sex didn’t exist, we couldn’t even have a word or concept for “transgender.” It literally means that the person’s sex, which apparently we can know, doesn’t match their perception of what that sex should be.

So the real question here is not whether or not a particular transgender person is riddled with unseen chromosomal, hormonal, or neurological anomalies. The real question is whether or not it is kind and good to refer to a person with sex dysphoria by the sex they would prefer to be. Is versus ought.

The way I see it we have two choices.

  • We can ask society to eradicate all mention and sign of the person’s birth sex, so as not to trigger their dysphoria
  • We can help the person with the dysphoria develop coping mechanisms that help them face the reality of their sex gracefully

Unfortunately, the first choice isn’t practical. Let’s imagine that somehow, every human on earth adopts an exclusively liberal, superbly compassionate political stance and agrees to refer to people with dysphoria by only their preferred pronouns. Even in this impossible world, the transgender person will be spared of only a fraction of dysphoria-triggering events. He’ll still hate his voice and his body. He’ll be recognized and “misgendered” by small children who haven’t yet been socialized. He’ll run across old family photos. He’ll need a prostate exam. He’ll be excluded from conversations about hormonal birth control and tampons and endometriosis. Biology matters, and it will continue to matter despite the best efforts of people conspiring to define it into irrelevance.

I argue that the first choice, for those same reasons, isn’t kind. I’m not a Buddhist, but the religion is known for its compassion. There’s something to be said for its message of grace found by reducing craving instead of endlessly attempting to satiate it. In a world where the desire to change sexes actually cannot be satiated, it’s especially cruel to cultivate another’s craving for that outcome.

As a direct observer, I’ve seen this pursuit of transition increase my ex’s cravings, not satisfy them. He was relatively happy before “coming out” and became unhappy afterward. His depression intensified with his exposure to transgender ideology, and the number and types of triggers that send him into panic or despair seemingly increase with every interaction with the transgender community.

In what other situation is dishonesty the path to mental health or to kindness?

Drinking the Kool-Aid

One thing that I find very striking right now is the amazing rapidity with which my ex is drinking the Kool-Aid. The Kool-Aid drinking follows an exponential curve. It might take you half a year to drink the first gallon, but soon you’ll be drinking a gallon a day and then a gallon an hour.

Unfortunately, I know this because his social media circle intersects with mine. And yes, it’s a train wreck that I sometimes watch, though I shouldn’t.

Today he commented to someone that being transgender is an intersex condition. This is patently absurd, and he used to agree. As a matter of fact, he had a religious transgender friend who used to make this argument, in the form of the ole’ prenatal hormone bath, and he used to make fun of him behind his back for it. “There’s nothing wrong with being transgender because it isn’t hurting anyone,” my ex would say, “so we don’t have to pretend that there’s a physical condition behind it. That pretense is a demonstration of self-hatred, probably stemming from his religion.”

What a difference a few months makes.

Likewise, he’s now arguing that people who were born male should compete against people who were born female in sports. Within the past year, he was at least reasonable enough to not support a male-bodied person beating a female-bodied person senseless, I think because at that time he retained a measure of compassion for someone besides himself. Now, however, any and all actual physical violence against natal women that might be of interest is well justified in the name of making sure no transgender person ever gets his feelings hurt. Man’s feelings > women’s safety. Hmm, that sounds somehow familiar.

And as mentioned recently, he used to agree that TERF was a slur and that there was no reason to attack people specifically for being feminists. But that word’s kind of his thing now. I guess he has to hate me in order to ward off the nagging feeling that he threw away the best thing that ever happened to him.

Not coincidentally, he deleted his blog recently. I suspect he is no longer equipped to confront the sensible opinions he held less than a year ago.

I’ve never seen him defend the cotton ceiling complaint; he’s always said that everyone has the right to their attractions. So let’s give him about a month and a half on that one. Defending the agency of women sounds a lot like feminism so he clearly can’t keep doing that.

What else? Oh! He used to specifically disparage the habit of calling one’s penis a clitoris (he thought it was silly). If he isn’t doing that already, he’ll pick it up by end of year.

In related news, I recently attended an event in which I watched a number of transgender people that I’ve met before similarly forget the ancient opinions they were espousing this time last summer when I first met them. One said he’d been planning to transition forever, and just couldn’t find the right time, even though last year he was saying he was enjoying his gender-fluidness and didn’t plan to transition at all.

There will be no leftover Kool-Aid, folks. It isn’t over until no drop is left and all the containers have been licked clean.

 

 

 

 

 

Female Erasure: What You Need To Know About Gender Politics’ War on Women, the Female Sex and Human Rights

By now, most of you have heard about this fantastic new anthology.

I’m honored to be an author in this book, which Germaine Greer was so kind to write the foreword for, alongside authors I admire like Sheila Jeffreys, Cathy Brennan, Julia Long and others. My story is written under the name of Sharon Thrace (not my real name).

According to my social media and blogosphere, many of you have written for it, pre-ordered it or donated to its cause and I greatly appreciate that.

Per the website:

Female Erasure: What You Need To Know About Gender Politics’ War on Women, the Female Sex and Human Rights
Forword by Germaine Greer
Edited by Ruth Barrett

“This anthology brings together voices of more than forty six contributors celebrating female embodiment while exploring deeper issues of misogyny, violence and sexism in gender identity politics today, demonstrating the intentional silencing and erasure of living female realities.

These perspectives come at a time when gender politics and profits from an emerging medical transgenderism industry for children, teens, and adults inhibits our ability to have meaningful discussions about sex, gender, changing laws that have provided sex-based protections for women and girls, and the re-framing of language that erases females as a distinct biological class.

Through researched articles, essays, first-hand experience, story telling, and verse, these voices are needed to ignite the national conversation about the politics of gender-identity as a backlash to feminist goals of liberation from gender stereotypes, oppression and sexual violence.”

The current target date is September.

 

 

 

Return of the Beard

I dreamed I was looking into a portal into the past. My ex was in there and he had his beard. I could put my hand into the portal; I could touch the past. My ex from the present was also there, and next to me.

I wanted to reach into the past, and touch that beard. I knew that current ex would see me and that it would hurt his feelings, as he was so proud of eradicating that beard with laser surgery. I reached into the portal and touched it anyway.