Gender: Biology, Society or Identity?
with Taylor & Jamie
Join two siblings, 17-year-old Taylor and 23-year-old Jamie, as they discuss what gender means. Does it refer to biological sex, a social construct or an innate sense of personal identity?
Hover over the [simple_tooltip content=’The reference will appear in a bubble. ‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip] in the content to view a reference.
Join two siblings, 17-year-old Taylor and 23-year-old Jamie, as they discuss what gender means. Does it refer to biological sex, a social construct or an innate sense of personal identity?
Tap on the [simple_tooltip content=’The reference will appear in a bubble. ‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip] in the content to view a reference. To hide the reference, tap the bubble.
Join two siblings, 17-year-old Taylor and 23-year-old Jamie, as they discuss what gender means. Does it refer to biological sex, a social construct or an innate sense of personal identity?
Tap on the [simple_tooltip content=’The reference will appear in a bubble. ‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip] in the content to view a reference. To hide the reference, tap the bubble. (The desktop and tablet versions include a helpful outline with jumplinks in the sidebar.)
One Friday Afternoon…
“Hey Jamie,” Taylor walked into the kitchen and flipped on the kettle, “you got a moment?”
“Yeah, of course,” Jamie replied filling a glass of water before slipping into a chair at the kitchen table. “What’s up?”
“I’ve got a question for you,” Taylor said, struggling to find a way to explain it.
“Okay, I overheard these two arguing today at lunch time,” Taylor started, joining Jamie at the table. “It got kind of heated. And ugly.”
“Friends of yours?”
“Not close friends but I know them well enough. Alex and Billie are cool. You know, not confrontational or anything like that. But wow, I thought they were going to rip each other’s throats out.”
“Really? What were they so heated about?”
“They were arguing about the word gender,” Taylor’s eyes narrowed. “Billie was adamant that gender was a social construct while Alex was banging on about gender as a biological fact. Then Charlie got involved.”
“Yeah, again, another normal person. Charlie said something about gender identity and that’s when things went nuclear. Hey, in all the fume, I got confuzzled.”
“What if I told you that all three were right?”
Taylor scoffed. “The knives were out! How can they all be right?”
“Because they’re all defining the word gender differently,” said Jamie. “In their own conversational circles, there’s a degree of truth to what each of them are saying. What I mean is, it’s like they’re quoting different sources.”
Taylor wasn’t convinced. “Care to explain?”
Gender = Biological Sex
“Sure. The word ‘sex’ refers to the state of being male and female. In the English language, we’ve used that word for centuries.[simple_tooltip content=’ The term ‘sex’ comes from Old French sexe or Latin sexus, referring to the state of being either male or female—entering the English language from the fourteenth century.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] Of course, biological sex is not just about genitals,” said Jamie, “what makes us female or male is determined by our internal genital duct systems, our gonads, our gametes and our genes. Barring a few exceptions, a person’s chromosomes are either female, XX, or male, XY.”
“So, where does the term gender come into it?”
“For almost as long as we’ve used the word ‘sex’, ‘gender’ was used as a sophisticated synonym because it avoided the connotation of copulation. Said bluntly, gender meant ‘sex and I don’t mean intercourse’.”[simple_tooltip content=’ The term ‘gender’, meaning “kind, type, sort”, was originally a term to distinguish between biological sexes. It comes from the Latin genus, which refers to birth, and from which we get, via French, genre. It is related to the Greek Root gen- (to produce) appearing in gene and genesis. Initially, it was a sophisticated synonym for biological sex.
While the word ‘gender’ was used as a synonym for ‘sex’ since the fifteenth century, the usage was primarily regarded as colloquial or humorous. It only entered academia in the twentieth century and according to Google N-Gram, its usage exploded from around 1960.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“So, Alex was right. Gender is sex and sex is gender?”
Gender = Social Construct
“Yes, as per the original definition of the term. And while it’s still used this way in everyday speech as a convenient synonym for biological sex, the word ‘gender’ has gone through a radical evolution. As a distinct concept from ‘biological sex’, ‘gender’ was first used academically in the mid-1940s. From about the late 1960s, advocates of women’s rights started using the term to refer to the social distinctions between male and female. They wanted to show how societal expectations and conditioning shape the behaviour and attitudes of individuals.”[simple_tooltip content=’The term ‘gender’ as distinct from ‘biological sex’ was used academically as early as 1945 in the American Journal of Psychology (Vol. 5, p. 228): “In the grade-school years, too, gender (which is the socialized obverse of sex) is a fixed line of demarkation, the qualifying terms being ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’.”
Initially, the feminist movement didn’t adopt the term consistently but by the early 1970s, the term was a centrepiece in feminist arguments. ‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“What do you mean?”
“Think of societal norms like blue for boys and pink for girls. That’s a simple example of societal conditioning. Blue is considered a stronger colour while pink is more dainty or delicate. Now, while that may sound innocuous enough, what about, ‘real men don’t cry?’ Or ‘girls mustn’t be bossy.’ These are societal expectations that, while seemingly innocent, imply something about how we view our world and how we need to behave in it.”
Taylor’s brow furrowed.
“Okay,” Jamie asked, “what message does the saying, ‘real men don’t cry’ convey to a boy?”
Taylor thought for a moment. “That real men don’t show emotion?”
“Yes, that or even worse, that real men suppress emotion. That’s a false expectation imposed on a boy, right?”
“Sure,” Taylor agreed.
“And what does ‘girls mustn’t be bossy,’ convey to a girl?”
“That real women can’t lead or something to that affect.”
“Absolutely. That women can’t be assertive or worse, that women can’t be in charge, that they should know their place. Now, these are just two simple examples of the many societal norms, or what we might a call a social construct, that shape our society negatively. The first leads to emotionally dysfunctional men and the second morphs into entrenched prejudices that deny women equal opportunity.”
“Wow,” said Taylor. “I didn’t think of it like that before. I now see why you say that both Alex and Billie were right. They were just using two different definitions.”
“Yep, language evolves but not at the same pace for everyone. When ‘gender’ is used in the more modern way, biological sex refers to the distinction between male and female—while gender refers to the social construct that shapes our views on how women and men are expected to behave in society.”
“Gee,” Taylor’s head shook from side to side. “If Alex and Billie knew this, they would’ve been a little embarrassed. I mean, they could’ve avoided World War G.”
Jamie smiled at that. “Perhaps, although matching up definitions is just a start. There are complex issues involved but getting on the same page in terms of a starting point is critical, or else, you’re right, the conversation goes south quickly.”
Femininity & Masculinity
Taylor’s left eyebrow crumpled. “So, where does femininity and masculinity fit into this?”
“Good question. These terms do complicate the matter a little, but they have more to do with societal norms—in other words, gender—than biological sex. The World Health Organization defines ‘male’ and ‘female’ as biological sex categories, and ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ as gender categories.[simple_tooltip content=’See the World Health Organization’s article, What Do We Mean by ‘Sex’ and ‘Gender’? ‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip] In other words, femininity is essentially behaviour that society considers typically womanly or girlish. And masculinity is behaviour that society deems typically manly or boyish.”
“Can you give me an example?” Taylor asked.
“Sure,” replied Jamie. “Society might associate gentleness with femininity while assertiveness might be associated with masculinity. But of course, some men are more gentle and some women are more assertive. And it gets further complicated by a host of other factors such as physical size, mannerisms, personality temperaments, culture, and the like. For example, a small-built man who is more bookish and introverted by nature appears more feminine than the stereotypical, rugged, manly football player. So, it might be more helpful to think of femininity and masculinity as a range on both the spectrum of women and men.”
“What do you mean?” asked Taylor. “That there’s no difference between women and men?”
“No, not at all. There are clear differences between women and men.[simple_tooltip content=’The differences between women and men are evident in physiology, including genetics and in differences in the brain, in medicine (some diseases occur only in people of one sex) and in psychology, and these differences translate organically into society. See 6 Fascinating Gender Differences Between Men and Women in the Workplace for an interesting article by Vanessa Van Edwards on how some of these differences play out in the workplace.
Interestingly, the biggest behavioural difference between men and women lie in our interests: women are generally more interested in people while men are generally more interested in things. In Men and Things, Women and People: A Meta-Analysis of Sex Differences in Interests, Rong Su and James Rounds state:
“Results showed that men prefer working with things and women prefer working with people, producing a large effect size (d = 0.93) on the Things-People dimension. Men showed stronger Realistic (d = 0.84) and Investigative (d = 0.26) interests, and women showed stronger Artistic (d = -0.35), Social (d = -0.68), and Conventional (d = -0.33) interests.”
You might also find the Psychology Today article, entitled The Truth About Sex Differences helpful.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] We have more in common than we don’t, but our differences are important and beautiful. They complement and complete us as human beings and should be cherished and celebrated. However, to show you what I mean…” Jamie reached for a pencil and tore off a page from the shopping list notepad.
“Okay, let’s first consider women,” Jamie continued, drawing a single line about four centimetres long with the word FEMALE written underneath it. “Society views some women as highly feminine, or girlish—marked by this letter F+ on the left end of the line … while viewing others as more masculine or say tomboyish—which we’ll indicate with the letter M- on the right end. Now, truth is, most lie somewhere on a range between those two extremes.”
“And the same can be said for men, right?”
“Absolutely. Ditto for men,” nodded Jamie, drawing a second line adjacent to the first with the word MALE written underneath it. “Society views some men as highly masculine, or manly—which we’ll show with the letter M+ on the far right of the line … while others are considered more feminine—marked by the letter F- on the left end. Again, most men lie are on a range between those two poles.”
“Yeah, that’s good,” said Taylor. “Makes sense.”
“Sadly,” sighed Jamie, “those who are closer to the extremes, specifically those on the ‘wrong end’ of their respective spectrum—the masculine woman or the feminine man—are often ridiculed and ostracised.”
“So, are the words femininity and masculinity the problem?”
“Interesting question,” Jamie’s head tipped. “I think the problem lies in society’s morbid tendency to label and spurn people who are different to what we perceive to be the ideal woman or man. The problem is first in the heart, an issue of individual prejudice. Certainly, this prejudice is also entrenched in societal bias. But is the solution to drop the words altogether? I’m not sure about that. For me, I find it helpful to use the words constructively. To understand that, while men and women are different, every woman has a mix of feminine/masculine tendencies, as do men. Remembering, of course, that femininity and masculinity aren’t about biological sex, they are a society’s expectations of men and women, and they change from one society to another.”
“Is that where the modern word ‘gender’ can help us? To clarify that sort of thing?”
“Yes, I think so. The word ‘gender’ in this way does help us to separate biological sex, female and male, from the effects of social conditioning that misinform us about the roles of women and men. In this case, the stereotypes around femininity and masculinity.”
Social Conditioning vs. Socialisation
“Is all social conditioning wrong?”
“Again, it’s how we define the phrase. There’s a difference between socialisation and social conditioning. I’m using social conditioning as a negative term, to distinguish the social expectations that impose norms onto people that aren’t healthy. I’d use the word socialisation to refer to the positive action of raising moral children to act and behave in society as healthy, functioning individuals. You know, kids that have a healthy sense of personal worth, who have a reasonable idea of their own boundaries, who know the value of sharing, who learn to respect others; that sort of thing.”[simple_tooltip content=’See the Wikipedia pages on social conditioning and socialisation as a starting point. For the sake of completeness, the word ‘socialisation’ is also used in a negative sense. For example, ‘gender socialisation’ is sometimes used in reference to ‘social conditioning’. Until we have a better term for ‘socialisation’, one that captures the positive aspects of it, we’ll frequently need to be clear about what we intend, and about what we don’t, when using the term.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“That pulling another kid’s hair or stealing their lunch doesn’t create a great society,” chuckled Taylor.
“Exactly,” Jamie smiled. “That’s what I mean by socialisation in a positive sense. The opposite is neglect and bad parenting. Spoilt, indulgent kids grow up into narcissistic adults. As you can imagine, there’s a good conversation needed around the difference between healthy socialisation and social conditioning—although that’s for another day.”
“So, essentially, it’s the old nature versus nurture debate? Biology versus environment, genetics versus upbringing,” Taylor chuckled while drumming on the kitchen table, “who will win the battle of the ages?”
Jamie laughed. “Well, sometimes that sounds like we’re saying it has to be nature or nurture. The truth is, the research is clear that both nature and nurture, biology and society, play crucial shaping roles. We’re not born with a blank slate, but we’re also not born entirely pre-wired.[simple_tooltip content=’While the blank slate myth was debunked by Steven Pinker in his award-winning book, The Blake Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, back in 2002, you may also find the following interesting: Not-so Blank Slates by Kirsten Weir and The Blank Slate Controversy by Nigel Barber.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] It’s nature and nurture. The valid debate revolves around how much each factor shapes us while acknowledging both do.”
“So, it’s both/and not either/or,” Taylor concluded with a smile. “The battle of the ages ends in a draw.”
Jamie grinned. “Yes, suppose it does. But a good draw.”
Gender = Innate Identity
“Okay, I think I’m getting this,” said Taylor, “but what about when Charlie entered the fray?”
“Remind me what exactly happened at that point?”
“Yeah, Charlie started talking about gender identity and as I said, things got even more heated from there. There were times I thought Charlie agreed with Alex but then agreed with Billie, but then vehemently disagreed with them both. It made my head spin.”
“Well, gender is undergoing yet another metamorphosis in modern parlance. Actually, ‘gender’ was used in a third way academically from as early as the 1950s with the medical studies of what was then called hermaphrodites.”[simple_tooltip content=’The term ‘gender’ was first used in academic literature to refer to identity concerning what was then called ‘hermaphrodites’—what we refer to, more appropriately today, as ‘intersex’. The two most common proponents of using ‘gender’ in relation to identity are Robert Stoller, who was associated with the Gender Identity Clinic of UCLA in the 1950s, and John Money, the founder of the Gender Identity Clinic at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore.
It should be noted that both Stoller and Money held to the binary division of the sexes: male and female. The concept of alternative categories, including non-binary (queergender) and genderfluid, seems to be a modern import into the gender identity conversation, possibly through the influence of queer theory which emerged in the early 1990s.
As an aside and for sake of completeness, John Money’s reputation was severely damaged due to the John/Joan case and his views on paedophilia. Still, his work at Johns Hopkins Hospital notably contributed to the conversation.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“Hermaphrodites? Isn’t that a disparaging label?”
“Yes, it is. The term intersex is more appropriate today.[simple_tooltip content=’Intersex people are born with sex characteristics (such as genitals, gonads, and chromosome patterns) that, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, “do not fit the typical definitions for male or female bodies”.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] The studies concerned people not born with the typical XX and XY chromosomes and those whose biological make-up don’t fit the female or male categories.”
“Wow, how many people find themselves in this situation?”
“A survey of the research between 1955 and 2000 suggests that those who show some form of intersex characteristic may be as high as 2%. Those who require any sort of ‘corrective’ genital surgery, however, were as low as 0.1 to 0.2%.”[simple_tooltip content=’See How Sexually Dimorphic Are We? Review and Synthesis by Melanie Blackless et al.
Dr. Leonard Sax, in his 2002 paper, pointed out that the cases included by Melanie Blackless et al. were far too broad—incorporating “conditions which most clinicians do not recognise as intersex”. Based on the research, he suggested that “the true prevalence of intersex is seen to be about 0.018%”—nowhere near the 2% claimed.
Intersex Human Rights Australia debate the subject and explain their reasons in an open and comprehensive manner. They conclude, “we recommend an upper bound figure of 1.7%, despite its flaws.”’]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“So, it’s a tiny percentage of the human population?”
“Yes, that’s true, but those showing atypical sex characteristics are every bit as human as you and me, and as a society we must do all we can to help and support them. Atypical doesn’t mean abnormal. A good rule of thumb is to personalise a stat like that. Imagine that someone you love…” Jamie smiled cheekily, “…like your sibling, is intersex. You’ll bend over backwards if I was intersex, right?”
Taylor thought of feigning mock protest but decided against it. “Of course, I would. That’s a good tip. To personalise a stat. So, are we talking about a third sex? Or do we just scrap the whole idea of male and female?”
“Some non-Western cultures do refer to a third sex or gender, but it is fairly rare and generally misunderstood by us Westerners.[simple_tooltip content=’For a brief summary and starting point for sources on third sex/gender in non-Western countries, see the Wikipedia pages on Gender Identity, Non-binary Gender Identities and Third Gender. ‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip] Instead, terminology that many find helpful is to classify the typical female-male category as binary and to speak of those who are atypical, as non-binary.”
“Okay, so most people would identify with the binary classification, the female and male category.” asked Taylor. “What around 98% of people?”
“Yes, somewhere in the high nineties. And that’s why it would be absurd to scrap the whole idea of male and female, as you put it. We should certainly acknowledge and support those who are non-binary, but it doesn’t help the vast majority of human beings if we take a sledgehammer to the biological framework, or what we call dimorphism. Most humans are born with ten fingers and ten toes; we don’t deny this reality because there are some born with eleven fingers or nine toes.”
“That makes sense,” Taylor grinned. “I was kind of joking about scrapping the whole idea of male and female. That would be absurd.”
“Unfortunately, there are those determined to do the absurd.”
Jamie sighed heavily. “I’m not sure I want to go there. Let me just call them extremists. People who use this very real issue to serve their own selfish agenda, whether that be political or financial. In all the noise,” Jamie’s eyebrows narrowed, “those who have a really hard time already, get trampled further.”
Taylor frowned. “It makes you sad?”
“It does. And a little mad to be honest.”
“I won’t press you on those extremists, but is it okay to ask another question?”
“Of course,” Jamie replied. “Sorry for my heaviness. Let’s talk through all your questions first. Then, if you want to swing back to the extreme types, we can do that, too.”
“Cool,” said Taylor before the frown returned. “I think I’ve lost my train of thought here. We’re talking about a small percentage of people who may be intersex. How does this relate to gender again?”
“That’s a good point. It is easy to get a little muddled. Okay, so back to the 1950s research on intersex…” Jamie paused, “with me?”
“Okay, the leading proponents of this research used terms like ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender orientation’. In other words, they started using ‘gender’ in a different way and linked it to one’s inner sense of herself or himself as female or male. Now, over the last few decades, the word ‘gender’ has been increasingly used by some to refer to one’s personal sense of identity. Of an individual’s awareness or self-affirmed choice of innate identity.”
“A choice?” asked Taylor. “I thought this was an atypical biological issue?”
“Well, it is. It’s just that some feel that they don’t need an intrusive medical exam to determine or confirm what they feel innately. In other words, they feel distressed about their birth sex and wish to identify as the sex they feel more comfortable with. The term for this distress is called gender dysphoria, and those who experience it are typically transgender.”[simple_tooltip content=’While it is largely transgender people who experience dysphoria, in Gender Dysphoria Associated with Disorders of Sex Development, a 2012 clinical review paper, Paulo Sampaio Furtado, et al. found that between 8.5% and 20% of people with intersex variations also experience gender dysphoria. ‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“How many people experience such distress?”
“According to the DSM-5, which is the most up-to-date version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, up to 0.003% of females and up to 0.014% of males are diagnosed with dysphoria.”[simple_tooltip content=’See Psychology Today’s article on Gender Dysphoria and the American Psychiatric Association, who publish the DSM-5 resource.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“Wow! Again, such small numbers.”
“Look, since those numbers are based on the number of people who seek treatment, the rates are likely higher. But regardless, the numbers represent real people no matter how small the stats are.”
“You’re right. Personalise the stats, got it,” Taylor nodded. “But hang on, we’re now talking about transgender. Is transgender a synonym for intersex?”
“No, it’s not. Intersex is different. Transgender still fits in the binary classification, since a transgender person transitions from one to other, from either male to female or from female to male. Intersex, as you may recall, fits into another classification altogether: non-binary.”
“So, how did we get to transgender from intersex? It’s a little confusing.”
“It is and that’s partly because this language is all so new in its development. There is also an argument to make that some of the terms are being a little overstretched for inclusion purposes.[simple_tooltip content=’There are a growing number of terms involved and not everybody agrees on all the definitions. Non-binary, for instance, includes those having no gender (nongendered, genderless, genderfree, agender, etc.), those having two or more genders (bigender, trigender, pangender, etc.), those moving or fluctuating between genders (genderfluid) and those being other-gendered or third gender.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] However, it’s important to understand two things. The first is the different way in which the word gender is being used. If we fail to understand where a person is coming from, we can’t even begin to have a reasonable conversation. I think you witnessed that today.”
“And it wasn’t pretty.”
“Agreed. It can get downright nasty, especially because, as you no doubt witnessed, we aren’t just talking about fingers and toes. We’re talking about how people feel about themselves. At their very core. So it’s personal.”
“I’m so glad I didn’t butt in before trying to understand this. I would’ve only caused more harm.”
“Yes, good call. I do think it’s wise to seek to understand the issues and the nuances involved before wading in shooting from the hip. The only thing worse than ignorance is half-baked knowledge.”
Taylor chuckled at that. “Yeah, a quick Google search and we all think we’re experts.”
“A doctorate by Prof. Google is as dangerous as a diagnosis by Dr. Google.”
“So true,” nodded Taylor. “Okay, you mentioned two things. What was the second thing that’s important to understand?”
“Okay, so first, gender is used differently by different people and in different contexts. The second thing is that this terminology, phrases like gender identity, gives people experiencing distress or confusion over their identity a way of processing it. A way to try make sense of it. And that’s a good thing.”
“That is a good thing.”
“The truth is, we’re in the early days of all this and empathy is essential. Acceptance, non-judgement and a willingness to hear are crucial ingredients. The depression and suicide rates are extremely high among those experiencing dysphoria, and we need to tread carefully and compassionately.[simple_tooltip content=’According to a study by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and The Williams Institute, transgender people are 41% more likely to attempt suicide compared to the national average of 4.6%.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] That said, in any ‘new thing’, there are those simply caught up in the fad of the issue. For this reason, a lot of wisdom is required, too.”
“You mean for some people it might just be a phase?”
“Yes, it might. In fact, there’s a very high possibility of it.[simple_tooltip content=’According to the American College of Pediatricians, 80 percent to 95 percent of gender-dysphoric children resolve their distress, emerging psychologically intact, after passing through puberty.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] As you well know, adolescents are trying to find themselves. It’s a confusing time of life but also an exciting one. Prevailing trends give you an opportunity to express yourself. To attach yourself to something. To belong. Goodness knows I latched onto a few controversial issues in my youth.”
“You’re like only twenty-three,” Taylor snorted. “You sound like Mum and Dad now.”
“Yes, but goth made me age forty years,” Jamie laughed.
“That is one trend that does keep on giving,” Taylor added. “Crazy that Mum and Dad both went through a goth phase and twenty years later, so did you.”
Jamie chuckled. “One look at those old photos of the two of them all goth ended my phase instantly.”
“Wait, are you saying that gender identity might just be about personal expression?”
“Again, for some, it may be. One of the related terms today is literally that, gender expression. My point is that gender identity has become a cultural trend today, and for some it may be a phase or simply a way to express their angst. That doesn’t make it invalid or wrong, but here’s the real issue: for people going through genuine dysphoria, it’s much more confusing than exciting. And it’s these people who need our help and support most.”
“I see what you mean. Their needs could be drowned out in the hype and fume around it all.”
“Absolutely. That’s why an ongoing mature dialogue is crucial and those experiencing dysphoria need the space to express themselves in ways that help them make sense of the confusion they feel. However, hasty decisions like hormone treatment or corrective surgery should be the absolute, very last solution and these things should be administered under proper medical advice and care. It goes without saying, such decisions are irreversible.”[simple_tooltip content=’According to the American College of Pediatricians, cross-sex hormones pose multiple health risks, including harm to bone development and brain development, and can cause sterility. Given 80-95% of children experiencing gender dysphoria will accept their biological sex by late adolescence, the America College of Pediatricians claims that the hormonal treatment of gender dysphoria “effectively amounts to mass experimentation on, and sterilization of, youth who are cognitively incapable of providing informed consent. There is a serious ethical problem with allowing irreversible, life-changing procedures to be performed on minors who are too young to give valid consent themselves; adolescents cannot understand the magnitude of such decisions.”
Despite such warnings, the Australian Safe Schools “All of Us” resource, which is aimed at Year 7 and 8s (ages 12-14), normalises surgical transitioning. The fourth video in the material focuses on 17-year-old Nevo’s experiences. Nevo wants corrective surgery from female to male, expressing his frustration:
“If I had any other medical condition, people wouldn’t say wait to get treatment, let’s just wait and see how bad it gets. They’d be like, ‘All right. Let’s rush to the hospital and let’s get you the surgeries that you need.’ And that’s what I need right now.“
Nevo’s angst is palpable and one can only imagine the level of distress he’s enduring. However, the program’s irresponsible use of his distress conveys a dangerous implication: surgical transitioning is just like any other medical condition. And irreversible, life-changing procedures should be available on demand.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“So, World War G was more than just a massive misunderstanding, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, it was. It does sound like Alex, Billie and Charlie were speaking at cross-purposes and that certainly would’ve generated a lot of frustration and ire. But these matters matter. They’re personal and poke at our core. Before we grab a soapbox or a cafeteria table, armed with a quick Google search, or before we quote some YouTuber, to trumpet our point of view, we need to realise there are probably more than a few people in earshot of our verbal who are genuinely struggling with who they are and how they feel in their own skin. And for a few of these people, it goes beyond typical teenage angst. It may well be full-blown dysphoria.”
Ideologues & The Culture War
Taylor hesitated. “Can I ask about the extremists you mentioned earlier?”
“Yes, sure thing,” Jamie took a deep breath. “I hope I’ve made it very clear that we need to support people experiencing dysphoria and to do it with care and compassion.”
“Okay, there are two kinds of people pushing this agenda. Firstly, you get social activists who are genuinely advocating for the transgender/intersex community—but they’ve got their wires crossed. So determined to avoid alienating or marginalising this community, they’ve turned a blind eye to biological fact and commonsense. They’ve got their definitions and ideas in a terrible muddle.”[simple_tooltip content=’See Ryan T. Anderson’s article Transgender Ideology is Riddled with Contradictions. Here are the Big Ones.‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip]
“And the second kind?”
“Secondly, you get the more notorious element. There are a number of very rich people and pharmaceutical companies cashing in on this big time.[simple_tooltip content=’See Jennifer Bilek’s comprehensive and disturbing article, Who are the Rich, White Men Institutionalizing Transgender Ideology? in which she asks and answers the question, “Is this really a civil rights issue for a tiny part of the population with body dysphoria, or is there a bigger agenda with moneyed interests that we are not seeing?”’]⇑[/simple_tooltip]. It’s a lucrative new medical and lifestyle market. We’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars. These people are blatantly profiting off people that experience dysphoria, exploiting the situation terribly. And it’s children and minors who are the victims.”
Taylor’s head shook from side to side.
“Now,” Jamie continued, “whether they’re conscious of ‘big business’ interests or not, the first group, the social activists, then drive the agenda via blogs, YouTube, social media, merchandise, protests and even ‘educational resources’. While many seem genuine in their concern for the community, just as many seem to be using this issue to win the culture war in society. In other words, there are several very dark elements doing the transgender and intersex community no favours, let alone the confusion inflicted on society at large.”
Jamie paused for breath. “A big part of the agenda is the denial of biological sex, specifically the male-female dimorphism. And they’re using gender politics to try force their ideology on the overwhelming majority who identify this way.”
“Seriously?” Taylor’s eyes widened in their sockets. “I thought gender identity was about biology. That a tiny percentage of people don’t biologically fit the male and female biological categories.”
“And you’d be right,” Jamie nodded, “except if your agenda is to use the present confusion and conflict, which you witnessed firsthand today, to push your agenda. Then nothing needs to make sense. In the name of misguided or even false compassion, you know, claiming the ‘moral high ground’ in advocating for a minority group, logic doesn’t matter. All that matters then is propagating the ideology.”
“And the ideology is, what?”
Jamie thought for a moment. “Pushing a doctrine that denies the biological reality of male and female. The goal? To redefine how we view sexuality and, in essence, what it means to be human. The prize? In big part, to capitalise on the new, emerging market it represents. And in part, to seize and control the political high ground in the culture war. In a nutshell, money and power. It always comes back to money and power.”
The Victims: Children & Minors
“And here’s the lunacy and tragedy of it all,” Jamie sighed sorrowfully. “They claim they’re doing it in the name of those who are transgender or intersex—even though it is in direct contradiction to the biological science that gave these dear people the validity to process their personal struggles in the first place!”
“Crazy, just mind boggling,” Taylor’s head shook from side to side. “Sounds like a ridiculous low-budget, sci-fi movie.”
“You’re not half wrong,” Jamie nodded. “It amounts to no less than wholesale social engineering, not unlike a dystopian future in which some biology-defying totalitarian system forces its malevolent will on humanity. It’s draconian and tyrannical, and the worst of it? Kids are the biggest victims.”
“Do you mean Charlie?”
“I was thinking of all kids. Kids who get confused with all this agenda-fuelled jargon. Certainly, those indoctrinated by the teaching aids I mentioned. Kids genuinely struggling with dysphoria who don’t want the spotlight turned on them so brightly. Kids who take hormone blockers and those who elect for life-altering surgery when statistically over 80% will outgrow their distress.[simple_tooltip content=’According to the American College of Pediatricians, 80 percent to 95 percent of gender-dysphoric children resolve their distress, emerging psychologically intact, after passing through puberty.’]⇑[/simple_tooltip] And yes, I’m also thinking of Charlie, Billie and Alex. I’m not sure reason would prevail even if they did know the different definitions of the word gender. The current climate is so charged and volatile, no one is thinking reasonably. And because it’s so personal, it goes nuclear in a heartbeat. It’s even difficult to raise legitimate questions because then you’re labelled a bigot and accused of hate speech.”
“That’s insane,” Taylor replied. “Especially when what’s being attacked is the framework most people identify with.”
“Absolutely. Even your friend Charlie, who was advocating for gender identity, may not understand the nuances involved or the chronic contradictions of the thinking and language used.[simple_tooltip content=’Again, see Ryan T. Anderson’s article Transgender Ideology is Riddled with Contradictions. Here are the Big Ones.‘]⇑[/simple_tooltip] Billie and Alex certainly don’t. An explosion was inevitable, the word gender was the trigger. And as we said earlier, in the wasteland of our mutually assured distraction, the lives of real people suffering with real distress are made even more difficult.”
A long paused ensued, as both Jamie and Taylor silently mourned for those in mind.
“Thanks Jamie. I’m so glad I have you to talk to,” Taylor broke the silence, before finding a smile. “So glad your goth phase made you wise before your time.”
“You can bend my old ear anytime,” Jamie’s smile returned. “But you may need to turn the kettle on again … or you’re in for some yuck-cold coffee.”
Looking for more on this topic?
Click the button below to view a more studious article on this subject entitled, “Gender: Social Construct or Biological Fact?”