Saturday, February 25, 2012

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Have been kicked off a thread at the Hand Mirror for daring to point out that men don't get pregnant.  Apparently, the best way to convince the general population that this view is not only completely wrong, but also hurtful and offensive, is to shout it on your blog and then prevent any  commenters from disputing it.   Ironically, the moderator's statement that further arguments against her views will be deleted comes on a post immediately above one entitled "Abuse is not an argument."  Indeed it isn't, but neither is deleting comments, I would have thought.

Anyway, I've put this here so I can direct to it anyone who is willing to try and mount an argument for the case that pregnancy has nothing to with whether you're male or female.

44 comments:

Andrei said...

I predicted this would happen long before you tried

And you lasted longer than I thought you would

dad4justice said...

I was banned for saying on the rag again debs. I am only a normal bloke without any psychotic disorders.They are all insane over at the Cracked In The Head Mirror.
The radical feminists are mentally unwell.

Simon said...

So a woman decides to chainge their gender identity to male. At some later date this bloke gives birth, to a human baby noless, but he is still a man even tho he has just give bithe so must have a woomb which would usually make him a her. This is beginning to sound like a monty python film

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sFBOQzSk14c

Anonymous said...

I'm alarmed that there seem so many who defend this nonsense.

3:16

Anonymous said...

I'm not one of the moderators at THM and so I'm not going to defend their decision to shut down this line of discussion. You probably know about the huge fuss over there last year which puts it into context: http://thehandmirror.blogspot.com/2011/06/all-apology.html?showComment=1307923727497#comment-c8755227182404135978

Anyway, personally I'm of the view that it's always better to keep talking than to shut dialogue down. So if you respond to my THM comment here, I'll engage here.

- Elley

Psycho Milt said...

I am only a normal bloke without any psychotic disorders.

It's this sort of sharp but droll wit that always makes me enjoy your comments, D4J.

Andrei: I find that not starting out from the point that trans people are offending against Nature or God or something is useful. It at least escapes the delete-on-sight approach taken to I.M. Fletcher's comments.

Psycho Milt said...

Elley: thanks for taking up the invitation. I'm republishing your comment here for clarity:

@ Phsycho Milt

Is your point that only chromosonally XX people can become pregnant? Obviously this is true for now, though who knows how the medical science will develop.

The problem is not with that point, it's with your association of chromosonally XX = female = woman. If you accept that gender identity is distinct from chromosomes (which it seems you do), then "female" becomes a really problematic term. It is the bridge between "chromosonally XX" and "woman". Some people use it to mean the former, some people use it to mean the latter. Many trans people want to use "female" and "male" as words which describe gender identity rather than a feature of ones DNA. I think as we move towards a fully trans inclusive language, we need to accept this useage, because saying someone is a woman but "actually male" or a man but "actually female" creates associations which minimise or denigrate that person's gender identiy. Whereas on the other hand, saying that "chromosomes have nothing to do with gender" affirms gender as a matter of self-identification, rather than DNA, without ignoring the fact that for some purposes (i.e. child bearing), chromosonal difference do matter (for now...).

- Elley


I wouldn't say that my point was that only chromosomally xx people can get pregnant (although that's obviously a true statement for the present, as you point out). I'll try and spell it out:

1. Terms like male/female, man/woman etc are useful, non-scientific ones for the sexes involved in sexual reproduction.

2. Humans being social animals, we've built a big superstructure of social differences between the sexes (ie, gender) and the same words are used for those differences.

3. Gender is socially constructed so is more amenable to change than sex. It's also the only bit you actually see in most of your dealings with other adults, so it's what actually matters for most purposes. Your dealings with other humans ought to be based on politeness and respect until you're given concrete reasons to treat them otherwise, so trans people ought to encounter no bigotry, ridicule, abuse or violence by default. That they do says more about the abusers than it does about them.

4. However: treating people with respect is one thing, and ditching the meaning of male and female is another. Gender is whatever society makes it, but point number 1 still stands - male/female is a useful, non-scientific term for the sexes involved in sexual reproduction. Women don't dish out spermatazoa, and men don't get pregnant. Ditch that distinction, and there is actually no meaning to those words.

5. Which poses a serious challenge for the people who claim sex is solely a matter of identity: if you remove the difference in meaning between male and female, man and woman, what is the basis on which trans people demand to be treated as one or the other? When you identify as a "man" or as a "woman," what does that actually mean if you've stripped those two words of any difference in meaning?

Andrei said...

I guess Milt when people use words like hate speech, bigotry, transphobic to try and shut down debate a lot of peoples teeth go on edge.

In addition when females who pretend to be men start trying to define masculinity it is time to call them on it.

Gender is not a social construct it is real and the peculiar people, almost entirely dickless, who try and convince us otherwise are actually trying to squash masculinity - whereas sooner or later they are going to need real masculine virtue again and having suppressed it might find themselves shit out of luck when it is called for.

barry said...

what the fuck are you doing wasting your time communicating with those weirdo screw heads.

They will finish up as lonely old hated females (well more likely eunichs) in an old persons home all by themselves full of hatred.
And thats how they deserve to spend their old age - rebuffed by society

Psycho Milt said...

Gender is not a social construct it is real...

Social constructs are real, and if you doubt that try refusing to pay your taxes. The consequences will be very real indeed.

Gender is "real" only in the sense that it describes accepted norms that have developed within a society, which is what "socially constructed" means - it's not just academic jargon. For example, the fact that men tend to have short hair and wear trousers has no physical basis, only a social one. Likewise, there's no physical reasons why men don't wear skirts, dresses and makeup, only social ones.

Andrei said...

Gender is "real" only in the sense that it describes accepted norms that have developed within a society, which is what "socially constructed" means - it's not just academic jargon.

That is bullshit Milt - my girls, all three of them a lithe - they are ballet dancer build, the tallest about 5'6" the smallest 5" exactly.

My Boy is over 6" and is burly - this is not because of anything I have done to "socially construct" them into gender roles - it's in their fucking genes. Boys come out bigger and stronger than girls all things all things being equal.

They think different too - totally different.

Gender roles are complimentary - silly feminist twats turned it into a competition and have screwed up everybody as a result.

dad4justice said...

I said to my Doctor that feminazi whores need a good smacking on the bum.

She agreed and asked me if I wanted some happy pills after the quake.

I said no thank you lady.

Psycho Milt said...

...this is not because of anything I have done to "socially construct" them into gender roles - it's in their fucking genes. Boys come out bigger and stronger than girls all things all things being equal.

Of course it isn't socially constructed - it's also not a gender difference. Difference in size is physical, a sex characteristic, nothing to do with gender. More to the point is, would your son wear diamond studs in his earlobes? I expect not. That's gender - the stuff that comes down to what you do based on social expectations for your sex.

Psycho Milt said...

I said to my Doctor that feminazi whores need a good smacking on the bum.

I suspect you have a great deal to thank the Hipporatic oath for, D4J.

dad4justice said...

PM - I swear by Apollo, the healer,that my female doc hates feminazi Helen Klark types!

Andrei said...

I sent you a Photo PM - when you say
"Difference in size is physical, a sex characteristic, nothing to do with gender. " to me that is sophistry.

Obviously since genes express themselves differently in boys and girls there has to be a reason in nature for this to occur.

Boys are bigger and stronger for a reason and you actually know why if you think about it rationally and dump the slogans.

If the Tartars are likely to raid your village to steal the women and children then the men have to be strong to stop them - that's the bottom line. Men are actually more disposable than women and children as is also well known. More boys than girls are born because boys come to grief more often - keeping the Tartars at bay and so forth.

Its also why the cemetery at Normandy is filled with American boys and not with American Girls

Psycho Milt said...

Yes, but again, that's sex rather than gender. Gender is the stuff that arises solely from social consensus, not from evolution. For example, most of us can look at a watch, a piece of jewellery, a shirt, a pair of shoes, even stuff like books and movies, and immediately identify them as either men's or women's. There's nothing inherent in a watch or pair of shoes that makes them male or female, only a social consensus about the kinds of things that are appropriate for men or for women. That's gender. Some behaviour will also come down to gender, but there's a lot of room for argument about the extent to which behaviour is determined by hormones and evolution rather than society.

Anonymous said...

Hi again.

I'll leave you to deal with Andrei and just address your 1 - 5. First off a caveat, I'm not trans myself, and until last year when the controversy errupted over on THM I hadn't really given gender identity issues much thought. Since then I've been trying to read around the topic to come to greater understanding, so I definitely don't purport to speak for the trans community, or even the trans-allied cis feminist community. These are just my own thoughts. Other women, including trans women, might disagree with what I say.

[Terminology note: cis means "not trans"]

1.

Yes and no. This is one usage, but it is very much conflated with the other usage, i.e. gender, as you note in 2. Usually when people say "man" or "male" they're talking in terms of gender, not chromosomes. I'm not sure we need non-scientific terms for the sexes involved in sexual reproduction. Why insist on saying "biologically female" instead of "chromosonally XX"? Is it really all that useful?

Throughout the rest of this, I'll use "woman" and "female" interchangeably and "man" and "male" interchangeably to mean the second usage you identify in 2.

2 & 3

Yes, agreed.

4 & 5

I think these are inherently difficult issues for cis people to understand. So my response might not be something that trans people would agree with, and I stand open to correction here. I'll try and outline my thinking on this, or at least some relevant points which challenge the idea that "man" and "woman" and "male" and "female" can be both neutral scientific terms and terms connoting gender identity, and that jettisoning the first meaning means that the second meaning ceases to have any real content.

The first point is that chromosonal or hormonal variations are more common than most people realise, so there is a far greater variety within the population than just XX-female and XY-male. A few examples: some people are XXY, but develop as if they were XY until puberty. Then there are those who are XY but have androgen insensitivity syndrome, and develop as if they were XX (though of course never menstruate). This means that within the natural range of humanity, without hormone treatment or surgery, there are people who live their whole lives as female but are not XX and people who live their whole lives as male but are not XY. Back to my earlier point - how useful are these terms "male" and "female" as non-scientific terms that describe a biological reality of sexual reproduction, given this variation within the human population?

The second issue is that no-one can ever know what gender identity means to another person. Gender identity is inherently subjective. To me, being a woman is deeply connected to reproductive capacity. But of course some women don't want to have children, it doesn't make them less female. Some women want children desperately but are infertile, it doesn't make them less female either. Other things that are connected to my sense of gender identity are also subjective, such as a close relationship with my mother, and a tight-knit group of female friends. I don't know what being a woman means to a trans woman; but I don't know what being a woman means to another cis woman either. People sometimes make erroneous assumptions about what gender identity means to me, and I correct them: for example, I don't give a toss about fashion, and never have, I'm not a "girly girl", and never have been. Those things are irrelevant to my sense of gender identity, just as bearing children is irrelevant to the gender identity of some women.

[to be continued due to maximum character length]

Anonymous said...

[continued from previous comment]

Thirdly, you suggest that there is some incoherence in trans identity, because if a) gender is a social construct, and b) gender is not connected to reproductive capacity, and c) gender is subjective, then d) gender is meaningless. I used to agree with you on this one. But then I explored how this could apply to other similar situations. For example, if we divorce nationality from place of birth, and say that people can change their nationality by moving to another country and taking out citizenship there, and say that national identity means different things to different people, does nationality become meaningless? No, that's the situation we have currently, and nationality is still a very meaningful concept. Or religion - let's say that the religion you are as an adult is not necessarily determined by the religion you are as a child, and let's say that people can change their religion and change back, and let's say that being Catholic or being Muslim or being Hindu, etc, can mean different things to different members of the religion in question, does religion become meaningless? Well, no, it doesn't seem to have become so.

Forth, there is still a lack of scientific understanding about what makes someone trans. Trans people commonly describe it as a disjunct between body and mind. We don't know enough about the differences between male and female brains to be able to rule out the possibility that this insight is objectively true, as well as reflecting a subjective experience.

Fifth, as noted above, there are more than just "male" and "female", there is a whole range of people in between or outside or across the spectrum of gender, both in terms of biology and in terms of identity. Some people are neither XX nor XY. Some people identify as neither man or woman. Some cis people, like myself, don't really care much about gender identity, and would be happiest living in a world where there were no societal gender differences and we were all just people without gender (in much the same way that Richard Dawkins doesn't care about religious identity and would be happiest living in a world where there were no religious differences and we were all just people without religion). But gender identity is hugely important to some people, and some people would feel that they were bereft of an important facet of identity if the world was gender neutral.

[to be continued due to maximum character length]

Anonymous said...

Sixth, and I think possibly most important: transition is not just about slotting in to a different gender category for social purposes, it is about physical changes to the body. Some trans people wish that they could completely change their biology, i.e. trans women might wish that they could bear children, though the medical science is not at that stage yet. Some people see themselves as in between the sexes, and so want to change some aspects of their physical appearance but not their whole body. Trans men often say that they hated their breasts pre transition, and start transition by binding them flat. I've heard trans people say that they felt that their body was wrong pre-transition, like it didn't fit. The physical part of transition is as important as the social part of transition. But again, it is subjective. Dysmorphia (i.e. a feeling of discongruence with ones body) is not one size fits all. Some trans men do not have surgery to create a penis because they find that a mastectomy is sufficient to feel masculine and to pass in society as a man. I don't understand dysmorphia, I can't comprehend what it would feel like to be alienated from ones own body. But - here's the important bit - I don't have to understand someones experience to accept their word for it.

Finally, most of the trans inclusion issues are practical rather than theoretical. For example, if a passport says "sex: male" but the person appears female, it is not only a symbolic issue, it is also a practical issue for travel. One could argue the linguistic niceties and say "but it says sex, not gender, and sex is biological, and you are of the male sex even though you have transitioned to the female gender". However, making this argument ignores the reality of the situation as it would unfold before airport security, or anyone else who asks to see the passport while travelling. (Personally I don't think that identification should include sex at all, it's archaic and totally unnecessary in an age of photo ID.)

That's all for now, feel free to think about this before responding. Being new to these issues myself, I'm not going to be offended if you disagree with me, and I'm not going to try and shut you down.

- Elley

(sorry this took three comments!)

Psycho Milt said...

People do conflate the sex and gender meanings of male and female, but that's because gender is based on sex, and the sex meanings of male and female are so thoroughly useful that they aren't going to be dispensed with anytime soon. Anyone who's kept rabbits or guinea pigs knows that the difference between male and female isn't a pedantic, abstract concept relating to chromosomes, it's a real-world practical meaning for something with practical, real-world effects.

The fact that biology doesn't favour sharp boundaries doesn't alter the usefulness of male and female as terms for two different sexes. There's a ragged boundary of odd chromosome arrangements, but the fact a border isn't well defined doesn't mean there isn't a separate entity either side of it. The Kuwait/Saudi Arabia border is very vague in places, but that doesn't mean there isn't a Kuwait or a Saudi Arabia.

I also don't agree that sex is malleable as nationality. Sure, people can change their nationality just like trans people can change their gender. But the physical body can't be swapped out for something else like a language or passport can (yet). Using the rabbits/guinea pigs analogy again, you can have a go at sexing them, get one wrong, and find the 'male' you put in with the other males is turning out babies. The fact that you identified it as male isn't something physical reality takes into account.

People aren't rabbits, and rabbits don't care whether you identify them as male or female but people do, a lot. Which ought to make it about how you treat people, not whether they meet particular criteria or not. Thing is though, the sex meanings of male and female are so practically useful and so much the basis for gender, the semantic contradiction of "man gives birth" declares itself too wrong to ignore.

dad4justice said...

Thanks PM for solving the Mystery of Rabbit Poop.What's up doc? You need one asap!

Anonymous said...

You can't use language as a device to deconstruct confusion.

These trans people are seriously confused to the point of mutilating their genitals.

Confusion is confusion. Look down the front of your underpants, it will be obvious if you are male or female. Look at your keyboard, you can construct anything.

The whole discussion is pitiful.

George

Anonymous said...

Once again just going to address your points PM.

Your argument comes back to what I was saying in my first comment on The Hand Mirror. No-one would bat an eye if you said that only people with wombs can bear children. It goes without saying.

I'll try and break it down further. The words "men", "women", "male" and "female" are used to refer to any of the following:

(a) reproductive capacity - that is, whether someone produces spermatoza or has a womb;
(b) hormone level - how much testoterone or estrogen, etc a person has in their body;
(c) physical appearance - body shape, appearance of genitals, facial hair, etc;
(d) chromosomes - whether someone is XX or YY;
(e) gender identity - how the person expresses gender in social interactions and in their own internal attitude to themselves.

You argue that "men", "women", "male" and "female" are useful terms to refer to (a). I disagree because they are also used to refer to ((b) - (e). I think this is problematic because it establishes a baseline norm of what is male and female which excludes anyone who does not neatly fit into a binary gender world view and defines people by their reproductive capacity.

This is not just an issue of trans inclusion. It is an issue for anyone who for any reason is outside or in between any of the binary categories. It is an issue for the self-definition of each of us if personhood is defined by sex which is defined by the categories (a) - (d) above. It is also particularly an issue for women to be defined by reproductive capacity, because this has been used for centuries to oppress and control women. Like I said in my earlier series of posts - gender is subjective. Personhood however is universal. Yes, people are mammals and sexual reproduction requires the combination of a sperm and an egg. But people are also free and intelligent beings capable of self-definition. The former shouldn't be elevated to a status where it limits the latter.

- Elley

Anonymous said...

I'll go with simplicity. God made man in His own image. Male and female made He them.

George

Psycho Milt said...

Well, except the ones He apparently made such that doctors are pretty much tossing a coin to decide what sex they are, and the ones with odd chromosome layouts, and etc etc. Funny sense of humour, God.

Elley: physical reality necessarily limits how we'd like to define ourselves. In the case under discussion, we've still got a serious semantic problem: if we want to say that someone busy giving birth to babies is a man, the question arises of what we mean by the term "man."

The trans community's answer is that what we mean by it is a person who identifies themselves as a man. But that's begging the question - what are they identifying themselves as when they identify themselves as a man?

Judge Holden said...

"what the fuck are you doing wasting your time communicating with those weirdo screw heads."

Andrei, Daddyo and George? Agreed, but they're less psycho than KG and Redbaiter (who's currently indisposed drying out) I suppose.

Psycho Milt said...

Big Bruv: Sorry, but I'm not providing space on this thread for you and Dad4Justice to trade insults. If you have a comment about the post, feel free to make it.

Big Bruv said...

Milt

No worries, I know I should not bother but sometimes I do enjoy winding him up.

Anonymous said...

PM, I agree that it's begging the question, but I don't think it matters because as I said earlier, gender is subjective. I don't know what a trans man means when he says that he identifies as a man, but I don't know what being a man means to any man, because I'm not a man. I don't know what a trans woman means when she identifies as a woman, but it doesn't matter because I don't know what being a woman means to other cis women either. It's just an inherently subjective concept.

- Elley

dad4justice said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Psycho Milt said...

That's where we part company. As far as I'm concerned, a word that has no agreed meaning beyond the individual using it is of no use - it serves no purpose. If there's nothing about which we can say "that's female, not male" then there's no point to the words 'man' and 'woman,' ie there's no information conveyed in them that wouldn't be conveyed by the word 'person.'

mtregish nuager said...

This thread is a perfect example of why so many trans people hide their identities from cis people.
Kudos to you for keeping down a marginalised group of people and making them want to have no visibility.
You're a real hero.

Rod said...

If I presented you with a line up of clothed people, how would you determine their sex, without knowing their reproductive capabilities, Milt?

Psycho Milt said...

Sorry, didn't see this when it first came in.

Whether I can determine someone's sex or not isn't relevant, is it? Their gender's the only thing I can see under most circumstances. The post is about whether a "man" can give birth or not - if the clothes you're wearing can make a difference to that, it's not obvious how.

Rod said...

I see. So you never assume someone's sex, based on their appearance.

I have to assume then, that you refer to all people with gender-neutral terminology until you have seen medical evidence of their sex.

Is that correct?

Psycho Milt said...

It's pretty obvious that you don't see, if you think that comment resembles any position I've taken here. If there's some straw man you'd like to have an argument with, don't do it on my thread.

The post is about whether men can get pregnant. If you have a point to make that's relevant to that, go ahead and make it.

Rod said...

"As far as I'm concerned, a word that has no agreed meaning beyond the individual using it is of no use - it serves no purpose."

If you cannot tell whether someone is biologically male or female, then how can you use a word to address them if you don't know it whether or not it is accurate?

You must have to use gender-neutral terms when talking to everyone you meet then, since you cannot tell what sex they are.

Correct?

Because otherwise you could be misusing the term and rendering it useless.

Psycho Milt said...

Well, I'm not going to retype the entire thread for you, but here's a summary seeing as you don't seem to have read it.

When you address other people, you do it on the basis of their gender, because that's all you can see, and is all you need to see.

That said, when someone is pregnant or giving birth, you can be pretty confident their sex is female, regardless of their gender. And if someone wants to claim that the child-bearer is actually male, they just generated a major question regarding the meaning of that term - hence the post.

It's not obvious how you manage to translate that into the idea that I must be unable to address people by their gender because I don't know what their sex is. You've a big logical gap to fill there.

Rod said...

Firstly, how often do you see people giving birth?

Secondly, if a person assigned 'male' at birth has a donor uterus (a procedure that has recently become available) and gives birth, are they now female?

According to you, yes they would now be female.

Correct?

Psycho Milt said...

I have to tell you that the idea of spending the next few weeks answering obscure and manipulative questions in the hope that you'll one day actually get to the point isn't something that appeals. If there's a point you want to make relevant to this post, make it.

Rod said...

Your strenuous evasion shows your unhealthy bias - my work here is done.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

Yes Rod, it's a jolly good time for you to fuck off and be a pedantic prick somewhere else.

There's no better way to say it, really!

Psycho Milt said...

No point, then. No worries, thanks for dropping by.

Adolf: your approach strikes me as having time and efficiency advantages over mine...