Gender identity is a bullshit

Disclaimer: I am not a conservative, an alt-right, or a radical feminist. I write this as a queer POC who was once a radical queer activist but no longer agree with the basic premises of the radical transgender ideology. Now I am a political centrist whose interest is primarily in seeking solutions that are rooted in common good and common sense. Read all the way to the end before jumping to a false conclusion.

In 2012 during the months following the heyday of the Occupy movement, I was part of various radical left activist organizations. Every meeting pretty much started with the “name and preferred gender pronoun” check-ins (FUN FACT: Now in 2017 it is no longer politically correct to call it a “preferred” pronoun!). On one of those days, it was reported that a certain trans-identified member of the activist group was allegedly assaulted by a “white, cis male” in front of an anarchist organizing space. This individual and their allies showed up at a general assembly a few days later and demanded that the group revise its safer space policy to permit “trans women” to carry deadly assault weapons for self-defense (while keeping intact the rule that prohibited weapons of any kind for everyone else). Later that evening, the said individual— who was homeless — was loitering at the organizing space and was asked by the staff to leave so they could lock up the building for the night. The individual got into an argument and it escalated quickly. One of the staff members was assaulted by the trans individual with a pepper spray in his face. The staff member punched back to protect himself as the trans individual was also menacing with an extendible baton.

Next day, rumors began to spread online via social media that “transphobic white cis male activists” ganged up on this self-claimed “trans woman” (who by anyone’s objective view appeared to be a typical male, who made no efforts or pretence of looking like a member of the opposite sex in any way).

This incident was my peak trans moment. I no longer wished anything to do with the radical queer movement who sided with this violent male with some serious mental illnesses (which was openly admitted by himself).

The concept of “gender identity” is used in our legal language to protect those who do not conform to traditional sex roles. The idea of enshrining “gender identity” as a protected class against discrimination began in the late 1990s originally with a thought that it would refer only to transsexuals who formally by way of legal instrumentality switch their genders in legal, social, and cultural sense.

Today, it has become an excuse for anything goes. No one is even allowed to question or debate someone’s gender identity, lest they are called a hater, a transphobe, a bigot, or a “TERF.”

The invention of the term “gender identity” to explain a medical phenomenon was very unhelpful from the start. “Gender” is a sociological concept, not a medical or biological concept.

And you cannot “self-identify” as anything.

Identity does not exist in a vacuum. It only exists in the context of society, and identity is ascribed to a person by the external factors such as nationality, ethnicity, religion, family, social class, race, and sex. Simply because someone “identifies as” something they are not would not automatically turn them into something other than what the society identifies them as.

This is the reality.

With invention of “gender identity” we as society opened a Pandora’s box that now has created 50 shades of invented genders.

Now anyone who “self-identify” as a “woman” is a woman and no objection is permitted often under penalty of law, even if the so-called “woman” looked exactly like Arnold Schwarzenegger, and even if the so-called “woman” is a serial rapist.

It did not have to be that way.

Twenty years ago, there were only a small number of transsexuals — perhaps one in 30,000 — who genuinely felt a serious, persistent dysphoria about their own bodies. Then there were transvestites who primarily cross-dressed for fun or for sexual gratification. These two populations rarely crossed paths. The latter never dared to invade women’s spaces nor did they “identify as” women. In fact they were insistent that they were heterosexual men, albeit with someone who were in “touch with their feminine side” — or that they were “gender-enhanced males.”

Then something unexpected happened in the late 1990s. Many of these transvestites began calling themselves “transgender” or “transgenderists” as they took their cross-dressing into a full-time pursuit. Some, many of them affluent white males in their middle age or even retirement age, travelled to Thailand to obtain sex change operations. They, leveraging their middle-class, white male privilege, gradually became the political mainstay of the nascent transgender movement. The very term “transgender” was invented by the founder of the Society for the Second Self (Tri-Ess, a national cross-dressers’ club) Charles “Virginia” Prince in order to distance themselves from gay men (the membership of Tri-Ess was restricted to heterosexual males). Many of these men espoused highly misogynistic and homophobic views.

As transgenderism began wider social acceptance especially in the 2010s the serious medical concerns around transsexualism became trivialized. In fact, today’s transactivists even claim that using the word “transsexual” is now a hate speech (this way, a legitimately recognized disease can easily be conflated with alternative sexual lifestyles and politicized fashion statements). Sufferings of the transsexuals were brushed aside in favor of the newest alternative lifestyle that suddenly became a cool trend. If a man could “identify as” a woman, what would stop him from becoming any one of the 50 new genders supported by Facebook? And how dare anyone question their genders? Objectivity is no longer and subjective feeling is now a law of the land.

It did not have to be that way.

Even in the 1990s, there was still a modicum of gatekeeping. Transitioning was never seen by the medical community as a silver bullet, but merely a palliative measure for those whose disease has no known cure and a way to maintain social stability. Before anyone could even begin transitioning, the patient had to undergo months of psychological counselling for diagnosis, followed by even more counselling and psychiatric evaluations before a prescription for HRT was issued. These were days when transvestism was still a crime in many places. Psychiatrists used to issue a letter that would notify the local police that the patient is on a course of a legitimate medical treatment in order for the patient to avoid jail. Even after all these, sex change operations were rightly seen by the Standard of Care as the last resort when all other treatment options were ineffective.

In the 1970s and 1980s, doctors would not issue a permission to transition if a man did not look like he would pass as a female. This was so that the man would not be worse off by transitioning into the other gender.

I am not saying that we should bring back the 1980s-style gender clinic, which was of course rife with its misogynistic undertone and commodification of womanhood (as correctly observed and criticized by Janice Raymond in her book Transsexual Empire). It was one extreme. Now we have gone from that extreme to the other extreme. Now even the minimal gatekeeping is seen as transphobic and bigoted. Even though gatekeeping is meant to protect not only the society from those who shouldn’t transition in the first place, but also the patients themselves from additional miseries if their transitioning would add to more social and emotional difficulties.

The present build-up of political backlash against trans community is a direct product of this trend and the trans community only has itself to blame for it.

All this could not have be an issue if the concept of “gender identity” was not invented at all.

Gender identity is a bullshit.

How can one even “identify as a woman” or “a man” when they probably have absolutely no clue what that even means since the only measure of such a judgment is themselves?

Using a sexist stereotype to reach that conclusion makes no sense either, since the sexist stereotype is a product of culture and is never innate.

And don’t get me started on children transitioning and middle-age men transitioning. At one point I advocated for youth transitioning, but now children as early as three or four are being transed often by well-meaning parents who would rather have a girl instead of a gay son. Doctors merely believe whatever a four-year-old would tell them and decide that they are trans, though there’s really no way of knowing if they would grow up being just a happy gay man if he weren’t led into a medical treatment he has no way of consenting to. And I really do not believe that males who lived decades of their adult lives as a man, a father, and a husband would suddenly be able to deprogram themselves of male privilege (nor can they really adjust to being a female) in a short notice.

This isn’t to say that transsexualism as a legitimate medical condition does not exist. Apparently it does and it causes a significant distress. But there has to be a way to objectively diagnose it independently of self-identity, perhaps by a standarized test of some sort. And also I believe that there is a physical origin to transsexualism. But they represent a far smaller percentage of people and they are not interested in some kind of transgender revolution. In fact, the more widely “transgenderism” is accepted by mainstream society the lives of actual transsexuals are becoming more difficult: when violent and perverted males invade women-only spaces calling themselves “trans women”; when loud, obnoxious voices representing “the trans community” fill the Internet with highly misogynistic threats against women; when middle-aged men go public parading their autogynephilic fetishes and passing them off as a “trans” narrative — actual transsexuals are made invisible while the sources of their sufferings and struggles are trivialized into mere “identity” and “lifestyle.”

I will not stand for that.

The goal of feminism is to abolish gender. Until the emergence of the third-wave feminism in the 1990s, the feminist ideal was androgyny as a way to be fully human.

The most logical conclusion of feminism is for everyone to become non-binary instead of being part of the binary sex caste system. As a queer person I cannot relate well to experiences of heterosexual women. Nor can I understand men. And I simply cannot understand how any woman who calls herself a feminist can be in a heterosexual, monogamous marriage with a male. While by necessity I exist in and occupy spaces that are very much mainstream, really the only time I can be who I am is when I am around other queer folks. It took me many years of introspection and developing self-acceptance to be able to cherish androgyny and being outside the binary constraint. But does that mean I should invent a brand new pronoun? Of course not. It is not fair to impose that on other people. Part of my pet peeves about the trans movement is that words that were politically correct five years ago are now seen as hate speech — their political correctness is always a moving target! Ultimately, no one can be anything other than who they are, and they cannot buy other identities.

Read the sequel to this post.

Jamie Shupe, the “first legally non-binary person in the United States” who is an ex-transgender, has written a great article that speaks even better to the points I am trying to raise here, even though I do not necessarily agree with everything they write.