I disagree with that being beside the point. For example, skin color is not socially induced. Genetic susceptibility, or resistance, to various disorders is not a social construct. These are biological facts not in question. What there is ample evidence on regarding race is that there is no such thing as a “pure race”, which of course destroys supremacist views all on its own, not that it is a social construct.
I think we are misidentifying culture in both gender and race. Race and gender are not social constructs, but identities are a result of interaction and negotiation with culture and the individual. And we are fundamentally talking about identity. Focusing it on gender or race rather than culture is the crux of the problem. Culture requires thought and intellectual sophistication, to get a handle on and discuss, but sex and race do not.
Now that said, we have some demographic constructs some try to treat as a race, with the two most prominent in my mind being “latino” and “muslim”. Neither are biologically oriented. I can’t speak with any certainty on the construct of muslim as a race, but “latino” isn’t a cultural construct. It is a government created one.
The state does not get to demand what you ought to believe and still remain on the moral high ground, but we get to demand what the state believes about us, at least our socially-constructed, albeit biologically-informed identities.
I’m with you on this in principle. The problem is the, ahem, lack of principle in government. That is where the bulk of this essay is going to be.
I was arguing that the law and the government should affirm gender identity in their language and practices, not that the government should coerce people to affirm gender identity.
But here is the rub: you can’t separate the two. For better or worse, usually worse in my estimation, people look to the government for what is “right and true”. The act of codifying a personal identity into law has legal ramifications which ultimately end with coercion of others. Let us look at the recent “gay marriage” battle. First, to avoid confusion, I’ll state my personal opinion.
Consenting adults should be able to marry whomever the hell they want, and in whatever combination or grouping — all as long as they are consenting adults. If, for example, three women and two men all want to become a married family, it is their business. I also think the government has no business whatsoever in defining marriage or conferring benefits on married vs. non-married.
From a societal standpoint we, as individuals, must have the freedom to choose to accept their relationship or not. We must have the freedom to choose not to associate with them; for otherwise we don’t have the freedom to associate with them. People can disagree with them calling it a marriage all they want. Right up until it becomes a government and legal issue. The moment it intersects with law, someone is going to get screwed, and not in the “marital” way.
We humans seemed to be hardwired, probably due to evolutionary advantage, to see legitimacy through authority. The moment a “marriage of five” is “allowed” those who disagree will object to the government marking it as formally “approved”. There will be those who object to the “tax benefits” being “given” to this group of people, and employers will be forced to cover everyone under that single policy. Soon after those who object will be put under legal obligation to “not discriminate against ‘poly marriage’”, facing both civil and criminal charges. Companies will have to change their policies, invitations, and so on in order to avoid lawsuits for being “discriminatory”.
This we see in the “gay marriage” crap, and I mean that in the terms of the arguing about it that goes on. I know of many deeply religious people who don’t care if two men want to live together and all, they only freaked out when the push was for the government to call it, to define it as legitimate, marriage. From that limited perspective, they had a point — but they couldn’t really articulate that.
Those people have an identity built up form their beliefs in their religion. I don’t begrudge them that. To them, marriage has a specific meaning. When the gay couple down the street claims they are “married” it really has no effect on them. But the moment the government defines the term it owns it, and it immediately begins to be coercive against those who disagree, and they reflexively object strongly.
And that is before the government steps in and says what you must, can, and can’t do about those social constructs. So you can’t separate the two, as much as we’d both love to be able to. As W.O.P.R said, the only winning move is not to play. I think Alabama is trying to take this option.
My driver’s license should show that I’m genderfluid and if my physical sex is important, it should read male-bodied.
Why should it say that? Do you go out on a date and show your date “see, it says right here I am genderfluid”? No, of course not. So you need to ask: What value is provided by it doing so? What is the consequence of it being there?
Then again, a drivers license is a privilege, not a right. But let us take it to mean “my government ID” and assume that even that isn’t merely a privilege. What is the consequence of having such a thing on your ID? There must be one, or you wouldn't care about it being there.
It does not mean I get to use the ladies restroom when I’m experiencing my femme side in a private establishment where bathroom usage is codified to be separated by physical sex.
Why not? Why should it not allow you to use the ladies room? What if it said “female”. Should not the private establishment then be forced to allow you to, despite the bulge in your jeans and facial hair? (Yes, that those exist are both assumptions. ;) )
At no point does listing such a thing on your “papers” have no consequence outside of your personal feelings. Stepping into a different right for discussion purposes, consider gun registration. Let us not sidetrack into whether or not it is good or bad, just focus on the direct legal causative effects.
What is the actual purpose of gun registration? To get a list of who all has them. Why? There is but one ultimate answer: to take them away or make people who have them suffer or endue a burden in some way. Otherwise, for government, there is no value to such a list. For private companies, of course, there are other purposes like marketing. But not for government. Nobody is suggesting we have the government register gun owners so we can sell them more guns.
What about registering Muslims? What would be the purpose? Why not relgion (or lack thereof) on your ID? The act itself is not the problem, the consequences are.
I should not have to follow rules and regulations about my clothing in spaces maintained by the government using my taxes.
But I, as a non-”genderfluid” person should? Is that the value of having it on your ID: “see, I’m fluid so I can wear what I want in court.”? That doesn’t seem like something you’d be pushing, but it does illustrate that it is never just words on a paper. And on that note, I think pointing out a very specific scenario that would be legally affected is apropos.
It used to be that sex/gender on an ID is to make positive identification easier. Now this has a legal implication. Pat downs. Different procedures have to be used, and different claims are made based on the sex of the person in question. Related are hospital exams. There are legal requirements staff have based on the sex of the patient. Changing sex to mean gender and then making gender whatever you want to list on your ID has legal ramifications on these people you can’t avoid so long as the government has a hand in them.
Now, you could indeed argue that they should not, and I might even agree (depending on the argument of course). But we can not avoid the fact that these types of things exist, and that they always do once government is involved.
That doesn’t mean the state should be able to take custody of trans children whose parents deny them sexual reassignment surgery.
The government should protect trans children from being abused by their parents with conversion therapy.
I think this is not so black and white.
That doesn’t mean I can force pastors to call transwomen “her” and “she”.
What about professors? What Canada has recently done in this apsect is a prime example of where this goes. You don’t “force” them to use someone else’s words, you just call it a hate crime to not use them. If you think I’m being hyperbolic, look into it and you’ll see that is only a subset of what they’ve done.
Any government coercion that goes beyond what I have specifically mentioned probably does not have my support.
Which is great, but you’ve not explained how those rights don’t already exist.
Gender rights are about expanding freedom, not restricting the freedom of others.
But here is the rub, those rights exist absent special protections — which is what any legal expression of rights are. I don’t doubt your personal sincerity, nor your intentions. But history tells us time and again that you can’t separate, even in the United States, such things from their consequences the moment you try to codify it into law.
We also can’t assume that people understand what a right is. The claims about what various “rights” mean that always involve making others do things, not do things, or “give” you things shows quite clearly that the moment you define something in the government as a right, government backed coercion is right behind it. I dearly wish this were not true but, sadly, it is very much true.
It isn’t merely a “slippery slope”, it goes directly to it; as in “we’ve redefined marriage to be “sexless, so long as it is stilll only two people” went immediately into “and now you have to take our pictures and bake us cakes”. That isn’t a slippery slope so much as an authoritarian cliff. It is a cliff the Italians, and now the Canadians, have already demonstrated to us. Allowing the government to define us, or our identity, does not increase our freedom; it decreases it. Every single time.
It is the authoritarian mindset, however well intentioned, to say government should be defining and listing our personal identities as we see fit, just as it is to say government must define marriage in a given way. Just as my position on that was that the right answer was for the government to get out of the “marriage business” (after all, that three women and two man grouping still can’t legally marry each other), the answer here is to disaggregate that responsibility, not lay the groundwork for more.