How Debra Soh’s The End Of Gender Exposed Anti-Trans Ideology
Real respect for biology is consistent with trans acceptance.
Welcome back to Trans Deeper, a show where we take a deeper look at what people are saying in the trans conversation, and whether their claims are valid or not.
I want to take a look at gender critical feminism’s response to Debra Soh’s recent book The End Of Gender, and what we can learn about gender critical feminism, as well as the broader trans skeptic and anti-trans ‘coalition’.
Dr. Soh’s book has been well received by people who can be broadly described as trans skeptic or even anti-trans. Meanwhile, most trans people and trans allies have responded to it negatively. But the reality isn’t so simple. Soh has stated repeatedly that she is not anti-trans, and there is no reason to believe otherwise. I think the book itself does have a problem of being imbalanced when discussing certain trans-related issues. For example, it presents the widely debunked Blanchard typology as if it were fact, and even suggests that it is truth that has been buried. However, the problem with the Blanchard typology is that it simply does not line up with the objectively observable reality. Blanchard typology supporters have never satisfactorily addressed this criticism, and this book is no exception in this regard. Presenting objectively invalid theory as fact is, in my opinion, not excusable. However, this book might indeed have a silver lining for trans people and trans allies, judging by how the gender critical feminist movement has responded to it. And it is this aspect I want to focus on today.
Most gender critical feminist reviews seem to be very happy with the parts of the book that describe the physical differences between men and women outside the brain. They were particularly delighted about assertions regarding the immutability of the basic facts of biology. Gender critical feminism has long believed that biological reality is on their side, when it clearly isn’t true. I also don’t know why anti-trans people often seem to think that we trans people can’t accept the basic facts of biology. I, for one, certainly acknowledge biological reality, as do many trans people I know. Indeed, many trans people, myself included, have long objected to the media’s usage of terms like ‘sex change’, because it is inaccurate, and serves to discredit the whole trans experience.
Where gender critical feminists start to have problems with the book is in the parts where it describes neurological and psychological differences between male and female brains. They really can’t accept the book’s argument that gender is not a social construct, and that it is rooted in biology that reflects the history of evolution and natural selection. They can’t even accept simple statements of fact like women’s cortisol levels are higher than men’s (an example actually used in the book), without looking to explanations in radical feminist theory. They even resort to accusing Soh of ignoring feminist theory, which is not a valid argument since we are looking at scientific facts, and only scientific facts here, right? So much for respecting biological reality.
All this shows that while gender critical feminists love to say how ‘sex differences matter’, when it comes to the brain, they ignore and reject all evidence showing sex differences, even resorting to placing philosophical theory above scientific observations to make their case, which clearly makes them not that different from the postmodern queer theory feminists they seem to oppose. Some gender critical feminists even accused the book of discussing Simone de Beauvoir and Judith Butler in the same section, as if the two advocated for the same thing. But then again, are they that different? Both advocated for the view that gender is a social construct. The difference between gender critical feminism and postmodern feminism is basically the narcissism of small differences, then. Indeed, in the book, Soh actually pointed out the central contradiction of gender critical feminism: “if radical feminists believe gender is a social construct, you’d expect they’d also believe that trans women could just be socialized as women after transitioning”. Thanks.
As I have said many times before, gender critical feminism is an ideology that is rooted in critical theory. The only part of biological reality gender critical feminism has use for is the fact that most women have wombs and can give birth to babies, which it uses as the ‘materialist’ basis in its pseudo-Marxist justification of its whole worldview. The rest of biological reality is ignored, and biological differences in neurology, psychology and behavior are outrightly rejected, and ‘explained’ as a superstructural oppressive social construct used by men, as a pseudo-Marxist ‘sex class’, to oppress women, as a pseudo-Marxist ‘sex class’. This ideology is clearly incompatible with a commitment to objective science. When questioned on this point, gender critical feminists sometimes like to reply that science has been used by the patriarchy to justify their oppression. Again, typical critical theory rhetoric. Gender critical feminism is basically just as anti-science as queer theory, because they ultimately have the same kind of worldview.
By effectively offering trans people as a ‘sacrifice’, to prove how they are so into biological reality and so different from the so-called ‘woke’, they think they can curry favor with scientifically-orientated people as well as conservatives. I believe this is where trans people and trans allies should burst their bubble, and expose their contradictory stance. By exposing the anti-science ideology at the heart of gender critical feminism, we can also effectively make the case for the validity of trans identity. Just like sexual orientation, gender identity is inborn, and is almost certainly rooted in the biology of the brain. Which is why, if you are kind enough to accept gay people and marriage equality because you acknowledge that gay people are ‘born this way’, you should have no problem accepting trans people and trans rights on the same basis either.
Finally, gender critical feminism, which was known just as ‘radical feminism’ until recently, has always had a problem with trans people, because we are living proof that gender is not, or at least not entirely, a social construct. This attitude has never budged, and I don’t see how it can ever be reasoned into changing, given its ideological commitments. The gender critical feminist reaction to the chapter of the book dedicated to dating and relationships between men and women is particularly insightful. Here again, they reject any suggestion that behaviors might be rooted in biology and evolution, and insist that people ‘learn’ their gendered behaviors, which means they can be ‘unlearned’. In the gender critical worldview, all gendered behavior is learned and can be unlearned. This, in my opinion, is a very problematic view, because it could lead to justifying conversion therapy for trans people. Which is why, we must argue against the gender critical worldview as a matter of urgency, before more trans people are subjected to irreversible harms in real life.
p.s. I actually have a lot of concerns about the scientific quality of the book itself. I will be discussing this in a separate article in the near future.