Why Gender Performativity Is Wrong and Anti Trans
NOTE: This article is specifically about the postmodern feminist theory of ‘gender performativity’, in case anyone is confused.
Today, I want to talk about why the idea of ‘gender performativity’, the idea that gender is a performance, is wrong, and also anti-trans. Gender performativity is part of the wider set of ideas that consider gender to be a social construct, and I have, in the past, repeatedly argued that the idea of gender being a social construct is wrong. But today, I will specifically focus on gender performativity.
Firstly, there is no evidence to support the idea that gender is a performance. In other words, this idea is not evidence-based, it has no observable evidence in the real world to clearly support it, and it is therefore incompatible with the spirit of empiricism. This is the problem with the ‘academic left’ in the late 20th and early 21st century West: a lot of their theories simply lack a solid foundation of observable evidence to back it up. This, in turn, reflects a rejection of the importance of empiricism, which is partly caused by the rise of unempirical philosophical schools like critical theory and postmodernism.
Secondly, I think it is reasonable to argue that a ‘performance’ is only a ‘performance’ if it is being deliberately ‘performed’, which implies that there must be a personal choice in it. The fact that trans people suffer from gender dysphoria is proof that we cannot choose the ‘gender’ that we ‘perform’. Therefore, the very existence of trans people basically disproves gender performativity.
Finally, I believe the idea of gender performativity is inherently anti-trans, at least to some extent. Firstly, it is simply incompatible with the trans community’s long standing belief that gender identity is innate. Under gender performativity, a person is always, simply the gender that they are performing. Therefore, a trans person, before their social transition, is of their birth gender. Furthermore, there is nothing more to social transition than to take on another performance. Given that it is all a performance, there is nothing ‘authentic’ about either gender performance. Hence this could also imply that transition is no more than a lifestyle choice. This is why I believe that gender performativity is inherently anti-trans, even if the people promoting this idea may not be anti-trans themselves.