With a shoutout to Crude, here’s an argument for you:

Take a look at this story. The quick version is that a transgender person was voted homecoming Queen and is upset because people are making nasty comments about her.

I got into it with some people in an online forum, where I wrote this:

I don’t mean this to be mean, but just because I identify and “feel” like a toaster doesn’t make me one. THAT is why I don’t think this person should have been homecoming Queen – because this person is not a Queen, whatever this person “feels” like.

I don’t think people should be mean to this person, but when a boy thinks he’s a girl he needs help, not acceptance.

I was actually received fairly positively, but the negative responses were fairly predictable, with many people semi-hysterically yelling about how I compared this girl to a toaster (I didn’t). One person tried to tell me that it was like blindness in that you don’t CHOOSE it. I responded with this:

What [blind people] CAN do, though, is try to make your eyes function as close to normally as possible and, failing that, try to navigate with your other senses out of default to the best of your ability.

What people DON’T do is try to convince people that it’s okay to blind yourself if that’s how you “feel”, and then get mad when people won’t make special accommodations for people who blind themselves intentionally.

Keep in mind, this response works even if transgenderism is genetic. If I am genetically inclined, if it is my orientation, to be a “blind person”, as in, I am a “blind person in a sighted person’s body”, then that does not invalidate what I said whatsoever. “Choice”, in the sense of choosing whether or not I want to see, is not relevant. And it’s no good saying that blindness and transgenderism aren’t analogous, since I wasn’t the one who brought it up in the first place.

Some of the responses were classic. Like this:

Comparing her to a toaster is absurd. Your ignorance astounds me. You see, 3-brain celled Bob [I must admit, I’ve never heard that one before], gender is how someone relates to the real, living world. Classifying your gender identity is as a toaster is what toasts bread [Still not sure what that means]. Imbecile.

I’m not sure what relating to the “real, living world” has to do with what I said. I made the simple factual statement, a fairly uncontroversial one, that feeling like something doesn’t make you that thing. Even if you’re genetically inclined to feel that way, even if you’re in the unfortunate circumstance where you have no choice but to feel that way, that’s still true, however important gender “identity” is.

But the real prize for craziest comment is this beauty from a commenter I’ll call Stacy. Everything here is exactly as it was originally written:

malcolm absurd means ridiculous or unreasonable [That is correct]. If you are uneducated on what it means to be transgendered, aka. ignorant you would not make a specious claim of a toaster comparison. The truth is it is a medical condition that stems from a biological condition in the womb. Many trans women are actually intersexed, but not all. All fetuses start out female. It requires a hormonal trigger to become a boy [I thought it was a chromosomal thing?]. Sometimes that trigger does not happen when it is supposed to. Therefore causing physical and psychological conditions initially called Gender Dysphoria. Therapy is almost always required to determine if one is truly transgendered and at that point if transition is necessary to the point of surgery. This is true suffering. We have a 44% suicide attempt rate. [That’s tragic; we need more acceptance of the disabled in society] That alone proves this is not a choice.  [Now get ready, because the rest of this paragraph is pure gold, so utterly nonsensical that I’ll leave it as is just so you can experience its full glory] People like most of you who lead likely highly dysfunctional lives, likely much worse than I do. Feel so safe in your gender certainty. I ask you for just a bit think, what if I wasn’t? What if the very core of your being was a lie because your body was not reflective of your personality? The person trapped and shamed by society? What if that was you? What if that was you child? Could you tell your child at 5 years old ( most of us realize something is not right with our gender around 5-7, years before any sexual ideas enter our minds) that you consider their feelings absurd and is likened to a toaster? Really? How horrible of a person would you be in the eyes of other parents? Or maybe beat your child into submission to gender conformity to the point they kill themselves. Will you admit it was your fault? Or blame someone else? There is a disconnect from personal responsibility for your behavior on the internet and real life. In real life most of you would Never know I was trans and if you did, wouldn’t say jack. Because in truth you are scared, scared of what you don’t understand. Because if you met me and realize I have feelings, dreams, wishes, a job and children whom I raise to treat people kindly regardless of who they are. You would be afraid of what others would say about you that you said someone who was trans was actually a nice person. Because you are a coward. Your world is based on lies no less than mine once was. You lie to look good to others, you lie to yourself that you have problems with your character. I came to the point I no longer could lie to others or myself. It feels good and it is very liberating. You should all try it sometime.

Ladies and gentlemen, take a good look at that insanity. Really get the full effect. It is full of ridiculous assumptions about my life and character and makes arguments that I’ve already addressed several times. In order to make her point she feels the need to attack me personally and go on the defensive, despite me never saying anything remotely negative to her or about anybody. It attacks strawmen and is almost entirely an emotional argument. This:

“Could you tell your child at 5 years old ( most of us realize something is not right with our gender around 5-7, years before any sexual ideas enter our minds) that you consider their feelings absurd and is likened to a toaster…”

…is not an argument, or even a remotely adequate response to what I said. It is a blatant appeal to emotion, made to tug on the heart strings and convince people by making you feel sorry for them. There’s no real force behind it.

If Stacy HAD read everything I’ve written, both in the first comment and throughout, she’d know that whether or not it’s genetic or a choice has nothing to do with what I said.

If you want to convince people that you’re right and challenge me, I’m all for it. Just ditch the emotional blackmail and respond to what I actually said without insulting me, then maybe you can be taken seriously.

In the meantime, that comment stands as a testament to the success of my argument. You know you’ve won when your opponent starts trying to guilt you or make you cry. Or, in this case, both.

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28 Responses to With a shoutout to Crude, here’s an argument for you:

  1. Crude says:

    The question I always have when it comes to this sort of thing is… What does it mean to say ‘your body is not reflective of your personality’? Is it that women act, behave, and just basically ARE fundamentally different from men? And men from women?

    More than that? Right now, and likely for the forseeable future, there is no surgery to turn a man into a woman or vice versa. What there is is surgery that makes cosmetic alterations and, frankly, some pretty gruesome ones at that – but most importantly, you don’t suddenly ‘become a woman’. You get physical attributes that maybe, kinda sorta, approach what a woman should look like externally. In various cases it’s going to be pretty apparent that something is ‘off’ beyond that veneer.

    But you’re right – that pretty much was emotional blackmail. And as is usual, it’s not even blackmail based on something you did. What they do is erect a strawman – ‘You’d kick the living shit out of a transexual! – and then set that on fire – ‘But you don’t, because you’re afraid to!’

    Really, just turn it around. What if a child thought they were a toaster? Would the transexual knock their teeth out in a blind, frothing fury to make them think they were human again? Subject their five year old to electroshock therapy, perhaps? Etc, etc.

    What helps here is to never attack the people. I have no hatred for transexuals. I want them to receive help. But their definition of ‘help’ may not be mine. We’re not talking merely about the intersexed or otherwise. We’re dealing with a whoooole other, broader subculture.

    This, by the way, is precisely why I believe in getting direct. Because this happens with LGBT arguments, and I’ve found it’s pretty helpful to say, ‘I have zero problem with your love, etc. It’s the anal sex and such which is central.’

    • Crude says:

      Actually, I’ll add – I think the transgender claims sit awkwardly with the feminist claims.

      They want to be ‘seen as a woman’? Treated as a woman? They have female thoughts? What are these things? Aren’t they precisely what a lot of feminists are trying to fight – these female roles, these female stereotypes?

    • More than that, how do they even know they feel like a woman? Or feel like a man? I can’t really say I “feel” like a man. I feel, you know, pretty much like I am, and I happen to be a man. If I felt like I should be a woman, it wouldn’t necessarily mean I felt anything like an actual woman felt, only that I apparently felt differently from most people, who don’t have these sorts of problems. It’s all kinds of convoluted and ridiculous.

      • Crude says:

        I think the only way to make sense of it requires, oddly enough, taking up a kind of essentialist thinking that would end up being anathema to a lot of feminists.

  2. blankexpression42 says:

    I recently had to write about my thoughts on this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/03/16/magazine/16students-t.html?_r=0
    Specifically, I was asked about some of the possible outcomes of ‘sexual reassignment’ surgery and how the school should have handled the situation.

    The part that really got me was on page 7: “I’ve learned not to try to see my future — to do the best I can in the space I am in.” – Rey (the transmale who is the topic of the article)
    Maybe it’s just me, but if he/she really felt that way, shouldn’t she/he have just learned to live as a female?

    • Exactly. It’s really the opposite of what they claim. It’s the denial of a part of your identity just because it makes you “feel” better to deny it.

      Ever see “X-Men: First Class”? The character of Mystique is normally blue but has he ability to shape-shift to make herself appear like other humans. Transgenderism is NOT like that. Mystique was born blue; she is naturally blue; looking “normal” takes a conscious effort.

      A transgender person was born a certain gender, but with certain sex-related disabilities. They are doing exactly what Mystique was avoiding, denying a piece of their identity to make themselves “feel” better. Instead of turning yourself into somebody else, accept who you are – a disabled person having the courage not to be ashamed of their disability.

      • I might also add, by the way, that Magneto, Mystique, and the other villains of the X-Men universe DO have a lot in common, actually, to the LGBT movement. They just take it to a more violent extreme.

  3. Blue Devil Knight says:

    You are calling them disabled, and then acting incredulous when there is backlash. It comes off as disingenuous.

    I largely agree with the sentiment, if not exact argument, of the people who are responding. I have a friend born female (XX), who did not naturally have her period, was larger than other females, was growing facial hair. At 11, her parents forced her to take female hormones so that she would be more like other females. She did not want to do this, but just be herself. She did not feel like she needed to be railroaded into a particular gender pharmacologically, just so it would make others comfortable with her fitting into the standard dichotomy. Yes, she probably needed help, but she also needed acceptance, and not forced to ingest female hormones and not accepted by her family.

    That’s just one example, but I know many like it, and it is pretty standard. If you called him (he now identifies male) disabled, I’d think you were just an ignorant prick, which is what these folks seem to basically be saying.

    That is not to say there isn’t a very interesting discussion to be had. E.g., a discussion about the ethical dimensions of people taking hormones to push their gender in a certain direction, or get reassignment surgery, or a discussion of how this fares in relation to social constructionist views that are popular among some feminists. But to step in and insult people like you did, and expect to have a rational discussion….On the internet? Let’s not pretend you had a reasonable hope of any such thing.

    • Blue Devil Knight says:

      Note looking over your response again, it seems you did not lead with the claim that they are disabled. So I apologize I mixed up your original post and comments here (“Instead of turning yourself into somebody else, accept who you are – a disabled person having the courage not to be ashamed of their disability”). If you had said that at the forum, they would be justified in trashing you. But you didn’t.

      I agree with my sentiments, but don’t actually think your comments were all that bad, they can easily be addressed without melting down. In other words:

      • Why am I a prick for calling a disabled person disabled? A lot of people who lose legs decide not to go with prosthetics because it’s uncomfortable. Similarly, if you have a sexual disability and don’t want to take hormones or anything, all right. I’m not going to force anybody to do anything, I’m just going to call a spade a spade.

        I insulted nobody, either in my original post or my comments here, and do not apologize.

        I make a very, very simple argument: Feeling like something, even if you have no choice but to feel that way, does not make you that thing. If you are genetically disposed to believe that you should be, say, a toaster, I would say that you had a mental disability and needed help. I say the same thing about boys who say they really “should” be girls.

        If you have a counter-argument, make it. I’m not going to be made to feel guilty just because what I said happens to make people feel bad. If it’s wrong, prove it.

      • Crude says:

        I’d have more of a comment, but right off the bat…

        Wouldn’t any ‘transgendered’ person absolutely have to cop to having, at the very least, a physical status that must be addressed by medication and/or surgery? If that’s not ‘disabled’, what is?

        Second – there are also deaf people who would reject the idea that they are disabled. They’d take offense, etc. Are they correct?

    • Crude says:

      That said, let me add one thing.

      I agree you didn’t insult someone, and you have nothing to apologize for in either case. But my attitude is this: go into any conversation on which you are well-read and have a firm opinion, with the goal being to convince the people that disagree with you. If that requires avoiding language that will rile them up, even if it’s correct, then do exactly that within reason. At the same time, never misrepresent your position.

      • That is exactly what I did; I changed my language to the point where I used the word “disabled” after I got here and my audience changed to a group that tended to think more like I did. This is an opinion blog much more than an apologetic blog (though there’s a little bit of that). When I was talking with a larger audience I watched my language more closely.

  4. One more thing: I’d like the record to show that it was admitted by a commenter here that the counter-argument made to what I said amounted to, quite literally, “You’re an ignorant prick”.

    • Blue Devil Knight says:

      Yes, pretty much. The problem is the way you are writing strongly suggests that you are not very familiar with people who go through this. And details matter. I gave one example, and it is pretty standard. This is not some superficial decision people make lightly, like their favorite color, and there are clearly biological dimensions in many cases.

      The suggestion that taking drugs/medication for a condition is sufficient to make it count as a disability is a mutilation of language: you are free to stipulate that you are using this mutilated definition, to be hurtful or provocative, but it going to simply end rational discussion, and you should know this. Malcom realized this better than I initially appreciated (hence my apology earlier).

      Incidentally, many TG do not take the hormones so they wouldn’t count as disabled? This is why I qualified what I said with the claim that there is interesting discussion to be had when it comes to putting hormones in the mix. But the interesting discussion is about the moral dimension of pushing one’s gender around with hormones or surgeries, and intentionally slinging hurtful words around is not going to facilitate rational discussion. It’s like going to a Christian site and saying they are deluded irrational fools, and then balking when they attack you rather than engaging in good faith, with the arguments.

      • Yes, pretty much.

        Then I have no reason to take you seriously. But I’ll humor you.

        I gave one example, and it is pretty standard. This is not some superficial decision people make lightly, like their favorite color, and there are clearly biological dimensions in many cases.

        So what? Even if you’re biologically inclined to feel like you’re something you’re not, it still doesn’t make you that thing.

        Transgender people are disabled because they have an obvious handicap; they believe that they are something they are not. I call it a sexual disability, but perhaps it would be better classified as a mental disability.

        But the interesting discussion is about the moral dimension of pushing one’s gender around with hormones or surgeries, and intentionally slinging hurtful words around is not going to facilitate rational discussion.

        Calling somebody “disabled” is not hurtful. It’s not an insult. It’s a statement of fact. Would you consider it an insult to call a deaf person disabled? Unless you’d prefer the term mentally ill, but I think that would ruffle people’s feathers a lot more than “disabled” would.

        It’s like going to a Christian site and saying they are deluded irrational fools, and then balking when they attack you rather than engaging in good faith, with the arguments.

        That makes no sense as an analogy. Are you suggesting transgenderism is akin to a religion or philosophy?

        Not only that, I was not on a transgender site. I was on a public forum (that I’m not going to link to, by the way, since I used a different username there).

        And finally, you said I was “…acting incredulous when there was backlash”. I did exactly the opposite; I said the backlash was fairly predictable, responded to each point, and pointed out when somebody made a ludicrous strawman argument that amounted to “You’re an ignorant prick”. You really expect me to show such people respect? Even so, that doesn’t demonstrate that I was “incredulous” that there was backlash. Quite the contrary; I expected it.

  5. Blue Devil Knight says:

    Transgender people are disabled because they have an obvious handicap; they believe that they are something they are not. I call it a sexual disability, but perhaps it would be better classified as a mental disability.

    But the obvious point of contention is your claim that they are not what they say they are. That is the issue, not a premise that you can simply help yourself to. You could stamp your feet and say ‘If you have an XY genotype you are a male, and XX then you are female” but that won’t make it true. And it won’t address all the complexities of hermaphrodites, ambiguous genitalia, and the grades of phenotypes among all these extremes, which are not in 1:1 mapping with your chromosome set. Reality is not as simple as you think it is.

    To insist that there are just two types, and if you don’t identify with your chromosome specification you have a disability, suggests you haven’t thought these things through, and are likely not familiar with the issues, including the biology. Yet you seem happy to be insulting toward the people you are talking about by saying they have a disability.

    If you really think it is not insulting to say they are disabled, then atheists are simply people who lack beliefs about gods, and calling them ‘brights’ isn’t to suggest they are smarter than anyone else.

    • Blue Devil Knight says:

      This is good, though biased, article (warning it has some pictures that could be disturbing to some): http://www.aissg.org/PDFs/Five-Sexes-Revisited-2000.pdf

    • FINALLY, a real argument! Hallelujah.

      But the obvious point of contention is your claim that they are not what they say they are. That is the issue, not a premise that you can simply help yourself to. You could stamp your feet and say ‘If you have an XY genotype you are a male, and XX then you are female” but that won’t make it true. And it won’t address all the complexities of hermaphrodites, ambiguous genitalia, and the grades of phenotypes among all these extremes, which are not in 1:1 mapping with your chromosome set. Reality is not as simple as you think it is.

      I didn’t say reality was simple; of course all those things are true, and I knew that. But these people say themselves that they are “normal” people of a certain gender, when quite clearly they have all sorts of issues.

      Here’s the thing: you’re denying the basic fact that the normal, default thing is that people are guys and girls; if you have biological issues with that, you have a disability. If you have testicles, a penis, and XY chromosomes you are biologically male. Feeling like a girl doesn’t change that. If you have ambiguous genitalia or an ambiguous sex for some other reason, that’s a shame. You’re disabled. You’re either mentally disabled ( you think you’re a “man in a woman’s body” – and notice the admission that they are in a man’s body), or you’re physically disabled. Let’s call a spade a spade.

      This is really, in a roundabout way, a natural law argument, and it’s a good example of why I think it’s true. To make your point you need to deny an obvious fact about human nature, then act offended when this is pointed out.

      If you really think it is not insulting to say they are disabled, then atheists are simply people who lack beliefs about gods, and calling them ‘brights’ isn’t to suggest they are smarter than anyone else.

      What biological reason is there for an atheist to be smarter? It makes absolutely no sense. A belief system is not the same thing as a biological issue, obviously.

      • Crude says:

        If you really think it is not insulting to say they are disabled, then atheists are simply people who lack beliefs about gods

        What does this have to do with anything? How are you justifying the use of one of the most inane and wannabe-tactical redefinitions of a word based on anything Malcolm has said here?

        And before they abandoned the label en masse due to its toxic nature, the relevant atheists actually did choose ‘brights’ specifically to cast themselves in a contrasting, positive light to theists.

    • That article you post actually helps make my point. The vast majority of people are normal males and females. They have no chromosomal issues or biological issues (and they are ISSUES), because men and women have sex. We are different genders because we need to procreate. Five sexes might be true, if we agree that three of them have nothing to do with the natural order and are deviations that make life more difficult for those afflicted; in other words, they are disabilities. If you grow an extra limb, it is not just an “alternate body type”, it is a deviation from the norm.

  6. Blue Devil Knight says:

    malcolm being different from the norm is not to be disabled. People extraordinarily attractive, or good at football are not disabled. At any rate, discussion of what word you use is beside the point: if you want to insist it is not insulting, that is fine, we will simply have to disagree. It is the moral issues that are more interesting, and real.

    crude: please turn on your facetiousness detector, and then re-read the offending sentence. I was making a point about malcolm’s semantic disability.

    • You’re totally missing the point here. It’s about the correct way the body is supposed to work. Extraordinary people or people great at football do not have any inherent problem with the way their body is working. People who are transgender have bodies that they actually ADMIT have problems when young, either a chromosomal problem, or a hormonal problem, or a mental problem. Their bodies are not working how they are supposed to; to deny this is really to go into total denial, because it’s blatantly obvious.

      What you’re doing is akin to saying, “Hey, football players are different because they’re really strong! Ergo, people born with no legs are totally normal.”

  7. A thought here: Say I go into the womb and delay the hormone that gives masculine qualities to a man. Is there anything inherently wrong with what I did?

    Now let’s say I go into the womb and somehow I figure out that this hormone will come out late, so I induce it early manually. Is that immoral?

    I think your answer will honestly speak volumes.

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