Gender Self-Identification

Commentary, Culture Wars, Brian Giesbrecht

The transgender movement has made great strides in recent years advancing the cause of a marginalized minority. However, a claim of the movement – namely the absolute right of people to choose their gender, and have that gender choice legally enforced – is resulting in unfairness. This needs discussion.

Gender dysphoria is a psychiatric disorder or condition involving an anatomical male who believes that he is actually a female in a man’s body (and the reverse for women). It affects about 1/10 of 1% of the population. However, this condition has received much attention in recent years, and has found its way into legislation and corporate policy.

Gender self-identification involves the right of people to identify with the gender of their choice. So far, there is no issue here. People have a right to be gender nonconformists, or to believe in gender fluidity.

However, the problem comes when that person, or others acting on their behalf, seeks to compel others to recognize their gender choice as fact. But, just because a man thinks he is a woman doesn’t make him a woman. Recent legislative attempts to compel others to accept belief as fact are having perverse results.

Here are a few examples of actual cases that will highlight the problem.

There are increasing numbers of men identifying as women who have entered womens’ sporting competitions and dominated the events. This is unfair as men do better than women in sports involving physical strength.

Then there are cases of female-identifying men choosing to use a women’s bathroom, or other private areas where women normally expect only other women to be present. This can be be extremely uncomfortable- or even dangerous – for women when they are placed in this situation.

A related problem is that of men who pretend to be gender dysphoric in order to gain access to women only areas. Domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centres are spaces where the presence of men could do great damage to vulnerable women.

Or what about a man who said he felt that he was a woman and demanded admission to a women’s prison? This has happened. In that case the man proceeded to sexually assault women in the prison.

Or what about a man who says he is a woman one day, (and is treated that way), but the next day says he feels like a child and demands to be treated as a child? Harvard University now has a policy that a person can change their gender from day to day, and other people must respect those changing decisions. So you could in theory be a fifty year old man one day, and a six year old girl the next day. And if you think that is a bizarre and extremely unlikely scenario, please Google this last example, and you will discover that there is exactly the person I described – a 52 year old man who dresses and acts like a 6 year old girl. He says that is who he feels himself to be, and he demands that society treat him that way.

Yale University now has tampons for sale in the men’s bathroom. They say that boys can have periods too. Welcome to the brave new world.

Remember Rachel Dolezal. She lived most of her life claiming to be a black person. — except that her parents and all her ancestors were white. When her “racial dysphoria” was exposed, she explained that she identified as a black person – ergo she was a black person. If a man can choose to be a woman and must be accepted as such, why can’t a person choose to belong to a different race?

Then we get to the truly bizarre: a young man (or, at least, he used to be) who is transitioning to be a Martian. So far, he has had his genitals removed and I am not sure what else. You might say that this man is very ill, but the transgender activists think that this all makes sense.

Or what about “otherkin”. These are creatures we would call human beings who believe that they are not human, but animals of one variety or another. Some are cats, some are wolves. Society is expected to take this seriously. Our current federal government could probably be persuaded to prosecute people who refuse to do so.

These are a few examples only of how the unrestricted right of gender self-identification leads to unfairness.

And if you can be whatever you want to be, what about age? There is a 70 year old Dutch man who doesn’t want to be 70 years old. He feels like a much younger man, so he insists on being one. He is prepared to give up his old age security if he can get his 20 or so years lopped off his birth birth certificate. He believes that he will do much better on the dating apps as a 50 year old than as a 70 year old. (Although my wife would object to the dating app part, I admit that I am on this fellow’s side in this fight – I’ll gladly take the twenty year deduction from my age).

Until recently, those who spoke out about the perverseness of unrestricted gender self-identification tended to be people associated with right-wing groups or causes. The best known of these people in Canada is Professor Jordan Peterson of the University of Toronto.

But now voices from the left wing are saying essentially the same thing. Megan Murphy is one such person. She describes herself as a radical feminist, and speaks out against the wrong-headedness of some of the same samples I have listed above. Recently Ms. Murphy had her Twitter account closed, basically because she referred to a gender dysphoric man as “he”. Ms. Murphy is denouncing the Twitter decision. She and right-wing spokespeople are on the same page on this issue.

This debate is far from over, of course. However, it seems that the tide may be starting to turn on this issue. Common sense might be making a bit of a comeback. People with gender dysphoria must be treated with respect and acceptance. They have an absolute right to identify however they wish. But privacy and safety should not be sacrificed for the sake of someone’s ideology. And, as Professor Gad Saad of Concordia University says “We shouldn’t change our understanding of reality to celebrate your unique personhood”.

Challenging the new orthodoxy is Dr. Michelle Cretella, M.D., the President of the American College of Pediatricians. Dr. Cretella says very frankly that someone’s mental illness is not a civil right. She goes further: she says that in her opinion today’s transgender ideology is responsible for large scale child abuse. That is, encouraging children to accept mutilating surgery and dangerous chemical treatments is a crime against nature.

Dr. Cretella says that it is simply not true that people are born into the wrong bodies. These people have a delusion. Human sexuality is binary – that is, only a man and a woman together can produce a child. A woman has XX chromosomes and a man has XY chromosomes. There are 6500 genetic differences between men and women. No amount of surgery or chemical treatments – no matter how radical – can change these biological facts. The rare cases of intersex people – those born with physically incomplete genitalia – do not change this basic science.

In short, people who believe that they have been born into the wrong bodies are entitled to respectful treatment, but if they believe they are something that they are not, they are mentally ill, and should be treated that way. Forcing others to accept that delusion as reality is simply wrong.

A million years of evolution have made this a world of women with XX chromosomes and men with XY chromosomes. A new social movement- no matter how worthy its original purpose – is unlikely to change that anytime soon.