CulturePolitics

How Many “Genders” Are There? Zero.

The ride down the slippery slope never seems to end.

It’s only been a matter of months since the transgender bathroom bill controversy. To recap those events: Leftists tried to convince everyone that the “bigots” in Raleigh, North Carolina were trying to pass a law that would prevent transsexuals from using the bathroom of their choice everywhere in the state, and they would have us believe that a bill specifically protecting the rights of transsexuals to use the bathroom of the sex that they identify with is the answer to that problem.

Both of these points are simply dead wrong.

In reality, the original bill passed in Raleigh, known either as HB2 or as the Public Facilities Privacy and Security Act, applied only to government buildings, and stated that in government buildings, bathrooms (this part is important) would be designated for use by those with either male or female stamped on their birth certificate. The text of the bill then adds: “Nothing in this section shall prohibit public agencies from providing accommodations such as single occupancy bathroom or changing facilities upon a person’s request . . .” (You can read the full text of the bill here.)

It is important to note that when a transsexual successfully undergoes transition, the sex listed on their birth certificate actually changes. What this means is that the state was actually affirming that any transsexual person who has actually undergone transition belongs in the bathroom of the sex they now identify with. These facts didn’t stop Leftists from making histrionic, fearmongering videos of people being forced to “show ID to pee.” In reality, though there were a very small handful of cases of people whose presence in bathrooms was challenged after this controversy was forced onto the airwaves and came to the forefront of everyone’s mind, there was not a single reported case of anyone being prevented from using a bathroom in a government building in the United States before the controversy broke.

The Leftists’ response to this imaginary problem was to propose another bill, HB DRH10522-MMa-153B (also known as the “Equality for All” Act), which applied not just to government buildings, but to all “places of public accommodation” – literally any place which is “open to the public,” including restaurants, hotels, businesses, etc.; and stated that “a place of public accommodation shall provide access to such facilities [such as restrooms and changing stations] based on a person’s gender identity” (full text here). This is in fact much more radical than a bill that addresses transsexuals specifically. Because “gender identity” is subject to definition literally on a whim, in practice what this would actually do is abolish the idea of even designating bathrooms for men or women – by any definition of the terms – entirely, and it would do this in any business open to the public across the entirety of the state.

These bills, once again, therefore actually prohibit businesses from removing any man from the women’s restroom, or vice versa, at any time. And this is why the misdirected claim that opponents of these bills were afraid of “transsexual rapists” completely misses the point: far more people than the extremely small minority of genuinely transsexual individuals are effected by these rules. No less a bastion of left-wing experimentation than the University of Toronto actually cancelled their attempt at implementing gender-neutral restrooms after finding that they did in fact result in an increased number of peeping tom incidents. And lest the idea of transsexual predators be ruled impossible on principle, the story of Christopher Hambrook/“Jessica,” a biological man who claimed to be transsexual in order to gain access to women’s shelters to seek out abuse victims proves that this idea isn’t far-fetched.

For my part, I’m willing to accept that transsexuality is a biologically real thing, and unless and until some form of therapy is proven to work that eliminates this dysphoria, one which we know has physiological roots at least in part, I really don’t see any reason to care whether or not these individuals undergo surgery if they believe it will help them. A group that calls itself “gender-critical trans-women” express their desire to undergo surgical transition while avoiding all the usual trappings of transsexualist activism: they don’t care whether others think they’re “real women” or not, because they’re not certain that they think they are, either. But to them, it’s simply beside the point: they want an escape from the dysphoria they experience, and that’s all there is to it. If all transsexuals were like this, I’d have no complaints against them.

Interestingly enough, however, these people tend to state that they are “more afraid of [their] community harming [them] than of society harming [them].”

That community also seems really invested in getting everyone to believe you’re a bigot if you simply don’t want to have sex with them – even if “you” are a heterosexual and they still have the same genitalia as you. This is actually a legal battle that transsexual activists are just shy of guaranteed to lose. “Rape by fraud” is a well-recognized legal category worldwide; in Israel, for example, an Arab man was convicted of “rape by fraud” after portraying himself as a government employee and promising state benefits to a woman if she would sleep with him. Whenever the question of whether it is a form of deception to fail to disclose one’s trans status has come to court – from Scotland to the UK – the legal answer has been Yes.

And at the very least, the fact that there is widespread sentiment against the idea that “stealth-trans sex” is okay means that forcing this issue to the forefront weakens mainstream sympathy towards trans-people as a whole – which reveals a perverse set of priorities on behalf of those trans-activists who would pick this hill, of all hills, to die on. That some of these people are so desperate that they continue to see themselves as victims because they can’t be legally permitted to obtain sex from people by hiding something about themselves that would make those people feel as if they’d been raped or violated – even leaving the legal issues aside – is disturbing. And it’s a reasonable bet a lot of these very same people hop on Tumblr the next day to talk about how “rape culture” is fueled by white men spreading their legs too far apart on the subway.

Moving forward, however, further developments in Leftist “culture” are beginning to make transsexuality seem normal. MTV Voices has recently hired Dev Blair to be one of its voices for “gender non-binaryism.” In “Three Things Nobody Told Me About Being Gender Non–Binary” he says,  “First thing is: pronouns are not easy. Literally, figuring out which pronouns to use to express the kind of gender I feel within myself? The longest and probably hardest part of this whole process. . . There is no guide to figuring out how to express the gender that you feel within you . . . I’m a strong believer that just by virtue of identifying with the label ‘non–binary,’ you have a non–binary body. But there is no right or wrong way to express that, so figuring that out can really mess you up.”

In light of this, it might be worth revisiting where the whole idea of thinking of gender as something you “feel within yourself” came from in the first place. A Harvard publication by David Haig, Ph.D, “The Inexorable Rise of Gender and the Decline of Sex: Social Change in Academic Titles, 1945–2001,” is extremely useful here. According to the abstract:

More than 30 million titles of “academic” articles, from the years 1945–2001, were surveyed for occurrences of the words sex and gender. At the beginning of this period, uses of gender were much rarer than uses of sex, and often used in the sense of a grammatical category. By the end of this period, uses of gender outnumbered uses of sex in the social sciences, arts, and humanities. Within the natural sciences, there was now more than 1 use of gender for every 2 uses of sex. The beginnings of this change in usage can be traced to Money’s introduction of the concept of “gender role” in 1955 (J. Money, 1955). However, the major expansion in the use of gender followed its adoption by feminists to distinguish the social and cultural aspects of differences between men and women (gender) from biological differences (sex). [emphasis mine]

Who was John Money?

Money was a psychologist and sexologist, and as the abstract notes, he originated the modern feminist use of the words “gender” and “sex.” In order to give rise to the idea that gender is essentially nothing more than a social construct, John Money tested his theory on a young boy named Bruce Reimer. After a botched circumcision left the young Bruce without a functional penis, John Money’s solution was to use Bruce’s life as an experiment: he told his parents that since sexologists today know that gender is socially constructed, there would be no problem in taking the easy route by socially constructing Bruce into a girl.

As a result, Bruce was renamed Brenda. His testicles were converted into a vulva, and his parents began raising him as a girl. Milton Diamond later reported that Reimer had spontaneously stopped identifying as a girl by the time he reached the age of 11. When he was 15, he discovered what had happened to him, and he said that he suddenly understood why he had felt so alienated throughout his entire life thus far, and insisted on immediately transitioning back. He changed his name, once again, to David.

In As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl, John Colapinto quotes David as claiming that Dr. Money forced him and his brother to rehearse “thrusting movements,” with David playing the bottom role. He described being told to get “down on all fours” with his brother Brian “up behind his butt,” and other times to have his “legs spread” with Brian on top. He described Dr. Money forcing the children to take their clothes off for “genital inspections,” and at least on “one occasion” noted that Dr. Money took a photograph of the activities. Dr. Money’s rationale for all this was his well-proven expert sexologist opinion that “childhood ‘sexual rehearsal play’ was important for a ‘healthy adult gender identity.’”

In the end, after years of severe depression, financial instability, and a troubled marriage, David Reimer’s life ended up in suicide at the age of 38. These are the twisted origins of the reinterpretation of the word “gender” – which originally referred exclusively to the grammatical inflection of nouns – into a counterpart to the word “sex.” And once these origins were in place, the fate we see unfolding before us today was basically sealed.

If I was told that it was a meaningful way to categorize my experiences, I could start to classify how “pig-like” or how “wolf-like” I feel on any given day. Some days I might feel more energetic and “naturally alpha” than others; some days I might be more gluttonous or greedy. Thus, I might eventually conclude that I must be “trans-species” because I shift from being primarily “pig-like” to being primarily “wolf-like” from day to day. The problem wouldn’t be that this reasoning was wrong – given my starting point, it actually would be accurate, and it would be a natural consequence of the way this exercise had started out.

The problem would have started the moment I began classifying how “pig-like” or “wolf-like” I felt in the first place, because feeling “alpha” doesn’t truly make anyone “wolf-like,” and acting gluttonous doesn’t truly make anyone “pig-like.” All of these emotions are perfectly human emotions, and there’s no reason to remove them from humanity, assign them to different animals, and then try to decide what animal you are today. You’re a human being. Human beings generally tend to feel gluttonous on some days, and “naturally alpha” others. Some feel one or the other more often than others, but they’re all still human beings. All of these things are human.

To view gluttony as essentially “pig-like,” or to view alpha behavior as essentially “wolf-like,” would oversimplify both what it means to be a pig or a wolf and what it means to be human. In the same way, it is liberals, who try to divide “gender” up into a fractured spectrum of a hundred shades, who are operating from an oversimplified caricature of what it means to be a man or a woman. Just as how our current concept of humanity already contains everything that was broken out of humanity and labeled “pig-like” or “wolf-like” in our above examples, the traditional conceptions of masculinity and femininity likewise already contain the nuance liberals like to imagine they’re injecting back into it.

Masculinity and femininity have always been imagined as spectrums rather than as absolute binaries. In other words, no one in all of history has ever thought that all men were equally “masculine” or that all women were equally “feminine.”

Therefore, it does nothing to challenge this concept to point to men who are less masculine than others or women who are less feminine. The concepts of masculinity and femininity already acknowledge that. “Masculinity” is simply defined as the set of traits and behaviors which men exemplify more often than women. “Femininity” is defined as the set of traits and behaviors which women exemplify more often than men. If 75 percent of men do a thing 75 percent more often than 75 percent of women, then that thing is by definition “masculine.” If 75 percent of women do a thing 75 percent more often than 75 percent of men, then that thing is by definition “feminine.”

This definition of “masculinity”/“femininity” is neutral with respect to the extent to which nature versus nurture influences the things men and women do. Of course, it should be obvious to most rational people that both nature and nurture play a role. But the place for that debate is elsewhere. The point here is that no one has ever, in all of history, denied that many women have many “masculine” traits and behaviors, or that many men have many “feminine” traits and behaviors. They just accept that most men are mostly “masculine,” and most women are mostly “feminine,” on balance. And this much is simply true by definition, given the very meaning of the words “masculine” and “feminine.” Beards would still be a “masculine” feature even if only 75 percent of men had 75 percent more facial hair than 75 percent of women. Even if many men had little to no facial hair at all, and some women had more facial hair than some men, increasing the amount of facial hair a person has would still always be seen as making them look “more masculine.”

Furthermore, this much would hold true even if the differences between men and women were entirely the result of socialization. Of course, they aren’t; though there is no visible difference between girls with and without congenital adrenal hyperplasia (CAH), a condition that involves surging a female brain with male hormones at a certain point of their development in utero, girls with CAH still prefer to play with more “masculine” toys, despite the fact that parents encourage them to play with gender-typical toys just as much as they encourage their non-CAH siblings, as early as the age of three. But even if they were, the lay concepts of masculinity and femininity would still be perfectly valid.

In a sense, then, we are all “gender non–binary.”

We don’t fit on a binary when it comes to gender. But that’s not because there are a million subtle shades of gender we need to classify and create an aisle of paint color samples out of. It’s because there is no actual need to decide anyone’s “gender” at all. Knowing a person’s sex is empirically useful: it tells us which sex they’re capable of physically reproducing with. It tells us how they’ll metabolize various drugs. It gives us an idea of the way various diet and fitness strategies might impact them. (Yes, it also gives us a set of stereotypes of which we can be confident that 75 percent of people will meet about 75 percent of the criteria for them, which makes the process of understanding them more efficient even knowing that most people will fail 25 per cent of the criteria, and 25 percent of those people will fail even more criteria than that.)

But if Leftists are allowed to redefine “gender” as something that describes something purely psychological, then knowing a person’s gender will become nothing more than a drastically overconvoluted way of asking them what mood they’re in. Knowing what kind of mood a person is in is useful information. But pretending that our moods are a response to some amorphous inner essence changing form, as if our souls literally change sex while our bodies remain the same, is sheer nonsense. That is, unless we’re acknowledging that these peoples’ feelings of being masculine or feminine are fluctuating precisely because, for example, their testosterone levels are changing . . . which would only validate the traditional conceptions of masculinity and femininity, anyway.

When people say “gender” is socially constructed, they’re right – but they’re only right because of the way the very concept of “gender” itself was socially constructed. The roots of the problem lie in the rotten origins of that very word – and that’s why the answer is to abandon it completely. Once we allowed horribly confused “experts” with weird perversions to ruin innocent peoples’ lives to test their pet theories and then distort the English language in service to that same end, these developments were inevitable. Hormones, chromosomes, and the biological systems (including both brain structures and, yes, genitalia) whose development is driven by those two features are real. The word “sex” was, for centuries, sufficient to refer to these real phenomena when necessary. “Sex” refers to an objective, biological fact about a human being. And gender refers to nouns. Our fight against “progressive” redefinitions of normalcy should stand against “progressive” redefinition of words. Our stand for traditionalism should involve a return to the traditional meaning of these appropriated words. The most concise way to cut through the nonsense of “gender non–binaryism” is to insist that the very idea of “gender,” itself, is nonsense that was artificially foisted on a spontaneously evolving, authentic culture in the first place. And when someone starts talking about how many genders there are—especially if their answer is more than two—catch their attention by telling them that, if they’re talking about genders of people, then the answer is zero.

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