General Question

Caravanfan's avatar

How woke are you in the subject of human gender and sexuality (read link)?

Asked by Caravanfan (6610points) 1 week ago

An interesting blog post by Jerry Coyne today made me think of this. Read this before you answer:

https://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2020/02/14/a-defense-of-the-binary-in-human-sex/

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53 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

I haven’t a clue as to “how woke” I might be. More to the point, I could care less.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I stopped reading when he said he wasn’t going to consider the issue of whether gender was binary.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Ah. Then you missed the point.

rebbel's avatar

Woke AF

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

Sex is binary seemed to be the point. Gender might not be, but he wasn’t interested in discussing that.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake Actually he did discuss it. He said it’s bimodal.

gorillapaws's avatar

It’s a subject beyond the scope of my knowledge.

It is my understanding that FMRIs show a difference in gender for some people that doesn’t correspond to their sex organs. That would imply different physiology in the brain of trans people. At that point we’re not talking about psychology, but about physiology. I really don’t understand the definitional boundaries of sex, gender, nor of the physiology behind how gender works in the brain to make any intelligent comments.

What I can say is the author seems to be falling into the is-ought trap, by putting forth social arguments to explain something that should be defined through science and experimentation. I can talk all day about how it ought to be possible to exceed the speed of light because it would be better for mankind, but the argument is worthless if experimentation demonstrates that it’s impossible.

Demosthenes's avatar

I agree that sex is binary, but for a few exceptions like intersex individuals.

I think it’s useful to use the term gender to refer to something other than biological sex, viz. the societal expression of biological sex defined as “man” and “woman”, as opposed to “male” and “female” (defined by genetics). I think for the most part, gender is binary too. I do not think there are that many people who identify as some kind of in-between or something other than a man or woman, but there are some who do, and I don’t deny their ability to do so. It should be noted that the notion of being trans does not deny the binary. It simply denies the idea that biological sex and gender identity are always harmoniously in sync, which is why I find it somewhat amusing when people yell at trans people “there are only two genders!”. Most trans people are transitioning from male-to-female or from female-to-male. There is no third gender involved here.

I think it’s precarious to “transition” young children. While I think it’s possible for a child to show signs of dysphoria and a trans person to know they are trans at a young age, I do not think any decisions about hormone treatment or surgery should be made until they are at least older teens and can make an informed decision themselves.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

@Caravanfan I skimmed the second article you linked. What is your intent here?

I believe that being transgender is a real thing. I do not believe that we know all there is to know about the issue. We still have more to learn.

I fully support my transgender brothers and sisters to express themselves freely and without fear.

@Demosthenes Actually, there is a third gender in many traditional cultures. Here in Hawaii it’s called “mahu.” The same idea exists in most indigenous cultures.

Caravanfan's avatar

@Hawaii_Jake My intent is to engender discussion.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Some of the identity politics is bordering on anti-science but I do believe we are just learning the basics. I don’t think gender is very fluid, you’re more or less born with the hardware that defines that (with some notable exceptions) The preferences and identity you develop are up for debate. Any choice in the matter is essentially an illusion though. I believe we’ll eventually find answers in genetics and epigenetics. For the vast majority of us it’s a fixed quantity but not all so we can’t ignore those who are outliers as it’s a real, documented phenomena. I don’t think that the “wokesters” don’t know WTF they are talking about most of the time though.

Yellowdog's avatar

I agree with @ARE_you_kidding_me perfectly.

But no matter how “fluid” sexuality is imagined to be, there is still only male and female. Everything else is something in between, scrambled, or something with none.

There is no ‘third’ or any other sex. Its male and female, and whatever in-between or combinations in the human psyche.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@Yellowdog and this is coming from someone with real experience being born as inter-sex correct? I would be very interested to hear more on your take as you are in a unique position to speak with authority on this.

gondwanalon's avatar

Not my circus.
Not my monkeys.

Yellowdog's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me Yes, I am a hermaphrodite. I was born with small testicles so modifications were made, and by the time I was ten years old I was receiving injections of male hormones. The right choice was made because I like girls and have always identified as male. I looked a lot more like a girl in my childhood and early teens. And, oddly, somewhat in my late teens / young adult years.

Jonsblond's avatar

I don’t need to be woke to accept people for who they are. My son won the lottery for having accepting parents.

Jonsblond's avatar

@Caravanfan those bills are harmful to the well being of transgender children.

Jonsblond's avatar

@Demosthenes it sadness me that you have these views. Please look at the research of how important it is for transgender children to receive hormone blockers.

@areyoukiddingme You need to educate yourself on the subject before you speak.

I have three years of research on this subject and access to all professionals thanks to my support group. My son has been out as transgender for over three years. If you want access to Jazz Jennings and her support I can get that for you.

JLeslie's avatar

There is the condition where a person can have an extra X chromosome and be XXY. Or, where an XY doesn’t have their male sexuality organs fully developed. These type of anomalies seem biological to me. I guess one could argue that “normally” we have two genders, male and female, and the other situations fall outside of the norm, or what is normal. Kind of like human beings have 2 arms, 2 legs, 10 fingers, and 10 toes, but some people are born with 6 fingers on one hand, or no legs. Are they less human? Of course not. Is it necessary to categorize people by their limbs, or even by their gender? I’m not sure it needs to be such an issue.

I don’t know how woke I am, maybe I’m a 7 or 8 on a scale of 10. Maybe some people would see me lower.

I agree that very young children shouldn’t be encouraged to think about gender, and if they feel confused just let them be confused for a while. When I was 4 years old I barely knew there was a difference between boys and girls it was a non-issue. Children get locked into things because they get afraid of being in trouble, want to please their parents, have peer pressure, and all of this can lead to children not being able to change their minds, and it’s tricky for them to know who they are. I say this about all children about so many things they confront.

I absolutely believe some people at very young ages know they are gay or trans, but I also think environment can have a part, and that it’s not always, not every time, “born that way.” Sometimes yes, sometimes no, I think there are many factors.

The question of when to treat a child who feels they are the opposite gender of what they were assigned is extremely tricky to me. I’m reluctant to give hormones to anyone, any age, I’m including HRT for menopausal women, and testosterone for low T adult men. However, if the teen is extremely unhappy being the gender that biology gave them, then I can understand their need to be the other gender. I would not want to be a man, I would not want their body, the idea of it is extremely uncomfortable for me, so I assume that is what is it like for transgender people, and I have empathy for that.

I think society should have less focus on gender, and in some ways we do. The more equal the genders are, the less it comes up. We should continue down that path as a society in my opinion, but I’m not ready to say get rid of gender pronouns and societal cues altogether.

There are more people than you would think around us that have genetic anomalies regarding gender. Biological abnormalities. I once was at a lecture that gave stats on it, I don’t remember the stats, but much high than I imagined.

Jonsblond's avatar

You all would be horrified by the stories I hear in my support group with over 9000 parents with transgender children. Young children trying to cut off their penis at the age of 4 and the parent posting while they are in the emergency room. The parents who post about the suicide attempts while they are waiting in ICU. You can all have your opinions. I have the raw facts.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jonsblond I think in those extreme cases people are empathetic to why transitioning is so important at an early age. Are you saying every transgender child is horrified by their body even at age 4? I assume it varies for each individual person like everything.

Jonsblond's avatar

^ I’m saying if any child is horrified at that age we need to accept them and give them the help they need. To deny their feelings will only bring more harm.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jonsblond I’m agreeing with you, I’m just asking or saying, that I don’t think all transgender children have such extreme circumstances.

Jonsblond's avatar

Of course, but they can’t be ignored.

I will say any transgender person deals with extreme circumstances.

My son went to a movie with his transgender girlfriend tonight for Valentines Day. I saw the hateful looks his girlfriend received when I picked them up. It was disturbing and I live in a liberal city. Hate and ignorance is everywhere.

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MrGrimm888's avatar

What I don’t understand, is why we can’t accept one other . Regardless of any mindset.
We’re all the same. We all have the same anatomy, and we all bleed red. We all feel pain.We all die. We all are the SAME….
WTF, is the problem?...

Jonsblond's avatar

@JLeslie most transgender children do have extreme circumstances. This is why they need medical help.

My son’s psychiatrist recommended hormone therapy for his well being at the age of 15. He had suicidal thoughts before this. He’s had a year of being on testosterone and he’s thriving. This was all on recommendation from his psychiatrist and pediatrician. He’s finally happy after three years of suffering.

We have the best medical team in Madison, Wisconsin. That’s why we moved here.

hmmmmmm's avatar

I’m not smart (or patient) enough to understand what Coyne is getting at. Maybe @Caravanfan can explain what the point of Coyne’s essay is, and what type of discussion it should engender.

I’m not sure this stuff is that difficult. My kids don’t have any issues with it, but seem to run into problems with older people who seem attached to very specific concepts of gender. Even “woke” parents seem to make the younger generation uncomfortable in their clumsy attempts at navigating something as simple as human expression and existence.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I hate that you can’t even attempt talk about this rationally without getting attacked.

JLeslie's avatar

@Jonsblond Like I said, I have empathy for those who feel they are in the wrong body and can see why hormone therapy would help. I worry about side effects of hormone therapy, but like with all medications, sometimes the medication is worth the possible side effects. I take very seriously the depression and suicidal thoughts young people have. Many children are suicidal, but it’s understandable that certain groups of children are more prone to it. Feeling alone, self loathing, feeling unacceptable, all these things I assume are heightened in many LGBTQ children.

I hate having to give children drugs, but I go along with it, even recommend it to friends when they seem warranted, I’m not a brick wall. When one of our jellies has a suicidal child I told him I would get Xanax if possible to get his son through his acute desperation stage. I hate the addictive quality of Xanax, but I felt his child was in a precarious state, and needed a drug that would have dramatic affect to release him from his anxiety. When my friend’s son was out of control I thought she needed to try the ADHD meds, or he would not thrive, but one of our other friends I said just the opposite for her kid when a teacher wanted her son on the drugs. I would be the same about a transgender child and whether to take hormones. Case by case.

I’m not a doctor as you know, it’s just my layman’s opinion.

I will warn that doctors tend to be tunnel vision in their specialty. I say this about all doctors. It sounds like you and your son are very happy with this team of doctors, I think that’s great.

Caravanfan's avatar

@hmmmmmm Tom, I’m trying to provoke discussion, which I did, so thanks. I don’t have a pony in this race myself, but like everything else in my life, my personal opinion is moderate. My opinion is that there is a difference between biological sex assigned at birth and gender. I agree with Coyne in that it is bimodal—the vast majority of the human population are male or female. I disagree with @Jonsblond in that I agree with @Demosthenes point of view in that it’s precarious to transition children.

Yellowdog's avatar

Four year olds may know their sex or confuse them, or play with toys of the other sex and not their own, but they are not aware of sexual differences enough to be transgender,

Tropical_Willie's avatar

@Yellowdog your opinion ! I know you are not a professional medical person.

Yellowdog's avatar

Then why won’t medical professionals put four year olds under the knife?

Gender dysphoria in small children is usually influenced by the parent(s)

Tropical_Willie's avatar

So it is your opinion !! AGAIN NOT A SOURCE !!!!!

rebbel's avatar

Gender dysphoria in small children is usually influenced by the parent(s)

Have you personally interviewed children and their parents, and if so, have you interviewed a large enough number of said families to base your above statement on?

Jonsblond's avatar

@Caravanfan disagree all you want but professionals who are educated on the subject will tell you it is a life or death situation with most transgender children. You are lucky this isn’t personal for you.

Jonsblond's avatar

@hmmmmmm you are correct. Most children have no issues understanding this. It’s the parents who are stubborn.

hmmmmmm's avatar

@Caravanfan, your disinterested “moderate” view lies somewhere between that life and death. “Moderates” really believe that moderate = reasonable. It’s a pervasive belief that leads people to justify all kinds of horrors.

The fact that you can confidently declare that you don’t “have pony in this race” should be the point at which you start listening to those that do.

Jonsblond's avatar

^Thank you!

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

The percentage of the population that are trans is in the ballpark of about a half a percent. I believe in being compassionate and as accommodating as reasonably possible but we are talking about an extreme minority. People in general have a hard time with some of this and expecting them to be “woke” on something they are that far removed from simply is not realistic. For roughly 99.5% of us gender is more or less fixed. What is the problem here with accepting that fact when speaking in generalities? People act like that is some shockingly ignorant thing to say.

rebbel's avatar

I believe in being compassionate and as accommodating as reasonably possible but we are talking about an extreme minority.

Why not stop that sentence after the word possible?
Why the need to but the first part of the sentence?

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I don’t think most people would have a problem with that first statement. They have a problem when they get called bigots or ignorant for saying that for the vast majority of people gender is fixed and binary.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Are_you Fact is, we’re still learning about all of this as a society. Whether certain meds are covered is an issue, to begin with, as well as transition surgeries.

To me it’s similar to being woke on diabetic med cost or Narcan costs. We all have some responsibility to educate ourselves to a degree.

Demosthenes's avatar

The problem is that there are unresolved issues around trans people. I have no problem using someone’s preferred pronoun, I have no problem with a trans person who looks like the gender they identify with using the restroom of their choice (what are we going to do, inspect people’s genitals when they enter a restroom?) The “bathroom bill” nonsense was a non-issue blown out of proportion for the sake of “culture war”.

I do, however, take issue with using hormone blockers on pre-pubescent children. Of course I understand that such treatments are more effective if done before puberty, but this leads to the paradox that it’s also after puberty when a person really knows more about who they are. And some young children may show signs of being trans but may change their mind later on, or reveal that they are gender-neutral or some kind of non-binary rather than trans, etc. Yes, I realize that some people make similar statements about sexual orientation, but if you’re a 13-year-old who comes out as gay (but then later realize you are in fact bi), you’re not making an irreversible decision about your physical body. I don’t know the statistics about people who regret transitioning, but they are out there and that’s a problem. Some of the testimonials from parents of very young children who are apparently trans seem very questionable to me and I can’t help but wonder how much is being projected onto the child by the parent. My parents would be the first to say they assumed I was gay from a young age based on behaviors I exhibited as young as 4. But they still let me come out on my own terms and didn’t try to label me before I was able to label myself.

Then of course there is the issue of trans athletes. Gender-separated athletics being an area of life where we take into account the physical differences between men and women. If we are going to have gender-separated athletics, then maybe there are some things that certain trans people simply can’t participate in if it’s to remain fair. Otherwise we should be examining the entire structure of these sports and the rationale behind separating them by gender.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@KNOWITALL My point is that many people tend to make a mountain out of a mole hill when it comes to things like this. Sure there is much to learn but to go as far as to call gender “fluid” I would be confident in saying not for 99% of us. It’s not so fluid for the 1% either. It’s not like being born feeling you are the other sex is much of a choice. It’s a matter of fact. If you separate the facts from the victim and villain stories people tell themselves then there is not much reason for any hate to get thrown around. We just all need to be objective about this so that everyone is treated properly and with respect. Trans individuals are an an exceedingly higher risk for major depressive disorders and the suicide rates are quite high. They usually require a great deal of counseling and support but it’s often fleeting. Kudos to @Jonsblond for being so supportive of her child. I don’t believe anyone is attacking the support they need which is one of those facts. I can see how it would feel that way though.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@Are_You Seems that we may never have real stats until everyone feels safe though. Like mental illness, there’s so much stigma.

MrGrimm888's avatar

There shouldn’t be any stigma. People can’t choose to be born, a certain way.

KNOWITALL's avatar

@MrGrimm888 There shouldn’t be racism or baby rape or incest or anything like that either, but it happens every day. I agree with you, of course.

How many times do we see people use ‘crazy’ here as a descriptor? It’s stigma language.

Caravanfan's avatar

@ARE_you_kidding_me got it in one. I agree with him completely. And I do know that some children are transgender and absolutely need to be supported. I am uncomfortable with hormonal or surgical treatment for these children unless there are extreme circumstances. If there is a genetic syndrome, say an AR mutation or an XY karyotype with an XX phenotype, then I have less of an issue. For a wild type XX or XY genotype and phenotype and operating on those (i.e. cutting off the penis of a 7 year old boy, for instance) I am more uncomfortable.

If that point of view draws derision from the rest of you, so be it. I did, after all, ask the question.

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