New York Times headline: Anatomy Does Not Determine Gender, Experts Say
Defining gender as a condition determined strictly by a person’s genitals is based on a notion that doctors and scientists abandoned long ago as oversimplified and often medically meaningless.
Researchers who have studied gender issues and provided health care to people who do not fit the typical M/F pigeonholes said that the Trump administration’s latest plan to define gender goes beyond the limits of scientific knowledge.
“The idea that a person’s sex is determined by their anatomy at birth is not true, and we’ve known that it’s not true for decades,” said Dr. Joshua D. Safer, an endocrinologist and executive director of the Center for Transgender Medicine and Surgery at Mount Sinai Health System in New York. He is also president of the United States Professional Association of Transgender Health.
Insanity—and you will recognize the analogy—lies on a spectrum. The writer of the piece can be lying or exaggerating when she says genitals don’t determine sex. Lying is a mild form of insanity. So much so that ends-justifies-the-means political writing is never classified as true mental disease. But it is madness just the same.
The writer might also earnestly believe that, for instance, a man is not a man but a man is whatever he says he is, including a woman. The writer might be so convinced of this form of magic that the man becomes a woman in her (the writer’s) eye. That is, in her mind.
That’s true over-the-cliff madness, and genuine insanity. Of course, experts might no longer say so, but that’s because, as all know, many are scared to death of the political consequences of speaking the truth. That cowardice is, like lying, a mild form of madness, too.
The question before us is: is the Times writer exaggerating or is she nuts? I put it at 50/50. The paper she writes for prevaricates continuously, believing their fibs serve a higher purpose. But then the paper also seeks out the occasional true believer to give its pieces that certain je ne sais quoi that can’t be faked.
The mutilator with the MD is probably a true believer, and genuinely crazy. Any doctor that says a person’s anatomy does not determine their sex is at best a bad doctor. At worst, he’s a loon. Yet there is the possibility he is talking about the very rare cases of intersex persons, who, having certain genetic malformations, suffer (let us call them) inconsistent genitals. But he could have said that and not implied that the vast, vast, vast majority of people do not have these inconsistencies, and whose sex is determined. So he could be exaggerating too, for effect.
Notice very carefully that Safer did not say a person’s gender but a person’s sex is not determined by their anatomy at birth. We can grant, at least for the sake of argument, “gender” to be term indicating sexual desire, which is various and indeed, or rather alas, does not always match a person’s sex. But if we grant this, we have to call those who claim to be a gender not matching their sex to be crazy or medically broken.
So is the writer crazy or exaggerating? Is this Safer exaggerating or nuts? Don’t answer yet! For right after denying a person’s visible biology has anything to do with their visible biology, they ask “Are genes a factor?” To which the writer answers and safer agrees “Genetics does play a role”. This gives substantial weight to exaggerating. Or madness matched with breathtaking stupidity. For how else can you claim genes “play a role” and yet deny the visible effect of these same genes?
Safer says later “being transgender is not a matter of choice”, and that it is “not a fad or a whim.” This also goes against the evidence that it is very much a fad, whim, and choice for many. How many times have we read of those who regret their lost appendages? How many packs of cool teenage girls make the “transition” together? If Safer believes what he’s saying, then he is genuinely nuts. But we can’t help recalling he makes his living pushing this stuff, which gives weight to exaggerating.
I don’t know about you, but I’m still at 50/50 for both options.