Why Transgenderism is a Harmful and Incoherent Concept

Transgenderism is the notion that a human being is a gender other than the gender assigned to them at birth. This is predicated on a distinction between sex and gender—sex being the biological binary of one’s genitalia and genetics, using the terms “male” and “female,” and gender being the psychological “identity” of the self, using the terms “man” and “woman.” So, as the story goes, transgender individuals psychologically identify with a gender opposite of their natal biology. A transgender man is an individual who is a female who has chosen to identify as a male. A traditional man, conversely, whose gender and sex are aligned, is called a “cis-gender,” from the Latin prefix cis, which broadly connotes that two objects are aligned. 

In this article, we will explore the plausible philosophical accounts of gender, and thereby of transgenderism, and the ways in which each of these accounts is either internally inconsistent with the transgender concept or conceptually contradictory to the leftist political ideology which purports to be its champion.

Three Philosophical Ways of Conceiving Transgenderism

There are three philosophical ways we can conceive of gender mis-alignment. These three philosophical perspectives are rooted in more fundamental conceptions of the human person—what a person is, and how a person’s consciousness relates to their body. These three philosophical positions are: metaphysical realism, social constructivism, and monadic materialism.

Each of these three perspectives equip transgenderism with different tools in order to achieve the strategy of answering the question: “What does it mean to have a gender?” Or, more philosophically, What is the “essence” of one’s gender?

The first category is metaphysical realism, known popularly among philosophers as Cartesian substance dualism.[1] Metaphysical realism proposes that there is a categorical distinction within a person between what is materially substantive about them, and what is immaterially substantive about them. If you take, for example, the concept of consciousness—or, the mind—a metaphysical realist would say that the mind is something which really exists as an object in the universe, and that it has its own faculties, powers, operations, quiddities, qualities, and indispensable properties. In other words, for the metaphysical realist, materiality is not a precondition for existence—an individualized entity can exist without having a material constitution.   

Thomas Nagel, a philosopher and ethicist at New York University, distinguishes between two aspects of human consciousness—Ψ (psi), which is “a mental event like pain or a taste sensation,” and Φ (phi), “the corresponding physical event in the central nervous system.”

Thomas Nagel, a philosopher and ethicist at New York University, distinguishes between two aspects of human consciousness—Ψ (psi), which is “a mental event like pain or a taste sensation,” and Φ (phi), “the corresponding physical event in the central nervous system.”[2] We could draw an analogy here for gender and sex—the metaphysical realist transgender advocate might say that Ψ is gender, and the Φ is sex.

The second category is social constructivism. Social constructivism proposes that gender is a social construct. This view incentivizes people to stop speaking about so-called “masculinity” and “femininity” as if they were metaphysically real, but rather to speak about “constructed masculinities.”[3] This movement was created by postmodern and critical approaches to gender that sought to deconstruct the boundaries of masculinity which stigmatized homosexuality—so that men could consider themselves “manly homosexuals” without a contradiction in terms—and likewise to liberate women from traditionalist conceptions of gender which socialized them into submission.[4]

In the materialist perspective, gender reassignment surgery really does accomplish a transition of gender insofar as the physical monadism proscribes a meaningful disconnect between sex and gender.

In this construal, transgender individuals have been irrevocably socialized as having a mis-aligned gender identification, which serves to justify gender transition strategies. Transitioning genders, in this perspective, simply serves to accommodate more comfortably one’s socialized self-conception of having a gender that is alternative to their natal sex.

Third, in the monadic materialist conception of gender, manhood and womanhood are strictly identified with maleness and femaleness. In this conception, a trans person is simply one who is genetically and sexually a particular sex, who hormonally and surgically alters their body in order to aesthetically align it with the alternative gender. Monadic materialism is similar to metaphysical realism in that it views gender as real, but it would not admit to a distinction between the Ψ and Φ—instead, whatever is physically apparent in terms of an individual simply is the case for their gender. In this regard, and in this monadic perspective, gender reassignment surgery really does accomplish a transition of gender insofar as the physical constitutes the metaphysical—and, in the monadic materialist view, physical alteration constitutes a metaphysical alteration, even if sexual reassignment does not achieve genetic credibility.

How Transgenderism Philosophically Neuters Leftism  

Conceived in any of these perspectives, in isolation, transgenderism is conceivable. As an idea—as absurd and twisted as its normalization is—it is not difficult to grasp. But each of these philosophical options for conceiving gender—and thereby transgenderism—has devastating consequences for the left, and actually leaches onto conservatism in a way that cannot survive.

First, if we conceive transgenderism in a metaphysically realist way, then we establish the strongest case for gender reassignment surgery. If a male has a male body (in terms of Φ) and yet is a woman (in terms of Ψ), then this is the strongest philosophical justification for modifying Φ to fit Ψ, if in fact the alteration of Ψ is not an option—and I don’t know why it wouldn’t be. But if an individual is metaphysically a woman, and yet physically a male, then this would at least explain why a surgery might be appropriate—even though it says nothing of whether this metaphysical claim is in fact true, which is an entirely separate critique of transgenderism.

If there is such a thing as metaphysical maleness and femaleness, then this completely undercuts the second-wave and third-wave feminist claim that there is nothing distinctly different about women. If gender is a metaphysical reality to which individuals are accountable, then gender operates out of and in accountability to these notions of gender. The definition of “man” and “woman” would not be up for debate, because there would be an object with indispensable properties, and in an Aristotelian sense, those properties would need to constitute themselves metaphysically within each person in order to qualify the person to count themselves as “trans” at all.

The strongest explanatory account of transgenderism completely undercuts the philosophy of feminism—which is that men and women are metaphysically indistinguishable in role, kind, and capacity. In other words, if the philosophical legitimization of transgenderism were true, cis-gendered populations would be philosophically bound to traditionalism and conservatism. It is essentially an Aristotelian justification that wins one political battle for the left and loses all the rest.[5]

Second, if we take the social constructivist account of gender, then one’s sense of identification with a gender other than one’s natal sex is merely a matter of socialization. This makes the process of aligning their gender and their sex merely a matter of socialization, it makes the very conception of gender a matter of social construct, and at the same time philosophically removes any impetus for gender reassignment.

If manhood and womanhood are simply social constructs which are not ethically binding on individuals, then this empties the urgency and legitimation of gender reassignment surgery completely. If an individual is born a male and identifies as a woman, why not just remain a male, and shift your “definition” of a woman to having male genitals and doing traditionally manly things?

Leftists aren’t interested in consistency—they are blinded by their passion for accumulating victim cards.

This is another way that transgenderism goes against the grain of leftist ideology—transgenderism is really predicated on a modernist, realist conception of gender, and to conceive of gender as a social construct raises two questions: (1) Why let a social construct have so much power over you that you actually surgically remove your sex organs? (2) If you suffer from gender dysphoria, why not just socialize your conception of your mis-aligned gender into alignment with your physical gender? Of course, asking these questions will do no use, because leftists aren’t interested in consistency—they are blinded by their passion for accumulating victim cards. And the trans community is a token oppressed community on the margins of normal society upon which leftists capitalize to make middle-class white women feel morally superior to their conservative friends. 

Third, if we take the monadic materialist conception of gender—that one’s sex is one’s gender—then the power to change one’s gender loses its very rationale. There is no philosophical space in a monadic view for there to be a mis-alignment. The human person is, in this sense, conceived as a metaphysically simple entity, meaning that there are no real distinctions between a person’s sex and gender.

The power to change one’s gender in a monadic materialist scheme through physically altering sex markers can provide no rationale for such option—there can be no dysphoria, because the gender is the sex. So, one may undergo gender reassignment surgery in a monadic materialist framework under the delusion that reassignment surgery is actually accomplishing a gender reassignment—which it does most potently in the monadic materialist view—but such an action is both grave and philosophically unjustified. The urge to surgically remove one’s sex markers, especially in the monadic materialist view—which is the only philosophical perspective in which gender reassignment surgery means anything—ought to be treated as a compulsion to self-mutilate, and therefore as a disorder, rather than merely a dysphoria.

Conclusion

A recent meta-analysis of 10 prospective follow-up studies found that for children who met the criteria for gender dysphoria, 80% of these cases of dysphoria receded when they went through puberty—meaning that the body’s natural hormone therapy that every individual experiences actually eases a sense of dysphoria or gender mis-alignment.[6] In other words, if children are confused by mis-informing educators and media, and buy into one of these absurd trans scripts of self-identification, with the right social support from parents, this will naturally go away. The problem isn’t with heteronormativity or cis-normativity. The problem is with the normalization of these scripts for children by the media and leftist public school teachers who tell kids that being trans puts you in a special, praiseworthy group that deserves attention and admiration.

The most common cases of adolescent transgenderism are among young girls who identify as young boys, comprising up to 90% of some of the largest clinical samples. This means that young boys comprise the surge in transgenderism to a far lesser degree. More than that, adolescents who report non-cisgender identity came disproportionately often from very poor families with high rates of unemployment and low-paying jobs.[7] 

Transgenderism is a predatory leftist idea that statistically preys upon and destroys lower-income little girls. Just like the unborn, these are victims of Obama-era leftism that need political and ideological protection from politically hypnotized parents that abuse their children by encouraging or allowing their adolescent and preadolescent gender reassignment.

And the people who really pay the price for the left’s insanity about transgenderism are children.

One medical doctor — Stephen Rosenthal, a transgender supporter and professor of pediatrics — writes in the Oxford publication The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, makes two points: (1) gender transition should occur as early as possible, and (2) all procedures must be accompanied by an education of the patient about the issues in order to ensure that they are acting out of informed consent.[8] But children can’t consent. That’s why statutory rape is a crime. That’s why a 40 year-old can’t have sex with a 15 year old under any condition. Adolescents, and especially preadolescents, cannot give consent. In this way, leftist political ideology is harmful not only to children with gender dysphoria who want to undergo the irrevocable and harmful transition process, but it sets a legal precedent for consent that could very well erode the hard line that protects minors from sexual predators.

And the people who really pay the price for the left’s insanity about transgenderism are children. But this is perfectly rational, because the left has never cared about children. Encouraging preadolescent gender reassignment fits hand-in-glove with late term abortions. It is the ultimate and extreme end of wanting to avoid the stiff, moral conservatism of the 1990s and becoming the America’s “cool” party. The left has taken tolerance to such an extreme that it has been consumed in chaos, and has no boundaries or borders at all. Leftism is a snake eating its own tail. Its product that it proffers is a sense of moral aggravation and smug self-righteousness to middle-class whites, and a psychologically stunting sense of victimhood to ethnic and sexual minorities.  

You can’t say that gender is so conceptually ephemeral that traditional gender norms ought to be redefined to fit each individual’s constitution, and at the same time say that gender is something so metaphysically real and binding that individuals ought to change their fundamental physical constitution to accommodate the morphological and normative constraints of this genderment.  

When you speak to a “trans man,” you are neither speaking to a trans individual or a man in any sense—you are speaking to a cis-gendered woman who is judging you for not buying into her delusions.

But this all culminates in an important point, which is ultimately the profound difference between conservatives and leftists. Conservatives are actually trying to build a rational system which is accountable to the truth, and rejects postmodernism for the most part. Leftism isn’t trying to build anything. They jump from issue to issue trying to win as many political issues as possible. They’re like the Joker from The Dark Knight—“Do I really look like a guy with a plan?” Look at your average leftists. Talk to them. Listen to the words coming out of their mouth. It’s nonsense. It’s gibberish—leftist speech is just verbal slush strewn with aggravated moral accusations against anyone who disagrees with them. Do they talk like principled people? Do they speak as if they have a coherent system they’re trying to defend?

The very ideology that makes possible the leftist deconstruction of traditional values is postmodernism—an incredulity toward metanarratives. Their entire system is anti-coherence. They are just going to keep throwing accelerant on the dumpster fire of their ideology no matter who pays the cost, even small children who hear their teachers peddling this abusive and ridiculous notion that transgenderism is common, normal, and acceptable.

It is not. It is false. When you speak to a “trans man,” you are neither speaking to a trans individual or a man in any sense—you are speaking to a cis-gendered woman who is judging you for not buying into her delusions. You’re speaking to a person with a mental illness. You’re speaking to someone who needs help, and who is being manipulated, abused, and underserved by Leftism.

FOOTNOTES

[1] Otherwise called “metaphysical dualism” or “substance dualism”—most commonly “Cartesian dualism” due to the origination of the popular form of this idea in René Descartes: “I am, then, in the strict sense only a thing that thinks; that is, I am a mind, or intelligence, or intellect, or reason—words whose meaning I have been ignorant of until now. But for all that I am a thing which is real and which truly exists. But kind of a thing? AS I have just said—a thinking thing.” René Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy: With Selections from the Objections and Replies, Revised edition, trans. and ed. John Cottingham, Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996; orig., Meditationes de Prima Philosophia, 1641), 18 (2.27).

[2] Thomas Nagel, Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature is Almost Certainly False (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012), 39. Notice how Nagel is not concerned with the distinction between the activation of taste buds and the taste sensation, but rather the distinction between the physiological experience of the sensation of taste in the central nervous system and the actual taste sensation in a person’s psychology – in their Ψ.

[3] See, for example, W. H. Courtenay, “Constructions of Masculinity and their Influence on Men’s Well-Being: A Theory of Gender and Health,” Social Science & Medicine 50, no. 10 (2000): 1385-1401.

[4] See, for example, Simone de Beaubior, The Second Sex, trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier (New York: Vintage Books, 2010; orig., Le deuxième sexe, 1949).

[5] For a good summation of Aristotle’s metaphysical taxonomy, read his book Categories (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1938).

[6] J. Ristory and T. D. Steensma, “Gender Dysphoria in Childhood,” International Review of Psychiatry 28, no. 1 (2016): 13-20.

[7] L. Carvalho, “Childhood Circumstances and the Intergenerational Transmission of Socioeconomic Status,? Demography 49, no. 3 (2012): 913-938; M. Jacob and S. R. Cox, “Examining Transgender Health Through the International Classification of  Functioning, Disability, and Health’s (ICF) Contextual Factors,” Quality of Life Research 26, no. 12 (2017): 3177-3185; T. C. Clarjk, M. F. Lucassen, P. Bullen, et al., “The Health and Well-Being of Transgender High School Students: Results from the New Zealand Adolescent Health Survey (Youth ’12),” Journal of Adolescent Health 55, no. 1 (2014): 93-99.

[8] Stephen M. Rosenthal, “Approach to the Patient: Transgender Youth: Endocrine Considerations,” The Journal of Clinical, Endocrinology & Metabolism 99, no. 12 (2014): 4379-4389.

 
 

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