it’s not as catchy as “Bias makes you stupid, ” but “Ideology makes you unethical” is just as true. However, just as bias is unavoidable, ideologies of some kind are necessary. The trick is to find one that doesn’t do more harm than good.
The diagram above was explained to me by a friend, fan and boss, the late Richard Halpern. He was a devotee of Chaos Theory, which he called his “religion.’ Life is chaos, he said, and human systems were chaotic. He likened living to a passenger plane’s journey through the endlessly unpredictable air currents and weather phenomenon in the skies. He analogized the plane’s guidance system to a linear constant through chaos, without which, Rich said, the plane would be lost. “No plane follows the charted path the whole trip, because it is constantly knocked off course, but that constant is there for the plane to return to. Ideologies are the same: you have to have that ever-present constant or be lost, with no basis for deciding where to turn, and when you’re navigating through chaos, it really doesn’t matter what it is.
This is why religion is so useful, and all mandated value systems, what Ethics Alarms defines as “morality.” Laws are mandated moral codes, You don’t have to make a million separate decisions, just one: Follow that constant! The constant can be repugnant to others or based on myth and bias, but once someone commits to it, it will do the job. This is where cults come from. This is how Amway became successful. This is why people elevate political and social goals to the point that all of their decisions about who to associate with, what to watch and read and how to align priorities are based on them. Abortion. The environment. “Social justice.”
A new book by Helen Joyce, an Irish journalist who is executive editor for events business of “The Economist,” takes on one of the weirder ideologies that has arisen in recent years, what she calls “gender-identity ideology.” It would be nice if she were a psychiatrist, or a doctor, but then those and most other professional groups in the United States have been so cowed into knee-jerk alliance with the progressive movement that any member of them daring to challenge the cant would face “cancellation.” Her book is titled “Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality.” To be fair, that title could be fairly and accurately adapted to any ideology; remember that neo-conservative icon Irving Kristol (yes, Bill’s dad) famously said that a conservative was “a liberal who has been mugged by reality.” (A cynic is a neo-conservative who was mugged by Iraq.)
But few ideologies have emerged so spectacular driven by Rationalization #64, “Isn’t what it is” as the topic of Joyce’s critique. She begins by stating that most people “understand the call for ‘trans rights’ to mean compassionate concessions that enable a suffering minority to live full lives, in safety and dignity.” Most people also support that view, as does Joyce. Gender-identity ideology,however, insists that everyone has a “gender identity” that only they can determine and declare, and neither science, nor biology, nor societal conventions can deny them. This is the new “transgender.” By this ideology, “people should count as men or women according to how they feel and what they declare, instead of their biology,” and to ensure this becomes a societal norm, it must be enshrined in law an enforced by social pressures.
Just because an ideology serves as a linear constant through chaos doesn’t mean that its absence of logic or reconciliation with basic human experience won’t result in terrible harm. Racism is an ideology, after all. Gender-identity ideology has sent, in Ireland, England and Canada,males convicted of violent sex crimes but who “identify” as women to women’s prisons. In England, a convicted pedophile, in jail on suspicion of stabbing a neighbor, sexually assaulted several female inmates. In one well-publicized episode in British Columbia, female beauticians had to battle a human rights complaint filed by a trans individual wanted them to wax “their” penis and testicles. Spain and Australia have launched investigations against politicians who publicly opposed the ideology. In the United States, blights on the English language like the singular “they” and “birthing persons” have produced creeping Orwellism. The progressive mob has mindlessly embraced what is logically and scientifically unsupportable, even as it condemns conservatives in other areas for not “following the science.” And, of course, anyone refusing to accept that feelings are sufficient to over-ride facts is a bigot, even when the ideology supports and encourages medical mutilation of children before they are capable of legal consent.
It is as valuable an example of how ideologies make us unethical, and how carelessly chosen and blindly followed ideologies can be destructive to whole societies. Joyce wants to at very least impose a more positive ideology on public debate over the issue, an ideology especially core to American values. She writes, “I demand the same freedom to reject and oppose gender-identity ideology, and in return gladly accept that others have the right to preach it and live by it.”
16 thoughts on “Having To Argue The Obvious On Gender Identity: “Trans””
I read a similar book called “Material Girls” by Kathleen Stock that I special ordered from England. It makes tediously compassionate and rational argument that biological sex still has a necessary and valuable social role, while never disparaging trans people and arguing for legal and social protections. It thoroughly and accurately analyzes and criticizes gender theory, showing that much of it lacks strong foundation and ill serves the trans population it purports to protect. I am afraid it will be labeled hate speech and never reach the American market.
I maintain that you’re wrong about the singular “they.” It is far more elegant than the clunky “he or she.”
“Elegant”= Both vague and misleading?
And clunky. I used to hate how Gary Gygax insisted on using it every. freaking. time. a non-specific character was mentioned in 1st Edition AD&D. I for one would have just dropped a footnote at the beginning that all pronouns that don’t refer to specific individuals should be understood to refer to both genders and gone with the generic “he.” Then again, TSR/Wizards of the Coast has bigger problems these days, as BLM et al lean on them about the evil black elves, stupid humanoids, etc.
My second edition AD&D books did have that note. So did the D&D rulescyclopedia if I recall correctly.
I think 2E did go that route, in fact I know it did because the various “kit” books did (the Crusades sourcebook could have been better (a little underresearched), but the Complete Paladin’s Handbook was a real house of fire). Can’t speak to the other.
Why torture “they?” What’s really needed is a new singular personal pronoun, a completely new word, for people who aren’t comfortable with the traditional “he, she or it.”
Perhaps a pronoun that would work would be “shit”?
She, he and it conveniently bundled together into a very common contraction which everyone knows how to pronounce.
Hard to beat logic like that!
“Everybody has a plan. Until they get punched in the mouth.”
Ironically, I think the real take away from this truism is the necessity and importance of always having a plan.
“Analysts write about war as if it’s a ballet,” Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf said after Operation Desert Storm, “like it’s choreographed ahead of time, and when the orchestra strikes up and starts playing, everyone goes out there and plays a set piece.”
“It is choreographed,” he continued, but “what happens is, the orchestra starts playing and some son of a bitch climbs out of the orchestra pit with a bayonet and starts chasing you around the stage. And the choreography goes right out the window.”
Hah. Now that’s lived experience.
Other Bill: Why torture “they?” What’s really needed is a new singular personal pronoun …”
Way back in the mid seventies, Kenneth Bulmer introduced the term ‘Ve’ in his SF Novel ‘The Boosted Man’.
He, She, Ve; Why not?
Click to access 16-273_bsac_interact_advocates_for_intersex_youth.pdf
Gender identity, they suggest, is “fuzzy and mercurial,” id. at 8, while “physiological” sex simply is. But the foregoing discussion should make clear that this assertion is similarly flawed. An intersex student’s “physiological” sex may depend entirely on which Physiological trait one chooses to privilege. Indeed, because of the diversity of medical perspectives, trained experts can and do disagree on the “correct” sex to assign to an intersex child.
Interpreting “sex” to refer to a student’s gender identity would avoid (or at least mitigate) these problems. Unlike “physiological” sex, all parties appear to agree on what gender identity means: it is “[an] individual’s ‘innate sense of being male or female.’” Pet. Br. at 36; cf. Resp. Br. at 2 (similar). It is not subject to competing definitions depending on which expert or court is consulted. Moreover, unlike “physiological” sex, a student’s gender identity by definition cannot be subject to differences in medical opinion: each student is the ultimate arbiter of their own gender identity, as they (and they alone) experience it first-hand.