Why transgender rights are more problematic than gay rights!

by Felix Conrad - Clinical Philosopher on July 19, 2016

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For six months I haven’t participated in discussions of my work on Reddit because I receive so much negative criticism and hate.

This negativity is because my work deals with two controversial themes.

1. Why does a transgender woman have the right to call herself a woman?
2. What is the origin of the sexual desire to be a woman in ‘crossdreaming’ fantasies?

What angers readers is that when exploring those questions I refuse to accept trans dogma: for example, that a transgender woman is a woman simply because she feels she is a woman.

The reason I don’t accept trans dogma is because I’m interested in furthering the cause of transgender rights not retarding them. It’s my belief that until we find satisfactory answers to the questions above, transgender rights will always be on a weak footing and will never achieve the same acceptance as gay rights.

And this is the key issue: some trans people don’t realize that trans rights are more difficult for the population to understand than gay rights. Today, I’d like to explain why, and convince you that we need to establish a firmer rationale for transgender rights and a much more plausible narrative for why we are the way we are.

The unique and challenging nature of transgender rights.

The central proposition of gay rights is that if I’m gay I want you to accept that I’m gay and not discriminate against me.

Transgender rights follows the same proposition: I want you to accept that I’m transgender and not discriminate against me. However, it also adds an extra component: that you accept I’m a woman.

This is unprecedented in human rights. The right that is being asserted asks people to change a fundamental belief and replace it with something completely counter-intuitive: that a biological male is female.

The difference between gay and transgender rights is, therefore, that gay rights asks you to change your attitude whereas transgender rights asks you to change both your attitude…and the way you understand the world.

And therein lies the problem: because what you’re asking people to change is so counter-intuitive, you can not expect them to just fall in line because you say so. While the politics of gender may be extremely complicated, the experience of biological gender is extremely straightforward…

…vagina = girl
…penis = boy

Asking people – or rather, demanding (in the case of transfundamentalists) people change their conception of gender is a big deal, and something that we need to be able to explain in a much more effective manner.

Logistical differences

The difference between gay rights and transgender rights is also seen when you think about the logistics of coming out. When you come out as a gay man the consequences are…

Everyone knows you’re gay.

When you come out as transgender, the consequences are

Everyone knows you are transgender.
They have to change their general conception of gender.
Everyone has to think of you as a different gender from before.
New name.
New pronouns.
Surgeries / hormones.
Dress differently.
Etc.

Why we need to up our game

Now that I’ve explained why it’s harder for the general public to get their head around transgender rights than gay rights, I’d like to explain why trans dogma does nothing to help the situation.

DOGMA 1: Your gender is whatever you feel it is.

This idea is fine in the beginning, but eventually people follow its logic to the ultimate extent and identify in so many ways that the system gets reduced to absurdity. We may think it’s cool to identify as two genders and then three and then decide that, in fact, we have no gender, but to the general public thinks first that it’s incoherent, and later ridiculous.

Things start to get even more crazy when ‘you are whatever you feel you are’ starts extending beyond gender and grown men start identifying as seven year old girls, and people start identifying as other races and other species.

DOGMA 2: Crossdreamers just have some fetish / crossdreamers have no fetish

The existence of a whole subgroup of transgender people who are lifelong crossdreamers also confuses the public’s understanding of gender variance. The above dogma seems to contain opposite arguments but they are both offshoots of transdogma.

One group of trans people try to completely distance themselves from the phenomenon of erotic crossdressing, sissification etc, while another tries to completely sweep it under the carpet and say that it’s not a fetish but somehow all a natural part of being trapped in the wrong body.

General uncertainty about the exact relationship between the sexual desire to be a woman and the non-sexual desire cause enormous confusion both withing the trans community (common reddit question: am I trans or is this just a fetish?) and outside the trans community.

Conclusion

Hopefully, I have made you see that transgender rights are not as straightforward as gay rights, gender equality and race. That’s why my work is much more skeptical of contemporary transgender theory and frequently makes reference to other disciplines such as biology, linguistics and sexology. I’m looking for answers.

And with that said, hopefully the Reddit folks will stop beating up on me.

xx

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Else July 21, 2017 at 3:33 pm

I think this argument needs to be made, but it certainly needs to be made better than this.
First of all, coming out as gay has more effects on others than you supply, such as impact on spirituality, presence of same sex partners, the revealing of homophobic members of a community. It’s certainly more than just “he’s gay and that’s it.”
Also, vagina = girl penis = boy is an old argument, and really ignores the invisible body, cognitive function and the endocrine system. There are many sexually dimorphic traits other than genitalia, and they show a greater variety within sex than you’d expect. We use genitalia to determine sex not because it serves any biological purpose, but because of social coding and patriarchal tradition.
Then, I’d like to point out that you use the slippery slope argument when it comes to gender identities. Gender is not wholly understood, but it is majorly influenced by societal guidelines, and these guidelines can be changed to accommodate more diversity without leading to “grown men identifying as six year old girls.” Does it seem incoherent to the public? Maybe, but that’s because the cultural conversation is very new, not very flawed. I don’t think “you are what you feel,” I think gender is a lie, just like religion, told for a purpose, but horribly antiquated.
My last gripe that I’ll mention is this crossdreamer thing. It’s irresponsible, I think, to imply that a community should be of one mind when it comes to the experience of sexuality through gender. Some women find being dominated arousing, but this doesn’t mean that being dominated is intrinsic to womanhood. Sexual fantasy is linked to identity and the psyche, sure, and crossdreaming may be a common fantasy among trans people (who wouldn’t imagine having sex with the appropriate parts?), but somebody who dresses as the opposite gender to fulfill a sexual urge, or becomes aroused simply by doing so, is expressing sexuality, not gender identity. That expression may be an outlet of a repressed gender issue, but can only ever be speculation.

I think maybe you get hate on reddit because a) it’s the internet, and b) your arguments mostly rely on rhetorical support, which is aggravating to those who like to get into the nitty gritty.

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Else July 21, 2017 at 3:39 pm

Obviously I don’t mean to say that you are wrong about dogma, only that I think there are a lot of trans people who are explaining gender a lot better than you think we are. I don’t think I know a single trans person who can’t explain basic gender theory to cis people and why pronouns are more important than “because I say so.”

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Transcend Everything July 26, 2017 at 10:34 am

Wow…what an excellent reply. Please…all visitors to this blog…TAKE NOTE! THIS IS HOW YOU CAN OBJECT FORCEFULLY WITHOUT BEING AN ASSHOLE.

Thanks for the reply. Let me just say…

Yes, of course, I’ve simplified coming out as gay. In some countries it could lead to execution…in some american families it could lead to persecution and ostracism. However, the vast majority of parents would rather their kid came out as gay rather than transgender and about to transition (the surgeries and medication alone are enough to scare a parent). In general, we really have come a long way with acceptance of gays…not so far with trans people.

Your other points would take far too long to address but I’ll try soon.

xx

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Joanna July 25, 2017 at 2:43 pm

easily one of your best posts Felix and until all transgender people admit that cross gender arousal is part of the reality of being transgender we wont be able to come to realistic discussions about what it all means. I too have been pondering this for years and there is no simple answer but one thing I know is that the existence of that arousal does not necessarily negate a trans identity.

We need to be frank and open in order to gain self knowledge as well as acceptance from the public that we are not some secret society that deludes themselves. On the other hand destroying the myth that it is only about sex as Blanchard proposed is part of that demystification process.

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Transcend Everything July 26, 2017 at 10:35 am

Thanks…high praise indeed!

xx

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Rosie July 26, 2017 at 9:19 am

There is no “extra component”. Trans people indeed want others to gender them correctly. But so do cis people.

You use the phrase “biological gender” but what you are discussing is sex, not gender. You claim “The right that is being asserted asks people to change a fundamental belief and replace it with something completely counter-intuitive: that a biological male is female.” But we generally do not base our interactions with others on their biological sex — indeed, we don’t even know their sex unless we have seen their genitals.

You quote the line “Your gender is whatever you feel it is.” and claim that it is a transgender dogma in order to refute it. But — so long as you are compos mentis enough — your gender really is whatever you feel it is. The dogma that deserves criticism is not this line, but rather the line “Your ‘gender’ is really your sex, and that’s defined by your genitals”.

Does it confuse the public that there are trans people and also crossdreamers? Fact is, the desires of trans people are various. Any attempt to assert that they are not would be to lie and to deny the existence of some trans people.

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Transcend Everything July 26, 2017 at 10:06 am

I get what you’re saying, Rosie, I really do. However, the idea of the article is not to litigate these issues about gender with trans people but to try and make trans people see how complicated it is for a conservative when thinking through these issues. I really believe that the two sides can only be reconciled when both start to open their mind a little; the beginning of that is making the other side understand your perspective.

Thanks so much for your comment

xx

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nechama August 10, 2017 at 7:22 am

Rosie,

we do base our social interactions on the basis of sex. while we dont in fact see other people’s genitalia, we infer it with 99% accuracy based on secondary sexual characteristics. i would argue that the secondary sexual characteristics are the more important physical traits and would explain why many transgendered people have more dysphoria about their secondary characteristics and less about their genitalia. there are huge social implications revolving around the secondary sex characteristics.

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Linda July 26, 2017 at 11:34 pm

Hi Felix,
Good, thoughtful post, thanks. A little like Joanna, I have also been thinking about these things for a long time and that makes it so much easier than the ordinary person in the street who has absolutely no reason to ever contemplate gender – it is binary. I like to think it is a continuum with male one end and female the other. Nature is wonderful with diversity to any point on that line from the alpha male to the most girly girl. Fluidity can also be accommodated by sliding either way along the line. What is between the legs is a matter for the individual and not for anyone else. It will take some time for society to relinquish the binary and entertain the variety. Love Linda

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