If you’re wondering how headlines on transgender groups can make the news at the same time as headlines on gender-neutral school uniforms, you’re not alone.
It seems obvious, really, that we can’t have a society in which both co-exist. After all, being gender-neutral means “not identified with any gender”. Transgender means “identifying with the opposite gender”. You can’t have no genders and be an opposite gender at the same time.
This is just a sneak peak of the utter confusion into which the identity bandwagon is rapidly rolling us.
Take, for example, the story of Rachel Dolezal, the woman who brought “transracial” into the public imagination. If your true sexual identity, or gender identity was based on feelings, she argued, then why not race?
Rebecca Tuvel, a philosopher who wrote a paper in March arguing that very same point, was vehemently denounced by hundreds of fellow academics for – get this – “epistemic (thought) violence”. The controversy led to the eventual retraction of the paper, and got so big it now has its own Wikipedia page.
Last year we were introduced to the idea of being “transspecies” by Nano, the woman who identifies as a cat. Luis Padron also used the term this year to explain his feelings about wanting to become an elf.
Most recently, the plight of transabled people has been brought to our attention. Cambridge graduate Chloe Jennings-White, a fully able person, wants her spine severed by surgeons because she feels her true identity lies in being paralysed.
Let us not forget, although slightly different, the transhumanists, who take this idea that feelings express our true identity and apply it to future generations. We are within our rights, they claim, to genetically modify offspring (which technology now enables) to reflect the values we feel matter. Strength, academic ability, health, eye colour, hair colour, skin colour…who knows where the bandwagon stops rolling?
And why shouldn’t all these people claim the right to be who they feel – often to the point of being depressed and suicidal – they really are? Or who they feel their offspring should be? After all, not a soul actually presented a logical argument in response to Rebecca Tuvel’s paper on transracialism. They said it was “disgusting”. They said it was “wrong”. They called it a “false argument”. But they never pointed out why.
Predictably, some of the most offended people were from the African American community. But it didn’t take long for the transgender community to express outrage at transracialism too. Of course, the transgender community is still dealing with some sectors of the feminist community who are outraged that men can call themselves women. Add the disabled people who are outraged by the transabled movement into the mix, and you see where we are.
We’re in a battle of minorities and victims. And those of us whose biology fits our identity are getting called in too, because our identities are among those up for grabs.
Just think of the arguments we face: Is it fair for boys to compete in girls’ sports if they feel female? Should male prisoners be sent to female prisons if they feel female, and vice versa? Is it fair that a white person identifying as Maori be able to apply for Maori-only scholarships? Does someone who is transabled have the right to public-funded operations that physically disable them? Should young, white men identifying as female be able to apply for female scholarships?
Of course, the only way to avoid the war is to hitch the bandwagon back to biological identity, and admit that feelings don’t tell the full story about any of us. But somewhere along the line biological identity became offensive.
This means, of course, that we are all stuck on the bandwagon, and headed right for a battlezone.
This article was first published on Stuff.co.nz