Trans dogma is based on junk science

But that hasn’t stopped all of our institutions from embracing this regressive movement.

Julian Vigo

Topics Politics UK

Now that we are in the throes of a global pandemic, it has been fascinating to see who gives weight to science and who does not.

For instance, Extinction Rebellion (XR) alerted members earlier this spring that because of Covid-19, it would ‘follow advice from scientists and doctors’ and not organise mass public gatherings until a later date. Fast forward to this week, however, and you can see XR’s willingness to take science into account shifts radically in the context of transgender ideology:

‘We do not believe that the existence of trans people, or the clearly documented oppression and abuse they experience is a topic that should be up for debate. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non-binary and all other gender expressions which do not conform to the gender that person is assigned at birth are valid, legitimate, and true.‘

I was taken aback by the anti-scientific nature of the statement, though I was not at all surprised. In the years I have been writing about trans-rights activism, I have had to wade through streams of pure unadulterated sophistry coming from this movement and its supporters.

Even though this identitarian movement represents a tiny sliver of the population, it has been successful in exerting enormous influence on our institutions, including international NGOs, the UN, policymakers, media, local and national governments, and private corporations. It has been encouraging them all to promote patently anti-science rhetoric. This also includes the naming and shaming (and firing) of anyone who states the scientific fact that men are not women.

Even the NHS has caved in. It now has a section on its website dedicated to the entirely unscientific category of ‘gender identity’. The NHS even conflates the terms ‘transgender’ and ‘non-binary’. Both of these terms are opaquely defined because they each rely on the slippage between the idea of ‘normal’ and ‘gender diversity’. The NHS even couches its advice within the language of belief: ‘We now believe that gender identity is on a spectrum, with male at one end, female at the other and a “diversity’ of gender identities in between. These can include male and female, non-binary or even agender (no gender).’

The NHS’s specialist service, the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), provides treatment for children and adolescents. But there is no clear evidence that there is such a thing as ‘gender identity’ &#8211 the term comes from gender studies and the humanities, not medicine. Gender is merely a stereotype or a social construct.

The problem is that gender here is determined by diagnosing people’s feelings in relation to the clothes they wear and how they conform to rather conservative tropes for what makes a man or a woman. The NHS criteria for determining gender dysphoria relies entirely upon social stereotypes where girls are likeable, boys are assertive, and so on.

Take a look at this gender-role test, which seems to rely entirely on the stereotypes of women and men from the 1950s, and you might begin to understand why so many women, gay men and lesbians are concerned about the encroachment of a movement which promotes these stereotypes and medicalises children on this basis. Treatment for gender dysphoria starts to look something like gay-conversion therapy. Added to this is the fact that more than 40 clinicians have left the NHS’s GIDS clinic over the past three years alone due to serious concerns over the safeguarding of children in their care.

And while the trans lobby has successfully medicalised gender, it has simultaneously pushed the idea that biological sex is merely a social construct. This has dangerous consequences.

Since 2018, Cancer Research UK has promoted its cervical-cancer screenings not to women but to ‘people with a cervix’. Similarly, Public Health England (PHE) wants us all to know that it thinks men can have cervixes, too. So even in cases where biological sex is a question of life and death, PHE sees trans inclusivity as a priority, while anything targeted at women is deemed exclusionary. But the reality is that aiming screening campaigns at ‘people with a cervix’ is what is truly discriminatory. Many women will simply not understand that they are the target audience of calls to get tested since, according to polls, nearly half of all women don’t actually know what a cervix is.

Here are some of the other anti-science claims made by the trans movement: that there are pink and blue brains (which has been thoroughly debunked); you can have a ‘biologically female penis’; that men can get pregnant; and that sex is a spectrum (humans are sexually dimorphic – even people born with intersex conditions are still either male or female).

More bizarrely, according to Adrian Harrop, a trans activist and NHS GP, transgender-identified males are ‘women’ but biological females are ‘cis women’. It is claims like this which have led many feminists to conclude that the trans movement is attempting to naturalise men as the ‘real’ women, which would create a sub-category of women to encompass actual females. To be considered a real woman seems to require the validation of men.

There is some good news, however. Last week, BBC Woman’s Hour reported that much of the language on the NHS website around ‘gender dysphoria’ has been reworded to more accurately reflect science. One major change was that the NHS no longer states that puberty-blockers like Lupron are ‘reversible’ since there are few studies on their long-term physical or psychological effects. What is known from trials of hormone-blockers in sheep is that it ‘is associated with permanent changes in brain development’. For the study’s authors, this ‘raises particular concerns about the cognitive changes associated with the prolonged use of [hormone] treatment in children and adolescents’.

References to trans children committing suicide have also been removed from the NHS website. The threat of suicide was used to frighten parents into submitting their child into harmful treatments. The site no longer equates ‘gender identity’ to having specific interests as a young child – such as wearing ‘typical boys’ or girls’ clothes’, or disliking ‘taking part in typical boys’ or girls’ games and activities’. The NHS also no longer claims that sex can be changed. The new phrasing is as follows: ‘Some people may decide to have surgery to permanently alter body parts associated with their biological sex.’ After years of kowtowing to the gender lobby, for the NHS to even use the term ‘biological sex’ feels revolutionary.

For over a decade the trans lobby has been successful at promoting anti-science hokum as truth. And it has promoted regressive and conservative notions of gender in the process. It’s time to speak up against it.

Julian Vigo is a writer and academic.

Picture by: Getty.

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Sue Ward

9th July 2020 at 10:22 pm

Did anyone else do the gender test? I came out 83% masculine so “very masculine”. I’m a happily married, straight, woman and mother. I am clearly letting the female side down by be assertive, willing to defend my opinions and self reliant. Absolutely bizarre that the wokerati are promoting a stereotypical view of women which, if they were voiced by a conservative politician or CEO, would undoubtedly (and rightly) be career destroying!

Christopher Tyson

6th July 2020 at 8:45 pm

Remembering the Dustin Hoffman movie Tootsie, more innocent days, it was a funny movie, I remember one of the character talking about growing up on a farm, how straightforward it was, there were male and female animals. There is seriousness in the point. People talk about the distinction between sex and gender, I wish they wouldn’t, it just confuses things. But ‘sex’ and the act of ‘sex’, is really the main point, it’s about procreation. People talk about gender as a social construct, but it is human society that makes this fluidity of gender roles possible. Importantly there is the socialisation of young men, who need to learn self control, self discipline, respect for women and how to resolve their differences peaceably with other men and with women. Young men continue to be a problem for society and possibly always will be, we now regard that formal recognition of changing from a boy to a man and any ritualization of this process as something quaint or primitive. We also need aggressive young men to fight our wars for us, and we have not reached a stage of human development whereby we can treat war as a historical oddity.
Certainly in Western society we have a division of labour and a form of economy where physical strength or prowess are no longer needed, even in war which has become increasingly technological. Therefore there in much, even most of our economy, men and women can perform the same tasks. The term ‘equality’ is not particularly useful, again we are misled, men and women can participate in many occupations as equals, that does not mean that biological sex does not exist or matter. Our society creates the possibility for a minimising of the significance of the differences between men and women, it does not eliminate those differences.
In breaking down objective categories to make people feel better, we have been here before. To break down the stigma of mental illness, even today we hear people saying depression or bi-polar, it’s just like breaking a leg, only it isn’t, it’s a different kind of thing. We take a category from medicine because it is useful, breaks down taboos and is useful for funding claims. So what’s the harm in calling an emotional or psychological disturbance an illness? Or a trans women a woman? Most of the time no harm at all, might even do some good, the problem is when we take our metaphors seriously, or when we start to devise public policy or organise society around untruths, and we perpetuate untruths for the sake of protecting people’s feeling, or other darker reasons.

Barbara Baker

6th July 2020 at 6:11 pm

Well the feminists have missed a trick here – sort the gender pay gap by simply waltzing in and telling the boss that you now identify as a bloke and that you expect remuneration accordingly … or else you will out ‘em as transphobes.

Mark Beal

6th July 2020 at 5:32 pm

Thanks to XR for confirming what many of us already suspected; that far from being an organization concerned exclusively with the environment, it is in fact just one more arm of the International Church of Woke, thus confirming that all of its claims are to be approached with extreme scepticism.

Jeremiah Johndon

6th July 2020 at 4:30 pm

I have to laugh at the stupid young liberal white girl over her sign about how “black trans lives matter”.
The few times those perverted nutjobs get murdered, it is because they are prostitutes who pretend they are women and their black johns flip out when they find the pervy prostitute is a guy.

Michael Thompson

6th July 2020 at 1:42 pm

How you define gender or sex or any of the variants of those things is not the real issue. The real issue is the absolute hypocrisy between what ‘trans’ people say and what they do.

They are adamant that your gender has nothing to do with the body you have. It is as they so often say determined by how you feel. If you feel you are female then you are – end of story. If you feel you are male then that is all you need to know. What other people think you are is their problem and any discussion on the matter by trans people is illogical. They are what they say they are and if they truly believe that then they will have no need to discuss the matter with anyone.

There is no need to convince anyone else so why do they do it? Why do they argue and protest and carry on in the way that they do? The complete lack of integrity between what they say and what they do must raise questions for anyone who seeks to understand them. They are saying one thing and doing something which is totally at odds with what they truly believe.

If what they believe is true then there is no need to hear anything from them. They should just go on living as whatever gender they feel they are. The rest of us should just ignore them since they are obviously not open to any other possibility than that they are what they feel they are. The only conclusion that can be drawn from this hypocrisy is that they are looking for attention or trying to get others to affirm their feelings. Both motives are extremely immature.

Tolar Owen

6th July 2020 at 11:18 am

The elephant in the room is autogynephilia and the related addiction to autogynephiliac (sissy) pornography. Blanchard’s typology of male transsexuals remains robust–and you can measure its descriptive power by the rage and harassment any exposition of this theory engenders (e.g., the researcher Bailey who was criminally hounded (along with his family) by three obsessive trans women after publishing some case studies contrasting effeminate homosexual transsexuals with heterosexual autogynephiliac transsexuals. It’s hard for me to get my head around, but something like 2-3% of males have autogynephiliac tendencies, which is getting aroused by the thought and practice of “becoming” a woman, rather than just having sex with a woman. There’s an entire genre of “sissy” porn where this is played out. These men have intense shame and self-denial about basically being heterosexual males with a paraphilia, so they’re promoting this concept of being born with a “feminine essence” (which actually accords to some degree with homosexual transsexuals) to justify the extension of this paraphilia into their daily lives (and deliberately into the lives of others). Thus, these autogynephiliacs know on a deep level that they’re really not women, because in fact their entire sexuality is focused on being other than a woman and then sexualizing that transition/transgression to becoming a woman (through cross-dressing, taking drugs, surgery, _entering women’s and girl’s spaces, and being perceived as a female). Also, the very kick of their high is having women (whom they’re imitating and of whom they’re profoundly envious) VALIDATE their womanhood, which is why their rage is focused on “TERFS”–women who obviously don’t believe their performative schtick and, particularly if they’ve reached middle age, are less easily manipulated into validating narcissistic males. It’s why their intrusion into women’s spaces–shelters, prisons, bathrooms, PCOS groups (happening RIGHT now on Reddit), childbirth classes, dressing rooms, changing rooms, etc., etc.–will never end, as long as this is allowed to continue, because it’s an addiction, like to sissy porn. They constantly have to perform this transgression, and they need more and more to get high.

Blanchard and Bailey argue that with males, transsexualism itself is a result of sexual feelings–highly effeminate gay boys are attracted to heterosexual males, and thus want to become women to have a relationship with these men, while heterosexual males with autogynephilia want to become the woman (pubescent girl, usually, if you read their message boards or see their porn) to whom they’re attracted. They usually continue to want to have sex with women, but while being a “better” woman than the woman they’re with, and while having that woman validate their transgressive womanhood.

Transsexualism in females comes from a very different place. There are a high number of personality disordered and autistic young girls presenting at clinics, in addition to social contagion and of course the unpleasant realization for a self-aware young girl that breasts, menstruation, street harassment, the way she’s objectified in violent pornography, and/or not being taken seriously are not exactly pleasant prospects as she moves into puberty and becoming an “honorary” male looks a lot more attractive. There are also very non-traditionally feminine lesbians who simply would just grow into adult lesbians but who are now pressured into transitioning to a “male body.”

Julian, thanks again for all of your advocacy to raise awareness of this movement, which is the most dangerous in my lifetime. The junk science upon which it is based–and the swiftness with which the trans lobby (funded by Pritzker and other titans of medical industry) has become institutionalized does remind me of 1933 Germany. They way they’ve been able to silence any questioning of their abusive behavior in the MSM–and even private online groups of feminists discussing it–is chilling.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 11:49 am

Hi Tolar. Yes, it’s interesting, and likely at least in part accounts for why there are many more coming forward to present as ‘trans’ than the researched prevalence. It’s a different question though to account for those who genuinely extremely strongly feel (‘know’ in their own minds, as it were) that their ‘brain sex’, so to speak, is contra to their ‘somatic’ sex, and why there are both females as well as males in this position, and that females are about half as prevalent. This looks like an in-embryo developmental malfunction, as likely also in the case of homosexuality and other paraphilias — indeed, as with the one you discuss here.

Tolar Owen

6th July 2020 at 6:21 pm

I think there are a minority who really did feel this way, deep down, from an early age, but they usually are the very effeminate homosexual males attracted to heterosexual males. For a long time, transgender clinics would not approve you for surgery if they got even a whiff that your motivation was autogynephilia, so all of them have learned to go in and tell stories that they “knew” they were girls because they liked theatre or played with dolls or something. Also, there’s a lot of furious policing within the trans community of any mention of how many of these trans women are just heterosexual males with paraphilias. Blanchard and Baileys work is verboten and you will be hounded if you bring it up. I highly recommend this Australian autogynephiles extensive, honest essay on the phenomenon, why it’s being silenced in the community, and how dangerous it is to all women and girls as well as lesbians who get the “cotton ceiling” pressure.

Vivian Darkbloom

6th July 2020 at 7:03 pm

Tolar, thank you for posting that. Autogynephilia receives very little attention in the trans debate. I have known a trans-woman whose behaviour became more understandable when viewed through this lens. After transitioning from a male this person’s sexual preferences did not change; “he” simply became a “lesbian” and pursued women with the same vigour as I had always noted, except presenting as a woman with short shirts which on occasion – quite deliberately – allowed a view of the male pubic bulge. As an aside, I do not believe homosexuality to be a paraphilia, as Steve maintains in his reply.

I see you mentioned Blanchard, whose work alerted me to autogynephilia. The behaviour of some trans-women towards biological women – the hatred and abuse – makes sense in this light; confronted by a real women it’s hard to keep up the pretence in what is essentially a sexual fantasy. This interview with Dr Ray Blanchard on Quillette, which no doubt you will have read, expands on your comment:

Tolar Owen

8th July 2020 at 5:51 pm

Hi Vivian. Where is this article on the main Spiked site? I couldn’t find it without a search back. ….but yes, I agree that homosexuality isn’t a paraphilia. What Blanchard was trying to say (that I probably botched) was that, in men, transsexuality is mediated first and foremost by sexual preference–attraction to heterosexual men motivates transitioning to look like a traditional female, while the preference guiding the other half is autogynephilia among mostly heterosexual males. I’d add a third category these days, which is those going along with Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, the perfectly robust social science construct Dr. Lisa Littmann developed to explain the social contagion of social media in this movement.

But yes–I want to be clear. Homosexuality is NOT a paraphilia. It’s an orientation.

Philip Humphrey

6th July 2020 at 9:51 am

I can remember in “A” level biology we had to debate whether “species” actually existed or whether they were a man made construct. Because there were so many exceptions to the concept we decided they were manmade, but useful in describing and categorizing organisms. Same probably goes for the idea of biological sex, most individuals fit into one category or other but by no means all. But I’m highly skeptical about all the different “genders” and the more there are, the less useful they become. In the end we’re all a unique combination of genes and upbringing, we may or may not successfully reproduce depending on that combination. But none of us fit exactly into any of these artificial gender categories and for that reason I think they have little use – it’s a non-science and of little or no value.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 10:41 am

Actually, the science re strictly binary sex couldn’t be clearer. The exceptions are a very small minority that arise through developmental malfunction (or genetic malfunction in the vanishingly rare case of intersex), and there is nil scientific basis of any notion of male-female continuum.
The sexes are dichotomous in the most important respects. The male evolved to function as the ‘genetic filter’ or ‘mutational cleanser’ to ensure maintenance of genomic integrity, leaving the female free to focus on reproduction. This gives rise to profound sex differences that are chalk and cheese, not overlapping variation. Of course , if you choose to look at the sexes in certain ways you conflate what is common with what is distinct. For example, the ‘big five’ personality variables are not really separable according to sex, but that’s because they are artificial composites. If instead you look at the 10 to 20 trait level of analysis personality variables, then the sexes separate 90% — even the remaining 10% may not be real, as it’s within measurement error in psychology.

In Negative

6th July 2020 at 9:44 am

“anyone who states the scientific fact that men are not women.”

Are there ‘scientific factts’ now? My understanding was that science was made up of verifiable hypotheses, that such hypotheses were held until such a time as they could be proven false? Properly speaking, I think all scientific assertions are made from a position of skepticism. A hypothesis is naturally unstable.

I’d love to see this particular hypothesis: ‘men are not women,’ stated in verifiable scientific terms. Would we, say, begin by differentiating woman from the category of men by calling them ‘people with a cervix’? That would stack the deck a bit wouldn’t it; it would be a truism to say ‘women are people with a cervix; men are people without a cervix; therefore women are not men’.
There are two language games here – one limits women to their biology. This is arguably more scientific as it is more verifiable. We can see things like cervixes and make categorical differentiations. But being a woman, so the argument goes, is about more than biology – there is something psychological about being a woman too. A woman has to exist socially – that is, she has to exist in a world of subjectivities. It’s a very universalist idea to want to strip women of their subjectivity – to make consciousness universal and differentiate people only by their bodies.

With brain scans and mappings of the nervous system, one would imagine there were female configurations and male configurations of neurons which could be objectively identified? That in our deeper micro-sciences we can see concepts of maleness and femaleness that transcend the macro-physical categories. In this sense, what we can see with the eye is an old form of categorisation. Man and woman become concepts of a pre-microscopic world. (I’m assuming here – I’m no biologist).

And to add to this mix, science doesn’t really know what consciousness even is. Quantum physics has made this an interesting question as it seems that consciousness and material existance are in very meaningful ways intertwined.

So seriously, how you can just so brazenly declare that it is a scientific fact that men are not women is beyond me. There are so many points of possible contestation to this hypothesis in science today. The trans debate is probably symptomatic of precisely this fact.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 10:27 am

Not so.
There is nil scientific basis of any notion of male-female continuum.
The sexes are dichotomous in the most important respects.
The male evolved to function as the ‘genetic filter’ or ‘mutational cleanser’ to ensure maintenance of genomic integrity, leaving the female free to focus on reproduction. This gives rise to profound sex differences that are chalk and cheese, not overlapping variation. Of course , if you choose to look at the sexes in certain ways you conflate what is common with what is distinct. For example, the ‘big five’ personality variables are not really separable according to sex, but that’s because they are artificial composites. If instead you look at the 10 to 20 trait level of analysis personality variables, then the sexes separate 90% — even the remaining 10% may not be real, as it’s within measurement error in psychology.

In Negative

6th July 2020 at 11:45 am

“The male evolved to function as the ‘genetic filter’ or ‘mutational cleanser’ to ensure maintenance of genomic integrity, leaving the female free to focus on reproduction.”

What does that mean?

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 12:07 pm

The fundamental problem faced by all organisms is that gene replication error quickly builds up to impact negatively on reproduction, and soon on viabililty. The biological imperative is to get rid of deleterious mutation and gene combination from the local gene pool. This is why the male came into being, or at least how almost immediately the male was co-opted to serve this function.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 12:11 pm

Sorry, I should have added: males compete to register relative genetic quality in a status hierarchy. Females then select high-ranking males and avoid low-ranking males. In this way gene replication error is purged through the males who fail to reproduce or do so minimally.

In Negative

6th July 2020 at 2:37 pm

“The biological imperative is to get rid of deleterious mutation and gene combination from the local gene pool. This is why the male came into being, or at least how almost immediately the male was co-opted to serve this function.

What is a ‘deleterious mutation’? How does it differ from a non-deleterious mutation?

How does the ‘biological imperative’ derive its imperative force? What is the intelligence behind the imperative? Is it death?

What was it co-opted the male to serve this function? Would it not be more apt (in evolutionary terms) to say the male was immediately refined by death towards serving this function?

“males compete to register relative genetic quality in a status hierarchy. Females then select high-ranking males and avoid low-ranking males. ”

What is this ‘relative genetic quality’ and this ‘status hierarchy’? From where do we derive the value of the ranks of status? Is status hierarchy permanent or does it change? What causes it to change? Are there such things as deleterious females that choose males of lower relative genetic quality? What about women that choose men that kill them? I assume they are attracted to some extreme of a genetically positive quality like competitive aggression? Or can it be that they are attracted to their own deaths? Are men ever attracted to women of low relative genetic quality? Do men not make judgements based on relative genetic status?

What ranks best in the status hierarchy? Financial and material success? Physical prowess? Intellect? Aesthetic judgement? Eloquence and erudition? Does it depend on the environment of competition?

And what happens to the status hierarchy when the environmental conditions change, say if you begin to interface an artificial world between your species and the natural world? Don’t the conditions of status become unstable? Start to change? Doesn’t the biological imperative change?

You know that all of this is an article of faith don’t you? That it’s all nonsense? That it all gets made up to fit the theory?

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 6:23 pm

No it isn’t ‘made up to fit theory’: theory is devised to fit data.
Try reading up instead of pretending to know what you’re talking about.

In Negative

6th July 2020 at 7:21 pm

I do believe Steve just told me to “educate” myself…

Carolyn Monaghan

6th July 2020 at 9:31 am

To be fair, trans men tend generally to follow their feminine upbringing by just getting on with their lives. Trans women seem often to follow their masculine upbringing by insisting on having everything their own way and stomping on those who have had a feminine upbringing as they go.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 9:56 am

What’s material is the natural anti-male prejudice that only male > female ‘trans-sexuals’ face.
Little or no prejudice exists towards female > male ‘trans-sexuals’.
M>F TS, so-called trans-women, retain male aspects of appearance given the irreversible effects of prior testosterone. The upshot is that they are intuitively perceived as males who are very ‘different’, which is the basis of prejudice generically (of racism, for example).

Ray Diator

6th July 2020 at 9:24 am

Great article ( I think ), but thanks to all the genders, groupings, identities and modern-day BS, I couldn’t understand a word of it

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 9:10 am

There is a danger that trans orthodoxy logically erases extraordinary women from history. Gender norms used to include that women would not be authors, painters, composers. Some of the women used male names to hide their identity and to appear socially acceptable. So, if we are going to say that women who conform to male gender norms are men, then we are back to saying that there were no women artists nor could there have been.

But if we go neither by sex nor by gender norm, then we are left with simple self-identification as the basis of trans: if someone says that they are a woman, then they are one. It used to be ‘gender dysphoria’, a disorientation to one’s gender, now it is a power to determine reality.

The real basis of trans theory seems to be: would it not be a nice world if people could wish their gender? It would be nicer to say that they are women than to say that they are gender dysphoric. It would be nicer for them. ‘Nice’ as the basis of reality, wish as the basis of the transformation and determination of reality. Which would be a game of make-believe passing for reality and science. The power to wish nice things – which sounds like a child’s game, of magical fairies or whatever.

Make-believe passes for reality all the time: eg. religion and morality. Humans are capable of ‘believing’ anything, however baseless or illogical, though they are also capable of challenging that stuff, which society often does not like. It is tempting to say that trans orthodoxy is just more quasi-religion, society imposing make-believe as reality and as moral truth. It is often dangerous to challenge social constructs.

UK used to have blasphemy laws, society wants the prerogative to determine and to punish speech. It wants new ‘gods’, new theories that no one can challenge. It is no surprise that XR would jump on the latest quasi-religious bandwagon. Ultimately, it is neo-feudal tendencies, the re-imposition of a magical reality and of blasphemy laws, a revolt against science and industry, liberty – a new dark ages.

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 9:46 am

quasi-religion… new gods… the re-imposition of a magical reality – replete with magical beings – and of blasphemy laws.

In Negative

6th July 2020 at 10:09 am

‘Gender norms used to include that women would not be authors, painters, composers. Some of the women used male names to hide their identity and to appear socially acceptable. So, if we are going to say that women who conform to male gender norms are men, then we are back to saying that there were no women artists nor could there have been.’

I heard recently (on the BBC no less) that the novel was actually mostly invented by middle class women with a lot of leisure time. It was supposedly considered to be a trivial form and many of those women partaking were deemed somewhat frivolous. George Elliot apparently used a male name in order to avoid this aura of frivolity and superficiality.

‘‘Nice’ as the basis of reality, wish as the basis of the transformation and determination of reality. Which would be a game of make-believe passing for reality and science. The power to wish nice things – which sounds like a child’s game’

Your claim that they seek an unchallengeable truth made of magic doesn’t seem quite right to me. They are actually challenging a ‘truth’ that is very difficult indeed to challenge – that of science and supposed reality. I think the problem is precisely that humans don’t want an unchallengeable reality – an absolute truth (if there is one) would be an intolerable prison. As a species, we are naturally allergic to certainty. To me this is a good thing. It’s why I like writers like Lovecraft, Machen and Borges – they resist the ‘reality dogma’ (actually, Lovecraft is different – he suffers under it in all kinds of interesting ways) but the other two return imagination’s reality back to the rational real. I think XR et al are experiments in escape more than they are looking for certainty. That said, there is something very authoritarian about this particular manifestation of the desire to escape too.

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 10:36 am

If they wish to transcend an imposed reality, then why not just say that they are trans-women – no one seems to have much of a problem with that – maybe traditionalists, but who cares what they want in our society?

Why go further and claim a new reality, with as you say an authoritarian streak? It may transform ‘reality’ but it also re-imposes it. There is a place for imagination, and for humans to transcend and to transgress imposed limits on behaviour – that is fine, in my book. But that self-creation does not rely on the ‘real’ nor should it impose it. Much of human life is based on unrealities, it is made up.

Most people simply mean biological sex by ‘man/ woman’. We all know in this day and age that different gender roles are ascribed to them in different societies – though there does tend to be some continuity in roles, which our society breaks down. But that is not what people mean by ‘man/ woman’. A few may not biologically fit biological sex categories but that is the aberration, it does not change the categories.

It is fine to say that they are ‘self-identifying gender women’ – the problem is when it is insisted that they simply ‘are’ women, when most people understand that in biological terms. It is an attempt to control language and to impose its use on others. A biological man cannot become a biological woman, but they can transgress gender norms and identification – hence, trans but not simple womanhood as commonly understood as a biological category.

It is the attempt to control and to impose words, to create a new common ‘reality’, that is the problem not trans itself. If most people, or even some people, say that they are not women, because that is not what the word means, then, it is a matter of, get over it. As the article discusses, there is an attempt to create new realities in science to justify the transgression, which is not necessary or particularly lucid.

In Negative

6th July 2020 at 12:00 pm


If I can find time, I’ll try to say something interesting in reply to this. I agree with much of it and my thinking is probably somewhere in the same area as yours. I think it very distasteful and somewhat conservative that trans want to partake in the pre-existing sex categories. I think they do manifest a reality, but their desire to have it integrated into the old reality seems pointlessly conservative and crude.

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 1:19 pm

I am willing to accept that there is some sort of ‘reality’ involved in trans, and it may sound awfully pretentious of me but what is the ontological status of that reality? Unless I can be convinced otherwise, then it seems obvious to categorise it as a ‘mental reality’, a self-perception or identity, a reality of self-perceived personality. That is an entity too, a mental entity or ‘reality’ of sorts.

The XR statement spoke of trans as ‘valid’, which raises the questions of what are the conditions of ‘valid’, what does ‘valid’ even mean, and who gets to decide any of that? Why would a purely mental reality not be a valid basis for self-identification as trans? Why would the self-identification need any basis beyond itself to be ‘valid’?

Why does trans need a reality, of a sort of ontological status that is beyond a mental reality, in order to be valid? Why would it need a biological or neurological basis? To say that it does need a material basis, is to invalidate a mental basis as sufficient for ‘validity’.

As you say, it takes recourse to the old reality of sex which has a biological basis. It implies that that is the only ‘valid’ basis of gender self-identity. So it is conservative and ‘reactionary’, even corny traditionalism. It is not merely the desire for freedom, to transcend and transgress old norms, but to be ‘normal’, to construct a new normality based on a revision of the old ‘reality’ and in keeping with its traditional basis in material reality.

None of that seems necessary or particularly helpful; although, that said, and it does create a lot of social discord, it may help some to accept themselves if they see themselves as ‘normal’ – they may (ironically) have a need for ‘normality’. In that case, ‘trans’, transcendence, transgression is problematic for them; but that does not ‘justify’ (whatever that means) the imposition of a new language, a new normality, on everyone else.

Hmm, which comes back to ‘validity’, ‘justification’, which I would argue is an illusion, a mental/ social construct, itself a mental ‘reality’ that has no basis in material reality. That is a key ontological distinction, whether (mental) ‘entities’ have a basis in external, material reality; which does not answer whether they need to have one in order to be ‘valid’, which itself has no basis in material reality.

A lot of key human mental ‘realities’ have no basis in external reality, eg. ‘good and evil’. Whether that makes them ‘invalid’ is a matter of opinion, depending on what one considers to be the conditions of ‘validity’. Personally I do not take those ‘realities’ too seriously, or their claims to ‘validity’ – but neither do I demand a ‘validity’ that is grounded in external reality, not all the time anyway. : )

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 1:31 pm

If ‘validity’ is itself a mental reality that has no basis in external reality, then it would seem harsh and strict to insist that other mental realities have a basis in external reality in order to be ‘valid’ – but that is not to say that it is ‘invalid’ to make such a demand – validity and its conditions are all made up, even the demand for self-consistency. ‘Validity’ in general should not be confused with, or made dependent on, logical validity or its conditions of self-consistency.

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 1:57 pm

Hmm, nothing is valid or invalid – nothing. Validity is a matter of opinion, made up. All simply is – in some sense or other. /s Which is pretty close to ancient cynicism, ‘nothing is better or worse’. But is it better to live as if nothing is better or worse? That would itself be a judgement as to what is better or worse. lol

Likely only Aristotelian teleology provides a way out of all that, but society is not up for that – so, cynicism it is.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 10:15 am

Absolute nonsense. Long debunked ‘received wisdom’.
Actual research into why women used male pseudonyms reveal that it was largely playful. Women published under their real, female names socially daring ‘sensation novels’ of illicit affairs. Eg, Elizabeth Gaskill, Mary Elizabeth Braddon. Inasmuch as male pseudonyms were not merely playful, it was because being regarded with moral opprobrium was usual for males, and it was expected that males are risk-takers, anticipating likely failure on the hope of the significant pay-off of success. Women by contrast were regarded far more positively than were men, who had to earn reputation. Women didn’t need to earn good reputation, they already had it. They could lose it, but only with some difficulty. It was simple risk-averseness, then, that led some women novelists to avoid overtly being associated with something seen as morally very dubious.
Very far from obstacles placed in womens’ way, a considerable proportion of the female population was the idle well-off who were actually educated in artistic creation as part of their husband-finding kit, so had the training, aptitude, time and money for a lifetime of artistic creation if they only so chose.

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 10:40 am

Get lost Moxon. How many times do I have to tell you, or do you need a translator?

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 10:50 am

You post bunkum and I’ll debunk it.
Get lost yourself, a you ignorant, abusive zero.

Mor Vir

6th July 2020 at 11:05 am

If you look at how other people interact, they do so politely, even when they disagree, and they make concessions to each other, which makes it a group effort, rather than personal combat. That is simply how normal adults behave in polite society. It affords a liberty of assertion and discussion. It is how adult conversation works.

You on the other hand lead with rudeness, self-assertion, denial of the other – you concede nothing, you are combative and you seek to simply impose yourself and to nullify others. That is totally unacceptable behaviour and it does not afford discussion.

You are free to say whatever you want, and I would never seek to stop you, but you are not willing to participate in personal interaction in the normal way, as your constant modus operandi illustrates – so I say, stay away from me.

That is a reasonable request, and if you will not oblige, then it just confirms that your behaviour is unacceptable. If other people wish to put up with you, then that is up to them, but I have made a simple request of you – stay away from me, at least until you learn how to behave in an acceptable manner like a normal adult.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 11:41 am

The endless ‘projection’ of own faults by ideologues like you is boringly routine.
Chucking abuse and then having the gall to complain when it’s chucked back in your face is worse that merely the pot calling the kettle black. It’s dishonesty so transparent as to be comical betrayal of thickness.

Arthur Daley

6th July 2020 at 9:06 am

Why are factual, scientifically based comments on this subject by a consultant physician such as myself “pre-moderated” but uninformed opinions are not? I have always understood this journal takes free speech seriously, but apparently I am mistaken. This article decries the unscientific nonsense written and talked around “transgenderism” but “pre-moderates” comments by informed persons like me!!!

Arthur Daley

6th July 2020 at 9:01 am

Please do not confuse “The NHS” and “Medicine”. The NHS was instituted to pay medical bills, but now decides how large those bills will be and indeed has become a monster and a political football..
As for this particular debate, apart from oddities like Klinefelter’s Syndrome. in which an apparent male has XXY chromosomes and unusual intersex deformities, men have XY chromosomes and women have XX chromosomes. The nonsense of “trans” is a psychiatric condition, requiring psychiatric help. Pandering to such confused people makes their mental disorder worse and should be discouraged.
As a consultant physician, I am appalled at the rubbish being written and talked about this non-subject..
This is newthink, where anything goes, but the “newthinkers” are not rational “thinkers” at all, but stupid, uneducated attention seekers. ,

Mark Houghton

6th July 2020 at 8:48 am

Since at least the birth of Marxism we have seen the existence of groups of believers in various ideologies who seem perfectly happy to spout their party line with little regard for hard evidence so the current situation regarding those who claim they are transexual is hardly surprising.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 8:04 am

This website is confused on this issue.
It indeed is un-, and anti-science to claim there is a male-female continuum.
The guilty party here is feminism. Every tenet of feminism is radically false.
The basis of contemporary feminism is BOTH that men and women are exactly the sane AND that they are iredeemably different.
The scientific truth is that the sexes are dichotomous in most important ways.
The male evolved to function as the ‘genetic filter’ or ‘mutational cleanser’ to ensure the maintenance of genomic integrity. Profound sex dichotomy stems from this.
Sex is fundamentally binary, but this does not mean that there aren’t, vanishingly rarely, a genetic anomaly of intersex (an extra sex chromosome), and a steady very small stream of in-embryo developmental malfunctions that result in aberrant sexual orientation (homosexuality, at a prevalence of roughly 1%) and — very rarely indeed — basic ‘brain patterning’ contra to ‘somatic’ sex: so-called ‘trans-sexuals’.
Contrary to all the big fuss, there isn’t any big deal in seeing this is a reality. It’s as near totally irrelevant as you can get, given the minuscule numbers. Of course, the ‘identity politics’ lobby pretends the numbers are hugely greater than actually they are, just as was pretended that homosexuality is ten times its actual prevalence. This is where the battleground should be: debunk the ‘identity politics’ lobby by showing it just exaggerates the proportions of he population it would have as its clientele as simply hate-mongering towards the majority in setting up artificial ‘victims’ of supposed ‘oppression’ by the majority.

Robert Flack

6th July 2020 at 8:03 am

We are living in an era of regression to a time before the enlightenment. To a time of anti-science. This article illustrates how many medics are not scientific in their approach to medicine but too touchy feely.

Dominic Straiton

6th July 2020 at 6:57 am

Stupidity is intersectional.

James Conner

6th July 2020 at 5:13 am

It’s time the word ‘gender’ was removed from the English language. The word ‘sex’ manages just fine. What sex are you? Well I was born with a penis so I must be male. And I was born with a vagina so I must be female. End of conversation.

steve moxon

6th July 2020 at 8:06 am

Damn right (to use David Starkey’s ‘intensifier’).
‘Gender’ is a non-scientific, indeed anti-scientific term. It is inappropriate ideological intrusion into science.

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Deplorables — a spiked film