August 7, 2019

What to do about the transgender narrative?

The gender stereotypes  and the "male brain" versus "female brain" narrative live on. But there is no reason to think that stereotypical interests or abilities reflect gender identity. Photo Andrey Popov.

I got an interesting comment/question over at tumblr, where the author strongly argue that the "born transgender narrative is wrong". I agree with a lot of what they say, but still think that some of their objections are based on a misunderstanding.

This misunderstanding is based on the idea that arguing for an inborn component of gender identity development equals having to believe that  male and female brain are significantly different from each other, and that having a male or a female brain automatically leads to a specific set of behaviors.

There is nothing in the world I see that proves that the brains and minds of men and women are significantly different. Indeed, the radical new role of women in a country like my own (Norway) tells me that  the scientific dogma used to chain women to the kitchen stove were nothing but cultural prejudices.

All the same: We still face a constant barrage of stories, images and theories aimed at explaining why men and women are different. When I wrote my response over at tumblr, I searched for stock photos I could use to  illustrate the "born as a man or woman narrative", and a lot of them (the one above included) presented women as creative and emotional and men as logical and rational.

The truth is that there is little in contemporary research that proves that such a distinction makes sense on the individual level. It barely makes sense on an aggregated level, if at all.

But the fact that the male versus female brain model is misleading, does not in itself mean that your gender identity cannot have some kind of biological component. And that is what I try to explain over at my Trans Express blog.

For more on my take on the transgender narrative and "nature versus nurture", read my reply over at tumblr.

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