November 15, 2020

The Ultimate Proof of Transgender Identities Being Real


The very existence of transgender people proves that transgender identities are real.

If you belong to those who love fixed gender roles and who get scared when someone question the binary, you have probably made one of the following arguments when addressing transgender people and "strange" gender identities:

  • The gender identities of transgender people are not real!
  • It is all in their mind!
  • Gender identity is the same as biological sex – which  means gonads, genitalia or chromosomes!
  • Show me the science!
Truth to be told, most scientists swith expertise in the area of gender variance agree that gender is different from biological sex and that transgender identities are real. Most of them also argue that there is a biological component to such identities, although they also point to the extreme complexity of sex and gender development.

Be that as it may, we do not actually need science to prove that transgender identities are real. The very existence of trans people is proof enough.

Huh? How can the existence of trans people prove that trans people are real?
  • If there was a simple and persistent one to one relationship between gonads and gender identity there would be no transgender people. 
  • If the XY chromosome was the basis for a male gender identity there would be no transgender women. 
  • If ovaries ensured the development of a female gender identity there would be no trans men.
Yet here they are, people who persistently, continuously and intensely experience that they are of another gender than the one they were assigned at birth.

But it is all in their minds!

But that is the point, is it not? Our experience of being a man or a woman or some shade of nonbinary has to be in our minds. Where else could it be? 

A man's sense of being a man is not located in his genitalia, is it? I admit that in some cases this might seem to be the case, given the way some men behave, but in general I think we all can agree that that their sense of self is a matter of the mind.

Sure, our feelings are anchored in our bodies, as expressions of hormones, muscles, blood, nerves and personal histories, but the conscious experience of them is in our minds. It has to be, for all of us.

But it is all in their minds!!!

You are persistent, I will give you that. 

Here's the thing: The fact that something can only be experienced in the mind, does not mean that it is not real. 

The love of another person is real. The anxiety that follows from the chaos called life is real. The fact that my mind's interpretation of the color with a wavelength of 550 nm may be different from yours, does not mean that my experience of green is not real or that green light does not exist.

If emotional and intellectual experiences were not real and "only in our minds", that would mean that the Collected Works of William Shakespeare was a mirage, and you would have to describe his collection of plays as "patterns of ink applied to sheets of paper bound into a book". 

That definition does not tell us anything about Shakespeare's genius or  the love life of Romeo and Juliet.

But they are crazy!

Now we are getting to the crux of the matter, aren't we? 

Your argument is not really about what is real, but what is the correct interpretation of  this reality. You are defending a particular interpretation of the world, or dare I say: I specific understanding of the words used to explain the world.

If you define women as "human beings with a vagina", the statement "human beings with vaginas cannot be men" is true, linguistically and logically speaking. But the sentence does not tell us anything about the reality out there.  It only says something about your particular world view. 

For this to be true "out there" you would have to dismiss a significant part of the meaning of words like "man" and "woman".  

This is like defining "your mother" exclusively as "the person who carried you in your womb" instead of "a woman responsible for your physical and emotional wellbeing when you were a kid." The first is a definition that erases adoptive mothers, in spite of adoptive mothers being very real. The first definition does indeed cover one possible aspect of what we mean by "being a mother", but not all of them.

Moreover, we will also have to dismiss the experience of trans people completely, which means that you have to ignore an essential part of "reality out there," basically turning your hard held beliefs into  dogma and not truth.

As far as I can see you deliberately choose one definition of "woman" because it serves your political or ideological agenda, and not because it is true.

But they are crazy!!!

Trans people are not crazy – as in "having lost touch with reality".  Trans people and cis people are equally sane, in the sense of being able to navigate the world in a sensible matter, showing reason, sound judgment, or good sense. 

(OK, I admit that recent developments have proven that not all people are able to navigate reality in an intelligent and sensible manner, but there is no difference between cis and trans people in this respect).

Indeed, unlike the famous Napoleons of the old asylums, you will find that most trans people spend a lot of time questioning their own experience of their gender, using all their intelligence and available information to make sense of it. That is not something "crazy" people normally do. It is proof of trans people being as sane as you are.

Like cis people trans people can suffer from mental illnesses, that is true. But it is not their trans nature that makes them depressed or confused, it is the way people around them treat them. Your dismissal makes them depressed, not their gender variance.

So no, being trans does not make you crazy. It makes you trans. And that "transeness" is real.

But the transgender cult!

Oh, come on! Trans people are ridiculed in the media, harassed in the streets, and constantly invalidated by people like yourself, and you think trans people go through all that suffering  because being trans is fashionable?  It is sooooo much easier to be cis.

Trans people do not choose to be trans, but transgender culture does help them make sense of the fact that they already are trans. That is a good thing.

Photo: Tassii

9 comments:

  1. Careful. Next you'll find yourself arguing that the existence of Doctor Who fans proves that some people are enthusiastic about Doctor Who, or something, and then all hell will break loose.

    I feel uneasy about the way you've structured the argument, though, because I don't recognise your hypothetical audience.

    For example I think people who deny the reality of transgender identities almost invariably deny the reality of "gender identity" in general, except as a product of socialisation. They don't try to argue that gender identity is caused by chromosomes or gonads. Do they?

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  2. @Adrian Morgan

    Doesn't the existence of fans for a work of art imply that the art does in fact have some fandom?

    Good point about the counter points not being good enough.

    If the audience recognizes that gender is a thing that arises from socialization (some insist that gender is a universal truth descending from God), then it's only a matter of pointing out there always exist outliers who reject a particular socialisation, whether gender or some other aspect of culture.

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  3. @Adrian Morgan

    Doesn't the existence of fans for a work of art imply that the art does in fact have some fandom?

    Good point about the counter points not being good enough.

    If the audience recognizes that gender is a thing that arises from socialization (some insist that gender is a universal truth descending from God), then it's only a matter of pointing out there always exist outliers who reject a particular socialisation, whether gender or some other aspect of culture.

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  4. @Hemant "Doesn't the existence of fans for a work of art imply that the art does in fact have some fandom?" Yes, that is the point. My use of the phrase "all hell will break loose" was meant to cue you in to my use of irony.

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  5. I fear you may well be preaching to the choir, we know our identities are real because we experience them.

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  6. "I don't recognise your hypothetical audience."

    "I fear you may well be preaching to the choir"

    Sometimes I write blog posts that aim at presenting an alternative narrative that might help trans and queer people develop arguments they can use when discussing trans lives with others.

    This post will probably not convince many transphobes that they are wrong (unless they have reached some kind of intellectual and existential tipping point, which does happen from time to time).

    However, the argument may make sense to doubters and listeners who have still not made up their minds about trans people, or who are open for new arguments for other reasons. There are a lot of those out there.

    The main argument of this post is intended to cut through all of the pseudo-scientific noise generated by TERFs and
    right wing fanatics and force them to address the obvious: That transgender people are real and that they very existence is impossible according to their own line of argumentation.

    The transphobes will most likely not accept this argument (as shown in the "trans people are crazy" argument referred to above), but doubters may see that it weakens the transphobes' position and that it paints them in a bad light.

    Undermining the credibility of your opponent may be an efficient tactic.

    So the main audience is trans people looking for narratives and doubters looking for arguments.

    As noted over at reddit: This post is not meant to present all good arguments in defense of the reality of transgender identities. It is meant to highlight one in particular, because sometimes we need to focus.

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  8. For me the proof of authenticity is that trans people transcend race, religion, creed and class standing and appear as far back as the historical record takes us which destroys the right wing talking point that it is a movement steeped in herd mentality (a popular argument used against gay people).

    Of course I am biased because I am trans but my personal experience as someone who did their best to reject an innate nature has given me further proof that I did nothing to invite it. Having succumbed to who I am has only made me happier which is a further testament to the legitimacy that one is born trans rather than an adopter. After why would one choose to suffer so Mr. Molay?

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  9. @Jack: I appreciate this post. Sure, for us trans people it's potentially stating the obvious but it bears repeating.

    @Joanna: Good point: "the proof of authenticity is that trans people transcend race, religion, creed and class standing and appear as far back as the historical record takes us which destroys the right wing talking point that it is a movement steeped in herd mentality"

    The herd mentality, I believe, is comprised of those who wish to deny science, such as the Coronavirus, global climate change, as well as those who wish to hold back the tide of change in local and global economies. They crave their perceived strength in numbers as if that will change reality.

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