IEET > Rights > Contributors > P. Tittle > PostGender
Transgendered Courage?
P. Tittle   Mar 2, 2012  

Transgendered people are often seen as courageous; they have the guts to take radical steps to become the people they really are.  But I don’t see them as any different from people, mostly women, who get nip-and-tuck surgeries, botox, and breast enlargements.  After all, they too take radical steps to become the people they feel they really are – youthful and sexually attractive.

I understand the mismatch between what’s inside and what’s outside. Really I do. 

I look like a middle-aged woman.  But I don’t feel like a middle-aged woman.  At all.  I feel like a young gun, still burning at both ends.  Mixed metaphor and all. 

Transgendered people aren’t snubbing sex stereotypes; they’re reinforcing them.  You’re in a woman’s body but you don’t feel like a woman?  You don’t want to wear make-up, high heels, and a dress?  You’re not into gossip and giggles?  You’d rather play football and fix the car?  So do it.  You don’t need to get a male body.  

You’re in a male body but you’d really like to wear lavender chiffon and spend the day baking cupcakes and arranging flowers?  So do it.

If we had more people with the courage to just do what they wanted to do, regardless of what others think they should do based on their indefensible notion of a sexual dichotomy based, in turn, on physical appearance, if we had more people who were willing to stand up to the consequent taunts and ostracization, maybe eventually the taunts and ostracization would disappear.

Additional information:

Blog:  From Transgender to Transhuman 

“The blending of gender and marking of skin are revolutionary on-ramps to the transcendence of fleshism. People who refuse to be labled as male or female are the pioneers of seeing humanity as not being limited by any particular substrate, such as flesh. There is a queer line of development from transgender to transhuman.” - Martine Rothblatt

From Transgender to Transhuman, A Manifesto on the Freedom of Form  Kindle book by Martine Rothblatt

Transgender, Transhuman, Transbeman: Uploading with Martine Rothblatt   Interview of Martine Rothblatt, by Roz Kaveney

P. Tittle is the author of Critical Thinking: An Appeal to Reason (Routledge, 2011), Sh*t that Pisses Me Off (Magenta, 2011), Ethical Issues in Business: Inquiries, Cases, and Readings (Broadview, 2000), and What If...Collected Thought Experiments in Philosophy (Longman, 2005). She lives in Canada, and she blogs at


Peg, you write, “Transgendered people aren’t snubbing sex stereotypes; they’re reinforcing them,” and then you elaborate with examples which presuppose that it’s all about what one DOES, rather than what one IS. Trans people have been rejecting that trope for as long as people have asserted it.

It’s not about cupcakes, or motor oil, or clothes.  Reducing our lives to enaction of stereotypes is as insulting for us as it would be for anyone else.  It’s also intellectually lazy.

I am female.  I was assigned male at birth, but I’m in the process of fixing that.  I do things in my life which are stereotypically masculine, and things which are stereotypically feminine.  I was raised as a feminist by a feminist, and I am confident enough in my masculinity and femininity to assert that I can do whatever damn thing I want to, and enjoy it.  I also know from experience what it’s like to be judged as a man and what it’s like to be judged as a woman for what I choose to do and how I choose to do it.

I will repeat this as many times as it takes:  it’s not what I DO.  It’s what I AM.  What makes this difficult for you, and other people who aren’t trans, is that you can only see what we do, and how we seem.  You cannot see what we are, except by what we do.  You have probably walked right past plenty of passing trans people who weren’t conforming to your expectation that we reify the roles of our actual genders.

Also, your post ignores body dysphoria, which is very real for many trans people.  Many trans women, pre-transition, look down and say, “There should be breasts, there.  There should not be a penis, there.” Many trans men feel their breasts and it feels /wrong/.  Not inconvenient, not tiresome, but wrong, out of place, maybe a little like getting into a British car, made for use by British people on British roads, and finding the steering wheel on the left side of the interior.  And, to try to make the analogy as close as possible, you can’t change cars and you can’t get used to it.

This is qualitatively different from getting into the car and saying, “Wow, this car should be a lot /newer/.”  Body dysphoria due to the brain expecting one shape and finding another is different from body dysphoria due to expecting one age and finding another.  Perhaps the biggest difference is that aging is part of the universal human experience, and cross-sex identification is not.

No amount of, “It’s okay, my friend the trans man, just don’t wear a bra for those breasts.  Just ignore ‘em!  Hell with ‘em, I say!” is going to help with body dysphoria.

I don’t expect anyone to understand this easily.  It’s hard to wrap your head around.  But I /do/ expect people who /have not had this experience themselves/ to listen up when people who /have/ had the experience say, “Yeah, what you’re describing is not what I’m experiencing.”

And as someone who has experienced life as a woman in our society, you should certainly be able to share my frustration when I talk about the experience of being talked over or ignored because of what other people believe me to be.


Peg, I totally agree. As you say, the world would be a better place if we had more people with the courage to just do what they wanted to do.

But I think what transgendered people really _want_ to do, is wearing a body of the other gender (and of course, youthful and sexually attractive). Often, they (those who can afford it) go through painful, primitive and only partly successful procedures to achieve their dream. I admire and respect them.

We both look middle-aged, because we are. I don’t really give a damn about how I look, but my body felt much better when I was 25. I could function for days without sleeping, I could drink what I wanted without hangovers, ... every middle-aged person knows only too well what I mean. I would be very happy if I I could have the option to reverse aging.

Someday, science and technology will offer everyone the options to reverse aging and switch gender if this is what they want. I only hope it is soon, because many people will be much happier.

I consider courage one of the potentially most stupid attitudes an individual can display. In essence, it means facing personal risks, for a greater good. In other words, courageous people deliberately put themselves on the line, risking probable damages, in order to achieve a possible, future benefit. Now, it is always essential to ask ourselves - whose benefits are we talking about? Authorities really appreciate courageous subordinates. War rhetorics is filled with appreciation for heroism, courage, and even recklessness. Worth ethics too. When you risk something you have to gain something else - you are a mature individual, relatively in control, and you are acting morally. When you risk something you have, for a very abstract benefit, you are just making a fool of yourself - and, in a way, you are surrendering your body, your actions, your emotions to someone else. And this is bad.

Why should individual homosexuals should face today crippling social disadvantages so that the gay community tomorrow will gain respectability is beyond my comprehension.

Besides, as Giulio pointed out very correctly, it is not a matter of being a transvestite. These people want to look in the mirror, and see a different naked body. You need medical technologies for that. Not courage. Unless we call courageous those who are ready to suffer invasive surgeries and prolonged physical pain - in order to have a body that resembles themselves.

Which brings me to the other issue. Changing your body means changing how other people see you. A man who behaves like a woman is a freak. A woman who behaves like a woman is perfectly acceptable. Transsexuals need, like anyone else, to find a human, enjoyable social dimensions. A new body is their ticket for a more “normal” life, the cure for a deep feeling of being radically out of place. It is not about accepting our bodies and behave. It is about expressing your social identity - when your individual identity struggles with social and natural necessities. It is a cure. Someone does not care about it, and endure it. Someone else cannot.




I am disappointed that the IEET chose to address the paucity of trans content with three consecutive articles (this one, along with the supermodel montage and the surgery video) that reduce transgendered people to stereotypes and surgeries.

I am a diplomatic person. So when I start a comment like this, it’s because I have spotted glaring errors with harmful consequences.

To begin, this article mistakenly conflates “gender expression” and “bodily identity,” as well as “transgendered” and “transsexual.” When combined with a total lack of research, the conclusions it derives are erroneous and insulting to a group of heavily marginalized people.

Gender expression refers to affect: body language, femininity, masculinity, attire, poise, tone. Bodily identity, also known as “subconscious sex,” refers to the feeling of being right in one’s skin, including primary and secondary sexual characteristics - the wrong sexual characteristics are to many trans-spectrum people what a a ten-pound (“benign”) tumour is to/on/in a cissexed person.

For more on definitions, I refer the reader to wikipedia.

As someone involved in transgender activism, I am baffled at how trans(sexual) people are singled out for ‘reinforcing gender stererotypes’ as claimed here. In my five years of experience in trans activism and even in documentary production, I find that transgendered people, transsexual or not, are unusually predisposed to *challenge* stereotypes - not everyone, not always, but on average trans folks bend gender a heck of a lot more than does the cissexed/cisgendered majority.

(Footnote: why does this article not mention fae FtM men and butch MtF women? Does that fact that these people exist not debunk its hypothesis?)

Why the blame? Why are trans people singled out as stereotypes? Because trans people have low status? Because some of us are visible and easy to point at? Because cis people need someone to feel better than? Because cis people only notice us (or put us on TV) when we confirm their stereotypes?

Do trans people transition to fit in? One might as well ask “do people flee a burning building because all the cool kids are doing it?” Of course not. No sensible person goes through a long, painful and isolating process of medical transition because they think it will make them popular.

I read the claim that the authour ‘understands the mismatch between what’s inside and what’s outside.’

I am skeptical of this.

Reader, I ask you to imagine the following:
- You are ten years old.
- You are going through puberty.
- It is the wrong puberty
- If you are a woman (now), you are going to grow a beard, have a deep voice, go bald, and get erections in public.
- If you are a man (now), that child-you is are going to grow breasts, hips and begin menstruating.
- This process is not sudden. It will be a slow flensing of your body over the remainder of your adolescence and into your early twenties.
- Some of it will be reversable. If you have the time, access and money. Which you probably won’t. Much will not be reversible.
- You will be called the wrong name and have the wrong gender on every piece of official ID.
- The act of sex may be a Cronenburgian body-horror experience
- If you talk about how this bothers you - even at age ten - you will be shamed, isolated, physically assaulted and possibly killed.
- If you don’t talk and take action, you will probably either withdraw from the world, or slowly lose any sense of self-preservation. Either way, your physical and emotional health will likely deteriorate.

Now. What do you do? Do you suck it up? Or do you fix it the first chance it looks like you can fix it and survive? And could you blame someone for doing the same?

For a more nuanced and informed take on trans issues I recommend, to start:

Okay, as a transgender, I don’t consider myself courageous. I’m simply fed up with having to wear a mask of other peoples expectations to simply get by. I’m outraged at being forced to dress and behave in manners I find uncomfortable, and in despair because I am cursed to live in a body I loathe.

By every chauvinistic measurement, I should be super happy. I’m a member of the “superior sex” (cough cough gag) I’m over 6 foot (try finding mens clothes my size let alone womens) and I’m nordic (Hitler would have loved me). I’ve had hundreds of men tell me enviously that they would kill to be me. I would kill to be anything but me.

I was forced to learn to hunt, when I would have preferred learning about makeup. I was forced to participate in sports when all I wanted to do was play with the other girls. I am STILL forced to wear suits and ties when I’d rather wear dresses. But I’m not one of those lucky few who could actually pass as a woman, even with all of the currently available medical technology. I’d still look like an ape in a dress.

Then toss in the fact that in addition to wanting to be female, attractive, and sexy, I want wings hooves horns fangs and tail, and most people would not call me courageous. Insane maybe, but I’ve stopped giving a flying fuck. I don’t give a damn whether my example inspires anyone. I don’t defend transhumanism and transgenderism to improve the lives of those who come after me.

I do it because I am sick to death of being forced to live every day in hell while so many other people get to enjoy being what I want to be all around me.

That’s not courage. It’s sheer raw rage.

oh, and to top everything else off, I can’t even be allowed to go by a name I am comfortable with if I “want to be taken seriously.” Instead I am constantly harassed about “hiding behind a fake name” because I prefer being called Val to “Lance”. I can’t even contribute articles to IEET because I REFUSE TO GO BY MY MALE NAME because I AM NOT MALE, regardless of what my genetics cursed me with.

Thank you everyone for participating in this discussion. As blog editor, I will be publishing more transgender articles in the future. Sorry if you think we didn’t get this one “just right” but we will be trying again, and again, and again. I commend Peg Tittle for opening up the discussion with her honest personal observations. Tomorrow, we will have another article by Martine Rothblatt, on a related topic, and we’ll be running more articles by her in the future. I am welcoming and including transexuals as an important, pioneering part of the transhumanist community.

@ Amy - you are welcome to write and submit your own essay on this topic. We’ve invited you before to be a contributor and the offer still stands.
@Valkyrie - We’d love to publish your writing but our policy is that authorship has to be under the legal name. What state do you live in? Changing your name in the USA is generally easy and inexpensive.

“I consider courage one of the potentially most stupid attitudes an individual can display. In essence, it means facing personal risks, for a greater good. In other words, courageous people deliberately put themselves on the line, risking probable damages, in order to achieve a possible, future benefit.”

One definition of a pioneer is someone with an arrow sticking out of his back!


I understand that there are good reasons for your policy, but you should be aware that it disenfranchises all trans people who are in the closet and cannot yet change their legal names without losing their jobs and becoming unable to support their families and/or pay the expenses of transition.  For trans* people who are not going to permanently transition, this is quite possibly a lifelong state.  It’s very easy for people like Peg to encourage crossdressers to have the courage of their convictions, the consequences don’t fall on Peg, but rather on the crossdressers and their families.  This is true of any transhumanists whose physical modifications still enable them to pass as unmodified in general society.


Grace, I’m reminded of Nagel’s “What’s it like to be a bat?” essay.  I don’t know if we can ever know what it’s like for another person to feel the way they do.  You’re right, we can only see what other people do, not what they are. 

I don’t know what it’s like to feel female.  Nor do I know what it’s like to feel male.

As for the doing, I feel like I’m in drag when I wear a dress, heels, and make-up.  Which I have done only as a girl, never, and once, respectively. I’ve never worn a jock strap and imagine it would feel weird.

I don’t want to make this personal, but it seems inevitable - the subjective experience is precisely what we’re talking about.

I do think the transgender experience IS like the fat person who looks at all her excesses and feels it’s wrong.  Or the marathon runner who ALSO feels that her mesomorph body should be an ectomorph.  AND the grey-haired wrinkled bodied person who looks in the mirror and doesn’t recognize herself anymore.  They’re all varying degrees of body dysphoria.

But tell me this - am I mistaken to believe that most transgendered people DO the male and female things once they ARE the other sex?  I read Max’s book, and was, frankly, disgusted at his enthusiasm for all the male obnoxious things once the testosterone was coursing through his body. 


Amy, you’re right.  I wasn’t distingushing between transgender and transsexual.  And I’d never heard of ‘cissexual’ and ‘cisgender’ before.  Thanks for the correction.

You say, answering the question of my response to Grace, that trans people more often challenge the stereotypes.  Okay.  I’ll accept that.  The sample you’re basing your claim on is far more representative than the sample I’m basing mine on.  (And, to make things worse, I’m probably getting male homosexual drag queens mixed in with my impression - and what they seem to think is female/feminine constantly hugely irritates me.)

I’m not picking on trans people.  I’m ‘picking on’ people who change their physical body, which endorses the view that the physical outward body matters, instead of just behaving the way they way, which would chip away at the associations we have between this particular physical body and this particular set of behaviors.  I have ‘picked on’ short men who get surgery to gain a few inches - same thing.

Re the third and fourth points of your “Reader, imagine…” - how do you know it’s the “wrong” puberty?  How do you know you’re a “woman” or a “man”?  That’s the part I don’t get.  You can’t answer those questions UNLESS you “buy” the gender stereotypes. 

Are you talking about (only) a mismatch between your body chemicals and your secondary sex characteristics?  If so, my question is ‘Is that always all or nothing?  Are there not degrees of body chemicals and secondary sex characteristics?’

Valkyrie, so you disagree with Grace?  It IS about what you do?  (hunt vs wear make-up, for eg)

Your post does remind us that it IS more difficult for a male-bodied person to do the feminine shit than vice versa.  As I was reading your post, I was thinking “So DON’T wear the mask, DON’T dress and behave as expected…”  I don’t.  But, agreed, it is easier for me.

Then again, I want to ‘wear’ the androgyne.  I don’t want to have a mustache and a penis.  I just would rather not have breasts.  And, now that I don’t, I have to say it feels exactly right.  Then again, I’d rather have the lean rather than chunky body.  That would feel even more right.

It sounds like you’ve already got the fangs, Valkyrie.  And I love them.

@Valkyrie re “I can’t even contribute articles to IEET because I REFUSE TO GO BY MY MALE NAME because I AM NOT MALE, regardless of what my genetics cursed me with.”

I was not aware that we had such a policy here, and I don’t remember having been consulted.

I think Valkyrie is one of the best, most sensible and most interesting transhumanist writers, and I always enjoy her essays on H+ Magazine, RU Sirius’ accelerator, and other magazines.

@Peg re “people who change their physical body, which endorses the view that the physical outward body matters”

I understand your point, but it is a fact that it _does_ matter, at least to most people. Many persons cannot be happy if they do not feel happy with their body, and the pursuit of happiness is a basic human right. I personally don’t care too much, but I understand that others do. Everyone should have all options to pursue happiness their own way.

Guilio, yes, I see that, and grant that, to some extent: when the pursuit of your happiness affects the pursuit of mine… 

I’m not saying that for THAT reason, people seeking trans surgery, or leg lengthening surgery, or breast implants, should refrain.  I’m just saying ‘Recognize that it adds a little bit to the problem.’  (And still say ‘To hell with it, it’s my party/body…’!)  (But don’t expect a badge for bravery.)  (The ape in lavender chiffon at the office is the one who deserves our raucous applause.)

“But tell me this - am I mistaken to believe that most transgendered people DO the male and female things once they ARE the other sex? I read Max’s book, and was, frankly, disgusted at his enthusiasm for all the male obnoxious things once the testosterone was coursing through his body.”

There’s a saying:  when you’ve met one trans person, you’ve met one trans person.

Sure, during and after transition many people do more things which are associated with their actual gender.  There are many reasons.

The price of admission into activities changes:  for instance, for a man in a dress, as Colleen Fay put it, you’re no longer getting slapped in the face.  “When you put on a dress, wear makeup, put on earrings, and go out and ask the world to accept you as a woman, you are greeted 50 times a day with a slap in the face.  How much does this half gallon of milk cost?  It’s $3.99—and a slap in the face.  How much is the subway fare?  It’s $1.75—and a slap in the face.”  Once that trans person can pass as a woman, she no longer has to pay the slap in the face price for going out in public.  Each person’s resources are finite, especially when it comes to blowing through or past social censure.  So consciously or unconsciously, you decide what you want to do and how much you’re willing to pay.  Post-transition, the fee schedule switches on you in our binary society, and you pay different prices.  No surprise that your daily mix of activities might change, and skew more toward activities associated with your actual gender than they used to.

Trans people, like all people, try things on for fit.  You’re in a whole new social territory, just like adolescent people, and you explore it a lot like adolescent people.  For trans men, that MAY include some macho posturing, some time in the gym, some time pounding beers with the buds, whatever, and then many trans men realize that it’s not their thing, or it’s problematical to tell misogynistic jokes, and they find a balance which is more natural to them, which might still include cooking.  For trans women, that MAY include wearing more makeup than society accepts, or inexpert makeup, or clothes which society says are okay for teen girls but not for women in their forties, or helping organize the food at the company picnic, and then many trans women realize that it’s not their thing, or it’s problematical to complain about men in general, and they find a more natural balance.  To make it worse, everyone gets to see trans people at their most socially inept, this second adolescence, exactly when they pass least well physically.  So you’re more likely to notice them, and also more likely to associate them with something which doesn’t sit well with you.

Trans people, like all people, do some things is public and some things in private.  You may look at me and be able to tell that I don’t have decades of experience with daily makeup and so it looks a bit garish, but you won’t be able to know, unless we get to the point where I tell you, about how spend my spare time writing code, or clearing trails, or what-have-you.  So you, like everyone, suffer from a sampling bias, where the most obvious and most superficial things get noticed the most.

Finally, trans people, like all people, tend to feel euphoric when they break free of bonds.  When you are suddenly free to do things which you never felt you could before, you tend to celebrate it, and go farther than you might, and louder.  People notice that, but may not appreciate why.

I haven’t read Max’s book, but I’ve seen similar behavior in trans people.  It usually moderates with time, especially as people lose their patience and start calling people on it.  I know of one trans man who got pulled aside by a supportive college professor, who had to explain that the swearing he was used to doing around women was minimally okay when he presented as a woman, but no longer okay now that he presented as a man - it was more dangerous, took up more psychic space, and was more offensive to the sensibilities of those around him.  I know of another trans man who started passing as male and found that in-your-face behavior which he used to be able to get away with would now get him decked.  To a greater or lesser extent, such things happen to all of us.

And what none of us tend to see in detail is when trans people start to “woodwork”.  We finish with adolescence, we grow up a bit, we become less obtrusive, we get called out on our acting out and start to rein it in … and then you don’t notice us as trans people, and we’re just people, and you don’t associate us with teh trans … and there’s your last, most insidious sampling error for the data set you’re drawing on to think about this stuff.


I’ve been away from this blog again but this is one hell of a thread, so here’s me wading in again.

I should start by declaring that I don’t, yet, have major issues with my body, gender, appearance or whatever. I say “yet” because I have similar issues to Peg, i.e. I am reaching an age where my body starts to age more rapidly and this is likely to become more and more annoying - and at variance with the person I want to be - as time goes by. So let’s all invest in biotech and whatever Aubrey de Grey supports to fix this problem.

Another comment I want to make is that this reminds me of discussions I’ve had with Giulio and others about uploading and identity. To what extent do or should we regard our bodies as an integral part of our identity?

A third comment I want to make is that we urgently need a personal but gender-neural third-person pronoun in the English language. Any suggestions?

Yes, it does add a little bit to the problem, but I think the actual happiness of real persons with human feelings should have priority over principles.

I think someday we will have the option to change bodies as easily as we change shirts today, and I hope that day is soon. But, realistically, it will not be soon, and we should fight for the persons alive now to be as happy as possible, here and now.

Welcome back Peter!

Re “personal but gender-neural third-person pronoun in the English language” - I like ve, vis and ver (ref. Greg Egan novels), but I see a trend of using plural pronouns (like “a person has the right to be happy with their body”)

“how do you know it’s the ‘wrong’ puberty? How do you know you’re a ‘woman’ or a ‘man’? That’s the part I don’t get.”

You might as well ask how someone knows whom she’s attracted to, or that she doesn’t experience sexual attraction.  You just do.  It’s a visceral response.  Most trans people, especially late transitioners, have tried really, really hard to be their assigned gender, and it just didn’t work for them.  There’s a fundamental, basic disconnect, for anyone who has transitioned successfully, and for many people who never do transition, because they can manage to get by even in the face of the experience of the dysphoria.

Please don’t be surprised if trans people are not very patient with you when you ask that question.  You are asking them to provide empirical, impartial evidence to convince you of their own lived experience.  Many people will do their best to be gracious with that, but sometimes its hard to get past the implied insult that you might know better than we do about something we can experience and you can’t.

“You can’t answer those questions UNLESS you ‘buy’ the gender stereotypes.”

No.  No no no no no.  I am not a stereotype.  I have a gender identity.  It is part of the very core of my being, part of what defines me as a human being.  It would have been a lot easier for me if I didn’t have it, if I could have been happy with my assigned gender.  I reject your imputation that this part of me is merely an obstinate buying into gender stereotypes, against all the obvious evidence which rational people (implication: not me) can see plainly.  That’s not it.  And to the extent that you think it IS it, you will never be able to see what it really is.

I appreciate that you’re trying, on this, and that it’s a very difficult topic.  As Randall Munroe put it:  “The role of gender in society is the most complicated thing I’ve ever spent a lot of time learning about, and I’ve spent a lot of time learning about quantum mechanics.”

But you’re making mistakes which people have been making for forty years.  Your post, which started this discussion, could have been lifted in spirit from _The Transsexual Empire_, by Janice Raymond, which did enormous hard to trans people, and has been successfully argued against since it was published.

Read _Whipping Girl_, by Julia Serano.  She’s a trans woman, and a scientist, and writes very clearly on a lot of this.

Gotta go make a living.  I’ll try to check back in later.


@Giulio Thanks! I hadn’t come across ve, vis and ver…do you think there’s any chance of this catching on? I have misgivings about the (indeed common but in my view sloppy) use of “they” for this purpose, given that the singular/plural distinction is clearly a useful one. I’m particularly interested in Valkyrie’s comments on this, it was in wondering how to refer to her/him that I came up with this.

The more I think about it the more I think the question of identity is crucial. If we identify mainly with our minds, then we may indeed feel we are in the “wrong” body (whether for gender, age-related or other reasons). If we prefer to see mind-body as a unified whole and identify with this then that doesn’t quite work, it can’t be that “I” have the “wrong” body. It would have to be something like “I’m not happy with the way I am right now, and I want to change.” I’d be interested in what others think about this.

By the way, “The actual happiness of real persons with human feelings should have priority over [other] principles” is itself a principle. It’s called utilitarianism, and it’s my preferred ethical framework as well. It’s not the same as liberalism, though, since we influence each other’s happiness in such pervasive ways that “each person should by and large be allowed to do whatever they want” isn’t always going to be the best way to promote overall happiness. Often it is, though.

@Peter re utilitarianism - if I have to use a label I prefer pragmatism (ref. William James), which could be defined as extremist utilitarianism on steroids.

re identity, I prefer to consider my body as a shirt that I am wearing, or a vehicle that I am driving. But you and I, besides the minor annoyances that you mention, don’t feel and have never felt a real, extreme disconnect between our selves and our bodies. If I could inhabit my current body for a few more centuries (in good health and please no headaches), I would say sure, why not.

But then perhaps you and I are not very qualified to argue about this issue. Valkyrie is, and I consider people like Valkyrie, who do feel a real and painful disconnect between their self and their body every day, as evidence for the body-as-shirt-or vehicle metaphor.

Excellent and important discussion, and thanks to Peg for having the courage to broach it.  Many transgender folks have taken the position that the gender-binary essentialist medicalized model of “gender dysphoria” should be rejected in favor of a post-gender analog view of choice and self-expression. Making that move raises complicated issues since you don’t get anti-discrimination protection or insurance coverage when you want to get a tribal tattoo on your face (self-expression), but you do if you are being treated for medical condition of “gender dysphoria.”

By the way, for those who haven’t seen it, George Dvorsky and I grappled with what a transhumanist “post-gender” theory might look like a couple of years ago:

I’ve also written about the topic of a post-medicalized theory of transgender freedom here:

As to the issue of the use of real names it is a policy to distinguish ourselves from some of the subcultural projects in our milieu, and to oblige people to take open and transparent responsibility for the things they write. There are certainly folks who have long lived under assumed names, like Natasha Vita-More and RU Sirius, who write for us, and if any underground Chinese or Syrian dissidents petitioned to do so we would certainly oblige them. But for our writers in the liberal democracies we believe we can best make our case to the public when we are as transparent and open about our identities as possible.

J. Hughes

Re personal but gender-neural third-person pronoun in the English language,  what’s wrong with “it, its”? These genderless pronouns sound perfectly fine and appropriate to me, but English is not my native language and I may be missing something.

Perhaps I will start experimenting, a writer should experiment with its style until it finds a style appropriate to what it wants to say.

Re using “it, its”, I find the suggestion intriguing because although in some ways obvious I have tended to dismiss it without really considering it. The most obvious risk is that one causes extreme offence, since I would guess that most people wouldn’t like to be referred to as “it”. I think it would be good to use a new word that is gender-neutral, explicitly singular and also (unlike “it”) explicitly personal. The difficulty is making it catch on, but indeed writers should experiment with their styles, so I look forward to yours!

I’ll look up pragmatism, I’m curious to see if there is really a difference between that and classical utilitarianism. Re being qualified to discuss the transgender issue, yes I see your point, although on the whole I think people who don’t have a keen emotional stake in an issue do have important contributions to make - provided of course that we take care to listen to those who do.

Re offence, I am proposing to use it, its as generic personal pronouns, like “you discover a new author and you love it” or “a poster writes its comment” but to continue to use he, she. his, her for specific persons according to their own preferences, like “Peter writes what he wants to say in his comment” and “Valkyrie writes what she wants to say in her comment.”


Thank you for hearing me and engaging in dialogue. I will attempt to engage too. Below, I have paraphrasing what I see as key points as questions. Please let me know if this works for you, or if I have erred.

1. ‘Do most transgendered people do the male and female things once they are the other sex? (see Max’s book…)

Yes. A lot of transsexuals take a while to stretch in the new role. Much like a lot of cissexed teenagers do when they go through the right puberty (see point below on puberty) the first time. But the cissexed teens are often seen as normal, and the trans people are seen as overperforming.

This said, a lot of transsexuals did these things before transition. Only now (moreso for the transsexual women due to the general cultural preference for tomboys over sissies), they can do them without further ostracism or violence, either because they are accepted to the point where their behaviour is tolerated, if not accepted, or because they are now a permanent outcast and have no further to fall.

In my experience, I find I take much less shit from people when I am perceived as a woman with transgressive masculinity (and/or viewed as FtM) than perceived as as a man with transgressive femininity (and/or viewed as MtF). If find that this holds for most trans people. Being perceived as a man in a dress in our society is extremely transgressive - to the point where it is physically dangerous. I go day to day in men’s clothes, even in conservative areas - there is distance and hostility, but I do not feel endangered. But I know assigned-male people who are afraid to walk through even the gay village at night, for fear of stranger-violence. And as much as they stretch gender boundaries, you can’t fight the system when you’ve been killed by a random drunken asshole.

In my experience, a lot of transsexuals will grow into a more androgynous state in the years to come, taking up drag and other gender-non-normative activities, questioning their sexual orientation, and some will cease to identify as a binary gender. Again, the feeling of safety (or having nothing left to lose) accelerates this. But the transition often needs to come first. It’s hard to say why, but I will attempt to do do in point 2.

Most of the trans people I know who have read Max’s book, cringe when they hear about it. They think he is (or was at the time) a macho
jerk. Trying to get into the media as a trans person is a frustrating exercise as publishers and broadcasters often demand (or manufacture) conformity to stereotypes so as not to “confuse” or “distract” the audience. As a gender transgressing trans advocate, I have been cropped out of newspaper photos and heavily misquoted. I know of one woman in a documentary who never wore makeup, who was asked to put on makeup as a “joke” by the director. To her shock, this image of her prettying up was used as the opening shot to introduce her daily life.

2. How do you know it’s the “wrong” puberty? You can’t answer those questions UNLESS you “buy” the gender stereotypes.

An excellent question, and one that is difficult to answer. It’s a lot like the example of the ten pound benign cyst I brought up. One’s subconscious body-map simply does not include ones body as it stands. It is, I believe (having lost a small part of my body), a lot like having lost a body part, and yet “known” that it is missing and feeling a phantom presence there.

In my case (long before I used the word “trans” to refer to myself) for my lover to touch me in a dysphoric area felt to me like my lover was running zer hands over a stage-prosthesis, or an area of heavy nerve damage - painless but largely numb, and sometimes exterior to myself. And very frustrating when I was trying to be in my body with zer. This feeling of wrongness was the last straw in deciding I should transition, not the reverse.

Is is affected by social expectation? Probably in part, yes. But if I spent my life in isolation, or interacting only in virtual reality, I would still transition. In fact, I would have done so much sooner - because while there is social pressure to conform, there is also social pressure not to be a transseuxal. So to transition is also to break norms.

I have heard *anecdotes* of early days of transgender medicine where medical professionals prescribed large doses hormones to drag queens (who did not identify as women or complain of dysphoria), and transsexuals (who usually did). Many of the drag queens experienced pronounced depression and even psychosis. The transsexuals felt fine. Why did one group react as if the hormones were wrong and the other feel they were right? I don’t know. But it’s akin to what a lot of trans people “know.”

Having screwed with my own hormone levels, I can say that some part of me demands estrogen and despises testosterone - and it somehow knows when the dosage is off. My mood gets screwed up, I have trouble concentrating, and bloodwork confirms that my pituitary malfunctions.

I don’t know if I’d recommend it, but I have heard of people deliberately messing with their own hormone levels as a way of feeling this difference themselves.

3. ‘Is that always all or nothing? Are there not degrees of body chemicals and secondary sex characteristics?’

I am happy to say it definitely is not. I know a lot of people who have transitioned into the middle. Some have had a “full” sex changes and then come out as genderqueer or part of a non-binary gender that is not part of the dominant culture.

I also know people who have used hormones (in a “full” or “partial” dose) and surgeries to move themselves “part way” along what our society considers to be the “natural” binary. (Sorry about all the scare quotes - I’m trying to discuss their body-changes without legitimizing an anti-intersex medical system) These people may identify as their birth-assigned gender, the “opposite” to said gender, both or neither.

I am fortunate enough to have the funds, health and bureaucratic agility to access pretty much whatever medical process I want. I’ve done some of these things and refused others. But I also got a short haircut, hit the gym to build my upper body strength, and, right now I have a fuzzy neck-beard. I’d grow a goatee if I could.

Often these groups have to to lie to doctors about what their goals are in order to do this.

Again, I thank you for engaging and look forward to continued discussion.

@jhughs, hankpellissier, valkyrieice

Is this a “real name” policy or a “legal name” policy?

See link:"Real_Names"_policy?

I ask: Is not one of the key struggles in transhumanism to disentangle the concept of “real” (or “natural”) from arbitrary, restrictive social and state norms?


I fail to see why Val is any different from Natasha Vita-More and RU Sirius. I’ve never met her under any other name.

Moreover, under the Chinese/Syrian dissident example, I take it that there is a precedent for people to write under pseudonyms when the alternative is silence or violence.

America might be a “Liberal Democracy” free of state-sanctioned terror for some, but for many it is not. Transgendered people are one such group - the state may do us direct violence, by permitting “reparative therapy” or by arresting us for “assaulting” our rapists, then locking us in a men’s prison. Or it may leave us to the mob, denying us access to emergency medical care, or simply refusing to stop the violence inflicted upon us. And outing ourselves as trans invites that violence.

But writing about it, having a voice, a voice that does not endanger us, can stop that.


In my experience, changing ones legal name is rarely “easy and inexpensive.” And changing one’s sex marker makes it even harder.

In Canada (which, I find, is sexually progressive compared to the United States, and less paranoid about terrorists getting IDs so they can get a legal utility bill) I started my name change in early 2007 and got my last piece of corrected government ID in 2010, my official student records rolled over in 2011, and my corrected Air Miles card came in last month. This has involved money, public notaries, bureaucratic bullying and around two hundred hours of bureaucratic work. While I could have changed my legal name and left my other ID to sit, I would not have been able to leave the country, fly on an airplane, travel by grayhound, go to school, find work, drive a car, use my photo bus pass, buy things on credit, or access my bank account (or spend all those Air Miles I’ve collected) without going through most or all of the full hassle.

Add to this, that there are many American states where you cannot change your legal sex. And having the wrong sex on your ID can invalidate that ID in the eyes of state officials, businesses and the police. And, in some areas, name changes must be announced in the newspaper, thus inviting violence.

@ everybody concerned about “real names” - The name usage policy at IEET is not “my” policy, it is long-standing IEET policy.

It is presently being discussed by Board members and myself. It might be changed; it might not. We are waiting to hear from all Board members, or perhaps, they will leave the decision entirely up to me.

Thank you all for expressing your opinions and sharing your knowledge on this important topic.

Grace, “the implied insult that you might know better than we do about something we can experience and you can’t” - but you may be implicitly insulting me there, assuming i can’t know.  You’re obviously assuming I’m not trans.

I think ANY sex/gender-based behavior is stereotype.  Just as any race-based, height-based, eyecolor-based…behavior is stereotype.  I guess what I’m not ‘buying’ is ‘gender identity’.  I don’t buy ‘national identity’ either.

Yes, what I am is to some extent the effect of my physical body (Peter’s second point), but I’m not at all convinced that the parts of my physical body that are on the sex continuum are the most definitive, or even definitive enough to support a ‘gender identity’.

Thanks for the references - I’ve put both Serano and Raymond on my reading list.

In the vein of ‘done 40 yrs ago’, feminists back in the 70s tried to get make our language more gender neutral - the pronoun ‘ze’ was suggested.  (Guys, catch up!)  Instead the awkward ‘she or he ’ or less awkward but limited to written speech ‘s/he’ seemed to take off. 

Using ‘their’ upset the grammarians with their subject/verb agreement rules, and using ‘its’ upset the religious-inclined who would not be treated as other animals.

At least English doesn’t have gender attached to even its nouns (like ‘le’ and ‘la’ in French).

On this note (that of realizing that our very language is sexist, gender reinforcing), names - and this of course goes to Valkyrie’s comment as well…it’s a pity parents continue to name their children with female and male names.  To me, it’s like putting a ‘Black-’ and ‘White-’ prefix on their names.  Horrendous.  Why aren’t gender-neutral names catching on?  Why do we continue to use Mr. and Ms. as if it’s polite?  Polite??!!

Amy, “In my experience, I find I take much less shit from people when I am perceived as a woman with transgressive masculinity (and/or viewed as FtM) than perceived as as a man with transgressive femininity (and/or viewed as MtF)” - and who is it who gives you the most shit, women or men?

I’m not surprised at the differences you describe; I think it stems from the same ‘system’ that makes tomboys more acceptable than sissies and that has gay men bashed more than lesbians. 

It’s paradoxical though, since when women dress in power suits (read that generally to include all transgressiveness - tomboys, lesbians), they are the subordinate class having the nerve to assume the uniform of the privileged.  So you’d think they’d be hassled more. 

I think the paradox can be explained when we see that it’s men, not women, who are doing the hassling and bashing.  It’s men, not women, who are threatened by such transgressiveness, because, as the privileged, they have more to lose if the system is toppled.

I think women/females who have had PMS are in a unique and valuable position to understand the effect of hormones on identity and self and personality.  It’s too bad, at least as far as I’m aware, that their stories are marginalized, dismissed.  What they can tell us would rival what transpeople are telling us about the interaction of body and mind.

Amy, I think we need to add yet another category…I must not be the only female-bodied person to have passed through puberty and not come out feeling like a woman.  (And surely there are male-bodied people who don’t feel like/identify as men.)  I have never in my life felt like a woman; I don’t identify myself as a woman (unless it is absolutely required); I vehemently do not define myself as a woman.  So what am I?  I’m an androgyne in a female body, I suppose.

Hank/IEET - Could we not at least just use first initials in lieu of complete first names?  That wouldn’t address the problem completely, but it would at least eliminate the gender-disclosure issue.  It’s standard, of course, in academic publishing now.

When I am perceived as a transgressively feminine person, I find experience more overt hostility from men (stares, “fag,” etc…), but some enabling from women (“not my problem,” “take it somewhere else,” “deal with it yourself”). When I am perceived as a transgressively masculine, I experience some sexism from men insofar as they view me as a woman, but usually less than I do if I look non-transgressively feminine - as a butch I am sexually “off-limits” for example, and they usually acknowledge my technical skills and physical strength (both things I developed after transition, oddly enough). But when perceived as a butch women, I find coldness and hostility from women, usually less overt than men calling me a “fag”-  but definitely there, but hard to ever prove. But maybe that’s just Canada where you can be a jerk as long as you’re polite about it.

I interpret (but cannot prove) that the elevated hostility from women towards me as a butch, and elevated hostility from men perceiving me as a faerie comes from both groups of people trying to demonstrate their group membership by policing the borders.

Regarding, “not feeling like a woman.” Good on you for understanding that and naming it. I know people with similar experience who ID as genderqueer, androgyne, monster and I-don’t-have-a-gender. Many of these people consider themselves “transgendered but not transsexual” or “on the trans(gender) spectrum.”

Some of these people involve themselves with trans politics. Others do not. Both they and gender-variant transsexuals can experience friction in some trans organizing, as some trans fail to embrace the transgender spectrum - much as some gay and lesbian organizing doesn’t ‘get’ bisexuality. But, over time, I’m happy to say that I’ve seen a move to more and more radical and diverse gender organizing.

Whereever you go with your gender, I wish you good luck.

hummm quite a furor I started it seems.

don’t have time to reply to most of you since I just got called into work, but to address Ptittle on her noticing that men do the bashing a few posts up.

If you listen to the men, it’s them being harassed by having their rights and evolutionary given roles denied them. Just ask them.

then, once you’ve digested the BS spouted there, read what I had to say in response:

The problem lies on BOTH SIDES, because both sides seem to think that their side should be an exception to all the rules they want enforced on the other sex, and we trans simply DON"T FIT into either sides worldviews. As such, we’re “Enemies of everyone.”

and if you’re interested, check out my other articles and notice how often people dismiss me because of my name, or because “I’m just some 800 lb fat guy pretending to be a girl because I can’t get laid.” Being Trans automatically seems to result in the assumption that I’m someone that can be dismissed and ignored because I couldn’t possibly know what I’m talking about.

Then go watch Surrogates, or Gamer, and see how that stereotype is being promoted to dismiss transexual men as just sexual deviants.

And without the corresponding surgery, changing my “legal” name merely makes me unemployable.

“Being Trans automatically seems to result in the assumption that I’m someone that can be dismissed and ignored because I couldn’t possibly know what I’m talking about.”

So does being (in a) female (body).

@Peg Re “So does being (in a) female (body)”, do you really believe that? I mean, compared to men who are comfortable with our gender, yes, I think you’re right…because of the way men have dominated the public sphere since the invention of the wheel and taming of the horse. But compared to trans people? That hardly seems plausible. Women who are comfortable with their gender (and I believe that is most of them) at least have the critical mass of numbers. It’s always the outliers who have the most difficulties fitting in, and being in a female body hardly makes you an outlier.

@Peg re “using ‘its’ upset the religious-inclined who would not be treated as other animals.”

Well, that settles the issue. I will be using ‘its’.

I don’t thing there is any fundamental difference between us and other animals. We are just better at using tools and more intelligent (which is circular, because we define intelligence as that specific set of cognitive abilities that we are especially good at).

I always refer to my doggy as ‘she’. As far as I am concerned, she is at least as human as my neighbor.

In latin languages, we have no genderless pronouns and all nouns are gendered. Other languages have no gendered pronouns.

Peter, it’s not being for an outlier or for not fitting in that men dismiss and ignore women; it’s just for being a woman.  Women are 51% of the population.  Wouldn’t matter if they were 75%.  In a patriarchy, they will be dismissed and ignored “as if they couldn’t possibly know what they’re talking about”.  Dustin Hoffman’s character in “Tootsie” showed that magnificently (and of course all the women watching the movie were so surprised he was so surprised that when, in the guise of a woman suddenly all this as-good suggestions were ignored - we’re all saying ‘well, duh.’)

Giulio - you say “I always refer to my doggy as ‘she’. As far as I am concerned, she is at least as human as my neighbor.” 

You’re saying gender/sex is what makes us human???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

@Peg re “You’re saying gender/sex is what makes us human?”

Not at al!

Many things make us human, including sweetness. My doggy is much sweeter than most people, that’s why I love her so much.

@Peg continued: my point was that, IF a gendered pronoun is a badge of humanness for religious people, animals deserve it as much as we do.

Peg, I’m not disputing that there is a tendency among men, and indeed women, to dismiss what women are saying because they are women, nor that this is because of our patriarchal culture (and not because you are “outliers”, which obviously you’re not, that was precisely my point), nor that this must be excruciatingly infuriating.

My point was rather that this problem is likely to be far worse for people who really ARE outliers. As I said, you at least have the critical mass of numbers on your side, and the fact is that much of what women say IS taken seriously.

By the way I think there’s an interesting ethical question at stake here, albeit not a particularly new one, namely to what extent should we worry about the concerns of small minorities, and to what extent should we rather focus on the concerns of the majority. If we take the latter approach then discrimination against women would seem to be a far more serious problem that discrimination again people who are severely dissatisfied with their physical gender (and not just with all the social baggage that comes along with it, which is a different issue). By contrast, if we take the former approach then my point becomes much more relevant. I sincerely believe that it is much more difficult to be a trans person in our current society than it is to be a woman who is basically comfortable with her physical gender, and I think this is basically the point that Valkyrie Ice was making?

@ Amy Fox - you were critical of the videos I put up as inadequately representing transsexuals. If you can, please suggest alternate videos that you regard as superior.  Thanks. Also, suggest transexual writers if you can.

Yes Peter it is.

Peg, I don’t JUST get dismissed by men. I get JUST AS dismissed by women. I am neither fish nor fowl, and an enemy of both. Women won’t associate with me like a woman, men refuse to associate with me as a man. My old psychologist also refused to classify me as transgender because I am female oriented, so OBVIOUSLY I could not POSSIBLY be transgender, because I wasn’t primarily interested in men. I even get dismissed by Gays and Lesbians because I don’t fit the stereotype “MtF” Trans. Even some of the professional literature dismisses people like me as “mere sexual deviants” and not “transgender” because I am a female oriented MtF. Even as a member of the LGBTQ community, I am an outsider. I make EVERYONE uncomfortable, and just to prevent getting crucified and set on fire, I have to pretend to be something I am not to everyone I interact with physically.

Believe me, natural females are light years higher up the social ladder than I am, so much so that I might as well not even be IN the ladder. Which in a way is an advantage. I’m so far outside the pecking order I can almost be considered a true neutral party and disinterested observer. Toss in my desire to be non-human as well, and it should be obvious why I can look at the way society functions and not lie to myself about how it all works because I have pretty much no stake in it. It doesn’t matter if I play the status game or not, because I will NEVER be part of the pecking order under the current “rules”.

Oh, and Giulio, we’re in perfect agreement in how we view physical appearence. Personal appearance and clothing styles are part and parcel of your self identity. Clothes are just as much a mask as the persona I have to wear to “fit in” I cannot wear the kinds of clothing I would naturally choose to wear, even if I did currently have the right body, because my taste in clothing would outrage 90% of the population, lead men to think I was “asking to be raped” rather than simply pleasing my personal desires, and likely get me arrested for violating some asinine “moral code” that has no business being enforced by governmental mandates.

Yet at the same time, as much of a misfit as I am in our current social environment, I am a PERFECT fit for the social environment we are developing towards. In a world in which your physical body is just another fashion accessory, and your gender as changeable as your hair, my “outrageousness” will be as non-existent as my rage.

“but you may be implicitly insulting me there, assuming i can’t know. You’re obviously assuming I’m not trans.”

First things first:  If I have insulted you, I would like to apologize and do my best to internalize the correction so that I don’t do it again.  Have I?  Your phrasing was rather coy.

Second, if I did insult you, that does not negate the other insult.  I’m not trying to keep us even or score points.  I’m trying to express my understanding of a topic personally important to me, which I have both experienced and studied extensively.

Third, based on what you have written here, if I had to bet right now, I’d bet that you’re not trans.  You have not been articulating a life experience which matches any of those I’ve heard from people who /do/ identify as trans, for one thing.  It sounds to be as though you are identifying as neither trans nor cis, which is fine with me; cis/trans is just another binary, and therefore probably approximately right for lots of people, and definitely wrong for a minority, just like the gender binary.  Helen Boyd is female-bodied but articulates clearly that she never felt like a “woman” in the sense that a lot of people seem to mean it, and she dislikes it when people call her cisgender, even though she’s definitely not trans.  She wrote _My Husband Betty_ and _She’s Not The Man I Married_, both of which should be at or near the top of any reading list on gender.

With all that said, if you tell me you’re trans, I’ll do my best to acknowledge and respect your self-identification.  Same goes if you tell me you’re something else.


“Re personal but gender-neural third-person pronoun in the English language, what’s wrong with “it, its”?”

A lot of people find it dehumanizing.  It’s the same word we use to refer to chairs, worms, and piles of manure.  Beyond that incidental problem, it has also been used deliberately as a weapon against trans people, to dehumanize and/or “other” them.

So, it’s got some pretty insurmountable baggage.

There is certainly a need for neutral pronouns in English.  The one I see most often these days is “ze/zir/zem”, also written “zie” or “sie”.

For a long time, having been raised by a grammarian, I could not bring myself to use “they” as a neutral singular.  Recently I learned that some of the greatest writers in the English language have used it, including the writer who has the most coined words to his name, Shakespeare.  Who am I to say I know better than they?  So now I use it.


“I think ANY sex/gender-based behavior is stereotype. Just as any race-based, height-based, eyecolor-based…behavior is stereotype. I guess what I’m not ‘buying’ is ‘gender identity’. I don’t buy ‘national identity’ either.”

I would certainly agree that gender-behavior links are, on average, much less tenuous than the general population likes to believe.  I would agree very strongly that such links can be overwhelmed by socialization.  I’m much more on the nurture side of the nature/nurture debate.

However, I think it’s critically important to remember that individuals are not averages.  Even if, on average, gender-behavior links are faint or nonexistent, it’s dangerous to conclude that they are not strong /in some people/.  If you experience such a strong link, and I insist on imposing on you my well-intended understanding that you don’t, then I’m guilty of the same act which sexist jerks have perpetrated for millenia:  I’m guilty of telling you that you can’t be or do something which you feel inclined to be or do, because of my belief about the class assignment I have made for you.

I’m not going to tell you that you have to have a gender identity.  I know that I have one.  It would be easier if I didn’t, but I’ve been unable to get away from it or get rid of it.  But I think it’s very probable that some people have gender identity and some people don’t, or that it’s stronger in some than in others.  The people who don’t have one will tend to be happy with whatever gender they were assigned at birth, and so they disappear into the default population, the cisgender population.

Or, perhaps you have a very strong gender identity, and it is neither male nor female.  Although some (rather strident) trans people insist that everyone is internally either male or female, I hear a lot of people articulating a personal experience which says otherwise, including you.

And there’s nothing wrong with that.  There should be room for us all.


No, Grace, I was not insulted, apology unnecessary.  What I was trying to do was highlight the ‘What’s it like to be a bat’ problem - that one can’t really know whether or not someone else can or can’t know what someone else is going through.  It’s a minor rather abstract point - we have more important things to be talking about.  I’ll add Boyd to my list…

Yes, I think Grace is spot on there. While in some respects I’m a fairly standard male, in others I’m only very weakly correlated with the traditional, socially-constructed male gender, which in any case varies, unlike biological gender, from culture to culture). Even the physical attributes associated with gender vary from race to race, while the significance we attach to them is cultural. Dividing qualities into “masculine” and “feminine” is as silly as dividing them into “yin” and “yang”. Trousers vs dresses, aggressivity vs passivity, facial hair vs smooth skin, male genitals vs female genitals, high-pitched voice vs low-pitched voice, being a CEO vs raising a family, being attracted to men vs repelled by men, being repelled by women vs being attracted to them…..there is no reason why these different dichotomies should be strongly correlated, or for that matter why anyone should feel the need to fall clearly on one side of anynof them. But the social pressure is there, sadly. I hope Valkyrie Ice is right about the future (and that we can get there without going through systemic collapse first).

James, I’ve read your post (referenced above) and love the phrase ‘morphological self-determination’.  But, given that, is it not inconsistent that IEET require morphological-self-portraits to accompany our submissions?  It forces us to be identified with bodies we don’t identify with. 

Along with my suggestion that we have the option of using just a first initial (ungendered) instead of a complete first name (usually gendered) (an option you may already grant us - I never thought of requesting it before), I suggest we be allowed to choose/determine the visual image we want to accompany our names.  (I’m assuming you insist on an image just for the overall visual appearance of the site.)

I think I’ve found a fundamental flaw in the argument under discussion. And teasing the flaw apart is an enlightening transhumanist mindfuck.

1. If, as transhumanists, we put cis and trans people on equal footing and do not claim that one is intrinsically more natural or just than the other.

2. And if we then apply the thesis that enacting gender norms via decisions surrounding medical transition creates social costs.

3. Then the below bizarre scenario follows:

There’s externalized social cost when a gender-normative transsexual transitons (insofar as this enables the gender binary) AND there is a larger cost created by gender-normative cissexuals (i.e. cisgendered persons; i.e. >85% of the population) *not* transitioning. Every cisgendered comfortable-in-zer-body heterosexual who fails to transition and identify as a gay and gender-variant member member of zer new sex, must be propping up heteronormativity and other gender stereotypes *while also* (unlike transsexuals) creating other social costs by failing to use bureaucracy, surgery and endocrine therapy to challenge ideas of “natural” bodies and identities.

(Transgendered cissexuals are often exempt from this moral imperative, unless, in transitioning, they would become more socially transgressive)

The above is not an exaggerration, just an argument regarding one marginalized demographic applied to the majority. Yet I’ve never seen anyone argue that all cisgendered people are morally obliged to transition. No one says “Mom, Dad - it’s time to get a sex change.” Yet, how can this argument justly apply to transsexuals, but not cissexuals? What does this imparallel say about our society?

I’ve only started asking the “what does this argument regarding trans people look like if we apply it equally to cisgendered/cissexed persons?”

Every time I answer it, it blows my mind.

@Grace re “A lot of people find [using ‘it’ as gender neutral pronoun] dehumanizing… it has also been used deliberately as a weapon against trans people, to dehumanize and/or “other” them.”

Then I will not use it, I don’t want others to feel dehumanized.

Say more on Shakespeare’s use of “they” as a neutral singular?

@Peg re using just a first initial (ungendered) instead of a complete first name, and choosing an icon.

I totally agree, and I don’t see any logic in the legal name policy as it is currently implemented. RU Sirius is one of my favorite writers, but his pen name is not his birth name and I don’t think it is his legal name. The pen name “Valkyrie Ice” has exactly the same status, so the discrimination has no logical basis.

Re icons, on most other web sites and social networks I am a blue snowman:

Amy, not sure I follow (I’m not up to speed fluent with the terminology), but why do you say they “MUST be propping up heteronormativity and other gender stereotypes”?  Am I necessarily propping up racism by not changing my skin color at some point during my life?

And, could you give an example of the social costs when you say “creating other social costs by failing to use bureaucracy, surgery and endocrine therapy to challenge ideas of “natural” bodies and identities”?

Lastly, “No one says “Mom, Dad - it’s time to get a sex change.” Yet, how can this argument justly apply to transsexuals, but not cissexuals?”  Isn’t the difference exactly the body dysphoria mentioned in other posts?

Giulio, the point re ‘they’ is just this:

The student forgot his books.  accdg to standard grammar, correct b/c ‘the student’ subject is singular and ‘his’ possessive pronoun is singular.

The student forgot her books.  also correct, same reason

The student forgot their books.  incorrect b/c subject and verb do not agree in number

So by using ‘their’ instead of ‘his’ or ‘her’, in order to be gender-neutral, we are, according to traditional grammar, making a grammatical mistake.

oops, I meant subject and possessive pronoun do not agree in number


I’m sorry, I was unclear. My comment is intended to address the original approach of the article (as I see it) by applying a different logical test. Had the claim in the original article (and many moral claims regarding trans issues) been tested by applying it equally to ‘cis’ and ‘trans,’ it would be clear that a counter-intuitive statement emerges. This indicates that either our intuitions are wrong, or that the argument is wrong, or some combination of the two.

What I wrote doesn’t apply as well to the more nuanced discussion that we have create through dialogue. But it’s a good tack for everyone to consider for this and other discussions (e.g. reproductive rights - “if a *man* was to become pregnant against his will…”; immigration “If Rick Santorum never applied for citizenship, doesn’t that mean we should kick him out of the country?”; etc…). I really should have made that more clear.

My goal is to provide a test that can be applied to future claims about trans people, to test its underlying justice.

Does this make sense?

1. Why do you say they “MUST be propping up heteronormativity and other gender stereotypes”?

I’m referring to the *the article* (i.e. not you, now) claiming that “Transgendered people aren’t snubbing sex stereotypes; they’re reinforcing them,” and I refer to a below comment containing the imperative “‘Recognize that it adds a little bit to the problem.’”

I am taking what I see as the underlying claim (That transition can enable harmful social norms) and putting the decision *not*to transition on equal footing. In this case, if a gender-normative transsexual transitioning is problematic, then a gender-normative cissexual (in both affect and sexual orientation) *not* transitioning is more problematic (and more numerous).

One must choose then to either discard the original argument, or accept the conclusions.

Does that make sense?

Regarding changing skin colour: that depends on whether one accepts this argument, and it depends on how the factors that surround racism are similar or disimilar to those surrounding sexism.

2. Could you give an example of the social costs when you say “creating other social costs by failing to use bureaucracy, surgery and endocrine therapy to challenge ideas of “natural” bodies and identities”?


But first a quick digresssion first to clarify for people new to this discussion: If one claims that for some to transition can confirm some stereotypes, and this “...adds a little bit to the problem.” It then applies this to cis people. (sorry to restate the premise over an d over, I want to make sure I’m clear this time and don’t sound like a wing-nut)

And now, example costs:
- In failing to (try to) change (or remove!) one’s legal gender/sex marker on identification, one is quietly letting the state enforce a binary sex model on the world - one where gender, as assigned by a phallocentric medical system, is considered inviolate and essential for day-to-day tasks

- In never changing ones name, one is granting naming-rights (part of a larger issue of self-determination) to parents, not offspring

- In not altering ones body, one is legitimizing birth circumstances as natural and unalterable. Further, one is legitimizing gender norms of the body by leaving it in a cissexed state.

3. Lastly, “No one says “Mom, Dad - it’s time to get a sex change.” Yet, how can this argument justly apply to transsexuals, but not cissexuals?” Isn’t the difference exactly the body dysphoria mentioned in other posts?

Indeed, it is.

Had this test been applied to the original argument, it might have led to the question “yeah, why don’t I ask my parents that… maybe there’s another reason why some people don’t change sex and others do…? Like people have a subconscious sex….” and the entire article could have taken a different turn before it was written.

Again, I really should have made this more clear. My apologies

My goal is to put the ethical test out there, so people can start applying it to claims made about trans people (or other marginalized groups). So the next time I hear someone say “I saw this documentary about trans(seuxal) children -and I wonder if their parents interferred and ‘made’ them trans when they could have been happy being cis” (much as people used to commonly ask “ you think their parents made them gay”) I can put transsexual and cisseuxal on equal footing and ask “see that cis child over there. Do you think that their parents ‘made’ them cis when ze would have been happier being trans?” Their answer being usually being"of course not” and my follow up being “so… why claim that parents unfairly ‘make’ their kids trans but never claim that they unfairly ‘make’ them cis?”

Thank you for following with my long and messy thought process.

Amy, woh, ““if a *man* was to become pregnant against his will…” - stay tuned for the novel I’m currently working on…titled “What Happened to Tom” - I’ll be publishing it myself as an ebook available through smashwords (since i doubt I can get an agent or ‘real’ publisher interested)

1.  I’m not sure the logic holds.  If only b/c I’d limit my initial argument to trans that DO go all fem/masc and thereby imply that female-bodied people must act thisly and male-bodied people must act thusly - and yes, certainly, cis that go all fem/masc are just as injurious.

2. I’m with you on the first two, but not the third.  If we grant your third, then we also have to say that by not working out, I’m similarly legitimizing birth circumstances (not being born buff) as natural and unalterable.  Just because I don’t change, doesn’t mean I think one couldn’t or shouldn’t given A, B, and C…

And my answer to your hypothetical question would have been “Of course” (their parents may have ‘made’ them cis…nature/nurture…)

I am inclined to think that a relevant part of our identity is determined by our gender. Now, I do not mean that certain macroscopic features of our body structure our very identity. This is obviously false. However, any transsexual person represents the living proof that our body is not just a neutral vehicle for our mind. The feeling of being in the “wrong” body can exist only if our mind recognizes its own natural gender. If our mind, our very spiritual identity, did not have a gender of its own, it would never perceive the mismatch between its own emotional structure and an alien body.

So, we can downplay the role of gender identity as much as we want, considering it only a social, historical, or biological accident - yet it must exist, more or less vividly, for each of us.

Male reproductive strategies have to be different from female ones. This is obvious. So, the quality and the quantity of our ancestors’ gametes determine our feelings and desires today. This implies that our past sexual evolution has provided us with a whole set of different emotional responses, behavioral patterns - very, very gender specific. This, of course, does not mean that we should treat our phenotype as something sacred and untouchable. Mutations exists. It’s the environment that establishes weather or not these changes are “good”. Many contemporary mental illnesses represented positive personal traits in past societies. If future humans will change their reproductive strategies, those who are called freaks today, will be the standard of tomorrow. Think about seahorses. Just, please, do not think we can just remove our sexual identity, like an old coat.

@André re “Just, please, do not think we can just remove our sexual identity, like an old coat.”

The option is not available at the moment. But someday it will be available, and I think the choice should be left to the person concerned. Many people are happy with their sexual identity, but some people will prefer to tweak it, significantly change it, or “remove it like an old coat.”

Please, let *me* choose who/what I want to be, because it is *my* choice to make.

@Giulio Prisco

I let you choose anything, I am not a legislator, nor a law enforcement agent. Now, I might be wrong, but I do think that the option of changing our sexual identity will never be available. Thanks to surgery and hormones, we can change the secondary sexual features of our bodies already today. And this is all we will ever be able to do.

We might be talking past each other. You say that some people are not happy with their sexual identity. I think that’s impossible. People can be - and sometimes they are - unsatisfied with the sexual features of their bodies. Those are the aspects that we can change. The body is yours, you can pierce it, change it, boil it, burn it as you see fit. But your sexual identity lies deeper in your brains, and that’s what triggers the wish to become a transsexual.

If you were able to upload your mental structure, with all your memories, education, theoretical capacities, emotions into a cat - would that make you a cat? Yes, you might have fun pretending to be a cat. But you will not be a real cat. Other cats would notice that immediately. You would know it too.

You seem to think that our personal identity is completely devoid of sexual characterization. I disagree. I think you cannot peel the onion so deep, without getting rid of the onion itself.

@Andre But what about changing the onion? I’m pretty sure my own identity is a highly ambiguous, nefarious and malleable thing, for example I’ve been thinking a lot a recently about the distinction between mind, body and brain, and within “mind” there is the thinking self, the observing self, the self as it evolves through time vs the here-and-now, mind including the subconscious and mind in the sense of my current conscious experience, or the current train of thought that is this comment. We are a long way from having unambiguous terminology to refer to all these different concepts, at least in Western languages.

But maybe I’m exaggerating. I suppose the psychological process by which I construct my identity is quite stable, and therefore not that easy to change. And of course it includes sexual identity.

André re “You seem to think that our personal identity is completely devoid of sexual characterization. I disagree. I think you cannot peel the onion so deep, without getting rid of the onion itself.”

I don’t think that our personal identity is _completely_ devoid of sexual characterization, but I don’t think sexual characterization is a dominant part of our identity either.

You know that there are pedophiles whose sexual identity includes a strong and incontrollable urge to abuse children. If I were such a person, I would be the first to want to peel the onion _very_ deep, to let the better part of me live without hurting others.

Light note: If you cook, you know that you _should_ peel onions a few layers deep, because what remains tastes better.

Andre, “Male reproductive strategies have to be different from female ones. This is obvious.”

Not to me.  Explain.

(and perhaps we should start being more careful not to use ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ as synonyms.  Doesn’t ‘sex’ refer to male/female/biology/nature, and ‘gender’ refer to masculine/feminine/social-culture/nuture’?)

But, Andre, “Thanks to surgery and hormones, we can change the secondary sexual features of our bodies already today. And this is all we will ever be able to do.”...

The chemicals inside do affect the brain.  And personality.  And who knows what else.  (There are people who know - I just don’t have any studies at hand to cite.)  Gender/sex aside, that should be clear to you if you’ve ever had an alcoholic drink, let alone ingested any other substances.

So…surely the various sex chemicals will change more than external, secondary characteristics.  We see that with steroid ‘abuse’.

@Peter Wicks / Giulio Prisco

I agree with you both. I also do not see our identities as pieces of marble. I suppose we can spot different dynamic elements in our personal selves, such elements might be also in open conflict with each other. Yes, I might be a mere illusion, an ephemeral equilibrium of mental atoms. I often think that. In the end, my identity might really just boil down to an individual genetic code, protected by an individual immune system. However, I suppose that my sexual characterization shaped many other aspects of my personality, it runs very deep and holds many upper structures. Metaphorically speaking - my being Italian is my coat, my being male is my cardiovascular system. I can get change the coat, but I cannot receive a transplant of my whole cardiovascular system. Maybe just a piece, here and there.

Sexual identity?

Remove/adjust the biology/chemistry and eventually the coercions of even chromosomes/DNA, and you will be confronted with a very different perspective of Self identity?

Apperception’s (perceptions pertaining to past experience and memories), may conflict and confuse values, yet the view of Self is versatile and ever evolving?

What would be your sexual preference as an uploaded mind devoid of any biology and sexual desires? Could you imagine this? Could you even now contemplate Asexuality? Self existence without any sexual needs?

Are your values/preferences/ethics set in stone? Are your memories of past experience accurate?

@ Peter..

Keep searching for the answers to your questions, and let us know what you uncover?

@CygnusX1 One thought already springs to mind. To the extent that my psychologically constructed identity appears to be quite stable, I think this is in part (i) because I’m relatively happy with it (so no major endogenous cause for change), and (ii) because my external (in particular social) circumstances are the,selves quite stable, and thus tend to reinforce it. But this is all work in progress, so watch this space!

Actually the first part of this isn’t quite accurate. There ARE things I want to change. And there are also aspects of my external circumstances that are changing (not least the evolution of these online discussions). So there are agents for change. I’ll keep you posted (assuming the “regular commenter at IEET” part of my identity remains unchanged, as I expect).


“Andre, “Male reproductive strategies have to be different from female ones. This is obvious.”

Not to me. Explain.”

You can check this out :

This is what I meant when I said that the quantity and the quality of our gametes determine our reproductive strategies, and therefore an important portion of our social behavior. Game theory shows that oogamy implies radically different strategies to allocate resources (evolutionary fitness), depending on which kind of reproductive cells you happen to have.

I agree with you about the effects of peripheral modifications of our body. They do exist. Yet, they are not so dramatic to change the core of our identity. Think about the horrible experiments of Robert Heath with that poor homosexual guy ( It did not work on the long run. The guy resumed soon enough his illegal preferences (yes, in those years it was illegal). Also in the middle-east homosexuals are (uselessly) treated with testosterone injections.

Andre, the gender origin site wasn’t helpful at all.  First, it seems to conflate gender and sex.  Second, I can’t see anything there that has to do with “reproductive strategies”, which I took to mean at the ‘whole human’ level.


First, I honestly do not understand why is it so important for you to draw a line between gender and sex. I checked a couple of dictionaries, and they both did not seem to stress the distinction you propose. Anyway, even if there was a lexical difference, why do you think that biological concepts somehow do not apply to human behavior? Our human sexuality is a biological phenomenon. Of course it has many cultural specifications, but also animal sexuality has them. All the human sexual “perversions” can be found in the (nonhuman) animal world, on steroids. The ‘whole animal’ level, especially when we deal with social animals, is not less complex and community-specific than the ‘whole human’ level.

Now, about reproductive strategies. That site reports the current standard view about genders in biology. And it does explain a lot. Have you ever noticed that men prefer to change partner much more frequently than women? Even when they have homosexual preferences, men are much more promiscuous than women. This could be shown with numbers, it is not merely anecdotal. The ideal reproductive strategy for a male human individual is - fertilize quickly that egg, and move to the another egg. A human male can have several hundreds of kids in a lifetime, possibly thousands. A woman cannot make more than thirty, or forty. This fact has deep consequences. Women have to be much more careful regarding the “quality” of their partners - and indeed, human females are much more picky when it comes to choose their mating partner. You might say - this is an obvious cultural pattern, but since it has such a clear biological explanation, why should we think that somehow biology applies only to rats and birds.

I looked at the Wikipedia entry on gender the other day and it appears that the meaning has evolved over the past few decades, from a purely grammatical concept, through a concept of socially-constructed gender that is distinct from biological gender, to the currently usual meaning that indeed includes both. I prefer “gender” to “sex” even for biological gender because the word sex has more to do with the act itself, and with sexual attraction.

What particularly interests me right now is the relationship between biological and socially-constructed gender, and how we might want each of these to evolve. Should we be aiming for the latter to fade away entirely?

Actually there’s a third meaning of “gender”, and that is the sexual identity that we create for ourselves at the individual, psychological level. I think one of the most important questions in the context of this thread is to what extent this sexual identity is a matter of choice, and to what extent it is determined by our genes and/or early childhood experiences, such that it is more a matter of recognising it and having it accepted by others rather than regarding it as something we can reinvent at will. CygnusX1 seems to be emphasising the possibility to change our perspective of self (including sexual) identity, while Andre and others seem to emphasise its (relative) immutability.

Einstein said that reality is an illusion, “albeit a very persistent one”. The question I have (primarily addressed to CygnusX1) is: if it’s an illusion then why is it indeed so very persistent?

Of course our individual sexual identity is also influenced by our social environment, to some extent (but how much?). In which case the question would be: how legitimate is that social influence? At what point does easy connectedness segue into abusive coercion?

@Andre’ re “my being Italian is my coat, my being male is my cardiovascular system.”

I am also Italian. To me, both of these two features of my current self are old, very familiar, and very comfortable coats. But if I had to discard either or both, I think enough of me would remain to continue being me.

“CygnusX1 seems to be emphasising the possibility to change our perspective of self (including sexual) identity, while Andre and others seem to emphasise its (relative) immutability.”

We are still primarily constrained by our biology. Only by removal of any biological gender bias first, may we “truly” relinquish any sexual identity bias? Yet my challenge was introspective. Firstly we may contemplate celibacy, (not really a problem?), then perhaps Asexuality? And I propose that as an uploaded entity this is possible and even preferential, (for some?)

Q: (And I have raised this scenario before), if two of the same sex humans were stranded on a desert isle, could their companionship evolve to platonic love and yet still further? I would guess that for two females the notion would be highly probable, as compared with two males? Although my own gender bias and understanding and experience of women leans me towards contemplating females as not so constrained in expressing their sexuality and maternal love and need for tenderness, (including physical contact)?

Yet this is also something we need to contemplate introspectively and may only seek answer for within ourselves?

“Einstein said that reality is an illusion, “albeit a very persistent one”. The question I have (primarily addressed to CygnusX1) is: if it’s an illusion then why is it indeed so very persistent?”

Again, this question is best asked of oneself? Can you overcome your own ego and for how long? Without your own ego would “you” cease to exist?

Why is this “veil of ignorance” and illusion of localised separation so very persistent? I would say that necessity is the mother of biological invention? Higher levels of evolved intellect comprising Self-reflexivity leads to the necessity to invent an ego and substantiate a “centre of intellect”, (minds conflation of the five aggregates as a single enduring entity)?

Andre, the technology of contraception sort of blows that theory to hell, doesn’t it.

I’m not saying biology ‘applies’ only to rats; I’m suggesting that (some) humans have transcended their biological predelictions.  AND RIGHTLY SO.

@Peg I don’t think the technology of contraception does anything of the sort. Our brains haven’t evolved much since the stone age, at least as far as our innate and genetically determined instincts are concerned, so Andre’s points all stand. We didn’t have condoms in the stone age. Some humans like to think they have transcended their biological predilections, and some of us have had some success at that, though generally not as much as we like to think. But the biological predilections are still there, and are worth understanding.

@CygnusX1 I agree that introspection plays a vital role, but I don’t think it can only be about that. But I like your point about the ego having evolved to substantiate a “centre of intellect” as a necessity created by the emergence of self-reflexivity. However, this is still basically arguing from within the scientific paradigm. “I think therefore I am” must be replaced by “I experience therefore I am”, from which it is but a small step to “I am experience”. And by “experience” I mean experience of the here and now. Go far enough with such introspection, and the scientific world disappears altogether, together with all it’s notions of causality. It is only when we start to re-engage with the world again that the conflation (don’t know what you mean by “five aggregates”) of present experience, other aspects of mind,  brain, body, and the external world starts to reemerge, together with the disaggregation into I, you, him, her, it etc. Against this perspective I am less convinced that the ego is the conflation as that our belief in a universe that obeys scientific laws is illusory. And yet, that belief seems to be necessary in order to live. I haven’t really figured this one out yet.

What can I say but ‘Speak for yourselves!’  Due to the technologies of contraception and sterilization, I’ve pretty much had as much sex as I want!

(I understand the predelictions; my point is that we can, and should,  transcend them.  I think evolutionary biology is often used as an excuse for not (even trying to) transcend…)


Look, I don’t want to insist, nor I need to persuade you. Anyway it seems that you did not read what I wrote - or my ideas are so repellent that you cannot even touch them with a long stick. You are free to disagree with me, obviously. However, I will make one last attempt to clarify my position.

“the technology of contraception sort of blows that theory to hell, doesn’t it.” No, it does not. Why are human male homosexuals so much more promiscuous than lesbians? Clearly contraception does not play a big role there, does it? Male homosexuals, since a few years, live in a society where contraceptive technologies are widely used. How can they still display such typically masculine behavioral traits? Do you have a theory for that?

“I’m suggesting that (some) humans have transcended their biological predelictions” No they have not. From where have these humans taken their new, “transcendent” predilections? From heaven? From the sky? You tend to mix the concepts of “biological” and “traditional”. Life changes, all the time. Lifeforms mutate constantly. Do you think our rational, innovative society invented transsexualism and homosexuality? They are very, very natural phenomena. They exist in the living world since before you and me were born. Transsexualism is a very effective reproductive strategy for certain fishes - for example (I know this remark is going to piss you off - but, that’s the fun, I suppose). Yes, humans transsexuals are not fertile (today). But - do you really think that it is a matter of choice? You say that some men have transcended their biology - I say, they just follow a different biological path. It might be more of less dysfunctional.

If you started looking at our cultural manifestations as if they are another biological expression of our DNA (like nails, hair), many controversial aspects of our existence will suddenly make sense.

@P. and Andre’ re “I’m suggesting that (some) humans have transcended their biological predilections”

Let’s make that “some humans have taken preliminary steps to transcend their biological predilections?” That would be correct I think.

I agree with P.‘s spirit of transcendence;-) but I also partly agree with Andre’, because deep biological features are very difficult to get rid of. We have to wait another few decades I fear. Some of today’s humans just don’t give a damn, though, which I consider as a step in the right direction.

The influence of culture.  That’s the theory I have for that.

Infertility is not a choice (unless one has oneself spayed), but one what does about one’s biological givens - that’s choice (give or take… all the fine points of consent and coercion and pressure and expenses…).

“I think evolutionary biology is often used as an excuse for not (even trying to) transcend…)”

This is an important and true statement, but is all too often conflated with the inaccurate and unhelpful statement, “All this evolutionary biology nonsense is nothing but an excuse for people (in particular men) not even trying to transcend their alleged ‘biological predilictions’, which are in reality just obnoxious behavioural patterns”.

Gosh I enjoyed writing that. My point though is that the latter statement is the attitude that seems to inderlie much vociferous resistance to the insights of evolutionary biology, and it is a case of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

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