Making the Case, Part 4
Before I pick up where I left off last week, It would be inhuman of me to not remark upon last night’s shooting in Orlando. From the reports that have come out so far – and it is VERY early – there are a lot of layers to the shooters history and ample opportunity for people to find some material which backs their own preferred narrative. I’m aware of this, and caution myself against stooping to that. However, one cannot live through the shooting of 100+ people and the loss of 50 lives without asking “Why?” Whatever other observations might be made, I will say that we should not tolerate an attempt to differentiate between those who call someone “worthy of death” and the one willing to pick up a weapon and make it so. Kevin J. Anderson, Kevin Swanson, Ted Showbat and others are obvious about it, lacking only apparently the will to follow through on what they claim to believe. But many others, like the U.S. Senator who encouraged Evangelicals last week to pray Psalm 108 for the president (which, if you are unfamiliar, is a prayer that God strike one’s opponent dead) are too devious to be so obvious, and they will cry crocodile tears today and offer “thoughts and prayers” but not recant any of the things they have said.
Have any of them armed themselves and shot down 50 people? No. But the difference is one of degree, not kind. I am NOT defensing Islamic extremism and violence, it is reprehensible and evil in every single way, without any defense. But don’t keep silent when someone tries to claim that there’s no similarity. It’s true that Christian Extremists don’t reflect the tenets of NT Christianity in the Bible, and many Christians would say “a REAL Christian wouldn’t…” – but over most of the foregoing 2,000 years, it’s been as blood soaked as any other faith system. The peaceful sort is a really recent manifestation. And I say all this as one who’s been self-identified as a Christian all my life. Let’s not suffer the denial that some cling to. If your Holy Book, whichever one, tells you to hate and demean and even kill other folks, you’re reading it wrong.
Now, I’ll pause, catch my breath, and pick up where I left off last time.
Obviously, the central vocabulary of these discussions relates to the matter of gender and sex and and how the two inter-relate. That’s what this part is about.
Gender Dysphoria – One of the angles that those who suppose themselves more clever than you will use is citation of the DSM-5 definition of Gender Dysphoria. They then say “see? even the DSM says it’s a mental illness!” It is therefore important to draw a distinction by noting what the word dysphoria actually means. The dictionary definition is “a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life.”That is, in this case, the state of emotional distress CAUSED by being trans is the treatable condition. The diagnostic material notes that not all trans people suffer from clinically significant distress that rises to the level of a dysphoria diagnosis. For example, someone such as Laverne Cox or Jenny Boylan who’ve long since made a successful transition would not suffer from clinically significant dysphoria.
So by definition, per the DSM, that which a mental health professional would diagnose and treat is dysphoria – the distress which arises FROM being trans (just as, for example, someone recovering from a stroke might become clinically depressed – depression and stroke are separate conditions). Therefore scientist do NOT classify being transsexual, in and of itself, a mental condition, illness of otherwise.
Gender/sex – they love to throw it at you that some on the left say “gender is a social construct that isn’t real” and thereby assert that only biological sex is real. This can be thorny as even trans-friendly sources will use the term “biological sex.” But your brain is part of your biology as well, so when I must specify I say genital-sex, or gonadal-sex. As for gender, it IS true that how we “do” gender (or some theorists use the term “preform” gender) in any given culture is a social construct, but there are some things where there’s an intersection of biology and social role (for example, the accommodation for a working woman to take a maternity leave when pregnant). But the important consideration here is that gender is also used, in this context, to describe one’s innate expectation of what sex they are or ought to be and what, consequently, ought be the reaction of our culture to us. It may not be the most accurate term (indeed, transSEXual linguistically implies that one’s identity is in conflict with one’s apparent sex, not just gender ROLE) but it’s the only one we have with which all parties will be reasonably conversant.
cis-gender – is a perfectly valid term in EXACTLY the same way that “hetero-sexual” is, and those opponents who object to it should be challenged to be consistent and object to heterosexual as well. BUT, I personally confine my use of it to “in house” discussions. For my money, it gives the opponent too much opportunity to create a distracting tangent about whether or not the term is offensive. I just use “non-trans” whenever I can and fry the bigger fish rather than get distracted.
Finally, Gender fluid. (AKA Genderqueer, or agender) Let me be very clear: I recognize and accept the validity of the profession of those people who feel like neither gender, or both, are consistent with their innate identity. I make no assertion that is intended to de-legitimize that. I do, however, believe that it’s fair to say that the physiological gender fluid condition is as rare among the trans population as trans people are among the general population. I also think it’s reasonable to say that not every gender fluid person is reacting to an innate identity, but some are choosing to live outside the cultural gender-specific expectations, just as, for example, the very “butch” lesbian does. Your opponent will commonly argue that if people are “gender fluid” it implies that there are people who will be able to claim “today I feel like a chick” and use the ladies room where yesterday they felt like a guy and used the men’s room. My counter claim to this line of attack is to point out that a person with a penis that is genderqueer will not seek to use the ladies room, because that’s not part of what triggers their difficulties. Someone who’s outside the binary isn’t going to be more comfortable, or less, with either binary option and so has no context in which to “cross over.”
Photo by City of Orlando Police Dept.