Who Counts as Counting?

I really have begun to loathe (even more than I used to) discussions relating to trans people.

Recently, there has been discussion (see this NYT piece and this response) about who counts as a woman. Lately, it seems most of the discussion blaring at me about trans people has, in fact, been about women. It’s as if (trans) men don’t exist!

A lot of this discussion has gotten heated and unhelpful–with people throwing slurs and even arguing about whether something is a slur.

I fully realize discussions like these should probably happen. But it hearkens back to Plato when defined ‘man’ as ‘a featherless biped’ and Diogenes famously denounced this, throwing a plucked chicken and saying, “Behold! I bring you a man.”

The stakes have been raised so much in the discussion of trans people that we may not be actually getting anywhere right now. That’s a shame.

When politics and political motivations interfere with, say, the metaphysics of who is a woman, that sucks. Big time.

As for myself: So far, I have never had a problem with accepting people who self-identify as this or that. In many other areas of life, we take people’s self-reporting as something to consider (think about when you go to a doctor and report pain).

Maybe if we stop climbing political ladders and bring things back down to Earth, we can honestly come to some conclusion on these matters.

I will continue to sit back as these debates go on with sorrow. Each ‘side’ appears to be so heavily committed to their ’cause’ that getting anywhere seems impossible.

As these debates go on, I will continue the standard practice of accepting how people self-identify. So far, no one has shown me I should not accept a person’s self-report on such matters. It’s a plain courtesy for me to respect that much about a person. Although there’s tons of things one can be mistaken about with regard to oneself, one’s sex or gender seems to loom so large as to be hard to be mistaken about.


Author: Jennifer Lawson

Philosopher. That is all.

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