Fake science, sexual reality, and gender identity

Last week I noted that the ACLU’s claim, that one can be a man and still have periods, get pregnant, etc., was scientifically false;  that sex was determined by the chromosomes, and they are definitive.  Since then, I’ve received a certain amount of pushback from transgender individuals and/or lobbyists, trying to persuade me (or browbeat me into accepting) that the science is rather more involved than that, and that gender fluidity and/or identification is not a matter of the chromosomes alone.

I accept that psychological or psychiatric problems can lead some people to adopt a different mental outlook on their gender and sex;  but I emphatically deny and reject any assertion that this has a physical, genetic, medical or scientific basis.  The evidence just isn’t there, according to any rational, hard-science analysis of the evidence.

One article put forward as evidence of my “mistake” is from the Scientific American.  It’s titled “Stop Using Phony Science to Justify Transphobia:
Actual research shows that sex is anything but binary“.  Unfortunately, while the article itself contains scientific facts, they’re misapplied to obfuscate and obscure the issue by bringing in extraneous factors, none of which are relevant to an adult human being.  Here are some examples.  In each case, a citation from the article is followed by my response.

Claim:  “The truth is, your biological sex isn’t carved in stone, but a living system with the potential for change.”
Response:  Bull!  As mentioned in my earlier article, those who are classified as intersex (a vanishingly small proportion of the population) may have a more indeterminate sexuality/gender, but for everybody else, once one’s reached sexual maturity, that’s it.  One’s biological sex is, indeed, carved in stone.  For almost all of us, the chromosomes have it.

Claim:  “A newly fertilized embryo initially develops without any indication of its sex. At around five weeks, a group of cells clump together to form the bipotential primordium.”
Response:  So what?  If you leave the embryo alone, its sex will pretty soon become apparent, as nature takes its course.  It’s meaningless to say that right at the beginning, you can’t tell its sex.  That’s all right.  Nature can! – and it’ll pretty soon make its sex obvious.

Claim:  “While brief and coordinated SRY-activation initiates the process of male-sex differentiation, genes like DMRT1 and FOXL2 maintain certain sexual characteristics during adulthood. If these genes stop functioning, gonads can change and exhibit characteristics of the opposite sex. Without these players constantly active, certain components of your biological sex can change.”
Response:  Again, so what?  In a normal, healthy individual, all of those genetic components work as they should.  They don’t stop functioning – in fact, to do so is vanishingly rare.  If they do, that’s a problem for medical science to solve, so that the person can resume their normal lives and sexual identity (which the chromosomes have already determined).  It’s not evidence of gender fluidity or the ability to choose one’s sex.

Claim:  “But a half century of empirical research has repeatedly challenged the idea that brain biology is simply XY = male brain or XX = female brain. In other words, there is no such thing as ‘the male brain’ or ‘the female brain’.”
Response:  The argument is not whether there’s a “male” or “female” brain.  Physically, those organs are pretty much alike.  Psychologically, they’re far from it!  Determining why men and women view the world differently is a matter for science to investigate – but their differing outlooks on life are not physically determinative of sexual and/or gender identity.  The latter are merely factors to deal with in the individual.  They cannot and do not affect that individual’s biological sex, because they have nothing to do with it.

Claim:  “It’s easy to see sexual dimorphisms and conclude that the brain is binary; easy, but wrong. Thanks to the participation of trans people in research, we have expanded our understanding of how brain structure, sex and gender interact. For some properties like brain volume and connectivity, trans people possessed values in between those typical of cisgender males and females, both before and after transitioning. Another study found that for certain brain regions, trans individuals appeared similar to cis-individuals with the same gender identity. In that same study, researchers found specific areas of the brain where trans people seemed closer to those with the same assigned sex at birth. Other researchers discovered that trans people have unique structural differences from cis-individuals.”
Response:  This is irrelevant.  So what if there are certain differences between various aspects of the brain?  They still do not determine one’s biological sex!  They may influence what one feels or thinks about it – one’s “gender identity”, if you will, as opposed to one’s biological sex – but they cannot determine or dictate biological reality.  Feelings like that are a psychological or psychiatric issue, to be resolved by those fields of medicine.  Feelings do not determine scientific and medical and biological fact.

The so-called “transgender” lobby is full of hot air and vapidity.  Their claims make no sense from a “hard science” perspective, no matter how much they may try to invoke those sciences, or obfuscate the issue through bringing in a “soft” science perspective.  All too often, they try to assert that non-physical factors are as important, as determinative, as physical ones.  Again I say, bull!  That’s not scientifically valid, pure and simple.  Such factors can’t be measured, can’t be experimentally replicated, can’t be analyzed using the scientific method.  They’re all about the feeeeeeelings! – and feelings are not, repeat, not determinative of reality.  The transgender lobby insists that biological sex and gender identification are not the same thing, that the latter can override the former.  Science – hard science, not touchy-feely wishy-washy politically correct pseudo-science – says that’s flat-out wrong.  Biological sex trumps any number of feelings.  One can feel, wish, hope, believe, pretend or play-act that one’s gender is not the same as one’s sex – but it’s still a lie.

I’ve had the privilege of knowing three people who are intersex – their physical sex is more or less indeterminative, due to biological and genetic factors.  They are wonderful people, despite a real and serious medical issue that’s plagued them all their lives, and I admire their courage in dealing with it.  I know five people whom I’m aware have had sex-change surgery.  I don’t know whether they were intersex or not, and I don’t care.  That’s their business.  I’m on good terms with them, and I have no problem at all associating with them.  They understand my position on sex and gender, and that I don’t necessarily see things their way – but I still like them, respect them, and associate with them, because there’s no reason to discriminate against them.  They’re good people, plain and simple.  I’m not a bigot, and I’m not blind to reality.  They had what appeared to them to be good and sufficient reasons to take the step they did;  and it’s not for me to play God and denounce them for it.

Nevertheless, hard science remains hard science, and facts remain facts.  If we ignore them in favor of some touchy-feely, wishy-washy, “be whatever you feel like” approach to life, we risk abandoning our foundation in and on reality.  That’s why the gender-benders deliberately seek to obfuscate the difference between sex and gender.  Again, that’s bull.  Gender is a sociological and psychological and cultural construct.  If we claim a gender identity that differs from our actual sex, we are claiming that reality is trumped by perception.  No, it isn’t, and it never will be.

Biology is determinative, no matter how much one might like to pretend it isn’t or wish it wasn’t.  With the vanishingly small exception of the intersex, men are male, with XY chromosomes, and women are female, with XX chromosomes, and that’s the way it is.  So-called gender identity (a psychological, “soft” science perspectivecannot change one’s fundamental, biological, chromosomal sexual identity (a reality-based, “hard” science fact).  Neither can medical science, at least not at present, even though surgical and hormonal intervention may change its outward appearance.  That’s not the same thing at all.

Peter

14 comments

  1. Scientific American became political in the early 80’s when they went into the tank with Carl Sagan’s “Nuclear Winter” theory despite it never going through peer review. AFAIK, Scientific American has declined since then.

  2. Let’s say that I believe myself to be a gorilla. No matter how strongly I believe it, I am still not a gorilla.
    Let’s say that I take pills to make myself grow more hair to look more like a gorilla. I am still not a gorilla.
    If I hire a surgeon to perform an operation to make myself look more like a gorilla, I am still not a gorilla.
    If I get a million people to say that I can be whatever I identify myself as, and declare than I am a gorilla, I am still not a gorilla.

    If I were to believe myself to be a gorilla and took the steps above, people would say I am crazy.

    Why doesn’t the same thing go for trannies? Just because you think that you are a woman doesn’t make you a woman, it makes you crazy.

  3. I would also add that a so called “sex reassignment surgery” doesn’t change your sex.
    A man who has had his arms amputated is not a snake, he is a man without arms.
    A man who has had his penis cut off is not a woman, he is a man without a dick.

  4. If you grow up feeling like you’re out of step with mainstream society, you begin to look for answers. Look hard enough, and you find a solution. When I was a kid, I was diagnosed as hyperactive (ADHD hadn’t been coined yet). It explained a great deal of my trouble in school and with other people. The biggest problem was, I wasn’t hyperactive. (a proper diagnosis was made when I was older, BTW) But ADD was all the rage. When the new SSRI antidepressants came out, suddenly everything was a problem of depression. After that, bipolar (manic-depression) had its fling in the big time. Let’s see, Autism (pardon me, Asperger Syndrome), gluten intolerance, allergies. I can’t keep up. And now gender fluidity (which is not the same as sexual orientation, another hot-button).

    I actually don’t care what a person does to modify themselves. It’s much more extreme, but to me it’s similar to extensive tattooing, piercings, or surgical implants. If a man wants to remove his external genitalia, get breast implants, and take hormones to turn into a woman, than I’ll address her as “her”. Adults doing to themselves as they wish, uncoerced.

    Children are the line I draw. ABSOLUTELY NOT. I don’t care if both parents are for it (and both rarely are). You are making irrevocable changes to a person that cannot consent.

  5. What you can determine about an embryo’s sex is irrelevant, and the rankest sort of apples and oranges fallacy.

    Sex is determined the instant the sperm hits the egg, at the level of DNA, and everything after that is as predictable as gravity.

    The level of confusion, deliberate obfuscation, and outright lying doesn’t change the fact that there are only two sexes: male, and female.

    And no one cares what kind of wrapping you put on, you’re still (and always) the one you were born.

    Acquired characteristics cannot be transmitted.
    This is genetic LAW, going back centuries.

    Getting a boob job and a choppadickoffame surgery is simply cosmetic surgery (and proof of dire mental illness).

    People who would seriously dispute any of this are beyond reason, and themselves idiots, morons, and lunatics. The ones who, in C.S. Lewis’ memorable phrase, are “on the level of a man who says he is a poached egg.”

  6. Thank you Peter for your reply.

    I agree that feelings are not fact, and that a transgender person is sex as defined by chromosomes at birth.

    But, and you knew there would be a but.

    There’s no cure for a person who thinks they’re a woman. We don’t have the technology to change peoples brain to be aligned with their chromosomes.

    As I know from working as a mental health nurse, there’s no cure for schizophrenia; a diagnosis for a developmental disorder of the brain.

    So, I believe we should treat those who are afflicted with such conditions with kindness, rather than exacerbating the pain of individuals who are afflicted by disorders we cannot treat.

    Call me, if you like, a woolly minded liberal.

    PS: no intentional browbeating meant.

  7. It’s all of a piece with the rest of the mental aberrations that have taken over things in society. There is no perversion that can’t be excused, no mutually excluding set of beliefs that can’t be embraced.

    On the one hand, the do-gooders deny that there are genetic, heritable behavioral traits that long observation has distilled into what are now termed “racist beliefs”. It’s racist, you see, to point out that there are actual bases to a lot of the stereotypes, ones that are unfortunately heavily correlated to outward appearance. Thus, we must deny that these issues exist, and treat all alike, when the reality would be that not all children learn the same way, or that their behaviors are similarly subject to identical learning processes. To acknowledge this, or to say that adult outcomes are influenced by biologic predispositions would be racist, just as it would be racist to attempt to adapt policy to influence these things in a positive way.

    Yet, some of these same people (I’m looking at you, Peter…) reverse their outlook when it comes to these “gender-related questions”. They can clearly see reality when it conforms to their expectations and prejudices, but cannot when it applies to their own shibboleths.

    The thing to observe here is how much of the accepted canon of the left simply doesn’t work, and to note how everything breaks down the further you carry it out. Transsexual behavioral issues impact something less than a single percentage point of the population, but because the leftoid do-gooders have established the principle that the various other minorities are the tails that wag the dog, we have to kowtow to the latest insanity. At some point, the inherent madness is going to become obvious to all, and the inevitable counter-reaction will take place–Which is going to leave a lot of people high and dry, as they get lumped in with the nutters.

    I expect a cultural counter-revolution at some point around the middle of this century, and given how far the dipsh*ts have pushed the pendulum off-center, I expect it to be extraordinarily ugly, in terms of how far it swings back, how hard, and who it winds up wiping out. There will probably be mass graves somewhere, if only of the left-ish and those that make up the cohorts of the damned which they’ve enabled. Social excess breeds social counters, with an inevitability akin to the laws of gravity.

    All I can say from where I sit is this: “Effect, meet consequence…”.

  8. @Ashley: I understand your reasons for wishing to empathize with your patients. However, my perspective is that I do someone no favors if I pretend to go along with their delusions. That merely perpetuates the problem. They may need psychiatric or psychological help, but they certainly don’t need surgical intervention that defies reality! That’s why I refuse to kowtow to political correctness on this issue.

  9. It’s an ethical question for me.
    I refuse to use the wrong pronouns for a he-she.
    Any employer asking me to do so is, point blank, telling me they want me to lie in the course and scope of my licensed professional employment.

    1) That’s unethical.
    2) It’s immoral.
    3) It’s illegal.
    4) How do you expect me to be scrupulously honest in the rest of my practice after demanding I tell that whopper? 2+2╪5. Ever.
    {cf. HAL 9000}
    5) It ain’t happening. EVER. Period.
    6) If challenged, I will invite them, with all the legal trimmings, to explain their position before a judge and jury, with counsel present.

  10. “Why doesn’t the same thing go for trannies?”

    Because, sometime in the late ’60’s to early ’70’s the Psychological Profession latched on to the idea that validating the feeling that Trans people hd that they were really the sex they weren’t born to would help them grapple with their other problems. And it might have been reasonable, given what was known at the time. But now we have decades of data on whether ‘gender reassignment’ helps, and there is a growing body of evidence that it does not.

    But, for decades, persons with this problem have been told the opposite; that many of their ills will be fixed if they transition. And they desperately WANT that to be so. Because if it isn’t, then they will have to face that they have a lot of scary-hard work ahead of them. Actually getting something worthwhile out of therapy is hard work, and involves facing cold and unpalatable facts. And Trand people are by no means the only people who will do nearly ANYTHING to avoid that.

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