Is sex a social construct, and does that validate trans genderism?


From Deep Green Resistance.

In a Daily Dot article, trans genderist Samantha Allen argues that “sex is not a biological reality.” This is not exactly a new tactic on the part of FETAs (Female-Erasing Trans Activists), but the way Allen argues is, I think, particularly sophisticated compared to most of her colleagues:

But, like any facet of biology, our understanding of “sex” is shaped by our social world. As biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling notes, sexual dualism (the idea that there are only men and women) is a cultural fiction. In reality, intersex infants are born with many chromosomal and genital configurations; doctors often perform surgery on these infants in order to make them conform to socially conventional standards for sex assignment…

“Sex” isn’t made up of “biological facts,” as Williamson believes, while gender is a social construct. Sex and gender are both socially influenced systems of categorization—the difference is that sex is allowed to posture as objective, biological, and pre-social. Sex is a reflection of our social commitment to a two-gender world.

Using the intersexed as a tool in an argument is pretty crass, but what do you expect from intellectual bullies like FETAs. Actually, the existence of the intersexed represents a puzzle for them; how can they be an exception to the biological rules if there are no rules?

[T]he existence of intersex people goes a long way towards confirming sexual dimorphism. After all, the prefix inter- means between or across. Intersex, broken down, would translate to between or across sexes. It’s hard to understand how this could be a meaningful concept without the existence of two discreet, recognizable things to be between or across. What could intersex mean if there weren’t two sexes as a point of reference?

That being said, I agree with Allen’s analysis on the whole. I do not follow her to the point of saying that sex is not biological at all; obviously sex is based on biological realities (internal and external genitals, hormones, chromosomes, reproductive system), but it’s not just biological. It is also the result of an arbitrary evaluation on genitals which exist on a continuum.

To illustrate her error of omitting biology:

Crucially, we only feel the need to assign children a “sex” in the first place because of gender, because our society is structured around the idea that two divergent kinds of bodies should meet, couple, and reproduce.

I hope you see the two obvious logical problem here. Most obviously, her argument is that gender comes before sex, but that gender is based on there being “divergent kinds of bodies,” which is precisely the biological basis of sex!

The other problem is that gender without sex makes no sense. The exploitation of women’s reproductive and sexual labor is rooted in women’s biology. The concept of gender without a pre-existing sex distinction is just a bunch of arbitrary and nonsensical standards. Only through the lens of the exploitation of women’s biology can we make any sense of the development of gender roles.

So now here’s the kicker. Allen’s general argument is completely irrelevant to her attempt to discredit sex in order to bolster Female-Erasing Trans Activism; in order to do that, her argument would have to demonstrate that sex is not only not a biological reality (which is not entirely true to begin with), but not a social reality as well. The fact that something is partially or completely made up does not entail that it has no importance, that it cannot be a social construct.

Radical feminists use the concept of sex to point to females as a class, assigned gender on the (logically invalid) basis of biology, being subject to gender socialization and to gendered violence. Stating that sex is only partially biological does not change the existence of gender classes and the fact that people are distributed in those classes on a (spurious) biological basis.

FETAs almost never address socialization because it’s a fact of reality they cannot refute. When they do, they usually try to argue that everyone is socialized differently and that there is no such thing as a uniform gender socialization. But this is never what has been understood by “gender socialization” in the first place. The point is not that everyone is raised the same, but rather that the way children are raised depends heavily on their gender.

For FETA to be true, we must first eradicate any understanding of women as a class, we must first eradicate any understanding of woman-hatred as a social phenomenon, and we must believe that “cis” women are privileged because they are women. In short, we must abandon all systemic analysis of gender, which is to say, we must abandon feminism altogether. But feminism is clearly true, and FETA cannot be true.

The error is repeated throughout. For example:

Today, people like Williamson argue that the lives, bodies, and experiences of transgender people are wholly determined by their chromosomes or their genitals or… something, some sense of an “original” and unchangeable sex. Every generation, there’s another miracle molecule, another form of prejudice, and another tragic attempt to marry the two together

No, everyone’s life, not just transgender people, is not determined by their chromosomes, their genitals, or even sex, but by the multifarious ways in which social institutions impose hierarchies based on spurious and arbitrary biological or mental attributes, and how we are socialized to conform to those hierarchies and their premises.

Again, social constructs and socialization are the name of the game, and anyone who’s not aware of that fact hasn’t even found the board yet.

It’s ironic to see Allen complain about prejudice. The trans genderist use of “cis” and “cis privilege” is a prejudice, because it implies that women have privilege over transgender people by virtue of being women, which is an egregious lie used to stimulate hatred against radical feminists and other anti-genderists.

Transgenderism supports the idea that there is something natural and inevitable about gender. This is despite the fact that feminists, and women in general, constantly challenge ‘femininity’ in their actions and appearance. Transgender activists do not appreciate these challenges and seek to enforce their view that the protection of femininity should be the goal of feminism against clear evidence that many women, lesbians in particular, want no part of it. Gender functions as an ideological system that justifies and organizes women’s subordination and for this reason it must be dismantled.
Sheila Jeffreys, Gender Hurts

What is the end point of this reasoning for Allen? I think it lies here:

Hormone replacement therapy is, in fact, “sufficient” to change “biological facts.” An entire medical association full of world-renowned endocrinologists, surgeons, and medical practitioners have established standards of care that completely replace a person’s original hormone levels with hormone levels that correspond to their target gender. If Williamson wants to measure a person’s sex by their bodies, hormones completely transform human bodies in a safe and controlled way.

I do not dispute that medicine can change someone’s hormones, but hormones are only one criterion we use to determine sex. To say that a man is now a woman because of hormonal levels is like saying a human must be an ostrich because they are both bipeds: surely bipedalism is a trait of ostriches but it does not solely define what an ostrich is.

I don’t want to be understood as saying that biological sex is a black-and-white issue. Obviously it is not, and there are plenty of real-life examples of that. But the party line that FETAs are pushing has nothing to do with such quandaries: mosaicism can make us question what sex means, but a transgender person changing their hormone levels doesn’t. They are free to try to pass as any gender they wish, but socialization remains more than a product of the imagination.

17 thoughts on “Is sex a social construct, and does that validate trans genderism?

  1. lonesomeyogurt December 9, 2014 at 20:22 Reply

    Thanks for the link to Gender Detective! Good article.

  2. Miep December 9, 2014 at 20:27 Reply

    Men who have fathered children with sperm emitted from their penises can really be women, because sex is not a biological reality. Did I get that right?

    • Francois Tremblay December 9, 2014 at 20:56 Reply

      Yea, pretty much.

      • Cindy January 1, 2016 at 08:35 Reply

        Yes.
        The “girl cock”

        And lesbians are accused of being transphobic for not wanting to have PIV sex with girl cocks.

        Oh, and I was accused of being “transphobic as fuck” for stating that “female bodied” people can get pregnant because it specifically erases transwomen, who are 100% real biological female who can’t get pregnant.

        • Francois Tremblay January 1, 2016 at 14:39 Reply

          The facts of biology are oppressive! Die cis scum!!! And so on.

  3. Miep December 9, 2014 at 20:31 Reply

    Also I very much like your point that the very existence of gender scripting requires some kind of innate biological sexual differences, because otherwise where would it come from?

    That does not, however, necessarily imply that any given type of gender scripting is based on actual real differences.

    • Francois Tremblay December 9, 2014 at 20:58 Reply

      The source of classifications does not have to be biological. It can be social class or age, as well.

  4. Pela Abolição dos Gêneros December 10, 2014 at 04:11 Reply

    Intersex is an exception to a rule, just like lots of other biological realities: http://www.isna.org/faq/frequency

    We’re talking mainly about morphology/anatomy here, not about sociobiology/evolutionary psychology. We’re discussing the features most commonly found in our species, facts which are independent of any ideology. The ideologies may come into play after the facts are gathered, as different interpretations of the data.

    Polydactyly, cyclopia, people with multiple legs and arms do not mean that pentadactyly, two-eyed, two-legged and two-armed people are social constructs. Denying that is the biology equivalent of saying Obama is the proof that there is no racism in the USA, or that abortion is not a female issue because some pre-menopause females cannot be impregnated.

    There is no continuum here. They’re exceptions. That is not to say that they are less real or should not be properly cared for, but to blow them out of proportion to claim there are no biological facts is just nuts.

    Biology sees a pattern and describes it. Saying “humans are a sexually-dimorphic species” is just saying “the great majority of humans are born with unambiguous sexes” in a more scientific language. You can’t use exceptions to try to invalidate that assertion.

    All I see in that article are false connections and no evidence that the great majority of humans are not born with clear dimorphic sexes and intersex is more than a rare exception to this. If you wanna argue this, you gotta back it up with statistics. Otherwise, you’re just trying to push your own ideology into biology. And biology is not related to this subject at all. The biological realities of human sexual dimorphism and intersex conditions have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the cultural phenomena of gender and transgenderism.

    • Francois Tremblay December 10, 2014 at 04:17 Reply

      I agree with everything you’ve said so far. As I wrote, there are exceptions and sex is not always a cut-and-dry issue, but that doesn’t disprove radfem claims.

    • Pela Abolição dos Gêneros December 10, 2014 at 04:17 Reply

      (And by saying sex has nothing to do with gender, of course I mean other than patriarchy wrongly using biology to shove gender down our throats.)

      • Francois Tremblay December 10, 2014 at 04:20 Reply

        I assume your nickname means “for the abolition of gender”? Do you have a blog?

        • Pela Abolição dos Gêneros December 10, 2014 at 04:31 Reply

          Yes it does mean that. I don’t have a blog, but thanks for asking.

          • Francois Tremblay December 10, 2014 at 04:34 Reply

            Oh okay. It sounded like a blog name or something. Anyway, I’m glad you liked my entry!

  5. stchauvinism December 10, 2014 at 14:28 Reply

    Reblogged this on Stop Trans Chauvinism.

  6. […] is a basic biological concept, and it is natural. Now, as I’ve discussed before, sex is a human concept and, like all human concepts, it is subject to reframing. The issue […]

  7. […] sex we should be talking about, not gender, and that sex is a social construct. I’ve already debunked this latter brand of nonsense. In a great entry, Jonah Mix argued that self-identification makes […]

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