I don’t know if anyone is even still following this blog but I prefer Tumblr’s format so here: http://genderatheism.tumblr.com
Some people are born without legs, so it’s wrong to say that humans have two legs. Legs are a social construct.
Some people are born blind, so it’s wrong to say that humans have sight. Vision is a social construct.
Do either of those sound ridiculous to you? Of course most humans have legs and can see. Exceptions exist, but they are rare. They aren’t reasons to act like the majority doesn’t exist. But get this: some people are born with chromosomes other than XX or XY. Sometimes they have sexual organs that don’t look male or female. They are approximately 1.5% of the population; the rest fit into one category or the other (no matter how they “identify.”) From this we can determine that the sex binary doesn’t exist. It’s just a social construct. This is the only case in which a statistically tiny minority determines the validity of the majority, because it makes trans people feel more legitimate.
I don’t know very many intersex people (and how could I, there aren’t very many of them), but the ones I have seen talk about this don’t seem to appreciate being used as an argument piece to prove that sex isn’t real. Or having their existence co-opted by people who aren’t intersex. I can’t speak for intersex people because I’m not, but it seems really disrespectful to appropriate a condition you don’t have to make your argument seem stronger. Kinda like people without dysphoria redefining trans to be “whatever you want it to be, man” so that they can feel included. Terms like “AFAB” (assigned female at birth) apply to intersex people who had their anatomy altered to look female when they were born and their genitals looked “wrong.” A trans man who is not intersex can’t claim the term AFAB because they were not assigned a sex, they were born with a sex. You could remove the Assigned prefix and use FAB or MAB for trans people, but that would be offensive because it means that trans men are born female and trans women are born male. Why’s that offensive anyway? If trans people weren’t born the opposite sex that they want to be, they wouldn’t need to transition. And your biology doesn’t say anything about who you are, how you feel about yourself, and what decisions you might make regarding your body in the future. And a doctor isn’t going to be able to look at you and say “This baby will grow up to identify as male. Therefore this is a male vulva, congratulations it’s a boy!” Sorry, but if you can’t acknowledge biological sex you’re living in a fantasy world.
The popular reply to this is that even with the division between male and female, not all males or females are biologically the same. Some women are infertile, for example. And some intersex conditions aren’t visible so a person might not know that they’re intersex. So where do you draw the line? Well, not all intersex people are surgically altered, but the ones that are get assigned male or female. (and those without visibly different genitals will be categorized as what they resemble most) So you could say the division is there, the line where it’s decided that this person is closer to male, and this one is closer to female. Again, if you are not intersex you will never be in this position because you were born male or female.
Sorry this is such a short post, but there’s some life stuff going on so I haven’t been in much of a writing mood. Plus, there’s not much more that needs to be said here.
Like regular atheism, gender atheism is a lack of belief. The modern definition of gender (and gender identity) is an idea that requires faith in something that cannot be touched or seen. I consider myself a scientific person, so ideas that can’t be measured or demonstrated rub me the wrong way. Particularly ideas that ignore facts for the sake of making people feel better. I was raised Christian and now I’m atheist and I get it: it’s comforting to think that there’s something greater out there, that’s looking out for you, and that has a plan for this crazy messed up world. Unfortunately for your comfort, there’s no evidence that any higher power actually exists. I used to believe trans ideology and I get it: it’s comforting to think that your problems stem from your body not matching your gender, and that living as your true gender will make you happy. It’s comforting to feel like you have something that makes you unique. It’s comforting to be in trans spaces, where every idea is respected no matter how illogical or unrealistic. Unfortunately for your comfort, gender has had all meaning stripped from it (if there was any to begin with) for the sake of making everyone feel included. Pretty much the only definition people can agree on these days is that gender is a feeling. An innate sense of self that you just “know.” Similar to how a Christian can just “know” that God is looking out for them despite having no evidence. What is that if not faith in something that can’t be proven? An atheist disregards the idea of God because something that can’t be observed and has no tangible impact on the world doesn’t exist, except as an idea. A gender atheist disregards the idea of gender because it is just that, an idea, but not something that actually exists.
I’ve never heard an explanation of gender identity that doesn’t rely on “feelings” or sexist stereotypes. (If you have, please tell me in comments!) Even the official diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria puts a lot of importance on liking the clothing, toys or hobbies associated with the opposite sex. Personally, I feel like this is the wrong way to medicalize dysphoria. The physical symptom should be the main focus and the gendered stereotypes need to go. This is why when I refer to dysphoria, I only say the word by itself, not gender dysphoria. But to the point, the emphasis on gender roles and the creation of new genders for people who don’t conform to the rigid stereotypes of ‘man’ and ‘woman’ encourages the sexist system that has placed men over women by saying that coerced gender socialization is innate. Being sensitive and docile doesn’t make you a woman or a demigirl, and being neither of those doesn’t make you a man or genderqueer. To suggest that it does is to suggest that every woman “identifies” with the way the female sex is groomed to be submissive, demure, to not play rough or you’ll ruin your dress, to be bad at math, to get back in the kitchen. Plenty of trans people agree that gender stereotypes and “gender” are not the same thing, but it makes no sense to denounce gender roles while also upholding them to the point of believing that someone who doesn’t fit the mold of either is a third gender. Of course, there’s no one right way to look or act non binary. The only thing that matters is if someone “feels” non binary. But again, that feeling is based on faith.
So what, though? Shouldn’t I just be nice and tolerant of other people’s beliefs? That would be one thing if we were talking about something inconsequential, like preferring blackberry sorbet over mango. But I’m against religion because it’s used as an excuse to justify atrocious acts (bombing abortion clinics, WBC) while touting itself as being about love, and it encourages ignorance by telling people to not question things because “God did it, that’s the only answer you need.” Incidentally, I’m also against animal agriculture because of its unsustainability and devastating effects on the environment. I may not get in your face and scream “MURDERER!” if I see you eating a burger, but I still can’t be supportive of that choice (with the notable exception of people who literally have no other choice.) As for gender theory, I can’t be accepting of that because it enforces hegemonic sexism by stating that men and women have innately different minds, and paradoxically claims to be destroying the barrier of gender when all it’s doing is putting up more walls. Like religion, it relies on a concept that can’t be proven to justify thoughts and actions that marginalize people.
So what would life be like in the atheist, gender free, sustainable, perfect world that I envision? Unfortunately, we can’t discard biological sex. Even in a world where everything’s fair, males and females have different needs based on their anatomy. But there would be no reason other than health or sexual compatibility that it should matter. Think about it: what’s the point of having your sex listed on your driver’s license? Your doctor might need to know what sex you are so they can treat you properly, but why does the guy checking if you’re old enough to buy beer need to know? No reason, other than social gendering. By removing the distinction except for where it’s actually relevant, we remove the gender barrier. Clothes, activities, etc. are no longer “for men” or “for women,” they’re for whoever wants them. Children aren’t groomed into social roles based on what organs they have. People are judged solely on their character without the comparison to others, no more “he’s so sensitive for a man” or “she shouldn’t be so outspoken, it’s not ladylike.” Maybe there wouldn’t even be pronouns at all, since that’s just another way to unnecessarily gender people. Essentially, people are treated the same regardless of what they’re born as. Radical, I know.
Gender theorists and gender abolitionists agree on one thing; the binary gender system has got to go. But the former approach the problem by trying to modify what’s broken, making it bigger and more convoluted as a result. It reminds me of religious folk who don’t want to support a God that tells you it’s okay to sell your daughter to her rapist, but are still hesitant to let go of their faith so they rationalize it and make new rules that allow them to still hold their beliefs without guilt. Gender theorists are still under the spell of gender, even if they’re aware that it’s wrong, so they redefine words and concepts to make them fit their world view. Gender atheists see no reason to keep such a flawed system and so they discard it. It doesn’t need to be fixed, it needs to be gone!
People who detransition or stop identifying with the trans label are a small, but growing voice. Before transition we were told that only the tiniest percentage ever feel any regret afterward. This may have been true when it was much harder to access hormones and surgery, but the lack of gatekeeping and recent insistence by the trans community that anyone (dysphoria or no) can be trans has drawn more people in. The community is very welcoming, until you question the doctrine of gender identity. Anyone who expresses doubt at the circular logic of “I am X because I identify as X, which I identify as because I am X” becomes vilified, labeled a TERF or any of the other insults invented by Tumblr activists. If you don’t want this, if you doubt us at all, you were never really trans in the first place. But we were.
At what point did I stop being trans? For all intents and purposes, I still am. I’m still a female who takes testosterone, appears to the world as a man, changed my name, and is pursuing surgery. The only thing separating me from a trans man is belief. I don’t believe I can be a different gender because of my dysphoria or my presentation. I can’t be a different gender because gender has no definition at all, so as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t exist. But I walk the walk in every other conceivable way. I’m not even “out” to anyone as “dysphoric but that doesn’t make me a man.” So what trans activists mean is, you’re no longer trans because you don’t follow the dogma anymore. You can’t be trans if you question gender theory. No questioning allowed, just acceptance.
I’m a trans person because I transitioned. Even if I don’t buy the gender identity bullhockey, I suffer from dysphoria that was alleviated by transition. I’m not detransitioning because I’m not going back to where I was. If anything, I’m halting my transition where it is and accepting my biological sex. If I “identified” as genderqueer or some other non binary label, this would be acceptable to the trans community. But because I’m embracing gender abolition and rejecting gender theory and gender labels altogether, I’m not allowed to be trans anymore. Nevermind my past experiences. Nevermind that I went through the whole process of attending therapy sessions to get permission to take hormones and get surgery because I felt like I needed them to live. With the growing sentiment that you don’t need dysphoria to be trans, just a “gender identity,” the fact that I transitioned doesn’t mean anything. No gender identity, no trans.
This is just another hole in the logic of popular trans activism. Anyone can be trans; you can’t tell from how someone looks if they’re trans or not; trans people don’t all fit the same narrative; you’re still trans if you don’t want to change everything about your body, or anything at all; you’re still trans if you go by your birth name and the pronouns associated with your sex; you’re still trans if you feel no disconnect at all from what you were born as; you can’t define whether someone else is or isn’t trans; the only way to know if someone is trans is to ask them. But you, you who dare to doubt, you aren’t really trans. You thought self-identification was the only thing that defined trans? Well, we may have said that but we can just change the definition. Wouldn’t want anyone in here thinking too hard about this so we’d better change it.
Maybe I’m not “still trans,” but that doesn’t mean I never was. When I believed in innate gender, that it was possible to have a female body and a male soul (I don’t believe in souls either, but that’s a whole other discussion), I was trans. When I decided to alter my body to align with what I felt inside, I was trans. And even now, when I’m beginning to reject the idea because of its flaws, I’ve still lived a trans life. You can’t say I was never trans because I’ve woken up to the illogic of being trans. Even if being trans is based on belief, that doesn’t make sense. A person raised Christian who later denounces their faith was still a Christian up to that point. A person who transitions, believes trans ideology, then later realizes they don’t, was still trans. Dismissing doubt by saying “oh, those people aren’t really trans, don’t listen to them” is being used as a tactic to silence people who have valuable experience to offer. Or maybe it’s an effort by people who still follow gender theory to plug their ears and keep believing the same things without critical thought. Out of fear that they might reach the same realizations, maybe? Anyway, if critical discussion of gender was encouraged instead of adhering to beliefs that don’t match up to reality for the sake of preserving people’s feelings, maybe people like me wouldn’t be finding themselves in this position of “trans but not really” in the first place.
I’m okay with referring to myself as female, in the clinical sense. It’s objectively true: regardless of any gender identity (a concept I’ve realized doesn’t make sense) I was born with a body of the female sex. Calling myself a “girl,” or a “woman” though, still feels very difficult. My contempt for those words is actually pretty misogynistic when I look at it. “Girl” feels weak, and brings to mind images of frilly pink dresses and blossoms. “Woman” has a more mature air to it but still feels wrong. How can either of those words be wrong, though? One means a young female, which I was, and one means an adult female which is what I am now.
It’s odd that I’d feel so resistant to using those words, since I never liked “boy” or “man” either. If sex dysphoria were accepted as a diagnosis without the gender crap attached to it, that would have suited me much better. I settled on a non binary label (androgyne,) but still had to tell therapists and doctors that I was male on the inside in order to access the treatment I needed. I do say “needed” too, because I was extremely uncomfortable in my body before hormones and (still upcoming) surgery. You could argue that no female is comfortable with being female in a patriarchal society, and I think there’s a lot of truth to that. I still defend dysphoria as a real condition, though. If every female felt the same way about their body that I do, there would be a lot more people actively transitioning. You could also argue that changing my body instead of learning to accept it isn’t body positive. You could argue a lot of things against it. But, bottom line, I’m comfortable with myself now in a way that I wasn’t before. But being happy with no breasts and a masculine shape doesn’t change my sex, or my “gender.”
A common question that comes up in gender therapy is this: If you were alone on a deserted island, would you still want to change your body? For a person with dysphoria, the answer is yes. Before I started T I was absolutely sure about this. At the time, it was what I needed. I recently asked myself that question again. Other than my chest, was there anything I would change if I was alone, just me and my body? And I think the answer is no. The only thing I think I would change is that I would stop relying on the testosterone patches I put on every morning to affirm who I am. I wouldn’t have a reason to care about names or pronouns if I was alone. I’m realizing that while my dysphoria is as real as any trans person’s, it doesn’t really follow that I need to change my social role in order to affirm something I feel physically. I can’t really say I feel “like a man” because as someone who’s never been a man, I have no idea what that feels like. Even if I did know, feeling “like a gender” is circular, illogical reasoning. I can only feel like myself, and myself happens to be female.
I’m still not comfortable with being a woman or a girl. But as I begin to unpack why, I’m realizing that woman and girl are just words, and I match the description of those words whether I like it or not. I’ve heard other women, mainly butch lesbians, express the same sentiment. I find a lot of inspiration in butch and androgynous women. I began to question my feelings of being trans when I realized the admiration I felt when I saw a proudly gender nonconforming woman wasn’t just attraction; it was what I wanted to be, or at least closer to what I wanted than being a man. I don’t know if I can call myself “butch” as a bisexual person, or if that’s reserved for lesbians only, but I’m beginning to find comfort in that term. Butch. Female because that’s what I am, not because of a mold that I’m expected to fit. Probably still gets read as a man. But a woman. (yick– still working on that)
I know my self acceptance won’t come overnight, but it’s getting easier. It feels easier than convincing myself I must be a man because of my dysphoria. Just to be clear, I feel no regret about altering my body. What I regret, if anything, is that I had to pretend to be a man in order to access treatment, instead of just being a female with an odd mental condition that makes me feel like parts of my body aren’t mine. I’m still adamant about wanting top surgery, but I’m getting annoyed at having to play along with the gender game in order to get approval for it. I haven’t told people in the Real World™ how I feel because I think it will jeopardize my chances. But once it’s done, I think I’ll be ready to let down the disguise and be who I truly am. I’ve been putting more and more thought into stopping testosterone. I like the way it’s changed my body so I don’t mind that some of the changes are irreversible, but I’ve gotten what I needed from it. Relying on something external to make me who I am feels so artificial, I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to reclaim my femaleness (still not ok with the word “womanhood” but maybe I’ll get there) while being comfortable with my body. Kinda sucks that this is what I have to go through to get there.
“Gender critical” is a tricky term because it’s so often associated with people who want to keep trans people out of bathrooms or refer to them as men in drag or other nasty things. The complete rejection of gender as a concept seems totally incompatible with the reality that trans people experience. However, I’m a trans person and I support it.
Who can define gender? It’s not just in how you dress or behave. Those might be the expectations imposed on genders, but not conforming to those standards doesn’t make you not that gender. There have been studies done on brain sex, but more recent research suggests that the brain has plasticity that makes it change form and function depending on external stimuli, well into adulthood. Hormones are also a factor; I can tell you from experience that the way I feel and think changed a lot when I started transition. So, if you’re born male and have been living in the role of man your whole life, you’ll have a “man’s brain.” A trans man who takes testosterone and has been living in the role of man for a long time will have a similar brain. Before that, his brain would have been more “feminine” due to growing up in the role of woman and the presence of estrogen.. Point is, brains are pretty similar across the board, and “brain sex” has more to do with external factors than some innate trait in the brain itself. So we can pretty safely rule it out as the source of gender.
Whether brain sex is real or not, dysphoria is. There’s a misconception that it’s just self hatred or poor body image but I’d describe it more of a sense of “wrongness.” An itchy feeling like a foreign object is stuck to you that you can’t remove. A zit you can’t pop, or glue on your fingers that won’t wash off. The shape of your bones feeling like spikes under your skin, or feeling like there’s a strange pulsating sack of flesh crammed in with your other organs. You get the idea, it’s uncomfortable. So is that gender? The feeling that your body is wrong or right? Not always. Plenty of trans people don’t transition “all the way.” Sometimes this is due to health reasons or lack of good surgery options, but a lot reach a place where they just feel like they don’t need to go any further. Those people are still trans. Many women get breast reduction/removal because they don’t like having them. Some men have plastic surgery comparable to facial feminization surgery because they feel more comfortable looking that way. Some people have dysphoria but don’t consider themselves trans because they choose to find ways besides transition to cope with it. None of those things make those people a different gender. Unless that’s how they identify, which seems to be the only definition of gender left.
And here we reach the point where I realize I’m gender critical. Gender identity is a circular definition. A person’s gender is X, because they identify as X, and they identify as X because they are X. What informs that identification? I “identify” as a dog owner because I have a dog, I “identify” as Washingtonian because that’s where I live, but I can’t “identify” as a man because there’s no tangible basis for it. I might look like a man now, but I didn’t used to, I wasn’t raised or treated as one, I don’t have a “male brain” because that’s a debunked concept, and even my dysphoria doesn’t define me as a man. All I have is a feeling that loops on itself, and I’m even doubting that. I’m beginning to think the “male inside” idea was just a way for me to understand my dysphoria. Which isn’t to say transition wasn’t right for me. It’s allowed me to feel comfortable with myself and for some fleeting moments, sane. But I’m the sort of person who rejects closed thought loops and ideas with no basis in reality. Biological sex is a different matter because it’s a tangible thing that exists. Trans activists love to use people with intersex conditions as a token to prove that sex is as invented as gender, but it’s a fact that over 98% of people fit into one category or the other. Sex traits remain the same across human history and culture. It’s real, but gender has no definition. For that reason I reject the idea of gender identity, and I reject the label of man.
“So what do I call you then?” I hear you ask. I don’t think I care anymore. Call me Sly because that’s my name. If you must assign a pronoun to me (in a truly gender free world there’d only be one pronoun, but we’re not there yet), use whatever you think is appropriate. If we’re in the company of people who don’t know my history, use the pronoun that matches my presentation (for safety.) Other than that, I don’t have a preference. Gender isn’t real, after all.
The main difference between being gender critical and popular gender theory is that gender theory creates more labels. If you don’t fit in the man box or the woman box, maybe you fit in the agender box. You can even make your own box and call it whatever you like, but it’s still a box. Gender abolition discards the boxes entirely. It’s an idea that’s beneficial to everyone. People would be free to express themselves any way they like without being judged, or put in genderfluid or demigender boxes. People with dysphoria would still exist and would be free to alter whatever traits they desire, since those traits are not tied to gender. No more expectations. No more labels. Just humans running around doing the human thing. I feel like that’s not far off from what people who support gender theory want. The difference lies in believing that gender exists, and that every gender needs a label. There’s no reason to believe in something that has no basis. So why don’t we be critical of the concept and toss out these old boxes instead of creating more categories and thinking that’s somehow “destroying gender?”
Welcome to this corner of the internet. I’m a 20 something, formerly identified as a trans man, recently gender critical. This is a place for me to write about my exploration of gender and transsexuality, and hopefully to provide a voice for people like me who question the popular views and talking points of the trans community. I will be writing about dysphoria, gender identity and roles, and gender abolition. Hoping you’ll see something here that you’ll connect with.