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Culture War Roundup for the week of April 17, 2023

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It has happened. The transgender trend has hit close to home, with a close relative now insisting that we call his five-year-old, penis-having child a "girl." I have had a couple of conversations with the dad, and he repeated of the common transgender talking points. He was at least open to conversation. He did not seem to have been exposed to counter-arguments or to have thought through what he was doing. So I am writing the dad a very long email. Much of the email is quotes from desisters, excerpts from news stories, and reviews of the studies. But I thought I'd share with this forum some of the theory portions that I wrote. Maybe you will find it informative, or maybe you can help strengthen my writing. This is written under a throwaway, names and details are changed to protect the guilty and innocent.

Why biological sex and not 'gender identity' matters for norms, culture and language

When we last talked, I said it was important at this age to correct Skylar about his gender even as a five-year-old, because even at this point it is the role of a parent to guiding him to be a man. You replied that you don't want to raise kids to conform to stereotypes.

Now I don't feel any need to raise a boy to like whiskey and pickup trucks, or to raise a girl to like Barbie dolls. In fact, when first buying clothes for my daughter Jessica I was moderately peeved there were so few unisex options. I wanted to buy neutral clothes to save money for reuse with any future boy.

But there are essential sex differences, rooted in the basic biology of sex, that impact norms and culture around sex.

The most important is that women have the potential to make men immortal. For tens of millions of years of mammalian evolution, the pregnancy and nursing process has been the expensive part of reproduction. Women are the reproduction bottleneck. Much flows from this basic difference.

For a woman, simply acting pretty, helpful, and caring is a viable strategy for having a great life. She can find a man who will become attached to her and provide her all she needs. Note: this is not necessarily the optimal strategy, but it is a viable one. I don't want Jessica to be a princess. Some training in hard work, getting her fingernails dirty, and callouses on her fingers is good ... But she should also know how to be charming and cute and pretty because that will in fact get a girl far in life.)

For men, this is not a viable strategy. Men must develop strength and competencies.

I'm going to paraphrase a passage I found a while ago that really resonated with me:

The biggest difference between men and women is that when you're a man, the absolute indifference of the universe towards you is the norm, it will only care when you make it care, and only for brief moments. To women this is almost Lovecraftian horror they can't conceive of. Men don't realize that most women can never comprehend this because it's just too horrifying to the female psychology. Women live their entire lives knowing people care about them, they take it for granted, it's the universal constant norm for 95 percent of women. We care about them as children because humans generally care about the happiness and suffering of all children. Most women are pleasing to look at, so we look at them. When women are ugly or annoying, we pay attention to them even if it's negative attention.Even when women are shitty we pay some form of attention to them, people care about annoying women because they are hard to ignore. People care about women in distress or sadness because we just do. We want to save women in danger. This has nothing to do with their achievements, their character, just that they are women. When this constant electromagnetic field of empathy around them weakens a bit, particularly middle aged single women with no children, they talk about how cruel it is to be "invisible"

If you're a man, it's the inverse. The universe and the people in it are a yawning void of indifference, you are responsible for yourself. If you're sad you are expected to buck up, if you are having problems you are expected to fix them. If you are too annoying you will be dismissed, told off, or get your ass kicked. If people care about you it's because you built relationships with them that made you a person they care about. If people admire you it's because you built a reputation, a physique, or an empire. Cries for help from women are almost always answered, cries for help from men rarely are, be they metaphorical or literal. If you're a man, you need to understand that most women cannot understand or grok this. If you're a woman, you should try to comprehend that burden men have.

I'm not even knocking this state of affairs. I don't support the whole "Men should cry more and be more sensitive and raise a fuss" effeminate bullshit. The yawning void of indifference is our burden to bear by virtue of being men, you aren't a man without it. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't have confidants to help you. Other men who can relate to this yawning chasm, to the struggles men face. Women can provide comfort and empathy, but most of them won't really and truly intellectually grasp and understand this difference. You should always have fraternal bonds with other men to commiserate over, to share knowledge of similar experiences to help each other overcome obstacles and achieve things. Brotherhood is important, you aren't complete without it.

Thus, raising a boy to be a man means gradually building their power level and gradually teaching them that the world will only care for you if you build something and make something of yourself. Childhood is going to end some day and no one will listen to your whining.

Whereas for a girl, they will hit 18 or 19 and suddenly have massive amounts of power purely on account of who they are. A pretty 20-year-old intern can make the CEO of a billion dollar company stutter and blush merely on account of how she looks. She will get stares and attention from men of all sorts. Thus the job of father in raising a daughter is both protecting her from the men who would prey on her, and also teaching her not to abuse or misuse this sexual power she will have. The father must teach her to leverage the power in goods ways to build a great situation while she is young, because she will lose the power as she gets older.

And in this, Skylar is irrevocably a boy, not a girl. You can already see it in Skylar's face. Men have evolved over a long time a fine sense of distinction between men and women, and almost no person born as biological male, with body parts and facial structure and brain developing under the influence of male hormones, can ever pass a girl. A woman who is by chance infertile still triggers men and woman, to treat her as a woman. A male on cross-sex hormones might fool someone at a surface level, but after any meaningful interaction an uncanny valley effect will be triggered. Other people might go along with it out of "nice", but they won't treat a male-to-female transgender as an actual woman in many of the ways that actually matter.

For a biological male, like Skylar, the test in life will come against other biological males. It will also be biological males who will be his future allies in competing against other groups of men -- whether in fighting, business ventures or being wing-man. Since childhood is the preparation for growing up, it is important from childhood to be socialized as a male, competing and cooperating with other males. Otherwise he will arrive at young adulthood, and the girls he was friends will forget him, as they will be interested in actual masculine guys, and he will not have the experience in relating to other guys as guys.

The second basic difference in male and female is the level of hormesis they can withstand. Growth and improvement in many matters from athletics to chess is getting enough struggle to trigger growth, but not so much that you become just damaged and discouraged. Simply put, boys and men can withstand a much greater deal of physical and psychological trial than girls and women can. The optimal level of training is far different. Physical training that will truly test a young man will destroy a woman's pelvic bone. Criticism that a man needs to be able to handle, will make a woman break down in tears (almost every woman I know has cried at work, very few men I know have).

Now a common refrain is "some girls can handle it, we shouldn't make assumptions." This is anti-knowledge -- we should start with assumption of averages and then be flexible about outliers. Furthermore, nothing I have seen in our kids indicates that we are outliers from the biological sex in terms of stereotypical traits. Nothing I have seen from any of the parents or grandparents either. I think that people commonly underestimate just how big the differences are, possibly because of so many strong female characters that have been added to entirely fictional movies, or because of headlines about some women breaking a sex barrier in some traditionally male line of work.

In reality, The bell curves of physical abilities barely overlap. For instance, in studies of grip strength the average man had a greater grip strength than every single female in the general study population. A 75th percentile male had a greater grip strength than every single elite female athlete in the study.

If you consider both upper body strength, weight, body size, skull structure a typical man punching a woman does not do 25% more damage than vice versa, but something like 1,000% more damage.

(continued in a reply)

A male on cross-sex hormones might fool someone at a surface level, but after any meaningful interaction an uncanny valley effect will be triggered.

If you pass, you pass. That's the thing with dysphoria, you really don't want to bring attention to it.

I mean, that's kind of the crux to all of this. There are people who can look back and know that they were always trans and if they'd started their transition earlier, they would probably pass (and have much less dysphoria, etc). Dysphoria also becomes a motte for people who want to destroy gender but that's how you get lost in the weeds, in my opinion.

With this is mind, I think the best approach is advocate for not pushing any gender; Let the kid figure it out themselves. That being disappointed that they want a firetruck for christmas can be just as harmful for being disappointed of them in a dress.

Why biological sex and not 'gender identity' matters for norms, culture and language

I hope you are also communicating with him about what matters for his child.

Excellent Mottepost that won't convince anyone who doesn't play by Motte rules.

You can't reason people out of things they didn't reason themselves into.

If your relative could be influenced by pedantic and logical Motteposting, he wouldn't be in this situation in the first place. He got where he is because he wants to feel status and acceptance from his social environment, and until that changes, he won't.

This is the biggest reality. I remember that around the time of Obergefell, I was taking neuroscience classes and also sitting in on some queer theory classes. The former was relevant to my professional work/interests, and the latter was me just seeing this strange movement brewing and wanting to discover if there was any there there (spoiler: there wasn't really). In any event, my queer theory prof made a point of declaring agnosticism concerning whether sexual orientation was biologically determined (and one of our first readings was an article titled "What's wrong with be(com)ing queer?"). Around the same time, I was seeing in neuroscience some actual science on the topic of pair bonding/infidelity, what was there, what was really lacking, and just what sort of things were considered scientific evidence in the general area.

So, in that context, I'm sitting in a bar, having a drink with my friends. The topic comes up somewhat related to the whole homosexuality/gay marriage thing. I just ever so gently wonder if mayyyyyybe we don't have settled science telling us that sexual orientation is biologically determined, that mayyyyyybe we don't have some set of utterly conclusive scientific experiments demonstrating that people are "born that way" (of course, it could totally be true, but maybe it just hasn't been shown conclusively). Lemme tell ya, for people who are usually pretty rigorous about logical, scientific arguments, the looks on their faces were more, "How could someone even entertain the possibility," than, "Oh, well clearly you're just not aware of these three papers which conclusively show..." In one moment, one experience, I viscerally knew that they had not been reasoned into their position on homosexuality, like at all. It's hard to feel this in your bones without experiencing it, but when you do, you won't forget it. These positions are not being taken because of objective logic and reason. There are other forces at work.

Evolutionary biology arguments might be convincing to you, they are not going to convince the majority of people. This might be better as a Wellness Wednesday thing.

I think maybe this article and this video interview from a mother who transitioned her child at a young age and regrets it, would at least help plant the seed of doubt.

Focusing on sex, reproduction, and medicalization for a five year old is probably not going to convince your friend. I don't think you should consider it your job to convince your friend. Offer the alternative view point, share someone else's experience, and then choose to either let it alone or destroy your friendship.

Let's not fool ourselves. The huge majority of average people believe in and practice evo psych, even if they don't admit it to themselves, or don't consciously realize it.

In what sense do you mean that they "believe in" evo psych, such that "believe in" and "practice" are different? If you mean "believe in evo psych" in the "beliefs should pay rent in anticipated experiences" sense, I think you're just factually wrong. I suspect most people couldn't even elaborate what claims evolutionary psychology makes in enough detail for it to inform their expected everyday experiences. And even if they could, my experience is that the majority of average people don't actually predict what things they will experience in the future on the basis of extrapolation from scientific theories, but instead base their expectations on some combination of extrapolating their past experiences and extrapolating the stories they know about people "like them".

Which I suspect you realize, but I am not sure what it would even mean to "believe in" a certain scientific hypothesis "without consciously realizing it". Maybe you mean "the behavior of a huge majority of average people is driven by instincts and patterns of thought burned into them by evolution", but that pattern-matches better to "evo psych can predict the behavior of those people" than to "those people believe in evo psych".

They believe in it in the sense that they hold it to be true i.e. they consider it a social reality that inexorably asserts itself. It's just like the fact that women are capable of lying about rape and domestic violence. 98 out of 100 people actually believe that, but 78 out of those 98 would never admit that even to themselves.

So if I'm understanding correctly, your claim is that, for most things that evolutionarily psychology predicts, most people would make the same predictions?

If so, I think I buy that for a lot of things (e.g. "people intuitively value their immediate family more than their distant family, and people who look like them more than people who don't) though definitely not all of them (e.g. I expect evolutionary psychologists to have very different views on infanticide than the general population).

I imagine there's probably one particular claim that evo psych makes that you're thinking of here, but I'm actually not sure which one. Evo psych makes kind of a lot of claims and many of them are outside the Overton window.

Because "women are capable of lying about rape and domestic violence" is not actually a claim evo psych makes (except in the very general sense of "strategies that involve deception are adaptive sometimes"). Most people won't agree to that in an internet argument because they expect that "are capable of" will be treated as "mostly do" or some other similar "gotcha". But that's not a matter of not admitting it to themselves, it's a matter of not admitting it to a hostile internet rando.

That doesn't mean you're going to have a lot of success using it's theoretical version to persuade people.

Probably not. But people will comprehend what you're talking about, and that you have a point.

That is a great article and video, it was already going to include in my email and tell him if he didn't want to listen to me, please please listen to that mom.

I don't think that's the right tactic either. I think you get one paragraph before he stops reading. That one paragraph can be a link to the article and video, with a brief explanatory statement - "I know it can be hard to get a balanced look on the topic. Here's another parent's experience. It could be useful to see what someone else wished she'd known before transitioning her younger child." Something casual.

It seems like you are really, really invested in convincing this friend. I understand, I have had a similar experience. But right now, the most useful thing you can be doing is maintaining the friendship so that you can slowly, carefully, provide an alternative view and a means of escape once he realizes he's in a cult. If you push too much he will cut ties with you and there will be nothing left. Be honest about your beliefs but don't be the one to bring them up.

It's not a friend, it's very close relatives, my kids and their kids play together all the time, and while I was quiet for a while, it's at a point where they are pushing false beliefs onto my kids and so the issue is becoming more critical. I added some more context here: https://www.themotte.org/post/454/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/89837?context=8#context

All the more reason for you not to botch your one shot. Everyone here is telling you that this is too long. Pick one argument, the best one that is the most applicable to your relative. One focused directly on socially transitioning a kid. Then if he seemed to have a good response, then pick the next argument. Go through one at a time.

Also you should be talking with your kids about what is happening, what you think about it. Be prepared for the play dates to slow down.

To repeat what others have already said.

  1. If this friends of yours is transing their kid, this letter is the worst, most insane way to go about convincing him otherwise and will permanently burn your chances of finding a more sane way

  2. This was way too long even before I hit the "continued in a reply".

You're clearly so culturally different from him you don't even have perspective on how what you're saying would be perceived by someone outside your bubble, like a very poorly trained missionary who didn't get the basic missionary 101 memo about how to do effective missionary work and is instead standing raving on the street corner.

Focus on there being no rush to decide, that it's kind of sexist to assume feeling like a girl is something only girls can do, that a boy can have girly interests. Stick in some testimonies from detransitioners, point out that transitioning to a girl creates much more pressure on him to not detransition than transitioning to "nonbinary" does, that there's no rush for him to commit to anything. If your goal is to save this kid, your goal is anything that keeps them off puberty blockers, off hormones, and away from surgery, and anything that leaves them as much space as possible to safely grow out of the phase without crushing their parents.

I do also think you have a completely delusional view of how women experience the world, but that's not the point here so I'm not even going to bother arguing it, except to say that it's part of the general pattern of this letter being way too long, way too distant from the actual point, and way too online-incel speak to be effective. The point here is helping this kid away from a life path that ends in being Jazz Jennings with all the horror that entails. You exclusively need to focus on the dangers of medicalizing a totally normal appropriate exploratory developmental stage, and how the parents, by rushing to be too supportive, can in fact smother the kid, making it harder for them explore without it being a huge dramatic life-upturning event, thereby trapping them. Tell the dad that labeling Skylar a she is myopic and limiting, not that Skylar is defined by his lack of a pussy pass.

I do also think you have a completely delusional view of how women experience the world

Unsubstantiabted claim about facts, in response to well-cited post to the contrary. Reminds of the other top-level post about trans, in which "Everything about your argument is wrong. All of it, it's just bad." was rightfully treated as insufficient evidence.

The biggest difference between men and women is that when you're a man, the absolute indifference of the universe towards you is the norm, it will only care when you make it care, and only for brief moments

If this is actually the case, then I wonder about the tactical wisdom of including it here. A lot of men (let alone women) don't react well to complaints like this (which of course the theory predicts) and so you may lose credibility here.

If the family is already susceptible enough to progressive talking points to try to upend current social dynamics stuff like this might just cost you weirdness points you need.

I don't know this father. But, for a normie, I'd mainly focus on the lack of evidence for trans care and the incoherency of this doctrine . The part where you touch on the wisdom of separating girls from boys in sleepovers is a good example.

That is the sort of place where the ideology meets reality on safeguarding. Well, exploit the cognitive dissonance there. How much is he willing to pay to be indulgent? How far is he willing to go?

The argument is usually about welfare; emphasizing that it doesn't help welfare and is likely to harm the child and safeguarding practices is your best bet.

TBH: I know you say you have a ton of other stuff in there but this section already makes the letter too long. People don't necessarily want to read disconfirming evidence, so you have tot make it as easy as possible for them.

I would suggest as concise as possible (as someone incapable of this I recognize the irony) hitting the key notes in as neutral a tone as you can manage. Make it clear you're open to talk, but don't swamp with a monologue.

Now granted, I do not know the father and you do, so you probably have a better idea of how to reach him than I would. But to be completely frank my reaction when reading your excerpts is largely negative.

  1. Your text is very long and it reads like a Motte post rather than an address to a friend.

  2. You go too far in conceiving of innate differences between men and women. For example, the idea that women on average find it so hard to imagine people not caring about them that for them it is like a Lovecraftian horror is such an exaggeration of whatever grain of truth might be in it that it comes off as very silly. You make it sound as if compared to the life of the average man, the life of the average woman is like floating on a cloud of peaches. Which again, there might be a grain of truth to it but the way you put it is so exaggerated that it makes it hard for me to take your text seriously.

  3. Even if you do not intend it this way, a fairly large number of men would find your text to be somewhat misogynistic.

  4. Even if you do not intend it this way, your references to your friend's daughter's future sexual life might come off as creepy. Granted, one could also say that there is something that could be viewed as creepy about helping one's own child to transition. But even if that's true, it probably doesn't help you to be persuasive to your friend.

  5. You are kind of saying that it takes you significant will and self-control to prevent yourself from cheating on your wife. Which, even if maybe that's true for the majority of men (I don't know if it is or isn't but I wouldn't be surprised), is not necessarily something that adds as opposed to detracts from your arguments.

To me at least, the most persuasive parts of your text are where you point out the difficulties that the boy is likely to face if he does actually attempt to live as a woman. I mean the way I see it, if we had some kind of amazing technology that would allow people to switch genders whenever they felt like it (putting aside for now the question of what that would even mean...) and then switch back then there would probably be no good argument against letting the boy use it.

The core problem for would-be transitioners is that we do not have such technology. At best, this guy's son could go from seeming like 95-100% male to seeming maybe like 75% male. No matter how hard people tried, no matter how much effort people put into it, the son would not be able to even come close to becoming a woman. The son's ability to be all of the man that he could be would be perhaps irreversibly damaged and what would he gain from it? The ability to be relatively slightly more of a woman than he was before.

The argument "there is nothing wrong with transitioning but we do not have the technology to do more than an extremely crude, ineffective, and (especially at the boy's age) likely permanently damaging job of it" does not rely on easily questioned exaggerations of the nature of men or women or on culture war arguments like "are trans people valid or not?". So that is the argument that I would probably try to push.

But again, you know the father and I do not. Please take this as constructive criticism.

You make it sound as if compared to the life of the average man, the life of the average woman is like floating on a cloud of peaches.

"Average" might be doing a lot of work here, but this, unironically. In any given setting, adjusted for class, country, era etc., the lives of women in general will be vastly easier physically and psychologically than men's. This does not mean that "vastly easier" isn't still often terrible and tragic. But in the "average" case, it will be even more terrible and tragic for the males.

My wife's a tough indian from the backcountry (i.e. had a harder life than 99% of female Americans). She was abandoned as an infant by a crackhead mother and raised in poverty by her father: a drug dealer, poacher, and local wild man (shout out to my FIL). So, not exactly silver spoon territory, and yet she wouldn't last a day in my life.

This makes me extremely interested in what a day in your life looks like. Would you be willing to share?

It's simple logic. Any human community that is invested in its own future is compelled to provide a certain level of comfort to its female members, otherwise they won't bear and raise children, and the community disappears in one generation. With regard to its men, that calculus does not appear.

Obviously I'm exaggerating somewhat, not literally no days ever. That said:

A dozen miles a week, a thousand swings, a hundred pull-ups, three classes of BJJ, two range sessions. This is relatively lazy, but I'm old and just trying to maintain a bit of capability. Still, not a chance.

Your previous comment made it sound like she couldn't last a day because your life was psychologically tougher, or maybe that you need to go through intense physical trials to maintain an income. If your wife had to go through a day in your life, she would just choose not to do an exercise routine targeted at a physically fit male.

Ok mate, I'm trying to be a little coy here and not overdo it. Here's the outline from stuff I've already posted. Born in a faith-healing cult, three years in Russia as a MK, infantry NCO, purple heart, CIB etc. etc. I've worked manual labor jobs planting/picking crops, baling hay, detasseling corn, roofing crew, washing semi trucks, digging spot holes for excavation. Now in arthritic middle age, and officially "disabled", I work indoors and my job isn't nearly as strenuous. Mostly paperwork and shitty customers. So I keep my hand in with a bit of light exercise, which my wife still couldn't do.

"Average" might be doing a lot of work here, but this, unironically.

From your previous comment. Your life is not like the average western male's at all. I think most western men would collapse under the stress of being an infantry NCO in a position to get a purple heart too.

My wife hasn't had an average difficulty life either. I would say she's equally far from average for a woman, it's just that the male variation is much, much larger.

I also said:

In any given setting, adjusted for class, country, era etc.

I think being in a relationship is a good "adjuster" for age, geography, culture etc. It is my argument and thesis that in general, on average, with many exceptions, across cultures, countries and history, men have had the harder go of it and always will. It's just math really. Men are the higher variance sex, and there's more room at the bottom for failures than there is at the top for success. Also, males are disposable in a way that females are not in our species. We need far fewer males to continue than we do females.

https://psmag.com/environment/17-to-1-reproductive-success

Men are disproportionately rich for the same reason they are disproportionately poor. Women are inherently valuable, men can be an asset or a liability.

I'm curious too. As a pretty average male in a Western country, I personally feel like I do get a decent amount of advantages from being male. Mostly in the areas of not being terrified of walking through a city at night, and not needing to worry about if friends are just faking friendliness to try to get into my pants.

First of all, sorry to hear this. I know people who were affected, but so far my family has been spared.

Regarding your letter... I don't know if manifestoposting is persuasive. I'd just stick to pointing out that transgender care is nowhere near as scientific as it claims, and I think I'd favor dropping seeds of doubt over infodumps unless specifically requested.

OP is going to find it the hard way when his boss interviews him with his manifest in hand, as I'm sure the party responsible for brainwashing his relative isn't going to take kindly to interlopers.

Just a suggestion. Perhaps write a letter. It may hit a little different.

Seconded.

The biggest difference between men and women is that when you're a man, the absolute indifference of the universe towards you is the norm

This stuck out to me, despite being tangential to the meat of the actual post, because this sentiment is so commonly expressed online and yet it has always felt alien to my personal experience. I have always felt that people care about me. Not most people of course, but I have always had friends and family that care about me and that I can rely on during a tough time. As far as I can tell, most men that I know personally also have friends and family that care about them. When you say "the universe and the people in it are a yawning void of indifference" do you mean that most men don't have such people they can rely on, who 'care' about them? Or do you mean that people at large, that is strangers, don't care about you? That's true, but I don't think the vast majority of women are 'cared about' by random strangers either. What would it even mean for strangers to care about me? If I got shot on the street some passerby would hopefully call the cops for me (then again there was the CashApp guy last week), but I don't think there's a huge sex difference there. I wouldn't really consider that 'caring' about me. If I started crying on a park bench I suspect no one would stop to ask me what was wrong, and maybe they would for a woman (not a sure thing though, I wouldn't stop for a stranger crying in public, regardless of sex). But that's a marginal kind of scenario and I don't think that's what most people are getting at when they say no one cares about you if you're a man.

@onepostmotte is right. As a man, the level of care you receive is generally dependent on the level of social status you built up for yourself through your own efforts. That doesn't apply to women, who have innate social value. 'Women are human beings, men are human doings'. If you ever lose your job, if your girlfriend ever leaves you, your family ever disowns you, you'll see that the amount of care you'll get collapses.

Nothing I can write will change your mind, because our perspectives are so different.

All I can do is point out that all the connections you have are there because you worked for them. Make no mistake - the same is true for me. But the different between us is that in my life as a man I had a period where I had low 'value' and no existing connections (estranged from family, specific personal circumstances with no friends in a foreign country). And that's when it hits you - by default, your value is 0.

From that point, it took many years to build connections to the point where people care about me.

Edit: If you have been high value all your life and had strong connections, this perspective will be hard if not impossible to understand. But the value we're talking about is the 'default' value - in the hypothetical where you are somehow shorn of all existing social connections and most skills (i.e. let's say, for example, your social skills taking a -80% hit).

Anecdotally, strangers more readily come to my aid than my brother's. These strangers are exclusively men, and while some of them have an agenda, most are just good dudes.

One night as a very sheltered and babyfaced 17 year old with no fake ID, I tried going out on Bourbon Street. Because I was so mature and worldly and sophisticated for my age, one of the bouncers found me absolutely scintillating. Uh-huh. He then got me into a couple of bars, and eventually he got rather handsy. I found this thrilling and honestly did not expect it to escalate, because I did not grasp what kind of tattooed thirty-something works as a bouncer on Bourbon and tries to make out with teenagers.

When he stepped away from me for a moment, a total stranger, also in his thirties, approached to say, "You are obviously not old enough to be here. That man is not a good guy. You should go home. I'll get you a cab if you need one." This man had no reason to notice or care what happened to a dumb underage girl. He nevertheless took it upon himself to do something about it.

I found myself a cab. My new bouncer friend tried repeatedly to get my address "to tell the driver for you." I refused, deeply creeped out, and made my escape. That's what it means to say that strangers care about girls. It sent me home safe and innocent.

That's true, but I don't think the vast majority of women are 'cared about' by random strangers either.

I think it is much easier for a woman to be cared about by an acquaintance and to find strangers who are receptive. For instance, finding another person who will listen to you vent, or help you move. Or inviting people to your birthday party and hoping people will show up. Or interrupting someone at a coffeeshop or party and asking for advice. Or finding the smartest colleague or classmate to help you with work. Or being the slowest and most incompetent person on a camping trip and not getting ragged on by everyone else and left out next time. Or asking a group of coworkers you have only recently met, "hey who wants to go do X with me?" Also, if there is a group, and the woman has some complaints about the group, her complaints will by default be taken way more seriously. All these disparities are particularly large when comparing an attractive women, and unattractive men.

Of course men do have friends and do have people going to their parties. But if you examine it, I think you will see the men had to put in work to bring value to people who become their friends or wives. Young, attractive women just have to show up and be nice.

When you say "the universe and the people in it are a yawning void of indifference" do you mean that most men don't have such people they can rely on, who 'care' about them?

"World ends; women and minorities hit hardest."

Jokes aside, men form a ridiculous majority of homeless people, addicts, and completed suicides, and this is rarely treated as a significant problem (compared to, say, OP's topic). IIRC men are also less likely to report having close friends, and those that do report fewer friends than the average woman.

I'm reminded of someone back at the old motte with what they called the tongue-in-cheek definition of male privilege: you don't get to blame anyone else for your problems.

I don't think it's wise for OP to include that to his friend, but I think it's intended as more a "veil of ignorance" assertion rather than a specific case.

maybe they would for a woman (not a sure thing though, I wouldn't stop for a stranger crying in public, regardless of sex)

Especially in a large city I'd fear that was a prelude to a scam or a tag-team mugging.

"World ends; women and minorities hit hardest."

It’s not even that much of a joke.

Women have always been the primary victims of war. Women lose their husbands, their fathers, their sons in combat.

Oh yeah, I'd totally forgotten Hillary went and made it real!

IIRC men are also less likely to report having close friends, and those that do report fewer friends than the average woman.

On the other hands those have had their mettle tested - they will die and kill with you - whatever the situation requires.

Male friendship is one of those things I think women can only dream of. A person who you know that a 3 am call of I need you will be answered with "on my way". Even if you haven't heard from each other for years.

Yeah, it's wildly overstated.' Both in my personal experience and my observations of other people, both men and women have friends and family who care about and materially support them. Men do have to be competent or useful or interesting or <...> to a greater extent than women do ... but since most people are about average on all those, and most men have friends, jobs, and everything the rest of life has, the abstract 'absolute indifference' sure has a lot of friendship, dependence, and care within it. Why is childrearing and attractive, in such a comparison, 'innate' to women, but the natural capability an average man has is 'external' to him?

I agree that part should probably be left out. But it is a sentiment I feel and agree with.

I do have a wife and two kids that love and care about me. I have family and friends that care about me, and have been there for me when I've been hit with health or social issues.

There is a definite sense that the only unconditional love I've ever received has been from my mother. And I feel that unconditional love back towards her. I love and respect my father, but it absolutely does not feel unconditional. I feel like if he had seriously fucked up in some way I'd hate him. My mother did fuck up in one or two major ways, but its not even a blip on my feelings towards her.

But that unconditional motherly love feels almost like a birthright to being human. Even though I know some unlucky people never had it.

So in familial relationships men only ever get the one opportunity for mutual unconditional love, and at some point even that goes away when our mothers die.

A when we have our own families, men can feel like a replaceable cog in the machine. I think most people are better off with a father figure in their lives. But that's the thing its a father figure, not necessarily the father. As a man you can have the job as long as you qualify for it. Which can sometimes be a very low bar of qualification (just show up). But at other times can be an impossible hurdle (the mother of the children hates you, but you need to convince her to let you stay around the kids).


In general society, you've definitely picked out the ways in which men are at the bottom of the list when it comes to caring about strangers.


I think it is mostly a sense that being a man affords you no special privileges that are not earned through blood, sweat, and quickly dried eyes. Yes, men tend to earn more on average. They also tend to take dangerous and unfulfilling jobs that only have on redeeming characteristic: higher pay. Yes, men tend to be in higher positions at companies. Do women think that men are nice to each other on the way up the corporate ladder? God no, the ones at the top are there through some form of merit, even if that merit is just the ability to backstab earliest.

By coincidence, I already posted a Chris Rock link in this thread.

However, there's also another relevant Rock bit on conditional/unconditional love. "Only women, children, and dogs are loved unconditionally. A man is only loved under the condition that he provides something."

I am not sure I would call it complete indifference, but isn't it well known enough that there is a marked difference between the empathy we give men vs women? IIRC it's common for FTM transgender people to comment on how much more hostile the world is. To writ:

A couple of years after my transition, I had a grad student I’d been mentoring. She started coming on to me, stalking me, sending me emails and texts. My adviser and the dean — both women — laughed it off...I had experienced harassment as a female person at another university and they had reacted immediately, sending a police escort with me to and from campus. I felt like if I had still been in my old body I would have gotten a lot more support.

 

What continues to strike me is the significant reduction in friendliness and kindness now extended to me in public spaces. It now feels as though I am on my own: No one, outside of family and close friends, is paying any attention to my well-being.

(And isn't the quote below revealing?)

My ability to empathize has grown exponentially [after transitioning], because I now factor men into my thinking and feeling about situations. Prior to my transition, I rarely considered how men experienced life or what they thought, wanted or liked about their lives.

(There were other anecdotes I recall, e.g. a trans man quipping about how he learned that people were much more lenient to women talking shit than men, and that he quickly got called aside to talk about how he was acting inappropriately once he started passing - even though nothing had actually changed in behaviour; but the WaPo article was the first one I found and it seems good enough to illustrate my point.)

Not to mention the actual litany of things that we do privilege women over men for, from prison sentencing to divorce and custody to education, the complete etc etc. Even most of the examples used in the trans rights fight is one group trying to gatekeep womanhood vs another group of self-described women wanting privileges available for women.

My personal experience is that when I try to destress with people (e.g. venting about an 80 hour workweek, or a crappy boss) off work is that - yes, there will be friends and family to empathise, but you get a much higher incidence of "dude not our problem" and "stop whining", as well as a general presumption that I'll be fine and it's not serious, compared to women - who people feel more obliged to reassure and to take action on behalf of.

On the more absurd side, there are things like that youtube video "experiment" (yes, n=1, but you get the point) on public violence where the male-on-female violence got bystanders to stop the altercation/call the police immediately, but reversing the roles lead to people cheering for the woman beating the man and sometimes joining in!

It's an effect strong enough that we call it the "women-are-wonderful effect" (or part of it) and discuss how it's benevolent sexism; but we don't call the perception of competence or increased expectations (e.g. with regards to life success) put on men "benevolent sexism", do we? And isn't that itself a bit suggestive of how we're more receptive towards Women's Issues? (I don't claim to be immune from this either!)

If I started crying on a park bench I suspect no one would stop to ask me what was wrong, and maybe they would for a woman (not a sure thing though, I wouldn't stop for a stranger crying in public, regardless of sex). But that's a marginal kind of scenario and I don't think that's what most people are getting at when they say no one cares about you if you're a man.

Is that really a "marginal scenario" (with the implication that it's not part of a larger trend of scenarios that would impact men)?

(wow didn't realise I didn't actually post the link)

I am not sure I would call it complete indifference, but isn't it well known enough that there is a marked difference between the empathy we give men vs women?

I don't disagree that if all we know about a person is their sex we might be inclined to start a woman off with more "empathy points" than a man, but the idea that it's a massive yawning gulf to the point that could it could be compared to a "Lovecraftian horror story" strikes me as absurd hyperbole.

What continues to strike me is the significant reduction in friendliness and kindness now extended to me in public spaces. It now feels as though I am on my own: No one, outside of family and close friends, is paying any attention to my well-being.

This is what I wonder about. I suppose I wouldn't know for sure, because I've never been a woman. But...when I'm out and about in public, everyone else always seems pretty friendly. People smile at me, if I make a reasonable request of a total stranger ("can you hand me that," "can I take this chair," "can you break a fifty," etc.) it's usually granted, if I'm carrying stuff and drop some things usually someone will stop to help me pick it up. I guess I'm just not sure what else could really be expected of people you don't know in a public place. What are they doing for women that they aren't doing for me?

If you were a low enough value man, you would probably have different experiences.

People smile at me, if I make a reasonable request of a total stranger ("can you hand me that," "can I take this chair," "can you break a fifty," etc.) it's usually granted, if I'm carrying stuff and drop some things usually someone will stop to help me pick it up.

I think it shows up more when making more substantial requests, like finding another person who will listen to you vent, or help you move. Or inviting people to your birthday party and hoping people will show up. Interrupting someone at a coffeeshop or party and asking for advice. Also, if there is a group, and the woman has some complaints about the group, her complaints will by default be taken more seriously. All these disparities are particularly large when comparing an attractive women, and unattractive men.

These disparities are partly hidden because most men heave learned over the course of life they need to put in the work and so already compensate for this. Men do find friends, and people to help them move, and go to their birthday parties, but they had to put in the work to bring value to establish these relationships. It's only when you step back and imagine the counter-factual, "Would I be putting up with this behavior if they were an unattractive guy? etc." that you see the difference.

I don't disagree that if all we know about a person is their sex we might be inclined to start a woman off with more "empathy points" than a man, but the idea that it's a massive yawning gulf to the point that could it could be compared to a "Lovecraftian horror story" strikes me as absurd hyperbole.

I agree that it's hyperbolic, but I do suspect that it is significant enough that most (esp. non-elderly) women find it very difficult to wrap their head around. Like, consider the median woman's understanding of what the male experience is on dating apps, and just generalise it across pretty much all social interaction.

What was it again, "privilege is invisible to those who have it"?

Ha, yeah. For example, a relatively well-known video of a young woman trying to get Tinder dates using her male friend's photos.

It's always funny to hear female supposition as to the male dating experience. Dating and courtship are just Acts of God that happen to them, so the view from the male side is completely alien.

A multi-year acquaintance-with-benefits, a total smokeshow (if she were chaste, like a virgin, I'd probably try to marry her), a few months ago asked me what proportion of girls that I message on Insta I end up "going out with" (likely girl-speak for a trip to Pound Town).

I told her to guess, so that I could stall to come up with a dodge that doesn't diminish her attraction for me (few things turn off women like perceived lack of success with other women).

She guessed 2/3. That is, she guessed two of every three girls on Instagram I message I end up pulling.

Jesus. If I could pull 2 of every 3 chicks I message on Instagram I might not be able to do things like hold down a job.

2/30 would be amazing.

I'd be pleased with 2/300.

Snippet from Norah Vincent's book ("Self-Made Man"):

"Dating women as a man was a lesson in female power, and it made me, of all things, into [a] momentary misogynist...I disliked [women's] superiority, their accusatory smiles, their entitlement to choose or dash me with a fingertip, an execution so lazy, so effortless, it made the defeats and even successes unbearably humiliating...women have a lot of power, not only to arouse, but to give worth, self-worth, meaning, initiation, sustenance, everything.”

I honestly have no clue how I got so lucky. Both women I've dated initiated first. Listening to other men I know it sounds miserable.

I have great sympathy for other Anglosphere men (and, tbh, older women) finding difficulties with romance. I do suspect there is a cultural component in play, though, and it probably doesn't generalise globally.

There's a massive difference between 'casual sex is more appealing to men than women, and thus easier for women to get' and 'women have a 20% advantage in generic social situations' ... and "lovecraftian horror story". Women find it hard to wrap their head around the male dating experience, but not the male experience with life in general, both genders still pay taxes, get jobs, help their friends out when their friends are in trouble, etc.

I assume that the "lovecraftian horror story" is trying to gesture at the idea/stereotype that women find a lot of meaning in their relationships, and that they would be horrified if they had to go down to the male-norm level of social acceptance and connectedness. That said, I agree that "lovecraftian horror story" is absolutely preposterous and absurd.

But surely the problem with women empathising about "the male experience with life in general" is that yes, both men and women pay taxes, get jobs, help their friends out...but - even if it is not as stark as the extent it is in dating, there is still a significant qualitative difference in treatment precisely in the "get jobs, help their friends out". Maybe even the "pay taxes" bit!

Like, the experience of a woman complaining about working overtime is often qualitatively different from the experience of a man complaining about the same. Or the experience of a woman getting scammed vs a man getting scammed. Or a woman asking for help with moving vs a man asking for help. Or a woman getting raped vs a man getting raped. Or reactions to women having their locker room talk (my god, some women talk about men like meat from a deli) versus men for the same. Or even simple courtesies by strangers like holding the door open for you. Or people complimenting women vs complimenting men. Or disparities in divorce, or how if a man and a woman - in a relationship or not - have an argument who looks more sympathetic at first glance (all else being equal), ...

(I also find that male friend groups tend to be kind of shit at social support, as well. I have no clue how to fix this.)

Anecdotally, I've actually had pretty good dating experiences in general (compared to most/all other men I know), and I've seen see the stark contrast in empathy more outside of dating than in it (e.g. in a job environment, in education, with acquaintences, ...).

It's that sort of general empathy deficit/invisibility and poorer social support, spread throughout the entirety of social life and interaction for men, that normie women don't tend to grok. That "20% advantage in generic social situations" is precisely what women find difficult to wrap their head around not having.

Imagine walking down the street, and knowing that not in a single house there is a door open to you, except for the one you pay for. That not a single person you see will recognise you or say a thing to you. Imagine not having the social skills to engage, and any attempts you make being below the social skill threshold where the other person engages back.

It's not simply a +20%. It's a +1, and then +20%. The 1 is the lowest value level where people tolerate your presence. As a man, if your value is low enough, people will simply not tolerate your presence. Not many people experience this, including men, because their value is normally higher than 1. However, if your value is lower than '1,' people will be like 'get this guy out of here.' Simply dressing well and looking good is not enough - there is also a social skills component and other components to this.

Be default, as a man your value is 0.

Obviously not the OP, but I'd point to the myriad of women empowerment messaging you see almost everywhere whereas the same messaging doesn't exist for men or boys. From "The Future Is Female" to "Women Get It Done" to positive affirmations on yogurt (this annoyed my spouse enough for them to rant about it to me).

I'm not sure I'd include the complaint about indifference of the universe towards being a man in the email, as I think it distracts from what should be focused on and could rankle sensibilities of the person reading it who may believe the world is set up for male benefits.

I understand the frustration. IdPol issues can be fairly abstract and distant until they afflict your family.

It has happened. The transgender trend has hit close to home, with a close relative now insisting that we call his five-year-old, penis-having child a "girl." I have had a couple of conversations with the dad, and he repeated of the common transgender talking points.

It’s very possible the five-year-old may not be a penis-haver in the near future under the current paradigm.

It’s especially tricky if the parent(s) of the child, as is the case here, is/are supportive of a pathway that you disagree with. The parent(s) has/have greater skin in the game—and ultimately, legal rights. It’s the father’s child after all and it appears he’s supportive of the wars that will come.

On one hand, natural selection. On the other hand, if you abstain from the matter, you may be abdicating your fiduciary responsibilities as an older male family member.

Whereas for a girl, they will hit 18 or 19 and suddenly have massive amounts of power purely on account of who they are. A pretty 20-year-old intern can make the CEO of a billion dollar company stutter and blush merely on account of how she looks.

It’s not sudden, if we do a tidbit of extrapolation. Absent social shaming and/or legal grandstanding, 16 to 18 year-old girls would crush 26 to 28 year-old women, much less 36 to 38 year-old women, when it comes to desirability. The classic Dataclysm chart and Bruch & Newman, 2018.

She will get stares and attention from men of all sorts. Thus the job of father in raising a daughter is both protecting her from the men who would prey on her, and also teaching her not to abuse or misuse this sexual power she will have.

Chris Rock characterised the paternal role as keeping your daughter off the pole.

In recent years I’ve made an effort toward being more “huggy” with family members overall. For younger female family members, it’s implicitly like a “hey, by the way, I and we (other family members) care about you a lot, don’t be a hoe.” For older female members, it’s to say “hey, you’re not invisible! I and we value you. Don’t die.” For younger male family members, it’s like “Okay, men are human doings. However, I and we will always be there for you! Don’t get discouraged.” For older male family members, it’s akin to “Thank you for being there for me and I’ll remember and be there for you. Don’t die.”

And yeah men are generally much stronger and more physically capable than women. Men have the burden of performance, and are hyperagentic compared to the hypoagency of women. Men are playing on Nightmare mode instead of Tutorial mode. However, this should be preaching to the choir.

Hence why MTF transsexuals garner much more skepticism than FTM transsexuals, even from normies. The "trans" culture war for adults is almost entirely about MTF transsexuals. MTF transsexuals are potentially trying to coopt the Wonderfulness, privileges, and protections afforded to women, like stolen valor. Whereas FTM are subscribing to life on a more difficult setting.

Sports, careers, chess, and even bathrooms (full-circle, I suppose) reinforce that maleness is open-league. Young teenage boys beating professional women at sports has long been par for the course.

Young women will hold hands with their girlfriends, elephant-walk, and openly cut in front of men for access to men's restrooms in bars and clubs, but the opposite does not occur. The elephant-parade even serves to garner more male attention. Oh hey there, teehee, us girls need to pee.

The biggest difference between men and women is that when you're a man, the absolute indifference of the universe towards you is the norm, it will only care when you make it care, and only for brief moments. To women this is almost Lovecraftian horror they can't conceive of. Men don't realize that most women can never comprehend this because it's just too horrifying to the female psychology. Women live their entire lives knowing people care about them, they take it for granted, it's the universal constant norm for 95 percent of women. We care about them as children because humans generally care about the happiness and suffering of all children.

As Daniel Tosh joked in the halcyon days of the early 201Xs: "Being an ugly chick is like being a man: You're gonna have to work." The male vs. female experience is only more extreme nowadays, given the Tinderpocalypse and greater feminist/DEI entrenchment in academia, workplaces, and culture.

16 to 18 year-old girls would crush 26 to 28 year-old women, much less 36 to 38 year-old women when it comes to desirability. The classic Dataclysm chart and Bruch & Newman, 2018.

Hah. If we had a base-9 number system, the whole chart would say 18.

It would say 22, wouldn't it?

We wouldn't have the same terms. but the base-9 equivalent of '10' (the aesthetically satisfyingly number) would occur every 9 numbers.

As a trans woman, this post is like reading the world view of someone from a completely different civilisation. While I did grow up as a male, none of the points you mention about it hit close to home - I don't know how much of it is because I grew up outside of the Anglosphere, and because of my personal background. I was going to write a lengthy quote-by-quote reply, but I think it would suffice to say that all of your points would do as well to convince any pro-trans, liberal person as a trying to convince an atheist vegan to eat meat by invoking the Bible. It's not just the facts you mentioned that are dispute, but the very core values.

The transgender debate is tiresome at this point, but what draws my attention more is the gender essentialist arguments you mentioned, especially with regards to interactions between men and women. I've personally mostly grown up friends with women (although it has varied depending on the years), as they were a lot friendlier and I had more shared interests, and with none of the issues your described. I'm not even gay (I used to be 50-50 bisexual prior to transitioning, now it's about 95-5 in favor of men).

The temptation issue is also why I would never allow my daughter when she is 14-years old to go on a sleepover alone with any guy. It's not so much about the guy being a potential "rapist" -- it's about the very real possibility they both could be succumb to temptation.

Would you rather your daughter go on a sleepover alone with a masculine lesbian friend, or a very feminine gay boy? What about a trans guy of the same age, vs. a trans girl, both being straight (i.e., the trans guy is attracted to women and the trans girl to men).

I believe that men and women have a deep need for spending at least some time in sex segregated clubs. And this is rooted in biology in all the biology I noted above, that men and women have different strengths to develop and challenges to overcome. When you add just one opposite person to a group the dynamic changes -- immediately you get status posturing, sexual drama, and white knighting.

I have often been the only male in a group and this has not happened. If anything, I would be vastly more awkward in a traditionally masculine men-only group, due to having few interests in common, and I would be far more sexually attracted to them. When I was with a group of male friends and an attractive guy I had a crush on joined, I developed those behaviours you mention - white knighting, favouritism, always taking his side, etc. It has nothing to do with the sex of the person, and you should learn to deal with it rather than avoid the opposite sex altogether.

From time-to-time, I sometimes do an overnight getaway and spend a night out on the town with an old friend, maybe I crash on his couch, etc. As a married man, I feel like this would be very inappropriate to do with a woman. Even if I had certainty that it would be entirely chaste, it would cause my wife anxiety. But I also don't even want to lead myself into temptation.

Time away spent purely in fun with a woman friend might seem magical...temptation would arise... From everything I've heard, deep one-on-one time with someone of the opposite sex is the fast road to ruining a marriage.

This just seems sad. Are you clearly not capable of having deep one-on-one time with a woman without it being potentially sexual? I'm sexually attracted to a lot of my male friends and I had to learn to resist the temptation, and was able to develop strong friendships with people I was attracted to regardless of their gender.

I've shared beds and hotel rooms with both men and women with no issue. I'm bi and could potentially have sex with anyone I spent the night with - should my boyfriend be anxious whenever I'm alone with literally anyone? Especially in my liberal circles, a lot of people are bi, or open-minded enough to have sex with a trans woman.

Otherwise he will arrive at young adulthood, and the girls he was friends will forget him, as they will be interested in actual masculine guys, and he will not have the experience in relating to other guys as guys.

I was a feminine bisexual man and this was not my experience. If anything, women were even more interested in me, both sexually and as friends, once I became an adult. Flip it around - wouldn't you rather have your girlfriend be interested in the same masculine hobbies you have, than feminine ones you have 0 interest in? It's the same with women.

When I say with regards to a person 'he is a boy' the words 'he' and 'boy' refer to biological sex, as the words always have meant in the English language up until a few years ago.

That I don't get. We gender people based on secondary sexual characteristics, not biological sex. If you see someone who looks like Hunter Schafer or Emma Ellingsen (https://aschehoug.no/media/catalog/author/e/m/emma_ellingsen_foto_jakob_landvik_mg_7819.jpg), your brain will go "she" and you will have to correct yourself. If you're meeting Emma at a restaurant and you say "I'm meeting a blond guy" to the waiter, do you think you'll be pointed in the right direction? If you're mugged by Buck Angel, are you going to point and yell "catch her, that woman robbed me!"? Even Ben Shapiro had to correct himself when he subconsciously referred to Hunter by she/her.

As a trans woman, this post is like reading the world view of someone from a completely different civilisation.

Yes. And I feel that way when suddenly my relative is claiming their little boy with a penis is really a girl.

Would you rather your daughter go on a sleepover alone with a masculine lesbian friend, or a very feminine gay boy? What about a trans guy of the same age, vs. a trans girl, both being straight (i.e., the trans guy is attracted to women and the trans girl to men).

Hard no to all of these. I don't want the lesbian trying to get my daughter into "experimenting." And I have no guarantee the gay boy isn't sometimes into sex with women, a lot of guys who might seem gay will swing both ways now and then. Also, there is just a very basic difference in values between those of people who identify as gay or trans, and the values I want to foster in my family.

I believe that men and women have a deep need for spending at least some time in sex segregated clubs.

When I was with a group of male friends and an attractive guy I had a crush on joined, I developed those behaviours you mention - white knighting, favouritism, always taking his side, etc. It has nothing to do with the sex of the person, and you should learn to deal with it rather than avoid the opposite sex altogether.

Actually, I think this supports the idea that men's clubs should not just be men only, but straight men only. I've seen gay drama blow up numerous groups. And the most successful fraternities I have been a part of have excluded men who have made boning other men part of their identity.

And of course, I don't avoid the opposite sex altogether, I spend most of my time with the opposite sex. Most of my straight guy friends with wives and daughters and in-laws and children's parents friends hardly ever get away from the opposite sex. That is why it is important to set some time and space aside for a men's only group, it's something most modern men are missing out on.

This just seems sad. Are you clearly not capable of having deep one-on-one time with a woman without it being potentially sexual? I'm sexually attracted to a lot of my male friends and I had to learn to resist the temptation...

Do you have deep one-on-one friendships with other gay men that stay entirely non-sexual with no drama over a long time?

Back in college I had deep, non-sexual, one-on-one time with girls. It can work for a while if both of you have the understanding that you aren't really right for each other. It ends up being a kind of mutual "back-up girlfriend" / "back-up boyfriend" kind of thing. But it wasn't stable long-term. Someone either catches feelings, or gets a steady relationship and grows apart. A lot of the deep one-on-one time is talking about dating other people, but once you are married, it feels unseemly to be talking about relationship problems with another women. Also, there isn't much relationship drama to make interesting conversation. And in general, without an element of flirting and sexual tension, I don't actually find women that interesting to talk to. The number of friendships I can maintain is limited by my free-time. So all-in-all, I do not miss out on having deep one-on-one friendships with other women.

I'm bi and could potentially have sex with anyone I spent the night with - should my boyfriend be anxious whenever I'm alone with literally anyone?

Have you made substantial commitments and sacrifices in order to build a household and family together? Are you both committed to monogamy?

Also, the sexuality of a born biological-male-person-who-is-attracted-to-men is not at all the same as a biological womans. You can't cuck him, hypergamy and pair-bonding doesn't work the same when in gay men as it does in straight women, etc. etc.

I was a feminine bisexual man and this was not my experience. If anything, women were even more interested in me, both sexually and as friends, once I became an adult.

This is a fair criticism -- although in this case my relative boy who says he is a girl is not actually feminine and does not have feminine hobbies. A weak, effeminate, opposite-of-Chad boy with male nerd hobbies will have a lot of trouble relating with the ladies.

Yes. And I feel that way when suddenly my relative is claiming their little boy with a penis is really a girl.

I think that conception of being trans - that someone is on some level the opposite sex but trapped in the wrong body - to be misleading. It's not that the little boy is a girl, it's that the little boy is unhappy being a boy and would prefer being a girl, or as close to one as you can get with modern medicine.

Hard no to all of these. I don't want the lesbian trying to get my daughter into "experimenting." And I have no guarantee the gay boy isn't sometimes into sex with women, a lot of guys who might seem gay will swing both ways now and then. Also, there is just a very basic difference in values between those of people who identify as gay or trans, and the values I want to foster in my family.

What's wrong with your daughter experimenting - and there's a chance any girl your daughter is with could be bisexual or attracted to women, not just the obvious masculine lesbians. I take it you wouldn't prevent a hypothetical son from hanging out with girls though? Double standards like these were a contributing factor in me being very upset with cis-heterosexual norms.

Also, good luck enforcing your values in your family - plenty have tried and failed. The odds are in favour of your daughter rebelling against your strict parenting in her teenage years as countless have done before, and if you are not preparing her to deal with the modern world - such as teaching her safe sex - the consequences could be dire.

Do you have deep one-on-one friendships with other gay men that stay entirely non-sexual with no drama over a long time?

Sure, I'm not sexually interested in most gay men anyway. Post-transition, most aren't interested in me.

A lot of the deep one-on-one time is talking about dating other people, but once you are married, it feels unseemly to be talking about relationship problems with another women. Also, there isn't much relationship drama to make interesting conversation. And in general, without an element of flirting and sexual tension, I don't actually find women that interesting to talk to. The number of friendships I can maintain is limited by my free-time. So all-in-all, I do not miss out on having deep one-on-one friendships with other women.

I thought married people loved to complain about their spouse? That's one of the stereotypes I heard. Anyway I suppose it is telling that you don't find women interesting to talk to. I personally find the average woman easier/more interesting to talk to than the average neurotypical straight man (I do like artsy guys or men on the spectrum, as long as they're not into anime, Marvel or video games).

Also, the sexuality of a born biological-male-person-who-is-attracted-to-men is not at all the same as a biological womans. You can't cuck him, hypergamy and pair-bonding doesn't work the same when in gay men as it does in straight women, etc. etc.

That's another reason I didn't like dating gay men, my sexuality is closer to that of biological women (I've discovered that while talking to my female friends in detail). I'm more hypergamous than promiscuous and don't really get anything out of hook-ups, and very much like the whole ritual of flirting, seduction, dating, etc. which is not very popular in gay men - most just wanted to have sex one the first date or even without even a first date.

This is a fair criticism -- although in this case my relative boy who says he is a girl is not actually feminine and does not have feminine hobbies. A weak, effeminate, opposite-of-Chad boy with male nerd hobbies will have a lot of trouble relating with the ladies.

Well I was a weak effeminate opposite-of-Chad boy with male nerd hobbies - books, D&D, comics - and in the few years I spent in public school, the only ones that shared my nerdy hobbies were girls. When I joined the school D&D group, the only other male was the teacher who organised it. All the high-achieving students - girls (and me). It was only when I went to a private school that I could finally meet guys I related to, but still my friendship groups were mostly female. I grew out of my nerdy childhood interests and became more interested in relationship drama, fashion and art though, so perhaps that's a contributing factor.

I thought married people loved to complain about their spouse? That's one of the stereotypes I heard.

To the same sex!

Earlier in the month I had to vent a bit about how the rent in the apartment my partner and I are renting has gone up by 35% year-over-year, but because my partner really doesn’t want to move (and will make up actually ridiculous reasons to convince me/herself to not move, things like “the main road in this suburb is too wide”) we have in the end decided to just stay in the same place, paying nearly $900 extra each month. Who did I complain to? Other men (mostly)!

Anyway I suppose it is telling that you don't find women interesting to talk to.

Don’t do this, please. You’re trying to build consensus about how your experience is the normal/right one and that finding men more pleasant conversation partners is somehow indicative of a defect. We could turn this around:

I thought married people loved to complain about their spouse? That's one of the stereotypes I heard. Anyway I suppose it is telling that you don't find women interesting to talk to. I personally find the average woman easier/more interesting to talk to than the average neurotypical straight man (I do like artsy guys or men on the spectrum, as long as they're not into anime, Marvel or video games).

I suppose it is even more telling that you find women or men on the spectrum more interesting to talk to than normal men, and that you’re that close-minded on popular media (that women also consume!).

Would that be an appropriate conclusion to draw out or to say?


I suppose I should add a bit of my own experience. I personally find women somewhat easier to talk to (even with that stereotype of women being more on guard around men — clearly men aren’t playing on “lovecraftian horror story difficulty mode”), and women tend to make the conversation experience more pleasant, but talking to men in-depth (which is rarer) tends to be much more interesting, especially when things get more abstract. I also find it difficult to believe that men on the spectrum are better to talk to than normal men, at least of similar intellectual caliber and interests, having interacted with many men on the spectrum myself, since childhood.

I do personally think it says more about you — your interests and personality, if not your biases or your approach to conversation — that you find talking to women and autistic/artsy men more interesting, though I also don’t think that’s really much of a positive or negative, and I share some (but not most) of your intuitions here, especially around women being easier to “talk to”. I just don’t think it’s appropriate to draw normative conclusions and values out of this.

What's wrong with your daughter experimenting - and there's a chance any girl your daughter is with could be bisexual or attracted to women, not just the obvious masculine lesbians. I take it you wouldn't prevent a hypothetical son from hanging out with girls though? Double standards like these were a contributing factor in me being very upset with cis-heterosexual norms.

I wouldn't let my son sleepover a girls when he is a teen either.

I basically think that traditional Christian norms are the best route toward living a happy, fulfilling, productive life. That is, date people of the opposite sex, don't have sex with someone you don't see yourself marrying, preferably wait until after marriage. Love your spouse forever, have lots of children. Some people are of dispositions that make this path more difficult, but it is the path I think it is best to encourage. I don't think being a lesbian is innate and I think it best to be discouraged. I think sexuality is more malleable than people think. She should aspire to have a husband, and for her children to have a dad. There is a trope that being a strict, conservative parent will only drive your kid to rebel and make them more sexually deviant. This has not been my observation. Yes it happens, and the one's who do rebel can be VERY vocal, but in general, one's children are more likely to have your values if you actually work to pass on your values. And statistically, it seems like the conservative families are doing much better these days on measures of well-being and mental health.

I don't think being a lesbian is innate and I think it best to be discouraged. I think sexuality is more malleable than people think.

Perhaps this is true. That being said: for young Westerners I don't think that there is enough societal pressure and support to keep a gay person married to an opposite-sex partner for more than a decade, maybe two. If you're very religious/conservative suggesting that gays should be celibate is probably the better way to go...it leads to less personal and family wreckage.

I have a difficult question that you don’t have to respond to if that’s your choice. And I ask this sincerely. How does a trans woman plan for middle age and thereafter? As challenging as it must be for a young person to be trans, it strikes me that biological male bodies age very distinctly. It must be a whole different set of challenges. I know I have a bit of a beer belly myself. And while I’m fortunate to have my hair, I suspect most males have to worry about going bald. Ear hair was nonexistent until I hit 40. It seems like a something that is challenging under the best of conditions becomes completely insurmountable.

That’s actually a very good question - the answer is that with feminising HRT, you won’t age as a male at all. Estrogen gives you a feminine fat distribution - hips, breasts and bum instead of a beer belly - along with softer skin. Female-level testosterone means body hair is substantially reduced (although I’m still getting laser to be sure), masculinisation of the face and body is halted, and low DHT ensures you don’t go bald (although you won’t magically recover your hairline if it’s already gone).

My fear of aging as a male was part of my motivations for transitioning, and I’m essentially safe from that now. And past a certain age, both men and women kinda start looking the same anyway, outside of hair loss and facial hair. Men’s testosterone naturally lowers with age, and women are far removed from menopause. Trans woman might even age better than cis women as they don’t go through the latter and can maintain appropriate levels of estrogen indefinitely.

Trans woman might even age better than cis women as they don’t go through the latter and can maintain appropriate levels of estrogen indefinitely.

I think females would also maintain higher levels of estrogen indefinitely if they were supplementing with synthetic hormones?

Yes, in fact post-menopausal women are the biggest consumers of hormone replacement therapy. However it's very tricky and has many potential side effects and risk of some cancers if not adequately managed - I've read studies where it was suggested that the benefits did not outweigh the risk unless it was started before menopause.

So what data do we have on the use of these hormones by males? Facially it's not obvious why these side effects would be sex dependent.

The side effects aren't side effects of HRT, per se, but rather effects of lifetime estrogen exposure. For example, women who start menopause later than average have a higher risk of breast cancer than women who don't - and so do women who go on HRT after menopause. In both cases, the risk comes from an extra X years of exposure to estrogen.

And indeed, those risks exist for trans women too. But someone who transitions as an adult will almost certainly have less lifetime exposure to estrogen than the average cis woman.

What about someone who has their puberty blocked and starts taking the hormones as soon as legally possible?

More comments

How could a transwoman age better than a woman?

Isn't the aspiration to be a woman?

If you don't look like a woman in your elder years, aren't you failing your stated goal?

Trans women will look younger than cis-women of the same age is what I meant. Surely you must be familiar with how obsessed many women are with looking younger, how does it not make sense that trans women would aspire to stay youthful as well?

First, let me say that I appreciate you commenting, since so many posters here are conservative and/or rightist, so it's nice to also hear from people with a different perspective. That being said, I'm still going to disagree with you, since that's kind of the point of this place.

It sounds like you are a homosexual transsexual (HSTS) to use Blanchard's typology, which means you are quite different from autogynephiles like Contrapoints. I don't think your experiences are typical of trans-identified males in general.

We gender people based on secondary sexual characteristics, not biological sex.

No, we use those secondary sexual characteristics to attempt to infer biological sex, much like how you might infer that the person wearing a police uniform and driving a police car is, in fact, a police officer.

It's certainly possible to pretend to be something you're not, with various levels of success. Military imposters are virtually universally scorned for their duplicity. The same is true for race-fakers like Rachel Dolezal. I would put sex-fakers in the same category and afford them little sympathy.

If you see someone who looks like Hunter Schafer or Emma Ellingsenyour brain will go "she" and you will have to correct yourself.

Again, it's definitely possible to fake your sex, the same way I might be able to convince people that I'm a police officer or a Nigerian Prince. But of course that doesn't really prove anything more than the fact that people can be fooled.

Honestly the focus on appearance over substance sounds like a motte-and-bailey argument: the motte is that some people are so good at faking their sex they are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing, and the bailey is that anyone who identifies as a woman becomes one.

Personally I don't think that transgender people are particularly good at faking their sex. Natalie Wynn still strikes me as a male despite the enormous amount of effort she puts into passing. Other people are even less succesfull.

To that point, it's funny that you mentioned Buck Angel: I like him a lot, but he vaguely passes as a male only if you limit yourself to looking at his highly-edited photos. In real life he's a 60-year-old, squeaky-voiced, 5'8" manlet. The idea that he could successfully rob anyone who couldn't be robbed by a woman is preposterous. Never mind the fact that he's just too nice to do something like that: he is, despite his gender identification, still very much female at heart. It's really weird to me that genderists champion him as the obvious example of a woman-who-has-become-a-man when, if you dive below the surface, he is not a typical male at all.

So put your cards on the table. Do you think that recognizing someone as a woman is contingent on them passing as one? If so, do you agree that it is more than fair to call obvious men like Lia Thomas, Rachel Levine, Emilia Decaudin, Jessica Yaniv, Alok Vaid Menon, etc. men?

Or do you think, according to the common leftist talking point, that a woman is everyone who says they are, regardless of how poorly they pass? If you belief the latter, it seems irrelevant that some transwomen might pass relatively well.

It sounds like you are a homosexual transsexual (HSTS) to use Blanchard's typology, which means you are quite different from autogynephiles like Contrapoints. I don't think your experiences are typical of trans-identified males in general.

Nah. Under Blanchard's typology, this would absolutely disqualify her from being classified as HSTS:

I'm not even gay (I used to be 50-50 bisexual prior to transitioning, now it's about 95-5 in favor of men).

HSTS is defined as being exclusively attracted to men; anyone who started out as a heterosexual, bisexual, or even asexual man could only be classified as AGP.

Personally I don't think that transgender people are particularly good at faking their sex. Natalie Wynn still strikes me as a male despite the enormous amount of effort she puts into passing. Other people are even less succesfull.

Kind of ironic to see this in the same comment as strict Blanchardianism. As the theory goes, HSTS are able to pass much more convincingly and effortlessly.

First, let me say that I appreciate you commenting, since so many posters here are conservative and/or rightist, so it's nice to also hear from people with a different perspective. That being said, I'm still going to disagree with you, since that's kind of the point of this place.

Thank you, I see a lot of posts about trans issues here but I don’t see many from actual trans people, so I thought it could be an interesting perspective.

It sounds like you are a homosexual transsexual (HSTS) to use Blanchard's typology, which means you are quite different from autogynephiles like Contrapoints. I don't think your experiences are typical of trans-identified males in general.

I think there’s a few different clusters of trans women and more than just the two Blanchard identified. I don’t know if the so-called AGP types are the majority, or if they’re just more visible - something like 50% of transwomen identify as bisexual, from what I remember.

I would put sex-fakers in the same category and afford them little sympathy.

That’s a difference in values between us; you consider sex to be an important characteristic that carries with it a certain weight and thus should be truthfully communicated, while I think it’s an unfortunate holdover from our evolutionary history that has trapped people in roles they didn’t want, both biologically and socially. I recognise the usefulness of having police officers and military service members be correctly identified, but I think the sooner we make biological sex irrelevant, the better.

I don’t view my transition as “faking” being a woman. I’m taking medication that truly does give me female sexual secondary sexual characteristics, and even alters my neurochemistry to be closer to cis women’s. I think it would be accurate to describe me as chemically intersex - medically speaking, I need to be checked for both breast cancer and prostate cancer, for instance. Otherwise I don’t intentionally go about trying to be called a woman, although I’m happy if I do.

Do you think that recognizing someone as a woman is contingent on them passing as one? If so, do you agree that it is more than fair to call obvious men like Lia Thomas, Rachel Levine, Emilia Decaudin, Jessica Yaniv, Alok Vaid Menon, etc. men?

My mental concept of them is “men”, yes. But I respect non-passing trans women’s pronouns and gender identity out of kindness and empathy, in the same way I won’t call someone ugly or fat to their face because it’s insulting and unproductive, and there’s no benefit to drawing attention to that fact in most contexts. If prompted, I can give advice on how to pass better in the same way I’d give advice on how to lose weight.

That’s a difference in values between us; you consider sex to be an important characteristic that carries with it a certain weight and thus should be truthfully communicated, while I think it’s an unfortunate holdover from our evolutionary history that has trapped people in roles they didn’t want, both biologically and socially. I recognise the usefulness of having police officers and military service members be correctly identified, but I think the sooner we make biological sex irrelevant, the better

I actually think that argument is much better for gender than it is for sex. Gender roles are in many, many ways entirely irrelevant in the modern world. Child rearing and housekeeping has gotten so efficient that it simply makes no sense to keep women in the kitchen, as the saying goes. Physical fighting and hunting is even worse, both have been effectively completely replaced and the obvious male optimisations towards it are pointless now. Instead, almost everyone is doing office or light physical work that can be done by both sexes, and that both sexes are clearly broadly unoptimised for.

A pet theory of mine is that a lot of the modern confusion around gender and sex stems from the fact that in the ancestral environment sex differences were just so obvious that there was no chance to become confused, so we didn't evolve to recognize our sex outside of them. If you go fight to protect your family because you're obviously much more physically capable than your sister, while your sister got pregnant at 14 from her husband, it really makes no sense whatsoever to ask "maybe I'm a woman?". I know the alleged trans identities of some older traditions, but they're almost exclusively weak submissive males that probably would have been killed or left to die being allowed to instead serve as prostitutes for the capable men, and they're deliberately kept apart and considered distinct from the women.

On the other hand sex: As another transhumanist, I don't mind eventually abolishing it! But the reality is, we can't. For the foreseeable future, you'll need a women to create a new human being. Insemination is not quite as far off, but still for the time being AFAIK only possible from male to female. Likewise, there are massive hormonal differences and otherwise between the sexes that make them very distinct across a wider range of attributes. Most notably the massive physical differences. If I want to date you, I want to know your sex, not your gender; If I'm working with you, I want to know neither. HRT can make you more similar to the other sex, but is still very crude and only includes a portion of the hormonal differences between the sexes.

And to go further, most trans people I've met or indirectly heard about quite frankly still make more sense to be grouped in with their sex than with their alleged gender. I don't know you and so don't take this personally, just talking from my own average experience. I'm usually respecting everyone's wishes in regard to pronouns and such and have no desire to insult anyone in person, but I'm being a bit candid since I want to be clear on my impressions.

Most MtFs have stereotypically male hobbies and jobs, male mannerisms and blatantly obviously male bodies. Joking about G.I.R.L.s in video games is only half a joke; MtFs are so ridiculously overrepresented in techie spaces that you will frequently run into places with more MtFs than cis women. They're much more similar to the typical shy male nerd than any women. MtFs are also very commonly hyper-sexual compared to women; physically speaking they look like someone wanted to turn a scarecrow into a blow-up sex doll. All the online "passing" MtFs I've seen do not pass anymore once you see their movements in a video or hear their voice. If you look up these " first female to do X" news where X is a super-stereotypical male job or hobby, it's extremely disproportionally an MtF.

FtMs on the other hand I've almost exclusively ran into thanks to my wife, since they are quite common in, you guessed, female-dominated fields like psychology. The two I've personally met and talked with could easily star as the main character of any female librarian anime (and in fact had similar jobs). They were less superficially female, but overall had a clearly quite sensitive feminine personalities. Physically speaking, they're tiny dorky guys with a silly sounding voice (and frankly Buck Angel is as well, not to mention Elliot Page!). They're not or minimally interested in any stereotypically male hobby. I don't know it personally for these two, but FtMs AFAIK have the typical lesbian dead bedroom issues as well.

These differences become most obvious once you see their behaviour around babies and small children that aren't theirs; MtFs are often entirely uninterested just like cis men, while FtMs are often actively thrilled like cis women.

It's clear to me that gender is the unfortunate evolutionary holdover that has become unnecessary, while sex is a basic biological category that we will not get rid off for the time being.

Gender roles are in many, many ways entirely irrelevant in the modern world. Child rearing and housekeeping has gotten so efficient that it simply makes no sense to keep women in the kitchen, as the saying goes. Physical fighting and hunting is even worse, both have been effectively completely replaced and the obvious male optimisations towards it are pointless now. Instead, almost everyone is doing office or light physical work that can be done by both sexes, and that both sexes are clearly broadly unoptimised for.

I don't buy this. If you look at the actual real work being done, most of the work that ends up providing food, shelter, tools, etc. is done by men. Men still do the policing and the fighting, women cops and soldiers are a joke.

Doing child rearing well is not that much more efficient. Running a household with multiple children is still a full-time job, and still done primarily by women, whether mom's or childcare workers. Institutional childcare for infants and toddlers, with moms working in an office is not actually an efficient situation. It's incredibly stressful for the parents and suboptimal for the kids. It would not be a thing without subsidies, affirmative action, and extensive propaganda.

Women's jobs tend to either be:

  1. Caring directly for children and the infirm -- the same work women always did.

  2. Bureaucratic make work

  3. Work that is leveraging female sexuality -- I include in this almost all sales, marketing, baristas, waitresses, etc. Even for most office jobs, I believe that women's productivity is massively overrated and they are usually hired as affirmative action hires or as a perk for the productive male workers.

It's not a novelty of modernity that women can make money outside of the home. It is only in the late stage of civilizational degeneracy that women are allowed to work outside the home, and think that other things are more important than raising their own children. Historically, they would be working outside the home as dancers, geishas, actresses, socialites, prostitutes, etc.

A pet theory of mine is that a lot of the modern confusion around gender and sex stems from the fact that in the ancestral environment sex differences were just so obvious that there was no chance to become confused, so we didn't evolve to recognize our sex outside of them.

What I think has changed is mass media and mass education. We are bombarded with fictional imagery of fighting women, working women, productive women in the office, bad-ass women, etc. so we ignore our own personal experiences, and instead take what we see in movies and on TV as the default. We are given years of schooling where what we believe is dictated by who can rewrite the textbooks, and not by a slowly evolved tradition that gets taught from parent to child.

But yes, the concept of "gender roles", that is, the idea that the cultural roles we associated with men and women are somehow separate from biological sex, is entirely novel. And it is wrong, it is an anti-concept. Societies have "sex roles", not "gender roles."

but I think the sooner we make biological sex irrelevant, the better.

As a transhumanist, I very much agree. My only issue with current trans people (barring the more odious aspects of the ideology) is that they're jumping the gun. By all means, if you want to change sex, don't let me or anyone else stop you, but if you do, at least do a good job of it!

And unfortunately, medical science as of 2023 is entirely inadequate to the task, and in all likelihood will continue to be till we're in an outright singularity.

And even if modern attempts to pass are usually terrible and unconvincing, my only other issue is with attempts to get additional rights on the basis of identified sex, not that I think additional rights for any gender are warranted. Fuck female only sports as far as I'm concerned, that's just the kiddie league.

Fuck female only sports

Female only sports are not a right, they are a charity. We want women to be engaged in sport instead of being stomped into the dirt by middle-aged amateurs. That's not an exaggeration. "Middling level" male athletes will trounce female athletes on the regular.

We need to recognize the necessity of the these sports and their basis on biology and not some notions of gender identity. So trans "athletes" don't get to participate in the other's sports. It's not about how you identify yourself. It's about your physical structure and bone density / muscle mass.

And no being on HRT for a few years does not change your body to be identical to a CIS woman's.

I mean, I for one am not interested in the least in said charity! It's the equivalent of watching Little League baseball as a hobby, with the only saving grace being nice asses to look at.

Given that porn is a thing, if you want to see multiple woman grappling, grunting, growling and getting hot and sweaty, I can't say I care in the least.

(I am perfectly aware the women are grossly inferior in physicality, but my overall position is the fewer restrictions on sports the better, I'd actually pay for a Transhuman Olympics where everyone is allowed to take PEDs, chop off their legs like Oscar, anything it takes to get an edge. Not this namby pamby boring nonsense.)

Overall I agree with a lot of your points, but this kind of stuck out to me.

That I don't get. We gender people based on secondary sexual characteristics, not biological sex.

That's not exactly correct. We use secondary sexual characteristics to infer what someone's biological sex is, and then apply gendered terms based on that. It was never the case (imo) that gendered terms were based on secondary sex characteristics, it's that you can't very well stick your hand down someone's pants to see what they're packing before you decide to to address them as sir/ma'am. It seems to me that you've mistaken a proxy measurement for the actual thing we are talking about when we say man/woman.

I do see your point, although I'd say it's more that language didn't develop in an environment where there was any distinction to be made between the proxy measurement and biological sex. Linguistically speaking, I think it makes more sense for "man/woman" to refer to the phenotype - the traits and appearance - and "male/female" to the karyotype - the genetic sex - and due to the practical impossibility of verifying the latter in typical social interactions, to use pronouns depending on appearance. I don't see how insisting that pronouns be used according to biological sex and not how the person would be perceived by bystanders is useful or practical.

(part ii of ii)

This massive disparity in strength and ability to do violence is why men are inherently scary to women, and a key reason why we create dedicated female spaces whether it be sports teams or locker rooms or sleepovers. The need to make distinctions between girls areas and boys areas are rooted in basic biology, not some amorphous sense of 'gender' in the brain.

And it's not just acute strength -- injury rate is a huge issue. When the Marine Corp was studying women in entry-level infantry training, the women had an injury rate 600% higher than the men. Women troops carrying combat loads were one hundred times more likely to develop pelvic stress fractures. Women soccer players are 400% to 600% more likely to tear an ACL.

When Los Angeles made a push to hire female fire fighters back in the 2000s they could hardly find any women who made it through their training:

What these two women saw — and experienced — is not what you might think.

Nobody tried to make either of them fail. No “old boys” got in their way. Mary was admired by her male boss and encouraged at each step to be a firefighter. “I was just too slow,” she says. Firefighting equipment, like the one-man ladders, started “getting heavier,” and she began to realize she wasn't strong enough to repeatedly lift it — a necessary skill. Eight weeks into the training — which causes plenty of men to wash out — Mary was stunned to realize that her body had begun “breaking down.”

Vesey's story is much the same. She was contacted by the department after applying online and joined the training academy in August. She was unprepared for how tough it was. “I would fail on the hose-lay and only have a couple of hours on the ladder,” she recalls. “Then I would fail the ladder.”

But of the captains who trained her along with 45 men, Vesey says, “I respected them. I wanted to be on their crew. The people at the tower were phenomenal. They really wanted you to learn.”

It's not easy for anyone. According to a fire-department official who refused to be named, 35 percent of the men since the summer of 2006 have failed to finish their training. During the same time period, however, all of the women have failed to do so. Along with many men, two women are retrying.

Today, Los Angeles boasts a dozen newly built locker rooms for women citywide. Most days, they sit eerily empty, and men sometimes use the space to study. The abandoned lockers are a testament to a social-engineering experiment gone bad, a failed dream unfolding from New York to San Francisco to Oakland — to Los Angeles.

They eventually had to drop the standards for women. When Army Rangers made a push to add women there as a big headline when a few finally passed -- and then it came out a few years later they had to cheat. Perennial gold medal contending Canada's women hockey team trains by playing in a regional boys high school league -- and ended up in the middle of the pack -- even though checking is banned when they play the boys because they don't want the women getting hurt by the boys. The best adult women's soccer team in the world has gotten soundly beat by a 14 year old boy academy team from Dallas.

The physical differences are such that men will always be the ones who carry the physical default load in physical matters from construction to combat to packing up the car.

Thus, raising a boy to be a man means preparing him for this world. It means that women will expect the men in the life be the physical protectors, it means women will always have someone more discomfort around strange men because of the potential for them to use overwhelming physical force.

The third thing of importance in sex distinction is the potential for sexual intercourse.

From time-to-time, I sometimes do an overnight getaway and spend a night out on the town with an old friend, maybe I crash on his couch, etc. As a married man, I feel like this would be very inappropriate to do with a woman. Even if I had certainty that it would be entirely chaste, it would cause my wife anxiety. But I also don't even want to lead myself into temptation. Writer Te Ne Hasi Coates put it well:

I've been with my spouse for almost 15 years. In those years, I've never been with anyone but the mother of my son. But that's not because I am an especially good and true person. In fact, I am wholly in possession of an unimaginably filthy and mongrel mind. But I am also a dude who believes in guard-rails, as a buddy of mine once put it. I don't believe in getting "in the moment" and then exercising will-power. I believe in avoiding "the moment." I believe in being absolutely clear with myself about why I am having a second drink, and why I am not; why I am going to a party, and why I am not. I believe that the battle is lost at Happy Hour, not at the hotel. I am not a "good man." But I am prepared to be an honorable one.

Even forming a deep friendship where you are spending a lot of 1-on-1 time and spilling your guts is a dangerous proposition between any man and any woman. The potential for sex is there. Back home, a husband and wife are caught up in the grind and conflict of running a household and doing hard things together. Time away spent purely in fun with a woman friend might seem magical...temptation would arise... From everything I've heard, deep one-on-one time with someone of the opposite sex is the fast road to ruining a marriage.

The potential for sex also leads to the potential for crossed-signals and uncomfortable situations. A friendly gesture to a man could be seen as a come-on to a woman.

Thus from the very moment I meet someone it is very important to know what biological sex they are, because it will define everything about our future relationship. A male saying to me after I have met him a party, "Hey you like the Sharks too? I happen to have tickets next week, wanna come?" is very different than a woman saying the same thing. This is why every successful culture has language and norms of dress that make distinctions based on biological sex. (This is also why it has been normative for gay men and lesbians to dress in ways that would readily identify themselves).

The temptation issue is also why I would never allow my daughter when she is 14-years old to go on a sleepover alone with any guy. It's not so much about the guy being a potential "rapist" -- it's about the very real possibility they both could be succumb to temptation.

Thus there will be possible situations in the future when I must treat Skylar as a boy. Maybe we are doing a trip with friends and Jessica and her girlfriend are in another room and we have another room that is a boys room. Skylar cannot be in the girls room, sexually he is a boy.

And these issues become more acute when we have nudity involved, which is why we have norms around modesty and why we separate locker rooms. Men don't want to have to fight off getting a boner because some biological woman is in their locker room. Women don't want to feel vulnerable from seeing a much stronger person with his cock hanging out seeing her naked. Even if most men and most male-to-female trans people would never rape, by making "femaleness" a matter of self-identification and by normalizing allowing people with dicks hanging out in a women's locker room, there is no way to keep out actual creeps and rapists who will cynically abuse the policy.

Sex also matters for group dynamics. For instance, I was in a gaming group. We had a young woman join who was very much into the stereotypical nerdy games that guys were in. All went well...until one the core guys of the group offered to walk her home one night. This guy was not at all a sleaze. He likely did want to date her as she was a catch. But she got uncomfortable, and then in other events didn't want to invite him. The entire group dynamic was ruined. When Harry Met Sally proven right again: "The sex thing always gets in the way."

For all these reasons, biological sex matters from the moment we meet a person. The potential for long-term relationship, the nature of that relationship, the meanings of requests, changes based on sex. That is why our society (and almost every successful society) makes basic distinctions between the sexes in names, language, and apparel. These norms are linked at core to biological sex not to some nebulous notion of 'gender identity' inside the brain.

I believe that men and women have a deep need for spending at least some time in sex segregated clubs. And this is rooted in biology in all the biology I noted above, that men and women have different strengths to develop and challenges to overcome. When you add just one opposite person to a group the dynamic changes -- immediately you get status posturing, sexual drama, and white knighting.

When I say with regards to a person 'he is a boy' the words 'he' and 'boy' refer to biological sex, as the words always have meant in the English language up until a few years ago.

This is an important matter of personal integrity. Boy, girl, man, woman, male, female are immutable aspects of human biology. Many schools and doctors are now teaching a false and poisonous doctrine, that a person can be born in the 'wrong' body and that medical intervention can fix this. It is important for me to be a rock for truth in kids lives -- the schools are wrong, you cannot change your sex, your healthiest life will always be by adjusting your mindset to find a good way to live with your sex.

FIN

Many schools and doctors are now teaching a false and poisonous doctrine, that a person can be born in the 'wrong' body and that medical intervention can fix this.

I think that 1) can be true to a greater or lesser degree and 2) is...we are not good at all at changing this. Our medical technology is deeply inadequate; if it was better (say, lab-grown bodies) it wouldn't mean much.

If your subject is not a very online Mottelike person who loves as it has been put "words, words, words" then don't use this approach at all.

Talk to him in person, and have a conversation about how it feels, base it in emotion. Losing a son, how does that feel? What dreams did he have for his son? What things did he want to do together, that a daughter is less likely to do, like hunting and fishing.

He will likely counter that his daughter might like fishing too. But the seeds will be sown. He has to change his own mind.

Feelings trump facts when it comes to persuasion and changing hearts.

I don’t think you’re going to get maximum traction by emphasizing gender roles, dating strategy, and especially intercourse. Parents do not want to think about that for their kids. I’d go as far as to say most people who aren’t Internet autists don’t like to frame gender dynamics as realpolitik. It’s more likely to trigger disgust than sympathy.

No, you’re going to get the most mileage out of object-level arguments. This kid has no framework to understand what he’s asking. Encouraging him to follow a specific trend is just borrowing trouble. Of course, making it the Biggest Deal Ever is creating your own trouble when he hits teenage rebellion. You need a middle ground where you let him do cringy stuff without committing himself to the bit. If he wants to braid his hair, boy, he’s going to learn that lesson fast, whatever you do.

While I don't know the exact details of your situation, I would be extremely wary of including any "theory portion" in this sort of email. Unless you regularly have the sorts of abstract discussions of social and political issues with this person that we do here, and I quite doubt that if you say he has never been exposed to these counter-arguments, I don't see how it will make you look like anything other than a crazy right-wing conspiracy theorist in his eyes.

It was pointed out in a previous thread that we can map this issue onto two axes. One is the practical axis, dealing with real world actions: what pronouns we call people, the details of sex-change surgeries, who can play in what sports leagues, etc. The other is the metaphysical axis, dealing with our theory of the world: the definitions of man or woman, whether the interests of each sex are in eternal conflict, what gender identity feels like, etc. If your goal is to prevent a specific action in the real world and not to change someone's fundamental beliefs (and the truth is most people don't really have any, apart from the autists that congregate in places like this), you should stay on the practical axis.

If you can convince him that there are specific, measurable harms that might come to his child if he pursues transition, then he will be forced to at least weigh the costs and benefits of this course of action. Things like medical studies about puberty blockers and the anecdotes from detransitioners that you mention in passing are much stronger arguments than anything you could possibly say about "norms, culture, and language." Like it or not, we live in a world where in some places parents could face great legal and social repercussions for standing in the way of their child coming out or transitioning, and so you need that much more evidence that going against the flow will cause their family less suffering in the end, and not in the context of joining some grand culture war struggle against biological denialism that they are never going to care about.

Thank you for your response, other commenters made similar points which I responded to here: https://www.themotte.org/post/454/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/89837?context=8#context

My own two cents:

I, like very many gay men, went through a period of expressed gender nonconforming behavior in childhood. I don't remember that clearly, but this may have included identifying with female characters, playing with clothes and 'girl toys', and at one point even asking people to call me by a girl's name (though I don't remember this my brother told me I did this a few times). All of which I had grown out of even by the age of 8 or 9. I wouldn't say I'm happy today, or that I've ever been meaningfully happy, but I don't really experience any gender dysphoria (if anything I would like to be more masculine).

So from my own perspective, the rush to label or corral children as young as five into transition seems totally crazy. And it makes me wonder if five-year old me might not have been led down such a path by an over-enthusiastic adult eager to reward me with attention.

Parents are being scared into doing this. They are being told that if they don't do everything in their power to encourage transition, they could end up with their kid committing suicide or being taken away from them.

Do you recall why you desisted the behavior?

Myself around that age, in the early to mid 80's attempting to imitate something I seen, an animated beaver, held my hands in front to mimic it's teeth. An older cousin asked me why I was holding my hands like a faggot. There was similarly themed teasing whenever he saw me. I eventually desisted, despite support from my mother.

In what dimensions would you like to be more masculine? Are you lifting?

What keeps you from being happy?

I had an unhappy decade ~16 - 26. Some was angst or ennui. Too much alcohol, and confused sexual identity didn't help. Also only child of single functional alcoholic lesbian.

I don't really recall being teased or singled out for 'sissy behavior' beyond the general background radiation of homophobia throughout the 90s and early aughts, and there were times when I took part in it. I guess it might have been social pressure. By the time I was at the age I realized I was gay, me and my peers were mature enough to accept it.

Well, I am pretty masculine already. I work a job that is 99% straight men, and few people realize that I'm gay until I tell them. I lift weights but I'm not terribly accomplished at it - I don't feel like I obviously look like I lift weights. But of course, I do feel like I've missed out on some things - interests in cars and sports and stuff like that. I think nearly all gay men have a bit of a chip on their shoulder about their masculinity - consider all the gay men who have written extensively on the nature of masculinity from all sorts of perspectives, Yukio Mishima, Bret Easton Ellis, Chuck Palahniuk, Jack Donovan. We fetishise masculinity and covet it because we feel excluded from it.

I'm not happy for fairly straightforward reasons. No relationship/family/career/achievements and at 31 little prospect of having any of these things. My own fault, of course, for reasons that go beyond my sexuality, which I've never experienced any kind of confusion or anxiety over.

I, like very many gay men, went through a period of expressed gender nonconforming behavior in childhood.

Honestly, just making this point in isolation is likely to have much more of an effect than firing a manifesto at the guy.

It gives him an alternative that cannot easily be written off as (well-articulated) bigotry.

There is a lot of meat here, and I appreciate the depth of thought. I can’t help but feel that this won’t be the most effective way to actually change a parent’s mind.

To persuade a worried parent, you don’t want a grand abstract theory of sex and gender. You want something concrete and specific to his child, pointing out the likely risks and the very uncertain benefits. The more you can make this about Skylar rather than about reinforcing your values, the more successful you’re likely to be.

I would strongly second this. Don't write a mail. This is not good. If you must, use a letter, written by hand.

And you don't want to have a Motte like wall of text. Argumentation invites counterarguments. You don't want to put your friend in a position where he has to defend this decision - this will only harden the situation. You can be sure he has doubts, but there are probably reasons he doesn't want to air them (issues with the mother, etc.), or even admit them to himself.

You want him to get into a position where he's able to take a step back, and consider if it's a good idea to make far reaching (and possibly irreversible) decisions for his kid - now. This will be extremely difficult to pull off. But do not let the contact break. Don't let this damage your friendship - if you force him to choose, he won't choose you. He didn't get there by reason, and you can't reason him out.

Good luck.

I agree with a lot of what's here, even much of the stuff I'd advice you to cut. The gender war framing at the beginning is burning your credibility to for the very same reasons it's describing, it comes off as whining. If you have a rapport with this person and know this will be well receive feel free to overrule this criticism but you really come off as fighting the culture war and aren't really hitting on the most glaring contradictions within gender ideology. Even the part you went in with the real physical difference is defenseless against "so what? she'd be an unusually strong girl, what's the problem?". Very little of this even touches on the question of gender ideology, the idea that a five year old(or really anyone of any age) can meaningfully differentiate between girl and boy qualia, which is much more viscerally ridiculous and more difficult to dismiss as culture waring.

Most people aren’t going to read something this long, or if they do, they’re not going to give careful consideration to every point. Are you used to having these sorts of involved theoretical discussions with this particular person?

If he’s the type of guy who’s considering the possibility of transitioning his 5 year old in the first place, then a lot of the stuff you wrote about innate gender differences is probably firmly outside of his Overton window and might just turn him off.

I would just keep the messaging simple and direct: men are not women, and men cannot become women. His son is male, not female. Medical transition is a long, costly, and traumatic experience that does irreversible damage to your body, and it’s not something a parent should put their children through. Kids say all sorts of random things that are false and make no sense. He should tell his son the truth, instead of playing along with fantasies he might be having. After simply being told “no, you’re not a girl, you’re a boy”, the kid will probably forget about it in a week.

Start with something short and simple and let him ask questions and probe further if he wants to. Have the conversation irl if possible, instead of over text.

Start with something short and simple and let him ask questions and probe further if he wants to. Have the conversation irl if possible, instead of over text.

Yeah that's what I did at first, unfortunately, he was was more bought into modern gender theory than I expected. I explained a bit more in another response about what the actual situation is: https://www.themotte.org/post/454/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/89837?context=8#context

I have to say I don't find this line of argument persuasive at all. Your arguments could just as easily used to justify and support youth transition. "Given all these massive biological and social differences between men and women, it's critical you socially transition your five-year-old as soon as possible and get them on blockers and hormones so you can minimize the mismatch between who they feel they are and how they are perceived by others."

To me it's the opposite argument that's far more persuasive: society today treats men and women pretty much equally and allows them to express themselves how they choose. Given this freedom and flexibility, there's no reason why a boy who wants to wear dresses and play with Barbies needs to become a girl. Just let him be a boy who wears dresses and plays with Barbies. Teach your son he can be as masculine or feminine as he wants to be without getting hung up on sex and gender.

Yeah I think this is the path. As @Primaprimaprima said focus on the harms and the mental illness etc etc.

But he can let the boy be as feminine as he wants. It’s likely this is a phase anyway.

I think I would place less emphasis on the broader knockdown of transgender ideology in its entirety, and more on the specifics of this case. The kid is five, five year olds are easily influenced by trends, fads, and whims, and do not excel at long term planning. Even if it were possible to literally be born in the wrong body and change your sex to fix that, a five year old is going to have no idea how to diagnose that and commit to that. They have no idea what that even means. It is at least 99% likely that the kid does not have any medically recognizable form of gender dysphoria, so it's important not to commit to any changes that will be hard to walk back, even if those are just socializing as the wrong gender.

I suspect you'll have an easier time selling a plan of "Treat them as a boy for a couple years just to be safe and see what happens" than "transgenderism is entirely bogus", even if the latter is true. And convincing them of the former is 99% likely to solve the problem on its own.

Thank you for your response, other commenters made similar points which I responded to here: https://www.themotte.org/post/454/culture-war-roundup-for-the-week/89837?context=8#context

My two cents:

This is all very well-written, but you're arguing at a more philosophical level, trying to convince your friend that sex is real and gender differences matter. That's all well and good for meta arguments about transness, but you're trying to persuade him not to transition his son. If he's already prepared to do this, he will probably see in your catalog of differences a lot of evolutionary psychology and socially-prescribed roles which he may consider irrelevant for a boy who "feels" that his innermost self is a girl. I don't know, maybe these arguments will sway him, but I suspect he's too close and just worried about his son's mental health, and telling him "No, really, you gotta teach this kid to be a man!" is probably the wrong approach.

I would suggest you focus on the very real dangers of transition, and the very high probability that his son is not really "trans." How does a five-year-old even decide that? Ask a five-year-old boy if he'd like to be a girl, and probably a lot of boys, after being told it's an option, would say "Yes." At age five, being a pretty girl and playing with Barbies might seem like an awesome thing to do.

You could get a similar response by asking if he'd like to be a tiger.

He has no concept of sexuality and barely any concept of gender roles. Who even put the idea in his head that he might be a girl?

Refuse to indulge him and almost certainly he will forget about being a girl in a week.

This is all very well-written, but you're arguing at a more philosophical level, trying to convince your friend that sex is real and gender differences matter. ... I would suggest you focus on the very real dangers of transition

Responding to you and a few other comments...

My full email is going to come out to 70 pages. The meat of the email is stories of the horrors of transition, testimonials of teens or parents who dealt with this but then ended up desisters, and take-downs of the 'science' and 'studies' that justify transitioning as being good for mental health. But he is asking that we call his boy a girl, and basing this a theory that sex is different than gender. So I do feel a need to explain why I reject these distinctions, and to explain what I believe and what I am teaching my family. And I want him to know these are deeply considered beliefs -- I'm not just rejecting his request because I'm being a dick or am not up to date on the latest "science" of gender. Based on my relationship with my relative, I do expect him to take time to read the whole thing. I do expect him to at least start off by taking my views seriously, because in real life I am relatively high status.

He has no concept of sexuality and barely any concept of gender roles. Who even put the idea in his head that he might be a girl? Refuse to indulge him and almost certainly he will forget about being a girl in a week.

The dad is kind of a hippie and has long hair, and raised Skylar with long hair. Around age 3 the kid watched Frozen at daycare and wanted to dress as Elsa for Halloween, and started to want to wear dresses. IMO, he did not wear these dresses in a feminine way (for instance, he once told my daughter to stay back it was too dangerous while he went "monster hunting" in his dress). Then his mom started asking him every day before daycare, "Are you going to be a girl today or a boy." The mom is no woke radfem, she is mostly normie liberal, but she was involved with the LBTQ crowed in college, was a lesbian for a bit, and has friends who have transitioned, so I think the mom thought that asking the kid was a best practice. Eventually Skylar started consistently saying girl. The parents decided to socially transition him and they enrolled him in kindergarten last fall as a girl and are telling family to call him "she."

When I asked the dad one-on-one, "What do you think Skylar is?" The dad said, "I think she is who she says she is." And I said, "Um, Skylar has a penis" And the dad said, "That is sex, not gender identity." I said something like, "Don't you think it is important as a parent for help in building his identity, and not just let the kid lead, and to teaching him how to grow up to be a man." He said something about not wanting to raise a kid to conform to stereotypes. He then told me it was important to be accepting and let the child lead because otherwise later in life the kid would be at very high risk of suicide. I asked him if he was thinking of puberty blockers at some point, and he said he hadn't thought about it and hadn't looked into them. I asked him if he knew the history of the development of the concept of "gender identity" and made the point that "gender" was invented as a word by a pervert academic back in the 1950s. He was not aware of this.

The situation of my relatives seem very similar to the story described by the mom in this article: https://pitt.substack.com/p/true-believer There is now a parenting ideology where it is a best practice to let kids develop their own 'gender identity.' The mom in this article eventually came to her senses, hopefully my relatives can do the same:

At an early age, we noticed that our first son was a bit different. He was highly sensitive, and was extremely gifted. By about three years old, he started to orient more toward the females in his life than the males. Since he did not have the language, he would say, "I like the mamas." Some of this difference we started to attribute to possibly being transgender. Instead of orienting him to the reality of his biological sex by telling him he was a boy, we wanted him to tell us if he felt he was a boy or a girl. As true believers, we thought that he could be transgender, and that we were to "follow his lead" to determine his true identity.

At around four years old, my son began to ask me if he was a boy or a girl. Instead of telling him he was a boy, I told him he could choose. I didn't use those words—I thought I could be more sophisticated than that. I told him, "When babies are born with a penis, they are called boys, and when babies are born with a vagina, they are called girls. But some babies who are born with a penis can be girls, and some babies born with a vagina can be boys. It all depends on what you feel deep inside." He continued to ask me what he was, and I continued to repeat these lines. I resolved my inner conflict by "leading" my son with this framework—you can be born with a penis, but still be a girl inside. I thought I was doing the right thing, for him, and for the world.

His question, and my response to it, would come back to haunt me for years, and continues to haunt me now. What I know now is that I was "leading"—I was leading my innocent, sensitive child down a path of lies that were a direct on-ramp to psychological damage and life-long irreversible medical intervention. All in the name of love, acceptance, and liberation.

I do expect him to at least start off by taking my views seriously, because in real life I am relatively high status.

...When I asked the dad one-on-one, "What do you think Skylar is?" The dad said, "I think she is who she says she is." And I said, "Um, Skylar has a penis" And the dad said, "That is sex, not gender identity." I said something like, "Don't you think it is important as a parent for help in building his identity, and not just let the kid lead, and to teaching him how to grow up to be a man." He said something about not wanting to raise a kid to conform to stereotypes.

I know that, in this space, people are less shy of talking openly about social status. That's a norm here. You certainly know your relative better than we do, and I'm not unsympathetic to the ideas you were trying to express to him. Nevertheless, these lines strike me as tone deaf enough to question your perception of how welcome he will find a 70 page email. This is a very socially inappropriate thing to do, and you should have extraordinarily solid evidence that it will be well-received before you do it. If my own brilliant and thoughtful brother, whom I adore and whose opinions I value deeply, sent me 70 pages criticizing my extremely personal parenting decision, I would find it too overwhelming to read in full. My reaction would not be, "Wow, look at all this evidence and analysis. I guess I was mistaken." It would be much more along the lines of, "Whoa, buddy. This issue is obviously a hobbyhorse for you. I'm not going to let some ideologue impose his worldview on my kid."

The situation of my relatives seem very similar to the story described by the mom in this article: https://pitt.substack.com/p/true-believer

I was actually going to suggest that he might profit from exactly this story. The mom has also been interviewed about it on a podcast somewhere, if he prefers that format. You can do him a valuable service by providing him with information and perspectives he has likely missed! But a 70 page anti-gender ideology manifesto is, for most people, not the most helpful approach.

If this were my relative, I would want him to know something like this:

Your family is important to me, and I will always treat Skylar with kindness and respect. I have serious reservations about supporting a social transition for a child so young, because I believe it is much more likely to confuse and distress him than to help him. Here are a few links to personal accounts and discussions of the underlying science that explain why I believe this. Please understand I'm not just rejecting your request out of bigotry or ignorance. I've put serious thought and research into these issues. I'm also trying to protect my own kids from possible confusion and distress. I hope you'll consider my point of view.

If my own brilliant and thoughtful brother, whom I adore and whose opinions I value deeply, sent me 70 pages criticizing my extremely personal parenting decision, I would find it too overwhelming to read in full.

Would you rather have him drop one 70 page manifesto and have him say, "I've given you my way of thinking, I've given you the evidence and information I have. I won't continue to pester you about it but I do hope you continue think about what I have written as you navigate this issue."

Or would you rather him send you emails every week with articles and arguments as he comes across them and as he thinks about them?

I would rather have him drop a relatively brief email similar to the one I drafted, which included a very manageable number of links, along with an invitation to discuss the issue further if I needed a sounding board. Or, if he wanted to give me a one stop shop, he could include a link to a separate Google doc that is perhaps a heavily-linked manifesto of maybe 20 - 25 pages, saying, "I've written up my thoughts at much more length here, because I've thought seriously about what to teach my own kids about gender. If it can be any use to you as you navigate this issue, you're welcome to read."

That would feel much more like a resource than a rant. It would reassure me that he considered our relationship one between equals, in which he was not correcting my ignorance but offering up the legwork he had done so far.

My full email is going to come out to 70 pages.

Based on my relationship with my relative, I do expect him to take time to read the whole thing. I do expect him to at least start off by taking my views seriously, because in real life I am relatively high status.

You seem very confident that he will read a 70-page manifesto about why his parenting decisions are wrong and bad.

You say that you know him well enough to believe this is a reasonable expectation, but from what you've written about him and his wife, this seems unlikely to me. They appear to have embraced the view that gender is something distinct from sex that children can choose, and that denying their son his choice will damage his mental health and possibly cause him to commit suicide. Assuming he respects you enough to take your concerns seriously, I would suggest that you try prying at cracks in his worldview with some judicious Socratic dialog. Just dumping a bunch of horror stories about how he's going to maim and damage his son, however earnest and heartfelt your intentions, is probably not going to make him read all the way through until he slaps his forehead and says "You're so right, what I fool I've been!" I mean, how many people do you know who are actually persuaded at one fell swoop to alter their worldview?

Just dumping a bunch of horror stories about how he's going to maim and damage his son, however earnest and heartfelt your intentions, is probably not going to make him read all the way through until he slaps his forehead and says "You're so right, what I fool I've been!" I mean, how many people do you know who are actually persuaded at one fell swoop to alter their worldview?

I don't. I expect it to make him deeply uncomfortable and hopefully start the process of convincing himself that he needs to change his approach.

I would suggest that you try prying at cracks in his worldview with some judicious Socratic dialog.

The problem is you need to have certain facts in common. If he says, "We need to affirm his gender identity otherwise it will lead to higher risk suicide." I need to be able to say, "Did you read the analysis I sent you? Did you read the actual details of the studies that were making these claims? I can walk you through it line by line if you want. Your best bet of avoiding suicide is by getting Skylar off this train." Without actually giving him an opportunity to mull it over at leisure in written form, there is no way we can agree on a common set of facts. And if at worst, he doesn't want to look at it, at least I am arguing from the moral high ground of actually putting in the work to find the truth.

I expect it to make him deeply uncomfortable and hopefully start the process of convincing himself that he needs to change his approach

Without actually giving him an opportunity to mull it over at leisure in written form, there is no way we can agree on a common set of facts. And if at worst, he doesn't want to look at it, at least I am arguing from the moral high ground of actually putting in the work to find the truth.

Cordially, please get your head out of your buttocks and do what's best for your nephew/cousin-twice-removed/whatever. This approach is folly. You've received a unanimous chorus of feedback telling you it's folly. Do you want to save your kid relative or does that come after making the father agree with you on gender ontology?

Right now, the parents have socially transitioned the kid. The path of least resistance will be toward following the WPATH "best practices" with the the tragic result of medical transition at at age 12, unless he steps up and questions the therapists and the experts and the gets the train turned around. The dad has to become uncomfortable at some point if he is to pull the emergency brakes on this train.

Seems to me my options are:

  1. Send a much shorter email with a few key links. Problem with this is that it only gives him a fraction of the information he needs to know, and so unlikely to make much impact in reprogramming him and budging him from his path.

  2. Drip out a lot of content over a long period of time. Problem with this is that it draws out the conflict, and will him and maybe his wife dread seeing me

  3. Drop a big info dump on him, tell him I'm not going to draw out the conflict, but I do hope he seriously considers everything I wrote. He will at least be exposed to the information he needs -- and hopefully that will provide the foundation to at some point step up and make the changes he needs to make.

I will admit, in my writing I do have a messy mix of emotions -- genuine concern for his son, but I also have genuine anger at him for being so effing stupid about this issue and then one time correcting my own daughter about what is a boy and what is a girl (and not just stupid -- I think I detect some amount of self-righteous pride in being more "progressive" on this matter). I'm not sure I want to completely hide this anger, as I think it is coming from the right place.

I will admit, in my writing I do have a messy mix of emotions -- genuine concern for his son, but I also have genuine anger at him for being so effing stupid about this issue and then one time correcting my own daughter about what is a boy and what is a girl (and not just stupid -- I think I detect some amount of self-righteous pride in being more "progressive" on this matter). I'm not sure I want to completely hide this anger, as I think it is coming from the right place.

Oh lord.

I'm sorry, dude, but this approach is steeped in ego and your need to be right.

You talk of "reprogramming" him, as if he has no agency and you are a scientist trying to reverse the zombie plague that has infected his brain. Maybe this is actually how you see it, but either you're wrong, in which case you're being arrogant and patronizing and he will see through it, or you're right, in which case you are not offering a "cure," you're just staging a futile gesture that will make you feel better.

You are not focusing on the most efficacious way to persuade your friend and help your friend's child while still staying in their lives. You are focused on winning. Hell, you even want to unload on him about past petty grievances ("He said something stupid to my daughter and I need him to understand he was wrong!") and you have convinced yourself that this is the right approach because you're right, dammit.

Your friend is not on the Motte. You are not arguing with us randos on the Motte, who can dispassionately (or heatedly) parse walls of text like this and get into the weeds and analyze abstract arguments.

You are understandably emotional about this - and that's not a bad thing, I believe your heart is in the right place! - but your approach seems doomed to failure to me, and that there appears to be a near-unanimous consensus agreeing with me should give you pause. You know, if you actually think considering arguments rationally and evaluating evidence is important.

Verbally grabbing your friend by the shoulders and shaking him for 70 pages saying "Listen to me, you fool!" is not going to work. You say "He will have the evidence available to him." Sure, assuming he doesn't delete your email. You actually think because you're so "high status" that he's going to read through every word and click all those links, while you're going on about what a self-righteous wrong-headed prick he is?

Ultimately, you don't actually have any say in what he does with his son. So you're right that being That Guy who brings up how he's parenting wrong every time you see him will probably lead to him and his wife not wanting to see you. Maybe this manifesto-dump will put some cracks in his worldview. But I would strongly recommend you take a softer and slower approach, minus the "I need to reprogram him" attitude. Express to him, kindly and politely, your misgivings and some reasons why you think he's making a mistake. Tell him you understand he wants to do what's right for his son, but you hope he'll consider what you're saying. Tell him you'd be happy to talk to him in more detail about it over coffee, any time. Forget about "that one time" with your daughter that's still chapping your hide!