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Culture War Roundup for the week of December 19, 2022

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For the folks here who talk heatedly about trans issues - I want to pose a thought experiment. Let's say it's the year 2300, and people can quickly, cheaply and painlessly switch their sex from male to female, and vice versa. There are no long term side effects, and it's as simple as going to buy a pill from the corner store.

On top of that, fertility issues have been handled, babies are grown/raised by artificial wombs and many different types of family structures are available with parents being able to choose what works best for their preference. Gender and sex can play a role if needed, but only for those who wish to have traditional families. It is not socially stigmatized to raise a family with two women, or two men, etc.

If this all were the case, would you have issues with people transitioning genders/sex still? If not, at what point along the line do you think it becomes okay to freely switch?

It becomes okay at the point it isn't an objection to the continued existence and expansion of human or trans-human happiness. In the world we are in all people are similar and their nature is catered to best when they are more straight and traditional, even as human biology starts to shift because of endocrine disrupting chemicals and bondage to alien machines.

I broadly agree with your position. I think we are in a relatively precarious spot right now, and should keep developing tech but maybe cool it with the social experimentation. Once we have expanded through the solar system and hopefully solved a lot more problems in medicine I'm open to more experimenting.

No, it’s not ok. We should stigmatize options other than traditional families, because other options make a shitty default and seem unable to just coexist without being supremely annoying and whining about how their near-constant promotion isn’t good enough.

Preliminary: I'm assuming (this being a gender discussion) that by "options other than traditional families", you mean gay/lesbian/trans parents, not single-parent households, which are obviously fucked.

Trans parents may be at higher risk of suicide, but that's covered by "let's not have parents who are suicide risks", and not related to them being trans specifically.

So we're left with "gay/lesbian/trans-not-a-suicide-risk parents". I claim they're just as fine. I offer two citations from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=LGBT_parenting&oldid=1126262442#Research: this Australian Psychological Society literature review that cites a shitload of papers, and this amici in Obergefell. I find it unlikely that all of the papers cited therein are shit, but happy to spot-check a few.

Anyway, you also say the stigma is justified due to them being annoying. I am unaware of any ethical system that supports stigmatizing people because you find them annoying. Stigmatizing someone clearly does them more harm than any amount of "whining" could balance out. What's wrong with stigmatizing whining itself? Whining is pretty annoying. Also, you don't have to listen to them!

Moreover, I concur with @drmanhattan16 that you have no evidence that they have to whine. It is not an analytic truth. So, you have to demonstrate that there's something innate to the collective existence of non-traditional families that creates whining. I can't see any. But that's besides the point, because I've already established that whining isn't severe enough to justify stigmatizing them.

We should stigmatize options other than traditional families, because other options make a shitty default and seem unable to just coexist without being supremely annoying and whining about how their near-constant promotion isn’t good enough.

What's your proof that non-traditional-family advocates are unable to exist without "whining"?

This being a negative claim, I think the burden of proof is on you to demonstrate that they indeed possess such an ability.

What's your proof that full-communism won't happen if we stack a few more million bodies? That Jesus Christ is not God? That there isn't a teapot orbiting Saturn?

Nope, the default assumption is that we don't know if they are unable to exist without whining. Anyone who wants to come down on either side of it has to prove it either way.

It never ceases to amaze me how quick people are to join me in radical skepticism if their assumptions are pressed. But surely if you hold to such high standards you must know that nothing at all can be proven, right? As Pyrro, you must realize in the wisdom of this logic that knowledge is impossible. Because it ultimately always could be that what has been deemed true could be invalidated, and that forever remains this possibility. Therefore the default assumption should be that we don't know that anything is true.

But then, let's assume for practical purposes that we're not stabbing at the truth but at a practical empirical model that would allow us to make predictions. One that holds to, among other principles, parsimony.

Would you agree that such a model must consider all negative claims to be false by default?

It never ceases to amaze me how quick people are to join me in radical skepticism if their assumptions are pressed.

I'm not jumping to radical skepticism because my assumptions are pressed, the person I was responding to was making a positive claim without proof. I think I can have my own assumptions and also note the lack of evidence being offered by the other person.

you must realize in the wisdom of this logic that knowledge is impossible. Because it ultimately always could be that what has been deemed true could be invalidated, and that forever remains this possibility

I think Phoebe said the same to Ross in Friends at one point when it came to the dinosaurs, but even I understood at that age that Ross should have responded that both of them had an obligation to believe whatever the evidence said at this time. That we might update our knowledge doesn't mean we can't have it, as far as I know.

But then, let's assume for practical purposes that we're not stabbing at the truth but at a practical empirical model that would allow us to make predictions.

I don't understand how you wouldn't be approximating truth by doing that.

the person I was responding to was making a positive claim without proof

Incorrect. They were making a negative claim. That is a statement about the nonexistence or exclusion of something. Saying something is impossible is not a positive claim, it is a negative one. By definition.

Ross should have responded that both of them had an obligation to believe whatever the evidence said at this time.

And Ross would be mistaken, clearly, as being wrong in a context that gave you good reasons to think your error was the truth is still being wrong. At least in the absolute terms we speak of here.

What Ross should have said is that this is our best approximation of the truth. And that operating under one's best guess is reasonable.

That we might update our knowledge doesn't mean we can't have it, as far as I know.

Oh but it does mean just that. What you think is knowledge isn't knowledge. It's a model. The map is not the territory.

I don't understand how you wouldn't be approximating truth by doing that.

You would, but there is no other possible thing you can do.

Incorrect. They were making a negative claim. That is a statement about the nonexistence or exclusion of something. Saying something is impossible is not a positive claim, it is a negative one. By definition.

Okay, fine. They were making a claim without evidence. There you go. I don't know what the point of this philosophical discussion is, it seems to be fairly trivial.

More comments

Well, note, what I actually said was ‘seem unable to just coexist without being supremely annoying and whining about how their near-constant promotion isn’t good enough.’

This is, notably, not a strong ontological claim. It’s an epistemic claim(they come off as unable to stop being annoying and cease complaining about needing to be promoted more).

It’s factually true that non-traditional family advocates spend a lot of time complaining about how broader society needs to further reorient itself towards validating them and promoting their lifestyles, in spite of everything society is already doing along that line. Them being annoying isn’t a claim that can be objective; it’s inherently a subjective value judgement. And my lived experiences and preferences are as valid as theirs are.

It’s factually true that non-traditional family advocates spend a lot of time complaining about how broader society needs to further reorient itself towards validating them and promoting their lifestyles, in spite of everything society is already doing along that line. Them being annoying isn’t a claim that can be objective

It can be to an extent. We already defined the word "annoying", so we can presumably show cases of them fitting the definition. If you're going to say that they spend a lot of time complaining about how society isn't good enough for them, I'd like to see proof of them doing this.

We should stigmatize options other than traditional families, because other options make a shitty default

I tend to agree. Traditional family structures and especially living contiguously around a small group of people your whole life seems to be the best way to have everyone be mentally stable, happy etc. Unfortunately not possible in the modern world, so my thought is that we need to find some good alternatives, or at least ways to emulate that in light of modern economics and the large geographical span of our societies.

seem unable to just coexist without being supremely annoying and whining about how their near-constant promotion isn’t good enough.

Eh, I know some trans people who are okay with not being promoted everywhere. They just kind of want to do their thing. Problem is these types of people tend to just cut out all their social connections except a few, anecdotally, so you don't hear about them as much. Sort of a selection effect. Sadly we have collectively decided to give credence to the loud ones, instead of shutting them down like we would a nerd who railed about how people need to treat him like a saint because he's great at Magic the Gathering.

If we have the technology to easily switch sexes, it seems likely we'd have enough control over other things, including biology, to discover new happy living arrangements that aren't currently technically possible.

That is the thing. The person who transitions socially and acts and dresses appropriately, even if they don't pass perfectly, and just wants to live an ordinary life? Yeah, we can get along. Calling them "Sally" and using "she/her" is courtesy. I'm not even going to get hot under the collar about sharing a bathroom. The Darren Merager kind of person? Barricade the doors.

What is aggravating is the loudmouth activists who don't even try to pass, or who try to pass as strippers from a hentai anime, or have loud theoretical demands about society totally changing the entire understanding of sex and gender and who have a bingo card of 'neurodivergency' or 'disabilities' along with being trans so you have to accommodate all their demands and requirements, you bigot!

It's Rachel Levine versus Sam Brinton (though I'm still unsure if Brinton is trans or not; they are described as bisexual and gender fluid or non-binary, but in that Instagram they describe themselves by implication as trans). Levine may be open to criticism that they only started wearing the uniform, even though technically they're in a civilian role, after their promotion, but they're old-school trans who do try to act and look as female as they can. Brinton is a show-off looking for attention. (Levine may have a touch of that going on, too, but it's nowhere near the level of Brinton).

The 'Rachel Levine' kind of trans is someone you can live with, even if you disagree. The 'Sam Brinton' kind you can't, because the whole point is to get up in your face and make demands and keep making more and more limit-pushing demands.

Men and women are useful phenotypes that exist for the purpose of reproduction. That 'cheap and painless' technology would have useful applications far beyond 'changing sex' - it'd correspond to - at least - artificial reproduction being easy, meaning 10k von neumann clones would be 'too simple' - rapid and sample-efficient exploration of genetic possibilities leading to incredibly smart people, and 'making your brain female' = technological integration with the nervous system leading to significantly more technically powerful individuals. All of that's not going to happen though because AI will be more versatile, powerful, scalable than it. Changing gender is bad because it prevents reproduction & perverts desires and attributes made in the context of, and only meaningful in the service of, mating and reproduction and many other complex phenomena related to human success. In that future, gender is physically outmoded - it doesn't matter anymore, and neither do many other things people assume are fixed but are merely eddies in the current of a large-scale struggle for growth and power! The question is like "If we had fusion power, should we replace grain windmills with it"? or "If we had superhuman AGI, should it respect the constitution?". We're not quite there yet though, and male/female still serves a reproductive purpose although we're working on that.

Never, and I think the only purpose of these constantly raised hypotheticals* is as a foot in the door to make people accept in principle what they can then be conditioned to accept in practice.

*Seriously, isn't this the same as yesterday's prompt?

See, I know that people in the rationalist sphere like to believe that thought experiments such as this one are very useful and compelling, but personally I see no value in entertaining something like this. You’re asking what would happen if humans were entirely different than they actually are, in a fundamental way, and if we had access to magic. Why is this worth spending time thinking about? Your hypothetical scenario is wildly implausible. We don’t have technology even remotely close to what you’re proposing. Do you have any concrete reasons, aside from general techno-optimism, to believe that anything like this will be possible, let alone affordable for the great mass of humanity? If not, you might as well ask, “If everyone woke up tomorrow with the ability to read minds, what would be the legal and philosophical ramifications of that?” Answer: They won’t, next question.

if we had access to magic. Why is this worth spending time thinking about?

You're asking this of me via a glowing crystal I can hold in my hand that brings me images from around the globe.

But people have no fully fledged worldviews to probe. It's a mistaken assumption. We have heuristics and generally try to adapt when new situations arise, by watching the consequences of things, discussing with others etc.

I mean, I personally like to think I have built out some worldviews through argumentation. I am pretty anti-trans at the moment, but that view has changed from being pro-trans when it was the easy default. Most of that change in stance has been from reading things here on the Motte.

I certainly don't claim to have a 100% fully fledged worldview with no logical contradictions. I do have strong feelings about something I find it an interesting exercise to examine my own thoughts and see why I feel that way. I would like to think at least some of my views I've arrived at or changed via argumentation, although I suppose you could just invoke causal determinism and say that it's all unconscious processes. I find that possibility boring to discuss.

Whats the gain if someone says "Under that hypothetical my stance would be X", if the hypothetical is "just a hypothetical"? Clearly there must be some planned rhetorical comeback like "ha! Then your stance is not rational!" or something.

If I ever come out swinging and actually say "ha! your stance is not rational!" without providing counterexamples and countering logic I hope I'd get a warning at least. To me the whole point of this forum is to discuss culture war talking points with logic and reason, instead of actually waging the culture war.

Benefit from 2,000 years of idiot proofing, because clearly the big brain method can’t handle it.

I’ve had the thought process before, I’ve just never been an atheist, and it’s honestly interesting to me that it occurs to atheists. So thank you for posting it, because it is a reasonable data point for looking at my biases.

I intuit that when there's pressure to not know man from woman, there's corresponding pressure not to know evil from good.

Yeah, I would agree with the pressure not to know evil from good. That's one of the most negative, and maybe the only seriously negative, aspects of modernity. It is very difficult to know you are living a righteous, moral life, and are a good person.

Although the existence of philosophy as a school of thought makes it so we know for sure people in the past also thought about what a good life is made up of, it seems that in modernity that question is spreading to the common masses. Everyday people now have pressures pulling them in a million different directions, flailing around like marionettes between ideologies and religions. It's a shame.

Why is this worth spending time thinking about?

Regardless of whether it's a possibility or not, thought experiments are useful because they help us pinpoint exactly where along a spectrum we disagree with something. I'm curious why most people on the Motte disagree with trans, so I thought this type of question would help me figure that out.

For instance, I'm of the opinion that it's disruptive to physical and mental health, so I am not a fan of trans as a social movement at the moment. But in the admittedly potential future I outlined (making no claims about probability) I would be morally fine with it.

Maybe some other people agree with me, or maybe they just have a fundamental moral commitment to the nuclear family, biological gender roles, etc. I'm curious, and I'd also like to argue with these folks refine my understanding of my own view.

They help people think they e pinpointed something. But when the facts are just so different how do we know?

I'm confused by this response... could you restate what you mean?

Exactly what pigeon said. Once the facts are so divorced from reality, you may think “this is the principle I am deriving from this thought experiment.” But because the thought experiment smuggles in numerous faulty assumptions, that principle may not be relevant.

I think what @zeke5123 meant is that the thought experiment is so divorced from the on-the-ground reality right now that it’s not a very useful thought experiment.

“If everyone woke up tomorrow with the ability to read minds, what would be the legal and philosophical ramifications of that?”

I would actually be curious to hear people's takes on this. Unfortunately it's not super salient to the culture war so may be off topic here. If I remember I'll post it in the Friday fun thread.

The very first episode of the anime Kino's Journey explored this topic. I highly recommend the show, though its exploration of the various scifi concepts in each episode tends to be mostly pretty banal.

Sadly, the original anime was better than the remake.

That said, I'll point out that actually, we can communicate mind-to-mind in limited capacities- that's what internetworking computers and VT-100s that fit in your pocket enable. And... well, I don't really see much inconsistent with the state of that nation in the first episode with the world of today; people just can't stand to speak to each other any more.

The trick is that actually having full mind-to-mind access would necessarily mean people would instantly be able to tell good faith from bad faith; and at that point the point becomes more or less moot since you actually could objectively cleave between those that actually require special treatment and, well, the fakers. (But then again, the truth of the matter probably doesn't actually matter anyway since we're still unable to reject the obvious fakes for unrelated reasons.)

I don't think I'd agree - I think there's an interesting question there, and I think I've already learned something from the answers given.

The point of such questions is not predicated on it actually happening, but on creating hypotheticals that identify why people might object to things by removing one of them. Personally, I actually thought more people would be fine with this - that the real objection was, ultimately, the falseness of claims: that people were pretending to be something they're not, and others were being forced to go along with their "delusions" on pain of social punishment. I've seen this objection frequently made, and it always seemed the most reasonable position in trans opposition: that they were redefining words and demanding obedience to falsehood: being asked to call someone they don't consider a man by their definition a man.

As such, I expected a lot more responses to be along the lines of this being fine - that it would indeed solve the main aspect of the objections, even if there may be some other issues In practice, this doesn't seem to be the case: virtually every response I've seen from those who already object to trans identification has been that this wouldn't be sufficient, and brought up different ones (often ones that seem weird to me: predicated on things like static gender being inextricably linked to self, or even humanness, or that it was important to stigmatize non-standard

As such, I do think this thought experiment has been useful and compelling, in that I've genuinely learned something I didn't know before, and have re-evaluated my perspective on how much the "performative truth" aspect is the real objection vs a stalking-horse / side issue for many. That alone has answered "Why is this worth spending time thinking about?" for me.

As I said, in a society where you can totally change your biological sex due to a pill you can buy in the corner shop, then the very concept of being transgender is meaningless because the old roles of sex and gender are so changed. Your mother and father may not even be biologically related to you since you were grown in an artificial womb so no human ever was pregnant with you, and if not pregnant, why be the donor of the ova or sperm to create you, and your mother can be your father every other Tuesday by popping a pill. Being a boy or a girl is just temporary until you are old enough yourself to take that pill, and 'things girls like/things boys like' as signifiers of gender (as is often used in trans advocacy, e.g. "I always wanted to wear a Wendy Darling nightgown instead of my boy pyjamas when I was a child" as in one article by a trans person I read) are now meaningless. Sue-Bob liked playing with trucks when ze was eight? Now Bob-Sue can be a supermodel with F size boobs whenever ze wants. Does ze still like trucks? That has no bearing on is Sue-Bob a girl or Bob-Sue a boy.

Take it even further: mix'n'match elements of both or all sexes. Chick with a dick? Man with a pussy? Neuter with no external genitalia or secondary sex characteristics? Hermaphrodite? Androgynous? Six dicks instead of one? Chick who started off as natal female, now with six dicks? Can still be a woman. Half male on one side of your body, half female on the other? Still can be legally a man. The sky is the limit!

Because if we genuinely can transform the physical body and brain to be perfectly male or perfectly female, and all child-bearing is done by IVF and artificial wombs, then we are not limited to "switch from having boobs to having a dick" or vice versa. If you like your dick, you can keep your dick! But now have those honkin' great bazongas you always found erotic as well!

Under those circumstances, transitioning to become asexual and genderless would be the optimal choice. I would have issues with anybody who transitioned to become anything other than asexual and genderless.

Woah, interesting answer. What makes you think that's optimal under these circumstances?

When you say the ability to change sex, to me that implies the ability change a person's brain from a male brain to a female brain. Any technology that can do that can do a lot more as well. Male brain and female brain are two options among millions, and those other options are likely to be better. The fact that babies are being grown in artificial wombs, to me that means gender and sexuality are obsolete and should just be discarded.

Sure, the other options may be better along some axes, but do those axes really have much to do with gender? Just be a male or a female with the qualities that you want. All of this talk of gender is utterly confused. Gender is how we treat males and females.

If this all were the case, would you have issues with people transitioning genders/sex still?

No, I wouldn't have a problem with it.

If not, at what point along the line do you think it becomes okay to freely switch?

What do you mean by "okay"? I think it's okay for them to switch already in that I don't think they should be stopped, but I'm not going to treat them as having truly transitioned and I'm going to feel uncomfortable around them.

If they can pass well enough that there aren't jarringly inconsistent signals about which sex they are, then I would feel comfortable around them. If they can pass and reproduce sexually, then I would feel comfortable dating them and would be okay with my children transitioning. If they can transition without risking severe negative health effects, then I would feel comfortable with society condoning it in cases other those where the gender dysphoria is causing severe psychological distress that can't be treated by other means.

I think a more interesting question is what happens in a world where sex truly is a spectrum because people can adopt whatever biological traits they want.

I think a more interesting question is what happens in a world where sex truly is a spectrum because people can adopt whatever biological traits they want.

Including, one assumes, the 'biological trait' of being completely comfortable and content with the body one has lived in since birth and feeling no desire to transition whatsoever.

Imagine if it became widespread consensual practice to engineer ourselves to just never want to transition and to stick largely to the gender binary, aside from like 2% of the 'weirdos' of the population who just enjoy flouting norms, and are permitted to do so. Seems, arguably, just as plausible as OP's suggestion.

If you can freely biologically alter your preferences, that opens a whole can of worms. Can one legitimately complain about poverty or slavery if one can have a medical procedure causes one to not mind living in the gutter or being enslaved? What if one person engineers himself to be sadistic while another could engineer himself to enjoy being tortured? Who should be required to change his preferences?

I think this gets towards the importance of having some grounding in tradition and culture as some kind of guardrail against falling into inescapable pits like that.

We may have a varied and complex set of values, but there are some values that MAYBE we can agree to intentionally minimize since for reasons that may not be understood they simply did not survive through our own evolutionary history.

Which can likely be done whilst still recognizing the individual's freedom to dissent.

Ah yes, the Culture scenario.

The problem with such hypotheticals is that they by design brush away all the concrete criticisms of modernity. It never is that easy to fuck with nature and get away with it. The magic pill always has side effects, and in practice what is being advocated is to hide them or make a new pill to fix them and create new ones. To just gobble the drug cocktail that makes what is ostensibly a miserable life not even worth living acceptable. And be under ever more control.

I don't want to live in this world that you describe. It is inhuman. I don't want people to be designer laboratory product, I don't want to be under control, I don't want to be liberated from our condition. I just want to be a human, same as my father before me, and his father before him. And if people can't be satisfied with that, I want them far away from me and my children.

And I predict that by 2300 people will either have been disillusioned with these fanciful delusions and chosen new ones or have been long destroyed.

design brush away all the concrete criticisms of modernity.

Seems reasonable to assume based on what I've seen here that people have different reasons for not liking trans as an ideology or action. We've already had people espouse different views on this thread like @gog vs @omfalos.

I don't want to live in this world that you describe. It is inhuman. I don't want people to be designer laboratory product, I don't want to be under control, I don't want to be liberated from our condition.

I don't want any of those things either, and I still don't think increasing our technology is inhuman. Maybe 2300 is too early, if you prefer a slower pace of technological change. Do you think that, barring a massive drop in technology, it would be fair to say we'd still be human if we developed this tech in 23,000? Theoretically your children would be long gone, and your distance ancestors so dispersed in the gene pool as to be extremely common.

And I predict that by 2300 people will either have been disillusioned with these fanciful delusions and chosen new ones or have been long destroyed.

I doubt the 'fanciful delusions' that technology gives us increasing power over our environment, including our bodies, is going to go away any time soon my friend. Unless you're arguing there's some hard cap on technological progress outside of the laws of physics, I think your prediction is going to fail.

C.S. Lewis pointed out that no technology increases human power over nature- it only increases the powers of SOME humans over nature, with the rest of the humans making up part of that nature. Whatever happens with technological progress, the delusion is that we will all share equally in it.

I don't want any of those things either

And yet that is exactly what is contained in the hypothetical?

I still don't think increasing our technology is inhuman

It's not a question of time. "Nothing human escapes the near future."

Someone with that technology I do not recognize as human. They're something else.

I doubt the 'fanciful delusions' that technology gives us increasing power over our environment, including our bodies, is going to go away any time soon my friend.

More is a question of metric. There are things we can do that we couldn't in the past. There are things we could do in the past that we no longer can. History is not linear.

But to the point, It's not just physics we're limited by. It is also economics, sociology, mathematics, and generally reality as it is. You can't change nature. It's categorically impossible. You can negotiate with it by being a clever engineer of the outcomes you want, but you can't change what is.

Liberation from reality itself and specifically the realities of sex is a common feature of decadent empires. My prediction would have held if made about Elagabalus, I wager it will again.

Wrote a long reply but accidentally hit cancel... sigh.

I don't want people to be designer laboratory product, I don't want to be under control, I don't want to be liberated from our condition.

And yet that is exactly what is contained in the hypothetical?

Strong disagree. Think you're lumping me in with your outgroup here. We already have a ton of drugs and medicine to radically change our biology, I don't think there's anything meaningfully different in changing sex.

More is a question of metric. There are things we can do that we couldn't in the past. There are things we could do in the past that we no longer can. History is not linear.

I'm a techno-optimist. I'd argue we're more likely to go extinct than stop progressing tech. It's too damn useful.

Liberation from reality itself and specifically the realities of sex is a common feature of decadent empires. My prediction would have held if made about Elagabalus, I wager it will again.

Cute nickname for Aurelius he was a great guy. Too bad we have far better technology than the Romans dreamed of and are progressing far faster.

accidentally hit cancel

Now we see the violence inherent in the system!

We already have a ton of drugs and medicine to radically change our biology, I don't think there's anything meaningfully different in changing sex.

Oh it is more of the same for modernity, on that we agree. But I refuse to abandon trying to convince people to stop subjugating themselves.

I'm a techno-optimist. I'd argue we're more likely to go extinct than stop progressing tech. It's too damn useful.

I'm a naturalist, I don't believe there is such a thing as progress. The very idea is silly, and to be honest it seems to be the core flaw in the worldview you describe here. You think you're any better than the Romans. But you're not.

All ages are equal before God.

I don't want to live in this world that you describe. It is inhuman. I don't want people to be designer laboratory product, I don't want to be under control, I don't want to be liberated from our condition. I just want to be a human, same as my father before me, and his father before him. And if people can't be satisfied with that, I want them far away from me and my children.

This! I would want to join the village commune where we proclaim the outside world as evil and shun it and patrol the borders with tanks.

This appears to be an invitation to engage in the sorites paradox. Declined.

Not sure I understand the value of the paradox? Humans use intuition/heuristics because we don't have a perfect grasp of logic. Are you saying we should only ever use terms we have a 100% precise meaning for?

I'm saying that while thought experiments like "what if you can perfectly transition" are useful, once you start trying to talk about "at what point along the line" you're muddying the water rather than clarifying it. Or perhaps trying to obtain agreement in principle that there's some point along the line that transitioning would be OK, and then trying to arbitrarily move the point.

If this all were the case, would you have issues with people transitioning genders/sex still? If not, at what point along the line do you think it becomes okay to freely switch?

Existence of a button which magically alters one in every concievable aspect to the member of the opposite sex, won't solve the present trans issues. The era of "There are two sexes, I was just unlocky to be born in body of the opposite one." is gone. Current frontier is "enbies", ie that there are more than two genders, and postulation of more than two sexes.

A decade ago, sure, this would be a cure for transgenderism. But if it can't be assumed there can be such a thing as a target "sex", as some trans activists do when employing people with chromosomal and genetic abnormalities to attack the notion that there are two sexes, the aforementioned button vanishes in a puff of logic.

For anyone that abhors the future you describe, this is a bit like asking "If your house was burning down, would you still have issues with my dog shitting on your lawn?"

I think you misunderstand the objection. It’s not that people “have issues” with changing sex, they way they might disapprove of gay sex or pirating movies or something. The contention is that, since they think sex is innate, and “gender” is such a motte-and-bailey of a concept as to be useless, changing your sex is totally, categorically impossible and any claim/affirmation that it has happened is at best an error and at worst a lie. You might as well ask “If there was an immortality pill, how far back along the line from that point would you accept someone’s claim that they will never die?”

The contention is that, since they think sex is innate, and “gender” is such a motte-and-bailey of a concept as to be useless, changing your sex is totally, categorically impossible and any claim/affirmation that it has happened is at best an error and at worst a lie.

Okay so you're saying folks think that there is never any way we could possible change sexual organs from one species to another (even though there are multiple examples in nature) regardless of the level of technology we achieve?

You might as well ask “If there was an immortality pill, how far back along the line from that point would you accept someone’s claim that they will never die?”

I don't understand the comparison here.

-I’m saying that people believe sex is innate, so they believe that whatever happens to you later is irrelevant. At best you would gain the “power of menstruation” or something, just as if you had functional wings grafted on you would gain the power of flight, but still not be a bird.

-My immortality thing is trying to point out that your question amounts to “does an imaginary world where something impossible is possible cause you to reconsider that possibility of the impossible thing in the actual world?”

there are multiple examples in nature

No there are not. Not of what you are describing in the first place anyways.

It takes a whole series of leaps and assumptions to transform the cases we do see in nature into something relevant to this conversation, and eliding those leaps is dishonest.

I'm not trying to say that sex changes would be outside of status or dominance hierarchies. Most of the examples I've read like clownfish change sex once they reach the top of the hierarchy.

I could I suppose imagine something like that happening with humans, although personally I think that world would be horrendous. I still think it shows that changing sex is a characteristic of some life forms, and outside of intelligence I don't see why humans are in a separate special class biologically. If @gog's main objection is that changing your sex is impossible, I think it's a good counterargument.

I don't see why humans are in a separate special class biologically

It's because they are mammals. There are no hermaphroditic mammals or birds.

The leap here is to pretend that clownfish and humans are anywhere close enough evolutionary that this would make sense. Which I find about as convincing as saying that we could maybe make humans live for centuries because turtles do.

I wouldn't want to live in a world like that in the first place. The trans-humanist undertone of transgenderism is precisely why it makes me so uncomfortable. In a way I oppose it because it has the possibility of becoming the world in which you describe.

This isn't even the first time we've done this hypothetical in this week's thread but I suppose it wasn't a top level so here we go again. The major impact it would have isn't probably the direction you would naively expect and that impact isn't really possible until we get the whole instant easy safe complete 100% magic transition. My largest problem with trans theory is the epistemics. Currently, and until we have this magical transformation tech there is no way to actually know the qualia of the other sex/gender. Because of this it is impossible for a theory of mind to differentiate between the internal states of "I have man/male qualia despite having a woman/female body" and "I am a woman/female having a particular subset of the woman/female qualia that I am incorrectly interpreting as the man/male qualia". It's impossible, no human has ever genuinely experienced both to compare and contrast.

So in comes your treatment. I'm going to skip a giant problems with it in that given the above problems there actually really isn't any way for us to conclusively test that this procedure works and just assume that the black box AI that is never wrong told us that it works and we believe it implicitly. It actually does solve my problem, but not because it would make the trans people pass better but because it would actually genuinely let us run the experiment. I think a lot of people would run that experiment and come out of it thinking "Man, I was really really wrong about what it would be like to genuinely be the opposite sex". Hell, I'd definitely run the experiment, it's be fascinating.

Finally I want to be clear that I don't think this hypothetical is actually realistic. I doubt there'd really be any meaningful continuity in this magical transition, No longer having any of your previous chromosomes or nervous system is colloquially referred to as dying. You will probably not meaningfully be distinguishable from a fresh clone with your implanted memories afterwards.

If not, at what point along the line do you think it becomes okay to freely switch?

I actually think it is ok now for adults to freely switch despite thinking it's probably stupid. If an adult thinks they'll be more happy being an imitation of the opposite sex so long as they don't bring me into it in any way, and I mean any way, then more power to them. Definitely do not proselytize to children. Definitely do not demand exceptions be made for you. Definitely do try to force me to use preferred pronouns with threat of repercussions and I actually am perfectly happy to use preferred pronouns. But it's an act and everyone should be allowed to know it's an act. No one gets to force me to pretend reality is different than it is, that is tyranny.

Dang, I missed the follow up to that question. The direct link is this comment in case people are curious.

I know I looked at the post earlier, but when I saw it it hadn't gotten nearly as much discussion at it has now. I wish there was a way to jump to the comments downthread you haven't read.

You're essentially describing a society without sex, composed of organisms so far divorced from humanity as we understand and experience it that I have no 'issues' with it, in the same way I have no issues with the way eusocial insects reproduce.

In our world, it is fundamentally impossible to change your sex quickly, cheaply, and painlessly because sex is not a field set in a cosmic database, it's a very strongly bimodal cluster of traits. Male and Female are the names we give to two distinct ways of being, which affect your biology, mentality, and socialization, and which in turn influence how you grow up, and who you are. If I had been female in my early childhood and teen years, I'd have had vastly different experiences than I did, in addition to physically and mentally developing in the specific testosterone-driven ways I did. And even if you can pretend that you could meaningfully simulate who I would have been if an identical-to-early-me double-X-bearing gamete had been implanted, there is no way you can say what I would and would not have done differently in my life, and you absolutely can't say what everyone else would have done.

If you live in a society with gender and gender roles, you cannot change sex as easily as you change clothes, because part of gender and gender roles is the ongoing process of socialization and gender-specific experiences which further define who you are. In the above-described world, sex doesn't exist any more than "People wearing T-shirts" exists as a meaningful category. In a virtual world, where biology is cosmetic only and doesn't drive meaningful outcomes, you can swap sex with the push of a button, because sex only means what your avatar presents as.


I'd also like to bring up another question, which I agree is considerably more inflammatory than yours, but I feel shows you where some people are in terms of fighting the hypothetical. It's the year 2022. People can quickly, cheaply, and painlessly change their race. There are no long-term side effects of the paperwork. If that were the case, would you have a problem with trans-black people using the N-word (or, to be specific, would you have more of a problem with it than cis-black people using it)?

The answer to this question is not strictly relevant; what I'm trying to demonstrate here is that some hypotheticals are kind of inherently suspicious. If someone asks "If hypothetically <the reason for this thing we've agreed is bad isn't true> were different, would not be bad?", and they don't have an actual strong hypothetical other than the bad thing not being bad, then their question is vacuous, and it is likely that the asker is not asking in good faith, but instead is just trying to thinking of the bad thing as not that bad. In the specific case of gender transition, we've seen what that bad thing looks like when we put trans-female prisoners in prisons with cis-female prisoners; the reason that we sex-segregate prisons rears its head, and we see that if we want to avoid rape and pregnancy in prison, we should treat trans-female and cis-male the same way. And, in the hypothetical universe you mention, if we can look at the behaviors of the people who take the pill, and note that people who were natally male consistently act differently than people who were natally born female and both differ from the vat-born, then it makes absolute sense to discriminate based on birth sex and type, no matter how well the trans individuals in that society pass.

If this all were the case, would you have issues with people transitioning genders/sex still? If not, at what point along the line do you think it becomes okay to freely switch?

I don't have any issues with people transitioning now. I think it's a bad idea, I'd recommend against it to friends and family, but it's your life. What I have issues with is people trying to impose their worldview on me.

As for your hypothetical, if all of this were the case, transgenderism would be such a small issue I would not bother with it. I'm an anti-transhumanist, the world you're describing is one my nightmares. One of the reasons I think transgenderism is an issue today, is because I think it's the thin end of a wedge to bring this horrifying dystopian vision into reality.

What makes transhumanism a nightmare for you?

Mostly the part about transcending the limits of our biology to the point where being anything even resembling a human is optional.

I could make a consequentialist argument in the line of: if we didn't last a full decade between laughing at the clueless conservatives worrying about slippery slopes, and demanding that they allow their children to inject themselves with hormones, or surgically change their secondary sex characteristics, what chances do we have to stop the slide towards being assimilated into the Borg Collective or becoming Umgah Blobs the moment that becomes a realistic option?

But the truth is I find the idea ontologically wrong. It's a bit like asking someone why is harm wrong.

So basically we would no longer be human in any real sense? We evolved for gender roles to facilitate procreation with quite distinct personality traits.

The world you describe gender becomes completely non-existent. A female and male me could not be the same person. At that point we have just eliminated gender and at that point I think we have evolved past humanity and are some other kind of intelligent algorithm.

at that point I think we have evolved past humanity and are some other kind of intelligent algorithm.

I feel like the term algorithm is odd here since we'd still have biological bodies and flesh etc... just swapping genders. This has happened before, certain species evolve into other species that are able to swap genders, be hermaphrodites etc. The only difference is intentional evolution vs natural evolution. Life always changes its form, staying static is the opposite of what living beings do.

We evolved for gender roles to facilitate procreation with quite distinct personality traits.

This kind of reasoning strikes me as odd. Is evolution and change in life only valid when it's supposed to help procreation? If so, what is the point of art, or enjoying life, or anything besides procreation?

Is changing our gender roles actually enough to make us die out as a species, and be outcompeted? I am highly skeptical of that.

Is evolution and change in life only valid when it's supposed to help procreation?

Yes. Survival is the terminal goal of all life. Existence has to be sustained or it stops.

what is the point of art, or enjoying life

In material terms the reason for all these behaviors is procreation and facilitation thereof. How art in particular does so is a deep topic (my take is that it is the best way to communicate predictive heuristics), but ultimately it still serves that purpose or is a temporary waste of energy.

You can of course imagine that this is or isn't the "point", but that's entirely immaterial to why it exists.

Is changing our gender roles actually enough to make us die out as a species, and be outcompeted?

Given all (modulo a handful of contested sociologist fakes) known human societies prior to modernity shared them, it's unknown if human societies are sustainable at all without. The trends in birth rates in the modern Western experiment make me skeptical that this can be achieved.

if procreation is so important then why do so many people not want to procreate? I think you are just projecting your opinion on everyone else and think they are misguided if they don't act accordingly.

What people want or claim to want is completely irrelevant to the sustainability of their actual behavior.

If you don't do what is necessary to keep existing you stop doing so. The popularity or ethics of suicide do not change this reality. Antinatalism is doomed to irrelevance by construction.

Note that none of these claims are normative. I haven't even expressed my "opinion" on this matter.

Birthrate trends are probably selecting the middle classes of modern countries for clannishness, natality, and dogmatism, and the underclasses for impulsivity and promiscuity, in part due to the breakdown in gender roles. Feel like it should be pointed out as a side effect.

Isn’t gender just the software that controls your flesh - basically an algorithm. Like the matrix touched on this where they could see the processes in the human mind to see the decisions being made.

This view of humanity seems exactly like an algorithm.

For the folks here who talk heatedly about trans issues - I want to pose a thought experiment. Let's say it's the year 2300, and people can quickly, cheaply and painlessly switch their sex from male to female, and vice versa. There are no long term side effects, and it's as simple as going to buy a pill from the corner store.

On top of that, fertility issues have been handled, babies are grown/raised by artificial wombs and many different types of family structures are available with parents being able to choose what works best for their preference. Gender and sex can play a role if needed, but only for those who wish to have traditional families. It is not socially stigmatized to raise a family with two women, or two men, etc.

If this all were the case, would you have issues with people transitioning genders/sex still? If not, at what point along the line do you think it becomes okay to freely switch?

I probably wouldn't have problems with it. The one dimension where this might still be - may Allah forgive me for using this word - problematic is the following: I do believe that current trans discourse gives mentally troubled individuals a socially approved way to externalise their issues. "It's not me! The reason I am unhappy is because I was born in the wrong body and society oppresses me. The only way I should change is by having surgery done."

On the other hand, if someone like that pops a pill and that wasn't it, perhaps that would alleviate the issue.

Now, would I date a transitioner in 2300? I am not sure. I don't have a rational reason for saying no, given that you all hypothesized them away, but romance and sex is not rational.

That’s a good way to put it, externalization of mental health issues. I feel the same way… but boy do you get in trouble trying to argue that line with anyone remotely trans sympathetic lol.

Personally, I don't have any objection to what another individual chooses to do with his or her own body. However, even in this hypothetical future, I would have a problem with someone else telling me what I can and can't say. If I want to refer to someone using the pronouns they were born with, that's my right as an independent being. Just as getting whatever sci-fi surgery you want is your right as an independent being.

If there's some kind of punishment for calling a him a him or a her a her, or calling anyone anything, that's where I start to have a problem. Because at that point I feel like it's not about an individual's freedom to exercise control over his or her own body - at that point it's about power. The power to force someone to say something they don't believe in.

You don't even have to go into the future for that. Just look back to ancient Rome, when they forced people to make the libation and acknowledge the divinity of the Emperor as part of the suppression of Christianity. Note how they never bothered to force people to make the libation until they had a heathen religion to suppress. That's what I think of modern trans ideology, with its demands that everyone go around the circle and announce their pronouns - a libation. A forced conversion. A compulsory pledge of allegiance. Havel's Greengrocer. There's a fresh example in every generation.

To borrow a phrase: Everything in the world is about sex, except sex. Sex is about power.

First of all, bear in mind that if you could freely transition like this, that would contradict current trans standards. Right now, you're supposed to accept someone's claim that they're a woman regardless of what, if any, physical transition they've had. A society where any man could step into a machine and become a woman would be one where trans people would be considered weirdos, because everyone else would say "I'm a woman" when they have a female body, and trans women claim to be women independently of their body. A trans person in this hypothetical world would be like someone who has hair a meter long and insists they are short-haired whether they cut their hair or not.

Second, people's issues about sex changing are based on the typical case. In our world, the typical case is someone who imperfectly transitions, who has such strong feelings about the matter that they are willing to imperfectly transition, who claims to be "really" the opposite sex, and who makes demands that must be obeyed on the pain of being considered a bigot. In your hypothetical world, the typical case would be a perfect transition, who doesn't have any particular emotional ties to femininity, who makes no claims about their body, and who makes no demands. It might be more acceptable to date someone who changed sex, but it would also be more acceptable to refuse to date one as well. (And related to that point, one of the reasons sex changes horrify people is that they're irreversible. The rhetoric about getting your son to cut off his dick will disappear if it's painless and can be grown back in ten seconds anyway.)

There's also the question of how the transition affects your mind. If it doesn't affect your mind, it's quite possible that men changed into women will act differently from born women, and that trans women will resemble men in this regard; in this situation it might still matter what you were born as. If it does affect your mind, it's possible that trans people could change sex and actually discover they were mistaken about thinking they were a woman in a man's body, now that they know what an actual woman is like.

Second, people's issues about sex changing are based on the typical case.

Some people's. I believe there are multiple coherent directions to approach dismantling it and I really find this one to be the weakest.

I'm not one of those folks, but I'd like to answer anyway.

When the transition is good enough to be unrecognisable, there would be no dissonance required to refer to trans people as the sex they appear to be.

But I'm not resistant to demands that I refer to trans people, without mistake, as they want me to, or even demands that I pretend this is my natural reaction, because of a little mental dissonance (being polite requires lots of that), I'm resistant because I suspect that the demand comes from an Orwellian (if often subconscious) urge to demonstrate and maintain domination over social inferiors by forcing them to declare that which they know to be false. The value of language policing comes from the harm you can cause to your social inferiors. It's the exact impulse that drives a bully to make his victim say something humiliating.

If this suspicion is correct, in your bodyswapping future, there would be no value in demanding (with the accompanying threat of punishment) that we use all the correct pronouns and declare all the correct dogmas on this issue because it wouldn't cause us any dissonance to do so.

I'm resistant because I suspect that the demand comes from an Orwellian (if often subconscious) urge to demonstrate and maintain domination over social inferiors by forcing them to declare that which they know to be false. The value of language policing comes from the harm you can cause to your social inferiors. It's the exact impulse that drives a bully to make his victim say something humiliating.

Wow, this is extremely well put. I find myself in the same camp, now that I think about it. When I see a trans person who is blatantly trans, I feel like I'm being stifled by having to play along with their social reality without causing a scene. The relation to authority figures abusing power or bullies forcing you to say something seems especially true to me.

Maybe that's why I wouldn't care if we were in that future.

If this all were the case, would you have issues with people transitioning genders/sex still?

A) No I'd have no 'issues.' As long as you get proper, informed consent from a person capable of consenting then whatever they do is their business. I think some persons would still be mentally incapable of true consent and thus safeguards of some kind should exist.

B) Caveat. You may have created actual obligations (usually contractual in nature) to other persons that could be violated by transitioning. There may be persons who have an interest in you remaining a particular sex for the time being. You don't get to ignore those or assume them away, but it becomes an economic matter rather than a moral one.

C) In such a scenario, pretty much everything is on the table, no? Incest is fine since genetic defects are not a risk, STDs are presumably a thing of the past.

There is no reason for bestiality to be taboo as long as there's no 'cruelty' to the animal involved.

Pedophilia on two levels: because a grown adult can transition to look like a child and consent to sex, or because the purported 'harms' of sex with minors are obviated. No unwanted pregnancy, diseases, or lasting trauma just because a child has sex at an early age.

And even, I'll say this carefully, sexual assault would be a trivial concern, since forcing someone to have sex will not, in fact, cause them lasting trauma. So the rapist can get a slap on the wrist, the victim can take a pill to forget the worst parts of the experience, and everyone moves on.

So you can craft this elaborate scenario but you don't get to ignore the necessary implications of it. I put it to you. Is it a fair trade if people can transition freely and without stigma BUT rapists also walk free with minimal punishment? As long as we're challenging moral intuitions, that is.

D) How would you feel about the existence of a pharmaceutical drug that had zero side effects, was available over the counter, was non-addictive, and had one (1) and only one lasting effect: it makes the user identify extremely strongly as a hetero, cis, strict binary version of whatever their biological sex (at the genetic level) is?

That is, it made them feel so comfortable with the gender/sexual identity bestowed upon them at birth that it removed any and all motivation to transition, and they were well and truly content to remain as they are.

Because with the level of technology you're implying, we would ALSO have the means to 'cure' the trans issue once and for all by providing everyone with drugs that instantly and permanently resolve any gender identity issues they may be experiencing in favor of being happy to stick with their standard biological hardware and only deviate from it for cognizable and pressing medical/health reasons.

And if people make an informed, consensual decision to take this drug, and once they've taken it 99.99999% of them will never actually want to transition again, then eventually almost the whole population will end up composed of CisHets who are happy with their biological sex, and can't even 'imagine' a reason for wanting to change it. A STABLE equilibrium, in other words.

I daresay, under your described tech level, there is no possible medical necessity for transitioning, so trans issues are pretty much relegated to the same level of social importance as breast implants, liposuction, and other 'vanity' types of procedures, and not the 'lifesaving healthcare' type.

So seriously, even if we admit that transitioning freely would be 'allowed' if the technology reaches that fabled level, how could you argue that is a superior world compared to one where we used that same tech level to make it such that nobody wants to transition?

If we're to be the gods of our own destiny, you probably should try to make the convincing case why YOUR vision of society is the one we should go with when we have virtually unlimited ones to choose from.

In my honest view, a society where all of humanity has engineered themselves to fully accept their biological sex (assuming other issues like aging are also solved for) and to prefer committed monogamous relationships doesn't sound any worse than one where transitioning is common and accepted practice if not 'expected' and the majority of relationships are polyamorous and orgies are considered normal. And on a personal level, I might even be happier in the former society, although I could easily tolerate the latter.

E) I think even in your scenario there'd be actual value in keeping a population of baseline, heteronormative humans around as a, for lack of a better term, 'failsafe' where if we manage to engineer ourselves into genetic dead ends and screw up royally due to unforeseen implications of the technology, we aren't doomed to extinction (absent other X-risks arising). So I would still be VERY wary of 'social pressure' to transition, since you're not really free if the choice to NOT do the thing isn't looked upon favorably.

Feel free to contest or otherwise engage with any of the points above individually and ignore the rest.

Great question! Although I don’t agree with your reasoning about rape being okay in this theoretical world.

Your point about how with this level of technology we could go either way on trans issues is exactly why I posted this! I’m curious if people are against it for social reasons (aka being forced to submit socially to pronouns), health reasons (dangerous to kids, fertility, mental health), or if it’s a fundamental moral attachment to the two biological genders. I think it has actually been quite illuminating in that people here have a wide range of reasons for not liking trans ideology.

Great question! Although I don’t agree with your reasoning about rape being okay in this theoretical world.

It's not 'okay,' it's just no longer the heinous and irreversible crime that (rightfully!) justifies massive punishment that it is now.

Indeed, the main reason we consider rape such a horrible crime is because it's typically big, strong, aggressive men perpetrating it against weaker, vulnerable women, and this warrants making said strong, aggressive men fear the consequences of exploiting the strength/size differential in this way.

If women are capable of defending themselves from rapists, that would present it's own deterrent.

In a world where one can switch between male and female at will, this justification falls flat. A male rapist could transition to female and suddenly she's much less of a danger. Or they choose to be a female 99% of the time, only switching to male to indulge in his penchant for the old Ultraviolence (Clockwork Orange Style). Things would just be weird, is what I'm saying.

Indeed, maybe the standard 'punishment' for the crime of rape in the high tech world is to force the rapist to switch genders and endure the same thing they inflicted on the victim. Eye for an eye and all that.

I’m curious if people are against it for social reasons (aka being forced to submit socially to pronouns), health reasons (dangerous to kids, fertility, mental health), or if it’s a fundamental moral attachment to the two biological genders. I think it has actually been quite illuminating in that people here have a wide range of reasons for not liking trans ideology.

I think you hit on it, though. There's a difference between having something against trans people and being against trans ideology (i.e. wokism).

Similar to how someone who has utterly no problem with black people might oppose the BLM movement, if only on the grounds that it is deceptive, socially corrosive, and ultimately fails it's own objectives.

If the goal is to allow whomever wants to transition to be permitted to do so (again, with actual consent) I think you find much less resistance than if the goal is to undermine the very basic assumption of society that men and women are different, and that's okay, and it is normal to accept your birth sex and to be monogamous and heterosexual.

The trans ideology seems to suggest that the very concept of a gender binary, a traditional family, and heteronormativity are a danger to them, rather than simply admiting that there's nothing wrong with being cishet.

A male rapist could transition to female and suddenly she's much less of a danger.

Funny you should say that. There's a real red-hot Culture War case of someone on death row appealing their sentence right now.

"It is extremely unusual for a woman to commit a capital offense, such as a brutal murder, and even more unusual for a women to, as was the case with McLaughlin, rape and murder a woman," Pojmann said.

What grinds my teeth about that sentence? McLaughlin was not a 'woman' when he raped and murdered his victim. I'm not even willing to give ground that he is a woman now, even if he has 'transitioned' and is wearing hair clips just like a Real Girl.

There's the usual defence pleading of mental incapacity due to childhood abuse, and I hate being cynical enough to wonder if that is all bullshit. But say that it's true - say that McLaughlin should not be held guilty due to mental incapacity? Then how the hell is he capable of deciding that he is really trans? If he is a victim of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, how is his brain not damaged sufficiently that thinking he's really a woman is just evidence of more mental damage? If he can't be held responsible for murder because his brain is so traumatised, how can he be mentally capable enough of deciding about his gender?

Make your damn minds up: is the guy mentally together enough to know, decide and consent to changing his gender, or is he so deficient he isn't capable of understanding the full gravity of his crimes or of controlling his impulses? Because you can't have it both ways.

“The lead investigating officer contemporaneously noted McLaughlin’s genuine remorse, as has every expert to evaluate McLaughlin in the years since the trial,” the application filed by her attorneys states, adding that McLaughlin has been “consistently diagnosed with borderline intellectual disability,” and “universally diagnosed with brain damage as well as fetal alcohol syndrome.”

But by comparison with another transgender Real Woman, McLaughlin looks good (what the hell is going on in Canada?) McLaughlin is in Missouri, this shining example is in Ontario:

A 68-year-old biological male that identifies as a woman who is serving a life sentence for murdering a woman and then raping her corpse has been approved for transfer to a women’s prison in Ontario, Canada, according to Heather Mason.

The individual's name at the time of the crime has not been confirmed but is named on the parole document as Catherine Lynn.

According to Lynn’s parole document, there have been a number of incidents in prison related to inappropriate sexual behavior with others, and Lynn wanted to transfer to a women’s prison to "look at how women walked, talked, and acted," said Mason.

The newly-minted Real Woman is 68 years of age and going to have sex reassignment surgery (or gender affirming, or whatever they're calling it this minute), so that means it should be just fine to put him in with other women, right? I mean, just because their offence was murdering and raping a woman, it isn't that big of a risk?

What "in the future a male rapist could transition to female and be considered less of a danger"? We're living that right now. Maybe the solution is to build special transgender prisons so all the New Real Women can be housed together, away from those dangerous and violent biological males in the men's prisons. Just because they tend to be sex offenders, surely they won't pose a risk to one another? (England and Wales prison figures for 2018 - 63 sex offenders out of 139 transgender prisoners = 45%. Male prison population in general: "As at 31 March 2020 there were 12,774 prisoners serving sentences for sexual offences, which represented 18% of the sentenced prison population.")

McLaughlin, now 48, was convicted of killing 45-year-old (ex-girlfriend) Beverly Guenther on Nov. 20, 2003. She was raped and stabbed to death outside of her workplace in St. Louis County.

And yet not a word about the victim or the crime in the article written after the perp put a wig on. "Intimate partner violence by men" vanishes from the narrative the second it runs up against a more powerful group. Incredible.

Also re. the death penalty discussion from the other day:

In 2006 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, McLaughlin’s trial lawyers made a strategic decision not to have a psychiatrist testify. They had discovered during the penalty phase that one of their expert witnesses had falsified data in a lab report 17 years earlier.

"Our own expert witness being a fraud should invalidate the trial and get our client off the hook" is one hell of an argument.

You can change your body by a pill bought in the corner store? Feck changing my gender (or is it my sex? still unclear as to which is meant), I want to be several inches taller, a heck of a lot thinner, much smarter, and with some other changes to my physiology and brain state (my life would have been a lot more successful if I were less cripplingly introverted and did not abhor social interaction, for instance). Just switching from "short dumpy female" to "short dumpy male" isn't at the races if I can have the Perfect Body and Perfect Brain merely with some simple chemical assistance!

You go do it! Why not?! I'm in the same exact damn boat.

But I am curious about your answer to the question.

If there were a perfect, consequence-free, totally reversible, easy method to switch sex, then the very notion of "transgender" could no longer exist, unless you got some hardcore theorists/activists who still insisted that this new method was about transexualism and not transgenderism, since gender is a construct of society, gendered roles, gender performance, yadda yadda yadda.

The interview with the Wi Spa person is fascinating in this light, since this is clearly a guy larping as a woman and yet he is insistent that he's some different kind of thing. I would ask you, in turn, suppose this perfect easy pill existed, but someone who claimed to be transgender refused to take it since they are already a woman (even if they still have a dick, etc)? Imagine trying to persuade "Ms." Merager here that he should take the pill and really be a woman, when he insists he already is and changing his body is transexual, not transgender:

Let’s back up a second. Should we be using male or female pronouns with you? How do you identify?

I’m very neutral, like non-binary, although I don’t like that word. I’m legally female. But I have facial hair. I have a penis. I have no breasts. I don’t have a feminine voice. I don’t wear makeup or dress up like a female. So imagine you’re a grocery store [clerk] and you’re bagging my groceries and you say, “Excuse me, sir . . . ” I mean, am I supposed to be offended? That’d be ridiculous. How would this person know? But technically, for legal terms, I am she/her. I put “female” on my driver’s license. But I’ve had to struggle my whole life fitting into traditional society.

And you sleep with women? You’re a female who has heterosexual sex with females?

I have heterosexual sex because my penis fits in a vagina. I don’t tell women I’m with that I’m transgender because that’s not my sex. So I’m not faking anything. Gender is internal, sex is external.

You mean Bamby Salcedo, president and CEO of the TransLatin@ Coalition, the largest trans-led organization in L.A.? She said in the story, “You’d think after getting arrested a bunch of times, she’d just change clothes in a stall.”

Right. So, in the article, she says she goes to Wi Spa three times a year and she gets naked in there and she never has a problem. So I spoke to Bamby Salcedo on the phone before the story came out. She admitted to me that she has boobs and she takes off her top but that she does not take off her bottoms because she has a penis. Nobody knows she’s transgender.

Nobody knows you’re transgender and you have a penis. What’s the difference? And why do you call Bamby a “supposed” transgender person?

We can go into that, but if she’s surgically [altered] parts of her body, that’s transsexual. I know that’s a controversy in and of itself, but I can explain that.

Are you saying that transitioning either hormonally or physically somehow disqualifies someone from being authentically transgender?

You have to understand gender identity. Everybody’s confusing your internal with your external. All these external people are doing what is being called transitioning. There’s no transition. That’s called deviation. I’m tired of that word, “transitioning.” It’s a fake word that people like Bamby use. The whole point is this is how you are born.

I also get the impression that our boy Darren figured out that doing time in a woman's prison instead of a man's prison would be way easier, and since all he had to do to legally become female was fill out a piece of paper (no need for hormones or surgery!), then why not?:

When did you get your driver’s license changed?

The license came in January 2019 [the month that the California Gender Recognition Act took effect]. But there’s a discrepancy in California, you can go through your doctor. But it’s very easy to get it. You can go in and sign a piece of paper. So I just waited until January to do it. And that was the first month that it was available. Basically, anybody could walk in and get one.

Was that something that was discussed with your therapist? How did you come to the decision to make the appointment to go in to get the driver’s license changed?

Our discussion basically started around April 2017. Between April 2017 and 2019, I had figured that … evaluating how I fit and how I had problems in prison….you come to the conclusion that makes more sense, where you’re gonna fit better in life.

And it makes sense, looking back throughout all years of your life. It’s not like we’re born and people try to indoctrinate you. Once you evaluate your life, it makes a lot of sense. Especially when you’re autistic and things are non-traditional anyway.

See? It's not his fault he's been wrongfully classed as a criminal, since he can't be expected to fit in with society's expectations about not masturbating in public or exposing himself around kids because he's autistic and transgender. In a sane society, grifters like this wouldn't be entitled to protected status as a persecuted minority, they would be recognised as opportunists and criminals. But then again, we're talking about California, not anyplace sane.

As an aside, if you're a trans activist who calls yourself Precious Child, then it's about mentally ill attention seeking. I'm so fed-up of the entire hot mess that I am now going to be blunt about that. Special snowflake pronouns, non-binary when it's very damn evident you're female (or male, see Sam Brinton) and fancy names like "Euphoria" or "Precious" while trying to dress like an anime character is not about "I am a woman in the wrong body", it's about "I am so desperate for any kind of attention that I will make an exhibition of myself to force a reaction, because even negative attention is better than none".

So, leaving all that insanity aside, and ignoring the religious angle: if there were this kind of easy, harm-free, reversible transition, then sure. Now you really can be a woman in a woman's body, or a man in a man's body, and I hope to God this will finally explode the notion that "being a woman is tight short dresses, high-heeled shoes, make-up, long hair, sparkles and pink, girly-girly stuff, and that horrible fake voice they use". Now that you're female down to your very chromosomes, you don't have to slap on makeup and hooker gear. Parents who groom their own kids into "oh yes she was always trans since she was a baby" won't have a lasting effect, as the kid can go back to their natal sex once old enough to get out from under Mommy's stage-mom thumb.

And the weirdoes who currently shelter under the trans umbrella will stand out even more, and finally may indeed be identified as people with mental disorders that need treatment, not "valid identity, deny this and you're committing violence, 41% suicide rate!"

Good write up. I wish I could engage I'm just mentally exhausted with this post at the moment hah.

To be fair, reading between the lines of the article, Merager may just be a very...unique outlier. The article points out that even the president of LA's biggest trans activism group, who you'd think would be The Most Trans To Ever Be, advocates for not acting the fool and hiding your nether regions to avoid trouble.

I had a good discussion regarding the case of Sam Brinton, buried deep in last week's thread. I am reposting here so that more people can see it and possibly participate. I hope this is appropriate and doesn't constitute self-promotion.

I wrote:

What would even constitute evidence that Brinton was hired based solely or primarily on his identity? He has a master's degree in the relevant field (from MIT, though other comments are telling me that doesn't really matter) and has co-authored several research papers. To me it looks like he's about as qualified as anyone.

@Astranagant replied:

Well this is the problem with identity hiring, isn't it? How does anyone know you didn't get the edge over your competitors because of that? Unless he was literally the only applicant for the job, I'd find it hard to swallow that the topic of his... presentation... never came up. Meaning the department most likely consciously chose him, and whether this is in spite of or because of his affectations would largely come down to whether he was wildly head-and-shoulders better than his competition. Employers will overlook some affectation for a genuine rockstar employee, but there's a limit proportionate to how irreplaceable you are.

So either Brinton is hyper-competent and got the job in spite of his affectations, which according to the rest of the thread -- and your own comment "as qualified as anyone" -- his education history and performance on the job doesn't bear out. So if it's not that, can we then assume that the affectations served the purpose of the administration somehow? This is a government job, it's impossible... alright, improbable to believe they didn't do their due diligence.

To which I replied:

If the employer has whittled down the list of applicants to a group of people with similar qualifications, and more detailed information that might help the decision is impossible or infeasible to attain, then the choice of whom to hire will be arbitrary. In this case, I don't see how hiring Brinton because of his unusual presentation is any worse than rolling a die or flipping a coin to make the final choice.

To me, the phrase "hired for your identity" implies that standards have been lowered and the candidate was picked over someone more qualified but with a less-favoured identity. As far as I can tell, this is not true in Brinton's case.

One form of affirmative action that I've heard about is that, when two or more candidates appear to be equally qualified, and one belongs to a historically marginalized group, that candidate should be chosen. As I said above, when it comes down to this kind of decision, the choice is arbitrary, and I don't see any harm in the affirmative action method. Indeed, if the group to which the candidate belongs really does face some kind of disadvantage, picking them is the rational choice for the self-interested employer, as it indicates that the candidate has achieved the same qualifications despite more difficult circumstances. Of course, simply considering a few categories such as race and gender can never provide the full picture: for example, among two candidates there may be a woman from a rich family and a man whose family was poor growing up; overall, the man had it worse, but an application generally includes gender but not family circumstances, so applying the method here would lead to the wrong choice. It is just a heuristic, and no heuristic is perfect, but as I said, at some point acquiring more information about the candidates becomes impossible or infeasible; except for some very specific positions, an employer won't hire a personal investigator to carefully investigate the candidate's past: this is where heuristics come in.

The above method is very different from lowered standards for different groups, or straight-up quotas, both of which I vehemently oppose. Finally, it must be noted that:

  1. In the real world, "historically marginalized" groups have been granted various advantages, which might reduce the method's accuracy.
  1. Situations where several candidates are, in fact, equally qualified, and only one belongs to a historically marginalized group, are not actually that common.
  1. The heuristic requires that the candidates' identity not be considered until the final choice: a woman must be just as good as a man, without considering the fact that she is a woman. Otherwise, we would be adjusting for identity twice, which would result in a lower standard for women.

One form of affirmative action that I've heard about is that, when two or more candidates appear to be equally qualified, and one belongs to a historically marginalized group, that candidate should be chosen

If racial and sex disparities were small enough for this to compensate for, they would already be incredibly small - and if this was the only mode of affirmative action, it'd have little effect. If US's history of slavery and racism was a total of 50 black people being enslaved, and it was actually a consensual fetish TPE thing, then slavery would've been fine and progressive, but it isn't!

In this case, I don't see how hiring Brinton because of his unusual presentation is any worse than rolling a die or flipping a coin to make the final choice.

Brinton specifically? I think it's obviously worse because his unusual presentation is an excellent marker for being the sort of person that loves to antagonize others. This isn't a trans person that has a difficult mental condition that they're doing their best with, it's a fetishist that conscripts everyone around them into playing along with their fetish. That Brinton would behave badly and do things that would embarrass the employer seems like an obvious lock, right from the start.

In the real world, the kind of affirmative action you describe is not that common, in part because of your second explanation. To the specific case of Brinton, they almost certainly don’t apply, given that although he was minimally qualified the majority of his recent work experience appeared to be in LGBT orgs; one has to imagine that there were people already working for the government on that particular problem who could have been promoted instead of hiring a non-binary drag queen whose actual work experience is mostly in sex Ed. Indeed, from what I know of government hiring, aren’t internal candidates normally supposed to be privileged over outside hires?

According to Wikipedia, "In 2016, Brinton was a senior policy analyst for the Bipartisan Policy Center, lobbying for updated regulations so nuclear waste can be used to power advanced nuclear reactors.[21] In February 2020, the website of Deep Isolation, a Berkeley, California, nuclear waste storage and disposal company,[22] listed them as its Director of Legislative Affairs[23] and in May 2022 they were its Director of Global Political Strategy.[24] In 2022, Brinton's profile at the Department of Energy (DOE) indicated their previous work with the Breakthrough Institute, the Clean Air Task Force, and Third Way." Seems a reasonable background for a job with the DOE Office of Spent Fuel and Waste Disposition.

Re hiring outsiders, Wikipedia says that deputy assistant secretaries are Senior Executive Service (SES) officials, and that "up to 10% of SES positions can be filled as political appointments rather than by career employees."

That type of position is usually outside career civil service ladders. They're often filled by people in their first government job.

when two or more candidates appear to be equally qualified, and one belongs to a historically marginalized group, that candidate should be chosen

Just like how euthanasia is only ever used for 95 year-olds with terminal brain cancer and Alzheimer’s, right? The reality is that black students get the equivalent of over 300 bonus points on the SAT last I checked.

Just like how euthanasia is only ever used for 95 year-olds with terminal brain cancer and Alzheimer’s, right?

The snark combined with the strong claim without a source makes me dubious you're actually trying to 'argue to understand.' At least mention what you're referencing with the 300 bonus points metric?

"Historically Marginalized" is and will be useful to refuse AA to white men (or whites and men) when they are drastically underrepresented in academia and work sectors that are seen as important by those in power. Men are already moderately underrepresented in university attendance, yet very few are giving men AA, as they are not "historically marginalized". So all the current is against them, despite them already being underrepresented.

By their fruit you will know them, the bible says.

I've seen a lot of affirmative action hires, and not one single instance of it made me more positive on affirmative action.

then the choice of whom to hire will be arbitrary. In this case, I don't see how hiring Brinton because of his unusual presentation is any worse than rolling a die or flipping a coin to make the final choice.

As an exercise, you have two candidates. Both are 40-something white men. They're identical in capabilities and expertise.

Candidate 1 has arrived to the interview dressed well, without being overboard in terms of stuffiness or luxury.

Candidate 2 arrives with greasy, unwashed hair and a mangled beard. His shoes are worn through with enough mysterious stains that you're unsure of their original color. A crumpled and frayed jacket covers a shirt that's deeply dark from various oils, never washed. He's eloquent and equally qualified to candidate 1, but does express that he'll never bathe more than once a month.

Many of your peers express admiration that he's rejected the societal norms that have led to widespread animal testing and a psychotic cycle of shampoo - condition - shampoo - condition when human hair naturally supports itself through the body's oils.

Would you flip a coin for these candidates?

The "unusual presentation" is the message. It is the qualifications. Sam Brinton can't be bothered to inconvenience himself with even the furthest edges of the Overton window. He's too special, too important to consider other people.

That alone should be factored into a hiring decision where he loses to someone equally qualified. It's that simple.

I was going to say that candidate 2's poor hygiene makes him less qualified, in the broad sense, but then you did it for me! Our disagreement here seems to be on how bad not bathing is as compared to wearing unconventional clothing.

I think the convention that men mustn't wear dresses is arbitrary and pointless and a man should be allowed to wear a dress if he so wishes. Very dress-like garments have been normal for men to wear in many cultures, so there is nothing inherently wrong with it. Even if you consider it ugly, that's just a personal preference; I consider leather jackets ugly, yet I don't think this justifies discrimination against people who like wearing them. Brinton is only inconveniencing people if they let themselves be inconvenienced, like a wokeist who chooses to be offended at everything.

Poor hygiene, however, should not be socially accepted, in my opinion. Of course that depends on what "poor hygiene" is: someone may say that, yes, poor hygiene should be unacceptable but only bathing once a month isn't poor hygiene. For the purpose of this discussion, I am using "poor hygiene" to refer specifically to what candidate 2 is doing.

It sounds like you have no principles and standards then, just gut feelings that you've substituted instead.

You think one convention is arbitrary and another is obvious. You're just trying to reach the conclusion you already have ready.

My view might be summarized as "clothing is personal preference, hygiene is non-negotiable".

What are your principles and standards? Anything unusual is automatically bad? I guess that is less subjective.

Although, if your political beliefs are close to those of the average Mottizen, consider how unusual they are in universities, big companies and other significant employers in the current year.

What are your principles and standards? Anything unusual is automatically bad? I guess that is less subjective.

They're the same as yours. Disgust, of course. Your view can be summarized by, "I find one thing disgusting but not another." I find both unwashed people and cross-dressers to be physically disgusting, and react accordingly. Not much of a standard really, but honest if not principled.

This is also why I say you're not demonstrating principles, you're rationalizing your instincts.

This is also why I say you're not demonstrating principles, you're rationalizing your instincts.

Apart from like, half a dozen nerds (who are all posting here, love you <3 ), don't we all?

as compared to wearing unconventional clothing.

This is the maximally charitable framing of the issue. More realistically this person has a fetish or an aggressive mental condition. If he simply wore dresses, sure. He does far more outrageous fashion things that take extreme levels of effort, and does other aggressive things in media.

a man should be allowed to wear a dress if he so wishes

This is arguable and there is a case to be made for it. However, Brinton seems capable of dressing conventionally (not alone for the court appearance, which may indeed have been their lawyer telling them to cool it on the freak show if they wanted to get bail, but also on the plane trips where they stole the luggage and where, from the CCTV images, they were dressed as male-presenting. Pro tip: do not wear easily identifiable clothing that you have just posted on social media if you're going to boost stuff).

So there is also an arguable case that Brinton is being controversial for the sake of it, and indeed almost flaunting it. 'Yes, I can wear a dress and heels even though I'm male and working in a government office, suck that up straights and normies!' Now, would I be less censorious if (1) Brinton dressed more conservatively (2) they actually looked good in red lipstick, stilettos, yellow sweetheart neckline gowns and the rest of it?

I am forced to admit that I am shallow enough that if they looked hot, instead of having the Balok head, I probably might be more sympathetic on those grounds. As it is, I think Brinton has an unfortunate potato head (can't help your genetics) and really should stick to "nerd T-shirts".

As it is, I think Brinton has an unfortunate potato head (can't help your genetics) and really should stick to "nerd T-shirts".

No. I'm sorry, but you Americans have a disastrous sense of fashion. I'm German and even we barbarian huns know how to dress better. Would it kill you to throw on a shirt every once in a while and wear something other than blue jeans?

Hell, even the suit Brinton put on for his court date looked ridiculous.

Sam Brinton did not dress like a typical transwoman or like a ‘normal’ gender nonconformity type. He very specifically dressed like an oddball, albeit in ways that are often coded female.

This is the sign of someone who loves to be the center of attention.

As I said above, when it comes down to this kind of decision, the choice is arbitrary, and I don't see any harm in the affirmative action method.

You don't see the harm? You're saying you'd actively choosing to discriminate against someone for their skin colour or whatever, and you don't see the harm? Someone who, in all likelihood, has never actually received any benefits from their skin colour or whatever? Disregarding the harm, I could comprehend, but outright not seeing it?

The above method is very different from lowered standards for different groups, or straight-up quotas, both of which I vehemently oppose.

Not really. The victim won't really care why exactly he was discriminated against, only that he was. Whatever pretty justifications you dress it up in, you need to own what you're advocating for.

One form of affirmative action that I've heard about is that, when two or more candidates appear to be equally qualified, and one belongs to a historically marginalized group, that candidate should be chosen. As I said above, when it comes down to this kind of decision, the choice is arbitrary, and I don't see any harm in the affirmative action method.

Let's play a game. We both roll dice. If your number is higher, I give you money. If my number is higher, you give me money. If we both roll the same number, you also give me money. Let's go for 100 rolls at 100$ a roll. Fair?

The assumptions are:

  1. The marginalized groups really are marginalized. In your example, this would mean you have a significantly larger amount of money than me.

  2. We're looking at this dispassionately, from behind a veil of ignorance. Of course the group that benefits from inequality would support inequality. I usually cringe at this saying because it's so frequently abused by the left, but it does apply in this case: when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.

Is it mean of me to say that right now it looks like the marginalised and under-represented groups as represented by Brinton are "gender-fluid kleptomaniacs"? The "white and cis and male" parts of their identity, even as a bisexual, would normally be held to be totems of privilege, were it not for the "gender-fluid/non-binary" thing.

"All ties go to the marginalized group" in fact gives privilege to the marginalized group. It certainly isn't equality.

All I wanted to get at with that post is for you to admit that tie-breakers are discriminatory. Once we have common ground there, we can discuss whether that discrimination is justified.

when you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression

That goes both ways. The root of the privilege here is of course the unassailable and unfalsifiable assumption of oppression that calls for never-ending special treatment. Become accustomed to that and equal opportunity starts to feel like oppression.

The problem with your argument is that the premise is faulty. Especially 1). First of all, we are more and more dealing with an "adversity of the gaps", where unequal treatment is nowhere to be found but outcome disparities are taken as sufficient proof of a lack of procedural fairness. Which is then countered with tampering of the procedure in the favour of the "oppressed", often with unintended consequences. Of course, the medicine not working is proof that we need more medicine and round it goes.

But even if you disagree with me on this one, the fact remains that membership of protected identity groups is a really bad proxy for adversity where others are readily available. Once you get to the point where you are considered for a high-level government position, chances are that you did not struggle in the same way other identity group members are (ostensibly) struggling. At that point it becomes rich kid #1 with accidental characteristics P vs. rich kid #2 with accidental characteristics Q. P means rich kid #1 must have faced adversity, therefore we need to stack the deck in her favour. I would have much, much less trouble with quotas for people growing up poor.

I just want to add the usual switcheroo between marginalized people and historically marginalized people. As other people say, women now have 50% higher college enrolment compared to men. But if one grants argument that they were historically marginalized, this remains the same even if women are 100% of enrollment and no men are allowed.

The marginalized groups really are marginalized. In your example, this would mean you have a significantly larger amount of money than me.

No. Your modification to the example is flawed. The correct modification would be, "this would mean that you belong to a demographic group that, on average, has a significantly larger amount of money than the demographic group that I belong to."