Guest Blogger

Can We Really Define "Man and Woman"?

Filed By Guest Blogger | June 06, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement, Transgender & Intersex, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: gender, male, Monica Helms, woman

Editors' note: Frequent guest poster and TAVA president Monica Helms explores various definitions of "man" and "woman" and their relationship to the law.

According to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force map, 40 states have some form of law or amendment that limits marriage to a man and a woman. California recently declared their law unconstitutional, so that leaves 39 others. Out of the remaining states, California and Massachusetts have full marriage equality, four have civil unions and four others plus DC recognize same-sex couples in other ways.

The heart of all of the laws, decisions and amendments we see the statement, "Marriage is between a man and a woman." From the very first time I heard that statement, I had to ask, "What constitutes a 'man' or a 'woman'?" There are no legal definitions for these two words, and, as we will see, the dictionary definitions don't provide much help. No matter how you wish to define man and woman, there will always be exceptions to those definitions, shooting holes into the anti-same-sex laws and amendments.

Before I get started, many transgender and intersex leaders would rather I keep quiet about the lack of definitions for man and woman. Their point is that if the opposition wants to put a legal definition on them, they would more than likely pick the worst possible definition. Their concerns have validity. But, with the changing political climate, we may get to see some of those laws and amendments overturned. A definition becomes less of an issue.

First, let's look at the dictionary definitions of man and woman, taken from the dictionary.com. We already see the laws against same-sex marriage starting to unravel. There are 15 different definitions for man and six for woman. I like #2 for man, "A human regardless of sex or age; a person." If a marriage is suppose to be between a man and a woman, and a man is a "...human regardless of sex..." then how can ban same-"sex" marriage? I doubt bringing this up to a marriage license clerk would change anything, but it sure begs a chance to question the law.

Also notice the definitions from man and woman are strongly attached to the words "male" and "female." For "male," the person has to produce "spermatozoa for fertilizing ova." If a man cannot do this, does it mean he is no longer male, thus no longer a man? You also see on the # 2 definition, "Virile; manly." You have a situation where one word defines another and vice-versa. It doesn't seem right to do that.

If you look at the definition of "female," you also see, "Of or denoting the sex that produces ova or bears young." We can ask the same question we asked for the male definition. "If a woman can no longer produce ova or bear children, is she no longer considered female, thus no longer a woman?" Based on reading this, I come to the conclusion that there is no clear-cut, solid definition for male, female, man or woman in the dictionary. How can they continue to limit marriage to a man and a woman?

But there's more.

Let's talk about the physical differences between men/males and woman/females. It's generally accepted that women have ovaries to produce eggs and breasts to feed the young. They have a vagina that is designed to take the male's penis in order to receive sperm to fertilize the eggs. A male/man has a penis and testes to produce sperm, usually rougher skin, more aggressive personalities, more hair and a different brain structure.

The problem is that humans don't come in neatly arranged physical packages as described above. Physical anomalies abound. According to the Intersex Society of North America, 1 in every 100 births in the world are people whose bodies differ from standard male or female in one form or another. If you look through the various issues listed on that page, you will see that it is a combination of visible and internal differences, to sex chromosome differences.

Portions of the population are born with genitalia that make it difficult for doctors to determine the person's sex. For the longest time, doctors decided what sex to assign the child, but they had a 50/50 chance of being right. Today, the American Pediatric Association has modified that procedure to take into account what the child identifies when they get older and make proper surgical decisions at that time.

Making the wrong decision on what sex a person should grow up to be is drastically demonstrated in the "John/Joan" case of David Reimer. David and his twin brother both had been circumcised after birth, but because the doctor was using an inappropriate procedure, he burned off David's penis. The well-known psychologist, John Money, at Johns Hopkins University suggested they could make David a girl and raise him as one.

This didn't work and David grew up realizing something is wrong with his life. He found out later what the problems stemmed from and lived the rest of his life, until he committed suicide on May 4, 2004. David was 38. This shows that gender identity is in the brain and what parts the body was born with makes no difference. It's another flaw in trying to define man and woman.

One of the chromosome conditions is called Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, or AIS, which occurs in approximately 1 in 20,000 individuals. Those with AIS are female-bodied individuals who have XY sex chromosome. There are also male-bodied individuals who have XX chromosome, which can be caused by various conditions. In this area, there is a lot of overlapping of issues facing these individuals, which can include Progestin Induced Virilization, Swyer Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, and Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome.

On this page from About.com :Biology for Sex Chromosomes Abnormalities, you can see on the chart six other sex chromosome patterns besides the "normal" XX and XY. If you notice, these are assigned a particular gender, but the physical traits can blur the person's presentation. So what "sex" are they really?

The case of Littleton vs. Prange was a prime example of what can happen when the courts make a decision based on what they think a person has for sex chromosomes. In this well-known case, Christie Lee Littleton's husband of seven years, Jonathan, went into the hospital for what was suppose to be a non-life-threatening issue but ended up dying. After a time of grieving, Littleton decided to sue for wrongful death.

In the trial, the defending lawyers discovered that Littleton had been born with male body parts, and even though she had received all the necessary procedures to be considered a female in the State of Texas, three of the judges assumed she was not really a woman because of her chromosomes. Throughout the entire trial, they never once checked what sex chromosomes Littleton or her husband had. If Christie didn't have XY chromosomes, then the case could have been thrown out.

Because of this decision, in the ten counties that this local district court covers, birth certificates will not be changed for transsexuals who have had SRS. However, a post-op trans woman can marry a non-trans woman or a trans man can marry a non-trans man and it would be considered legal. By doing this, it means the trans person would have to identify as their birth sex for the marriage to be considered legal. I wouldn't consider changing my identity just to get married. Thanks to California, I don't need to.

The next way man and woman can be defined is by what is on their birth certificate. However, there are several ways that this is not 100% possible either. Many Americans cannot get access to a birth certificate because of natural disasters that destroyed the place they were stored at, long before a state could transfer them to computers. Some people in rural areas may not have ever had one issued. Many naturalized citizens cannot get a birth certificate from the country they were born in for various reasons. Also, I have heard that some people were issued a birth certificate that didn't have a sex one it, some because of the genitalia situation.

In 46 states and the District of Columbia, a person can get their birth certificate changed after receiving a form of sex altering surgery. Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee and parts of Texas are the exception. This usually means a Phalloplasty or Metoidioplasty for trans men and Sex Reassignment/Gender Reassignment Surgery for trans women. However, it can also be changed in most of those states when a trans woman gets an orchiectomy, or the trans man gets top surgery or a hysterectomy. If the letter is worded correctly, the state will more than likely change the birth certificate. For more detailed state-by-state information on the procedure in your state or province, visit Dr. Becky Allison's page for instructions.

As we can see, the different ways to try and define man or woman all have flaws and exceptions making it difficult to create a legal definition that would cover every human in the country. If the various states picked one definition to try and keep same-sex people from getting married, they would cause problems for many opposite sex couples and create loopholes that same-sex couples could take advantage of.

This means that we are stuck with laws that are based on undefined terms, keeping same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as opposite-sex couples. If anyone were to push the issue, then the end result would cause more problems then it would fix. One of the biggest problems would be to invalidate legally married transsexuals, like Christie Lee Littleton, and hundreds of others who stayed married after one person in the marriage changed their sex. We would be damned if we did, but we remain damned because we don't.


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You're absolutely right, Monica. What is a woman, anyway?

Don Sherfick Don Sherfick | June 6, 2008 6:33 PM

Very interesting and informative, Monica. I confess to being one who has not given the amount of in-depth attention to such aspects of trangender issues that I should.

When I went to look up the text of the proposed California constitutional amendment initiative that would nullify the recent California Supreme Court's decision, I ran across what appears to have been an earlier measure which apparently has not garnered enough signatures (if someone from California can enlighten me more on this I would appreciate it). It went far beyond a simple declaration about marriage being restricted to just one man and one woman, and contained the following:

"A man is an adult male human being who possesses at least one inherited Y chromosome, and a woman is an adult female human being who does not possess an inherited Y chromosome."

Would you care to comment on the problems that would have been posed by that particular definition, which seems to be a bit different from how you have described the issue?

They made a weak attempt to define man and woman. The question you should ask California, "How did they determine who had a Y chromosome and who didn't?" To do that, you have to get a test, which cost between $600 to $900. Were they charging those applying for a marriage certificate this cost for the test? Did the state pay for it? What would happen if both had XY chromosome, but one having AIS and a female body? An AIS lesbian could have legally gotten married to an XX female in California before the court decision. It's something to think about.

I've got a question for you: Assuming you can, would you like/desire the creation of such definitions? How do you think this answer relates to this contribution?

Anyways, interesting read.

Lucrece,
It doesn't matter if there is definitions or not. There will always be someone who will get screwed no matter which way it goes.

Folks,
This question is the very Pandora's box of the T community, and I cringe at the thought of every case, every new law, every chance that the Supreme Court, Congress, or state legislatures might find themselves addressing that question. If it comes to that, we're not going to like the answer.

Indeed, our own community can't possibly agree on the answer for this. The HBS fanatics will have their definition, as will people at every point in transition, and intersexed people will have quite another point of view. Agreement and compromise won't be possible, and the T POV, even if agreed to, won't be listened to by those deciding, anyway. But they will listen to the Religious Reich, you reckon?

I don't want this subject even breached or addressed by any body of government, thank you very much. Let's not forward this one to our Congressmen, shall we?

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | June 7, 2008 3:59 AM

The only reason for ever codifying gender in the first place was to discriminate against women. Why can't we all be "comrades" or something? I would say no laws whatsoever that have distinguishing gender in them. No advantage or disadvantage to either gender. Just eliminate them all.

"A man is an adult male human being who possesses at least one inherited Y chromosome, and a woman is an adult female human being who does not possess an inherited Y chromosome."

And what about a lady who has a wonderful antique Y chromosome left to her by her late aunt Mildred?

Waka waka waka!

Monica, thank you for the very informative links included in this most complex issue. It's clear not only the definitions listed in our man-made dictionaries would confuse many 'voters' on the marriage issue, but the science is certainly too much for those who read one book (the Bible) to derive their simplistic view of sexuality and marriage.

Don Sherfick wrote:

"A man is an adult male human being who possesses at least one inherited Y chromosome, and a woman is an adult female human being who does not possess an inherited Y chromosome."

Would you care to comment on the problems that would have been posed by that particular definition, which seems to be a bit different from how you have described the issue?

Depends what you mean by problems. Let's assume you want the following properties:
  1. Everyone is either M or F, no-one is neither.
  2. Everyone is M or F, but not both simultaneously
  3. Everyone is permanently M or permanently F, it can't change.
  4. M people can't get pregnant, and F people can't impregnate
  5. You don't need a fully equipped laboratory to tell one M person from the majority of F people, or the reverse. That is, men look male, women look female.

No definition that has all these properties exists, but perhaps one that satisfies most will be acceptable.

Property 1 is preserved, providing you drop "male person" and "female person" and just say "person". If you don't drop the "male" or "female" bit then you violate the first property, as some people's appearance is ambiguous, and chromosomes don't match appearance in others - assuming you go by birth certificates. Which in some countries have an option for "X", neither M nor F (e.g Australia, see the Alex Macfalane case).

Property 2 is preserved - that's one out of 5.

Property 3 is violated by those who are 46xx/47xxy mosaics, with a low proportion of 47xxy. During cell turnover, 47xxy is selected against, so in later life, the person may be genetically entirely 46xx.

Property 4 is hopelessly compromised. There are people with defective SrY complexes who are 46xy but have become pregnant, and those with 46xx chromosomes but a translocated SrY complex who have become biological fathers. Worse, SrY isn't the only complex that can cause masculinisation, there are 3, so a test for SrY doesn't work either. Those women with Swyer syndrome can become surrogate mothers, they have all the normal female reproductive system bar the ovaries. They are 46xy and have streak (atrophied) male gonads.

Property 5 is also completely compromised. Apart from those who have transitioned, there are many women with 46xy chromosomes and feminising Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, and many men with 46xx chromosomes and masculinising Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia. Not forgetting those born with other Intersex conditions (or victims of botched genital surgery such as infant circumcision) who have been surgically "corrected" at age 1 year without their knowledge or consent. Many don't even know this happened to them. Then there are those with 5ARD who look female at birth, but masculinise at puberty. There are other similar conditions too, 17BHDD being the most common. So you can't go by appearances, or even medical records. A simple, cheap test for presence of SrY will give a false positive for the presence of a Y chromosome if it's translocated. A single buccal smear or blood test and karyotype costing thousands won't detect mosaicism, you need multiple samples from different parts of the body, maybe a hundred thousand's worth.

Note I haven't even mentioned Transsexuality yet, just Intersex.

Compare with the Australian Family Court ruling in Re Kevin:

At paragraph [270]: ‘But I am satisfied that the evidence now is inconsistent with the distinction formerly drawn between biological factors, meaning genitals, chromosomes and gonads, and merely "psychological factors", and on this basis distinguishing between cases of inter-sex (incongruities among biological factors) and transsexualism (incongruities between biology and psychology)’.

At paragraph [272]: ‘In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much “biological” as those of people thought of as inter-sex’.

At paragraph [136]: ‘I agree with Ms Wallbank that in the present context the word "man" should be given its ordinary contemporary meaning. In determining that meaning, it is relevant to have regard to many things that were the subject of evidence and submissions. They include the context of the legislation, the body of case law on the meaning of "man" and similar words, the purpose of the legislation, and the current legal, social and medical environment. These matters are considered in the course of the judgment. I believe that this approach is in accordance with common sense, principles of statutory interpretation, and with all or virtually all of the authorities in which the issue of sexual identity has arisen. As Professor Gooren and a colleague put it:-

“There should be no escape for medical and legal authorities that these definitions ought to be corrected and updated when new information becomes available, particularly when our outdated definitions bring suffering to some of our fellow human beings”.

So you look at the totality, add a dollop of common sense, and in difficult cases, some simple common humanity. That way, all but property 3 is preserved.

Property 1 can be violated at the person's specific request, assuming a medical condition that justifies it.

Excellent post Monica! I've often questioned common definitions of man and woman. Ultimately, I can't think of a single reason for governmental and societal identification of the entire population as either one or the other. This qualifies as gender tyranny in my book.

Marriage certificates could say person 1 and 2 (and 3... but maybe I shouldn't go there now, I'm sure I've caused enough trouble already). A person's driver's license or passport only needs their name, address and picture.

Zoe,
It all boils down to the fact that there is no legal definition for "man" or "woman," yet discrimination against same-sex couples hinge on those two words. How can discrimination remain in place if it is based on vague terminology? And, if anyone tries to nail down one way to define the words, the end result will be that they will discriminate against people they were not intending to target and create loopholes for those they were trying to target. Basically, this is a form of discrimination that the person behind the license counter gets to decide on.

I have the "F" on my driver's license, so if I used that for identification, I could marry a man in Georgia. If I showed the "M" on my birth certificate, I could marry a woman. If I was thrown in jail, the "F" wouldn't do me a damn bit of good. In some podunk parts of the country, even post-ops are thrown in the jail's male population. Without definitions, I can be screwed in some situations. With definitions, I won't be any less screwed.

Note that I've left aside the question of morality, and whether stopping two people who love each other from marrying is justifiable. There's no consideration of "human rights", or even humanity, merely legal definitions.

Note also that tossing a coin, and having immutable birth certificates or immigration records saying M or F, depending on heads or tails, preserves three of the properties, not just one. That means that the proposed definition is really bad, unless you don't mind oppressing minorities in order to satisfy all 5 conditions for most people.

As for me... in Australia, should anything happen to my partner, I could only marry a man. That's because same-sex marriage is illegal here. In the UK, where I was born, I could only marry another woman. That's because same-sex marriage is illegal there. They use different definitions, and who I could marry in the US would depend on the state, and sometimes, the county. In Malta, I couldn't marry anyone, as I'd be considered neither M nor F.

Note also that although I'm married - to another woman - this counts as a legally meaningless "same sex partnership" for such matters as inheritance, superannuation, social security, etc. So a 28 year marriage, certificate and all, has less legal effect than a 2 week old de-facto relationship between opposite sexes. We still can't divorce without showing an irreconcilable breakdown of the relationship, something self-evidently false. It wouldn't be so bad if we were lesbian, but transition usually extracts some kind of price. There's more to marriage than sex though. Parenthood. Friendship. Love. 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

Oddly enough, not many prospective boyfriends can deal with the situation.

I would say that if we continue to insist on a binary definition of gender as a dichotomy, there will continue to be profound debates as evidenced in this article, and the comments to it. The determination of one's gender is made by visual evidence without regard to anything else that contributes to that child's sense of maleness or femaleness. There very may well be a test that could determine shortly after birth if that child is gender variant or cisgender, and whether or not that child is heterosexual or homosexual. Such tests would go far to remove these issues from the moral debate swirling around who we are. We are who we are, and we love who we love, and that should settle the issue.
These same questions were raised during the discussion of anti-miscegenation laws. How were different races defined? At late as 2000, there were bans on interracial dating on the campus of Bob Jones University.
These detested anti-miscegenation laws were unjust and immoral, just as the anti same-sex marriage amendments enshrine bigotry and hatred into state constitutions.
We in Colorado lost the votes on same-sex unions because the LBGT community was fragmented in its efforts to get out the vote. Too many groups spoke in whispers, and none were heard, while well-heeled and powerful voices shouted their messages from the roof tops, and fear and hatred won. California can learn from our mistake, and they have to organize into a cohesive LGBT community to fight the anti-same sex marriage amendment that will be on the ballot in November. There is a window of opportunity for same-sex couples to marry in California, and I'm hoping people who are in committed relationships from all over the country will take advantage of this. People who have been in long-term committed loving relationships who tell their stories can do much to demonstrate the inequity of the marriage amendment.

They made a weak attempt to define man and woman. The question you should ask California, "How did they determine who had a Y chromosome and who didn't?" To do that, you have to get a test, which cost between $600 to $900. Were they charging those applying for a marriage certificate this cost for the test? Did the state pay for it? What would happen if both had XY chromosome, but one having AIS and a female body? An AIS lesbian could have legally gotten married to an XX female in California before the court decision. It's something to think about.

Oh good grief! This was never the law in California. It is a rather silly attempt to amend the state constitution to include such a law. The answer is simple. First, it would prevent people with complete AIS (there are degrees) from marrying a man. Presumably, they could marry a lesbian. This law never existed in California, and hopefully never will.

I have the "F" on my driver's license, so if I used that for identification, I could marry a man in Georgia. If I showed the "M" on my birth certificate, I could marry a woman. If I was thrown in jail, the "F" wouldn't do me a damn bit of good. In some podunk parts of the country, even post-ops are thrown in the jail's male population. Without definitions, I can be screwed in some situations. With definitions, I won't be any less screwed.

Funny...actually, you could get an invalid marriage license by committing fraud if you wish to marry a man. You can legally marry a woman, because you are legally, a male. If you go to jail, you will be held in a male facility aince you are a male.

If I want to marry a man, I can legally do so. And in about 10 days, I can legally marry a woman in California. I cannot legally marry a woman in the other states (Kansas and Texas are iffy). If I were arrested, I would be put in the women's section.

It's really very simple. I have a vagina. That removes any question in most jurisdictions.

The only people who really raise this sort of question are those who identify as transgender. The rest of us have a pretty solid concept of who is a man, and who is a woman. Ironically, the proposed amendment in California is far preferable to something more specific, like the proposed one based on chromosomes. The one on the ballot will, at least, not automaticallly affect post-ops and women with complete AIS. While I oppose it, it will only ban same-sex marriage.

I have the "F" on my driver's license, so if I used that for identification, I could marry a man in Georgia. If I showed the "M" on my birth certificate, I could marry a woman. If I was thrown in jail, the "F" wouldn't do me a damn bit of good. In some podunk parts of the country, even post-ops are thrown in the jail's male population. Without definitions, I can be screwed in some situations. With definitions, I won't be any less screwed.

Funny...actually, you could get an invalid marriage license by committing fraud if you wish to marry a man. You can legally marry a woman, because you are legally, a male. If you go to jail, you will be held in a male facility aince you are a male.

If I want to marry a man, I can legally do so. And in about 10 days, I can legally marry a woman in California. I cannot legally marry a woman in the other states (Kansas and Texas are iffy). If I were arrested, I would be put in the women's section.

It's really very simple. I have a vagina. That removes any question in most jurisdictions.

The only people who really raise this sort of question are those who identify as transgender. The rest of us have a pretty solid concept of who is a man, and who is a woman. Ironically, the proposed amendment in California is far preferable to something more specific, like the proposed one based on chromosomes. The one on the ballot will, at least, not automaticallly affect post-ops and women with complete AIS. While I oppose it, it will only ban same-sex marriage.

Very interesting argument, Monica. Good post. I see PageOneQ picked up the story too.

However, it can also be changed in most of those states when a trans woman gets an orchiectomy, or the trans man gets top surgery or a hysterectomy. If the letter is worded correctly, the state will more than likely change the birth certificate.

This is, quite frankly, legally fraud. The doctor signing the letter, and the person presenting it to the court would be subject to prosecution for perjury. This is similar to someone using a driver's license with the sex marker changed to facilitate RLT to obtain a marriage license. It can be done, but that does not make it legal. Actually doing this can result in fines or jail time. And it can also result in a major backlash that might even result in laws being changed to prevent anyone from changing their birth certificates.

JJ, I don't plan on ever getting married in any place but California, so I don't plan on committing a fraud.

I don't plan on ever getting married in any place but California, so I don't plan on committing a fraud.

Well, that is something we can all be thankful for. Actually, just that sort of thing was pushed by a certain transgender lawyer in Houston. It also resulted in a serious backlash that actually hurt HBS people in Houston.

I suggest you talk with a lawyer to get a true legal opinion on whether an orchie is the same as SRS, in a legal sense. I'll believe a legal opinion from a lawyer first.

I suggest you talk with a lawyer to get a true legal opinion on whether an orchie is the same as SRS, in a legal sense. I'll believe a legal opinion from a lawyer first.

ROTFL! A lawyer's opinion is not needed when the law is clear. Again, if anyone attempts such an act they are risking being prosecuted for fraud. Otherwise, why would the letter have to be "worded correctly?" Why not just state, clearly, that the person has only had an orchidectomy? Because this is fraud. And of course, why would anyone wish to lie anyway? If you want to keep your penis (or your vagina), why would one feel the need to lie and claim to be something one is clearly not? Oh well, I guess I just don't understand the transgender mindset.

According to the State Department employee who accepted to my application for a passport in Los Angeles, an orchie is irreversible genital surgery as defined by the rules, and as such, allowed me to get my passport with the correct gender marker. Different employees of the same agencies have differing opinions, and there is no definitive policy concerning this. It depends on the luck of the draw, and this could be a good thing. I'm not sure we want a firm definitive decision....
My advice to apply for the passport came from a man who was a judge. I had to provide considerable medical evidence from many doctors to get the passport, but I got it.

Ethan Pleshe | June 7, 2008 4:45 PM

It's a great discussion Monica and something I think about everytime I think of marriage. Being that I am a trasman and identify gay, marriage is a tricky issue legally for me.

Monica,

I would say that this is the most heart felt post I have seen on Bilerico. My first thoughts where to send you an email off line, but the beauty of your post demands public applause, Clap,(repeat in mega- fashion, clap!

I know you and I do not share similar perspectives and oft are at difficult conflicting demeanor. Yet, what you have written is probably the clearest definition presented that the common person, let alone gay could understand. Thanks.

As you may have observed, I have removed myself, and dropped out. I am breaking my silence as I felt this was worth crediting and publicly saying that your article is worth the attention of all of the governmental community. Understand that several things came to my attention , mostly from contacts from the past, that have caused me to withdraw from public action. Never the less your comments deserve my public recognition and mot simply a personal email. Again, thanks!

Regarding some of your metrics, I have statistics more recent that show greater frequency,i.e. UCLA Med Resch 2006 study on gender/intersex. Regardless, the issues of what the medical and legal definitions of male and female are sketchy at best. Upon legal definition and the politics, social re-engineering, and finally esoteric activity, the world for transsexuals is, I think, going to be less secure. No question that the GLBt movement will drive those who are Transsexual under ground, or into lives of darkness. Hence, the feedback I had as to the direction I was pointing reference. We are in very trying times orchestrated and led by very high powers. I am again dropping out. Thanks!

According to the State Department employee who accepted to my application for a passport in Los Angeles, an orchie is irreversible genital surgery as defined by the rules, and as such, allowed me to get my passport with the correct gender marker. Different employees of the same agencies have differing opinions, and there is no definitive policy concerning this. It depends on the luck of the draw, and this could be a good thing. I'm not sure we want a firm definitive decision.... My advice to apply for the passport came from a man who was a judge. I had to provide considerable medical evidence from many doctors to get the passport, but I got it.

Interesting... I suppose it could be said that you got lucky. I don't know that the employee made a "correct" interpretation of the rules and I suspect that you found a worker willing to bend the rules.

But what if you get found out? I don't know what purpose you got the passport for, but if are found to actually still be a male, it could cause problems. Of oourse that would depend on circumtances. And the State Department does allows people to get temporary passports for the purpose of traveling out of the country to have sex affirmation surgery.

But I have to disagree. It is not a gender marker. It is a sex marker. It is a legal statement concerning your physical sex, not your gender. And if you have a penis and it says you are female, it is not, in my opinion, correct.

Which raises a very interesting question. It is one thing to change sex markers on some documentation to allow people to complete the real life test, but why do some seem to wish to deceive people. I mean, why is it that those who have no desire to change their sex want to change the sex markers on their birth certificates? Why claim something you have no right to?

Definitions, or lack there of, for "man" and "woman" is probably the one thing that binds all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender AND straight people. It is a human issue. The problem is that the knowledge about how diverse nature is has not been spread around. The statement, "1 in every 100 births in the world are people whose bodies differ from standard male or female in one form or another," is one that needs to be made more public. that's 60 million human.

On the opposite side of the coin is the "hate factor." Knowing that there are no legal definitions for man and woman can cause some of the hateful people to work to define them in the worse possible way. We have to temper our desire to educate with caution and vigilance. If there is any attempt to define the words, we have to fight it like we fight anti-LGBT legislation. Until the human race is ready to accept the diversity of creation, we have to watch out for these attempts to ruin the lives we already have.

Definitions, or lack there of, for "man" and "woman" is probably the one thing that binds all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender AND straight people. It is a human issue. The problem is that the knowledge about how diverse nature is has not been spread around. The statement, "1 in every 100 births in the world are people whose bodies differ from standard male or female in one form or another," is one that needs to be made more public. that's 60 million human.

Actually, most people, including most gays, lesbians and bisexuals, as well as straight people, have no problem defining man and woman. It is not an issue, even with regards to same-sex marriages. If you have a penis, you are a man; and if you have a vagina, you are a woman. It only is an issue for those who wish to make it an issue. Even intersex is not a significant issue, as in most cases it is not as severe as Helms implies. You can make "intersex" as public as you want, and it will lead to a big yawn.

But the issue of those who would define things as naroowly as possible is an issue. And the surest thing that will lead to that happening is what has already brought it about. As long as the transgender activists try to spread their confusion, things will get worse. Ironically, the more this issue is "fought," the more it will be an issue. Helm's rhetoric threatens those who have corrected their bodies and actually will make no difference to those who wish to retain their birth sex and only claim to be something else.

Melanie Davis | June 7, 2008 11:08 PM

Wow, everybody getting so cerebral. Stoopid liberal elitists!

It's really simple folks: Girls rule, boys drool.

If you rule and drool, you're queer.

Everybody poops.

Only those people who poop can marry other people who poop.

Legislation We Can Believe In!

We have ISNA who have been in existence for at least 2 decades, have had hundreds of doctors and medical professionals, have had several decades of research about all the variations of humans and have proven that a penis and a vagina are not the one and only way to determine what is a man and a woman . . . and we have JustJennifer. I would think the credibility is in favor of ISNA.

And, many, many trans people have gotten their birth certificates legally changed with an orchie or top surgery in this country. If it was not legal, then one would think some of the states would have said something. We have all those people who have legally gotten their birth certificates changes, and the other side, we have JustJennifer. I rest my case.

I'm going to make an observation here. If there is only two ways to determine sex in the world, then I guess that means there are only two hair colors in the world. This must mean there are only two eye colors, two skin colors, two height, two weights, two diseases people can contract, two nose sizes, two voices in a chores, two intelligence levels and two ages we live to.

If nature can have a variety of ways to make people different in all those other things and hundreds of other biological features, then why would anyone even think that nature would only make just two ways to determine biological sex? It's as if people want to trade scientific logic and proof for a Biblical answer. It didn't work with evolution, especially here with the Cobb County School Board. "Mother Nature can think beyond binaries, Human Nature cannot." We constantly get proof of that all the time.

JJ wrote:

If you have a penis, you are a man; and if you have a vagina, you are a woman.

And if you have both, from Persistant Mullerian Duct Syndrome? Or neither, because of a congenital condition, surgery, or accident?
And is a neo-vagina a vagina or merely a "pouch", as the Gay judge Lord Justice Sir Robert Ormrod ruled not so long ago in the notorious Corbett vs Corbett decision?
When such a cavity has been constructed in a male, the difference between sexual intercourse using it, and anal or intra-crural intercourse is, in my judgment, to be measured in centimetres.
He was talking about you there, Jennifer. And everyone else who had had a (in his words) "'so called' sex-change operation" unless they had one of a select few Intersex conditions. You're not a woman, you're a mutilated gay man. At least you were in the UK until 5 years ago, and still are in Kansas, Florida, some counties (but not others) in Texas, and depending on who you surgeon was, you may or may not be in Illinois. I'm in the same situation: being post-op is irrelevant to the legal definition of sex in the UK. Thank the TGs and FtoMs for that one. I really should be on your side in your anti-TG sentiments, but I can't be. Both my sense of morality and my interpretation of the scientific evidence don't allow me to be.

As for me, I believe that we should bite the bullet, and insist on unambiguous legal definitions of male and female if the whole stupid cruelty of "marriage is between a man and a woman" is to continue. Either this will result in a relatively humane definition, or an obviously insane one. Either way, we win, as it is purely because few people know just how utterly brain-dead the legal situation is in the US and elsewhere that we have so much insecurity. The more "conservative" and Dominionist the definition is, the more obviously same-sex marriages will happen in those jurisdictions, to the great discomfort of the Fundies, and the mockery of them by everyone else.

The experience in Australia is that a relatively human (not flawless) definition by the Australian Family Court with respect to marriage has acted as a wedge to enable rights in areas such as passports and inheritance. The battles are still being fought, but we have had only one loss (on technical constitutional grounds to do with Federal powers over states granted by signing foreign treaties) in the several court battles since then.

I'll quote how sex is determined in Australia:

[T]he relevant matters include, in my opinion, the person’s biological and physical characteristics at birth, including gonads, genitals and chromosomes); the person’s life experiences, including the sex in which he or she is brought up and the person’s attitude to it; the person’s self-perception as a man or woman; the extent to which the person has functioned in society as a man or woman; any hormonal, surgical or other medical sex reassignment treatments the person has undergone, and the consequences of such treatment; and the person’s biological, psychological and physical characteristics at the time of the marriage, including (if they can be identified) any biological features of the person’s brain that are associated with a particular sex. It is clear from the Australian authorities that post-operative transsexuals will normally be members of their reassigned sex”
From Transsexualism and the case for correction of Birth Records in Victoria (DOC format).

Someone who is non-op, but who has lived for some times in a fulltime target gender role, is accepted by their societal millieu as a member of their target gender, and who is psychologically of that gender, would probably be classed as their target gender if they can make a case as to why they haven't had surgery (expense, fear, medical risk), and certainly would be if the surgery was merely not as complete as it might have been. That last has been tested, but not the first.

Yes, there are risks to existing marriages by requiring an unambiguous definition. But really, we have to ask ourselves, how safe are those anyway under the current situation? And there's another matter: such a definition is required in order to expose the inconsistencies and biological nonsense in current same-sex-marriage prohibition. It is exactly analogous to the situation regarding the anti-miscegenation laws, when the convoluted, unworkable and obviously irrational definitions of "race" led to the whole thing being laughed at, even by people who were racist at heart.

We should be trumpeting to the four winds every obviously lesbian or gay marriage in the heart of the Bible belt, ones that are kosher by the irrational rules of who is "male" and who is "female" when TS or IS is involved. We are one of the greatest arguments against same-sex marriage prohibition, or would be if the GLB without the T faction would let us be.

There is a darker side too. For their are groups, not large, but influential, the Raymondite (Lez)RadFems and the Barneyesque Rich White (Gay)Males, who would be willing to gain same-sex marriage at the cost of prohibiting marriage altogether for those who are TS or IS. If good definitions are set in law before this happens, we'll be protected. Let us not be blindsided again as we were by ENDA. The question is not "are we being paranoid", but "are we being paranoid enough".

We have ISNA who have been in existence for at least 2 decades, have had hundreds of doctors and medical professionals, have had several decades of research about all the variations of humans and have proven that a penis and a vagina are not the one and only way to determine what is a man and a woman . . . and we have JustJennifer. I would think the credibility is in favor of ISNA.

Well, that is an oddly contradictory statement. I mean, ISNA has mostly worked to politicize the issue of intersex, and not to actually clarify the issue. I do suppose anyone who wishes to muddy the waters, as Helms clearly does. would cite them. Personally, I prefer OII. http://www.intersexualite.org/

As to the research by experts, it hardly supports Helms' position.

And, many, many trans people have gotten their birth certificates legally changed with an orchie or top surgery in this country. If it was not legal, then one would think some of the states would have said something. We have all those people who have legally gotten their birth certificates changes, and the other side, we have JustJennifer. I rest my case.

ROTFL! Well, let's see. How many would that be? Does Helms have any actual figures, or is this just one of those silly "Well, there are many, many...." assertions that actually means "Well, I heard about someone who said that they knew someone, who was told by someone about someone's who has a cousin who knew someone who did this." So, we have the clear statement of the law, and we have Helms' vague assertion. When one does get caught, we will certainly know about it. And the assertion, by Helms, that such changes are legal is without any value. One might successfully have the change made, but that does not mean it is legal. Of course, unless the person actually uses that birth certificate to do something forbidden, like get a marriage to a member of the same sex, they may not get caught.

Again, I have to ask, why would one wish to do this? What is the purpose? What do they gain from lying?

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And if you have both, from Persistant Mullerian Duct Syndrome? Or neither, because of a congenital condition, surgery, or accident? And is a neo-vagina a vagina or merely a "pouch", as the Gay judge Lord Justice Sir Robert Ormrod ruled not so long ago in the notorious Corbett vs Corbett decision?

Let's start with the easy one first. Persistent Mullerian Duct Syndrome does not affect the external genitalia. Sorry, not penis/vagina combinations. It causes the presence of a uterus and undescended testicles. There is a small bulge where the uterus herniates, but no vagina.

And yes, in rare cases women are born without vaginas. As to surgery and accidents, that is just silly.

Now, Corbett is an example of bad law. It was largely rejected by most civilized people.

Personally, I favor same sex marriage. And I am not anti-TG. I don't agree with the silly extremes of some, like Helms. I do not appreciate attempts to include HBS under the transgender umbrella. But I am not anti-TG. Of course, as I have observed, if you don't absoultely celebrate their behavior you are considered to be an enemy.

Ironically, this is really a non-issue. The vast majority of people have no real problem telling men from women. There are exceptions, but they are incredibly rare. I doubt Texas and Kansas would not be issues were it not for the transgender movement drawing attention to themselves.

And the transgender crowd went too far in England. They will have eventually harmed those with HBS.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 8, 2008 9:23 PM

Hi J.J.

"There are exceptions, but they are incredibly rare."

How rare? What constitutes the exceptions you refer to?

"And the transgender crowd went too far in England. They will have eventually harmed those with HBS."

Could you explain this in detail?

It's an interesting moral/ethical dilemma: if a group risks losing some of their equality or privilige because of another group attempting to get their due equality and fair share of privilige is it moral for the first group to oppose the second to defend themselves? Or do they invalidate their claim on such by that action? If a group trying to fight for their own rights risk harming the comforts or general acceptance of the rights of others if they fail or during the process should they suffer in silence for the benefit of others or fight on?

Examples of this dilema could be found aplenty not just in civil rights movements but also under oppressive regimes where some groups (and individuals) would have to choose between cooperating with the oppressors for their own protection or suffering alongside others. Reprisals and collective punishment as a consequence of ressistance to such regimes are further examples. Another good one is the personal dillema of a closeted person whose public coming out could embarass or socially harm their family or harm the careers of family members.

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How rare? What constitutes the exceptions you refer to?
Well, there are very rare cases where a person's gender is not immediately obvious. Where a person can't tell for sure. Even rarer are cases where that uncertainty persists. The character of Pat on Saturday Night Live would be a good example of a deliberate attempt to portray this.
Could you explain this in detail?

It is really quite simple. They went too far. They demanded the right to change documentation without changing sex. First that diminishes the value for HBS people who have been corrected. Second, it opens the door to a strong backlash when the party in power changes. Pushing for unreasonable rights can be harmful. And asking for a law that perpetuates a lie is unreasonable.

I'm deeply offended by your comments Just Jennifer. I'm a genetic woman, have all normal parts as assigned by birth. And I am deeply, deeply offended by your snide, pompous rhetoric. I'm surrounded by beautiful, wonderful T people of all stripes, ages, and designs, on a daily basis. Your remarks reveal an utter lack of compassion and understanding of transgender people. I'm so glad you are in the minority. Moderators, is this allowed?

Monica, thank you for your dedication to task, and your tireless efforts.

Hi VZ!
While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising.

JJ is not personally attacking anyone, merely condemning whole groups of people. Not that she's anti-TG, she said so herself. Yeah, right. She's not off-topic - much - nor abusive, and is as coherent as her arguments allow her to be (and probably more than I am). I've found many, well, ok, some, of her posts quite useful, whether I agree with her or not. Usually not, but sometimes.

Example, and to make this on-topic:

It's really very simple. I have a vagina. That removes any question in most jurisdictions.
This is provably false. Anyone not born with a vagina (like JJ) who is born in Tennessee, Kansas, parts of Texas, Illinois if their surgery was performed overseas until 2006, and if not by one particular Canadian surgeon thereafter, and many overseas jurisdictions will be legally male in most jurisdictions in the USA, due to the male birth certificate. While having a vagina is an advantage is most places, in all but a handful of cases, it's not sufficient (eg the UK), and in some, not even necessary (also the UK).

The problem is not so much the jurisdiction one resides in, for one can always move. The problem is the jurisdiction one was born in, and that "cannot easily be changed" so to speak.

I can understand JJ's viewpoint. She was (I assume) born in a sane jurisdiction, so has had her BC corrected. She has never lived in a normal male role, merely a highly abnormal and very temporary one until she could get her medical problem fixed. She is female, highly insulted at the ridiculous suggestion that anyone could consider her otherwise, and just doesn't see the problems others have had because she's never experienced any herself. Her body was never very masculinised, and she sees other women who were not so fortunate as being quite different from her. She is like those who were 1/64th coloured, who could never realise that many people would think they were only "passing for white", and treat them accordingly. "Gooble Gobble Gooble Gobble, One of Us, One of Us..." if you get the reference.

Now about commenting, and what the mods allow...

I have been less respectful of some commentators than I should be. It can be difficult being respectful when you consider some views to be not just incorrect, but actually evil and malicious. But that just means I should try all the harder. Fortunately the mods make respect a request, not a demand, or I would have been out on my ear a long time ago. It's a request I do try to honour though, the mods don't deserve much of the rubbish they put up with.

Melanie Davis | June 9, 2008 2:43 AM

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I'm deeply offended by your comments Just Jennifer. I'm a genetic woman, have all normal parts as assigned by birth. And I am deeply, deeply offended by your snide, pompous rhetoric. I'm surrounded by beautiful, wonderful T people of all stripes, ages, and designs, on a daily basis. Your ignorant remarks reveal an utter lack of compassion and understanding of transgender people. I'm so glad you are in the minority.

Oh my! Given the nature of your vitriol, I would have to assume that you are actually quite afraid that I am correct. By "in the minority" I assume you mean within this place, because I am actually rather moderate compared to most of the population. You seem to accept the "you are what you call yourself" approach that defines the radical transgender view. I think you will find that few people accept that view.

JJ is not personally attacking anyone, merely condemning whole groups of people. Not that she's anti-TG, she said so herself. Yeah, right. She's not off-topic - much - nor abusive, and is as coherent as her arguments allow her to be (and probably more than I am). I've found many, well, ok, some, of her posts quite useful, whether I agree with her or not. Usually not, but sometimes.

Alas, this is the problem with identity politics. No, I am rejecting an idea that some people have adopted as their identity. And those people see any attack on that idea as an attack on themselves. It is sort of like the old joke.."What's the definition of a bigot?....the one who is winning an argument with a liberal."

Example, and to make this on-topic:
It's really very simple. I have a vagina. That removes any question in most jurisdictions.
This is provably false. Anyone not born with a vagina (like JJ) who is born in Tennessee, Kansas, parts of Texas, Illinois if their surgery was performed overseas until 2006, and if not by one particular Canadian surgeon thereafter, and many overseas jurisdictions will be legally male in most jurisdictions in the USA, due to the male birth certificate. While having a vagina is an advantage is most places, in all but a handful of cases, it's not sufficient (eg the UK), and in some, not even necessary (also the UK).

Alas, a birth certificate is not what you make it out to be. It does not make one legally male, or female for that matter. It is one bit of evidence. You have simply shown my point to be correct. Now, let's consider the case pushed by Helms. Someone is foolish enough to petition a court under false pretenses. They get their birth certificate changed. And then they are arrested. As they are being pushed into the men's holding cell, they are screaming "But my birth certificate says I am legally a female! Sadly, their screams are drowned out by the laughter of the guards.

Sorry, but in most jurisdictions I would be legally female, and for all practical purposes I am female. I have no need to try to deceive as I am what I am.

The problem is not so much the jurisdiction one resides in, for one can always move. The problem is the jurisdiction one was born in, and that "cannot easily be changed" so to speak.

I can understand JJ's viewpoint. She was (I assume) born in a sane jurisdiction, so has had her BC corrected. She has never lived in a normal male role, merely a highly abnormal and very temporary one until she could get her medical problem fixed. She is female, highly insulted at the ridiculous suggestion that anyone could consider her otherwise, and just doesn't see the problems others have had because she's never experienced any herself. Her body was never very masculinised, and she sees other women who were not so fortunate as being quite different from her. She is like those who were 1/64th coloured, who could never realise that many people would think they were only "passing for white", and treat them accordingly. "Gooble Gobble Gooble Gobble, One of Us, One of Us..." if you get the reference.

Actually, appearance has nothing to do with it. In fact, quite the opposite. Early on, I took the time to actually observe other women. I came to realize that we come in all shapes and sizes. And no, I am not spouting transgender non-sense. I am talking about women who were born female. Unlike many TGs, I looked at women as a whole, not as a fantasy. I noticed that there are women who do not fit the "norm" that so many assume is necessary to "pass." And those women don't pass. Neither do I. No, we are what we are, not some guy in a dress fooling everyone. You see, women, or men for that matter, do not pass. They simply are. Passing is reserved for those who are not. I am simply a woman. No modifiers. Just a woman. And so are those who were born in the "worong jurisdictions" who can't change their birth certificates who were also born HBS and who have correction. They are simply women. Just like the rest of that approximate half of the population that are women.

Now about commenting, and what the mods allow...

I have been less respectful of some commentators than I should be. It can be difficult being respectful when you consider some views to be not just incorrect, but actually evil and malicious. But that just means I should try all the harder. Fortunately the mods make respect a request, not a demand, or I would have been out on my ear a long time ago. It's a request I do try to honour though, the mods don't deserve much of the rubbish they put up with.

Again, that is the problem with identity politics. The moderators have been known to show bias. They will tolerate more from those expressing the "correct" views. That, of course, is human nature. But I do respect that they allow the presentation of views that are contrary to the "party line." Sadly, as I have said, some transgender people demand that people actually celebrate their views or they accuse them of being evil.

Oh, and not to further piss in your pool, but not all state laws require that one needs to have full genital reconstruction to reflect the average genital appearance of the desired sex in order to have their birth certificate changed. In fact, some states have no requirement other than a court order be presented to the Department of health calling for the sex to be changed. Oh, Lordy, the vagary!

Sorry, but I won't take the bait. I'll just ignore the attacks and answer the part that is sort of on topic. Now, would you care to back this up? Would you care to quote, as they say, chapter and verse? Would you care to show any state that actually has a law that remotely indicates that something less than changing sex (which would mean full genital reconstruction) is acceptable to change the birth certificate? I mean, really, what you are doing is trying to play games with language. Yes, many states require a court order. For example, the state I am from requires a court order from a court of competent jurisdiction. That means a court where I live. If one lives in that state, one gets a court order in that state. If one lives elsewhere, one gets a court order there. Now, what is required to get that court order? Proof that one has had permanent gential modification. You could say, technically, that a court order is sufficient. But court orders require proof of genital modification. Of course, it is entirely possible for one to get a doctor who is willing to fudge to write a letter that is meant to deceive. I recall one silly suggestion that involved claiming that one had ectopic gonads, a hypertrophied clitoris and that was was born with vaginal agenesis. Of course, that would be a complete fraud. But then again, the person suggesting it does not really care about the truth.

Which brings me back to the question that no one has addressed. Why the need to lie? Why would one wish to engage in such silly efforts. It simply shows that having a birth certificate that says one is female does not make one legally female. If you have a birth certificate that says you are a female, and you have a penis, you are still a male. A piece of paper changes nothing. In 48 states you still cannot marry a man, in all 50 states you still go to jail with men, and well, you are still a male. So really, what is the appeal? Or is it just a game for some transgender people?

battybattybats battybattybats | June 9, 2008 7:37 AM

Perhaps Susan and J.J. might like to take a second look at the moral/ethical dimemma I pointed out. Like most dilemma in moral reasoning there aren't clear-cut 'correct' answers but interesting consequences of various arguments.

The argument that TG people were "Pushing for unreasonable rights" is interesting.

I recall the petitions signed by some Australian women against the referendum to grant women the vote. The referendum nevertheless went ahead, it passed and Australia was the 2nd country in the world to give women the vote.

Now if we apply J.J.'s argument as it is so far expressed to say, the example of a gay man risking embarressment to his family by coming out it seems that he should stay closeted for their sake. If we apply it to resistance fighters under Nazi occupation again the risk of reprisals means that if we accept the same argument the ressistance was immoral and the collaborators were doing the right thing.

Now like the trolley dilemma, where that 'under the bus' thing comes from where many people are happy to murder one person with a runaway tram to save many people if they have to pull a switch to change tracks to do so but not if they have to shove the person under it from up close with their own hands, many view these dilemmas as different dependant on arbitrary qualities but the same principle is involved at each level.

Oh and J.J. the unreasonableness is an interesting notion. I'm told the Fafafini of Samoa (remember them, the third sex of Samoa you seemed to keep ignoring in the discussions ofsocio-cultural aspects of the definition of a woman in the 3 models of transexuality discussion) don't traditionally have surgery, is it still unreasonable for them to try and claim this right in countries like New Zealand and Australia where there are many Samoans living today or should they be forced to get surgery despite their culture?

And as for the 'womens spaces' thing that is fixed by the answer to other issues. Public facilities should all become single-user disabled access ones, they are safer for everyone especially children and removes discrimination against disabled people who sometimes have to travel substantially to find a disabilty acess toilet. Sure a lot of politicians will need to find new places to pick up but thats a small price to pay.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 9, 2008 7:42 AM

"Oh my! Given the nature of your vitriol, I would have to assume that you are actually quite afraid that I am correct."

Come now J.J. That is hardly substantive evidence as I explained before in the 3 models of transexuality discussion if people objecting strongly was any sort of proof almost all the conspiracy theories of the world would be validated.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 9, 2008 8:01 AM

"Which brings me back to the question that no one has addressed. Why the need to lie? Why would one wish to engage in such silly efforts."

You assume that it is a lie, but it is only one if you accept the assumptions you hold.

I find it disturbing that you reduce womanhood crucially to just one single piece of the reproductive anatomy. I certainly do not.

Those who do not consider that one single specific piece of reproductive anatomy as the crucial essence of womanhood will then not consider it a lie.

A lie requires deliberate falshood. Someone who holds a different view, even if it is incorrect, are not lying by expressing that view.

Once again I am reminded of a beautiful little poem that I saw that I believe was on Dented Blue Mercedes. It is:

I'll never be the man you want me to be.

I'll never be the woman I hope to be.

I'll just be me.


Let it go at that, please.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 9, 2008 9:31 AM

Should we as a society consider acknowledging a third option legally for people who are in transition or who don't ever fit into a strict binary gender model?

One part of India has begun that http://www.samesame.com.au/news/international/2535/India-To-Acknowledge-Third-Gender.htm

Can everyone be covered by a two sex system sufficiently cleverly worded, is a third catagory or more needed?

Or is any formal definition of male or female beyod the personal a form of sexism perpetuating a broken system and institution?

All interesting questions.

You know, JJ is right the difference between men and women is really simple. The International Olympic Committee really gets it right and they solve for intersex problems as well. They just test your chromosomes and if you have at least on Y chromosome then you are are male, otherwise you are female. Very simple and scientific. No fantasies about what penises and vaginas are. No worry about the general stupidity of the masses because they are using science, just cold hard genetic facts. SAS, if it were true to its name would have to modify you on the chromosomal level, perhaps even genetic. Hopefully one day it will even involve time travel, just to shore up some loose ends. So yeah JJ gets it right, the difference between men and woman is simple and scientifically objective unfortunately she doesn't really want to be right.


Note to everyone else, this is extremely tongue and cheek.

Over and over again, the LGBT community is attacked by the religious zealots, such as Focus on the Family and the Concern Women for America. Autumn Sandeen has done a great job of monitoring their movements for us and keeping us aware of their next round of attacks. These are not really religious organizations, but more like cults. Autumn gets attacked as well, and they use male pronouns and refer to her as "Mr. Sandeen."

These zealots also like to take scientific evidence and twist it to fit their beliefs, or just plane make things up as they go along. Face with real facts, they laugh or just resort to calling people names. It is how the reparative therapy nuts operate. One time, they took the findings of what happen to David Reimer and pointed to that as an example that a person't sex CANNOT BE CHANGED, yet the evidence clearly pointed to the fact that a person's gender identity is in their brain and not between their legs.

As you can see by many of the previous comments, the LGBT community has their own form of "zealots/cults," who act exactly like FotF and CWforA. They take scientific evidence and twist it to fit their beliefs, they will not listen to reason because they have all the answers and they resort to attacks, such as refering to people by their last name on this list, knowing full well that by putting "Mr." in front of it, like they do on other blogs, will get them banned on this blog. Still, I see it as a blantent attack. FotF and CWforA would be so proud of our zealots. It makes their job easier, even if it comes from a group of people that they see no different than the rest of us.

You know, JJ is right the difference between men and women is really simple. The International Olympic Committee really gets it right and they solve for intersex problems as well. They just test your chromosomes and if you have at least on Y chromosome then you are are male, otherwise you are female. Very simple and scientific. No fantasies about what penises and vaginas are. No worry about the general stupidity of the masses because they are using science, just cold hard genetic facts. SAS, if it were true to its name would have to modify you on the chromosomal level, perhaps even genetic. Hopefully one day it will even involve time travel, just to shore up some loose ends. So yeah JJ gets it right, the difference between men and woman is simple and scientifically objective unfortunately she doesn't really want to be right.


Note to everyone else, this is extremely tongue and cheek.

Has "tongue in cheek" become an euphemism for "completely out of date?" The Olympics now allow post-ops to compete...provided they have completed surgery, and have been on hormones for a certain period. Yes, they used to use that rather outdated standard, which by the way is not one I agree with.

Then again, like several here, this person apparently does not really comprehend my point. I am simply rejecting, and refuting, the transgender view that you are what you say you are. That is, that girls can have penises and boys can have vaginas. Something most of us learned was wrong in kindergarten, if not before.

Of course, I realize that is not a very pleasant view to have to live with when one has no desire to give up one's birth genitals.

And as for the 'womens spaces' thing that is fixed by the answer to other issues. Public facilities should all become single-user disabled access ones, they are safer for everyone especially children and removes discrimination against disabled people who sometimes have to travel substantially to find a disabilty acess toilet. Sure a lot of politicians will need to find new places to pick up but thats a small price to pay.

While I strongly support the idea of single-user disabled facilities it is impractical to suggest that they should be the only acceptable form of public facilities. While I realize that the TG crowd strongly pushes for this (or for gender neutral multiuser bathrooms) this is an example of the silliness that some advocate. The cost for such facilities would be ridiculous. They would take up much more space, would result in increased waits to use a restroom, and they would do away with the social space that women's facilities provide (something I realize that most transgender people might not quite comprehend).

Oh, and I ignore a lot of your stuff. Your attempts to control the debate really do grow tiresome.

Come now J.J. That is hardly substantive evidence as I explained before in the 3 models of transexuality discussion if people objecting strongly was any sort of proof almost all the conspiracy theories of the world would be validated.

ROTFL! Attacking an idea is one thing, attacking a person is another. Simply put, the weaker the argument, the louder the insults. I find it amusing that you keep claiming to insist on "logic" and yet you abandon it at the drop of a hat when it suits your purpose. And you made an assertion. It explained nothing.

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"you are what you say you are" is such a straw man argument to be attacking. If you deny that, great. I think everyone denies that the crazy man on the street corner is a Richard Nixon even though he is screaming it. If thats what you HBS folk are concerned about, we are in thorough agreement (at least I am).

If the HBS crowd really wants to discuss anything seriously they need to deny something far more substantial. That is, they need to deny that a calm, rational, psychologically evaluated individual, is (identify as) what they they are willing to go to persistent, constant, public, presenting in socially acceptable dress, and against most odds to identify as. Thats the typical transgendered identified transsexual.

Don't conflate the straight male (and publicly male identified) in the sack only cross-dresser with a person who struggles socially and legally to be recognized as female and lives their entire public life as such regardless of what their genitals look like.

I'm one of those people you call a man. I'm a pre-op transgender/queer identified transsexual (I'll change that when I get the money together [hard for a young 20something]). Therefore I do in fact currently have an outie rather then an innie. I live 100% of my life as female. Just like many of my friends. I assure you, none of us have any interest in doing anything indecent or violent in a ladies room (I'm a bit grossed out by public restrooms in general and amd really just looking to get out of them as fast as possible). We all really just want to pee and wash our hands, just like you. In fact, you and I have probably passed by each other at some point and I don't recall you noticing anything out of place.

If you are worried about slippery slopes, then you should be worried about your side of the debate as well. After all, if we make the policies more conservative eventually not even HBS women will be allowed to use the ladies room, only WBW as they have the girl-hood experience. You have benefited from the patriarchy afterall.

Once again I am reminded of a beautiful little poem that I saw that I believe was on Dented Blue Mercedes. It is:

I'll never be the man you want me to be.

I'll never be the woman I hope to be.

I'll just be me.


Let it go at that, please.

For some, such a view might work. But womanhood is not quantifiable. You either are, or you are not. But for the transgender, I suppose this would be a good mantra.

Over and over again, the LGBT community is attacked by the religious zealots, such as Focus on the Family and the Concern Women for America. Autumn Sandeen has done a great job of monitoring their movements for us and keeping us aware of their next round of attacks. These are not really religious organizations, but more like cults. Autumn gets attacked as well, and they use male pronouns and refer to her as "Mr. Sandeen."

It is often interesting how the transgender activists can only resort to insults and such. I don't agree with the religious right, but I also don't feel the need to attack blindly. When you insult people like that then you only lower yourself to their level.

These zealots also like to take scientific evidence and twist it to fit their beliefs, or just plane make things up as they go along. Face with real facts, they laugh or just resort to calling people names. It is how the reparative therapy nuts operate. One time, they took the findings of what happen to David Reimer and pointed to that as an example that a person't sex CANNOT BE CHANGED, yet the evidence clearly pointed to the fact that a person's gender identity is in their brain and not between their legs.

True, though I suppose that is better than simply ignoring scientific evidence and making dogmatic statements that have no basis in fact, and which have been repeatedly disproven (like that gender is a social construct).

As you can see by many of the previous comments, the LGBT community has their own form of "zealots/cults," who act exactly like FotF and CWforA. They take scientific evidence and twist it to fit their beliefs, they will not listen to reason because they have all the answers and they resort to attacks, such as refering to people by their last name on this list, knowing full well that by putting "Mr." in front of it, like they do on other blogs, will get them banned on this blog. Still, I see it as a blantent attack. FotF and CWforA would be so proud of our zealots. It makes their job easier, even if it comes from a group of people that they see no different than the rest of us.

ROTFL! I guess if one is very insecure about one's identity, then they might well see such as a blatant attack.

But in truth, what makes life so much easier for Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America is when the transgender extremists start making outrageous claims, and demanding rights that are not remotely reasonable. Rather than recognizing that "transgender" is a imaginary concept with no basis in reality, they wish to present as a monolithic entity. Rather than seeing that the rights needed by HBS women (who wish to be left out of their movement anyway) is completely different from those needed by crossdressers, they want everything for everyone. And they run a very significant risk of getting nothing for anyone. By not allowing for reason and compromise, they wind up being an easy target. Take for example, the situation in Montgomery County, Maryland. There, the religious right has a very good chance of reversing a "transgender rights" law. Why? Because of the bathroom issue. Or more to the point, the locker room issue. Now, instead of doing the sane thing, and recognizing that the law might just possibly be flawed, and calling for it to be corrected, they are sticking their heads in the sand and denying everything. If, on the other hand, they simply said, "Hey, that is a good point...we suggest a small modification to protect privacy and decency, as we have no desire to invade places where nudity is inevitable," they just pretend the issue doesn't exist. And so, they may well lose what they gained. Of course, the most extreme would simply say, "Hey, get over it...we are women with penises and we have a right to use the women's locker room." To which I would say, no way.

60 Comments!!! Okay, so this is a cheap attempt to reach 60. (I hang my head in shame,)

I don't know about the rest of you, but focusing on the genitiles of children seems to be just morally wrong, as well as against the law. Wow.

That is both sad, and desperate. I have asked the moderators to look at it. I don't believe this sort of junk is warranted at all. I guess if such attacks are all you have, that is where you are going to go.

JJ- "ROTFL! I guess if one is very insecure about one's identity, then they might well see such as a blatant attack."

Me - "Face with real facts, they laugh or just resort to calling people names."

It's nice to be proven right over and over and over. Thank you, JJ.

Well, as I said, when people are insecure, they see attacks in everything. And if Helms ever produces any real facts, I will gladly answer them. In the meantime....I guess we will just have to deal with what is said.

But it is sad that some feel the need to make this about personal attacks. I guess when you have no arguments it comes to that.

Over and over and over and . . . . You are just too good to me, JJ. I don't know how to thank you for constantly proving me and everyone else on these comments so absolutely right. Keep talking. It feels so good.

Over and over and over and . . . . You are just too good to me, JJ. I don't know how to thank you for constantly proving me and everyone else on these comments so absolutely right. Keep talking. It feels so good.

Hmmm, this reminds me of a certain president who declared "Mission Accomplished," and then ended up looking rather foolish. I guess Helms has no real arguments, so victory is declared, and much crowing is performed. Oh well...when Helms actually has something, I'll be glad to respond to it, but this is just absurd. And oh so typical.

As I say, when some have no real arguments I guess all they can do is make it personal.

The real arguements have already been presented. Could I suggest you take a Biology 101 class at your local Jr. College? If you wish to point out your unfounded facts, then I suggest you challenge the actually subject you seem to have a problem understanding. I got straight A's in both high school and college biology, so please, talk to the hand.

But, we all know it isn't the facts you want to complain about. It's the person(s) presenting them. This is why YOUR "Mission Accomplished banner is hung for. "Just checking in to see how many people I can irritate. Mission Accomplish."

Now, go to dinner with your HBS buds, sip a little whine (correct word) and laugh at how your Religious Right tactics have gone under the Bilerico radar once again. You must not have much else to find fun in life, so celebrate.

Melanie Davis | June 9, 2008 5:36 PM

Thank you,,JJ, for explaining so clearly your point, and at the same time making others' for them! As with so many people who speak from a place of privilege, your lack of desire to understand any position not held by you is understandable.

What we have to contend with is not just the rest of society's ignorance and prejudice, but our own internalised ideas of identity. Your self-definition is just that, your own, but you have chosen one that is supported by the uneducated majority of cisgendered people. Like some vocal gay men and women who "pass for straight," you cannot stand those people who do not conform to your strict definitions of proper social presentation.

That's one thing. Another is to come on to a forum slinging your views as gospel and then "defending" yourself from the certain backlash such a disruption creates. Whether this is done as an exercise of self-aggrandisement or because you just thrive off of a lively debate, who can say? But thanks for the burst of energy! You may have even set a record for the number of posts by a single person in one thread!

I don't expect any of us can actually move you from your pedestal, or show you how your privilege may be blinding you to other valid forms of being. I will state for myself at least that your simplistic definitions of sex and gender are embarrassing and frustrating. Go and live your life and simply be happy that you have been able to realise some of your dreams.

There are a lot of people out there who for a variety of very valid reasons cannot or will not undergo SRS, yet still need their documents to reflect their gender identity in order to have even the basics of a normal life. If one's appearance (and so far no employer or official has wanted to know what is in my underwear, so genital appearance is not what I am talking about) and legal documentation are incongruous, then employment, financial, housing, and other services, contracts and agreements can be denied in most places.

Self definition is an important part of growing as a human being. To solely rely upon society for one's concept of self is a sign of immaturity.

Oh, and Indiana has no law that allows someone to change their gender on their birth certificate. The process centers around the fact that there is no law that disallows that. Also, there is only precedent and not a requirement of proof of SRS to get the court order.

Now please get off your high horse, the ride's over, and some other kids would like a turn.

Batty, I was wondering where that phrase "under the bus" came from. And can I just say for the record, it's SOOOOO played out! Over it!

Serena and I just read these comments and pulled eight of them. There are better things we could be doing with our time than moderating comment threads. I'm considering turning off the comments here if this continues.

I seriously just don't have time for this, and I know Serena works on a busier schedule than I.

Please shut off the comments on this post. Thank you.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 9, 2008 8:40 PM

Regarding single-us facilities, the cost may be high but it is just. Discrimination against the disabled is not valid, undoing that alone justifies the expense. The high-profile assaults and murders of children in public toilets in australia over recent years also justifies it. I consider removing these problems more important than the social role of such facilities etc. To minimise costs the same system used for providing wheelchair access can be used. Require it of all new buildings, roll out a gradual renovation of government faciliies then make it a requirment of public licences and the like over several years for all but heritage listed businesses. Within a decade or two you fix the problem at a small cost.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 9, 2008 8:54 PM

I had said: "Come now J.J. That is hardly substantive evidence as I explained before in the 3 models of transexuality discussion if people objecting strongly was any sort of proof almost all the conspiracy theories of the world would be validated."

J.J. responded: "ROTFL! Attacking an idea is one thing, attacking a person is another. Simply put, the weaker the argument, the louder the insults. I find it amusing that you keep claiming to insist on "logic" and yet you abandon it at the drop of a hat when it suits your purpose. And you made an assertion. It explained nothing."

I'll call the bluff on your rhetoric. Explain please how my statement was illogical. All I'd said was that if we apply your rule as proof then we don't just have to accept the existence
of bigfoot or Hoaglands face on mars but almost every conspiracy theory ever. I'm just applying your own rule of proof to other examples. Quite logical and apropriate.

Here's an example.

David Icke like yourself makes assertions. People responded by calling him a crackpot and his views insane, even stronger than responses to yours, therefore his views according to your 'proof' must be true. Therefore the Queen of England is, as David claims, an immortal paedophile shape-changing satan worshiping reptiloid alien ruler of a vast world-dominating empire.

That is logic. That is a perfect test of your argument. Now if you'd like to SHOW how my statements fall outside formal logic rather than just stating it repeatedly without backing it up then I'd be happy to hear it.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 9, 2008 9:20 PM

"True, though I suppose that is better than simply ignoring scientific evidence and making dogmatic statements that have no basis in fact, and which have been repeatedly disproven (like that gender is a social construct)."

But weren't you agreeing with Elaine's definition of woman as someone socially constituted as a woman and accepting the identity of woman in the 3 models discussion?

"Oh, and I ignore a lot of your stuff. Your attempts to control the debate really do grow tiresome."

I guess dealing with difficult points must be wearisome for you. But I'm hardly attempting to 'control the debate' by bringing up ideas that are difficult for you.

Like the Fafafini. You seem allergic to the word. When claims have been made about women always knowing who else are really women and the essentialness of surgery for legal recognition and I bring up the Fafafini you avoid responding.

If I was to postulate a corollary to your amusing and silly 'proof' I'd suggest that when someone repeatedly ignores a point like that rather than answering it it must be fatal to their point. But I think thats silly as I can conceive of other possibilities for inability to answer to points just as there are other reasons for people calling David Icke a crackpot than a vast global conspiracy to hide the truth.

I guess it might prove hard for you to deal with, especially keeping up such a high number of comments, when you find responding to such notions so tiring as you do but I'm earnestly interested on your view of the cultural variations of accepted sexes like the third sex forms of some cultures like the Fafafini of Samoa and how that fits into your stated views.

With the significant and growing numbers of islanders in Australia and New Zealand the proper legal definition/recognition of Fafafini is important as well as being quite pertinent to this issue.

Just four more posts on the Bilerico's front page and this goes into the archives. Thank God. When it does, all I can say is "IAFT."

battybattybats battybattybats | June 10, 2008 9:54 AM

J.J. et al.
As the issues of human rights seem poorly understood by many especially with regard to culturaly accepted varaiations like Fafafini it might do to look at human rights more closely.
Perhaps you might find interesting the Yogyakarta Principles http://www.yogyakartaprinciples.org/principles_en.htm
They explain what the existing human rights principles mean for sex, gender identity and sexuality and what the obligations of states regarding them are.

Regarding single-us facilities, the cost may be high but it is just. Discrimination against the disabled is not valid, undoing that alone justifies the expense. The high-profile assaults and murders of children in public toilets in australia over recent years also justifies it. I consider removing these problems more important than the social role of such facilities etc. To minimise costs the same system used for providing wheelchair access can be used. Require it of all new buildings, roll out a gradual renovation of government faciliies then make it a requirment of public licences and the like over several years for all but heritage listed businesses. Within a decade or two you fix the problem at a small cost.

Most facilities provide disabled access. Single use bathrooms are not a necessity to provide that. Many places do provide single use facilities for the disabled and for families in addition to regular bathrooms. To demand that they replace regular facilities is absurd. Simply put, it is not going to happen. Some ideas are just a bit too much.

I think what all of this boils down to is one is either congruent male, congruent female, or incongruent transgender. Gender is a continuum, not a dichotomy, and each of us is at a different place on that continuum. Those who would argue otherwise appear to want to marginalize those who don't measure up to their standards of perfection. Perhaps the greater question is who is a perfect male or a perfect female.
I know maybe one or two, but I ain't one of them.

Are you?

If you are, then by all means feel that you can criticize those of us who aren't.
If you aren't perfect, may I suggest that you please get down off your high horse and join the rest of us as we struggle to go about our daily lives. Maybe we can make the lives of each of us a little easier instead of throwing bricks and bottles at one another.

Peace.

I'll call the bluff on your rhetoric. Explain please how my statement was illogical. All I'd said was that if we apply your rule as proof then we don't just have to accept the existence of bigfoot or Hoaglands face on mars but almost every conspiracy theory ever. I'm just applying your own rule of proof to other examples. Quite logical and apropriate.

First off, you seem to have failed to comprehend what I wrote. I was referring to your claiming that I make assertions while doing the same yourself, and also ignoring when others do so.

Second, in the section you quote, you miss that I was referring back to what the person I was responding to said, that you conveniently ignored.

Now, if in your example, they merely call David Icke a crackpot, then they have not really refuted his statements. They have merely attacked him. While that does not prove his statements correct, it also avoids having to actually refute them. Why, I have no idea, as his ideas are quite absurd and easily subject to being refuted. But them, some people are quite intellectually lazy. They would rather attack the person than the idea.

Now, my point was simple. Several here have chosen to attack me, rather tha actually address what I said. By calling me names, they avoid having to deal with the real issues. Why? I don't know, but I would be willing to guess that it is because they are afraid that I might, possibly, be more right than they care to admit.

Now you, on the other hand, use a slightly more clever approach, but one that is still not valid. You simply demand more and more "proof." And after a point, I simply have a nice laugh and start enjoying myself. You think by never actually refuting anything, but by simply raising trivial objections, you can wear someone down. And while that might work with someone who doesn't see through such a scheme....well, nice try, but nope, didn't work.

Now, when you can provide something substantive, we can talk. My favorite, was when Helms asserted that having earned an A in biology refuted my statements. Sort of saying, "I know more than you do, and I say you are wrong, so therefore you are wrong." No actual argument. Just an assertion that Helms had an A in biology, and so therefore I was wrong.

But weren't you agreeing with Elaine's definition of woman as someone socially constituted as a woman and accepting the identity of woman in the 3 models discussion?

Nope.

I guess dealing with difficult points must be wearisome for you. But I'm hardly attempting to 'control the debate' by bringing up ideas that are difficult for you.

No, not at all. I just find your attempts rather amusing. Please see my previous post.

Like the Fafafini. You seem allergic to the word. When claims have been made about women always knowing who else are really women and the essentialness of surgery for legal recognition and I bring up the Fafafini you avoid responding.

No, I have ignored it because it is irrelevant to the discussion. The Fafafini, like other possible examples, is cultural. It is how one group of people deal with the fact that some are born with a brain that is at odds with the body. It probably leads to some chosing such a lifestyle as well. But it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. We are not talking in the context of some aboriginal society. But, if you like their approach better, well perhaps they will admit you to their tribe.

As the issues of human rights seem poorly understood by many especially with regard to culturaly accepted varaiations like Fafafini it might do to look at human rights more closely.

Now this is a perfect example of what I mentioned earlier. Sorry, but no. We are not discussing this in the context of an aboriginal culture. And I understand the concept of human rights quite well. Well enough, in fact, to reject your rather extremist positions that tend to elevate individual rights (well, at least the rights of individuals that you approve of) over the rights of society as a whole. Rights have to be balanced. The classic example, and the easiest to explain in this sort of discussion, is the right of free speech. It is not absolute. For example, you can't, as the old saying goes, shout fire in a crowded theater.

Now, a more pertinent example deals with the right of women to have a sense of privacy and security, versus the right of a transgender man to use the bathroom. Now he might wish to argue that he really is a woman, but how do we decide that issue. Some places tend to say that presentation makes a difference. Others might say that is not enough. Some extremists would say "Do away with separate bathrooms!" At the other extreme, some would say that chromosomes are the answer. Personally, if a person is presenting well enough to not cause a major problem, behaves, and such, then I have no real problem.

Now this is where the real irony comes in. For many transgender males, the women's room is a place to be conquered. They see it as their absolute right to go in there, and they don't care who is upset. On the other hand, for an HBS woman, in the early stages of transition, it is a matter of discretion. They worry that they might be confronted. The idea of being seen as a man is devastating. While they seek affirmation they have nothing to prove by being there. Until she feels confident in her presentation, she will either seek out a restroom where she is unlikely to encounter anyone, or she will hold it until she gets home.

I think what all of this boils down to is one is either congruent male, congruent female, or incongruent transgender. Gender is a continuum, not a dichotomy, and each of us is at a different place on that continuum. Those who would argue otherwise appear to want to marginalize those who don't measure up to their standards of perfection. Perhaps the greater question is who is a perfect male or a perfect female. I know maybe one or two, but I ain't one of them.

Are you?

If you are, then by all means feel that you can criticize those of us who aren't.
If you aren't perfect, may I suggest that you please get down off your high horse and join the rest of us as we struggle to go about our daily lives. Maybe we can make the lives of each of us a little easier instead of throwing bricks and bottles at one another.

This seems to be similar to the idea of being "100% woman." I know of one rather nasty poster in another forum who has thrown that at HBS women. That we claim to be "100% women." What a silly idea. That presumes that womanhood can be quantified. No one is perfect. But that is beside the point. I am a woman. Period. Perfect? No, but no woman, or man for that matter, is. But I disagree about gender being a spectrum. That is classic transgender. No, gender is binary. There really are only two legitimate options. And yes, that is an assertion, but then so is the assertion that gender is a spectrum. Now, someone might be more, or less feminine, or masculine, or they might even fall somewhere towards the middle. But in the end, we are still either men or women. You can play around with gender, but you can't really avoid it. And you really can't change it, no matter how much you may want to.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 10, 2008 8:26 PM

J.J. You used your the stronger the objection argument in the other discussion just days ago describing it as PROOF.

Now your modifying it to a more reasonable concept by trying to say that the use of an ad hominem (or Ad Feminem for those who prefer the term) which is indeed a logical fallacy that I too agree is nonsense means the argument it is used against is (or now you say may be) valid.

But that too is invalid, people getting angry with you or criticising you either validly or invalidly may not indeed invalidate your argument but it doesn't validate it either.

And there you go again suggesting I ask for excessive proof. The age-old complaint of con-artists, charlatans and the like.

In the other discussion you brought up claims of medical/scientific certainty so I asked for nothing more than the standard required for conclusive scientific/medical proof. not a jot more than that. You could only provide suggestive evidence, not definitive and conclusive evidence so your claim was invalid under scientific and medical criteria.

Then you claimed there was an actual conspiracy to deliberately change the meaning of the word transsexual and you offered as 'proof' your louder-the-objection argument that would validate David Icke etc. All I asked for was the standard of evidence used to prove actualy proven conspiracies like the Watergate conspiracy and the Intelligent Design as creationist trojan horse conspiracy. You had no Tapes, you had no Wedge Document, you had no real evidence, you didn't have a hint as much evidence as conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assasinations Roswell Flying Saucer etc that are nevertheless dissmissed.

You have spouted baseless assertions and objected to the basic standard of proof for such claims as unreasonable!

Where I have made assertions I'm happy to provide appropriate evidence or to retract them as assertions of fact.

And you object to me raising as yet untested possibilities. But that is the standard way things are discussed and dealt with from hard-science like physics and engineering through to the most whimsical metaphysics. Alternate explanations must be explored and eliminated where possible. It's part of basic scientific method.

You might like sounding authoratative but you should at least try and reach a modicum of the basic academic standard.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 10, 2008 8:50 PM

I'd said: "But weren't you agreeing with Elaine's definition of woman as someone socially constituted as a woman and accepting the identity of woman in the 3 models discussion?"

J.J.: "Nope."

My apologies. I mixed you up with Cathryn in that regard. It was not intended, a common enough error especially considering my disability but I nevertheless apologise entirely for it.

"No, I have ignored it because it is irrelevant to the discussion. The Fafafini, like other possible examples, is cultural. It is how one group of people deal with the fact that some are born with a brain that is at odds with the body. It probably leads to some chosing such a lifestyle as well. But it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. We are not talking in the context of some aboriginal society. But, if you like their approach better, well perhaps they will admit you to their tribe."

"Now this is a perfect example of what I mentioned earlier. Sorry, but no. We are not discussing this in the context of an aboriginal culture."

Sorry J.J. but it IS relevant because, I guess you missed this bit, there are significant numbers of Samoan people in countries like Australia and New Zealand! I had Samoan classmates in highschool and tertiery education. The legal recognistion of Fafafini in Australia, New Zealand and any other country Samoan people live in or visit is an issue and one that absolutely does relate to defining man and woman legally. Yes it is cultural as some argue much of 'man' and 'woman' is cultural but that doesn't invalidate it. Cultural rights are recognised human rights.

Any context we talk in has to deal with the multicultural reality of just about every country with internet access so your dissmissal is invalid. There are Samoans in my town. I have been invited to drink Kava with a mixed group of Samoans, Maori's, Papuans and Timorese. If I travel to the coast I will find them on the beach. Their are Samoan athletes in Australian and New Zealand teams. I have cousins with islander ancestry but as they were robbed of their heritage no-one knows which.

The legal recognition of Fafafini is an issue in my country. Your attempts to dissmiss them and their legitimate concerns from the discussion is not just intellectually invalid but quite condemnable!

J.J. You used your the stronger the objection argument in the other discussion just days ago describing it as PROOF.

ROTFL! I would never use that as a proof. I might use it as a rhetorical point, but never as a proof. How silly would that be.

Now your modifying it to a more reasonable concept by trying to say that the use of an ad hominem (or Ad Feminem for those who prefer the term) which is indeed a logical fallacy that I too agree is nonsense means the argument it is used against is (or now you say may be) valid.

This is getting funnier and funnier. Actually, what I am saying is very simple. An ad hominem (ad feminem is purest silliness) has no bearing on the validity of a point. It is worthless. It is often used when a person has no real arguments, as has, I believe, been the case here. But it proves nothing, except, perhaps, that the person using it has nothing of value to add to the discussion.

But that too is invalid, people getting angry with you or criticising you either validly or invalidly may not indeed invalidate your argument but it doesn't validate it either.

No, not directly, though it does raise serious questions about the validity of their counterpoint. Now, this raises another logical issue. An invalid counterpoint does not prove the validity of the original point. Let's say I were to say "The sky on a clear, sunny day is actually a lovely shade of lavender." Now, if someone responds..."You are an idiot. It is actually bright red!" they have made an invalid counterargument, but they have also not invalidated my statement. They have only proven they are as wrong as I am.

And there you go again suggesting I ask for excessive proof. The age-old complaint of con-artists, charlatans and the like.

Ah we agree. Asking for excessive proof is the age-old complaint of con-artists, charlatans, and the like. So please, refrain from doing so in the future.

In the other discussion you brought up claims of medical/scientific certainty so I asked for nothing more than the standard required for conclusive scientific/medical proof. not a jot more than that. You could only provide suggestive evidence, not definitive and conclusive evidence so your claim was invalid under scientific and medical criteria.

And were this a scientific or medical dicussion I would offer that level of proof. But this is not such. This little discussion of not of sufficient significance to waste the time to prepare such a proof. Under other circumstances I might do just that, but in places like this, it is just a waste of effort. I learned that lesson long ago when I was engaged in another online discussion on religion. The person I was debating with kept claiming that Genesis states that the sky is a big metal dome. I spent several hours researching the topic, and I presented a rather scholarly refutation of his claim. It was a nice piece of work and totally destroyed all his arguments. After a few days silence, he simply started making the same claims and never even acknowledged that I had replied. So, I no longer bother going to such lengths.

Then you claimed there was an actual conspiracy to deliberately change the meaning of the word transsexual and you offered as 'proof' your louder-the-objection argument that would validate David Icke etc. All I asked for was the standard of evidence used to prove actualy proven conspiracies like the Watergate conspiracy and the Intelligent Design as creationist trojan horse conspiracy. You had no Tapes, you had no Wedge Document, you had no real evidence, you didn't have a hint as much evidence as conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assasinations Roswell Flying Saucer etc that are nevertheless dissmissed.

Now, this bit of dishonesty is what is known as a straw man argument. Rather than answer what I actually said, you create something you can destroy (the straw man). I, or actually, Cathryn, pointed out that the behavior of certain transgender types shows the validity of the point raised. (Loudness has nothing to do with it, since this is the Internet, and...well, that is just silly.) No, what was pointed to was a pattern of behavior that shows continued efforts to confuse the issue. You created this silly "conspiracy theory" straw man, and well, it is of absolutely no worth. It's really not nearly as clever as you think it is.

You have spouted baseless assertions and objected to the basic standard of proof for such claims as unreasonable!

Actually, I will admit that I have had fun feeding you out a bit of rope, and watching you tie the noose. You see, as I point out, your argument is merely straw. And now, shall we say, I have laid the torch to it.

Where I have made assertions I'm happy to provide appropriate evidence or to retract them as assertions of fact.

Feel free to do so... Straw burns nicely.

And you object to me raising as yet untested possibilities. But that is the standard way things are discussed and dealt with from hard-science like physics and engineering through to the most whimsical metaphysics. Alternate explanations must be explored and eliminated where possible. It's part of basic scientific method.

ROTFL! I believe that is pretty much what you have accused me of doing. Raising possibilities is one thing. Presenting them as fact is another. Feel free to offer possibilities. But be aware that they should at least have some basis in reality.

You might like sounding authoratative but you should at least try and reach a modicum of the basic academic standard.

Were this an academic discussion, I would. Oh, the irony of it all. There is so much you don't know. But, I prefer privacy over other matters. We shall leave it at that.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 10, 2008 9:33 PM

"And I understand the concept of human rights quite well. Well enough, in fact, to reject your rather extremist positions that tend to elevate individual rights (well, at least the rights of individuals that you approve of) over the rights of society as a whole."

So you now claim to know more about human rights than the human rights lawyers of the world. Pity you weren't there at the convention that established the Yogyakarta Principles to explain the 'fire in a crowded theatre' argument. Especially when the Yogyakarta Principles are just an explanation of what the CURRENT international human rights laws mean when applied to sex, gender and sexuality.

The individuals rights are greater than the states rights over the individual, but all individuals rights are equal to all other individuals rights. Often with responsibilities that come with them.

"Now, a more pertinent example deals with the right of women to have a sense of privacy and security, versus the right of a transgender man to use the bathroom."

Like the right of white people to have a sense of privacy and security versus the right of black people to use the bathroom?

It's a valid comparison and a valid precedent. In the past some people were outraged when people wanted public facilities desegregated on race. From toilets to public swimming pools. What about when women gained admitance to mens schools, clubs and exclusive mens facilities.

Unfortunatly for you the argument is the same. There are human rights of privacy and security but they don't ensure such segregation at all. As Apartheid was wrong, as race segregation of facilities in America and Australia was wrong so too is discrimination against gender-varient people whether self identified as such or perceived as such. The very same principles lead to the very same conclusions!

battybattybats battybattybats | June 11, 2008 3:56 AM

J.J.:
"ROTFL! I would never use that as a proof. I might use it as a rhetorical point, but never as a proof. How silly would that be."

J.J. in post 405 of http://www.bilerico.com/2008/05/3_models_of_transsexuality.php :
"Alas, some here demand ridiculous standards of proof. As Cathryn pointed out, the behavior of the transgender crowd in reaction to the HBS model is more than adequate proof that the attempts to change the meaning of "transsexual" was motivated by an attempt to confuse the meaning of the term. If one wishes to ignore that clear reasoning (and of course, it should be noted that some here perhaps share that same motivation anyway) that is not my problem."

In the context of discussion of claims of deliberate conspiring to control the official meaning of the word transexual you said that was proof. You used the word proof, in the context of discussion on what constitutes valid proof! And when I demonstrate what else your allegedly not 'ridiculous' standard of evidence would also prove you call that a straw-man argument? Other examples are not straw men, there would need to be an operative difference for them to be straw-men.

It sems a bit of a double standard for someone with a number of posts having been deleted for exceeding the TOS on personal attacks (including one aimed at me appearing to refer to goths as offensive, or was that just crossdressers? Or crossdressing goths? Or just me?) to complain when others use personal attacks on you and to then use those as validation of your argument.

Or have you some past points to concede?

Worse yet for someone to try to use claims to science and medicine to make a point but then object when scientific and medical criteria of evidence are brought into things as 'ridiculous'.

A lot of your remaining posts while within the precise wording of the TOS seem rather wide of the mark of the spirit of it, the site or general respectful discussion.

The legal recognition of Fafafini is an issue in my country. Your attempts to dissmiss them and their legitimate concerns from the discussion is not just intellectually invalid but quite condemnable!

They should be subject to the same laws as anyone else. I'm sorry, but if we start recognizing "cultural differences" in that manner then where does it stop?

So you now claim to know more about human rights than the human rights lawyers of the world. Pity you weren't there at the convention that established the Yogyakarta Principles to explain the 'fire in a crowded theatre' argument. Especially when the Yogyakarta Principles are just an explanation of what the CURRENT international human rights laws mean when applied to sex, gender and sexuality.

And what CURRENT international human rights laws are you referring to? There are none. That is because there are not really any international human rights laws, period. There are a few things that are generally seen as prohibited, like war crimes, but that is not really applicable here. But let's start with something simpler. What international governing body legislates these laws? Oh wait...we don't have such a body. What court enforces these laws? Opps...with the exception of stuff like war crimes, there isn't one. So, as I pointed out, we are talking principles...on which there is nothing approaching universal agreement.

The individuals rights are greater than the states rights over the individual, but all individuals rights are equal to all other individuals rights. Often with responsibilities that come with them.

Really? A lot of people would disagree on that. That is a nice statement of principle. Even one I might agree with. But fact? Hardly.

Like the right of white people to have a sense of privacy and security versus the right of black people to use the bathroom?

It's a valid comparison and a valid precedent. In the past some people were outraged when people wanted public facilities desegregated on race. From toilets to public swimming pools. What about when women gained admitance to mens schools, clubs and exclusive mens facilities.

Oh really? And how is that remotely a valid comparison? How do you possibly propose to compare an intrinsic and immutable human characteristic such as race with something as totally subjective as being "transgender?" I'm sorry, but that is not remotely a valid comparison. People choose to be transgender. It is an artificial social/political construct. Your argument could just as easily be stated using another modifier, like, oh say...Democrat. You could just as validly argue that Male members of the Democratic Party has a right to use the ladies room. No, sorry, but it doesn't follow at all.

Unfortunatly for you the argument is the same. There are human rights of privacy and security but they don't ensure such segregation at all. As Apartheid was wrong, as race segregation of facilities in America and Australia was wrong so too is discrimination against gender-varient people whether self identified as such or perceived as such. The very same principles lead to the very same conclusions!

Sorry, but your argument is without any merit. Being "gender-variant" is a choice. Being HBS is not. Your principles are flawed in their entirety. You start out with a invalid premise, and you build on it. Sorry, but that house of cards has tumbled. Race and sex are intrinsic. Being transgender is behavioral.

In the context of discussion of claims of deliberate conspiring to control the official meaning of the word transexual you said that was proof. You used the word proof, in the context of discussion on what constitutes valid proof! And when I demonstrate what else your allegedly not 'ridiculous' standard of evidence would also prove you call that a straw-man argument? Other examples are not straw men, there would need to be an operative difference for them to be straw-men.

Now, this is a classic example of why one should "quite while they are ahead," or in this case, before they dig themselves a deeper hole.

The proof is not the silly "how loud they argue" straw argument you came up with, but the simple fact that they object to the HBS concept. They coopted the term "transsexual," and when those who actually were appropriate called 'transsexual" started moving to a new term, the transgender crowd began objecting to that. If they did not deliberately move to confuse the difference between themselves and transsexuals, then why would they care that we are mocing to a new term? See? No, "people loudly objecting proves I am right," but simply their behavior shows what they are really doing.

It sems a bit of a double standard for someone with a number of posts having been deleted for exceeding the TOS on personal attacks (including one aimed at me appearing to refer to goths as offensive, or was that just crossdressers? Or crossdressing goths? Or just me?) to complain when others use personal attacks on you and to then use those as validation of your argument.

Wow, another straw argument. And one that is even lamer.

Or have you some past points to concede?

Worse yet for someone to try to use claims to science and medicine to make a point but then object when scientific and medical criteria of evidence are brought into things as 'ridiculous'.

A lot of your remaining posts while within the precise wording of the TOS seem rather wide of the mark of the spirit of it, the site or general respectful discussion.

Well, when someone's argument consists of "I got an A in biology," then yes, I would call that pretty ridiculous.

As to the spirit of "respectful discussion," well I don't think anyone is a position to be casting stones there.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 11, 2008 9:27 PM

"They should be subject to the same laws as anyone else. I'm sorry, but if we start recognizing "cultural differences" in that manner then where does it stop?"

I'd suggest that there is no reasonable justification for any colonial country to not recognise those cultural differences of indiginous peoples of that country, it's territories and it's immediate culturally and historicly connected neighbours. That would mean that as Polynesian and various Asian peoples visited and traded with Australia prior to white Invasion, are the indiginous peoples of New Zealand and Hawaii that the cultural differences of Polynesian peoples should be recognised by Australian New Zealand and the USA Just as said countries have a very substantial obligation to recognise those of respectively the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islnaders and the First Nations. Those colonial nations prior to various independances should also be obliged to do so such as the UK.

All the countries which attempted to control Samoa would for example have such an obligation.

Colonialist countries have obligations to the peoples they invaded.

But where to stop? Well if we recognise human rights as I and many others do the line is there, cultural rights exist but don't invalidate personal rights so for example initiation rites like penile sub-incision, chest/breast sicatrices, circumcision etc need to be totally voluntary with informed consent after reaching a formal age of consent.

If you don't recognise human rights theres interesting options, the might-makes-right one where sexism racism and genocide are valid and no indiginous culture need be recognised at all. Then theres the extreme cultural respect one where indiginous peoples can impose their law as the pre-existing one on colonial invaders with things like the return of feudalism, death penalty by spear or club and lots more.

There are lots of options in between but they are generally arbitrary where minorities rely on the whims of majorities in their own countries.

Human rights protects the cultural rights of all peoples while protecting people from those cultures who choose not to partake of some or all of it.

And what reasons are there to impose via legal rules a definition of male and female that violates these peoples culture? All that does is to protect the definitions of one culture, enshrining in law white western judeao-christian views of the sexes to the detriment and suffering of others. For what gain?

battybattybats battybattybats | June 11, 2008 10:16 PM

"The proof is not the silly "how loud they argue" straw argument you came up with, but the simple fact that they object to the HBS concept."

Oh, I'm sorry for my slight mistake. It's not the louder-they-object it's the fact that they object at all.

But that doesn't invalidate my argument. It makes your 'proof' even worse!

That makes every conspiracy theory true! Not just most but all of them! Every theory or model objected to by holders of other theories or models must be true because others object to it?

You ignore the basic possibility that people agree with the transgender model rather than your view of what transgender means. you ignore that where you see two distinct and seperate groups others see gradations because the same data is being considered from different perspectives. You ignore that others have a different point of view to yours and then act on that view!

Its as simple as people believe A, people then act as if A is true. You assume people don't and can't believe in A, so they only act as if A is true because of alterior motives.

You don't have verifiable evidence for your allegation of a conspiracy to co-opt the name and change its meaning (as you claimed before it was definatly not the common and natural shift of meaning that occurs constantly in general language but the result of a deliberate action) and your 'proof' is simply that people with one set of views object to another set of views?

If we apply that standard of 'proof' to any other allegation of deliberate conspiracy what result do we get? The GAO report on the Roswell incident 'proves' that it really was a flying saucer filled with aliens. The fact that the GAO objects to the ETH (extra-terrestrial Hypothesis) 'proves' that their project mogul balloon alternate explanation is false and that they conspired to cover up that the ETH is true.

Sorry, that's no straw-man. You state that the objection = proof. Using the same standard-of-proof proves the Roswell saucer. It's a measure of the quality of the standard-of-proof.

Maybe you need to remind yourself what a 'straw-man' argument is?

A straw-man:
1. Person A has position X.

2. Person B ignores X and instead presents position Y

3. Person B attacks position Y.

4. Person B draws a conclusion that X is false/incorrect/flawed.

But what I'm doing is this:
1. Person A has position X.

(you have position objection to HBS = proof of TG conspiracy changing general meaning of word transsexual incl in Oxford dictionary)

2. Person B points out the opperative principle of position X, not a different position Y but the basic mechanism of X

(I show that your basic position is objection=proof)

3. Person B provides other examples of operative principle of position X in action. If position X is true logicly all examples using the same operative principle are also true.

(I give all those conspiracy theory examples showing that your 'proof' also 'proves' them)

4. Person B demonstrates that the opperative principle of position X is intrinsicly flawed.

(as objection=proof is clearly insufficient as proof as it would prove any conspiracy theory ffrom the likely to the craziest of notions.)

Not a straw-man.

Now I'm not yet saying that there was no conspiracy. I'm not objecting to the possibility that some TG people may have attempted to deliberatly influence the neaning of the word transexual for political purposes. That sort of thing happens often. I'm not saying they didn't succeed, though as I pointed out deliberate language shift that isn't negative association (aka demonisation) is difficult though not impossible.

All I'm saying is that where some conspiracies are proven (watergate, intelligent design etc) by physical verifiable evidence the 'proof' you use is invalid as it 'proves' all sorts of stuff both valid and nonsense when applied to other examples. I'm not attacking the possibility, but I am demonstrating using examples the invalidity of your 'proof' of a certainty.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 11, 2008 10:28 PM

J.J. Since when did rights belong only to innate traits and not matters of choice?

Religion is a choice yet discrimination against people based on their religion is also generaly recognised as invalid, as a human rights abuse.

Even if you were able to scientificly conclusively prove that HBS is innate and all non-HBS gender varaince is choice that would not invalidate the human rights of the choosers.

Now if you dissmiss the notion of universal human rights I'd like to hear what philosophy you have that justifies your needs being recognised that does not also justify universal human rights.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 12, 2008 12:25 AM

Oh and my point about desegregation most importantly is that the discomfort of others was not then and is not now an excuse for denial of a right.

J.J. said: "Now, a more pertinent example deals with the right of women to have a sense of privacy and security, versus the right of a transgender man to use the bathroom."

White men and women raised for years to consider black people as dirty, disease carrying, rapists and worse were often not comfortible with the idea of sharing facilities. Just look at the old arguments about sharing public swimming pools!

Hence the argument that peoples comfort or biases should be alowed to justify inequality and discrimination.

The precedent has been set. It's easy sure to dissregard the fears and emotional upsets of past people over things that are often taken for granted now (though there are still some who wont use bathrooms if they know black people or other ethnicities stigmatised by negative stereotypes are in there) but they just had (and some still have) to learn to live with it.

When men had to deal with their upset at women joining their classes, they had to live with it. When white folk had to deal with being upset with black folk in the same toilets and changerooms and swimming pools as them, it was tough for them, they just had to live with it too.

People being upset or feeling insecure because others get their rights and are treated as equals is not a justification for discrimination. There is a difference between genuine privacy and security and 'a sense' of privacy and security based on biases and discrimination.

And what reasons are there to impose via legal rules a definition of male and female that violates these peoples culture? All that does is to protect the definitions of one culture, enshrining in law white western judeao-christian views of the sexes to the detriment and suffering of others. For what gain?

Governments have a right, as well as a duty, to take whatever measures are necessary to insure social order. I realize you do not recognize this, but that changes nothing.

But that doesn't invalidate my argument. It makes your 'proof' even worse!

Now, you will have to pardon me for ignoring that massive pile of straw that you tearing through and getting straight to the heart of the matter...

Now, conspiracy is a rather vague term. Like "transgender" it can mean a whole lot of things, including some that are not remotely accurate. Now, as I understand your straw man, you are implying that I have suggested that there was some massive conspiracy by the, oh shall we say...Central Ruling Committee of the Massive Trangender Conspiracy, to "deliberatly influence the neaning of the word 'transsexual' for political purposes."

How absolutely absurd!

Now, what has been asserted is that there was a deliberate attempt on the part of some people to change the meaning of the word for their own purposes. As evidence of this fact, it has been pointed out that they objected when a new term was introduced to differentiate between those who are, and those who aren't.

Now, your argument seems to be that people's behavior is not evidence of those people's behavior. Okay....uh, yeah....sure...if that's what you want to say. That's fine. Oh, but wait. Now you are demanding physical proof of this. Really now...you almost make things too easy.

Oh, and the real irony is you basically concede our original point, while weaving your totally absourd straw argument. Thanks for a great laugh.

The sort of rights we are discussing has always been based on innate traits. Religion, of course, is generally treated as a special case, as it cannot be easily dismissed as not intrinsic, and can also not be easily dismissed as just behavior. Some, of course, argue that religion should not be protected, but that is another matter entirely.

Now, with the exception of religion, which as I point out is universally regarded as an exception (and could arguably be considered intrinsic in at least some cases), please offer up some other example of where rights against discrimination is rooted in behavior and not an intrinsic trait.

Now, there is strong evidence that HBS is intrinsic, virtually no valid evidence that it is not, and there is no evidence that transgender is anything other than behavioral.

Oh and my point about desegregation most importantly is that the discomfort of others was not then and is not now an excuse for denial of a right.

When the discomfort is based on an intrinsic trait, such as race or sex, then no, discomfort is certainly not an excuse for that sort of discrimination.

But, we are not discussing intrinsic traits. We are discussing behavior, which is a valid basis for prohibiting something which makes others uncomfortable.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 12, 2008 9:01 PM

"The sort of rights we are discussing has always been based on innate traits. Religion, of course, is generally treated as a special case."

No J.J. Read up some history and some philosophy. The enlightenment philosophies that lead to the notion of human rights are based on individual choice and a REJECTION of privilege from birth traits. That was why it's first big fight was against BIRTHRIGHT OF NOBILITY.

Democracy, an end of the riegn of kings, the rejection of the feudal system. The notion that all humans by their capacity for individual reason had intrinsic rights.

Since then the fight has been to get everyone recognised as being equal, one stupid indefensible bias after another, from nobility to religion, race, sex and so-on. You clearly don't know at all what your talking about or you'd understand about the birth of the notions of 'the rights of man' (yes it took them awhile to count women) as a big part of the French Revolution, the founding of independant America and the birth of modern democracy.

It all comes from arguments in philosophy during the Enlightenment where plenty of people rejected notions of birthright and notions held by those like Hobbes of the state being more important than the individuals and decided the individuals capacity for choice was paramount!

Thats what that whole FREEDOM thing has been about!

battybattybats battybattybats | June 12, 2008 9:23 PM

"Governments have a right, as well as a duty, to take whatever measures are necessary to insure social order. I realize you do not recognize this, but that changes nothing."

So you align yourself with the justifications of the worst of totalitarianism and the worst of communism. Mussolini, Stalin, Mao and plenty of others all argued that social order is more important than human rights.

Whatever measures are neccessary you say.

Wow. That notion is way beyond sick. I can't believe you said that! That kind of view might be polpular in the corridors of power in North Korea and China and other places where driving tanks over unarmed people, executing dissidants and the like might be common place but I never thought I'd hear it from anyone in the western world.

The whole point of human rights is to put a limit on what states can do.

The Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd recently apologised for the massive wrongs done to indiginous peoples, my cousins amongst them, for the cultural genocide of those 'whatever measures are neccessary' views. A similar apology and even further steps came the other day from Canada.

Of course if the argument were being applied to you, denying you your rights for the sake of 'social order' I'd doubt you'd be happy about it.

Some of the worst crimes against humanity were committed in the name of 'insuring social order'. I lost relatives in the gas chambers of Nazi Germany to 'insure social order' by 'whatever means are neccessary'.

Should my Gypsy cousins and the entire extended families of Jewish friends of mine have smiled as the went into the gas chambers or before the firing squads and be happy that the government had a duty to insure social order by whatever means are neccessary?

I guess we now have a measure of you J.J. Unless you want to retract that statement having been unaware of it's inevitable consequences.

No J.J. Not by any means neccessary. Murder, mass murder, genocide, cultural genocide, torture... no J.J. not by any means neccessary!

The social order still needs reform not preservation. The governments duty is to protect the rights of it's citizens. From the right to security and due process to equality and freedom of expression not to preserve a discriminatory system of hierarchical privilege.

Your justification is beyond the pale. Freeing the slaves went against insuring the social order, giving women the vote went against insuring social order, desegregation went against insuring the social order. Where the social order conflicts with human rights the social order needs to be reformed. Or do you think the governments duty was to keep black people as slaves and women as chattel?

Human rights are needed to prevent the kinds of crimes against humanity that your "Governments have a right, as well as a duty, to take whatever measures are necessary to insure social order. I realize you do not recognize this, but that changes nothing." argument justifies! States have no such right nor duty nor obligation.

Your starement places you on the side of the worst monsters and most monstrous actions of all of human history! It offends me and the memories of those slaughtered by the millions in the name of just that very argument!

I sincerely hope that you will apologise and retract that statement, reconsider your views, reword your view if misscommunicated and/or find some other justification for your views if you do not change them because that one is... I don't think there's a word appropriate in fact for the sickening repugnant unethical and immoral wrongness of that view.

No J.J. Read up some history and some philosophy. The enlightenment philosophies that lead to the notion of human rights are based on individual choice and a REJECTION of privilege from birth traits. That was why it's first big fight was against BIRTHRIGHT OF NOBILITY.

Democracy, an end of the riegn of kings, the rejection of the feudal system. The notion that all humans by their capacity for individual reason had intrinsic rights.

Since then the fight has been to get everyone recognised as being equal, one stupid indefensible bias after another, from nobility to religion, race, sex and so-on. You clearly don't know at all what your talking about or you'd understand about the birth of the notions of 'the rights of man' (yes it took them awhile to count women) as a big part of the French Revolution, the founding of independant America and the birth of modern democracy.

It all comes from arguments in philosophy during the Enlightenment where plenty of people rejected notions of birthright and notions held by those like Hobbes of the state being more important than the individuals and decided the individuals capacity for choice was paramount!

Thats what that whole FREEDOM thing has been about!

Ah, so you are an anarchist? Well, that would explain a lot of your views.

Should my Gypsy cousins and the entire extended families of Jewish friends of mine have smiled as the went into the gas chambers or before the firing squads and be happy that the government had a duty to insure social order by whatever means are neccessary?

Oh my....a Godwin's Law violation...

"“As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.” There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, that thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups. However there is also a widely- recognized codicil that any intentional triggering of Godwin's Law in order to invoke its thread-ending effects will be unsuccessful."

Such an argument is also referred to as reductio ad Hitlerum, the intellectual fallacy of trying to argue against something by comparing it to something Hitler did.

Sorry, but this is just absurd....but not surprising.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 14, 2008 12:42 AM

Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on the Marsh peoples of Iraq. He 'insured social order by whatever means are neccessary'. See why that argument is wrong yet?

No J.J. that alleged logical fallacy catagory is itself logicly fallacious. The notion that a discussion involving morality, politics, political ethics etc cannot mention examples of the Nazi's is rubbish. If it relies only upon the emotive rhetorical associations of Hitler and the Nazis you'd have a point, that would be where it would be placing a swastika on the straw man in the position Y of a straw man argument.

However I could just as easilly have used Husseins gassings, Stalin's purges or Mao's or the killing fields of Cambodia except none of my relatives were murdered by them in the name of 'insuring social order by whatever means are neccessary'. All legitimate.

The problem for you is that the argument of 'insuring social order by whatever means are neccessary' does indeed make examples of Hitler utterly valid.

The frequent abuses of using the nazi's etc in exaggerated and unrelated discussions does make them frequent examples in logical fallacies but you cannot state that a government may use whatever means are neccessary to maintain social order without ALL crimes against humanity by totalitarian and fascist and socialist etc etc regimes being validly applicable to your argument.

Again not a logical fallacy but a clear proper example of what is wrong with your argument. If you have a problem with the Nazi example why don't you apply your justification to the crimes of Stalin, Mao and all the others in power who did 'whatever was neccessary' 'to insure social order'!

"Ah, so you are an anarchist? Well, that would explain a lot of your views."

No. The idea that the actions of governments including of majorities in democracies, need to be constrained by rules to prevent abuses of individuals is not anarchy. The Magna Carta is not anarchy, The Bill of Rights of the USA is not anarchy, the idea that the state exists to serve the populace rather than the populace serve the state is not anarchy.

However to suggest that the state has the right to impose whatever it wants on its citizens to maintain order is a notion that fits in only with brutal dictators, extreme socialist states etc.

Thats whats so offensive about your statement, the whatever is neccessary means that the chinese crushing protesters with tanks is legitimate, the stealing of children from indiginous people to destroy their culture and assimilate them becomes legitimate, the wholesale slaughter of peoples deemed undesirable or a bad influence becomes legitimate, forced sterilisation, genocide all fit into your argument, that's why it's so offensive, that's why it's so wrong, that's why the holocaust is entirely legitimate to bring up in it's discussion!

Representative democracy can fit right in with human rights, personal autonomy etc. It just means the majority can't abuse their powers over the minority. Laws can be made, they just have to not violate the rights of the citizens. A constraint on the power of the state.

I'm stunned that you seem to have so little knowldge and understanding of the history of modern democracy and the politics and philosophy of the last few centuries. Didn't they teach that in high school where you live?

Clearly you don't really understand the way that philosophy and politics combine especially the history of said.

If I were you I'd be very concerned about the fact you put forward a political argument that is in itself directly offensive to anyone, and I do mean anyone, who has lost loved ones to murderous regimes. Your argument means those murders were right and just.

Please go to your library and start to read about the magna carta, the philosophers of the enlightenment (don't miss the criticisms of the arguments of Hobbes!), the french revolution, the founding of the USA it's constitution and bill of rights, the reasons why the holocaust was wtong, the arguments against the validity of genocide and so on and so forth.

Your arguments invalidate all civil rights struggles as each attempted to upset and reform the social order and your arguments validate the murder of millions and the worst crimes against humanity.

Your arguments are both absurd AND surprising. They literally justify Saddam Hussein and Stalin and all the rest. The 'dissapearances, the murders, the tortures, the censorship, collective punishments, gulags, forced sterilisations, genocide - the whole kit and kaboodle.

We can leave Germany out of it and all the rest show why your use of the word 'whatever' in that statement makes it one of the most offensive statements possible of the 20th and 21st centuries.

We can apply it right this instant to Irans executions of gay men. It's 'insuring social order by whatever needs areneccessary'. See now?

We can leave Germany out of it and all the rest show why your use of the word 'whatever' in that statement makes it one of the most offensive statements possible of the 20th and 21st centuries.

No, I'm sorry...you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube, as they say. Godwin's Law has come into play and at this point I am afraid I can't taken anything from you seriously. Your arguments have reached the point of absurdity. No further discussion is neccessary, or for that matter, really possible.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 14, 2008 2:33 AM

"Now, conspiracy is a rather vague term. Like "transgender" it can mean a whole lot of things, including some that are not remotely accurate."

And the meaning of the word is not really important to whether or not your standard-of-proof is sufficient for your claims. Alas it can prove almost anything and hence is worthless as 'proof'.

"Now, your argument seems to be that people's behavior is not evidence of those people's behavior. Okay....uh, yeah....sure...if that's what you want to say. That's fine."

That is not what I'm saying at all. THERE is a real straw-man argument!

My argument is that one possible explanation of the motivation for someones behaviour is not proof that motivation is the only one for their behaviour. This is the sort of theory-of-mind stuff that most children are supposed to understand from an early age!

There is a difference between postulation, evidence and proof. There are mutliple possible motivations for such behaviour including, get this one, 'believing what they are saying'! Wow! What a revolutionary idea! That the behaviour may fit into your theory does not prove it just as the behaviour of ID proponents didn't prove that they were deliberatly conspiring to try and undermine the standards of science, the wedge document did that. You need to prove that your explanation of the behaviour is the only one, the difference between possible evidence and certain proof.

"Oh, but wait. Now you are demanding physical proof of this. Really now...you almost make things too easy."

If you want to call something 'proved' you need verifiable 'proof' not just a possibly viable theory. A cover-up of an extra-terrestrial flying saucer crash at Roswell by the USAF is within the realms of remote possibility (though the odds are truly astronomical against), however it is not proven just because it may be possible. And that claim has more evidence than yours with it's many witness testimonies and it too has opponents whose objections to that claim are just as they would be if they were covering up the truth (or telling the truth, see where your argument is rubbish now?) yet it is not proven! Not remotely proven.

Your 'proof' is nonsense. It is no such thing. I've said all along that your claim might indeed be possible but once again your trotting out another baseless assertion of fact with only conjecture for evidence that you keep calling proof.

What you claim is indeed quite possible, but your argument of 'proof' is a load of nonsense.

J.J. people have discussed for thousands of years what constitutes valid evidence and conclusive propoer proof, from ancient greek metaphysics to the naturalistic methodology of science. I don't really know how you managed to miss it all but it'd be well worth your reading a little on the subject to catch up.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 14, 2008 8:56 PM

Batty's 1st corollary to Godwins Law.

As Hitler and/or the holocaust clearly must be relevant in some discussions (20th Century history or genocide can hardly be discussed without approporiately bringing up the subject) anyone trying to use Godwins Law to shut down an argument when relevant mention of the subject is involved (such as the history of WW2, genocide, totalitarian politics etc) are instead those using a logical fallacy to disingenously manipulate the debate.

Batty's 2nd corollary to Godwins Law.

In any argument if someone makes a claim or statement that philosophicly or politicly would constitute a support or validation of such totalitarian and abusive regimes and/or literal or cultural genocide that would make references to Hitler or the holocaust appropriate it is in fact that statement that in effect makes such comparison inevitable and as such invokes Godwins Law.

Otherwise holocaust deniers, genocide supporters and neo-nazis get away scott free by abusing 'Godwins Law' just like you are J.J.

I wasn't talking about 'hitler' or 'the nazis' I was talking about genocide conducted upon my family and the argument you proposed that made that valid! You J.J. are as one with holocaust deniars and apologists for the atempted genocide of indiginous peoples for tring to silence that valid and true point!

J.J. your guilty in this. You clearly will try the weakest and flimsiest and most ridiculous and downright disgusting and reprehensible rhetorical devices to try and score just one point in this to find some justification for your clear biases against non-HBS gender varient people but your comments haven't been logicly valid for a long time.

Nothing you say has been serious for a long time. It is your posts that have been absurd.

"No further discussion is neccessary, or for that matter, really possible."

Your right. Because you reached a point that you actually argued in favour of the oppression of indiginous peoples and their cultures and then you attempted to dissmiss a serious point about the holocaust by missusing the 'Godwins Law' notion. A more irreperable piece of damage to the public image of HBS cannot easily be imagined. You have produced hate speech. You stated that in effect genocide is a legitimate tool of government. You have made the HBS is the TS-KKK joke not a joke anymore by your example and I hope that any other HBS supporters quickly distance themselves form you to avoid the taint by association with your hate-speech.

I wasn't screaming 'your like Hitler' for some unrelated incomparable issue out of rhetorical desperation. I was aptly showing that your political argument justified the murder of members of my family!

I gave you the opportunity to apologise, I gave you an an out to modify your statement to remove that conclusion from it and you just laughed in the face of someone who lost family in the ho,ocaust saying 'mentioning hitler makes you wrong'.

No J.J. justifying the holocaust, really honestly literally justifying the holocaust which is what your 'whatever means are neccessary' really and clealrly and unavoidably means especially after you gave up your opportunity for clarification is wrong. That is hate-speech.

You had your chance to retract the statement, it wouldn't have been difficult you would only have had to withdraw the words 'by whatever means neccessary' and replace them with an acknowledgement of some genocide-preventing limit. Instead you tried to score further points. You had the chance to "put the toothpaste back in the tube, as they say." but you spurned that. You had the chance to show that you didn't mean to make an argument that politicly justified the holocaust and you found the idea funny.

You can ramble on for eternity and pretend that I said something somehow worse than you did but you said

"Governments have a right, as well as a duty, to take whatever measures are necessary to insure social order. I realize you do not recognize this, but that changes nothing."

And anyone who applies that justification in a moments thought to any crime against humanity committed by a state can see what it means.

That you tried to ignore the valid point raised rather than retracting it and explaining it as unintended taints you forever as a justifier of the most evil crimes humans have committed. It shows rather than an unintended consequence of poor wording of your statement as I had hoped that you actually meant it. Or worse let that meaning stand just to try and pitifully dissmiss me because of your inappropriately trotting out 'Godwins Law'.

As you J.J. are a by that statement a supporter of genocide it is you that have lost any hope of validity in this or any other discussion until you change your views and retract your statement.

That statement condemns you. Your reaction to its consequences by trying to laugh at the consequences of your statement rather than retracting it as having unintended meaning utterly condemns you. Rather than winning you the argument your attempt to dissmiss this point by bringing up Godwins Law when in fact the mention of the holocaust is absolutely justifiable in a discussion of genocide condemns you utterly.

" No further discussion is neccessary, or for that matter, really possible."

Your right. Because until and unless you retract or clarify the genocide-supporting statement you made in clear and unequivocal words you place yourself amongst the worst of our species.

So long as you support a political justification for genocide your words are worse than worthless, your views without merit of consideration, your character and reputation impuned by one of the worst stains imaginable.

Batty, you have crossed a very serious line with your latest bit of hatred. No, I am not justifying the Holocaust. I consider your latest remarks the worst form of ad hominem. First off, your remarks are completely illogical and show the sort of immature reasoning that infests the net. I have said nothing remotely worth of your shrill attacks. The Holocaust was not an attempt to maintain social order. It was an attempt to destroy a people simply because of hatred.

Second, and perhaps worse, the entire basis of concepts like Godwin's Law, which you so easily violate is to deal with the sort of diminshment of the Holocaust that you engage in. By literally trivalizing the Holocaust by reducing it to a simple insult to be hurled at the least provocation, as you have done here, diminishes the horror of what actually happened.

What I said, and what I stand by, is that governments have a right to maintain social order. They have a right to do what is necessary. That does not remotely mean that I am willing to have governments engage in the sort of abuses that you have suggested.

Now, it is really simple. You either apologize properly, or I will simply consider you to be incapable of rational debate and will henceforth ignore you, and will dismiss your arguments in this or other threads as not worthy of notice.

Beyond that, your comments are not worthy of response. You have lost this argument, period.

battybattybats battybattybats | June 16, 2008 11:35 AM

Suggesting that colonial invaders should impose their laws over peoples like the Samoans is supporting cultural genocide. You said a government had a right to do WHATEVER was neccessary to insure social order in response to exactly the subject of recognising the cultural rights of indiginous peoples of the region.

I suggest you look into what justifications murderous regimes from China and North Korea to the Nazis have used for their attrocities. What are their political arguments? Why don't they agree with Human Rights that would prevent those attrocities?

What did the Nazis give as the reason for taking away the Gays, the Gypsies, the Jews to the camps? What was their justification? What did they say in their newsreels? What did they say was the reason for their forced sterilisation program J.J.?

And you ignore not just their public justifications but also their use of these people as scapegoats. Why did they want scapegoats J.J.? What political use were scapegoats J.J.? Insuring social and political order is the use of such scapegoats J.J.

And that is why YOUR argument diminishes the stolen generations, the holocaust, the attempted genocide of members of MY FAMILY in Australia and in Germany.

"That does not remotely mean that I am willing to have governments engage in the sort of abuses that you have suggested."

It is the consequential meaning of your sentence as you first stated it. Human rights are normally considered the constraints of such abuses, the reasons why they are wrongs, you attack such ideas and replace them with nought while arguing that white colonial societies should impose their views via the law on indiginous peoples of the region. You said the word WHATEVER is neccessary not 'what is neccessary', the EVER part changes the meaning substantially of the sentence and you ignored my pointing out to you what that means. That means no limits, no restraints.

I asked you to re-word, clarify or retract your statement to avoid that meaning and instead you chose to try and score points in the argument!

Ignore me all you like J.J. but without human rights, without detailed clarification, your statement as you first said it means that governments have no restraints on what they can do so long as it's for 'insuring social order', itself a nebulous and subjective notion held very fondly by totalitarian regimes. Consequentially justifying the stolen generations and all acts of state genocide done in the name of social order!

As I said before J.J. your remark without retraction or substantial change is condemnable even without the example of the murder of those of my gypsy family members who didn't emigrate to Australia because their race and culture was deemed 'undesirable for society'.

Your statement still justifies the stealing of my Aboriginal relatives from their parents, raising them in missions in other parts of the country where their cultural languages and practices were forbidden and harshly punished then put into what was in effect slave labour where the minute wage paid on their behalf was spent 'for them' to ensure social order. All for 'insuring social order' in their own country! Your argument is an assimilationist one even if we ignore the genocidal consequnces of the word 'whatever'.

You should apologise to them J.J.

I gave you a chance to retract or clarify your statement so I owe you no apology!

I lost family members to genocide so I shall never apologise for objecting to the very same arguments made by those who committed those attrocities!

What kind of thought process leads you to think that I should apologise for objecting to the very arguments used by the people who murdered members of and destroyed the culture and history of members of my own family?

A reasonable response might have said 'I didn't mean that, I meant..." and there would have been a cleared-up missunderstanding but your desperate attempts to win the argument has gone so far as to demand an apology from me for objecting to the arguments used to justify genocide on my family?

No J.J. that is beyond contempt.
My attack was on what that argument means, it's consequneces of the meaning as you had worded it and in the context of the discussion, not on you. I raised examples that are always, always apt in discussions of genocide. Thats a subject where examples can never be taboo no matter which regime commits them.

I'll never apologise for standing up for human rights, for objecting to arguments used to commit genocide. I'll never apologise for showing that the arguments used for one genocide were also used for others!

I didn't attack you and have done no wrong. I gave you chances, urged you to take them in fact, to clarify your view so as not to support the unrestrained power of the state to commit attrocities that came from your choice of words in your statement.

If that means you ignore me thats a very very small price to pay for honouring my family's dead.

I'll accept any retraction of the statement you made which by effect supports genocide and cultural genocide or any detailed clarification of your views that utterly disavows genocide and cultural genocide you may choose to make but you'll never get an apology from me for objecting to the argument that was used to justify attrocities done to my family.

It's my family J.J.

And if you choose to missrepresent further my apt cogent and consistent position for further point-scoring to try and claim victory over the argument you will show what kind of character you have.

Final chance J.J.

I call not for an apology from you as well deserved as it may be. I call only for a clear unequivocal retraction and repudiation of any support or possibility of missunderstanding of your views as support for the state having the right to commit genocide or cultural genocide or any similar such action on it's citizens.

And then once done we can return to the topic of the legal definition of man and woman and what recognising the cultures of indiginous peoples means for that.

As you now, days later, claim what you meant by your sentence did not mean support for such attrocities your objection to my objection to your sentence would be easily dealt with by such a clarification and repudiation yes?

So then, again, I urge you to do so. Show thst you do not support the assimilationist cultural genocide of indiginous peoples by fully repudiating such a notion and clarify in detail what you meant that clearly was not properly expressed in your statement.

Its not an apology, not much at all I'm asking of you. It should be easy. And if as you now seem to say you didn't mean what your words appeared to mean than I would have no reason to apologise for an apt attack on that meaning when you didn't intend it to mean that... it would simply be a misscommunication that you took several days to rectify and then we can get on with discussing the topic at hand safe in the understanding of what you meant to say.

If you didn't mean what your argument in its original unclarified wording means especially when I pointed out the problem intrinsic to that wording and requested clarification then you should have cleared that up earlier and I owe you no apology. If you did mean it all my arguments would be apt and I would certainly owe you no apology.

So then, I await your clarification and utter repudiation of genocide and cultural genocide.

I realize this is an old post. I enjoyed the article, and as always, I enjoyed the follow-up commentary by Zoe.

The rest of the comments, in general, are totally insane. My fear is, when I am trolling One News Now, that I come across like Just Jennifer. I'm going to have to be more careful or people are just going to think I'm a total nutcase that is off my rocker.