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Here is a review, by David Aaronovitch, in The Times, of a book by Helen Joyce, a journalist from The Economist.

 

This: "What, after all, is the woman or man you want to become, if there’s no such thing as a woman or man?"

What kind of logical fallacy is this?

 

 

 

BOOK OF THE WEEK

Trans by Helen Joyce review — Women exist! The facts of biology trump ideology

This rigorous and brave book nails the absurd idea that sex is just a “social construct”, says David Aaronovitch

 

David Aaronovitch

Friday July 16 2021, 12.00am, The Times

 

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/trans-by-helen-joyce-review-women-exist-the-facts-of-biology-trump-ideology-txtm00rf2

 

 

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When the great trans wars hit town a few years ago the reaction of many good liberals was bewilderment. Why were there sudden bitter disputes about changing rooms and public loos? Why was Germaine Greer, of all people, being “disinvited” from speaking on campuses? Many noted the anger being generated, the social media pile-ons erupting, the accusations of “transphobia” being levelled and, being good phobiaphobes, decided to keep out of it. Particularly if you were a natal man, you really had no dog in this fight.

In her book, Helen Joyce, an editor at The Economist, sums up what was my understanding of the subject: “Most people thought, and many still do — that transness meant ‘transsexuality’: such a deep discomfort with one’s sexed body and strong identification with the opposite sex that only surgery to reshape the body to the extent possible could bring a measure of peace.”

That certainly seemed to be the story of those magazine features and Channel 4 documentaries about (mostly) people trapped in men’s bodies, driven to despair by prejudice and hopelessness until liberated. Having semiconsciously harboured for many years the natal male’s fear of castration (and doesn’t this subject quickly become personal?) I realised I had been one of those closet “transphobes” repulsed by the thought of sex-change and so was newly anxious at the very least to be sympathetic to the cause.

I didn’t look too closely when in 2015 a Conservative administration proposed changing the law on gender recognition. A few trans people want more easily to get official confirmation for the new gender they have become? Well, I thought, that’s probably OK. No skin off any part of me.

Then the issue appeared to morph into a different kind of conflict. It had clearly somewhere along the line become impermissible for those who thought that there was something ineluctable about biological sex to say so. It wasn’t whether they were correct or mistaken on the subject that was in question, but their right even to express their view.

A recognisably totalitarian declension seemed to be being imposed: if you said biological sex was real then you argued with the ability of someone who felt they should be the other sex to simply assert that uncontested. That meant you were denying their “existence” as the new sex. Which was tantamount to denying their existence as a human being. Which was close to saying you wanted them and everyone like them dead. Which is the kind of thing the Nazis did. So you’re a Nazi. And we can’t let Nazis publish Nazi thoughts in books. Or speak at universities, or sully our public spaces with their terrible prejudice.

Here I drew the line. I saw people I knew being bullied and harassed for having an opinion on biological sex (actually the majority opinion on biological sex), and even if I didn’t know whether I agreed with them, I knew that was wrong. And wrote so, inevitably drawing the accusation from Britain’s most-followed far leftist, Owen Jones, that I was an “apologist for transphobia”, a sentiment published to his one million followers on Twitter.

As to the subject of the dispute itself, I was still deliberately agnostic. But two things were beginning to worry me. The first was the absurdity of what was happening to the language. For health publications to eschew using the word “women” in relation to the need for cervical smears, substituting the phrase “people with cervixes” seemed not just awkward but damaging. Some women, for example, might not even know they had cervixes. Why would a transwoman feel her existence was denied by health authorities recognising that people with cervixes were, to a statistical vanishing point, women?

The other light-bulb issue was women’s sport. It seemed obvious to me that a natal male who had reached puberty as a male would, other things being equal, outperform women in almost any sport. That was why we had women’s sport in the first place. As Joyce writes, the fact is that women were evolutionarily designed for childbirth. The chromosomal difference between men and women bequeaths women with less stable hips and a less efficient gait but the capacity to grow a child and give birth to it.

The average adult man, Joyce reminds us, has 41 per cent more non-fat body mass, 50 per cent more muscle mass in his legs and 75 per cent more in his arms. His legs are 65 per cent stronger and his upper body is 90 per cent stronger. That’s why, as she points out “the fastest time ever run by Allyson Felix, the women’s 400 metre Olympics champion, is beaten more than 15,000 times each year by men and boys”. This athletic advantage will be conferred to a post-pubertal transwoman, even if she takes testosterone suppressors.

Yet this inescapable truth, however, is increasingly being overlooked by sports bodies. Joyce indirectly guided me to an idiotic report in an American online sports magazine. The writer was desperate to show her solidarity with a teenage black transwoman who was wiping the track with her female competitors. Some of whom had begun to object. But the author was having none of it and found an expert witness to testify on behalf of the transwoman’s participation. “‘A level playing field is a fallacy,’ says Dr Myron Genel, Yale professor emeritus of pediatric endocrinology. He is a member of the International Olympic Committee’s medical commission on issues regarding gender identity in athletics. “There’s so many other factors that may provide a competitive advantage,” Genel says. “It’s very hard to single out sex as the only one.” Look at the stats, Myron, for heaven’s sake.

Joyce reminds us of the issue facing rugby. In athletics the disparity hurts no one physically. But rugby is a contact sport and the sport — as we have been discovering recently over the issue of concussions — owes a duty of care to its participants. The possibility of a natal female badly injured in a collision with a natal male is a sobering one for sports administrators.

Sport is an illustration. The point Joyce is establishing is that you cannot simply become a woman or a man by saying so. But that in recent times a fashion, an industry, has developed based around the idea that you can. Not long ago, Joyce writes, “the idea of a non-hormone, non-op transwoman — someone who retains a physiologically normal male body but understands themselves to be a woman because that is their ‘gender identity’ and expects everyone else to agree — would have seemed nonsensical to almost everybody”. And now in many places it’s the law.

Joyce places the origin of this development — which, as she establishes, has (unlike debates over gay equality or reproductive rights) somehow sneaked onto the statute books of several countries — in a new ideology about gender. This holds that biological sex is as much a “social construct” as the idea of gender is.

One benefit of Joyce’s book is its intellectual clarity and its refusal to compromise. So she takes apart this ideology of gender with a cold rigour. What, after all, is the woman or man you want to become, if there’s no such thing as a woman or man? The thing that is yearned for will often be precisely the fashionable and frankly prejudiced notion of what a person who was born a woman or man would ideally be like. So you ditch biological reality for a set of shifting aspirations and call it progress?

Joyce is icily furious. What is happening, she observes, is not an attempt at destroying both biological sexes, but just women and their rights. It is women who benefit from “safe spaces” where they can undress away from stronger human beings with penises from whom, they have learnt the hard way, there can be a threat.

It is young women and girls who are increasingly turning up at clinics wanting to be reassigned as boys and men. And, she argues, all too easily being given life-changing treatment. “In 1989, when the Tavistock clinic [in London] opened, there were two referrals, both young boys. By 2020, there were 2,378 referrals, almost three quarters of them girls, and most of these teenagers.”

Why? Joyce quotes the American feminist Adrienne Rich, writing in 1976, that “the body has become so problematic for women that it has often seemed easier to shrug it off and travel as a disembodied spirit”. This fits, frankly, with what I’ve seen recently. Becoming trans means all the messiness of the female body and its existence can be done away with. And with it the other “deficiencies” of womanhood.

If the book has a flaw it is that Joyce is sometimes too angry and polemical. This is a book that needs to be read by those who think they might disagree with her far more than by those who already agree, so tone matters. But I suppose the truth is that without that anger and, frankly, that bravery this argument would have gone by default.

Something odd has happened and is happening. Younger people in particular are, out of good-natured tolerance, accepting an ideology that is so empty that its proponents hugely prefer assertion and “cancellation” to argument. But in seeking to cancel JK Rowling, trans activists met their Joe McCarthy accuses the US army moment — the point at which they tried to take down a loved and respected institution and came unstuck.

I’m off the fence. I will call people by the name and pronouns they tell me they want to be called by. I am prepared to defend their right not to be discriminated against at work and in shops, to defend them against bullying and harassment. But as Joyce says so passionately, that doesn’t change reality. A penis is a male sex organ, men don’t have babies. Women exist.
Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality by Helen Joyce, Oneworld, 320pp; £16.99

 

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has been selected to compete for New Zealand in the Tokyo Olympics:

 

Transgender weightlifter Laurel Hubbard has been selected to compete for New Zealand in the Tokyo Olympics

 

In other photographs (I'll spare you) you may see what this athlete ate for lunch, viz. meat and two veg....

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The scariest aspect of all this is Primary school aged children are being actively encouraged to consider transitioning and medication is being prescribed to assist with this.  

 

I'm expecting a lot of child abuse court cases in a few years.

 

I feel strange siding with third wave feminists but that's where the victimhood hierarchy gets us.

Edited by Gonzo79
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As much as I feel appalled by identity politics, particularly in the case of gender, I also place some blame at the feet of those who silently acquiesce to this bizarre and ridiculous attack on reality. 

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White woman gets hair braids - cultural appropriation (bad).

 

Man says he's a woman - transgender (good).

 

Voilà - cognitive dissonance.

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There is man and woman and freaks the freaks shouldn't be on the sports arena but in the fair grounds with the wild man of Borneo and the bearded woman. 

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56 minutes ago, compo said:

There is man and woman and freaks the freaks shouldn't be on the sports arena but in the fair grounds with the wild man of Borneo and the bearded woman. 

You've never felt like you were trapped in a woman's body?

 

(Except when her hips lock, obviously. The things thay ambulance crews see, eh?)

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1 hour ago, Uilleam said:

You've never felt like you were trapped in a woman's body?

 

Every man spends nine months waiting to get out of a vagina and then spends the rest of his life trying to get back in.  

Edited by Gonzo79
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The title reminds me of a story by my nephew, when he was a young policeman him and his colleague had to arrest a man from a public toilet in Glasgow who was wearing a mini dress and woman's underwear whilst exposing himself to others ,.

Anyway on the Saturday morning the culprit had to go before the magistrate but no one had lifted his clothes and it looked like a court appearance in his dress until someone produced a pair of trousers and a shirt ,this dirty devil was a well known newsreader on the BBC Scotland at that time as well and every time I watched him reading the news I would day to the wife ,wonder what he's got on below that table .

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