Does Biology Tell Us Anything About Trans Rights?

I came across an argument on the internet that a trans-woman is mentally ill, because she is ignoring a biological fact namely that you need a y chromosome to be a man.

Compare the following argument: a woman without ovaries who adopts a child and considers herself a mother is mentally ill because she is ignoring the biological fact – you need ovaries to become a mother.

“Man” like  “mother” is a cultural, legal,  emotional and perhaps aesthetic categories and it is a mistake to read our culture, law, emotions and aesthetics directly from biology.  Biology may give us some problems but it is up to us to solve them.

Aristotle thought it was fine; but he believed some people were naturally slaves too.


5 thoughts on “Does Biology Tell Us Anything About Trans Rights?

  1. The thing is, we’ve had the word ‘man’ around for a lot longer than we’ve had the knowledge of y chromosomes. How come, before the general knowledge of y chromosomes, they are mentally fine, but after knowledge of y chromosomes they are mentally ill? How can they base the idea of a ‘man’ around something we’ve been ignorant of for millions of years – and to determine mental illness, no less?

  2. Our culture (and many others, but not all, AFAIK) is pathetically dependent on toggle-switch categories. You’re either M or F – strict sexual dimorphism. You’re either Black or not Black – the one-drop rule. 1 or 0, in or out. Cajuns have it right when they allow for fractions – quadroons, octaroons, mulattos; or the currently-hip “mixed race”. It seems existentially necessary to have everybody be in their own pigeonhole, or how would we know whose death is heroic and whose is tragic? Who would we protect? Who gets into the lifeboat first? This is somehow related (I don’t know how – not smart enough!) to the phenomenon of working-class white men not wanting their employer to spend money on protective gear, because how would everyone know you sacrificed for your family unless you get cancer from mining uranium? Such a need for drama…

      • I do! Instead of two “delta” functions, or simple peaks, along the gradient of sexuality, I think there are two gaussian curves with a certain amount of overlap. On each end are a few hyper-gender-identified people, and in the middle are a few truly gender-ambiguous folk (either biologically or behaviorally), and I think most people are under those two peaks of M and F. But anyone could be anywhere along those lines.

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