Daniel wrote a long comment on this thread:
Daniel: “I should have made this clearer in my original response, but I see “man” and “woman” as social designations, with “male” and “female” as your physical sex. People will designate you as a man or woman based on a best guess of your sex, hence the Venn diagram. I was imagining one with the categories “Male Traits” over bubble 1, “Female Traits” over bubble 2, and a large center portion for everybody whose biology is a little off from the ideal. What’s inside the diagram isn’t traits, its people.”
You’ve come close here to seeing the difference between sex and gender. The person who coined the term “gender” was John Money. He named gender as:
the overall degree of masculinity and/or femininity that is privately experienced and publicly manifested in infancy, childhood, and adulthood, and that usually though not invariably correlates with the anatomy of the organs of procreation
So gender is whether someone is masculine or feminine. The words masculine and feminine can refer to physical attributes, like a hairy chest, or a curvy body, or they can refer to personality traits, like aggression or compassion, or they can refer to silly stereotypes, like enjoying sports or shopping. When you say that “man” and “woman” are social designations, you’re talking about the way people perceive males and females. You identified “physical sex” as a different characteristic than the social designation of “man” or “woman.” So you do know that biological sex exists! That’s great—that means we can actually have a conversation.
People assume and expect that anyone who is reproductively male will also present with a hairy body, a deep voice, certain mannerisms and interests, certain speech patterns, etc. But there are exceptions! Some men aren’t very hairy, some men have higher voices, etc. That doesn’t make them less male—anyone whose body produces sperm is male, and that will always be, no matter what he looks like.
What I keep trying to say, over and over, is that you can be physically female, and have a masculine appearance and masculine mannerisms and interests, and that’s okay—that doesn’t need to make you “trans,” that doesn’t require an explanation or an excuse, it doesn’t need to be medicalized, it doesn’t need to be fixed.
Take Gunner for example: she is a woman who has a masculine appearance and that’s fine, it doesn’t need to be an issue. The only reason it’s an issue is because people have ideas about who women are, and they believe someone like Gunner is not acceptable as a woman. That is sexism and homophobia.
(I’m a broken record. Honestly, I could just copy and paste the words “sexism and homophobia” every day, over and over, and that would be my blog.)
What I’m trying to say is that we should entirely abolish the “social category” aspect of man and woman. The social aspects of being a man or a woman are called “gender role.” (Also a term coined by John Money.) If we abolish gender roles, then everyone can just express their personality without being told they’re not performing “man” or “woman” acceptably.
Many trans people don’t want to abolish the social aspects of man and woman (gender role) because that is the only thing propping up their identity. The only way a male can “live as a woman” is by performing appearance and mannerisms associated with women. But women don’t want to perform the social aspects of “womanhood” that are assigned to us—because we don’t like them! Women don’t all like wearing makeup and dresses or talking about shoes and diets. We think this is bullshit.
Daniel: “We don’t take away the man or woman designation if it’s revealed you don’t fit the biological definition, unless you are trans. someone finding out the person they knew as a woman has a chromosomal disorder is taken very differently than finding out the person is trans.”
It truly is different finding out someone has a chromosomal disorder and finding out someone is trans. For example, if a woman has Turner’s syndrome, that means she is physically different from other females. But people who are trans don’t necessarily have a medical intersex condition. They are often unambiguously male or female in a physical sense, and just want to be the other sex.
Daniel: “I mean, I think this is what’s behind so much of the “REAL man/woman” fighting. I can’t speak for all trans people, but I’ll be the first to admit I’m a weird exception to the female=woman and male=man rule. Mostly because I’m changing my sex characteristics to the point that people will guess that my sex is male. If I have to try and prove I’m “really a man” every time someone finds out I’m trans, or try to live as a woman while looking almost indistinguishable from a cis man, my life is going to become exponentially harder. (I’m also not the only trans person who is distressed by being seen as a woman, but even leaving that out its still unfeasible)”
I define a “real man” the same way the dictionary does: an adult human male. If you are an adult human male, then you’re a man, if you’re not, then you’re not.
Daniel: “I don’t have an objection to people making ASAB only groups. I have a big problem if those are ALL gendered groups, including the local men’s bowling club or ladies’ bridge group. It means that trans people are excluded from large portions of society, and for what?”
Even feminists who want female-only spaces don’t think the entire world should be divided by sex all the time. Most places, like the workplace, stores, hospitals, schools, etc, are for anybody. Single-sex spaces are only in specific areas.
Daniel: “1. Man and woman are social categories that are given by other people based on knowledge or perceived knowledge of a person’s sex. I’m arguing that between compassion and most trans people effectively being intersex, self-identification should supersede perceived sex in the determination.”
No, you can’t claim that most trans people are intersex. Intersex is a physical condition where your physical sex characteristics are atypical. Trans just means you want to be the opposite sex or look like the opposite sex. Unless your doctor has actually diagnosed you with some sort of chromosomal disorder or other intersex condition, you can’t claim that.
Daniel: “2. Knowing absolutely nothing about Danielle Muscato other than she’s a trans woman who doesn’t pass, I think of her as a woman for the reasons I stated above. I don’t know why she doesn’t pass, if it’s something she would like to change in the future, or if she is unable to undergo the necessary medical steps to do so.”
You really should look up Danielle Muscato.
Daniel: “I’ve been mulling over A&B for a while, and here is my take on “women can have any traits” and how that plays out in real life:
We both agree that people should take as much time as possible to figure out if they are trans. Well, how do you do that? Jumping into hormones and surgery is foolish, so how do you know if changing those things, changing your sex, will make you feel better?
You change your gender. You ask people to call you a different name and use different pronouns. You wear different clothes and follow different grooming styles. You bind or you tuck. This is the closest you can get to living as the other sex without medical intervention, it’s what we’ve got. You live this way until you are as certain as you can be that changing your sexed traits is the right choice. And this isn’t even talking about the people who will never be able to pass.
Saying that a woman has no breasts and a penis, and saying that as a man I want them, it’s a description of our reality. I’m mid transition, Danielle is probably early in hers, we feel distressed at our current bodies and feel relief being acknowledged as male or female in spite of them. Some people parse this as being ‘really’ a man or a woman; I don’t care, I just want to not be in pain.”
I get what you’re saying. You’re acknowledging that there is a contradiction between males who believe their male traits are “female” traits and females who want those same traits because they are “male” traits. You know this is contradictory but you accept it as is because that’s how people feel. It’s okay if your feelings are contradictory. Feelings can do that, because feelings don’t follow logic. But even if your feelings are contradictory, your ideology and your worldview and your arguments have to be coherent. A female can “feel” that her clitoris is a “dick,” and that’s fine as a feeling, but when she’s actually interacting in real life with people and putting forth a political argument that has real-life implications, then she needs to be coherent. A clitoris isn’t a “dick,” and a penis isn’t a “large clitoris” or a “strapless” or any of the other silly things they say. Why not just tell the truth—that you are female-bodied, but feel uncomfortable with that, and feel better with a masculine presentation? And further, that you need society’s acceptance for being female-bodied and masculine? Why try to turn the facts inside out and say you’re literally male when you’re not? What purpose does that serve?
I support you and respect you as a female who feels dysphoria and wants to change her body. I don’t think body modification is the right approach, but I respect your right to self-determination and safety. When your community wants me to believe things that aren’t true, and when they want to take away women’s rights, that’s where my support ends.
Daniel: “This dose help people, it helped me. I cannot scientifically explain why this is, and that eats at me. I hate that until I pass I need to throw myself on other people’s compassion to maintain my sanity, and I avoid doing so in whatever ways I can. Asserting that I am a man, and always was, is less frightening than asking to be called a man out of kindness.”
I’m not entirely sure what you meant by that last bit. I recognize that you can’t explain why transition helped you. I personally feel that if someone doesn’t know the reason why they are making drastic body modifications, then they shouldn’t make them, because you should have a good reason if you’re going to do that. But I have compassion for the condition you’re in and I hope it all works out. Hopefully it makes more sense later on. If it does, I’d be interested to hear about it.