Identifying as something versus identifying what you are

Let’s talk about the difference between identifying as something and identifying what you actually are, because transgenderists like to think that it’s totally legit for anyone to identify as anything and they also think that everyone constructs identities for themselves. Nope!

I don’t “identify as” a woman or a lesbian, I just am a woman and a lesbian. I did not construct an identity of myself as a woman out of a desire to be one, I just know that I am one because I know what a woman is (an adult human female) and I am an adult human female. Before I was an adult, I was a female child, also called a girl. This is not because I had an “identity” as a girl, it’s because I was a girl.

Sometimes I want to ask transgenderists if they even believe in material reality. Do you know that there is a physical world that exists outside of our imaginations and that there are things in it that we can touch and see and measure and observe and study?

Humans come in two sexes, male and female, and that’s how we reproduce. Male refers to the sex that produces the smaller gametes, which in humans are called sperm, and female refers to the sex that produces the larger gametes, which in humans are called ova. This is something that we can observe about human beings because we exist in material reality. If you choose not to believe the facts that are right in front of you, then that is just denial and/or lying.

When I call myself a woman, that’s because I am of the sex that produces ova, and no, I haven’t cut myself open to see if there are ova in there, I just know there are because the only reason I could have been born with a vagina that began to pass blood at puberty is because I have ova and a uterus inside my body. That’s the only way that could happen.

Transgenderists will claim that so-called “TERFs” have created an identity out of our biology and that it threatens our identity when others identify outside their biology. No, it doesn’t, because we haven’t created “identities” out of our biology, we are just naming our biology. It is just there. It’s not an identity, it’s a reality. Saying “I’m a woman” is naming the reality that I have a female body. Nothing that transgenderists do or say can threaten to change the fact that I am female. My body is not an idea or a feeling, it is something real and no idea or feeling can change that.

In the past, I was open to viewing the words “man” and “woman” as social categories that weren’t always connected to biology. However, after a lot of thought and study, I found that there was no way to define the words “man” and “woman” when you disconnect them from their actual meanings of adult human male and adult human female. Transgenderists who attempt to define these words just provide a word salad that does not make a clear distinction between man, woman, and human. If man and woman mean whatever the speaker wants them to mean, then there can be no coherent meaning assigned to them. The reason words exist is to communicate ideas; if a word communicates nothing then it’s useless as a communication device.

There is a social category of “man” and a social category of “woman” that exist. For example, a female who is living in the social category of “man” is doing so based on making body modifications so that she resembles a human male and also performing the behaviors that people expect from males, based on our culture. I understand perfectly the way this social category operates; however I disagree that people should reinforce stereotypes about how men and women behave and I disagree that people should make radical body modifications that can cause physical harm and I disagree that we should have to lie about what sex someone is. I don’t think that the whole world needs to pretend we don’t understand human reproductive anatomy in order to protect the feelings of people experiencing gender dysphoria. If someone is a female with dysphoria, then the reality of her situation is that she is a female with dysphoria, not a male. Same vice versa.

Why do I feel this way? Because (1) the stereotypes about men and women are harmful and must be abolished, (2) radical body modification is harmful and doesn’t even necessarily help, therefore it is a bad strategy, and (3) people should not lie about their sex because it is significant what sex someone is in many social situations such as when dating or conducting intimate relationships, when giving medical care, when collecting demographic statistics, etc.

Even someone who chooses to make body modifications in order to alleviate gender dysphoria should be capable of naming reality; there is no reason why he or she should pretend that his or her birth sex never existed or why other people need to pretend so.

So getting back to “identifying as” something, I don’t agree that anyone should “identify as” anything. You should only name what you actually are. Identifying as something other than what you are is lying. I wouldn’t really care whether a complete stranger is lying about themselves–people have a right to talk nonsense if they want—but when they start legislating lies and using lies to take away women’s rights I’m gonna be pissed.

Related to this discussion is the question that I sometimes get asked which can take any of the following forms: ‘Why can’t other people have their identities and you have yours’? or ‘Why can’t you respect everyone in the LGBT community’ or ‘how can you expect people to respect your identity if you don’t respect theirs’? So let’s jump right into this one.

No one has to validate my “identity” as a lesbian, because this isn’t an identity I have constructed for myself. I am female and attracted to females; this is actually located in material reality and can be directly observed. The word “lesbian” only exists to describe my actual situation, it’s not a concept that exists outside of me that I aspire to be. My female biology is an observable fact. The fact that I live in an apartment with another human with female biology is an observable fact. The fact that we have one bedroom and one bed, which we both sleep in, is an observable fact. So is the fact that we kiss each other, say “I love you”, leave each other loves notes, spend holidays together and file our taxes as a common-law couple. If someone chooses to look at the facts and conclude that I am not a female homosexual then that person is simply a liar.

If someone is male and calling himself female, I don’t have to take that identity seriously because that is not true. Someone male cannot be female, it is scientifically impossible. He may have an ‘identity’ as the social category ‘woman,’ but I am allowed to disagree with the way that the social category of ‘woman’ is constructed because it harms me as an actual female.

The man who “identifies as” a woman is dependent on other people playing along for his “identity” to be real. He cannot realistically be said to be “living as a woman” if everyone around him acknowledges he is male. No one should be forced to play a game of “let’s pretend” if they don’t want to play. We should not have to validate things about other people that aren’t true. You can identify as anything you want, but if I can see that you’re talking nonsense, I’m not going to take you seriously.

In a certain manner of speaking, I do respect all the members of LGBT. I respect the rights of homosexuals to live their lives as homosexuals, I respect the rights of bisexuals to live their lives as bisexuals, and I respect the rights of gender nonconforming people to wear the outfits they want to wear without losing their civil rights. I do not agree to call a man a woman but if a man wants to wear a dress he still has the right to housing, education, employment and health care free of discrimination. I wish I could say the same thing about the trans community’s attitude toward lesbians. I wish that the trans community could disagree with our theories on gender without denying us the right to assemble, to speak and to organize. It’s plain to see where the disrespect actually is.

Identity politics can be a useful thing or a pointless thing. Accurately naming your location in a system of oppression is useful in demographic research, in social sciences, in social work, in discussions of human sexuality, etc. But pretending to be something you are not is another story altogether.

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34 thoughts on “Identifying as something versus identifying what you are

  1. In fact …’someone who chooses to make body modifications in order to alleviate gender dysphoria should be capable of naming reality’ … needs to be one of the criteria in assessing their mental health BEFORE surgery.

    Excellent essay. 😀

    Liked by 8 people

  2. Very clearly stated. I agree that radical body modification is not helpful, we don’t have the technology to do it properly yet and it leads to bitter unhappiness. Even if we did have the tech, one can’t just come in at third base and “identify” as a new gender because there’s a whole lifetime of learning at first and second base that one has short-cutted, unless, unless…one’s parents were enlightened enough to have raised one as that other gender from an early age, as some are doing today.

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    • Except that even there, they’re not actually treating the kid like the “target gender”. They’re treating the kid as a transgender person – for example, Jazz Jennings. Kid has been raised with an entitlement that girls are typically not raised with. Jazz’s sister has been raised to be a resource for Jazz and it shows, but there is no reciprocal sense that Jazz is intended to be a resource for the sister.

      Liked by 6 people

      • — And, if gender is about psychology, behavior, and culture, as is said in the dictionary (“the behavioral, cultural, or psychological traits typically associated with one sex” https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gender), then clearly Jazz doesn’t have the same “gender” as their sister does. So, they’re not trans’ing gender (that is, moving from one gender to another). They’re doing something else entirely.

        But, then again, because gender is about which traits are typically associated with a certain sex, they can’t trans’ it anyway. Because it’s not possible to change sex. It probably never will be. Because it’s not some superficial appearance, it’s the foundation of your being. Everything from the shape of your body afar to your nerve ending density under a microscope, to your gray/white matter mass and skeletal structure, to your liver structure and DNA is part of your sex. It’s literally the seed from which every aspect of you comes forth. You cannot change that, because to try to change it would involve changing literally every part of yourself — including the very brain which is supposedly insisting that it’s trans. — So, it’s an intention that falls back on itself. Doomed from the start.

        I wish people could manage to look ahead and realize this. If you need to take hormones or get surgery or change the way you talk or act or dress, how is that revealing your “true” self? What could possibly be “true” about that? What’s “true” is what you do naturally, without thinking. It’s effortlessness. Not a constant process of maintenance and compensation.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. If forcing female people to believe (and espouse!) your lies isn’t male entitlement, nothing is. Women are not obligated to believe everything male people say. And if your ‘identity’ rests solely on women’s validation, it’s not really an identity at all–it’s a farce. I identify what I am: lesbian female–and it doesn’t require outside participation to be true. Well expressed as always, thank you.

    Liked by 5 people

  4. I wonder about other categories, and how they might be different. Two Americans who are the grandchildren of Italian immigrants, say, might have a different relationship to their Italian-ness (for one person, it might not be a big part of their life at all, while someone else might be very much into carrying on their family traditions, speaking Italian to their children, etc.). When I hear someone say that they do or don’t identify as being Italian, I know what they’re talking about — and it’s not the historical fact that their ancestors are from Italy, because nobody’s disputing that.

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    • Your final sentence highlights the difference, I think. Both Italian-Americans would be able to trace their recent genetic and cultural history to Italy. They each make a personal choice on whether to express themselves as Italian.

      Italians living in Italy might disagree with them on their ‘identification as’ – there are many differences between Italian-American and Italian Italian. However, they wouldn’t cavil at it *unless* the American branch started trying to alter their way of life in Italy, demanding a vote on local matters & so on. Such attempts would rightly anger them.

      Here we are looking at a situation where those ‘identifying as’ the opposite sex don’t have the same genes or cultural background. Nonetheless, we have generously indulged their ‘identity’ choices, even trying to make it easier for them. Now they want to interfere in our politics, to the point where they’re telling us we are wrong about our own sex; their ‘identity’s the real deal.

      In your analogy, it’s more like a bunch of Inuits demanding to run Italy because they understand more about being Italian!

      I’m on the fence about cultural appropriation (I’m not American; I understand it’s a nuanced issue over there) but you’ve quite neatly picked out how trans dogma is an extreme form of appropriation with no factual justification.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. “I wouldn’t really care whether a complete stranger is lying about themselves–people have a right to talk nonsense if they want—but when they start legislating lies and using lies to take away women’s rights I’m gonna be pissed.” If there were a Nobel prize for sentences, this would the one. The entire essay is very fine, of course, because writing cogently and eloquently is what you do, and for this, much thanks, but this particular sentence states so clearly what the problem is, and why we must resist it. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Beautifully put. If someone identifies with sexist stereotypes about men or women, that doesn’t make them a man or woman, it makes them someone who identifies with sexist stereotypes about men or women. And, in no permutation of reality is one’s internal, subjective feeling more pertinent than one’s objective reality. — Do you urinate with your identity? No, you urinate with your biology. — Do you wear clothes on your identity? No, you wear clothes on your biological body. — Did your identity just kick that field goal? Nope. Still your biological body. — And how about when you have sex with someone? Do you have sex with your identity? Still no. You have sex with your biology.

    Gender identity is like that one screw left in the box after you’ve already finished assembling a piece of Ikea furniture. The furniture’s all finished and doesn’t need anything else. So, it has no productive function, no purpose. It just sits there being a loose screw.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Good essay!

    I once called a “trans woman” “sir” and got a very negative reaction. This entitled male apparently needed constant validation that he was a REAL lady. The worst possible sin would be for me to acknowledge that he was anything other than a man in a dress. Since this individual had kindly given me a ride home, I just said “Oh, I’m sorry.” But I try to avoid playing along with this make believe as much as possible. “Gender” is such bullshit. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the “trans” people have completely co-opted the gay and lesbian movement. It’s trans, trans , trans 24/7.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Pingback: The difference between “identifying who/what you are” and “identifying as.” | The Prime Directive

  9. “Sometimes I want to ask transgenderists if they even believe in material reality. Do you know that there is a physical world that exists outside of our imaginations and that there are things in it that we can touch and see and measure and observe and study?”

    Queer theory (the very theory that allows people to “identify into” a “queerness” they don’t have) is based on postmodernism. And no, postmodernists don’t believe there is a physical world. They are literally skeptical of reality, reason and science and intend to construct another world wholesale out of obsfucating language.

    So we’re dealing with a philosophy that’s irrational by its own definition.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Post Modernism needs to be rejected for the anti-fact hugger that it has become.
    Full of entitled men who think they are beaming lights into darkness. Who argued back in the 1990’s that the oppression of womon was a false trail and forced my Uni to re-name ‘women’s Studies’, to Gender studies. The first eradicating of womon took place there and then! This is where that crap started and should have been stopped . Now we see basic reality denied by the mob worship of men pretending to be women.
    Worse children rejecting their reality for a fake sex that is bound up with a chemical cosh, where will it end?
    Great article clear and firm about the ground we as female human beings stand in and will fight for!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think it must be highly attractive to turn a mental illness into an identity, because then you’re going from having something wrong with you to being special and misunderstood. It must feel a lot better to say you are a very special sort of woman than a man with body dysmorphic disorder. I expect we’re going to see a lot more of mental illness masquerading as identity in the future, like therians and multiples. I’ve even seen a couple people claiming to be trans-racial, if it’s possible to imagine something that offensive. The obvious problem with all this is it pressures society to play along with unrealities, erases the meaning of words, and keeps people from getting help they could probably use for dealing with their issues.

    I’ve also noticed there’s a lot of renaming going on with non-mainstream beliefs, presumably to make them more PC. Personally, I prefer to call a spade a spade. I’m not a plant-based freethinker libertarian, I’m a vegan atheist anarchist, and proud of it. I have no use for this PC-speak, softening words until they are so wishy-washy and “inclusive” they don’t mean anything anymore.

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