Is gender identity ideology transphobic?

It feels very much as if we are living in a real, live version of the Emperor's New Clothes. An ideology which is completely nonsensical and cannot be applied to the "trans community" without immense contradiction (and frankly, "transphobia"), has been implemented in law in Ireland to the detriment of every person in the country.

What is that ideology?

We are told that gender is "a social construct" that has nothing to do with our biology or bodies and a gender identity then, is a person's "internal sense of self and gender". We are told that it is wrong to associate gender with our biological, physical bodies because that has nothing to do with gender. Nothing. It is wrong to associate 'gender' with a person's physical body because that has nothing to do with it.

On this basis then, biological sex has been completely divorced from gender and the Gender Recognition Act has (since 2015) been in force to allow an adult whose internal sense of gender does not match their body to legally change their birth sex. In this way, they legally become a man or woman for all purposes under the Act. They can do this by filling in a form with a small amount of basic personal information and signing a declaration to say that they sincerely feel that they are the opposite sex and intend to do/be so for the rest of their lives.

Transactivists refer to the majority of the population as "cisgender" and point out that for most people, their gender identity aligns or matches with the sex they were "assigned" at birth.

And here, if we were not distracted by the shouting of "transphobia" and high drama, is where we would, and should, begin to see the inconsistencies in the entire argument put forward to strip women and men of their single sex based rights.

Let's go back to the definition of "cisgender" for a moment. These are people whose gender identity (which is an internal sense of self and gender and nothing to do with biology or your physical body) "matches" or "aligns" with the sex they were "assigned" at birth. Trans people then, are those whose gender identity does not match or align with the sex they were "assigned" at birth.

Sorry, what?

If you are confused, you are not alone. In order for two things to "match" or "align", there has to be some link or connection between them. They must be related to each other in some way. We don't match or align things that have nothing to do with each other, it makes no sense to try.

We wouldn't try to "align" our household budget to our neighbours pay packet because our neighbours pay packet has no relationship to the amount of money that appears in our bank account every month. If we made custom seating, we wouldn't "match" the seat to the body of a completely different person than the one who ordered the chair because there is no connection between the shape of the chair and the body of a random person who will never sit in it.

In any normal understanding of the words "match" or "align", there is a connection between the two things being matched or aligned and so at the most basic level, the assertion that gender identity has no link, no connection and no relationship with the bodies were are born with, fails completely on the definitions provided to us.

I define a woman as a "female-bodied person". I, along with many other women, are told that this definition of "woman" is wrong. That what a woman is, is a social construct and sense of identity completely unrelated to sex "assigned" at birth or what body I or anyone else might have. Therefore, a woman must now be defined as "anyone who identifies as a woman" and must not be connected to the body a person has.

Photo by Yasin Yusuf / Unsplash

Are the same rules applied to the trans community?

Well, let's talk about "gender dysphoria" for a moment.

"Gender dysphoria (previously gender identity disorder), according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental disorders are defined as a 'marked incongruence between their experienced or expressed gender and the one they were assigned at birth.'"

If you take the definition of gender identity as "an internal sense of self and gender that is not related to your biology or physical body" that is given to everyone as being the position they must now hold, how is there any incongruence?

Again, there can only be "incongruence" if there is a relationship between the two things. And if there is a relationship between gender identity and biological body, then the definition of gender identity that we have been given is incorrect. To support the existence of "gender dysphoria", there must be some correlation between gender identity and sex "assigned" at birth.

What do they mean "sex assigned at birth", then? The use of the word "assigned"is a tricky one in context. What they mean is "observed" at birth. When you were born, the external primary sex characteristics of your physical body were "observed" by everyone around you and "gender" was assigned.

As you go through puberty, you develop secondary sex characteristics and a multitude of physical changes take place to your body. For children and teenagers who call themselves "transgender" and/or gender dysphoric, we are often told that they need puberty blockers. These are medications that prevent those changes taking place so that the young person in question will not experience further development of the physical body that does not "align" with their gender identity. Allowing the development of that body in that way, it is stated, will cause dangerous mental health issues and make further physical transitions more difficult in the future.

If, as the trans community tell us at every opportunity, gender identity is unrelated to physical bodies and women can have a penis and men can have a vagina, then why would these puberty blockers be necessary? Surely then this is just a misunderstanding or confusion on the part of the children involved and what they really need is to let go of the notion that their physical body has anything to do with their gender and accept their body as being a man's or woman's body? Because to do otherwise is "transphobic".

Then we have to address the pressing need it's said there is for "gender affirming care" and "gender confirming surgeries". These are medical treatments involving making changes to the body so that one's "gender identity" and physical body can "match" or "align" better. It is said over and over that the treatment for "gender dysphoria" is "transitioning". And transitioning is a process to change the physical body to match or align with gender identity.

What do these changes consist of? Naturally, what they consist of at an individual level is a series of treatments best suited to what changes that individual person desires - but they include hormone treatments and other medications, voice coaching, hair removal or surgery to provide primary and secondary sex characteristics of the desired gender. In other words, making changes to the physical body a person has to create, insofar as possible, the physical body characteristics that matches their gender identity.

How is it then that is perfectly acceptable if not demanded, that people who call themselves "transgender" are correct in connecting their gender identity with their own biology and physical bodies if I am not allowed to do the same? Surely whatever definitions we have must be applicable to everyone, no?

What would happen if the definition of "gender identity" were legally applied to everyone?

If I, regardless of context, say that I don't accept a person who has a biologically male body as a woman, that is regarded as "transphobic". e.g.

"The NHS trust which runs the Royal Sussex has apologised to a rape survivor for including her letter requesting a female-born medic for a breast-screening appointment as an example of transphobia."  

However, if a trans woman says that she does not accept her biologically male body as a woman's body, this is perfectly fine and she will receive treatments to change that body.

If, in fact, gender is a "social construct" and gender identity then is a personal sense or idea of who you are, then why would any medical treatments ever be necessary? Social constructs and ideas don't need medical treatment.

The Transgender Equality Network Ireland (TENI) themselves say:

"Transition may involve medical assistance such as hormone treatment or surgery. It is important to note that trans people can transition without any medical intervention at all. Medical assistance is not necessary to transition and some trans people choose not to, or cannot access, any medical process.”

If the "trans community" truly believed what they ask society at large to believe then gender affirming care would exist only in the realm of psychological care to "affirm" to them that they are the gender they identify as. There would be no need for "gender confirming surgery" because your gender identity has nothing to do with your body. If a man is experiencing severe gender dysphoria because he has a penis or does not have breasts (for example) it is only because he doesn't accept that a woman can have a biologically male body and he is, somewhat ironically, being transphobic.

Ultimately, it comes down to this - either your biological sex at birth and the sex attributes of your body have nothing to do with gender and gender identity or they do. It cannot be one set of rules and definitions for the trans community and another for society at large.

If it is acceptable for a transperson to find connection for themselves and others between biological sex/sex attributes of bodies and gender identities, then it is ok for me to do so too. Alternatively, if it is not ok for me to find connections between biological sex/sex attributes of bodies and gender identities, then they can't either. And they are going to have to pick one. Because they can't have both.