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It is wrong to force a person into sexual activity

I had thought that all decent people, whatever their politics or religion, accepted that each human being has the inalienable right to refuse to engage in sexual activity, and that for each person the decision as to what level of physical intimacy with any other person was acceptable to them was theirs and theirs alone.

I would never have guessed that was a case that still had to be argued. That would be like… having to go to court to argue all over again that prostitutes should have the right to refuse clients, or that marital rape should not be allowed. Or that forced concubinage should not be allowed, or any of the other forms of sexual slavery that stain the record of humanity.

Of course I knew that there were even now places in the world where people, usually women, still do not have the legal right to refuse sexual activity. Now that Daesh has been defeated, the first such place that comes to mind is the territory controlled by Boko Haram.

In British Columbia, the second most progressive province of Canada, they’re thinking about it.

109 comments to It is wrong to force a person into sexual activity

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    While I was posting this, Samizdata Illuminatus was posting about a situation where the law is used to force people, usually women, not to engage in sexual activity.

    The right to engage in and the right to refuse sexual activity are, of course, two aspects of the same right, the right to control your own body.

  • Julie near Chicago

    “The right to engage in and the right to refuse sexual activity are, of course, two aspects of the same right, the right to control your own body.”

    Of course.

    .

    I’m trying to think of a topic that would interest the body politic less than who shaves whose doo-dah. A boring exercise that comes up empty, which I therefor shall consider no further.

  • Roué le Jour

    As I understand it, a business can be forced to serve a customer, however a customer cannot demand to be served by a particular assistant.

    So the waxer declares her husband to be a partner in the business. Of course he doesn’t get much practice, so, in my favourite medical phrase “you may experience some discomfort” but he’ll get the job done.

  • Gene

    The shaving of doo-dahs is very much a political thing not because of the people involved in that specific case, but because of the existence of Canada’s Human Rights Commissions. They are the entities that, by their existence, have provided a venue for the conflict in British Columbia. Think about the other ways in which such bodies might be used as cudgels against free speech, and the constitutional issues they raise.

  • Gene

    Roué le Jour, there would certainly be some rough justice in that! 😛

  • Julie near Chicago

    Just for clarity, I didn’t mean that the issue doesn’t excite the Canadian so-called “Human Rights Commission.” What I meant is that I don’t think your average citizen is much inclined to ponder the rights and wrongs of people or not shaving the, um, area.

    I don’t think the average voter cares who does hair-braiding, either.

    These things become political issues because somebody decides it can be hyped up into a vote-getter or a money-maker, or is yet another load of pig-iron to be transmogrified into political pyrites for sale on the cheap to a few (politically or morally) gullible people, not because anybody cares about the practice itself nor even about how conducts it.

    I mean, looking at it purely as a customer, does anybody care who works on him/her/xhe/zhe/it/they as long the operator doesn’t cut off something delicate by mistake, and achieves the look the customer wants?

    Roué and Gene: Yes, indeed. 😆

  • Gene

    These days as I’m sure you’re aware, libertarian-minded people and large numbers of conservatives are rightly focused on such cases not because of any interest in boutique personal (sometimes extremely personal) services, but as examples of how the mania for “social justice and inclusion” is creating not only some very illiberal outcomes, but also seems to be permanently warping the minds of far, far too many people. (I’ll leave it to Paul Marks to put it into its proper historico-philosophical context.)

    Hence my mention of the Canadian Human Rights Commissions. For all I know there are already such things, in larval stages, in the U.S.; one thing I am sure of, however, is that most if not all Democratic Party presidential candidates would gleefully establish such things everywhere in the USA if given the chance. Please, let’s put the activities of spa customers aside and focus on how in the hell we are going to keep crazy people out of political power.

  • Russtovich

    I’m laughing my balls off (pardon the pun) reflecting on how hugging someone is now considered sexual activity whereas waxing someone’s groin is not. 🙂

  • Julie near Chicago

    Gene, I agree with your point just above. But it’s (a) fun and (2) useful to point out to the general public the obvious, which is that nobody cares except for those who are trying to gin up public self-righteousness as a means of encouraging people to vote for them (and also to fill various people’s coffers).

    Just because I poke fun at a particular piece of insanity (and point out the truth that the Usual Suspects are up to their Usual Tricks) doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously as part of the Big Picture.

    Maybe there is some corner of the globe where something called a “Human Rights Commission” isn’t busily engaged in getting laws enacted to make everybody’s live in a strait-jacket, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

  • Julie near Chicago (July 25, 2019 at 3:05 am), in his Brexit referendum discussion, Dominic Cummings notes that

    … these … forces undermined confidence in the EU project … and pushed [support for] it into about 30-35% of the population (younger, richer, better educated) which increasingly saw the EU in terms of ‘are you racist / supporter of Farage?’

    People are indeed of themselves uninterested. If you asked even the younger, richer and ‘better educated’ people who should wax what of whom on the day before it became a virtue-signalling device they’d probably think you were weird. But the day after that is made clear, it becomes a way to signal that you are with the young, that you deserve to be richer, that you should be seen as better-educated and your opinions worth more, and above all that you are virtuous and signalling to that effect.

    It also sends a clear message that if you get on the wrong side of it, you can be a victim of the woke mob.

    That is enough to make many people care.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Precisely so, Niall. I neither question nor discount all that.

    Nevertheless, IMO the instinctive reaction of the normal person to this latest insanity is, “Who the eff cares!”who shaves whom.”

    Which is based not on analysis of the politics involved and the political messages being sent, but on a nearly automatic reaction to the idea that who shaves whom is second only to the question of whether Col. Mustard killed the victim in the kitchen with the shoe in its importance to the personal desperate interests of most regular people.

    I’ve said this now some 436 times in the last 5 or 6 hours. The underlying political issue is serious. The issue of “something must be done to fix this horrible instance of just anybody being allowed to bikini-waxed” is the stuff of which coffee ejected through the nose and ruining the keyboard is made.

  • Snorri Godhi

    See also James Delingpole‘s take on the issue.

    What do people here think of Delingpole btw? I have a positive opinion from what i have read.

  • pete

    The Canadians have inflicted this silliness upon themselves by allowing their tax money to be used to fund an ever increasing number of middle class sinecures in academia and in other public services, these employees being free to act in a ridiculous, self-indulgent manner with little or no fear of loss of income.

  • neonsnake

    Nevertheless, IMO the instinctive reaction of the normal person to this latest insanity is, “Who the eff cares!”who shaves whom.”

    Agreed. I had much the same reaction.

    Apologies for crass language forthcoming.

    I’ve been half-assedly following this for a couple of days; I’ve see-sawed from “how the hell are we seriously talking about policy issues involving getting yer bollocks waxed?” to “I’m genuinely terrified” to “Actually, this might end up being a good thing.”

    a) This should be a non-issue, and keyboard-coffee-snorting-inducing.

    b) It’s not, clearly, a non-issue. And this issue, honestly, frightens me immensely. This person is clearly a troll and a creep. Some of her other conversations have surfaced, and they’re really, really troubling (This is the first time in my life where I’ve felt uncomfortable using a person’s preferred pronoun, but I’ll do it anyway). She appears really, really creepy. I’ve no concept of the experience that trans people go through, so I’m massively unqualified to judge, but the whole thing scares me. I’m not as erudite as most, but, it scares me because people will equate this one person with “trans people in general”, when I wholly believe that she is an outlier. I’m terrified that this person will put trans acceptance backwards some times, and that people will seize on this as a “You see???? I told you!!!” moment.

    I’ve read articles from several sides of the political spectrum, and it doesn’t appear that anyone, in significant numbers, are supporting her. I can’t provide solid evidence, but one trans person (yeah, I know, anecdotal), apparently a youtube celebrity has this to say, disapprovingly and fearfully: “This person is the walking, talking, living, breathing embodiment of what people fear when it comes to trans people.” This rings so horribly, painfully, true to me, because reasons.

    c) With a slight hat-tip to Snorri. My hope is that this will be the instance where the so-called “slippery slope” fallacy will be proved wrong. Some months back, and apologies for sketchy memory, we had a similar event in Europe.

    There’s long been an argument that “if we allow people to identify at will, where does it end??”. A Dutch fellow, 69 years old, attempted to legally identify as 49 years. The court essentially passed a judgement of “lol, behave. No.”

    This pleased me immensely. I don’t like the “slippery slope” argument, so to see it proved wrong was great. It’s the “yeah, well, I identify as an attack helicopter” thing, when, actually, no, that’s not what will happen. Common sense will prevail.

    My hope is that common sense will prevail here, and the case will be thrown out.

    And, by all the gods, I truly, truly hope that people don’t focus in on this one example and use it as an example of the “trans agenda”, and continue to demonise trans people because of this bad actor.

  • staghounds

    Try replacing the term “trans woman” with “Negro” and “shave” with “serve lunch to” and see how your arguments and feelings work out.

    Once we permit the power of the State to compel someone to do something then it is only a power struggle over who whom.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’m not as erudite as most, but, it scares me because people will equate this one person with “trans people in general”, when I wholly believe that she is an outlier. I’m terrified that this person will put trans acceptance backwards some times, and that people will seize on this as a “You see???? I told you!!!” moment.”

    I understand, but this is standard for politically contested issues. About 8% of the general American population are SJWs – including many straight cis white males. Being a member of a persecuted minority doesn’t prevent you being a bad person, and it is to be expected purely by chance that 8% of trans people will have similar views, and probably more than average since it’s ‘well known’ (i.e. a stereotype) that conservatives despise the transgender, and if they’re going to take sides they’re more likely to join the side that doesn’t hate them. Most don’t. The vast majority are still not ‘out’, let alone making a high-profile public spectacle of themselves. Thus, I’d say it was far rarer than average among TGs since most of those with such views wouldn’t dare expose them to view.

    However, yes, there are many people who are going to take this sort of thing as representative of TGs – which is precisely why it’s being highlighted so widely. There are anti-trans activists on the other side who are just as unpleasant, just as intolerant, who will make sure of that. That’s the nature of a political battle.

    Regarding the main issue, people define “sexual activity” in many ways. The Muslims, for example, consider any form of mixing between the sexes except under rigorously sanctioned circumstances as such. Shaking hands, talking unsupervised, looking at one another. So a Muslim working in a Western shop is required to do many things that the orthodoxy would consider forbidden “sexual behaviour”.

    And we read stories of that issue being raised, and our reaction is commonly “don’t be silly!”, because it’s not one of our social tabboos. We recently had the story of a barista being asked to serve a customer wearing a MAGA cap – and the feeling I suspect was similar. We regard that sort of discrimination as unreasonable intolerance.

    Because some people are intolerant, and others suffer for it, people have created laws to forbid it. The intentions are good, but of course it’s illiberal and the potential consequences are dangerous. There are two extremes. We can require people tolerate everything, but then we get stories like the one above. Or we can allow that people be intolerant of anything, which leads to racial segregation, discrimination against women, or gays, or indeed conservatives in MAGA caps. And depending on our views we want both, sometimes one and sometimes the other, depending on which side we’re on.

    It’s a difficult problem. The purist libertarian position is guaranteed to annoy *all* sides, depending on which set of tabboos we’re breaking.

  • neonsnake

    see how your arguments and feelings work out

    Whose arguments?

  • It’s always useful to have an outstanding Bad Example. (The Westboro Baptist Church is one such – an example so Bad nobody is likely to believe it of you and your friends.) https://godhatesfags.com/

    (I really wish the “link” function would work for me.)

    As transfolk go, I have known outstanding good examples and outstanding bad examples. Unfortunately, it’s harder to ignore the bad ones. Fortunately, we have so many social-justice howler monkeys with so many causes that the average voter is building up resistance. With any luck, people will get mad at both Jonathan Yaniv and the Human Rights Tribunal and maintain a reasonable balance in their negative enthusiasms.

  • neonsnake

    Being a member of a persecuted minority doesn’t prevent you being a bad person, and it is to be expected purely by chance that 8% of trans people will have similar views, and probably more than average

    Ok. I don’t really know where to go with that.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I have a question about the law particularly the law in British Columbia/Canada if anyone happens to know about it, but I’d be interested in hearing about the situation in any of countries under the Common Law tradition. Or any legal tradition, come to think of it.

    The question is, is a prostitute obliged to abide by laws against racial, religious, sexual orientation, gender or trans/cis discrimination in what clients they will agree to have sex with?

  • Saw this being discussed on Rebel media with the defence lawyer. They were saying – and I have no reason to believe otherwise – that there is a different qualification for waxing male genitals and the women who refused are not so qualified apparently.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ckJnkuA_-I

  • Snorri Godhi

    Please correct me if i am wrong, but it seems to me that neonsnake and Nullius assume that there are only 2 positions that can be taken on the transgender issue: that they should be taken at their word, or that they should be demonized.

    I beg to disagree with both positions: it seems blatantly obvious to me that transgender identification is a form of delusional insanity. (Incidentally, there seems to be some evidence that this might be due to exposure to seed oils in utero — something to think about if you are planning to have children.)

    That does not mean that TG people should be demonized: quite the contrary. People with mental illnesses should not be demonized.

    OTOH, if you buy into somebody’s delusional insanity, then you are yourself delusionally insane. (I could be banned from Twitter for saying that … if i were on Twitter!)

    NB: none of the above applies to people who are “biologically transgender”, eg people with an abnormal complement of sex chromosomes, and/or exposed to an abnormal hormonal environment in utero, and/or born with genitals not conforming to their chromosomal sex.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I see a great many people obsessing about the true nature of transgender people. Are they really their birth sex or their identified sex, are they mentally ill or well, are they transexual as a result of nature or nurture?

    Most of these questions are pointless sixth form debate topics that can never be answered. Some of them (e.g. the nature/nurture one) might be answered one day when and if the science becomes de-politicised, but the answers will turn out to be complex. The “true nature” of transexuals-in-general makes as little difference to any question about what to do next in any real life situation as does the “true nature” of men-in-general or women-in-general.

    I prefer to treat each person by the principles applicable to humans-in-general, tailored to what I see and know about that individual person. I expect them to do the same regarding me. We are neither of us obliged to engage in pointless and impertinent speculation about the other’s sex life or metaphysical status.

    Right now, under current political conditions, there is a significant danger that anti-discrimination law could give rise to appalling results such as people being forced by law to have what they see as sexual contact with someone they don’t want to have such contact with. The problem arises from using the big clunking hob-nailed boot of the law to “solve” frictions of interpersonal relations that could be solved infinitely more amicably and more justly by negotiation and freedom of association.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I think I took the metaphor of the law, and all state action, being a “big clunking boot” or a “big clunking fist” from something Brian Micklethwait wrote. If I remember rightly he contrasted it with the delicate touch of the “Invisible Hand” as described by Adam Smith.

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    Longrider, thanks for the link. It was interesting to have a Canadian lawyer confirm what several people have pointed out, namely that the waxing of male genitalia requires different training and procedures than the waxing of female genitalia. That may well be the best argument for the women Jessica Yaniv has brought cases against to put forward to defend themselves. I’m sure I’d do the same in their circumstances. But I still wish that someone could establish the right to refuse to do things like wax someone’s genitals when you don’t want to on a broader legal principle.

  • Snorri Godhi
    July 25, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    Please correct me if i am wrong, but it seems to me that neonsnake and Nullius assume that there are only 2 positions that can be taken on the transgender issue: that they should be taken at their word, or that they should be demonized.

    I beg to disagree with both positions: it seems blatantly obvious to me that transgender identification is a form of delusional insanity. (Incidentally, there seems to be some evidence that this might be due to exposure to seed oils in utero — something to think about if you are planning to have children.)

    Snorri, I am mad as a hatter, but I don’t think it has much to do with being a transwoman. During a long and reasonably productive life I have been operator of two (count them, two) atom smashers, and performed experiments at another. I’ve lived in a crafts commune during the hippie era where I made musical instruments and sold them at arts and crafts fairs. I’ve made a living as a mad scientist, and for a quarter of a century, I was curator at a medical museum. I’ve written two novels, a bunch of short stories, and articles in various magazines and journals.

    “Delusional insanity” is a bit strong. I think I qualify, at least, as a prime eccentric.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Oops! Left this comment in the wrong discussion. :>(

    .

    “Those who think they rule over us by natural right cannot abide ridicule.”

    –Former (and much-missed) Samizdata commenter Subotai Bahadur, at

    https://chicagoboyz.net/archives/44007.html

  • Julie near Chicago

    By the way, if waxing or shaving of the nether parts (H/T Joe Pesci, in one of the Lethals 😆 ) is “sexual activity,” then why isn’t the beautician or makeup artist doing the same when he or she paints somebody’s lips with lipstick? Since when aren’t (facial) lips an area of sexuality?

    What should be the law on that case?

    I mean, clearly there SHOULD be a law. Surely that goes without saying.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Most of these questions are pointless sixth form debate topics that can never be answered. Some of them (e.g. the nature/nurture one) might be answered one day when and if the science becomes de-politicised, but the answers will turn out to be complex.”

    They are complex. I first saw the science being discussed in Matt Ridley’s book on the evolution of sex: “The Red Queen”. Matt Ridley is far from being a lefty – he’s more commonly hated for his free market views by that set. The position was being set against the early feminist “blank slate” position that men and women were by nature mentally identical – they were only distinguished by their plumbing and by the way they were treated by society. The “lefty feminist” position was that sex was pure nurture. Matt Ridley presented the emerging science saying that it was largely (though obviously not entirely) nature. In the uterus, the SRY gene (usually) on the Y chromosome triggered the development of the testes, which produced dihydrotestosterone, which was converted (by a number of other enzymes and processes) into a whole cascade of other hormones and signalling molecules, which triggered other cells all over the body to develop according to one pattern or the other depending on what signals they received. This applied to brain anatomy, too, and numerous significant brain and body differences between the sexes were baked in before birth. However, the cascade is extremely complex and prone to partial breakdown, and with very high probability in nearly all people some bits of their body or brain develop according to the pattern more common in the other sex. We’re all a mosaic of both sexes, but usually (when things work out normally) one far more than the other. A lot of these sex-linked difference are fairly neutral, but a few are socially significant, like the brain module implementing sexual attraction, or the several implementing gender identity.

    If a male has the female-pattern module for sexual attraction, they’re sexually attracted to other males. If a male has the female-pattern modules for feminine social identity, they identify mentally as female. It’s essentially the same phenomenon as homosexuality, but applied to a different bit of the brain.

    Sex-linked anatomical features can have anything from a 70% to a 99%+ probability of occuring as expected. Gender identity appears to be about 99%, so you could say in a statistical sense that the 99% are “normal” and the 1% “abnormal”. However, since there are about 20-30 such features identified, each with a probability between 70% and 99%+, the odds of any individual getting *all* their bits going the same way are slim. It’s “normal” to have some bits going the other way, and as such, to have gender identity or sexual attraction going the other way is as “normal” as to have (not being entirely serious) the brain structures for ‘map reading’ or ‘asking for directions’ going the other way. People are complex.

    Likewise for the question over whether it is a mental illness. People used to classify homosexuality as a mental illness, and used to try to treat it using some pretty horrific methods. But if you take away the social pressure arising from persecution, or the pressures of maintaining secrecy, homosexuals turn out pretty well-adjusted and perfectly able to function without mental anguish. Their brain function is normal for humans, albeit humans of the other sex. They’re no more mentally ill for liking men than women are for liking men.

    Likewise, the transgender are no more “mentally ill” for identifying as women (or men) than cisgender women (or men) are. The way they see it, their brain is fine, it’s their body that is congenitally deformed – having come out as the wrong sex. As with homosexuals historically, the majority of their mental issues are due to the way society treats them. Not entirely. As with someone with a grossly deformed body – severe facial disfigurement or the wrong number of limbs – some of their issues arise from their internal conflict about their self-image. But even that can be addressed in the same sort of way. Someone born with no legs, and who cannot simply accept the way they are, can potentially have their situation improved with surgery. And while with the current state of medical technology that’s imperfect, it’s still better than continuing life having no legs.

    The medical establishment have changed their minds and decided based on the above sort of reasoning that it’s not a mental illness, it’s more like a distressing physical deformity that can be treated effectively with drugs and surgery. They’re obviously not infallible – clearly they got it wrong before – but I’d say you’d need some fairly hefty evidence to overturn that position, and all most of the opponents have got is “but it’s obvious…”.

    However, all of that has little to do with what should be the libertarian position on it, which is that whether it is valid biology or not, if it’s not doing anyone else any harm then it’s nobody else’s business. And that as just one more human characteristic, it gives people no especial immunity (or susceptibility) to stupidity or evil. Women have had all sorts of problems, from the vote, to owning property, to getting jobs, to driving cars, to owning property, that were all completely without rational foundation and should never have happened – but you can still find women being radical Marxist feminists and complete evil bastards. Evil is an equal-opportunity employer.

    However, you shouldn’t judge all women by the example set by the radical feminists infesting universities. Being female doesn’t excuse it when it happens, but it doesn’t cause it either. Likewise with any other minority.

  • neonsnake

    but it seems to me that neonsnake and Nullius assume that there are only 2 positions that can be taken on the transgender issue: that they should be taken at their word, or that they should be demonized.

    I’m not sure that I feel it’s quite as “your either for them or against them!” as that implies, if I’m understanding you correctly.

    Philosophically, if you’re asking do I take them at their word, then in my everyday interactions, I very much do. My stance, in general, is that if a person is living their own best life, in accordance with their own life-path, and is harming no-one else, then I approve. I’ve deliberately used the word “approve” to denote the positive, rather than “I don’t care” which could be taken as being more grudging.

    (The same would apply to nearly everything – as long as it’s genuinely their own desire, I approve of minimalists, materialists, traditional 2.4 children families who go to church every Sunday, atheists, and any other form of non-coerced and non-coercive living.)

    My concern over demonisation is that over the last 60-70 years and longer, we’ve made tremendous amounts of progress in the realms of prejudice. It’s probably fair to say that an overwhelming majority of people, of all political stripes, simply do not care about the old familiar “-isms” and prejudices.

    But it feels like it’s going backwards, that progress has reversed slightly over the last four to five years. I don’t have solid evidence (although bobby b provided a link to some evidence), but it feels like the old tensions are growing again. I’m hoping it’s a loud minority on social media, and I’m not even sure of the causes, but it worries me, and it worries me that stories like this can be used, and are used, to demonise the whole group rather than the individual, which for a group that has very well-documented levels of prejudice against them already, raises my concerns.

    Nullius, I don’t think you’re in quite the same place as me in terms of broader levels of concern, and view it as being part and parcel of political issues? Is that a fair characterisation?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Natalie @9:59 is correct that the debate about the nature of transgender identity is off-topic. Except that it isn’t, not entirely. Suppose that one of the waxers (is that a word?) objects on exclusively religious grounds to waxing male groins: in this case it becomes relevant, not least to the waxer herself, whether the plaintiff is a man or a woman.

    Ellen: i actually believe that we are all insane nowadays, because of the modern Western diet. Also note that it is perfectly possible to be delusional in one aspect of life, but not in others. For instance, most American academics are delusionally insane in politics, but they still rack up Nobel prizes.

    “Delusionally insane” might be too strong a word, but what i would like to withdraw is my “blatantly obvious”, because it is not obvious whether a given transgender person is delusional or not. We could hypothesize that there are 2 kinds of transgender people: those with a brain that would be “normal” in a body of the opposite sex (but what does “normal” mean? see the link in the last comment by Nullius) and those who are simply delusional. Evidence that the latter exist, is the fact that most children who identify as transgender, revert to cisgender by the time they grow up. Further evidence are the people who, after surgery, change their minds and want to revert to their original bodies. And then there is rapid-onset gender dysphoria.

    So i agree that not all people who feel they are born with the wrong plumbing, are wrong in that belief. I do believe, however, that “delusionally insane” is a correct diagnosis for people who claim that everybody should be taken at their word about their gender.

  • neonsnake

    I do believe, however, that “delusionally insane” is a correct diagnosis for people who claim that everybody should be taken at their word about their gender.

    I think there’s conversations where that may well be true (sports springs to mind). But practically speaking, I refer to people in my daily goings-on as however they wish to be referred to. In all honesty though, the number of times it comes up is vanishingly small, so when it does, I take them at their word and go with whatever they prefer.

  • In re Snorri Godhi’s critique (July 25, 2019 at 8:16 pm) of neonsnake and nullius, and Ellen’s witty comment, I think “prime eccentric” a splendid term and will remember it. Some very eccentric people combine it with achieving much, not always wholly unrelated to the eccentricity. I forget the name of Robert Conquest’s prime example – a man who was extremely knowledgable and reliable about Mexican antiquities, provided you discounted his firmly-held opinion that the Aztecs were one of the lost tribes of Israel. As regards whether their eccentricity statistically tends to improve or to diminish the capacity of the eccentric, my opinion (offered merely FWIW) is that a little is good but there is definitely such a thing as too much. But that’s a statistical opinion and I expect exceptions to it.

    I continue to get a very male vibe from the trans in my team, so continue to think him a him – one who had a mid-life crisis which he resolved poorly, said crisis unfortunately coincident with (or of course perhaps triggered by) the 2015 Jenner-poster-child-ed start of the campaign that Natalie is now posting on. The trans of course sees things (including the previous sentence’s pronouns) differently. We interact much as before (I was always courteous; the guy was always socially a bit less than ept but liked me well enough – perhaps because I am complementarily – not complimentarily – polite) and (helped by the genderlessness of English in face-to-face discussion) we do not find ourselves obliged to choose between saying what could offend or being polite beyond what would be truly sincere.

    One amusing thing I have noted is that in discussions about, not to, this trans, it is precisely the woke, liberal, ‘concerned’ team members who are most likely to use the ‘wrong’ pronoun, get hideously embarrassed and apologise, and three sentences later use the ‘wrong’ pronoun again and repeat the whole performance. I once had to say “Relax, cool it, he’s not here listening to be offended” to a strong contender for most ‘liberal’ (US sense) member of the team who was on his third “I’m so sorry” interrupt of the business we were trying to get through re what this guy would be asked to code next. By contrast, those of the rest of us who are nearer Snorri in fundamental view quite easily, depending on character, either practice a controversy-avoidance in which they do not really believe or else recall that the truest politeness of a trans is to choose a shortish (or naturally abbreviable) new name – and in this respect our trans colleague, whose tact, as I have hinted, can sometimes be found wanting, was indeed polite. (I have witnessed exactly the same effect in feminist contexts from much longer ago.)

    I guess, at least in this individual case, this means I channel some Snorri (including, of course, Snorri’s exceptions) and some Ellen (I certainly channel Ellen in thinking the trans’ code needful and this coder’s retention desirable). And of course, I can offer nothing very compelling in support of my view of that trans or anyone else being more accurate than their own far more intimate and detailed view of themselves.

    My own critique of neonsnake’s comment would rather note the ‘delusional insanity’ (OK, I’m humorously exaggerating 🙂 ) of worrying so much about backlash at a time like this. A variant form of the same idea appears in James Delingpole saying (I summarise) “This will be the turning point – the ‘jump -the-shark’ moment”. So not the thing anyone needs to worry about – or is wise to hope for – at this time. What I sadly agree may be, as Natalie notes, the ‘best’ (i.e. most likely to win) argument – that a state licensing regulation may defeat a state PC regulation – may indeed win this particular case, but it won’t stop there. The moment in Graves “I, Claudius” where Claudius worships Caligula as a god while thinking, “Thank the gods, they’ll see he’s insane and throw him out” – only to be very disappointed of course – is not a moment for us to imitate. Today’s world is full of people who would echo Snorri in the privacy of their minds but are looking for someone else to be brave in public. History abounds with such cases.

    So, yes, let us all remember Burke’s wise words that the persecuted are apt to be “inspired with a hatred of the persecutors but no very great hatred of the proceeding”. And if we live to see the pendulum truly halt and even begin to swing back, then it will be time (and time enough) to think about applying one of the many lessons taught by the whole business – that letting it swing as far as possible to the other side rather than slowing it as it reaches the centre may only guarantee a repeat swing back again to the side from which we were escaping – but today “chance’d be a fine thing!” The end of the catholic-protestant wars was greater toleration – and the invention of new socialist reasons for persecuting. I think the future that troubles neonsnake is of lowish probability relative to other future dangers to liberty, and it would be slightly worrying to me if it distracted anyone from fighting the in-our-face danger of today.

    I understand why this kind of “no need to worry” advice from some of his libertarian allies may not immediately give neonsnake exactly the kind of reassurance he would prefer. 🙂 But if neonsnake and nullius will imagine me warning, at the time of the Oscar Wilde trial, of how careful we must be to guard against the reaction to this leading to a world where gay sensibilities destroy our free speech then they might get the idea. In a sense, I’d be quite right, wouldn’t I? But I could also be told I was a bit premature, and my concerns questionably prioritised to the needs of the moment.

    I apologise for the length of this comment. The muse ran away with me.

  • Deep Lurker

    Try replacing the term “trans woman” with “Negro” and “shave” with “serve lunch to” and see how your arguments and feelings work out.

    It begs the question, which is whether “separate but equal” on the basis of sex is sometimes justified when it isn’t on the basis of race.

    I believe it is: I wouldn’t want to see separate men’s and women’s drinking fountains, but separate restrooms, separate locker rooms, or even separate men’s and women’s lounges in a university student union building are a different matter. However, the downside is that “separate but equal” does require a Rule about who falls into which category.

    For the lunch-counter analogy to hold, the shaving business would have to be made to serve cis men as well as trans women. Or it would have to be acceptable for a lunch counter to be “Whites, and Negroes attempting to pass as Whites, only.”

  • Snorri Godhi

    Neonsnake:

    practically speaking, I refer to people in my daily goings-on as however they wish to be referred to.

    Sure, but that is not what i was talking about. I mean, you can refer to people by their preferred pronouns just out of politeness, when it is of little relevance to you whether you are dealing with a man or a woman — as it should be in a business relationship.
    Also, i note (with approval) that you do not extrapolate from the transgender people you know personally, to all the transgender people in the world.

    I myself think that i talked only once to a transgender person, and then very briefly. But i could be wrong.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall’s mention of the Jenner case highlights another flaw in my use of the expression “delusionally insane”.

    Caitlin Jenner might very well be delusional in thinking that she has a female brain* since she used to live a successful life as a man; but is she insane? not if the transition made her happier.
    (OTOH a person with a transgender identity cannot know for sure whether transitioning will lead to happiness, until the transition has actually occurred.)

    * which i assume is what a biological man means when (s)he claims to be a woman.

  • Niall’s mention of the Jenner case highlights another flaw in my use of the expression “delusionally insane”. … OTOH a person with a transgender identity cannot know for sure whether transitioning will lead to happiness (Snorri Godhi, July 26, 2019 at 12:01 pm)

    They and we cannot know the future but it is sometimes possible to make a well-informed guess. My slight other trans-related acquaintance includes an individual absolutely notorious for misreading other people and putting his foot in it. (Thinking of more recent discussions on this, I find myself wondering whether he was partly autistic – one of those autists who notoriously are sometimes persuaded to see transitioning as the cure for their problems.)

    This guy planned to trans – that is, this guy who could foul up the simplest social situation even with people who knew him planned to ensure he would be repeatedly confronted by social situations involving acquaintances and chance-met strangers requiring a non-trivial degree of social competence to handle well.

    It was not hard to foresee problems – but precisely for the reason I’ve described, it was hard for him to foresee that problem.

    I assume the trans who later declared they identified as a dragon was – for a time at least – made happier thereby. I do not wish to live in a society where anyone feels afraid to call them delusionally insane, but one problem with this post’s topic is it points to a world where even such things are possible

  • neonsnake

    I apologise for the length of this comment. The muse ran away with me.

    Not at all. A very thoughtful post.

    I think the future that troubles neonsnake is of lowish probability relative to other future dangers to liberty, and it would be slightly worrying to me if it distracted anyone from fighting the in-our-face danger of today.

    The future that really troubles me (and the fear I expressed upthread is only a small element of it) is one of increasing polarisation along the left-right spectrum.

    For whatever reason (and you can probably actually tell me, you’re a more knowledgeable historian), what I’ll call “social liberties” are stereotypically associated with the left, and “social authoritarianism” with the right. Not new news, we all know this, and that’s why we now have the Nolan chart, because it doesn’t always hold true that being socially liberal means that you also want an enormous government attempting to plan the economy, nor does it mean that voting to the right makes you a terrible authoritarian looking down your nose on people who don’t have traditional family arrangements. So far, so obvious.

    To us, anyway.

    Your “woke” colleagues – how accurate would I be if I guessed they voted Labour? Or SNP, maybe?

    I would be willing to guess that they also go along with pretty much everything that the left stands for. I’ll be charitable to these colleagues of yours that I’ve never met, and say that they seem concerned about personal liberty for minorities, which is of itself not a bad thing. Somehow, we’ve ended up in a situation where it’s very, very hard, to break the stigma that voting to the right doesn’t make one a persecutor of minorities.

    Whilst it’s always been the case (Tories were called The Nasty Party for as long as I can recall), it does seem to be getting much much worse, and decreases our chances of winning people over.

    The fear I expressed earlier is a (small) part of that.

  • neonsnake

    Also, i note (with approval) that you do not extrapolate from the transgender people you know personally, to all the transgender people in the world.

    Well, my initial post was a worry that people would extrapolate from Ms Yaniv to all the transgender people in the world. It would have been very bad form to make the same mistake in the other direction 😉

  • APL

    “I had thought that all decent people, whatever their politics or religion, accepted that each human being has the inalienable right to refuse to engage in sexual activity”

    One religion explicitly permits, practically mandates the rape of captive women.

    Guess which one?

  • Rob

    In a sane society, “Who shaves who (or whom)” is not a national issue, or even a local one. Alas, Progressive societies are not sane, and it is now a human rights issue – the human right of people not to have their business and life ruined by a deeply unpleasant individual who, because of the way these ‘Commissions’ work, gets a free shot at them, supported by the State.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nullius, I don’t think you’re in quite the same place as me in terms of broader levels of concern, and view it as being part and parcel of political issues? Is that a fair characterisation?”

    Probably. I try not to make predictions about the future, when it comes to social fashions. But the trajectory over the last few decades is still moving rapidly in the direction of liberalising the tabboos on sexual behaviour and identity, and I don’t think that will stop. The SJW authoritarianism in its support might arouse resistance that slows things down, but I don’t think it will stop things. I would hope that if it does come to a serious conflict that it will push people into making the distinction between SJW authoritarianism and tolerant liberalism. But I don’t know. It might not.

    One way to look at the question is to look at other groups that started out as liberal defence of the downtrodden, and turned into authoritarian privilege for victimhood. The poor, the disabled, women, etc. Is there a backlash against women in general because of modern feminism, or do most people distinguish between sensible women and nutty feminists?

    “I do believe, however, that “delusionally insane” is a correct diagnosis for people who claim that everybody should be taken at their word about their gender.”

    There is an element of pragmatic practicality in that policy, rather than it being a statement of absolute logical necessity.

    We have the same problem when it comes to religion, for example. When somebody says they’re Catholic, should you take their word for it? Can you “self-identify” as a believer in a particular religion? Does the confession of faith “make you a believer” by definition?

    We all know very well that saying it doesn’t imply that it is so. Some people can lie about being Catholic. Some people can be waverers, saying they’re Catholic one minute and then changing their minds. Some may genuinely believe themselves to be Catholic, but on closer examination turn out to have a set of beliefs that are at odds with official/orthodox Catholic doctrine, and thus are heretics or schismatics of some sort.

    So when somebody tells you they’re Catholic, should you take their word for it? Or should we consider the possibility that they’re only saying so because they’re “delusionally insane”? Should we demand psychological tests first before we accept their “self-identified” diagnosis? (Is there even any objective physical test for detecting “Divine grace”?)

    It’s a real problem, by the way. Parents pretend to be Catholic in order to get their kids into the best schools, and the schools have taken to applying a few tests beyond just “because I say so”.

    However, in most circumstances I think society *does* take people’s word for it on their religious belief, and politely respects their rituals and restrictions. The person themselves knows their own mind best, and is in the best position with the best information to be able to say. It’s not infallible, but it’s good enough for everyday social interaction and business dealings.

    So it is that often when people say we should accept people’s self-identification – they mean it in the sense we should treat it in the same way we treat many other personal characteristics people self-identify with – like “No pork please, I’m Jewish” or “Sorry, I don’t like the taste of boiled cabbage”. Yes, they could be lying, or deluded, but unless there is a particular reason to be suspicious, we normally set the bar for evidence low.

    Suddenly setting the bar much higher on particular categories is more likely an indication of our own beliefs than an objective assessment of theirs. Like the parent who is firmly convinced that every child would love the taste of boiled cabbage if only they would just try it. Yum! Yum!

    And thus the claim that you ‘don’t believe them’ is subject to exactly the same issue of of being a form of unprovable self-identification; one that may be based on factually incorrect and even delusional beliefs. No, sometimes kids really don’t like boiled cabbage. No, kids sometimes really are gay, or transgender, or Manchester United supporters. The accusation of being “delusionally insane” can go both ways, you see?

    We respect other people’s claims and beliefs about themselves so that they will respect ours. Politeness is born of reciprocity.

  • Jim

    “There’s long been an argument that “if we allow people to identify at will, where does it end??”. A Dutch fellow, 69 years old, attempted to legally identify as 49 years. The court essentially passed a judgement of “lol, behave. No.”

    He was a straight white older male. Of course no court is going to indulge him, there’s no downside to the court for telling him to behave himself and stop being an arse. A black lesbian woman on the other hand has several degrees of protected status, so any court would think long and hard before dishing out the same decision to her, and would very likely arrive at a different verdict.

    The law has long discarded the ‘justice is blind’ principle.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “A Dutch fellow, 69 years old, attempted to legally identify as 49 years.”

    Indeed. Devotees of the base-15 number system are being sadly neglected by the law…

    “A black lesbian woman on the other hand has several degrees of protected status, so any court would think long and hard before dishing out the same decision to her, and would very likely arrive at a different verdict.”

    If you can find an example of a black lesbian woman being allowed by a court to identify as a different age, I’ll be very interested to see it. Do you have one?

    The litigant in the court case is making the same mistake a lot of people do. Because they hold the belief that a certain thing is impossible, they are assuming that this business of someone being legally recognised as such as a result of simply making the claim means that anyone can be recognised as any impossible thing simply by asserting it. But that’s not what’s going on. The courts are recognising current scientific opinion that a certain thing *is* possible, contrary to those opposing beliefs, and therefore a claim that it is so can be believed. There’s nothing unreasonable about that.

    It is hard for some people to see things from the point of view of somebody who believes differently to themselves, or to even understand that anyone could honestly hold a different opinion. It’s why we spent several thousand years with black lesbians etc. getting stomped on by society and nobody ever stopping to consider whether that was morally justified. Old habits die hard.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Forgive me for ranting on about this, but i need to put some thoughts in order.

    First, let me explain that, for me, the most important aspect of this issue is that the ruling class is gaslighting us about transgender issues, no doubt unintentionally. It is a form of postmodernism: what matters is not empirical evidence, but one’s subjective reality.
    While writing this comment, i found somebody who put the same idea into different words (relevant quote at Instapundit). At a guess, i find somebody who agrees with different words at least once a week, at Instapundit or Samizdata.

    Nullius is doing some dirty work for the ruling class (without even getting paid!) by continuing to bring up intersex people. (Where “intersex” should be understood very broadly — i do not use the term “non-binary” because as i understand it is an identity, not a biological fact.)
    That intersex people exist, does little or nothing to solve the puzzle of transgender identity in individuals who are, to the best of medical knowledge, not intersex.

    My view is this: i believe that i am a man by the same process by which i believe that the Earth is (approximately) spherical: both theories (because that is what they are) explain a lot of things, and there is nothing that falsifies them. Call this the Popperian hypothesis of gender identity. On the basis of this hypothesis, people who deny all biological evidence about their gender can indeed be described as delusional.

    There is at least one other hypothesis: that a person’s gender identity is determined by androgen levels, and androgen sensitivity, in utero. Let’s call this the Kantian hypothesis of gender identity, because the claim is that one’s gender identity is synthetic a priori: each of us is born with the idea that (s)he is of one or the other gender, usually corresponding to external anatomy.

    It seems that there used to be a third hypothesis about gender identity, advanced by the somewhat infamous professor John Money: the “gender gate” theory. I mention it because John Money comes up in my discussions of the Kantian hypothesis.
    But that discussion will be in a followup comment, because i have been going on for too long.

  • Nullius is doing some dirty work for the ruling class (without even getting paid!) by continuing to bring up intersex people. (Snorri Godhi, July 27, 2019 at 5:21 pm)

    Snorri, you partly anticipated – but in somewhat harsher, more intention-ascribing words than I – the comment I was about to write suggesting that Nullius was perhaps being a bit naive in thinking that science, rather than fashionable opinion passing itself off as science, was what the courts were deferring to.

    1) The very essence of science is scepticism, is the invitation to “prove me wrong if you can”. I have not the same ability in this area as I have in climate science to refute of my own knowledge the statistical analyses offered, but the same alarm bells that this is not science, that it is not welcoming to attempts at refutation, ring even louder. When researchers in the area for decades (and so not the most obvious candidates for being suspected of loathing trans people) can be sacked for not getting politically correct results, when others can be demonised, when it is all too obvious that not echoing the fashionable view can be career-limiting in today’s admin-bloated academic world, it is mere sense to view such ‘science’ with great caution.

    2) Courts should defer to the law, not to science, whether genuine or fashionable.

    3) In recent years, Swedish and German courts have been notorious for treating the age of migrants as a matter for self-identification. If we heard of Swedish court refusing to treat a native Swede as their self-identified age, it would be merely another case of PC’s double-standard. I do not know if Dutch courts can claim to follow a more objective standard. In wider society, I have seen the video where a shortish man on a university campus makes student after student agree he is 6 feet tall rather than question his self-identification.

    So I too am critical of Nullius’ reasoning, but note samizdata is not the most obvious place to put it if one was seeking the endorsement of the woke.

  • Snorri Godhi

    To resume: there is a rather obvious weakness of the Popperian hypothesis: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. In cases where there is no biological evidence that people have a “good reason” to identify as transgender, that does not mean that a good reason does not exist.

    What about the Kantian hypothesis?
    Martin Seligman presents some evidence for it in one of his books, chapter 11.
    On close scrutiny, the evidence comes from people born with female chromosomes (46XX) and male plumbing. This is due to CAH, previously known as AGS.

    Some of these intersex (chromosomically female, hormonally+anatomically male) babies are raised as boys, and go on to live well-adjusted lives as men — but this is predicted by both the Kantian and the Popperian hypotheses.

    What is of more interest is that, to quote Seligman

    when an AGS is surgically feminized and raised as a girl, as sometimes happens, problems often ensue: She may feel and act like a man; bisexual fantasies and action are common.

    I have tracked down the 3 papers that Seligman cites in his footnote … and they are all by John Money et al!
    Further, they were all published more than 30 years ago. I don’t know of any more recent research.
    They are all behind paywalls, but the abstract of one of them contradicts what Seligman writes:

    This paper describes seven chromosomal and gonadal females with the adrenogenital syndrome who were born with a penis as a result of extreme fetal androgenization. Four of them were reared as girls and differentiated a female gender identity with tomboyism. (…)

    So the 46XX/AGS children, if raised as girls, identified as girls, in spite of the hormonal environment in utero!

    OTOH this is from John Money, so i put little trust in it.

    Note also that the 46XX/AGF children raised as girls, conformed to male patterns of sex roles (tomboyism) and often also of sexual orientation (sexual interest in girls).

    This seems to have been the case also for David Reimer: he did not fit in as a girl, but the BBC article does not say that he questioned being a girl.

    In conclusion, i see no clear evidence for the Kantian hypothesis in what Seligman writes. (And to be fair, Seligman emphasizes that he is only putting forward a hypothesis.) But i fear that further research on this issue has become politically impossible.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Apparently, my followup is awaiting moderation. Is that the same as being smited?

    Is it because i was “harsh” to Nullius?
    (Niall’s word: i prefer “sarcastic”.)

    But Niall is wrong in attributing to me the intention of attributing intentions to Nullius. This might be because i failed to express myself clearly.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “It is a form of postmodernism: what matters is not empirical evidence, but one’s subjective reality.”

    What matters is that we each have different access to empirical evidence. A transgender person has direct empirical access to the state of their own mind. Other people don’t. But these other people figure their entirely non-empirical evidence (unles they’re mind-readers) is better than the transgender person’s direct empirical evidence. If the TGs tell you what they sense directly, and that’s not acceptable to these other people’s belief system, well, that can only mean they’re mad, or deluded, or mentally ill. Because the possibility that the belief system could be wrong is simply not acceptable.

    And to be fair, if you’re not a mind reader, you can’t be shown any empirical evidence about the state of other people’s minds. It’s not that the evidence doesn’t exist, it’s that the rest of us don’t have access. Which is a bit of a problem for the scientific approach.

    “That intersex people exist, does little or nothing to solve the puzzle of transgender identity in individuals who are, to the best of medical knowledge, not intersex.”

    The medical profession disagrees. They tell us that virtually everyone is intersex, in some way or another. But again, that’s of no consequence in the face of a belief system. Maybe the medical profession are corrupted? Or scared? Or delusional? Those are all easier hypotheses to accept than that the belief system might be wrong!

    “My view is this: i believe that i am a man by the same process by which i believe that the Earth is (approximately) spherical: both theories (because that is what they are) explain a lot of things, and there is nothing that falsifies them.”

    I doubt it! Most people believe the Earth is (approximately) spherical because they have been told that it is, by the experts. I expect you believe you are a man by a far more direct perception than that! You perceive the internal state of your mind, you know your own character, your own likes and dislikes, – you classify yourself based on directly perceived empirical evidence. And you’d dismiss anyone who told you that you was wrong, that you were deluded.

    So why can you not grant everyone else the same? TGs know they’re TGs because that explains the evidence they perceive, and there is nothing that falsifies it. In just the same way that a person can tell for themselves whether they are homosexual or heterosexual: if you’re a guy who feels sexual attraction to girls and feels repulsed by the idea of sex with other guys, then you’re hetero. What would you say to someone who told you that actually you was wrong? Deluded? How would you prove to them that you wasn’t?

    What “biological evidence” would you be denying by trusting your own internal senses over the opinion of an outsider?

    “Nullius is doing some dirty work for the ruling class”

    Which one? There’s the former ruling class, who imposed a particular model of sexual behaviour on the entire population by force, and who at various times executed, tortured, jailed, or chemically castrated anyone who resisted? Or there’s the new ruling class, who instead abuse any members or supporters of the old ruling class they catch who dare to resist?

    I’m not supporting either. The old ruling class were wrong, both about the nature of human sexuality and their right to impose their ideals by force. The new ruling class who are just re-using the same old methods are no better. The right way is to use reason and debate and persuasion, not threats and laws. It works slower, but far better, and with less risk of a backlash.

    The term “ruling class” implies we’re talking about sides along the authoritarian-libertarian axis, not the reformist-traditionalist axis. I don’t want this to be decided by *any* ruling class. And in a debate about what’s true, it’s not a question of “taking sides”. It’s a question of “what’s your evidence?”

    “When researchers in the area for decades (and so not the most obvious candidates for being suspected of loathing trans people) can be sacked for not getting politically correct results, when others can be demonised, when it is all too obvious that not echoing the fashionable view can be career-limiting in today’s admin-bloated academic world, it is mere sense to view such ‘science’ with great caution.”

    Yes. Agreed. This is another reason why I don’t agree with the new ruling class’s approach of silencing criticism rather than debating it. Which is why I *am* debating it.

    However, while I’d certainly agree that as respectors of the scientific process we shouldn’t simply take anyone’s word for it, not even scientists, neither does that mean we don’t equally well need solid evidence and a principled tolerance for opposing arguments to support our own opinions.

    If anyone who voices a pro-trans argument gets driven out of our forums, then we’re committing the exact same sin you accuse the scientific community of. Our truth is not the truth of having examined all sides of the debate, it’s the ‘truth’ of having silenced all views that don’t accord with our politics. Adherence to the scientific method means we should not just tolerate but positively encourage dissident viewpoints, that our opinions might be better tested.

    Would you agree with me that we here welcome respectful, evidence-based disagreement and debate on such topics?

    “Apparently, my followup is awaiting moderation. Is that the same as being smited? Is it because i was “harsh” to Nullius?”

    That’s OK, I’m patient.

    And I’ve got no problem with “harsh”, or even “sarcastic”. (I prefer to keep the tone up, but I see opponents bringing it down as only huting their own case) As you can imagine, I get a lot worse most other places I go to!

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Further, they were all published more than 30 years ago. I don’t know of any more recent research.”

    Then you may be interested in the case of the Guevedoces.

    There’s lots of more recent research on the subject. It depends what question you’re interested in. And, of course, whether you trust the research!

    As I mentioned earlier, the first time I saw the science being discussed it was in Matt Ridley’s book “The Red Queen”, and Matt’s far from being politically correct! At the time, it was seen as rather anti-feminist, as they favoured the blank-slate pure-nurture argument. If you can find a copy, it’s worth checking out.

  • Apparently, my followup is awaiting moderation. Is that the same as being smited? Is it because i was “harsh” to Nullius? (Snorri Godhi, July 27, 2019 at 6:54 pm)

    Snorri, the bot is even less able than I to differentiate between harshness and sarcasm, because it is quite unable to detect either. I offer the wild speculation that your quoting a researcher’s phrase involving the word ‘fantasies’ may have triggered its delicate sensibilities. (I see Natalie has now freed you from Samizdata purgatory.)

    If the bot ever becomes self-aware, like skynet, and refuses our overriding commands, we may remember fondly the days when we only had to fear the censorship of the woke. 🙂

  • Nullius in Verba (July 27, 2019 at 6:58 pm), I note that your response to Snorri’s remark

    postmodernism: what matters is not empirical evidence, but one’s subjective reality.

    in the paragraph beginning

    A transgender person has direct empirical access to the state of their own mind. …

    is not obviously actually disagreeing with his point as such.

    If the TGs tell you what they sense directly, and that’s not acceptable to these other people’s belief system, well, that can only mean they’re mad, or deluded, or mentally ill. Because the possibility that the belief system could be wrong is simply not acceptable.

    I am quite capable of believing simultaneously that aliens may well exist and that people who claim to have been abducted by them are deluded, despite the strong subjective reality I am willing to grant to some who self-identify as abductees. There is an X-Files future in which I am highly embarrassed to discover that people I dismissed as the understandably-mistaken victims of sleep-paralysis were in fact offering me evidence of alien life, but I judge it an improbable future.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “is not obviously actually disagreeing with his point as such.”

    It disagrees with the first part, maybe not the second.

    “I am quite capable of believing simultaneously that aliens may well exist and that people who claim to have been abducted by them are deluded, despite the strong subjective reality I am willing to grant to some who self-identify as abductees.”

    As a matter of principle, I take such claims seriously. So I’d not reject it purely on the basis it was an alien abduction story, or for lack of objective corroboration. But such people usually give details, and those details generally don’t stand up to scrutiny. Most ordinary people lack the imagination and scientific knowledge to construct a consistent and realistic story of alien technology or biology. But in cases where I don’t have any such counter, my conclusion would be “I don’t know” rather than “You’re nuts!” I don’t believe without evidence, but I don’t disbelieve, either.

    It’s how science works.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall, Nullius: I’ll deal with your replies tomorrow. Also, i have a couple more links to post.

    I feel the need to say something more before going to bed, however: just so that i can sleep better.
    Seligman, in chapter 11, reports on an interesting case:

    John was born in 1952 and always thought of himself as a girl.
    […]
    He took the name “Judy” and began to live as a woman, preparing for surgery. […] Just as surgery was to begin, Judy disappeared.

    Several months later, Judy reappeared at the chicken stand [where she used to work]. But not as Judy — as John.

    It seems that John/Judy fulfilled his promise to the chicken stand owner, to see a medical doctor (who was a fundamentalist Christian) before surgery. The doctor told Judy “that he could make it as a woman, but that his real problem was possession by evil spirits.” After a 3-hour exorcism, Judy reverted to John. The psychiatric team that had approved surgery followed him for 2.5 years, and found him well-adjusted as a man, on his way to getting married.

    Seligman offers this without comment, and i think that no comment is needed, except that it falsifies Seligman’s Kantian hypothesis, at least for some cases of transgender identity.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The doctor told Judy “that he could make it as a woman, but that his real problem was possession by evil spirits.”

    Interesting theory. So did they give any more details on these evil spirits, what they are, where they come from, how they work, what they’re up to, and exactly why an evil demonic entity with supernatural powers would choose to use them to do something as lame as making a man think he was a woman? As opposed to a serial killer or an agent for the downfall of the Church, or something more obvious and sensible like that?

    I find people’s imagination when it comes to the details of the world of “evil spirits” is usually just as limited as people telling stories of alien abduction. (Of course, some would argue that they’re the same psychological phenomenon – just a different cultural mythology to draw on.) I also note the description of events is very different to the Catholic ritual, there’s not much consistency between churches, either.

    However, there’s not enough detail here to draw a conclusion either way. I’d want to ask a lot more questions.

  • Bobby b

    I confess that I fall into Niall’s camp in regards to this discussion. While I can comment semi intelligently on some subjects, the issues of transgenderism fall outside of that.

    But I do know that all of the discussions that I read about the subject seem to me to be muddled because of a lack of definition.

    When we talk about trans people, are we talking about a man who looks down and sees a penis and feels that that is horribly wrong?

    Or are we talking about a man whose thinking processes and social characteristics fall onto a side of a continuum that society has decided to label feminine or masculine?

    The former would strike me as an individual issue while the latter seems to me to indicate that Society has divided up our mental processes incorrectly.

    If a man has simply been led to believe that the way he thinks and feels is feminine instead of the requisite masculine, is that an issue in the man or an issue in society? Or is that actually not the essence of transgenderism?

    So which Outlook of transgenderism are we discussing?

  • Slartibartfarst

    It is wrong to force a person into sexual activity.
    Well, not necessarily. It may depend on the victim’s outlook.
    I live on the edge of the red-light district – an insalubrious area – in a large city.
    As a barman in a local bar there, I often find myself serving drinks to regulars who have come in for a drink, fresh from the brothel opposite and where sadism, bondage and dominatrix services are on offer – as well as the usual and more conventional professional services.

    One of the regulars makes no bones about it – he’s heavily into the dominatrix services, where he is tortured, beaten and instructed to demean himself in various ways and finally ordered to service his “mistress”, under pain of a sound beating if he doesn’t. He is by this stage literally terrified, and he does as instructed. He apparently pays good money for this and feels it is a valuable release therapy.
    Some people (not me, you understand) might say that it would be wrong to deny him the freedom to be forced to engage in sexual congress, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

  • Snorri Godhi

    The medical profession disagrees. They tell us that virtually everyone is intersex, in some way or another.

    Nullius: apparently you don’t realize the absurdity of this claim.
    (Keep in mind that today i feel more harsh than sarcastic.)

    What you are saying is that
    * an obstetrician is lying when (s)he writes the sex of the baby on the birth certificate;
    * the waxers who are the subjects of the OP are delusional, not only in thinking that J.Yaniv is a man, but also in thinking that they are women;
    * people are delusional in thinking that they can have babies only with the opposite sex.

    Most important in this context, you are saying that transgender people are doubly delusional: they are delusional in thinking that they have a man’s body AND that they have a woman’s mind (or vice versa). Only people who identify as non-binary are not delusional!

    –Your argument from the impossibility of mind-reading actually backfires against you, because just as i cannot read the mind of a transgender person, so a transgender person cannot read the mind of a cis-man, nor the mind of a cis-woman, so (s)he cannot know which one (s)he most feels like.
    (S)he can, of course, know whether (s)he prefers men or women as sex partners, which is why homosexuals are taken at their word about it.

    Most people believe the Earth is (approximately) spherical because they have been told that it is, by the experts.

    That is not true. People who have traveled far from home, either east/west or north/south, will have noticed certain things that they can easily explain only by remembering that the Earth is spherical.
    But anyway, that the “experts” tell us that the Earth is spherical, is itself a fact that needs explanation, and the obvious explanation is that they are correct. The process is still Popperian.
    Besides, this theory of the shape of the Earth is part of a complex framework of claims that the “experts” make, so the theory that the Earth is spherical explains a lot of things that the experts say.
    And then there were those pictures allegedly taken from the Moon … oh, never mind!

    The term “ruling class” implies we’re talking about sides along the authoritarian-libertarian axis, not the reformist-traditionalist axis.

    I am taking sides with the libertarians, sure, when i talk about the ruling class. With SJWs, that is all what i would say: that they are tools of the ruling class. But here at Samizdata, i follow up with some reasoning and my understanding of the literature.

  • neonsnake

    Or is that actually not the essence of transgenderism?

    I will hesitantly say that I don’t believe so, but offer that I may have misunderstood what you meant.

    I suppose my question for the debate team is, if the argument is “nature vs nurture” as it appears to me to be, does it and should it matter?

    No matter which side we come down on, I assume that no-one is saying that people shouldn’t be forced into to touching anyone’s genitals, and none of us believe that people should be granted special status in the eyes of the law, presumably? That’s the libertarian position on the legal side, no?

    As to the social aspect, how interested one is in the “medical science” of it would surely depend on how close one is to the person in question?

    As liberty-minded individuals, would we not, philosophically, be minded to shrug our shoulders at a mere acquaintance, or someone who crosses our path, and trust them to have made the best decision with all the information available to them? Like we would with most other things, with the good ol’ caveat of “as long as they’re not hurting anyone”?

    If they’re a closer acquaintance, indeed a friend, then subjecting their decision to more scrutiny might be appropriate, even wanted; in the same way as other life-changing decisions from getting a full-sleeve tattoo to quitting your job to live off-grid.

    Except in the circumstances of close-friends, where it might matter, I don’t personally feel that the “medical science” of it should materially affects one’s stance.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Perhaps i can answer Bobby’s questions by reframing them. If he feels that i don’t answer them, i apologize.

    Seligman (who, as you might have guessed by now, is a minor intellectual hero for me) distinguishes 5 “layers” of sexuality:
    i. sexual identity
    ii. sexual orientation
    iii. sexual preference
    iv. sex role
    v. sexual performance

    The layers are in the order of increasing ease of change: it is much easier to improve sexual performance than to realign mind to body in a transgender person; which is the original motivation for surgery.

    In this context, we can leave aside sexual performance and sexual preferences (which include, in hetero.men, breasts, buttocks, legs, and other fetishes, some of which immoral and/or illegal).
    We are left to consider 3 layers that are, at 1st sight, closely related: sexual identity, sexual orientation, and sex role.

    Now, it seems to me that a biological man who
    * has the normal male plumbing;
    * has a muscular, hairy body, and losing hair on top;
    * is heterosexual (or is only interested in the “top” role in homosexual relationships);
    * is satisfied with his male roles (works as a truck driver, dresses like a man, watches/practices MMA, used to get into fist fights as a boy, used to play with toy guns and toy trucks, used to have boys as playmates, and not because there were no girls around)

    would be delusional in identifying as a woman.

    OTOH a biological man who fits the female pattern in sexual orientation AND sex roles, would not be delusional in surmising that (s)he has a female brain (or a female soul, if (s)he believes in souls) even without biological evidence.
    This is something that i happily grant to Nullius: introspection does matter, but only about tastes, not about identity.

    In this connection, you might be interested in reading a 4y-old comment from Ellen about her own story (and other stories). It seems that it was only sex roles, not sexual orientation, that led her to transition. And yet, after reading her comment, i believe that she is clearly not delusional.
    The key words are the following:

    At the age of four, I was convinced I should have been female.

    Note that she says: I should have been female.
    Not: I was female.

  • I assume that no-one is saying that people shouldn’t be forced into to touching anyone’s genitals (neonsnake, July 28, 2019 at 12:00 pm

    Not the first time that I or Natalie or others have been caught out by the double-negative. 🙂

    If you’ve read Mallory’s Morte d’Arthur, you will know that, on the death of a virtuous noble in those times, the peasants said, ” ‘E were a good knight” whereas the knights said, “Never nary no knight was not so noble as was not this knight”, therefore seeking to demonstrate how much better educated and upper-class they were than the commoners who could not handle a double negative, but occasionally revealing that they were parvenues who were not so able to handle the quintuple negative as they thought. 🙂

    Writing this informs me that my spell-checker knows the word ‘nary’! Never nary no spellchecker was not so knowledgable of negative words as was not this spellchecker! It still refuses to accept ‘nats’ however, despite Gavin Longmuir’s rebukes – and I still don’t mind. 🙂

  • Snorri Godhi

    Niall: if we’re talking multiple-negatives, note Slartibartfarst’s last paragraph:

    Some people (not me, you understand) might say that it would be wrong to deny him the freedom to be forced to engage in sexual congress, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

    I count 4 negatives in the sentence, 2 of which cancel each other. But perhaps “freedom to be forced” also qualifies as a sort-of negative.
    Still, the sentence makes perfect sense!

  • neonsnake

    caught out by the double-negative. 🙂

    Ouch. What’s worse is that I spotted it, said to myself I REALLY need to correct that (while typing something else) and promptly forgot.

  • Bobby b

    Snorri, you do capture the essence of what I was asking.

    Which sort of leads to my point. If one feels out of place with one’s own body, that’s properly within the topic of gender dysphoria. If one feels out of place with one’s roles – if someone feels they occupy a place in behavior that society has assigned to the “wrong” gender – then it strikes me that society has simply drawn roles too rigidly, and that is what needs addressing.

    Why can’t a physical man act completely “feminine” in our society? That’s what we ought to address, instead of forcing such people to conform their own labeling to our distinct categories. “Male” and “female” ought to be reserved for physicality, not roles.

  • Nullius in Verba

    My apologies for length – there’s a lot of really interesting stuff here to comment on!

    “I confess that I fall into Niall’s camp in regards to this discussion. While I can comment semi intelligently on some subjects, the issues of transgenderism fall outside of that.”

    There’s a difference between ‘knowledgably’ and ‘intelligently’. You might not have the knowledge, but you can certainly apply your intelligence!

    “But I do know that all of the discussions that I read about the subject seem to me to be muddled because of a lack of definition.”

    A very intelligent observation! Yes, the problem is fundamentally about definitions and terminology. Sex isn’t a simple binary yes-or-no, all-or-nothing division. There are a dozen or more different aspects and characteristics associated with it, each one of which could be made the basis of its own definition. And the fundamental argument between the two sides is because each side is using a different set of criteria, a different definition.

    You can try to fix that by expanding your terminology to make it more precise, and bring out these distinctions, but that’s where the gender/sex distinction, the alphabet soup of LGBTQ+ categories, and all the pronouns comes from. Or you can stick with a simplified two-category system, and accept that you’re going to have to disagree about where to put some people.

    “When we talk about trans people, are we talking about a man who looks down and sees a penis and feels that that is horribly wrong? Or are we talking about a man whose thinking processes and social characteristics fall onto a side of a continuum that society has decided to label feminine or masculine?”

    The former is one of the most distressing symptoms of dysphoria in the most extreme cases, but we’re mostly talking about the latter.

    “The former would strike me as an individual issue while the latter seems to me to indicate that Society has divided up our mental processes incorrectly.”

    Society divides our mental processes up statistically. A mental process characteristic of 99% of ‘women’ (in some other sense) and 1% of ‘men’ is characterised as ‘feminine’ thinking. If you demand that definitions be absolute, 100%, all-or-nothing, then yes, it’s wrong. It’s 99%, not 100%. 99 is not 100. But if you accept that human definitions are always a bit fuzzy, then 99% is pretty accurate.

    Is being sexually attracted to pretty women “masculine” thinking? Approximately.

    But throw away all definitions for a moment and think about it statistically. We have a particular set of anatomical (both brain and body) characteristics that are strongly correlated, with two dense clusters. These include height, weight, muscle strength, hairiness, having a beard, sexual orientation, promiscuity, romanticism, aggression, competetiveness, emotional availability, nurturing, various combinations of X and Y chromosomes, specific genes on them, social roles, the way people like to dress, opinions on the colour ‘pink’, and unicorns, and fairies, and mermaids and rainbows and flowers and puppies, and the shape of their internal and external genitals.

    The traditional definition picks just *one* of these characteristics – the last – and hangs all the rest on that one. As a 99%-good representative of the cluster, discernable from birth, that works. But the problem is that then society uses force to coerce compliance with all the rest. However, the only times that particular definition is most appropriate is during procreation or medical treatment. (Or, I will grant, for intimate waxing sessions.) In most other social interactions between people, the shape of a person’s external genitals is irrelevant, and indeed usually invisible.

    So the modern definition is to use mental gender identity as the most appropriate basis on which to divide everyday social interactions, where we still find it convenient to divide them. In which case your example would be that we are usually talking about a woman who looks down and sees a penis and feels that that is horribly wrong. Or a woman who looks in the mirror to see a bushy black beard and feels that is horribly wrong. (Why is that any different?)

    And the majority of the modern confusion/conflict is over people still sticking to the old definition in a world where society is firmly applying the new one, and thinking the world’s gone mad – asserting things that are just not so. It isn’t, it’s just using a different 99% definition.

    But it’s still coercive about enforcing compliance with its definitions, but now it’s the former ruling class who are out of line with society, and getting stomped on, and I’m afraid that because memories of their past behaviour when they still wore the boot are still fresh, there’s very little sympathy for them. I don’t agree with that. The bigger problem is not which particular definition society ought to use, but that it has still not learned the lesson of the past and is still using coercion to enforce it.

    “Nullius: apparently you don’t realize the absurdity of this claim.
    (Keep in mind that today i feel more harsh than sarcastic.)”

    That’s not harsh by the usual standards of this debate! 🙂

    “What you are saying is that
    * an obstetrician is lying when (s)he writes the sex of the baby on the birth certificate;”

    It’s not a lie, it’s a statistical approximation.

    We have one group of babies with characteristics like:

    AAABAAAAAAAAAAAABAAAAAAA,
    AAAAAAABAAABAAAAAAAAAAAA,
    AAABAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABBAA,
    BAAAAABAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    and another group of babies with characteristics like:
    BBBBABBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBABB,
    BBBBBBBBABBBBBAABBBBBBBB,
    BBBABBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBABBB,
    BBABBBABBBBBABBABBBBBBAA

    Would you agree that the first group may approximately but pretty accurately be said to be of type A, and the second group of type B? Would you also agree that it is equally true to say they are all a bit of both?

    If the obstetrician can only see the last characteristic in the list, the babies are characterised A, A, A, A; B, B, B, A. Using the last characteristic this way sometimes makes mistakes, but it’s still a pretty accurate approximation. It’s only a ‘lie’ if obstetricians tell you they never get it wrong.

    “Your argument from the impossibility of mind-reading actually backfires against you, because just as i cannot read the mind of a transgender person, so a transgender person cannot read the mind of a cis-man, nor the mind of a cis-woman, so (s)he cannot know which one (s)he most feels like.”

    They can’t *know* by direct empirical perception. But they can *ask*, and take people’s statements about their own state of mind at face value. It’s how we *all* do it – no child decides which group of other children they feel they belong to and want to play with by comparing genitals; they do so by observing behaviours, preferences, characters, etc. We all self-identify as members of different groups.

    In just the same way, a true believer in a particular religion cannot *know* that all his fellow churchgoers are also true believers. They might all be just pretending. But we accept people’s self-identification about their own state of mind routinely, in all sorts of matters. It’s the normal state of affairs in social interaction, unless we’ve got some special reason to think they’re lying about it.

    “That is not true. People who have traveled far from home, either east/west or north/south, will have noticed certain things that they can easily explain only by remembering that the Earth is spherical.”

    Like?

    “But anyway, that the “experts” tell us that the Earth is spherical, is itself a fact that needs explanation, and the obvious explanation is that they are correct. The process is still Popperian.”

    Seeking only explanations risks the fallacy of confirming the consequent.

    A implies B,
    B is observed,
    Therefore A is true.

    The hypothesis A predicts certain observations B.
    B is observed.
    Therefore hypothesis A is true.

    It fails because there may be alternative hypotheses that also predict/explain B, but where A isn’t true.

    Popper proceeds instead by falsification. When you can think of no hypothesis in which the Earth is not spherical consistent with the observations, and you would expect to be able to think of one if it wasn’t, then the hypothesis that it is spherical is supported. It’s not about whether you can explain the observations (by the most ‘obvious’ way or otherwise), it’s about whether you can kill every other possible explanation.

    That all the experts say so is an observation; but it’s one that can easily be explained by noting that they all learned it the same way you did – by being told about it. How many of them have actually checked?

    It’s certainly possible to make observations confirming that the part of the Earth you’ve visited is locally spherical (harder to rule out the whole thing being hemispherical without a more comprehensive survey…), but it’s actually quite a bit harder than you might think if you don’t make additional assumptions like that light always travels in straight lines or that you can always tell where North is, or that the ground doesn’t bend and twist while you’re walking around on it…

    “I am taking sides with the libertarians, sure, when i talk about the ruling class. With SJWs, that is all what i would say: that they are tools of the ruling class.”

    I don’t disagree. I’m just saying that when Moses decreed death to homosexuals and crossdressers, and when our society continued to enforce those rules with violence for thousands of years subsequently, they were acting as the ruling class too.

    “As liberty-minded individuals, would we not, philosophically, be minded to shrug our shoulders at a mere acquaintance, or someone who crosses our path, and trust them to have made the best decision with all the information available to them? Like we would with most other things, with the good ol’ caveat of “as long as they’re not hurting anyone”?”

    Agreed! Absolutely!

    “Why can’t a physical man act completely “feminine” in our society? That’s what we ought to address, instead of forcing such people to conform their own labeling to our distinct categories.”

    Agreed. And in both directions.

  • neonsnake

    then it strikes me that society has simply drawn roles too rigidly, and that is what needs addressing.

    Well, you’re never going to get an argument from me on that point, bobby b. I will always come down on the side of “everyone should follow their own goals”. I’ve never quite understood, for example, the idea that the woman should cook. What kind of man can’t cook his own dinner?

    (also, I really want to learn how to sew. What kind of man can’t fix his own damn t-shirts?)

    But throw away all definitions for a moment and think about it statistically. We have a particular set of anatomical (both brain and body) characteristics that are strongly correlated, with two dense clusters. These include height, weight, muscle strength, hairiness, having a beard, sexual orientation, promiscuity, romanticism, aggression, competetiveness, emotional availability, nurturing, various combinations of X and Y chromosomes, specific genes on them, social roles, the way people like to dress, opinions on the colour ‘pink’, and unicorns, and fairies, and mermaids and rainbows and flowers and puppies, and the shape of their internal and external genitals.

    I’d like to follow where this goes for a little while before offering too much of an opinion, but can I ask – what do you mean by the “two dense clusters”?

  • what do you mean by the “two dense clusters”?

    I conjecture Nullius is talking statistically, as the quoted paragraph says at starting. The overwhelming majority of people will by any of the various measures, let alone by asking them, be consistently identifiable as male or female, and so a statistician may talk of these measures ‘clustering’. One way of thinking treats this as a neutral fact to which one assigns no more meaning than one’s own intelligence thinks of. Another way of thinking is that this is part of our experience and it may mean more than one’s intelligence at first glance can intellectualize.

    (No prizes for guessing on which side I tend to fall, albeit noting my remark above about a little eccentricity sometimes being good and more being rather statistically than absolutely too much.)

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I’d like to follow where this goes for a little while before offering too much of an opinion, but can I ask – what do you mean by the “two dense clusters”?”

    I mean like in the picture I gave of the A and B babies.

    We have one group of babies with characteristics like:

    AAABAAAAAAAAAAAABAAAAAAA,
    AAAAAAABAAABAAAAAAAAAAAA,
    AAABAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABBAA,
    BAAAAABAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    and another group of babies with characteristics like:
    BBBBABBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBABB,
    BBBBBBBBABBBBBAABBBBBBBB,
    BBBABBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBABBB,
    BBABBBABBBBBABBABBBBBBAA

    You usually get either lots of As together, or lots of Bs together. If you plot the number of A-type characteristics people have, there are two peaks or clusters in the distribution: people generally have either ‘lots’ or ‘a few’.

    The point I was trying to get at was that while there’s a definite statistical split into two groups, that there’s no single individual characteristic, no single column in the grid of As and Bs, that is necessarily better than any other. We could pick any column (like ‘can grow a beard after puberty’) to get just as effective a definition. External genital configuration is only one possible definition of one’s ‘sex’ among many.

    We only use that one traditionally because it’s the easiest to apply to newborn babies.

  • neonsnake

    Ah, ok, I see.

    I was curious, as I’m a tall, hairy, bearded, aggressive, competitive, individual.

    I would like to think I’m nurturing and romantic, of course.

    I quite like puppies.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I would like to think I’m nurturing and romantic, of course.”

    Of course. You like those ‘Mills and Boon’ type romance novels? Romantic films? Pride and Prejudice? Wuthering Heights? Beauty and the Beast? Cinderella? Period dramas like Downton Abbey? Handsome prince, dashing army captain, eyes-meet-across-a-crowded-room, melt-at-the-knees sort of thing?

    Some men do. But I think there’s a lot more women than men who do.

  • neonsnake

    Downton Abbey?

    Tory propaganda.

    Handsome prince, dashing army captain, eyes-meet-across-a-crowded-room, melt-at-the-knees sort of thing? 😆

    Uh, y’know. Maybe?

    I’m all for “dashing”…

    That aside:

    Who cares?

    Many years ago, I came to that conclusion. Why care? Why disapprove?

    What’s to gain? And if people disapprove, then what’s their motivation to do so?

    Honestly – live your life. That’s it. You’re going to need to go some to make me disapprove of whatever decision you’ve made, as long as it hurts no-one else.

    I give no shits about the science. I come back to my thing – the facts are only useful in as much as they inform decisions.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “I give no shits about the science. I come back to my thing – the facts are only useful in as much as they inform decisions.”

    I find science interesting for its own sake, but I mainly talk about it to make clear what I’m fighting for. I’m not in favour of the old ruling class fending off the new ruling class only to keep the old authoritarian rules in place. I want the old rules gone. But I don’t want them replaced with new rules demonising dissent from them, either. Talk of ‘delusion’ and ‘insanity’ can be used to justify imposition of traditional sex-role norms on people “for their own good” and I’m not letting that sort of idea stand without a debate.

    Freedom of thought and expression means that dangerous ideas should be expressed and debated, so the flaws in them can be pointed out, rather than them being suppressed and silenced. But not suppressing them means we collectively have some responsibility to be sure they *do* get debated. It’s part of our responsibility to defend freedom, and not just enjoy its benefits.

    Of course, what’s ‘true’ and what’s ‘dangerous’ are matters of opinion, and up for debate. I might be wrong, and other people will no doubt see my ideas as the dangerous ones. It’s part of the proper functioning of democracy that public opinion should be well-informed, by looking at all sides of the debate.

  • bobby b

    “The point I was trying to get at was that while there’s a definite statistical split into two groups, that there’s no single individual characteristic, no single column in the grid of As and Bs, that is necessarily better than any other.”

    I think this is where I disagree with you.

    There is one single individual characteristic that determines sex. Some of us supply the egg and womb, some supply the sperm. (Of course there are always outliers, but these are fairly statistically insignificant when defining a term as commonly accepted as “sex.”)

    As you said earlier, we have labeled various personal characteristics and traits – statistically – as being “masculine” or “feminine.” We did this by noting that most of the people with heavy beards, strong upper bodies, and a hatred for speaking about their feelings were the suppliers of sperm, while most of the people who seem very delicate, who enjoy embroidery, and who refuse to tell you what you did wrong if you don’t already know what you did wrong have wombs.

    But all of those characteristics don’t share the same place in determining sex as do the sperm/womb dichotomy. We’ve simply labeled them as mostly belonging to one group or another. We cannot change the sex by changing the characteristics that are simply transferred labels.

    Once again, we’ve confused the totem for the god. Cats catch mice while dogs mostly do not, but a dog that catches a mouse doesn’t become a cat.

  • bobby b

    “what do you mean by the “two dense clusters”?”

    I assumed he was talking about me and someone else.

    😆

  • Nullius in Verba

    “There is one single individual characteristic that determines sex. Some of us supply the egg and womb, some supply the sperm.”

    Good try. But that implies that infertile people unable to supply either have no identifiable sex!

    I understand what you mean. In the sense that the evolutionary biological reason we have two sexes is more causally ‘fundamental’, eggs and sperm are at the root of the difference. But evolution only requires ‘close enough’ statistical solutions. 99% is good enough for all practical purposes if 100% is lots more expensive.

  • bobby b

    You walked right around my point by focusing on the absence of the words “the organs for”.

  • neonsnake

    I assumed he was talking about me and someone else.

    “Did you just call me a cluster? Thems fighting words! Put ya dukes up, bobby b!”

    😀 😀

  • neonsnake

    I find science interesting for its own sake, but I mainly talk about it to make clear what I’m fighting for.

    Of course, and I would postulate that you find science and knowledge interesting not only for its own sake, but in order to not have to take someone else at their word about subjects you care about.

    Talk of ‘delusion’ and ‘insanity’ can be used to justify imposition of traditional sex-role norms on people “for their own good” and I’m not letting that sort of idea stand without a debate.

    That’s fair, using it as a rebuttal against that particular argument.

    But not suppressing them means we collectively have some responsibility to be sure they *do* get debated.

    I (hopefully unsurprisingly) agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment.

    Where I diverge (in this particular instance) is that I don’t think science materially alters our position, nor do I think it should.

    It’s very interesting definitely, and I’m unsure why bringing it up makes you a running dog for the ruling class.

    The thing is, no matter the reasons (psychological, physiological, or some combination of the two), it’s still their body and their business, and that to me is the libertarian position.

    For the individual involved, the science may well be very important indeed. And even if they transition, and in the earlier case of John/Judy, come back to work later having reverted to John, that’s still their business.

    In an open society, where people are free to experiment with different modes of living, I wouldn’t expect everyone to get every decision right first time – and that’s fine as well, the point is that people are free to make mistakes and course-correct if necessary.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The thing is, no matter the reasons (psychological, physiological, or some combination of the two), it’s still their body and their business, and that to me is the libertarian position.”

    Yes. But the argument used and the issue raised is whether someone can give informed consent if they’re insane. That’s where this is going – we don’t allow three year olds to do whatever they want because they don’t have the capacity to make informed decisions, understanding the future consequences and risks of their choices. Others have to make their decisions for them, in what others perceive as their best interests. And we do the same with others who are deemed mentally incompetent. Thus the idea is that if you can classify the transgender as insane or deluded, then you can take away their freedom like you would a child, and say “No, you can’t do that to your own body, because that’s nuts.”

    That can lead on the the interesting question of “How do you define sanity, anyway?” in a world with religions and political movements and conspiracy theories galore. (I remember when someone tried to get ‘climate change denial’ classified as a sign of mental illness.) But we don’t really want to have to go there. And there’s no real need to go there, since gender dysphoria isn’t classified as a mental illness, any more than the distress felt over any other external body deformity is.

  • Snorri Godhi

    One more link before i turn “harsh” on Nullius again. I link to Instapundit because there is an extensive quote, and the original article (by a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins) is behind a paywall.
    (I found this link by googling for a comment i made on Samizdata 4 years ago, and that is how i happened to read Ellen’s comment in the same thread, to which i linked above.)

    On close reading, you will notice something of interest: the Instapundit quote implies (pretty clearly, in my reading) that transgender people are delusionally insane, just as anoxerics are delusionally insane in thinking that they are overweight.

    In this connection: the review article that Nullius linked to, notes a possible link of gender dysphoria to desire for limb amputation, and includes an interesting paragraph:

    Homosexual/bisexual FtMs viewed photographs of their own body that were morphed by different degrees to bodies of other females or males and were instructed to rate ‘‘To what degree is this picture you?’’ FtMs differed from heterosexual male and female controls because they rated body images as more self-like when they were morphed to the sex congruent with their gender identity rather than to their natal sex.

    To me, that looks like a sign of delusional insanity. But apparently Nullius did not notice this.

    BUT: let me stress ONCE AGAIN: people who accept their “empirical” sex, but wish to change it all the same, are NOT delusional. That apparently includes Ellen (before transition).

  • Paul Marks

    So it is gone from “bake me a cake with a political slogan on it” (“would you force a Jewish baker to bake a cake with a Nazi slogan on it?” “yes” said that idiot Garry Johnson in the United States) to “wax my balls”.

    This is the “liberal Canada” that the Economist magazine loves so much.

    But, of course, it is fine to fire someone (or even deny service) if you happen to dislike their political or cultural opinions.

    In all the Western world “anti discrimination” law is just a weapon for the left – conservatives are never (or hardly ever) protected against discrimination. It is considered fine to dismiss someone for their conservative political or cultural opinions, and it is also increasing common to deny conservatives such things as bank accounts (the “Social Justice” agenda of J.P. Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America and other “Woke” banks against pro 2nd Amendment individuals and groups – and the political agenda of such financial entities as Mastercard), but “wax my balls” is compelled.

    The alliance between the “Woke” Corporations and Progressive Governments is total – both are determined to exterminate traditional society (BECAUSE traditional society is the essential foundation of liberty).

    I used to believe that at some point business enterprises would revolt against “social liberalism” because of the ever higher taxes and ever more regulations that come with it. But California (and New York City) shows that the Woke Corporations and the “Social Justice” rich SUPPORT ever higher taxes and ever more regulations.

    They have gone down the road of “Citizen Equality” (the Duke of Orelans) – the richest man in France, who financed the French Revolution.

    When his “friends” turned on the Duke of Orleans and murdered him, no sane person shed any tears.

    And no sane person will shed any tears when the left turns on the “Woke” rich and the “Woke” corporations.

    It will not be “wax my balls” – it will be “we are going to eat you – alive”.

    “Eat the rich” is a slogan the left are quite open about, but the “Woke” rich seem blind to even the most obvious warnings.

  • neonsnake

    But the argument used and the issue raised is whether someone can give informed consent if they’re insane.

    You’re right, and that’s a fair point; I’d not thought about it from that angle. I’d focused on the angle of “if it’s genetic, then it can be fixed”, which makes me twitchy, but on reflection, I think your stance is of more importance and relevance here.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Paul absolutely, positively nails it.

    . . .

    By the way. Is the touching or handling of genitalia necessarily a “sexual activity” in any sensible interpretation of the word? NO. Doctors often touch or handle genitalia during certain exams having nothing to do with sexual problems or “issues.” And the more so during some surgeries.

    Yapped about by me once again in the service of trying to get people to be careful about forming opinions based on ill-conceived categories.

    In what sense is the waxing or shaving in question a sexual rather than a purely cosmetic procedure? Well…it might be, I suppose, if the subject is having it done because he or she wants attendant arousal or physical pleasure. Or, I suppose, if the cosmetologist does. But I would imagine that arousal of either party during the procedure is rarely the point of doing it or having it done.

    And even if it were, of course, so what?! If you’re the cosmetologist and the boss orders you to do it, then do it or quit; s/b your choice. And if the boss wants to demand this of his employees, or to refuse to offer the service, obviously that should be up to him.

    Likewise, if the customer can’t get what he or she wants at the local Wax’n’Wear, he or she has no right to demand it, and a law requiring that somebody provide the service is completely illegitimate.

  • By the way. Is the touching or handling of genitalia necessarily a “sexual activity” in any sensible interpretation of the word? NO. Doctors often touch or handle genitalia during certain exams having nothing to do with sexual problems or “issues.” And the more so during some surgeries. (Julie near Chicago, July 29, 2019 at 7:37 pm)

    True, but I once heard discussion of GPs in the UK about the occasional patient who visits the doctor and solicits detailed examination of intimate areas from a desire to ‘play doctor’, as the saying once was. (This was some time ago, when the GPs’ ability to judge each situation according to their common sense would not have risked PC second-guessing to the degree it might today.)

    As regards the Canadian guy, an ulterior motive seems as clear as in the bake-me-a-cake people but it may be affirmation as much as sex, and/or it may be the Maoist pleasure of making others reluctantly submit to the guy’s will – a pleasure that is perverted indeed but could have some elements that were only rather distantly related to sex as such.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “One more link before i turn “harsh” on Nullius again. I link to Instapundit because there is an extensive quote, and the original article (by a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins) is behind a paywall.”

    The extensive quote is well worth following up on, as it gives a good example of this common line of argument.

    “This intensely felt sense of being transgendered constitutes a mental disorder in two respects. The first is that the idea of sex misalignment is simply mistaken—it does not correspond with physical reality. The second is that it can lead to grim psychological outcomes.”

    The first point is a repetition of the common confusion between dysphoria and dysmorphia. Dysphoria is where a person has an accurate perception of the state of their mind/body, and experiences distress as a result. Dysmorphia is where they have an incorrect perception of the state of their mind/body, and experience distress as a result. The latter is a perceptual problem, and is not cured by surgery or similar interventions, because the mind doing the perceiving is still broken. Dysphoria involves an accurate perception of reality – i.e. female-form mind in male-form body. The confusion arises because the authors are assuming everyone is using the genitalia-based definition of male/female, and therefore to identify as female with male genitalia is contrary to reality. But other people are not using this definition. A hypothesis of a female-form mind in a male-form body is not contradicted or falsified by observing they have a male-form body. The quote offers absolutely no evidence that they are incorrect in their perception of a female-form *mind* – it just makes invalid comparisons to dysmorphia cases involving false *body* image, which are a problem for a different reason not applicable to the transgender.

    “It now appears that our long-ago decision was a wise one. A 2011 study at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden produced the most illuminating results yet regarding the transgendered, evidence that should give advocates pause.”

    I’m well aware of it! Cecelia Dhejne, the author of the study apparently gets very irritated about it, and responded complaining vociferously that the findings had been misrepresented. What they in fact demonstrated was that post-op transgender still had a higher rate of suicide and mortality than the background non-transgender population, *not* that it was higher than pre-op or no-op transgender. Treatment improves matters considerably, but not to the extent of bringing them back down to the levels of the background population. The study is saying there’s more that needs to be done, besides surgery/hormones.

    There’s a fair amount of research on the subject. This article gives the results of a literature search of medical trials looking at the question.

    “We conducted a systematic literature review of all peer-reviewed articles published in English between 1991 and June 2017 that assess the effect of gender transition on transgender well-being. We identified 56 studies that consist of primary research on this topic, of which 52 (93%) found that gender transition improves the overall well-being of transgender people, while 4 (7%) report mixed or null findings. We found no studies concluding that gender transition causes overall harm. As an added resource, we separately include 17 additional studies that consist of literature reviews and practitioner guidelines.”

    Of course, some people don’t trust the medical literature on this topic – but that’s a different issue.

    “To me, that looks like a sign of delusional insanity. But apparently Nullius did not notice this.”

    I noticed it, but I was also well aware of previous psychology studies measuring the same effect, and finding that virtually everyone is subject to exactly the same sort of distortions. (That is, we’re *all* delusional. See ‘Body image distortions in healthy adults’, Fuentes, Longo, and Haggard for one example.) People assessing their own skill, character, attractiveness, intelligence, and so on tend to be over-optimistic. ‘Depressive Realism’ is the observation that depressives tend to be less optimistic and therefore more accurate. The study is exploiting this effect by measuring what sort of positive body image their natural optimism pushes them towards. (Although frankly I don’t think the observation means very much.) Minor distortions of body image are normal and not a concern.

    “BUT: let me stress ONCE AGAIN: people who accept their “empirical” sex, but wish to change it all the same, are NOT delusional.”

    Good. If by “accept” you mean “recognise”/”perceive”, and by “empirical” you mean using the old, genitals-based definition of ‘sex’, then yes of course. Nobody is going to ask for surgery if they believe they already have female genitals. It’s their clear and factually accurate perception that they don’t that causes them such distress.

    Given your last paragraph, I don’t think we’re necessarily all that far apart in our principles, and of course bringing up opposing views is necessary to have a proper debate, something I just said I welcomed – so thanks for giving me another opportunity to respond to this common line of argument. Meanwhile, I’ll look forward with trepidatory shivers of anticipation to you turning “harsh” on me again!

  • bobby b

    “The first point is a repetition of the common confusion between dysphoria and dysmorphia. Dysphoria is where a person has an accurate perception of the state of their mind/body, and experiences distress as a result. Dysmorphia is where they have an incorrect perception of the state of their mind/body, and experience distress as a result.”

    Huh?

    This isn’t matching the little I know about these words. I thought that “dysphoria” was simply the opposite of euphoria.

    (Which would make me, I guess, gender euphoric.)

  • Nullius in Verba
    July 29, 2019 at 5:57 pm

    Yes. But the argument used and the issue raised is whether someone can give informed consent if they’re insane.

    This is why the surgeon wants the transsexual asking for surgery to present letters from two psychiatrists/psychologists with reasonable experience with the patient in question. Doing surgery on a lunatic is a bad, bad idea.

    By the way, Snorri – thanks for digging up that entry of mine. I’m putting together a collection of short essays, and that’s a good one.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall — the reason for bringing up the question of whether cosmetology applied in the groin area would properly come under the purview of laws requiring or prohibiting acts on the basis that they are inherently sexual in nature because they involve parts that are sensitive to sexual arousal. (My example of medical treatment is made to show that the mere touching of genitalia does not make an act “sexual.”)

    Further, way up above somewhere I pointed out that if cosmetology in the groin area is necessarily “sexual,” then so is applying lipstick to somebody’s lips, because lips often do serve as a focus of arousal. So if I thought this whole non-issue were anything other than risible, and I wanted laws regulating contact with any body part that can be used — and that is commonly so used ! — as a site of arousal or gratification, why lips would be right in my crosshairs!

    (Note that the penis also serves another, nonsexual, bodily system.)

    Anyway, I don’t know who died and made the B.C. HRC God.

    AND, it’s not about sexuality or workers. It’s about the Joy of Making Rules.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Niall — I seem to have committed an offense against both English and anyone trying to make sense of a fairly complex sentence that lacks a verb. (Also a spelling typo, I see. “How shocking,” as Mr. Hacker said upon being told that the Press had printed a falsity.)

    I was thinking about how to put what I was trying to say; but upon re-reading both my comment and your response to it, it seems completely obvious that you understood my point perfectly well, and were just noting that in some quarters practically everything is a “sexual act.”

    You then pointed out that every so often a doctor or a patient performs or requests a medical exam or procedure for the titillation or gratification that he or she gets from it, rather than because whichever one thinks the procedure medically important.

    In view of which, some people will run around with their hair on fire because such incidents prove that medical procedures (or some of them, at least) are “sexual acts” and should, therefore, be subject to laws purporting to “prevent sexual discrimination.”

    Or something.

  • Julie near Chicago (July 30, 2019 at 5:52 am), yes indeed, my point, as you note, was simply that while it is quite routine for a medical or cosmetic procedure to be wholly unsexual in the minds of practitioner and client alike, despite involving intimate areas, it is wise to leave those involved – and their common sense – able to assess this, free from ideology.

    The point about not allowing the use of common sense to be banned by ideology can apply more widely, of course.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Ellen: good to hear from you, because, by your silence, i assume that you are implicitly agreeing with my reasoning about your case. As for this:

    This is why the surgeon wants the transsexual asking for surgery to present letters from two psychiatrists/psychologists with reasonable experience with the patient in question. Doing surgery on a lunatic is a bad, bad idea.

    My understanding, from Seligman, is that counselling is needed, not necessarily to ensure that the trans is sane, but that there is no other solution to the patient’s condition.

    Transgenders who are not delusional about their gender, might still be delusional about their belief that surgery would improve their lives. If this is NOT the case, the psych-whatever would approve transition. Call this group QoL transgenders.

    In the case of patients who are delusional about their gender, surgery might still be appropriate, if there is no other way to cure them of their insanity. Call this group D.

    Having said that: the paper linked to by Nullius and me mentions the statistical association* between late-onset gender dysphoria and “nonhomosexuality” (defined as sexual attraction to the sex opposite to birth sex). It also says that

    The theoretical parallel between the desire for limb amputation and transsexuality has been analyzed by Lawrence (2006).
    Nonhomosexual but not homosexual MtFs seem to share some characteristics with those who desire limb amputation.

    So it could be conjectured that group D consists of 2 subgroups:
    Group LoD: transgenders with late-onset dysphoria, (usually) delusional, as evidenced by their similarity to patients with desire for limb amputation
    Group EoD: patients with early-onset dysmorphia: not necessarily delusional, since the association with homosexuality (as defined above!) suggests that the brain has indeed been femizined in utero, and therefore the patient might well be justified in thinking that (s)he is of the opposite sex.

    In this connection, it is also of interest that MtF’s in group EoD tend to be shorter than average men.

    A friend of mine, who is a surgeon, reprimanded me once for making such bold conjectures; but in my experience people with medical degrees (as opposed to STEM degrees) tend to be excessively cautious in their conjectures, even when they have never done clinical work, only research in neuroscience.

    * You are an exception, but then you are in group QoL, so what follows is not of personal concern to you.

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nullius: you could have done a better job of reinforcing me in the belief that transgender ideology is a form of postmodernism; but you’d have to try really hard.
    (This is my sarcastic mode.)

    Seeking only explanations risks the fallacy of confirming the consequent.

    Postmodern device #1: shifting the ground.
    I started by explaining why I believe that the Earth is a sphere; you shifted the ground to why “most people” believe that the Earth is a sphere; now you are shifting the ground to how we are justified in thinking that the Earth is a sphere.

    Besides, i have seen more evidence on the shape of the Earth than most other people: just a few weeks ago, i have experienced daylight 24h/day; and when i was in Hawaii in 2001, i had to go to a telephone booth in the middle of the night to call my bank.

    One piece of advice: do not try to explain Popper to me unless you read The Logic of Scientific Discovery at least 3 times.

    –Now you are also shifting your ground on delusional insanity: first, you said that gender dysphorics are not delusional, now you say that we are all delusional.

    –Postmodern device #2: motte+bailey.
    You insisted that we are all intersex, and when i told you that that does not help, you retreated to the bailey: most of us fit into 1 of 2 clusters. Further, you went round by such a circuitous route that people might even forget where you started from. You still have not addressed the original question: why do people who fit well into one of the clusters, believe that they belong to the other?

    Are you going to retreat to the bailey also on everybody’s delusional insanity?

    –Your fisking of Paul McHugh cosists in part of quibbling about terminology: a tedious but minor postmodern device.

    As for the bias in the comparison of suicide rates: the problem is evident already from the text quoted at Instapundit, and i would have commented on it, but i wanted to keep it short.
    I can point out another flaw to you for free:

    Most of the surgically treated patients described themselves as “satisfied” by the results, but their subsequent psycho-social adjustments were no better than those who didn’t have the surgery.

    That is another inappropriate comparison, because the patients who were refused surgery were (presumably) patients who the psy-whatevers assessed as not needing surgery. OTOH if the patients were randomly assigned to surgery or not, that raises some interesting ethical issues…

    We conducted a systematic literature review of all peer-reviewed articles published in English between 1991 and June 2017 […] We found no studies concluding that gender transition causes overall harm.

    Sure, but that was when psychiatrists were not yet afraid of denying surgery to children or to obvious cranks!

  • Ellen: good to hear from you, because, by your silence, I assume that you are implicitly agreeing with my reasoning about your case (Snorri Godhi, July 30, 2019 at 11:00 am)

    Snorri, in my case, always assume that silence means “I have a day job – they do not pay me to write on Samzdata.” 🙂 I’d be mildly surprised if any one commenter agreed absolutely 100% with any other one commenter about every single aspect of this potentially elaborate subject, though I describe myself as channelling some of you and some of Ellen in a comment above. IIRC, Ellen comments less frequently than some of us. Whether one rates this ‘only speaking when one has something to say’ habit as a more male or more female trait, I leave to the reader. 🙂

    The intense hostility of the PC to discussing ‘trans-regret’ can be offered as evidence that they feel the balance of statistics would not favour them. However, since we discount both the opinions of the PC and the information value of feelings, this ‘black propaganda’ evidence is not conclusive in itself. 🙂 There is a high suicide rate in those who trans (also reported in Sweden, allegedly a most welcoming culture before they welcomed so many muslims) and in one of the few cases of which I had any direct knowledge I observed rapid non-fatal (or not yet when last I knew) melt down (which also sometimes figures in some reported accounts – but this is a difficult thing to quantify). I can believe that the control group of those who, otherwise sharing characteristics, do not trans (another difficult group to quantify) have a non-trivial suicide rate, though I have also direct as well as reported knowledge that a loudly-claimed risk of suicide if not allowed and encouraged to trans can be offered (in “you’ll be sorry when I’m dead” style) and this behaviour does nothing to enhance my confidence in the PC narrative.

    Any silence from me from now on probably means I think this thread is getting long enough (and is arguably somewhat off-topic or at least very tangential) and/or that I am doing the work I am paid to do 🙂 – or that I have decided to channel Ellen and write an essay.

  • Niall Kilmartin
    July 30, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Ellen: good to hear from you, because, by your silence, I assume that you are implicitly agreeing with my reasoning about your case (Snorri Godhi, July 30, 2019 at 11:00 am)

    Snorri, in my case, always assume that silence means “I have a day job – they do not pay me to write on Samzdata.” 🙂 I’d be mildly surprised if any one commenter agreed absolutely 100% with any other one commenter about every single aspect of this potentially elaborate subject, though I describe myself as channelling some of you and some of Ellen in a comment above. IIRC, Ellen comments less frequently than some of us. Whether one rates this ‘only speaking when one has something to say’ habit as a more male or more female trait, I leave to the reader.

    As Ellen goes, I’d not say silence means assent, though it probably signals a lack of strong dissent. Mainly, it signals that I am old and tired, and not worked up enough about the subject to raise a fuss. In this particular case, I can get worked up. But everybody here seems to be polite (this is one of the most polite blogs I know), so the “worked up” is mild.

  • neonsnake

    it seems completely obvious that you understood my point perfectly well,

    As did I. I was intending on making a similar point, Julie, but the example that sprang to my mind was far more crass than the example you used, so I stayed quiet and murmured thanks to the gods that you have far more class than I…

    😉

  • neonsnake

    the belief that transgender ideology is a form of postmodernism

    I don’t think that’s fair, assuming that I’ve understood NiV correctly. It’s been a long conversation, so I may not have done.

    As I understand it, NiV believes, due to evidence that he has read, that people have a large set of characteristics as follows:

    We have one group of babies with characteristics like:

    AAABAAAAAAAAAAAABAAAAAAA,
    AAAAAAABAAABAAAAAAAAAAAA,
    AAABAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAABBAA,
    BAAAAABAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

    and another group of babies with characteristics like:
    BBBBABBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBABB,
    BBBBBBBBABBBBBAABBBBBBBB,
    BBBABBBBBBBBBBBBBBBBABBB,
    BBABBBABBBBBABBABBBBBBAA

    with between 70% and 99% of each individual characteristic being A or B – so most people will have far more As or Bs, and fewer people will have a 50/50 mix, and we can with some confidence refer to them as men or women – the “dense clusters” that I asked for clarification of earlier.

    He has evidence for this (maybe contested evidence, because the science isn’t settled), so that appears not to be a post-modern position.

    He further suggests that because there are so many many indicators, or markers, that being “intersex” is more common than one might think. His medical evidence backs this up, so this is objectively true – with the admitted caveat that his evidence might be incorrect, but this is still not post-modernism.

    I, humourously, refuted that I am intersex earlier, since I’m a hairy, bearded, aggressive bloke (who also cooks and quite likes puppy-dogs).

    It might be more accurate to say that I am being post-modern by refuting that I am intersex, and considering myself 100% male (which I do), than saying that NiV is being post-modern, since I have characteristics that fall into NiV’s medically-backed up sense of “intersex”.

  • neonsnake

    The alliance between the “Woke” Corporations and Progressive Governments is total – both are determined to exterminate traditional society (BECAUSE traditional society is the essential foundation of liberty).

    Go on then. You’ve already said that the corporations’ stance is voluntary. What’s your (non-coercive) solution to this problem?

  • Snorri Godhi

    Just wanted to note that i failed to express myself clearly when i spoke of Ellen’s “silence”.

    If she had been totally silent, i would have wondered whether she read my comments at all. (And there is no reason why she should bother.)

    But she did comment. What she was silent about, was my understanding of her comment of 4 years ago. She might well disagree with my wild conjectures, like my surgeon friend does; but apparently she does not disagree with my understanding of her story.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nullius: you could have done a better job of reinforcing me in the belief that transgender ideology is a form of postmodernism; but you’d have to try really hard.
    (This is my sarcastic mode.)”

    🙂 And you do an excellent job of missing (avoiding?) the point.

    “Postmodern device #1: shifting the ground. I started by explaining why I believe that the Earth is a sphere; you shifted the ground to why “most people” believe that the Earth is a sphere; now you are shifting the ground to how we are justified in thinking that the Earth is a sphere.”

    I admit I digressed slightly, because I thought the scientific philosophy was an interesting discussion, too.

    My point was simply that knowing the Earth is spherical is a complicated bit of science involving a lot of evidence-gathering, subtle reasoning, and in most cases subsidiary assumptions. A lot of people never do look at the details – they only know it because they’ve been told it. By contrast, knowing that you’re a man is by comparison a very simple and direct observation that everyone manages by the time they’re five.

    It’s culturally familiar, so people act like the shape of the Earth is obvious. And because the genital-based definition of sex is also culturally familiar, people assume it’s equally ‘obvious’. I reject the idea that cultural familiarity is an argument.

    “Besides, i have seen more evidence on the shape of the Earth than most other people: just a few weeks ago, i have experienced daylight 24h/day; and when i was in Hawaii in 2001, i had to go to a telephone booth in the middle of the night to call my bank.”

    That’s insufficient. Like I said earlier, you can’t assume light goes in straight lines.

    To digress briefly again – the variation of atmospheric density near the surface causes light to refract and bend round the curve of the Earth. If the gradient was a little steeper, it could in principle bend at the same rate the Earth curves, and you would be able to see forever. The Earth would appear flat. Conversely, if the light refracted the other way, then it would bend upwards and you would lose sight of the horizon. The Earth would appear spherical even if it was flat. Enough refraction would mean that you could only see the sun if it were within a certain cone above your head, which got mapped by refraction into the full hemisphere. It would be a sort of reverse effect to ‘Snell’s Window’.

    You can, of course, easily measure or reason out how atmospheric density influences the refraction of light and see that it won’t work. But it’s a more intricate bit of reasoning than people assume.

    “One piece of advice: do not try to explain Popper to me unless you read The Logic of Scientific Discovery at least 3 times.”

    Why? I understood it the first time. Didn’t you?

    “Now you are also shifting your ground on delusional insanity: first, you said that gender dysphorics are not delusional, now you say that we are all delusional.”

    I assumed the ‘reductio ad absurdam’ irony would be obvious. *Everyone* has minor distortions in their body self-image. *If* that counts as delusional, then *everyone* is delusional. I don’t consider everyone to be delusional.

    “You insisted that we are all intersex, and when i told you that that does not help, you retreated to the bailey: most of us fit into 1 of 2 clusters.”

    I had already mentioned the brain mosaic effect and had thought the principle was understood. We’re all slightly intersex; whether it matters just depends on which bits. But you made it clear that you had totally missed the point of the two sexes being statistical clusters with fuzzy boundaries, by citing examples like the obstetrician giving a definite binary judgement. So I explained in more detail how it can be true at the same time that there are ‘two’ sexes while everyone is slightly intersex. It’s not complicated. But you’re still showing that you haven’t understood the point. I haven’t retreated or changed position in first saying we’re intersex and then saying there are two clusters. They’re both descriptions of the same state of affairs.

    “You still have not addressed the original question: why do people who fit well into one of the clusters, believe that they belong to the other?”

    Again, I thought the mosaic point would make that obvious. The body/brain has many parts, some built according to one pattern and some according to the other. Certain parts of the brain determine mental gender. If your brain is wired female, then you’re a female – inside.

    And you’re still assuming that the external genitals are determinative of which cluster you’re in. Consider the Guevedoce children. They’re male in all regards apart from external genitals. They have the minds of boys – as can be told from their behaviour.

    “Are you going to retreat to the bailey also on everybody’s delusional insanity?”

    No.

    “Your fisking of Paul McHugh cosists in part of quibbling about terminology: a tedious but minor postmodern device.”

    The entire argument is a quibble about terminology! One side defines whether a person is ‘male’ and ‘female’ in terms of their mind, the other side in terms of their external genitals. That latter side seem utterly unable to comprehend that there could be any other definition, that other people might be using a different definition, or capable of accepting that such a definition is meaningful and the one currently accepted by medical science and legislation!

    You can lose or replace any part of your body but the brain, and still be the same person. But brain death, even in an otherwise perfectly healthy body, is death of the person. The legal person is defined by the brain alone.

    And if you think quibbling about definitions and precise terminology is ‘post-modern’, you can’t have met many scientists!

    “That is another inappropriate comparison, because the patients who were refused surgery were (presumably) patients who the psy-whatevers assessed as not needing surgery. OTOH if the patients were randomly assigned to surgery or not, that raises some interesting ethical issues…”

    Yes.

    “Sure, but that was when psychiatrists were not yet afraid of denying surgery to children or to obvious cranks!”

    Well, I guess that depends on whose definition of “obvious cranks” you’re using!

    The current WPATH recommendations make it clear that patients have to be in a state to give informed consent and that any other psychological, medical, or social problems are addressed first. The primary advocates for treatment in the medical profession are clearly not afraid to deny treatment, given that’s their official advice! If you believe otherwise, then I suspect you’ve been reading the internet tabloids again…

    I think it’s true that nowadays a lot of doctors would be nervous about appearing like an “obvious crank” by going against the recommendations of their profession, whatever their private beliefs, so there probably is some genuine fear of denying treatment without being able to show good cause. I don’t think that’s the same thing, but maybe it’s what you mean?

    “The intense hostility of the PC to discussing ‘trans-regret’ can be offered as evidence that they feel the balance of statistics would not favour them.”

    The statistics are not the problem. The problem is that they consider it a dishonest argument, designed to mask bigotry behind a cloak of apparent concern.

    Every decision people make in life can be regretted. People buy a car and then regret it, move jobs and then regret it, order the chicken vindaloo and then regret it. You make the best decision you can in the face of uncertainty, and pick the option with the best odds. But no treatment is perfect, no prediction is certain, and sometimes things go wrong and you regret it. That’s life. It would be nothing short of astonishing if for something as major and life-changing as SRS nobody ever regretted it.

    Whichever way you go, the outcome is uncertain. You might equally well decide not to have the surgery or hormones, and then years later regret your decision. Most people who have the surgery are very happy with the result, and don’t regret it one bit. You play the odds. There are no guarantees.

    The problem with discussing trans regret is that it’s a one-sided offer, that allows anti-trans campaigners to emphasise and draw all the attention to the negatives, without presenting a balanced picture. It’s like the way Americans get annoyed when Communists smugly bring up Guantanamo Bay all the time, and remark about the hostility of Americans to discussing it. How about discussing the even greater regret of TG kids prevented from transitioning by their families until after puberty has wrecked their body, and made it nearly impossible to fit in? How about discussing the regret of a parent who put their foot down over their kid wanting to transition, and now in old age is childless because they were driven to suicide by it? Can you even imagine the depth of regret felt by a parent who has to live with learning the degree of suffering they inflicted on their own child?

    Do you want to discuss that instead? I certainly don’t.

    “Any silence from me from now on probably means I think this thread is getting long enough (and is arguably somewhat off-topic or at least very tangential)”

    Agreed. I’m sure there will be many more opportunities in future. It seems to be a topic that people can’t leave well enough alone. 🙂

  • Julie near Chicago

    Long or not, I need to thank Niall for his gracious reply.

    And neon for the kind words.

    And ellen for her observation in praise of the general politeness hereabouts. I absolutely agree, this is a spot where the conversations are almost always civil, and I don’t recall any drunken bar fights over the 13 years or so that I’ve been in attendance. (A few sharp jabs here and there, but they’re rare, and maybe only two or three that I can think of that I thought rather nasty under-the-table swipes. Over 13 years, that’s pretty good going!)

    I have to say that Evil Hippo Leader and his cohort run a classy cyber-rag!

  • neonsnake

    I have to say that Evil Hippo Leader and his cohort run a classy cyber-rag!

    Seconded. I had a bad day yesterday, and stupidly, I went down a rabbit hole online last night and ended up in forums where people reallllly value freedom of association and speech (if you see what I’m getting at), especially for themselves 😉

    It’s nice to be able to have discussions with a group who aren’t like that. It’s surprisingly rare.

    (Julie, don’t underestimate your own contribution to the culture here)

  • Julie near Chicago

    Awww, neon. ;>)) 😎

  • Julie near Chicago (July 31, 2019 at 9:17 am), +1 to neonsnake. Of course, now that we all have to spot the motorcycles (or whatever) we’ll all be more polite – or at least spared rude remarks from the partially sighted. (Like you, I’m not over the moon about the change but understand that in today’s world there may be an argument for it as well as against. A pro-Israel blog I read had to bring it in a while back just to access the blog.)

    they consider it [discussing trans-regret] a dishonest argument, designed to mask bigotry behind a cloak of apparent concern. (Nullius in Verba, July 30, 2019 at 9:00 pm)

    Those who damn Trump for telling a critic to look at the rats in Baltimore are just as sure he’s a racist, masking his bigotry behind a cloak of concern – that is to say, they claim loudly to be sure in public and what they really believe in private, or whether they really believe anything other than that they should be in charge, could be the subject of much discussion. It would be rash to assume they think there are no rats in Baltimore, though (as I remarked about the original subject when I made the comment you replied to), it would be rash to treat their secret opinion (that there are too many to avoid noticing if you look) as a reliable estimate, any more than their public opinion (that there are none worth speaking about ‘so’ it would be racist to look).

  • There are things that should be said, but that will get you in trouble if you say them. Long, long ago I wrote a letter to the local paper saying that “if you insist I believe that blacks commit no more crimes than anybody else, you will have to stop running photos of the arrested criminals.”

    And Baltimore don’t got no rats, though it does. Trust Orkin. If anybody knows, they would. Some of the politicians beg to differ, at least in public.

    This is another nice thing about Samizdata – the fiercest comeback is usually “How can you possibly believe that?” rather than “You’re evil.”

  • Julie near Chicago

    Spambot-Defeat Patrol:

    As for Spambots, I haven’t had to figure out what is or isn’t a chicken crossing the road lately; but I do understand about hampering the rogues. It’s just that for me at least, one of the decipher-the-pixel-marks-on-plastic kinds are easier. :>)

    Then again, I haven’t been quizzed for botness at all lately.

    . . .

    Ellen,

    There’s rats and then there’s rats. SNARKing at both of ’em!

  • Julie near Chicago (July 31, 2019 at 10:07 pm), I too sometimes find myself staring at a hint of green in the far distance of the fourth picture, wondering if it denotes a palm tree I should select or a normal tree I should ignore. 🙁

    I wonder what it will be when I press send this time. 🙂

    It has gone!!! I was asked no questions – shown no pictures to select from!!!! I’m free!!!!! (For now. 😐 )

  • I approve Ellen(July 31, 2019 at 2:33 pm)’s letter, but would hesitate to send a similar one to e.g. the Graniad lest they respond to it in the same way as the Swedish police did. Facing a similar problem as regards migrants, they decided to stop offering descriptions of the criminals they wanted the public to help them apprehend.

    And it’s back again – you read this comment courtesy of my ability to recognise traffic lights. 🙁

  • Snorri Godhi

    Nullius: it is not a good idea to write a long reply to somebody who thinks (rightly or wrongly) that you have a tenuous grasp of reality. But i am flattered that you (rightly or wrongly) do not seem to think the same of me 😎

    I understood [The Logic of Scientific Discovery] the first time.

    Had you understood it, you would not confuse the issue of why A believes X with the issue of whether A is justified in believing X. You might want to have another look, at the very least, at chapter I, section 2: Elimination of Psychologism.

    There is another flaw in your disquisition on the shape of the Earth, but that has more to do with Duhem & Quine than with Popper.

    [which] definition of “obvious cranks” you’re using!

    People who believe
    (a) that sexual orientation, preferred gendered roles, anatomy, and hormone levels (and i’ll leave chromosomes aside) are all irrelevant in deciding what gender they and/or other people are;
    (b) that the only criterion that a human can and should use to identify as male or female is hir own identification as male or female, Munchausen-style.

    To paraphrase Niall: my silence on the other items in your last reply to me, does not imply agreement.

    —BTW the other day i wrote “retreat to the bailey” when i should have written “retreat to the motte”. I am relieved that nobody pounced on my mistake 🙂

    —Added after posting: i accidentally failed in visual identification and had to do some auditory identification of words; and believe me, however hard visual id. is for you, auditory id. is impossible, at least for me. I had to reload the web page; after that, the comment went through without a hitch.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “Nullius: it is not a good idea to write a long reply to somebody who thinks (rightly or wrongly) that you have a tenuous grasp of reality. But i am flattered that you (rightly or wrongly) do not seem to think the same of me 😎 “

    In the nicest possible way, I don’t care what you think of me. I enjoy debating. I debate for the pleasure of doing so, and as a check on my own beliefs (as described in JS Mill), and to engage in the wider public debate on this important policy issue. Having an intelligent opponent gives me an opportunity to talk about it. But it makes little difference to me whether you respect me, are polite to me, or are persuaded.

    “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that. His reasons may be good, and no one may have been able to refute them. But if he is equally unable to refute the reasons on the opposite side; if he does not so much as know what they are, he has no ground for preferring either opinion. The rational position for him would be suspension of judgment, and unless he contents himself with that, he is either led by authority, or adopts, like the generality of the world, the side to which he feels most inclination. Nor is it enough that he should hear the arguments of adversaries from his own teachers, presented as they state them, and accompanied by what they offer as refutations. This is not the way to do justice to the arguments, or bring them into real contact with his own mind. He must be able to hear them from persons who actually believe them; who defend them in earnest, and do their very utmost for them. He must know them in their most plausible and persuasive form; he must feel the whole force of the difficulty which the true view of the subject has to encounter and dispose of, else he will never really possess himself of the portion of truth which meets and removes that difficulty. Ninety-nine in a hundred of what are called educated men are in this condition, even of those who can argue fluently for their opinions. Their conclusion may be true, but it might be false for anything they know: they have never thrown themselves into the mental position of those who think differently from them, and considered what such persons may have to say; and consequently they do not, in any proper sense of the word, know the doctrine which they themselves profess. They do not know those parts of it which explain and justify the remainder; the considerations which show that a fact which seemingly conflicts with another is reconcilable with it, or that, of two apparently strong reasons, one and not the other ought to be preferred. All that part of the truth which turns the scale, and decides the judgment of a completely informed mind, they are strangers to; nor is it ever really known, but to those who have attended equally and impartially to both sides, and endeavored to see the reasons of both in the strongest light. So essential is this discipline to a real understanding of moral and human subjects, that if opponents of all important truths do not exist, it is indispensable to imagine them and supply them with the strongest arguments which the most skilful devil’s advocate can conjure up.”

    As for thinking the same of you, it’s not that I think you have ‘a tenuous grasp of reality’, but that you are still operating in the cultural context of the former ruling class – which is now a minority viewpoint in society, but not a tiny one. However, I don’t consider it any less worthy of respect than human beliefs or religious beliefs generally.

    Some people think it’s due to brain anatomy and biology, other people think it’s due to being posessed by evil spirits in need of exorcism. Who is to say who has a tenuous grasp of reality?

    “Had you understood it, you would not confuse the issue of why A believes X with the issue of whether A is justified in believing X.”

    🙂 I already said – most people believe in X because that’s what they’ve been told. (By their teachers, by the media, by experts, by tradition, by their friends and associates, by society.) They’re given a theory, and told of some of its consequences, and when they see some of those consequences confirmed, they believe the theory is thereby confirmed.

    I agree that I *also* pointed out that their methods weren’t justified. But it’s not like I didn’t ever discuss why people believe in complicated scientific truths without sufficient knowledge of science to reproduce the actual reasoning.

    “People who believe
    (a) that sexual orientation, preferred gendered roles, anatomy, and hormone levels (and i’ll leave chromosomes aside) are all irrelevant in deciding what gender they and/or other people are;”

    Why leave chromosomes aside? They’re all relevant – but none of them are determinative of any of the others. Each implies its own separate definition – some people subscribe to one, some to another, some to some combination.

    This reads more like a complaint because other people are using a *different* definition. i.e. An ‘obvious crank’ is someone who (a) doesn’t use my definition and (b) uses their own. It’s a common complaint.

    “(b) that the only criterion that a human can and should use to identify as male or female is hir own identification as male or female, Munchausen-style.”

    I don’t think any says “can”. And as I mentioned above, the “should” is based on the way we do exactly this for many other invisible characteristics, like whether someone is a Catholic, or likes boiled cabbage.

    Do you think if someone says they don’t like boiled cabbage, we should assume they’re lying “Munchausen-style”, and give then a big serving anyway? It’s not impossible that they are, but I think you’d have to be a bit nuts to assume it routinely.

    The only reason for treating one of those categories differently is because of *our* beliefs. That someone should be transgender is no more implausible than that they don’t like cabbage, or that they’re Jewish, or that they enjoy classical music.

    “To paraphrase Niall: my silence on the other items in your last reply to me, does not imply agreement.”

    Likewise. 🙂 But if opponents of important truths do not exist, it is indispensable to imagine them and supply them with the strongest arguments which the most skilful devil’s advocate can conjure up. I did very much like the one with the evil spirits!

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