When we’re born, a doctor instantly deems us to be one of two things: Male or female. But gender isn’t just between our legs. It’s also between our ears. So, what happens when how we look on the outside clashes with how we feel on the inside? Do we settle? Do we change? And at the end of the day should gender really be as big a deal as society wants us think it is? In this talk Decker Moss explores these issues and more, as he struggled through not only one but two major gender-related transitions in his life.
I’m going speak very politically incorrectly. I will violate a taboo, and risk the false appearance of insensitivity. I am going to speak contrary to the notion of “gender.”
Here Decker Moss gives an earnest, heartfelt, sincere–and silly–talk.
The speaker in this video errs in conflating the words “gender” and “sex”. Gender is a description on one’s sense of sexuality. Sex is a description of our chromosomes and the resultant physical traits that the body exhibits.
It is true that sex isn’t purely a binary. Some are born with XY chromosomes, looking and sounding like females in every aspect–except that they have undecended testicles. There are some who are born with two vaginas, or with one testicle and no penis, or with both vaginas and penises, simultaneously. Just as we vary in height, size, quantity of limbs or sexual apparatus, we are all different. None of this is an argument for changing how government or commerce operates. It might certainly be a reminder that we are all born of various configurations, and that we all deserve a baseline of moral respect, but that is as far as practicality can allow.
The speaker says “Our world is set up to keep us in these two boxes [male or female].” No, it isn’t. It simply follows the path of least resistance. It exists as a means of identifying the particular animal in a herd. These identifications also includes height, weight, skin colour, eye colour and hair colour.
“Gender” is an internal state, not a physical one, no more applicable to official documents than would be phobias or sexual preferences or religious beliefs. Even the vague notion of Nationality carries more weight; it points to records of an individual’s history, one, should they engage in criminal activity, or suffer some physical emergency has a greater chance of being useful than “gender.”
The question of “gender” is to me the equivalent of “marital status”, in short, not all that relevant–yet, even for bureaucratic purposes, this again points to relationships with specific individuals. Personally, I’ve always thought that my “marital status” should be answered with a four letter acronym: MYOB, but even so, I acknowledge that for some purposes it seems to be important.
It tells us something about the individual, but how important is that something to the bulk of society after all? Either the person you are dealing with is someone you want in your life for their functionality (cop, store clerk, chef) or for their personal or social value (lover, friend, bar buddy). Let us imagine that I asked others to refer to me as “she”, or “her”. What has that changed in practice? Nothing, other than a indicator of respect by the individual to whom I would be speaking, should they accept to do so.
Should you tell me that you prefer to be addressed as “he” or “she”, I’m fine with that, but do not mistake the momentum of countless thousands of years of biology and the functional tools that have helped us forge a working civilization as an insufficiency when it is not.
In short, do not mistake that your one personal distinction makes you a victim, any more than being in a wheel-chair, having a body-type that grows you to far above or below the average, or being born without fully functioning senses, body parts or bodily capacities that are different than the average.
I am colour blind. This prevents me from a variety of jobs. When I was younger, I wanted to be a helicopter pilot. Can’t do it. I’ve been hired for jobs, then fired from them because I could not see colour. I have been turned down for jobs because I cannot see colour. Was I the victim of colour-blind discrimination? No. The job required X, and I am physiologically incapable of performing certain tasks such as discriminating amongst certain hues of colour. I do not rage at the world for a lost dream. I acknowledge that when picking clothes that I must ask strangers to help me. I have to be particularly attentive when I drive. I ask for colour help 5-6 times a week. I get weird looks and am the butt of jokes often enough.
Are there challenges associated when your sense of self does not match your outward appearance? Most assuredly. Should we view this as society working against you? No.
“Gender” is a personal thing, a social thing. Even the triviality of colour-blindness has more of a real-world impact. If you think of yourself as a woman, but look like a man, does this prevent you from driving a car? Calculating numbers? Preparing food? Opening doors?
The speaker asks “Is all of this gendering necessary?”
My response: you certainly seem to think so, and have yet to make a case for things to change, other than using an appeal to sympathy. You haven’t made any good arguments. Can anyone make a solid and cogent argument as to why “gender” should be any considering in any situation other than a social one? I can think of none.
One can make, I’m sure, a number of excellent arguments for treating people as they wish to be treated on the social and interpersonal levels, many of which I would probably agree with. This speaker, in conflating sex with a sense of sexuality has failed to make the case.
There are those amongst my respected interlocutors on this blog, particularly, that I’d love to hear from.