Male and female are exclusive categories. It may soon become illegal for me to say this. So I’ll say it again. Male and female are exclusive categories. Exclusive categories are very useful things. They are useful quite apart from being essential. Even if they weren’t an absolute necessity of existence, they would still be useful. Sex is an exclusive, definitive categorisation just as is the categorisation most commonly referred to, at least idiomatically – black/white, I’m not talking about skin colour or ethnicity. I mean black and white as per the scientific criteria which define these two exclusive categories. White reflects light at all wavelengths. Black reflects no light at any wavelength. Doubtless this will be criticised as a very simple definition. But then, that’s one of the most useful things about exclusive categories – they simplify the world.
Black is black and white is white. That which is black cannot be white and that which is white cannot be black. To satisfy the criteria of one category is to fail to satisfy the criteria of the other category. Satisfying one set of criteria excludes completely the possibility of satisfying any of the criteria of the other category. It must be one or the other. And if it is one there is no chance that it might be the other. We don’t even have to consider the possibility of it being the other. We can proceed on the basis that it is the one that satisfies the criteria without the need to consider the possibility that it might conform to any of the criteria of the other category. We can have certainty. The highest degree of confidence.
Certainty is good. Certainty gives us reference points. Reference points are essential if we are to build internal and shareable maps and models of our environment. Internal maps of our physical, temporal and social environment are necessary for a functioning individual. Shareable maps and models are necessary for a functioning society. Take away the certainties of exclusive categories; take away the fixed reference points; eliminate the capacity to create internal and shareable maps and models, neither individuals nor society can survive. Exclusive categories are good.
Sex is an exclusive category. A person who is genetically male cannot ever be genetically female regardless of any medical or surgical interventions. They may take on the outward appearance of a female. They may, by various means, acquire the external physical attributes of a female – or an approximation thereof. They may behave in a manner intended to convey that they are female. They can persuade politicians to pass a law saying that they are female if they should so declare and that to point out the fundamental untruth in this is to invite prosecution. But they cannot ever be female.
They can do what they will with their gender identity. That is nobody’s business but their own – unless it is done for the purpose of malicious deception. They can invent whole new genders by the score or by the thousand. They can bore the arses off all and sundry by banging on endlessly about the minutiae of their infinitely malleable gender-based micro-identities. They can gain the satisfaction and attention of victimhood by portraying being ignored as being abused and being disregarded as being discriminated against. Their gender identity is theirs to do with as they please and anybody who cares enough about what they do with it to get upset is even sadder than they are.
What they cannot do is change their sex.
There we have the essence of the problem with the so-called ‘Pronoun Wars’. The ‘reformers’ – setting aside for the time being the question of motive – pursue their ’cause’ using ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ as interchangeable terms when this is expedient and when it better suits their purpose insist every bit as forcefully that ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are not synonymous. The ‘reformers’ are supported in their effort by a wee army of folk who think it trendy and progressive to be on the side of whatever group self-identifies as the victim of this or that mistreatment at the hands of whoever. For the most part, these very vocal and often really nasty supporters know nothing or less whereof they comment. The issue gives them the chance to vent some excess self-righteous indignation and do a bit of crude and clumsy virtue-signalling. That’ll do.
I feel an example would be helpful. That’s easy. Just check below-the-line comments on any piece in The National dealing with the Gender Reform legislation shortly to land on Holyrood like a cow-turd on a picnic. There’s always a numpty happy to oblige with an instance of the idiocy to which I refer. Even as I write this, one crawls out of the woodwork of The National’s comment facility. No need for names. Here is the response to my own comment making some of the points raised here.
Absolute hogwash, every word.
It is the Gender Reform Act. Gender is not a scientific identifier, sex is not being reformed.
Your ‘maleness’ is a social construct, like all gender, and seems very fragile from your bilious post. Your right to identify as male has not changed and will not change. What value you gain from it, or it somehow feeling under threat from others also being able to, is not science and appears to be dependent on that fragility, how you feel.
Somehow, proposed changes to legislation and an article about how it will also change the often harrowing lived experience of other human beings, aimed at furthering understanding, became, for you, all about you.
Your empathy bypass and apparent constant need for attention, to somehow make any issue about you, being first to shout your opinion, are toxic character traits. They silence voices far more relevant to the issues and exclude others from a debate they have far more skin in.
Give it a rest, it’s ok to watch from the sidelines sometimes. Your shouting makes you less relevant, not more.Five trans people on what Scotland’s gender reform bill will mean for them
Well! That’ll be me telt! Or not. Such drivel should really be ignored. But it does help make my point. Note the insistence that the ‘reform’ relates to gender and not sex. Then look at the reality.
From the website of National Records of Scotland (NRS) –
A person who is granted a Gender Recognition Certificate and whose birth was registered in the UK is also able to obtain a new birth certificate showing his or her recognised legal gender.
A birth certificate is an extract from the entry in the birth register made when a person’s birth is registered. It contains the facts of a person’s birth, including name and gender.
The Gender Recognition Panel notifies the Registrar General for Scotland of the issue of a Gender Recognition Certificate to a person whose birth (or adoption) was registered in Scotland. The Registrar General for Scotland keeps a Gender Recognition Register in which the birth of a transsexual person whose acquired gender has been legally recognised will be registered showing any new name(s) and the acquired gender.
This enables the transsexual person to apply to the Registrar General for Scotland for a new birth certificate showing the new name(s) and the acquired gender. The format of the new birth certificate would match that of the original birth certificate, other than it would show the new name(s) and the acquired gender.https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/registration/gender-recognition
Birth Certificates in the UK and Scotland have no entry for “Gender”. They have only an entry to record ‘Sex’ (see below). All this can possibly mean is that people with a Gender Recognition Certificate can create a legal fiction of having changed sex. The proposed ‘reforms’ would allow an individual to construct this unchallengeable lie with no meaningful checks.
The exclusive categories of sex are about to be abolished. I am male. What does it mean to be a man if someone who is for all purposes other than this law a female can claim to be the same sex as me for all purposes including this law and I am prohibited from disputing this claim on pain of prosecution?
My claim to be male is based on the verifiable fact that I satisfy the relevant biological criteria. If someone else can have an equal or superior right to call themselves male based solely on the fact that it’s what they want, what value is there in either my right to identify as male or in the scientific criteria on which that claim is founded?
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10 thoughts on “Exclusive categories”
I think, ‘The ‘reformers’ are supported in their effort by a wee army of folk who think it trendy and progressive to be on the side of whatever group self-identifies as the victim of this or that mistreatment at the hands of whoever.’ gets right to the nub of the problem.
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This article contradicts your previous article (on racism). In this article, you say;
“Sex is an exclusive category. A person who is genetically male cannot ever be genetically female regardless of any medical or surgical interventions. They may take on the outward appearance of a female. They may, by various means, acquire the external physical attributes of a female – or an approximation thereof. They may behave in a manner intended to convey that they are female. They can persuade politicians to pass a law saying that they are female if they should so declare and that to point out the fundamental untruth in this is to invite prosecution. But they cannot ever be female”.
In the previous article, you say;
“Evolution is lazy. If something about one of its projects is redundant but benign, evolution will just ignore it. Even if by any criteria modern humans might apply this thing is ugly or awkward or unpleasant or whatever, evolution will just ignore it. because evolution doesn’t operate to those criteria. Evolution doesn’t give a shit what we think of its results. Evolution is ‘interested’ only in what gets the job done. Not even done well. Just done. Good enough is good enough, as far as nature is concerned. Only if something has an adverse effect on the project’s survival and procreation will evolution seek to alter or eradicate it”.
So which is it? Is evolution “lazy” or is it razor sharp?. And what of the thousands of people born every year with varying degrees of both a vagina AND a penis? Must we just ignore their existence as it “over-complicates” our world view? Perhaps gay people should go back in the closet so as to simplify things even more. After all, “razor sharp” evolution, with its insistence on male and female, would surely have ensured we are all really heterosexual, and any “progressive” arguments to the contrary must be nonsense. We would just have to go back to “educating” so-called “gay” people about the error of their “unnatural” ways.
Of course, your “lazy” theory is the correct one. Though it would be more accurately described as “messy”. You only have to look at the sliding scale of human phenotypes (how we look, as opposed to genotypes which is what our genes say) to see that nature/evolution has created anomalies as far as the simple male/female divide goes. You have males who could easily compete in Ms World while there are females who could hammer in a nail with their forehead. In the case of transgender people, the phenotype does not match the genotype. There is more to gender than whether you have a penis or a vagina. Hence the existence of people with both. There is a whole sea of biochemistry telling people to behave one way, while you have your anatomy and “conservative” public opinion telling you …. lots of unhelpful and upsetting things.
I still don’t see how granting a tiny minority of our population the right to poop or pee in an area they feel comfortable in, without fear of criminalisation, can be such a problem for people. It is not transgender penises that are a threat to women, it is psychopath penises that are. And they don’t give a sh*t about the GRA. Its absence hasn’t put them off.
“Male and female are exclusive categories. It may soon become illegal for me to say this. So I’ll say it again. Male and female are exclusive categories.”
I’d be careful with that. Given the authoritarian nature of this Scottish government it is very possible that they could make this law retrospective. Their own (fatally flawed) procedure for handling harassment complaints into the behaviour ministers provides a recent example of the mindset – it was applied to current AND former ministers, hence facilitating the investigation into Alex Salmond.
The so called reformers do indeed “pursue their ’cause’ using ‘gender’ and ‘sex’ as interchangeable terms when this is expedient and when better suits their purpose insist every bit as forcefully that ‘sex’ and ‘gender’ are not synonymous.”
This seems to be a common trait among the gender “warriors”. They conflate and confuse. For example, I have seen it claimed – even in today’s National comments’ section – that the issue has the support of the general public since candidates who gained the most votes at last year’s Holyrood election come from parties in favour of the GRA reform. The obvious flaw in that argument – even if the implications of that policy had been debated and explained to the public, which they have not – is that an election (possibly unless otherwise specified in party manifestos) covers a myriad of issues. The 2021 Holyrood election was not a plebiscite election on any single issue. The other important point here is that the party most closely identified and responsible for pushing this legislation – the SNP – did not even have this policy endorsed at its own Conference (where such policies are supposed to be decided).
Lastly the article from Caitlin Logan in today’s article plays down the significance of the proposed changes. Ms Logan states that “it would remove the requirement of a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria to change the gender on a person’s birth certificate (as is already the case for other forms of ID and personal documentation); reduce the required period of living in one’s “acquired gender” before applying from two years to three months; and lower the age limit from 18 to 16.”
There is no evidence supplied to indicate whether or not this has public support. The reason is that it does not have the backing of the common folk. There have been 4 surveys on this in the last 6 months and none show a majority for self-id, with 3 showing 2:1 majorities against. On the other two matters that Ms Logan references the single poll from BBC/Savanta on these matters returned majorities against these proposed legislative changes.
This is isn’t just bad law. It is mad law.
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Peter, I think this is one of your finest posts. I know you won’t thank me for that since you’re an independence man at heart. In any case you must have struck more than a few nerves for Me Bungo Pony to show up.
Sadly my attempts to extol your virtues came to naught as twitter doesn’t seem to agree. Even with my meagre following, 5 impressions in total for the original post and the repost is a bit of a smoking gun as far as censorship goes.
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Pure chance I’m here. I saw Peter’s “icon” on my favourite’s bar and, on a whim, clicked on it to see what he’d been up to. I haven’t even visited the site for months.
I just read the comment from Me Bungo Pony. Not something I normally do and certainly not something I would recommend. Unless, that is, you’re looking for a masterful display of not getting the point and grotesquely twisted logic. The argument that removing women’s right to single-sex toilets is OK because women are getting raped in toilets anyway… well… I’m still trying to get my head around that one.
Serves me right for reading it, I suppose.
You’re better than that Peter.
Oh well, if you object to the proposed changes to the 2004 GRA, vote Tory. They are the only represented party that is against the changes.
I think the Scottish blogosphere is so vapid they have descended to punting the wierd idea that people get raped in public, in public toilets, and punting terror of transexuals. Presumably it’s an elederly, conservative view from people who don’t get out much, and when they do it’s with the same ilk. They sound like they are even against the 2004 GRA, itself (which is all about gender self-ID). They seem to be the same people who think Ukrainian Jewish Nazis are bombing themselves because the USA told them to do it, and that the right to vote should require a DNA test.
Yes, LB this never happens.
Loudoun County board member calls for investigation into rape claims https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10114809/Loudoun-County-board-member-seeks-inquiry-claim-girl-raped-bathroom-skirt-wearing-male.html?ito=native_share_article-masthead
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And this happened without the GRA nallyanders. That’s the point. Bad people will do bad things whether there is a GRA or not. The GRA will not remove some fantastical force field that people seem to believe surrounds public toilets keeping bad-yins at bay. And unless you advocate the employment of people to check the contents of people’s pants before they are allowed into public toilets/changing rooms, scrapping the GRA will not make them any safer …. just as its passing will not put them in any more danger.