Sex is real

The introduction to Parliament of the Scottish Government’s proposed GRA reforms has given new impetus to what is ironically or facetiously referred to as the ‘debate’ around this contentious topic. It shouldn’t be contentious, of course. If the ‘reforms’ were, as proponents claim, merely righting a long-standing wrong and rescuing a downtrodden minority from wanton discrimination and generally making Scotland a more equal society, there would be no debate at all. There would be no opposition to such reforms. Certainly not opposition on the scale we see. Certainly not opposition as passionate as that which continues despite the evident futility.

The one thing about which there is some measure of agreement is that this ‘debate’ produces more heat than light. With each side blaming the other, naturally. So polarised has this ‘debate’ become that it often seems that the two sides are not even talking about the same thing. As if there are at least two markedly different understandings of what the issue is. A situation inevitably aggravated by the tendency for such dramatically polarised debates to become less and less about the issue however it may be understood, and more and more about the fact of favouring or opposing the proposed reforms. Both sides come to be wrong not on account of the content of their arguments – which becomes increasingly obscure through ever more imaginative misrepresentation – but solely on account of them arguing at all. What proponents and opponents say is inconsequential. That they speak for one side or the other is sufficient to ‘prove’ that they must be wrong regardless of what they actually say. They can therefore safely be attacked without regard for what may have started out as a reasonable or even insightful point.

What I describe is, as readers will surely be aware, commonly called ‘tribalism’. There’s a lot of it about.

The SNP+SGP/Scottish Government has not helped matters. It has added to the confusion about the essential issue by a somewhat Orwellian effort to present the ‘reforms’ simultaneously as a bit of minor administrative tinkering and a momentous progressive advance. On the one hand, it doesn’t imply any change such as need concern anyone. On the other. it transforms the lives of significant numbers of people and, indeed, the whole of society. No wonder there’s confusion. It’s hardly surprising people seem to be talking about two (at least) totally different things. The SNP+SGP/Scottish Government has quite deftly and no doubt purposefully produced these starkly contrasting representations of the issue to be deployed as the expediency of the moment demands. Thus, those who oppose, question or merely express concerns about the ‘reforms’ can be portrayed as zoomers making a huge fuss about nothing at all or the worst kind of unenlightened reactionaries determinedly seeking to hold back the tide of social progress and/or maliciously striving to condemn a swathe of society to appalling discrimination. Who needs to argue the facts when they have such cudgels with which to assail any who presume to subject their great good works to scrutiny?

That the ‘debate’ around GRA ‘reform’ has become irredeemably polarised is hardly open to question. Of some interest, however, is the manner and form of this polarisation. The point made earlier about it appearing that those embroiled in the dispute were talking about two (at least) different things was brought home to me by a below-the-line comment on another recent article on this topic. I confess that I at first paid little heed to the comment being well acquainted with the trollishness of the individual who posted it. I think it’s safe to say that this person is generally regarded by other regular contributors to these discussions as a bit of a bloody nuisance. I am almost certainly not the only one accustomed to skipping by this individual’s ‘contributions’. However, reviewing comments as is my custom on a Monday, I came across the remarks in question and realised how well they exemplified this point about people having very confused notions regarding what is the fundamental issue.

I won’t reproduce the comment in full. There is no need to do so. It will be sufficient to say that our interlocutor purports to offer “a selection of actual science that counters these opinions masquerading as “science”. The first thing to note is the failure to identify the “opinions” referred to. We have no way of knowing whether these are actually opinions that have actually been expressed by actual people, or whether they are simply what our correspondent imagines those opinions to be. An interpretation of comments made by others based, not on what they say but on the response this individual wants to make. We must suppose it to be the latter as they go on to cite three academic papers on such things as Klinefelter syndrome – a rare chromosomal disorder that leads to males being born with an extra X chromosome.

It seems that this along with references to other broadly similar conditions is being offered to refute the “opinion” that there are only two sexes. Most of you will, I’m sure, have spotted the flaws right away. For a start, Klinefelter syndrome specifically affects males. It does not affect females. The diagnosis actually confirms the scientific fact of two sexes. Klinefelter syndrome doesn’t make the (male) person afflicted part man and part woman. They are male but with a variety of disorders and defects some of which may involve the development of certain characteristics peculiar to women. Klinefelter syndrome and the other conditions referred to are the exceptions that prove the rule. The rule remains that there are only two sexes. That there are infrequent genetic aberrations in the processes which determine sex does not imply that sex is indeterminate. Indeed, these ‘accidents’ testify to the fundamental evolved purpose of different sexes – genetic mixing. A process ‘designed’ to introduce randomness must inevitably be susceptible to errors. Those errors are the very stuff of evolution. Unfortunately, they can also lead to problematic medical conditions. Fortunately, only very rarely.

If the ‘reforms’ were only applicable to those suffering from Klinefelter syndrome or other such disorders then it would not be controversial. But this is not the case. This brings us to the most glaring error of all in the attempt to use medical science to argue in favour of these ‘reforms’. Not only are these arguments weak because they relate to exceptions rather than the overwhelmingly applicable rule, but they are also fatally flawed because they are totally irrelevant. The commenter appears to suppose that this is a medical issue. It is not. It is strictly a legal issue. A matter of law and not medical science. Indeed, one might well argue that the entire dispute stems from the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government’s proposal to take sex completely out of the realm of medical science and relocate it in the realm of law.

The individual offering this ‘medical evidence’ clearly hasn’t a clue what the issue really is. It is not that there are arguments from either side derived from medical science which can be disputed using other arguments derived from medical science. The effect of the ‘reforms’ is to make all medical science redundant in the matter of an individual’s sex. That is what self-identification means. It means the abolition of all gatekeeping based on medical science. It is not solely relevant to persons affected by some genetic disorder which may blur some aspects of sexual differentiation. It is applicable to everyone. It doesn’t merely allow those whose sex is rendered to some degree indeterminate by some error in gene copying to chose which of the two sexes they prefer to be. That would be quite harmless. Self-id is open to everybody. Anybody can choose what sex they want to be totally without regard to medical science.

Self-identification effectively abolishes sex as a meaningful category of human being. It removes arguably the single most important aspect of personal identity. The fact that medical science says you are indisputably male or female becomes irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what your chromosomal makeup is far less what sexual characteristics you develop. Nature may say you are either male or you are female. But the law says you can be either male or female as a matter of personal choice. Heretofore, nature/medical science has taken precedence. If/when these ‘reforms’ are rammed onto the state book that will cease to be the case. The whim of the self-obsessed individual shall prevail in the eyes of the law and none may dispute that choice no matter how grotesquely it conflicts with nature.

This is the nub of the matter. Is sex genetically determined, or is it a matter of personal choice? Arguments from medical science would be pointless even if they weren’t dealing with aberrations rather than the norm. Unless there is some scientific evidence to ‘prove’ that sex is not genetically determined and can therefore be selected in later life, then the scientific fact of sex remains. I intend to argue against denial of this scientific fact no matter what the law may say about doing so. I shall not abandon reason nor stand idly by while the flame of scientific enlightenment is extinguished.

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16 thoughts on “Sex is real

  1. Biology versus Law.

    Even in Huxley’s greatest work the inhabitants of his dystopian brave new world didn’t deny the existence of male and female. They used science to engineer their society’s social strata. Not law.

    Brilliant article.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. If you take the starting point of any discussion of sex as the perpetuation of the species – and it is a scientific fact, as far as we can determine, that this is so driven in all creatures that huge lengths are gone to in order to mate successfully and pass on your genes. Females have few problems in that area, and will always pass on their genes if they mate successfully. Males, however, can ever be 100% – unless they subject the child to a DNA test, that their genes have been passed on to that child they are helping to nurture, and, basically, that is the reason why females have been subjected to oppression, suppression and control throughout history. We females are very aware of masculine controls that, in some parts of the world, still regulate life for females to the nth degree. There really is no point in arguing that this is not the case.

    From that premise, we can say that our hard-won spaces and rights are dependent on our sex for their legal or conventional existence, and any challenge to them, places us at a massive disadvantage. If sex itself can be wrested from females and replaced with seld-ID gender, enshrined in law, access to all things females becomes not only possible, but actual, and females can be eased out of the public space and out of hard-won rights, making them open to a far greater degree of control. What they have won with so much effort can be shared out between the lads. This is at least some part of the ideology wars.

    Another is that some males develop a sexual fetish or more than one around puberty, and it usually involves some kind of sexual thrill around femaleness – but not proud, independent femaleness. Rather, it is a form of masochistic wallowing in the submissive femaleness that some males are turned on by, that, and the fact that females bring forth life, something that some males would dearly love to get their grasping finger on, and which the money-soaked medical-industrial/techno-industrial complexes would love to be able to take from women and control to the nth degree. There are other aspects which I won’t touch on here, but which should ring alarm bells with anyone who is well-balanced.

    When you look at this pernicious trans movement as a whole entity, from the top echelons in the billionaires’ investment portfolio to the sad, wee sexual fetishist at the bottom of the heap, you see it as it actually is, and the scales fall from your eyes. They absolutely must capture the law; they absolutely must capture all private and public bodies and organizations; and they know what they are doing and why they are doing it, most of them. The trans men and the trans children are the human shield that must exist for the trans women to thrive, aided by activists who are equally as cynical, if not more so, and foolish governments that don’t understand when they are being played or who are too scared to speak truth to performance liars and unrestrained capitalism.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I have probably recommended this before, but I would urge you and others to read Luce Irigaray’s “In the beginning she was”.

      Apart from being a refreshing look at pre Socratic philosophy, the book emphasises that sex is not just biology. The sexual dance that takes place to bring forth every human life involves many complex social, historical and political forces. It is much much more than the fusion of large and small gametes.

      In the mighty Iain M Banks’ books, there are characters who are able to change sex by will; by controlling the production and release of their own peptides and hormones, they are able to change their physical form from one sex to another or indeed to remain sexless. This ability assumes an advanced kind of bodily consciousness, which is in control of bodily processes right down to the molecular level and is of course fictional. I mention this to emphasise a difference between this well thought through but fictional idea of changing sex and the very badly thought through and yet actual ideas about this being forced upon us all.

      I often wonder what Mr Banks would make of what the GRA means. I imagine a novel (without the M) which might develop the hilarious horrors of his wonderful The Wasp Factory, in which the main character’s sex is … well no spoilers here. His novels always managed to get to the bottom of some issue or other, and I have no doubt that he would have a story to tell about what we are now seeing.

      Liked by 4 people

  3. Hi Peter. I decided to completely withdraw from Scottish matters as I now live in Wales and I’m completely disgusted with what’s happening in Scotland. I did receive an email about you blog. It intrigued me so I read it.

    I would like to contribute the following to your well reasoned post.

    “The Foundation for Gender-Specific Medicine, Inc. is a unique collaboration between the private sector and academic medicine. The FGSM is dedicated to advancing and expanding our knowledge of the new discipline.
    Mission And Purpose
    We now know that even identical genes are expressed differently in males and females, making it even more crucial than we originally thought to consider the impact of sex on genomic manipulation. It is already clear that sex of the recipient and that of the donor impact outcome. Work on chimeras, in which tissues or cells from one species are implanted into another must consider sex as a variable in research protocols. The physiology of males and females is significantly different and researchers must assess the impact of gender on the data they harvest from such preparations. Similarly, work on artificial intelligence should take into account what we already know about the differences in the anatomy, chemistry and function of male and female brains.
    Gender-specific medicine allows us to develop comprehensive, evidence-based, and unique educational programs that communicate the new knowledge to both healthcare professionals and the public. The FGSM envisions a time when gender-specific medicine will no longer be considered a specialty but instead will become an integrated aspect within all specialties of science and medicine.”

    In the above Gender means Sex. Only those ignorant of modern advances in Medical Science can claim that sex is non-binary or that it doesn’t matter.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That is fascinating. Of course, I was already aware that sex is binary. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I have never been foolish enough to deny that sex is binary. But I was hitherto unaware of this branch of medicine. It seems our FM is also unaware. Or in denial. Thanks for this.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Excellent post, steelwires. A young post graduate scientist has been forced out of his work by trans activists when he stated recently that in all the work he had done for his PhD, he had studied many trans people and had found not one jot of difference between their physiology and that of straight people. That is the other side of your sex-based specialism in medicine, and pretty much sums up the deluded basis for everything trans. No trans identified person should suffer any indignities, be deprived of their human and civil rights, etc., but neither should they be allowed to take away the rights and spaces of others in such a parasitical, cynical fashion, which is precisely what they are getting away with at present. I fear for the survival of the NHS if these hormones and surgeries become more available – and with no basis for their being given i the first place. This Mengele medicine should be stopped forthwith as being totally unnecessary and more funding be put into mental health services instead.

    Peter: sorry about all the typos in my previous post. Forgot to spellcheck. Duh!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As you will know, as a consequence of my condition i take a medicine called Decapeptyl, which suppresses hormone production thereby staving cancerous prostate cells of vital biochemistry. This drug is also used as a puberty blocker.

      Quite apart from having a slight issue with the fact that Decapeptyl’s use as a puberty blocker means that medical resources are being used for what are essentially cosmetic purposes, the side effects of this drug are never mentioned. The narrative is that such drugs are perfectly safe and completely reversible.

      This is a downright and barefaced lie that is being sold to and swallowed whole by young medical and social work professionals: when I complained recently to a visiting social worker about the hot flushes and prickly heat I have to endure every two or three hours because of the Decapeptyl, her reaction was to remark with surprise that these drugs are used by trans people every day.

      I was so flabbergasted that I was only able to blurt out something about people being entitled to do what they wish with their own bodies. She is due to visit again today. If I have to endure any of her TRA bullshit this time, I will simply show her the door. In this advanced state of bodily decay, the last thing I need from somebody charged with my care and support is to field ideological shite.

      Liked by 6 people

  5. You are absolutely correct to put the word “debate” inside scarequotes. For there is no such thing.

    All debate has been closed down by idiotic ideologues who not only deny science but seem (at least from my experience on Twitter and elsewhere) utterly unaware of the conceptual capacities that are necessary for debate to take place.

    Nowhere during my attempts to “debate” with these people have I encountered anything but reactive personal attacks, nowhere have I found evidence that these people are capable of critical thinking, dispassionate research and self reflection.

    This “debate” is (ironically perhaps) exemplary of Foucault’s idea that reason and power are intimately linked. In this case power is acting quite explicitly to outline what is and is not acceptable, irrespective of what anybody else might feel about what reason can contribute to debate – identity politics being the continuation of (culture) wars by other means.

    (As an aside, when I gave lessons on Foucault in the late 1980s, it was obvious to all of us engaged in reading his work that he remained a materialist throughout, that as a whole his work presented a particularly fierce critique of phenomenology. Bulter’s utterly pernicious reading of Foucault as a champion of individual affirmation turns a fundamental Foucauldian principle on its head, that individual subjects are the product of power. His major political impetus was towards de-individuation, not to the reassertion of the bourgeois individual of the Enlightenment, which is what these TRA brats are basically doing.)

    Liked by 5 people

  6. The GRA is not about sex, it’s about gender. Look up the meaning of the word in a dictionary. After that, you will know what the subject of the gender reform act is.


    1. Explain what gender is, LB, and why self-ID gender identity should be enshrined in law? Explain what a ‘woman’ is and how a man can “live as a woman” for. split second, let alone three months since he cannot have the foggiest idea. The protected characteristics are ‘sex’ and ‘gender REASSIGNMENT’ (getting your bits removed) in the 2010 Equality Act, not, emphatically not gender identity. What this reform does is introduce self-ID and remove the medical diagnosis, thereby evading ‘gender reassignment’ in favour of gender identity – all NEW rights, not any kind of reform of the existing 2004 GRA. The Scottish government has no legal remit to change the 2010 protected characteristics in a Westminster Act, which is reserved, or to extend the provisions of the GRA 2004, which is also a reserved to Westminster Act. Stop spouting falsehoods. The Scottish government is way out of line and this will be challenged in court, if necessary. With any luck, the 2004 GRA will be repealed as being redundant, which it is, and will no longer be able to be used as a springboard for trans activists to demand even more – which they will, because they want it all, don’t they?

      Liked by 3 people

    2. A Twitter Thread by Rebecca R Helm, an assistant professor, of biology at the University of North Carolina Asheville, where she studies the development, evolution, and ecology of jellies, is being used by trans activists in the UK to argue against biological sex being a category for which rights are protected. She argues that the only gene that matters to sex is the SRY gene which during embryonic development turns on male associated genes. She questions whether this is biological sex. Dr Miriam Grossman, a Psychiatrist who specialises in the treatment of children and adolescents, responded to this claim thus. “it’s true the SRY is the important part of the Y chromosome. So what if it very very rarely, due to an abnormal cell division, ends up on an X chromosome? All sorts of genetic accidents occur. The exceptions prove the rule.” “Over 99.98% of us are normal XX or XY, females or males in terms of chromosomes, hormones and cellular function. Her argument is often used by gender activists ­ take the rare exceptions, normalize them, then claim there’s a “spectrum”. Well, 1:100 people have schizophrenia: hallucinations and delusions. Shall we say there’s a spectrum of perception, including seeing things that aren’t there?”

      The locus of the word GENDER is grammar. Nouns and pronouns have a gender, masculine, or feminine, or neuter. It’s a category error to apply it to people who have a SEX, male or female.

      Liked by 4 people

    3. If the ‘reforms’ don’t relate to sex then how can a gender recognition certificate be used to change the sex on a person’s birth certificate? There is no entry for gender on a birth certificate.

      If the reforms are not about sex, how can they relate to sex-based rights and protections?

      Liked by 3 people

    4. Lord B. I looked up gender in my Chambers, a dictionary with a long reputation. There are three definitions: the third is obsolete and means simply kind or sort; the first is about language and grammar distinguishing words roughly according to the sex to which they refer; the second reads “the quality of being male or female, sex”.

      If the GRA is about gender rather than sex as you say, and if definitions of gender rely on the notion of sex, then how does your statement make sense? How can the GRA be not about sex if gender always refers to sex?

      Perhaps you (or the GRA) are resurrecting the archaic meaning of the word as a kind or sort of thing. If so please explain further.

      Or maybe my Chambers is now out of date and the editors are unaware of a new meaning of the word gender that makes no reference to sex. If so could you show us the dictionary that includes this new meaning.

      In any case, many here I think would like to see any definition of gender that does not refer to sex.

      Finally, can I recommend that you read Luce Irigaray’s little book In the Beginning She Was. Amongst much else in this book, it demonstrates that sex and gender are much more intricately related than we have been brought up to believe; that the sexual dance between a man and a woman, from which all human life is brought forth, is more complex than fusing a large and small gamete, but involves powerful historical and political forces.

      Sex is more than biology; gender is inseparable from sex.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We ow the notion that gender gender is separate from sex to John Money.
        “As a sexologist, Money claimed that sexual identity–which he called gender identity–was independent of genetics and determined by upbringing. It was he who, in the English language, moved the term gender from the study of language to the health sciences, while studying hermaphroditism in the Department of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins Hospital.”
        “He conducted sexological studies on intersexual children, sexual fantasies, paraphilias and especially pedophilia, defending what he called ‘affective’ pedophilia. He was objected to for attempting to normalize pedophilia. And he was singled out for allegedly pedophilic practices in experiments on children. He created the terms gender dysphoria, chronophilia, lovemap and gendermap, sexosophy, gender crossover, gynemimesis and andromimesis, among others.”

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Interesting. Thanks.

          In the early 1980s when I first encountered feminist sociology, sex was the bodily stuff and gender what society made of this, what was expected of a person of a particular sex. The implication was clearly that gender was political, ie a product of power, and that it was incumbent on those of good conscience to challenge confront and overturn such expectations, that women could become brick layers and men hairdressers. The more important issue was the violence (physical emotional social) that men perpetuated against women because this was what gender roles expected, or because this was a kind of normality. Gender was understood as not necessarily a “good thing” and those of us who refused to conform were de-solidifying what power had reified.

          I guess the current situation is a direct consequence of these old ideas. But for one crucial difference: gender is now substantial and is subject to what Christians understand as transubstantiation. When in the 1970s and 80s we dressed in gender non conformist clothes, we were just dressing up to make a point; now this means that our being is transformed into something different.

          When in the old days we were able to discuss and negotiate these things, now we must defer without question to what another has actually become.

          I have no idea at all where along the line, or why, discussion and genuine debate became impossible. But until such time as it returns, we’re well fckd.

          Liked by 3 people

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