I am not happy to write this post. It is in a way sad that I have to. I believe I made all the arguments and all the explanations in my previous posts (Let’s be careful what we wish for, Why it matters and ‘Scientific’ gender diversity), but it seems that, yet again, I ran into the problems of the ideological divide.
I was reminded, yet again, that everything is politics, that our very understanding of reality is determined by our underlying vision of that same reality, that I cannot explain my way out of the “Conflict of Visions;” or as Ayn Rand put it: “Reason is not automatic. Those who deny it cannot be conquered by it.”
I had three news items to start the day with:
- Obama issued a new ‘directive’ about transgender rights.
- The first successful uterus transplant in the Czech Republic has been performed in Prague.
- The latest blog post of Zork Hun received a few critical comments.
The first is about politics, the second is about science, the third is about ideology and the poverty of communication.
What’s interesting about the (three) critical comments I got is that not even one addressed the points of my post. You can check them out, they are all in the comment section of the previous post.
One tried to convince me that the problem exists (which I never denied), the second tried to educate me about biological anomalies (the existence of which I also never denied) while the third just dumped a truckload of ‘information’ on me saying “Here is your answer!” I found that one especially offensive. It is a well known practice of those who are either incapable or too lazy to make an actual argument. It is a combination of intimidation and bullshitting. (I had a colleague who regularly pissed me off doing it to me.) The assumption behind the strategy is that you will not waste your time with it but will be too embarrassed to admit it. If you do look into it, and question the bullshit, you will end up with another pile but still no answers. I cannot be intimidated easily and I did go through the pile which turned out to be mostly garbage (It makes me shiver to think what they would be like without the peer review). My review found it horrifying.
It made me realize that the problem I originally stated is far worse than I thought. What was interesting about it is the comment it came with: “You might want to educate yourself more to ensure of not falling into dogmatism and to see this issue through peer reviewed medical science publications.” [emphasis mine]
I did not know that questioning accepted wisdom is called dogmatism. The most important characteristic of this 150 research abstracts and articles is how dogmatically one sided they are. They remind me of the progressives at the turn of the 20th century sterilizing thousands of the ‘feeble-minded’ to improve the human race. They had a similarly firm conviction about the value of their actions, but let’s get back to the attitude later.
For the few who still cannot get it, let me be Obama clear:
I understand basic biology. I know about gender (and sex) changing species. Hive insects have three. I learned it in grade school. I know that there are several species that can change their sex naturally responding to changes in their environment. No reasonable person can deny that genetic, physical, hormonal, mental and behavioral aberrations do exist. Yes, people can be born with extra chromosomes, just as they can be born two sets genitals, without an uterus, joined at the hip, with extra fingers or with abnormally large or abnormally small heads.
Yes, people can be born with a predisposition to homosexuality, schizophrenia and autism. People can have a predisposition to become pedophiles, psychopaths or alcoholics.
No part of this is in question! The only question in any of these cases is what are we going to do about them? Are we going to ban alcohol sale or offer treatment to alcoholics? Lock up and medicate schizophrenics or let them live in the gutters? Are we going to condone pedophilia (Afghanistan), cover it up (the catholic church) or punish even the hint of it (the Western world)? Should we entertain schizoid and paranoid fantasies just to make the sufferers of these conditions feel more comfortable? Will that really help them? Is giving a drug addict another shot help? Is the rope what a suicidal person really needs?
In our personal, social and political lives we all have to find a balance with our decisions between what’s desirable, possible and acceptable. When we help someone, we should make absolutely sure that our help actually helps and does not make matters worse.
Helping those suffering from gender dysphoria may be desirable. The question is what is possible.
If there was a magic pill that could create a fully functional woman from a man or vice versa, I would be all for it. I cannot imagine that anybody would be against. Maybe version X of CRISPR-Cas 9 will be able to rewrite entire chromosomes in every cell in our body, maybe we will learn to control everything they do to our hormones and maybe at some point we will have the ability to safely transplant a fully functional uterus and induce a male to produce eggs from her own ovaries. We are just not there yet and I cannot imagine getting there within a hundred years. Anything we do until then is just an ever more elaborate deception with predictable consequences.
Yes, I do have a philosophical opposition to the denial reality, political voluntarism and irresponsibility, but these are not my only reasons to oppose politicised bad science.
Real vs Frankenstein science
The primary function of science should be the understanding of the world.
In the garbage pile my learned friend dumped on me, I could not find a single honest scientific inquiry. There was one study cited finding identifiable features in the brain scans of FtM trans subjects.
I found only one other suggesting caution in diagnosing children.
The rest was only Frankenstein science (and no, I am not using the word lightly). Playing God with poor results and without real concern about potential consequences. One of my commenters expressed his firm belief that “Transition (medical and social) seems to be the best treatment for transgender people so far.” What does he base his beliefs on?
What makes it ‘seem’ to be the best treatment?
Where is the longitudinal study comparing the outcomes of pimozide treatment vs full sex reassignment vs an untreated control group? Which one produces the best results, the greatest degree of personal well-being?
Doing such research would be real science, as would be trying to understand the causes both biological and psychological.
What is the explanation for the 3 to 1 ratio? (Three times more male to female than the inverse)?
What causes the hormonal imbalance and what can be done from preventing or counteracting it?
Is there a genetic component to the problem and would it be possible to solve it on the genetic level?
Is there a common element in the pregnancies or the early childhood environment of people with gender dysphoria?
Victor Frankenstein did not try to understand life. He wanted to control it. Marx did not want to understand the world, he wanted to change it. The sterilization and euthanasia plans of the progressives were driven by the same motives. Considering the harm gender reassignment can cause, the medical risks it entails and the short and poverty stricken lives it typically produces, it is legitimate to question the integrity of its promoters.
The overwhelming majority (>90%) of the research papers I looked through are discussing how to do it, how to do it better and (most depressingly) how to start “treating it” from an ever younger age.
I did not encounter any research indicating any scientific curiosity or an open mind. Just blind dogmatism. An unwavering belief in the superiority of their morality, solid commitment to the approach and a righteous sense of the political mission. Transgenderism is a fundamentally political project, an arrogant progressive mission driven by the conviction that sheer will can trump reality. It is a manifestation of the unconstrained vision of the world.
Transgenderism is a political project on many levels. It is a distraction, a political base builder and a political polarizer. It is an into-your-face arrogant display of power designed specifically to piss off its opponents. It is sexy politics.
What makes an issue, a subject, a question politically sexy? Its sex-appeal, obviously. Its ability to turn people on, to make them go for the idea and whatever that entails. Not only supporting it, but championing it, fighting for it and empowering the classes that can “do something about it.”
A sexy political idea will always be polarizing. Abortion? Very sexy. Gay rights? Off the charts. Gender equality? Very sexy. Global warming, racism, inequality? Sexy, sexy and sexy. Social justice and communism? Super sexy. Gun rights, free speech, drug legalization, patriotism? All very sexy for other parts of the political spectrum.
What makes an idea sexy for a politician? Great political gain with very little political cost. Issues that are highly ideological, moralizing and some ways personal at the same time.
Transgenderism has every element of a sexy issue. To start with, it is about sex. It is polarizing along moral lines soliciting strong reactions from all sides. It is outrageous and insignificant at the same time.
Just consider the Obama edict. He wants ALL schools to comply. In the 2015-2016 school year, there are 50.1 million public school students in the US. They attend any of 58,500 public schools which averages out to about 508 students per school. If we accept the prevalence numbers of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (3 in 100,000 male to female and 1 in 100,000 female to male), we will end up, on average, with one transgender student in every 49 public schools. These numbers are, of course, challenged by the trans community, but even if we accept much higher estimates, the numbers are still ridiculously low. (“The most recent prevalence information from the Netherlands for the transsexual end of the gender identity disorder spectrum is 1 in 11,900 males and 1 in 30,400 females.“) That would cut the number down to maybe one student in every eighteen average size schools.
Sexy political ideas are a great distraction. Since people can get all worked up about it, they pay attention to it. The ACLU is championing it and the media will lap up every bit of news about it. While we are paying attention to a marginal aspect of a subject affecting a minuscule percentage of the people (0.004%), we are not paying attention to more important things. The debt, regulations, monetary policy and immigration – even though they affect far more people in far more fundamental ways – are boring in comparison.
Science has an unhealthy symbiotic relationship with politics. Some science validates political power, politicians feed the scientist in return. The relationship isn’t any healthier or more respectable than the state’s relationship with crony capitalists, the dependent or the entitlement classes.
Nobody gives a damn about the trans-gendered. They are just the pawns in the game.