Dumbed down science

The sexy politics of gender-science
Nothing to do with sex

2016-05-28 dumbing down

My conversations on sex and gender are getting more and more bizarre. People are sending me notes about basic biology and links to news items on the politics. How is one supposed to respond to that? Explain yet again that the biology is NOT the question or that might does not make right?
You will find the conversations in the comments of the first post, but you will find some points made in the comments to the second one as well.
The unifying characteristic of the comments I recieved is the avoidance of addressing my actual concerns: the lack of proper science supporting the policies and the hidden agenda behind the politics.

Although I think I did already say everything on the subject, I will have to restate some of the points to make it absolutely clear where I believe the problems are. I will have to dumb down the ‘science’ and expose the politics. I will do that using a set of questions. Most of them should be very easy to answer.

The questions

  • Sex is determined by a pair of chromosomes that can be either XX or XY. Sex is coded into every cell of our body.
    True or false? If false, please explain.
  • Like with any other genes, there can be alleles, defects and mutations, but that cannot fundamentally change the above noted fact. There are no XYZ, XA or XB chromosomes with genes resulting in distinctly different gender characteristics.
    True or false? If false, please explain.
  • We can have defective genes creating various gender phenotypes and hormonal anomalies. If these defects can be cured, they should be.
    Do you agree? Yes or no? If no, please explain.
  • At the present stage of our medical knowledge it is NOT possible to create a fully functional, reproductive female from a male or vice versa.
    True or false? If false, please explain.
  • If the above is true, then any physical alteration of the body is just pretension.
    True or false? If false, please explain.
  • Genetic mutations that impede reproductive functions are different from any other type of mutations as they cannot be passed on to subsequent generations and therefore represent evolutionary dead-ends.
    True or false? If false, please explain.
  • If our perception does not reflect reality, changing our perception should be preferable to futile attempts to change reality.
    Do you agree? Yes or no? If no, please explain.
  • Some people are suffering from Body Integrity Identity Disorder (Biid), also referred to as amputee identity disorder. Can we consider assisting such people with the amputation of perfectly healthy, functioning body parts as an acceptable treatment?
    Yes or no? If yes, please explain.
    If it is not acceptable to cut off a functioning leg, how is cutting off a penis any different?
  • The ‘creation’ of fully functional humans is preferable to the creation of dysfunctional ones.
    A cured transsexual wannabe is more ‘whole’ than a dysfunctional post-operative one.
    Agree or disagree? If disagree, explain.
  • Addressing the cause of a problem is superior to addressing the symptoms. If it is possible, curing the cause of pain is better than suppressing the pain.
    True or false? If false, please explain.
  • If the above is true, then it is reasonable to suggest that at least as much (if not more) research effort should be directed toward a cure as is directed toward the treatment of the symptoms.
    True or false? If false, please explain.
  • The spirit of the Hippocratic oath implies “Do no harm.” Turning a biologically functional male into a dysfunctional female can be harmful.
    Agree or disagree? If disagree, explain.
  • Does giving alcohol to an alcoholic or drugs to an addict help them, or does it make their condition worse?
    Help or harm? If help, please explain how.
  • A research that is based on faulty, untested or untestable assumptions cannot be called scientific.
    A research study trying to determine what kind of prayer is the most effective in curing cancer is NOT scientific.
    A research study trying to determine whether prayer is effective in curing cancer, however, IS scientific. (Such research has been conducted and it is discussed in Richard Dawkins’ “The God Delusion”)
    Do you agree? Yes or no? If no, please explain.
  • Only if there was a study proving that prayer does help curing cancer, could subsequent studies trying to determine what kind, be called scientific.
    Do you agree? Yes or no? If no, please explain.
  • Without a longitudinal study clearly proving that gender reassignment surgery is the best possible treatment for gender dysphoria, NO STUDY based on the assumption that it is can be called scientific.
    True or false? If false, please explain.

This is where we can stop the questions. This is the ‘ONE’ study I am looking for. The one that can legitimize the rest. I do not believe that such study exists, but this is a falsifiable belief.

My final position

As I consider the conversations on a number of controversial subjects, I am beginning to suspect that there is a greater need for directness. I cannot expect my readers to get my points unless I make them absolutely clear. With that in mind, here is what I actually think:

  • There are only two sexes. ‘Gender’ is an artificial, political construct with only tenuous roots in reality.
  • Sex cannot be changed with surgery. The appearance of primary sexual characteristics can be changed with surgery and the expression of secondary sexual characteristics can be changed with hormone treatment but neither changes the underlying biological reality.
  • Neither of the above statement denies the fact that a variety of naturally occurring conditions exits that make biological gender ambiguous, difficult to recognise or psychologically undesirable.
  • Neither do they deny the fact that people with those conditions may suffer and need help.
    The question is not whether we should help these people, but how.
    That is the question that has not been answered to my satisfaction.
  • I believe that the focus of transgender research should be cure and prevention, not transformation.
  • Believing that I am Bonaparte Napoleon does not make me an emperor.
    Delusions should not be treated as reality; delusions should not be accommodated.
    They should be tolerated, not celebrated.
  • Collective denial of reality is a mental illness of societies. Gender politics as it is practiced in the western world is a sign of a sick society.
  • I firmly believe in individual freedom as the foundation of a good society. This means believing that everybody has the right to do whatever they wish to do with their own lives. I don’t care what people believe, think or do as long as they do not force me to be involved.
  • I believe equally strongly, however, that nobody should have the right to demand my agreement and material support, especially if I disagree with the actions I am supposed to support.
  • You can dress and behave however you want, just don’t expect me to like it (or to pretend that I do).
    You can have sex with any consenting adult, just don’t expect me to hold the candle for you.
    You can blind yourself, cut off your legs or your penis, just don’t expect me to pay for your medical expenses.
  • I believe that the science behind understanding sexual anomalies is immature and the science behind the treatment is, as I said before, Frankenstein science. Highly immoral and irresponsible.
  • The primary drive behind transgender politics is just that: politics. It is an outgrowth of the idea of the tabula rasa, the notion that we were born with a clean slate, that every part of our identity is the result of social conditioning.
  • The marriage of progressivism and postmodernist relativism created the sick world where everything in our lives is turned into subjects of political decisions.
  • Barak Obama’s bathroom directive is just a revolting display of political power.
  • The politics is not about the 0.004% of people that are affected by the problem, but about the 99.996% that is forced to accept the decisions and pay for the wasteful policies associated with it.

I finish this post with the usual uneasy feeling that it will not convince anybody.
Those who agree did already before they started reading this and those who do not, cannot be reasoned with. The points I am making are obvious to me. So far, nobody was able to present any evidence contradicting my conclusions but to quote Ayn Rand again:

Ayn Rand quote

….if, on the other hand, I managed to change your mind, let that happy news to be known to others in the comments below.


The following was added to this post on 2016-06-03

Double down

I was challenged to revise my position based on the scientific evidence presented to me.
I think a single word would do the trick: FUNCTIONAL.

There are only two functional sexes with their associated genders.

Although the one word makes all the difference, let me explain in a little more detail.

Genetic programming is a complicated business

My geneticist friend kept sending me links to studies on the subject. The first set was an unexamined set of links concerned with the practices sex change management, the next few were misdirections, but he finally did send me a link to some true science.

Reading it is what prompted me to write this correction/clarification. The research is aimed at discovering the mechanisms of mammalian sex determination.
This article shows a few important things. It shows that we are at the beginning of a long process of understanding; it shows that the process is quite complex and many things can go wrong with it.

There are only two sexes

Saying this may be arguable, saying that there are only two functional sexes is not. You can either impregnate or gestate which are the only biologically essential function of sex. There is no third way to procreate.

I (basically) agree with the statement of the American College of Pediatricians

“No one is born with a gender. Everyone is born with a biological sex. Gender (an awareness and sense of oneself as male or female) is a sociological and psychological concept; not an objective biological one. No one is born with an awareness of themselves as male or female; this awareness develops over time and, like all developmental processes, may be derailed by a child’s subjective perceptions, relationships, and adverse experiences from infancy forward. People who identify as “feeling like the opposite sex” or “somewhere in between” do not comprise a third sex. They remain biological men or biological women.”

All critical comments I received were focusing on biological aberrations. The common element of those is the fact that they are dysfunctional. As pointed out above, “somewhere in between do not comprise a third sex”. Dysfunctional genetic mutations, developmental aberrations, birth defects and psychological disorders are NOT legitimate gender alternatives. Mutations affecting reproductive functions are different from most other mutations in the sense that they cannot be passed on to future generations. If your mutation makes you unable to procreate, the mutated (whatever) will die with you.

Gender ‘intensity’ and expression is a continuum

I should have made this clearer, but it seemed to me a truism requiring no further explanation.
Just as our height, strength, intelligence and a number of other attributes, our sexuality also places us somewhere in a range. I have known oversexed men and women just as I did frigid women and men with little discernible interest in sex. Does the oversexed macho man represent a different gender compared to the effeminate metrosexual? I wouldn’t think so. It’s all on a continuum. On the two ends are the macho men and the femme fatales with the overwhelming majority of us somewhere in between. Somewhere in the middle, there is an interesting zone of the weird and the dysfunctional. On the edge are the behavioral dysfunctions such as the fetishists, the voyeurs, the S&M folks and the pedophiles. Some function better than some others, some are less harmful than some others but they are still mostly heterosexual, most are willing and able to procreate. The next layer toward the center are the preferential dysfunctions, the gays and the lesbians. They are dysfunctional in an evolutionary sense as they are unwilling to procreate. In the middle are the biological dysfunctions and the gender confused. The people who are unable to procreate. At the very center would be the true hermaphrodites born with both sets of reproductive organs (albeit dysfunctional).

I did not think that I would need to explain this, but here we go.


2 replies on “Dumbed down science”

  1. I feel ya, Zork! Expect to “lose” at least 10 “friends” from your life over your (as they will characterize them) “sexist, bigoted, homophobe and transphobe, racist, nazi” world view. But maybe you’ll be better off without them, eh?
    People who live a lie will scurry away like cockroaches when faced with the light of clarity and concision.
  2. zorkthehun says:
    An e-mail exchange:
    Hi Zork,
    I believe that the matter should be left alone by all sides. I don’t agree with the premise that trans gender people are delusionary and they therefore should be cured of their illness. As far as encouraging it is concerned, I think that is also a non issue. People don’t become transgender due to encouragement any more than people become homosexual because of encouragement. They are who they are and should be left alone.
    Part of my view comes from personally having seen many people whose lives were destroyed by the deep prejudice and non acceptance of homosexuality, not to mention the documented cases of incarceration etc. I believe acceptance by society is the most humanitarian and the best approach.
    Personally I don’t care whether this is politically correct or not and whether it is driven by politics as you say. This is my personal opinion regardless.
    = = ===========
    Hi R.,

    I would love to move on from the subject, but it is not easy. It seems that I have to keep repeating myself but I hope I can make the message clearer with every iteration.
    The only problem I have with addressing your points is that you are mixing two very different subjects: homosexuality and intersex. They are not the same and their treatment isn’t the same either.
    You are free to think that gender dysphoria is NOT a mental condition, but doing so you are not only disagreeing with me, but with just about every organization of psychiatrists and a whole field of science researching it.
    Where the two of us disagree (and I do with the ‘scientists’ of the field) is the delusion aspect. I never called transsexuals delusional.
    I only called the idea and suggestion of sex-change operation a delusion.
    Let me repeat it the nth time: it is NOT possible to create a functional female from someone who was born a functional male. (not even from a dysfunctional one).
    This is called a fact. It may change in the future, but for now, this is a FACT. Pretending that it is possible is a lie, believing that it is possible is a delusion.
    I am open to suggestions of a better definition.

    You say – “I believe that the matter should be left alone by all sides.”
    And I wish I was a celebrated public figure whose voice of reason, compassion and humanity is heard by all, but this is just NOT the case.
    The matter is not left alone. That is why we are talking about it. Do you really think that I would care about a medical condition affecting 0.004% of the population?
    We are talking about it because politics does not want to leave the matter alone.
    This is also an interesting position from someone claiming to seek “the most humanitarian and the best approach”
    Let me illustrate the point with three scenarios:
    • Leave them alone
    Let them suffer from that biological injustice of nature that gave them the body of one sex and the brain of another.
    Let them deal with it on their own, let them lead confused and unhappy lives. Let them commit suicide.
    • Help them the right way
    ………which is helping them to manage their unfortunate condition. Just like schizophrenia, it can be managed with a drug (in this case called pymozide) and with some counselling.
    Let’s help them understand that they suffer from a medical condition and help them to learn how to live with it because it is a reality that CANNOT be changed. Gender is not a matter of choice.
    • ‘Help’ them the wrong way
    Give them the illusion that they can get what they want. Give them attention and political clout that is way out of proportion. Violate the rights and concerns of the vast majority of the population to accommodate their newly discovered needs and rights. Spend vast amounts of money on ‘scientific’ research to make the illusion that is presented as a solution more elaborate while ignoring research that would put into question the righteous moral posturing.
    Your approach is scenario one, mine is the second, the political reality we live with is the third. I can only consider the second one truly moral. I am not too keen on leaving suicidal people alone.
    As for the third options, it is a well known fact that a significant number (20-30%) of post operative transsexuals change their mind and want to go back. It is also a known fact that post operative transsexuals commit suicide at a much higher rate than preoperative ones. If sex-change operations would help, the trend would go in the other direction.
    But let’s go back to your preferred option, leaving them alone.
    Should people with a broken leg be left alone? Would you want to leave schizophrenics alone? Gender Dysphoria (GD) is an identity disorder, it is not comparable to homosexuality. Homosexuals should be left alone. When they become suicidal, it is because of the social pressures, not because they don’t know how to handle their sexual preferences.
    As far as encouraging it is concerned, I think that is also a non issue. People don’t become transgender due to encouragement any more than people become homosexual because of encouragement.

    Let’s just say that we disagree on the margin and on both counts, but let’s now focus on GD alone.
    This article (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcap.12014/full ) is warning against the dangers of over-diagnosing children with GD. According to some studies quoted, “many gender nonconforming children grow up to identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.” Putting them on hormone therapy to delay adolescence, which is a standard practice for children diagnosed with GID can cause irreparable harm.
    Let me just finish saying that I consider the two (homosexuality and intersex) quite fundamentally different.
    Homosexuals should be left alone, transsexuals should be helped, but NOT by giving them false hopes and unfulfillable promises.
    I could reiterate my position on the politics or talk more about the biology, but let me make one last point.
    What disturbs me most is the immorality of those on the moral high ground. It is a typical left-winger attitude to ignore the de facto harm their well-intentioned policies usually cause. The only thing that matters to these ‘nice’ people is righteous posturing and virtue signaling.
    I understand that your position is heavily influenced by your personal experience that I do not have.

    “Transgender” is a Mental Illness and Should be Treated as such: Former Johns Hopkins Chief Psychiatrist
    Maybe you should check out this site (http://www.sexchangeregret.com/) to get another perspective and watch the interview with its creator here.
    Hi Zork,
    I obviously did not make myself clear. I did not mean that nothing should be done about transgender people. I think they should be helped as best we know how and I believe in sound research, scientific and psychological, that hopefully will bring more understanding. I was only referring to prejudice which always exists in society. I know the two, homosexuality and intersex, are very different.
    I believe that there is a 41% suicide rate in transgender people but I have no information as to the cause. Is it due to non acceptance in society, or is it a result of operations, or other factors? I ask the question as I don’t know.
    I personally know homosexuals who committed suicide and have a strong emotional reaction to prejudice which may well cloud my views.
    Without knowing a great deal about transgender people, I do agree with you that children should not be receiving hormone treatment or tampered with in any way.
    Transgender people may well be a mental illness however the definition of mental illness generally speaking is very fluid and murky. Homosexuals were considered mentally ill not too long ago.
    = = ============== = =
    Hi R.,
    You will find some answers in the links I sent you. There are more answers in the links included in the post.
    Check out the site sexchangeregret.com and the last link I sent you.
    I do not have precise numbers for the differences in pre- and post-operative suicide rates.
    I have seen it mentioned in several places but I did not yet find a source I would consider reliable.
    I would also be careful with the mental illness definition. Most of these conditions have biological origins, some identifiable with brain scans.
    The point in being biological in origin means that should be treatable. Whether they should be and how, is another question.

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