Why the Trans Issue is Much Bigger than Bathrooms, Sports, and Fragile Feelings

With news that a transgender powerlifter will likely be competing in this year’s Olympics, questions are once again being raised about how allowing biological men into female spaces could affect the integrity of athletic competition and women’s safety. Many pundits on the left see this as a non-issue; there simply aren’t that many transgender athletes, and most transwomen just want to use the bathroom in peace (from a purely quantitative standpoint, they are correct). Others, like Sarah Silverman, claim that this is yet another far-right fear-mongering campaign, and apparently even Caitlyn Jenner is now in on the grift. Some will even claim that transwomen have no physical advantage over “ciswomen,” or that the very notion of the sex binary is somehow connected to white supremacy. Many of you—who have reservations about those last two claims—will likely remain silent to avoid either hurting someone’s feelings or incurring the wrath of the mob.

How many times have we heard bold proclamations like “transwomen are women” and “gender is just a social construct”? We all know these statements aren’t totally true, but the people making them usually seem to have good intentions, so we give them a pass. We all know that transwomen are actually transwomen (hence the prefix), and some aspects of gender are connected to the fact that there are biological differences between men and women. Our failure to acknowledge the obvious reality about these topics indicates that we are either afraid to speak the truth or falsely believe that compassion, tolerance, and scientific accuracy cannot all exist in the same space.

And this brings me to my main point regarding transgenderism and the gender ideology behind its excesses: once you cut through all the smoke and noise, something much bigger than women’s bathrooms, sports, or the fragile feelings of a few activists is at stake here. The trans-issue—and, more importantly, how it gets framed—cuts right at the metaphysical underpinnings of Western civilization. It took me a while to realize this, but what constitutes reality (ontology), and how we discover knowledge about the world (epistemology) are what really hang in the balance.

The metaphysics behind statements like “transwomen are women” and “gender is just a social construct” are rooted in ontological idealism and postmodernism. Idealists believe—at varying degrees—that the human mind constructs reality (I think therefore I am). They focus on how culture and language construct our knowledge about the world and typically limit their arguments to the realm of concept analysis. Postmodernism takes the basic premise of idealism and flips it on its head: Not only is knowledge about the world constructed by the interplay of language and power, but it is also (in)determined by it. For example, different cultures will have different names and theories about the world (e.g., Western gravity vs. indigenous tsawalk ), and many of our ideas (e.g., what it means to be a man) are culturally, historically, and linguistically contingent.

To a certain extent, this proposition is true, and the realization of it has expanded opportunities for men and women, who, for example, felt limited by traditional gender roles. The only problem is that every scientific category that exists is also tethered to a material reality that precedes language, so there are limitations to beliefs rooted in social constructionism, postmodern relativism, and idealism.

For example, only biological males (people born with testes) can produce sperm. Not all males can produce sperm, and some may choose not to become fathers, but only males are born with the sperm-producing hardware, and this hardware has been shown to be an accurate predictor of a wide range of other characteristics we commonly associate with men and masculinity. Social constructionists will point to rare exceptions and anomalies (e.g., intersex conditions) to deconstruct the sex binary, but the fact remains that only biological males can produce sperm, only biological females are capable of producing ova, and intersex people (who are only ~.02% of the population) are either male or female.

Gender identity, on the other hand, is slightly more complicated and sometimes gets conflated with biological sex. How masculine or feminine you are is partly a result of socialization and culture and partly a result of biology. Today, many trans activists on the left conflate sex with gender or claim that both are part of a socially constructed spectrum. This is why, for example, false statements like “the gender I was assigned at birth” have become increasingly common, despite the fact that doctors have always observed and recorded biological sex—not gender. Literally no doctor proclaims, “I assign thee the role of macho alpha male.” Instead, doctors look at the genitalia of a newborn to determine its sex, then let the interplay of nature and nurture determine how masculine or feminine the individual will be.

So, what does any of this gender-stuff have to do with the metaphysical underpinnings of Western civilization? Well, it’s really quite simple: If we can’t agree on something as basic and obvious as the existence of the sex binary (99.98% of humans are born unambiguously male or female), how will we ever be able to address bigger and more complex issues together?

For example, do you care about anthropomorphic climate change or how the outsourcing of jobs to China might affect the working class? Both issues are primarily materialist and empirical in nature, which means they could be easily undermined by the idealism and postmodern relativism behind radical gender ideology. According to the logic of postmodernism, climate change is just a Western social construct, while today’s working-class politics are rooted in nativism and xenophobia. Such dismissive accusations are possible because postmodernists aren’t concerned with how true or false something is, but rather how it facilitates one group’s acquisition of power.

But if all knowledge is socially constructed and all truth claims are just part of an elaborate power play, then virtually anything goes (if you have the power). For example, if biological sex is just a racist relic of European colonialism, then what is to keep us from saying the same thing about the Western notion of childhood? Like gender, the word child has different cultural, historical, and semantic connotations, and some children do develop differently than others. Trans activists like Elliot Page and Rachel Levine are already advocating puberty blockers for children, despite these “treatments” being banned in progressive nations like Sweden and studies showing that so-called “trans” kids typically outgrow their gender dysphoria. Postmodernism makes it possible to dismiss any such claim or study based on how their findings rely on “socially constructed” categories such as “pre-pubescent child,” or on which group’s cultural norms it might be oppressing and promoting.

And when it comes to the denial that men, on average, have physical advantages over women, the whole world is being gaslit by a tiny minority of rabid ideologues who don’t care about the truth. As trans women continue to disrupt women’s sports and break records, we are witnessing the falsification of a so-called gender theory that is completely detached from reality. But whereas rational thinkers would typically weigh all the evidence on this issue, we are instead being asked to engage in a type of Orwellian newspeak, where we ignore our lying eyes and adopt an ever-expanding lexicon of gender pronouns—all to assuage the feelings of a few trendy narcissists who believe they have transcended the sex binary.

This biological sex denialism represents the triumph of postmodern relativism over science and reason, as well as idealism’s triumph over materialism and empiricism. And what for? We can be compassionate to transgender people without denying the reality of biological sex, but I see no path forward for our society in general if we are willing to abandon science and reason just to assuage the feelings of a small minority of idealogues. Some contend that it is more important to be morally right than factually correct, but if your morals aren’t grounded in an accurate understanding of reality, then there is no real world to ground your policies, and no accurate way to measure their results.


Image: Jasmin Sessler, Public Domain

W. Alexander Bell

W. Alexander Bell is an American expat and PhD student living in Sweden.

21 thoughts on “Why the Trans Issue is Much Bigger than Bathrooms, Sports, and Fragile Feelings

  1. Brilliant article..thank you so much for writing this. It is genuinely terrifying how quick people have seemed to uncritically accept this truly batsh*t ideology.

  2. Good article but I think you let Trans activists off the hook too easy.

    Trans activists aren’t “ideologues” or “dreamers”, they are just your garden variety ruiners, wreckers, and shit-throwers. For whatever reasons, they have latched onto Trans activism as a way to get their revenge on the “straight society” — maybe because of their anger over a bad childhood, bad parenting, abuse they feel they suffered by schoolmates, whatever.

    The entire trans activism narrative as a scam, cooked up so a few angry haters can run around kicking random people in the balls (metaphorically) and then get away with it,

    But it’s not going to work. The normal people (and even a lot of the gay community, who mostly just want to be left alone) are going to get sick of this REALLY fast and there is going to be a backlash like we’ve never seen.

  3. As someone who has lived all his life with the concept of “equal when we want to be and not equal when we don’t want to be”, I have to admit that schadenfreude comes to mind.

    While I sympathize with the female athletes, where is the sympathy for the male athletes whose sports were eliminated so as to achieve Title IX compliance? And where is the outcry that some competitive universities are over 60% female, with some programs (e.g. Education, Psychology, Nursing) over 90% female? What about equity there?

    So women are loosing their women-only enclaves — well, it happened to men some 40 years ago. And now you see what it is like…

    1. It’s called karma, Schadenfreude, and it can be __ _ _ _ _! Unfortunately, in the larger world away from sports I think “selective equality” will continue to be the favored position for those for whom it represents an advantage, for their white knights, and in general for manginas of assorted ilk.

    2. Oh my goodness what a misogynist you are. Men have no right to complain untill it reaches the 90% female 10% male in parliament the boardroom, university quotas act a situation that women endured for 100s of years . But then lets not get me started thar unril the numbers change for a long period in womens favour it will still be women acting out the way men do things which is a system based on competition not on cooperation

      1. It is quite easy to call somebody misogynist when someone can not see its own misandrist flavoured analysis. Bitterness and revenge are rarely the best ingredients for a healthy and happy lifestyle. You can never fix a problem by applying the rationale you are denouncing. Equal opportunity for all must be encouraged but forcing equal outcomes would be catastrophic for society in general. Wish you well.

    3. Because participating in sport, government, and the workforce aren’t just for men. Are you really so dense?

    4. What the f*ck are you whining about? Women are being sexually assaulted by males calling themselves women in prisons and you expect me to care that you are upset because of Title IX? As though male sports are not consistently better funded and more numerous than female ones.

  4. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this article, and would enjoy reading more of W. Alexander Bell’s work. He has spoken the thoughts of many citizens in our global society, but has articulated his thoughts with facts. A+ article!

  5. The transgender movement took off like a rocket for one—and in my opinion only one—reason. After the supreme court miraculously discovered a right to same sex marriage hidden in the U.S. Constitution the LBGT community was suddenly in a quandary. They now had it all, the whole enchilada. Everything they had wanted they had now achieved. So going forward, how were they going to remain influential and powerful and relevant? “L” check. “B” got it. “G” covered. But what about the “T”?

    Ten years ago nobody even knew what a transgender was. But since 2015, we all know what it means. The LBGT community is working hard to get transgenderism accepted. It’s the only thing they’ve got left to remain relevant.

    1. I wonder why biologists don’t defend their science. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a rebuttal to “transwomen are women” or the deliberate conflation of sex and gender in mainstream media.

      The same people who say there’s no physical differences between women and transwomen often rail against men for using their strength against women, or jobs they’d like that require strength tests. The Canadian military has different physical standards for male and female recruits to make it easier for women to make the cut.

      Even knowledge tests are being changed to accommodate women. Lest we forget, Oxford University decided to give women more time on maths tests to help them boost their scores.

      Clearly there are sex differences and with gender and sex so tightly connected, there are innate gender tendencies too. But who will actually come out and say that in academia without getting pilloried?

      Intellectual freedom indeed.

      1. Oh wow! The answer to that is easy. Anyone, I mean ANYONE, who challenges the rabid transgender ideologues, is completely vilified by the trans activists. People have been fired, denied tenure, denied being published, doxxed on social media, if they even dare to defend sex-based binary sexuality. Haven’t you seen all the articles, stories, headlines. The trans ideologues are vicious, aggressive, ruthless, relentless. It’s part of their strategy, they have effectively silenced ALL opposition to their delusions.

    2. Nothing to do with the LGB and everything to do with the T. Follow the money the11thhourblog.com

    3. Gross, your homophobia is showing, the LGB would like to be seperated from the TQUIA++ community, so your comments, just, no!

    4. Many leading the fight against Trans ideology are lesbians and now more gay men are concerned as well. The reason that the Trans movement has come so far so fast is that it is an incredibly well funded and has benefited from high level, free, strategic advice from top level international law firms such as Dentons. Glomming onto LGB movements was a very successful move as now a lot of people think Trans rights is the new gay rights battle. It’s not a sexual orientation and a lot of LGB people are waking up to the fact that they have been used as a front/trojan horse to enable dystopian legislation to be pushed through. Anti conversion therapy laws are a disturbing and dangerous example of this. They are sold as protections against LGB and T people being given electric shock therapy etc, which A. is not happening and B. is already illegal. Under these laws gender confused children have to be affirmed by therapists and medical professionals who now face loss of license, fines and possible jail time if they try and investigate why these disturbed children think that gravely harming themselves in an impossible quest to try to change their sexed bodies is happening. In Victoria, Australia a draconian version of this has just been passed. It has long been observed that approximately 70 percent of gender dysphoric children are showing signs of same sex attraction and if supported through their natural puberty will outgrow their gender dysphoria. Being a life time medical patient represents a lot of money for pharmaceutical companies, organizations like planned parenthood to distribute the drugs and cosmetic/medical surgeons to mutilate and amputate organs from healthy bodies. One transgender persons medical costs over a lifetime are estimated to be around a million dollars. Gays and Lesbians are now forming break away group to distance themselves from this and to try and help protect children and womens rights to safe single sex spaces. This has lead to them being maligned as hate groups by trans activists. As a straight woman whose also fighting all this dystopian crap I really hope LGB alliance groups are hugely successful and that every caring, informed person of whichever sexual orientation or political affiliation can join together and throw these child harming doctrines back into the bubbling cess pit where they were spawned.

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