Saturday, 26 August 2017

MySanAntonio: Critical questions need to be answered in transgender debate

MySanAntonio: Critical questions need to be answered in transgender debate

by Robert Jensen

"Let me be clear: I am not rejecting the internal subjective experiences reported by people who identify as transgender, nor am I suggesting that bigotry or violence against people who identify as transgender is acceptable. But until there is a coherent explanation of the transgender movement’s claims, it’s not discriminatory to maintain certain sex-segregated facilities, especially those that give girls and women privacy and safety from the routine intrusions of a male-dominated culture (not because transgender people are a distinctive threat, but because blurring the lines based on individuals’ unchallengeable assertion of an identity will lead to predators exploiting the ambiguity).

The underlying problem, from a critical feminist perspective, is institutionalized male dominance, what has long been called patriarchy. If we ever transcend the rigid, repressive and reactionary gender norms of patriarchy — which constrain all our lives — people would feel free to live authentically without claiming they belong in a sex category that is contrary to the physical reality of their bodies.

Transgender activists acknowledge that we know little about the etiology — the cause or causes — of transgenderism. Within the transgender movement there is disagreement about whether this is a condition that requires medical treatment or just an aspect of identity like any other. Based on current knowledge, responsible public policy should approach transgenderism with a mental health model that explores people’s distress without immediately making assumptions about what the symptoms mean for identity. As long as the movement demands that we accept transgender as an identity that cannot be questioned, the policy questions — not only bathrooms, but whether it is ethical to give children powerful drugs to suppress puberty as a treatment for gender dysphoria — will be not only unresolved but unresolvable."

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