I had an interesting conversation with The Arbourist that started here and ended here, about the nature of transgender people. You can read the full discussion by following the links, but suffice to say that he believes that transgender people hold a set of beliefs or ideologies and that transgender is not biological in nature but a belief:
Transgender: the belief that one “feels” like the opposite sex
this is fundamentally impossible without the assumption that male and female minds are biologically wired to conform to gender (aka stereotypes) which is demonstrably untrue and incredibly sexist
When I asked about the ideologies a transgender would hold (even writing it sounds ridiculous) he posted this:
Robert Jenson –
“Transgender is defined as “A term for people whose gender identity, expression or behavior is different from those typically associated with their assigned sex at birth.” The transgender movement rejects the automatic sorting of males and females into the categories of man and woman, but does not necessarily reject gender roles. Some in the transgender movement embrace patriarchal gender roles typically attached to the cultural categories of masculinity and femininity.
While not all people who identify as transgender have sex-reassignment surgery or use hormones or other treatments to modify their bodies, the transgender movement as a whole accepts and/or embraces these practices.”
“Transgenderism is a liberal, individualist, medicalized response to the problem of patriarchy’s rigid, repressive, and reactionary gender norms. “
After this I pointed out that the ideologies he referred to seemed to be more about the ideologies of radical feminists than about transgender people, such as that ‘some in the transgender movement embrace patriarchal gender roles’.
The transgender person is just existing. By their mere existence, they are contradicting the ideologies held by the self-professed radical feminist.
It reminds me of how an ethical atheist, by virtue of their mere existence, contradicts the ideology that you need to be religious to be a good person.
I also hate to break it to you, but there are a lot of males and females who embrace gender roles as well. It’s not just a transgender thing.
In fact, if you read the beginning of the conversation, he actually makes the analogy that transgender is the same as a religion. When I questioned him about this, he said:
“So you see cis and trans as a belief system similar to a religion?”
Enough rough parallels to make a go of it. Sure, why not? If it helps in comprehending the objections to trans-ideology.
In that same comment he said:
There is no hate for Trans people here – my quarrel rests with their ideology. A) Because it erases women and their struggle in society and B) it makes specious claims about sex and gender that are not supported by evidence.
So now that I’ve laid the groundwork, are his claims true? Is transgender merely a belief or is it based on biology?
It turns out that preliminary research on transgender people show that it might be biologically driven and not a belief at all:
DR. JOSHUA SAFER, Boston University: In most people, chromosomes, body parts, gender identity align. So, somebody with a male chromosome, somebody with male body parts is going to have male gender identity. That is the usual circumstance.
All of these are independently controlled biologically, and therefore it is no surprise that, in a given subset of the population, one part is not aligned, that whatever genes are controlling that happen to be different for that individual, and that’s what’s happening with transgender individuals.
Their results, published in 2013, showed that even before treatment the brain structures of the trans people were more similar in some respects to the brains of their experienced gender than those of their natal gender. For example, the female-to-male subjects had relatively thin subcortical areas (these areas tend to be thinner in men than in women). Male-to-female subjects tended to have thinner cortical regions in the right hemisphere, which is characteristic of a female brain. (Such differences became more pronounced after treatment.)
“Trans people have brains that are different from males and females, a unique kind of brain,” Guillamon says. “It is simplistic to say that a female-to-male transgender person is a female trapped in a male body. It’s not because they have a male brain but a transsexual brain.” Of course, behavior and experience shape brain anatomy, so it is impossible to say if these subtle differences are inborn.
Medical care of transgender patients, including surgical and hormonal treatment, has largely been met with resistance by physicians in favor of psychiatric treatment, owing to misconceptions that gender identity can be changed. According to a review article in Endocrine Practice, there is increasing evidence of a biological basis for gender identity that may change physicians’ perspective on transgender medicine and improve health care for these patients.
The arguments The Arbourist was making are the same sorts of arguments religious people made to deny same-sex couples their rights – they would tell people that their sexual orientation was just a belief, and therefore they didn’t deserve the same protections heterosexual people enjoyed.
There are no ideologies or set of beliefs specifically associated with being transgender, gay, heterosexual etc, and the evidence points towards transgender being biological in nature and not a belief at all.