Gender Critical Ideology: The Absurd Things They Actually Believe
I don’t get many comments on my articles, but I do try to address them. If they are so transphobic beyond belief with nothing useful to add to the discussion, then I nuke them. But in the last couple of days, I’ve had a commenter who had made the most ridiculous of assertions. Unfortunately, “Tommy Noble” (assuming that’s their real name; Gender Criticals are notorious for hiding behind pseudonyms) is not alone in their absurd beliefs.
So here’s how it started:
Not a big fan of rights for the 50% of the population that’s female, are we OP?
Launching straight into a false assertion on the nature of human rights. This is the “pie” belief among the Gender Critical; that rights are a pie to be divvied up among people, and that somehow if you give rights to trans people, you must, by definition take rights away from women.
This is of course, absurd. The point of human rights is that they apply equally to everyone. They are not a pie to be taken piecemeal by sections of society until nothing is left. That way of thinking leads to the notion that women (or more specifically, cis women as Tommy intends to mean) deserve some sex-based* privilege over other classes. (* In the UK, there are no such thing as sex-based rights, see https://rgellman.medium.com/there-is-no-such-thing-as-sex-based-rights-in-the-uk-140554a2c42c. Additionally, we’ll come to Tommy’s absurd beliefs regarding sex later).
In the UK, the Equality Act is specifically crafted that you don’t get privileges for being a member of a specific class. Cisfemale supremacy is no better than male supremacy, or white supremacy — it’s an assertion that somehow one class of people has more power over another.
The other interpretation is that trans rights and women’s rights are mutually exclusive. But of course, that hides the reality: they’re the same rights — human rights (see above).
Trans people aren’t demanding that women leave gender-segregated spaces. Trans people are asking for equality; that trans people share the gender-segregated spaces in accordance with their acquired gender. In my first article, “Answering The Staniland Question” (https://rgellman.medium.com/answering-the-staniland-question-c8c2a047e003) I covered how there is no legal or moral right to be or not be in a place with people of a specific class. There are societal understandings, and nothing more, and thus the idea that women somehow have some divine right to be free of people carrying a Y chromosome in specific places holds no water. The Staniland Article goes into this in detail, covering the UK legal position.
But this does not satisfy Tommy:
Except they are in conflict; you want to pretend that biological sex isn’t real, and that female people must share spaces with males who believe womanhood is a costume. Male athletes, including transwomen, were been competing in sports before Title IX even guaranteed equal protection for female people.
Do you think the reason you don’t believe in sex-based oppression is because you’re a male who’s always been privileged because of your sex?
Here we go. You may recognise some of these tropes. The first one, “pretend that biological sex isn’t real” is a trope made famous by one J.K.Rowling, in her now infamous support of a Gender Critical who is currently still trying to get transphobia classified as a religion (no really):
It is amazing to me, that an entire movement is trying to convince the world that trans people somehow believe that biological sex isn’t real. It’s like trying to convince everyone that some class of people believes the sun isn’t there.
The difference between people who have knowledge, and Tommy here, is that trans people know that sex goes beyond the definitions we learned in middle school.
There is a common saying among transphobes: “XX is female, XY is male”. The problem with this as a definition for sex, is that DNA is not (insofar as it could ever be) a description of the result of human development, but the intent (again, not that there is any conscious intent at work here, but language in this area is limited).
I find that examples and analogies are a great way to explain a position: nobody is supposed to be born with a hole in the heart. The human DNA does not describe this occurrence (in most cases; genetic mutations may account for some cases). And yet, people are born with this condition because human development sometimes goes wrong and the result deviates from the genetic pattern.
In the same way, DNA may stipulate male by virtue of the Y chromosome, but that doesn’t mean what you end up with is fully male. When the brain develops a neurology that is more closely aligned with a female neurotypicality, the result is a trans woman.
Trans people understand the nuances of sex in this way. By no means do we believe “it’s not real”, but rather than it’s more complicated than you’re forcing it to be.
Nobody believes womanhood is a costume
Sometimes you just wish the Gender Criticals could grasp a simple fact: Nobody trans thinks that male or female is a costume, or that you are a woman because you wear a dress.
In The Wrong Kind of Trans (https://rgellman.medium.com/the-wrong-kind-of-trans-98154ca487e) I gave a specific definition of being transgender, in terms of innate knowledge of sex (gender identity). No part of that definition makes recourse to gender expression (clothing/makeup/etc), gender stereotypes/roles, or even masculinity vs femininity. Because none of that is relevant, and it’s about time the Gender Criticals grapsed that.
Trans women dominate sports?
The next part of Tommy’s response is …. I’ll be honest, unparseable to me. On the one hand, it seems to be suggesting that trans women have been in women’s sports for years and it was never a problem, but since Tommy is a transphobe, I doubt that’s what they meant.
Either way, this is a hot topic in the Gender Critical Debate, sorry unflinching demand. We are constantly told that trans women will dominate women’s sports, pushing cis women out.
First of all, let’s talk about the elephant in the room: this is saying that even if trans women were allowed into women’s sports universally, they’re not allowed to win for fear of seeming to dominate.
So instead of looking at whether or not trans women are dominating, let’s look in terms of “are trans women being exceptional?” to which the answer is, of course, no.
Let’s look at some examples that the Gender Criticals like to (mis)use:
- Laurel Hubbard
Laurel is a trans woman weightlifter. She holds a couple of minor records. She’s touted as an example of a trans woman dominating sports. Except, if you actually look at her stats, she’s nothing special in the world of women’s weightlifting. In fact, since winning those records, she’s been rather mediocre. Never been to an Olympics. Only does well in competitions that typically feature less capable athletes.
- Fallon Fox
Fallon Fox is a Mixed Martial Arts fighter and a trans woman. GCs are fond of sharing an image of her alongside a cis woman fighter who’s head/face have suffered serious injuries. Except the image is semi-fake. The two photos are real, but the injuries to the cis woman were caused by another cis woman. Her and Fallon Fox have never fought.
- Mack Beggs
GCs love to share a picture of Mack Beggs looking all masculine as he seemingly has a poor girl in a choke hold. Except of course, Beggs is a trans man, and the photo in question exists because he was forced to compete in the competition aligning with his birth certificate — i.e. the women’s. Despite having been on testosterone for over a year and wanting to compete with the men.
- Hannah Mouncey
A handball player who is often shown in a photo with her team mates where she towers over everyone else, supposedly as proof of trans female dominance. Except of course, their team placed 31st in the tournament from which that photo is taken. Such dominance.
- Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood
These two trans girls were named in a lawsuit brought by transphobic teen girls Selina Soule, Chelsea Mitchell and Alanna Smith. They claimed that Miller and Yearwood always had an advantage because “they were boys”, with Mitchell finishing third behind Yearwood in a 2019 track meet. One small problem: The top 3 finishers in that race were separated by 0.25 seconds. Yearwood didn’t have a “male advantage” — she just tried harder. To add insult to (Mitchell’s) injury, two weeks after filing the lawsuit she beat Yearwood in another track meet. Clearly dominating.
The “trans women in sports” “debate” runs like this throughout. Trans women athletes have been permitted to compete as women in the Olympics since 2003, yet since that date there have been no trans Olympians, much less medal-winners. If we are to believe that trans women are (or would be) dominating women’s sports, then it should have happened by now at every level, enabling hordes of trans women Olympians. But it simply hasn’t.
“You’re a male and thus can’t be oppressed”
The final denial of Gender Identity here. The idea that trans women can’t possibly have faced oppression at the hands of transphobes, because at the heart of it, our Y chromosomes carry some magical woowoo power that causes society to see past being trans and treat us as gods. Or something.
The fact of the matter is that once you present to the world as trans, the world strips you of any privilege. If you declare you are a trans woman, you get shunted to the woman end of the pay gap. You might in the short term still get a little passing privilege, but that quickly fades. Society is more interested in attacking you for being trans, than giving you favours for carrying the all-important Y chromosome.
Of course, Tommy couldn’t resist commenting on The Wrong Kind of Trans too:
So basically no matter what female people say or do or identify as, they are bigots if they want bathrooms that exclude males. Nothing creepy about males violating those boundaries though
Given that I covered this in Answering The Staniland Question, Tommy is not very bright.