Friday, April 25, 2014

Transgenderism

I want to write a little about transgenderism. Fun Friday, I know, right? I don't think this will be a long post. I'm not sure. I think transgenderism is sort of a tricky issue in some ways, and I don't mean to address all the issues that stem from transgenderism here. Specifically, I have no intention of addressing the moral ramifications of transgenderism. I just want to address the claim that a transgender person might make when he says "I feel like a woman" or more specifically "I have a female brain; I am a woman."

There is a lot of criticism of people who focus on genitalia in defining sex or gender. They're often criticized for being reductionists who are ignoring the whole rest of what makes a person what a person is. These people instead focus a great deal of attention on the brain and cite studies showing that transgender brains are different, that a transgender man has the brain of a female, etc. It's usually put like this: if a person has a penis but has a brain identical to a female brain, why do we favor the penis in deciding that the person is male? Why favor one over the other?

There's something that has always bugged me about this. And I don't want to even get into Thomistic metaphysics (directly) or anything like that. It's the premise of the question. It's question-begging. It's assuming exactly what it's trying to prove and disprove at the same time. What I mean, I think, is obvious. Specifically, what is a "female brain"? The concept cannot make sense without a standard outside of the brain itself. Otherwise, how could you tell a male brain from a female one? Why not call a male brain female and vice versa? Why call one female and one male at all?

When a man says he has a female brain, all he is really saying is that he has a brain similar to someone who has a vagina. In which case, he's defining sex through genital makeup, exactly what he was trying to disprovev as valid. I can't think of what else the statement could possibly mean. There are no other characteristics outside of genitalia that are inherently female or male, that are tied directly to sex---which is really just an extension of sexual reproduction. If reproduction weren't done how it's done, there probably wouldn't be sexes in any relevant sense. 

I think this is a complex issue in different ways, but this has always bothered me. Because people are so convinced by it. "See, he has a female brain!" and everyone has to pause and reevaluate everything. I see it all over the place, even in Catholic circles. And I don't even deny it. It's probably true that transgender people have brains more similar to people of the opposite sex! In fact, I'm almost certain that it's true that their brains are different. But I can only accept the claim that a transgender man has a female brain if I first recognize that a female is a human being with a vagina and a female brain is the brain a person with a vagina usually has. This is why going from "He has a female brain" to "He is a female" should clearly be problematic for people. And it never seems to be.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Natural Law, Natural Goodness, and Evolution

A fun fact(?) that some people like to point out is that that Thomas Aquinas envisioned the concept of "evolution" long ago. From the Summa Theologica:
Objection 3: Further, nothing is said to be complete to which many things are added, unless they are merely superfluous, for a thing is called perfect to which nothing is wanting that it ought to possess. But many things were made after the seventh day, as the production of many individual beings, and even of certain new species that are frequently appearing, especially in the case of animals generated from putrefaction. Also, God creates daily new souls. Again, the work of the Incarnation was a new work, of which it is said (Jer. 31:22): "The Lord hath created a new thing upon the earth." Miracles also are new works, of which it is said (Eccles. 36:6): "Renew thy signs, and work new miracles." Moreover, all things will be made new when the Saints are glorified, according to Apoc. 21:5: "And He that sat on the throne said: Behold I make all things new." Therefore the completion of the Divine works ought not to be attributed to the seventh day.
Reply to Objection 3: Nothing entirely new was afterwards made by God, but all things subsequently made had in a sense been made before in the work of the six days. Some things, indeed, had a previous experience materially, as the rib from the side of Adam out of which God formed Eve; whilst others existed not only in matter but also in their causes, as those individual creatures that are now generated existed in the first of their kind. Species, also, that are new, if any such appear, existed beforehand in various active powers; so that animals, and perhaps even new species of animals, are produced by putrefaction by the power which the stars and elements received at the beginning. Again, animals of new kinds arise occasionally from the connection of individuals belonging to different species, as the mule is the offspring of an ass and a mare; but even these existed previously in their causes, in the works of the six days. Some also existed beforehand by way of similitude, as the souls now created. And the work of the Incarnation itself was thus foreshadowed, for as we read (Phil. 2:7), The Son of God "was made in the likeness of men." And again, the glory that is spiritual was anticipated in the angels by way of similitude; and that of the body in the heaven, especially the empyrean. Hence it is written (Eccles. 1:10), "Nothing under the sun is new, for it hath already gone before, in the ages that were before us." (Emphasis mine).

Monday, November 18, 2013

Only Excellence

I have recently discovered Whit Stillman movies. I know, I know, what kind of gay Catholic doesn't know about Whit Stillman? Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that Metropolitan is a masterpiece. It may be one of the best movies of the modern age. I've watched it almost a dozen times now. It's great. Maybe I will write about it soon. You have to have a certain type of temperament to like it, I think. Namely, you can't be a liberal, but I recommend it to everyone. It's on Netflix, check it out. But this scene, so fantastic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CwnfathXhU

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hi Again, I Passed the Bar?!

Hi guys,

A sincere apology for my absence. My life over the past few months, which still isn't in order, has been all over the place. I have not lived in a single place for any significant period of time since May. From studying to the bar to taking the bar to moving...twice, I've just not been able to really write at all. I'm actually at my new office right now, sitting on a couch, writing this. I did get a pretty neat new laptop though, so it's not so bad.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Prudishness and Chastity

I apologize for such sparse posting. I've been busy transitioning into the whole being an adult thing. And honestly, I've been a little depressed. A lot of that, I imagine, has to do with the transitioning. (Incidentally, every time I hear the word "transitioning," I think of some transgender person saying something like, "I'm transitioning right now" or something. As if it's some sort of separate state of being.) It's weird how one always gets depressed during life changes. Even good life changes. There's always something sad about changing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Love and Marriage

As I mentioned in my last post, I went on a week long trip for a friend's wedding. I decided to drive (to California, which is not close to where I live) because the groom's brother (also the best man) doesn't like flying, so I thought we could make a road trip thing out of it. There's two things I want to point out about the experience. One, that I had no idea California had such nice weather in the summer. Seriously, you people are spoiled. And two, that marriage is weird.

Monday, August 5, 2013

This Was Going To Be A Much Longer Post

I finished the bar. I would not wish the bar exam on my worst enemy. Or I would. I don't know. Whichever way makes the most sense. But it was awful. I've never been more stressed out in my entire life. I still don't think I've recovered. But I am sitting here with my dogs, who are thrilled to see me again. So that's something.

I was going to write a post on prudishness, and I got a pretty good start on it, but I'm just too worn out. Unfortunately I'm going on a week long trip for a friend's wedding on Wednesday too, but I'll try to get something done tomorrow if I can. I just wanted to check in. There's always this crazy up after you finish something difficult. The freedom of relief. But then there's sort of a down. What idiot thought it was a good idea to try to become a lawyer.