Thursday, February 28, 2013

Parents of the Year

I was trying to finish a post before I left, but I don't think it's going to happen. I'll be out of town for the weekend, so it'll be pretty quiet around here. I thought I'd link an article I came across on the Yahoo! News feed while not paying attention in class this morning: (Six-Year-Old) Transgender Girl's Parents Lobby for Her Right to Use the Bathroom.

I apologize for my old-fashioned, sexist, heteronormative attitudes here, but I think that these parents might be bad parents. My favorite comment: "When my kid was 6 he thought he was a train." The usual disclaimers: in no way do I think that the plight of sexually disabled people isn't important or that such things should just be poked fun at and ignored (this is sort of the point of the whole blog); I just think it might be a better idea to wait until the kid is at least an adult (in every sense of the word) before parading him (there, I said it) around the news circuit.

Incidentally, I think if you want to see the effects of philosophical movements that endorse the mind-body split, transgenderism is the perfect place to look. Take a look at a couple of these quotes:
"Gender is who you believe yourself to be and your sexuality is who you want to bounce it off of." (Emphasis mine)
"There was never a question in my mind. This is who I am."
The basic assumption being that what you think or what you feel is who you really are, what counts as true. I very much pity transgender people, often more than homosexuals, who have way more ability to live happy, productive lives despite their sexuality; I just think this entire worldview is built on a mistake. It's also sort of interesting how there's this really strong materialist element there too, where people will say things like, "well, my physical brain is like a woman's brain, so I'm a woman!"---assuming that the entire rest of their body is the defective thing, not the brain itself. Really interesting stuff.

5 comments:

  1. It's also sort of interesting how there's this really strong materialist element there too, where people will say things like, "well, my physical brain is like a woman's brain, so I'm a woman!"---assuming that the entire rest of their body is the defective thing, not the brain itself. Really interesting stuff.

    I also wonder how it squares with some common themes about equality. How do we know a given brain is 'a woman's brain' or a 'man's brain' without engaging in some considerable stereotyping? For obvious reasons, "Well, I'm sexually attracted to men!" can't possibly be that which flags a man as a woman under those views. "I like things that women traditionally like" are also out.

    To say nothing of the whole subculture involved there.

    But yeah, in too many quarters there seems to be this inability to even question 'You know, are the parents really making the right decision here? Could it be that what they're doing is actually rather screwed up? Is this even a live option?'

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    1. Not without going into some interesting questions about essentialism actually: "what is a woman?" etc. I think it'd ultimately (or would necessarily) devolve into, "well, maybe there isn't such a thing as Womanness...but I have a brain that makes me want to do This thing" (begrudgingly trying to make "this thing" just like any other thing, despite the fact that "this thing" is always associated with what we call womanness).

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    2. I've actually wondered about the metaphysics of transgender people. There are no such things as "man-ness" or "woman-ness" for Thomism, in the sense of substantial forms. Men and women are defined by their accidental forms (namely, the accidental forms of their reproductive organs), and accidental forms are subject to change. Does this mean that a transgender person becomes the opposite sex, on a metaphysical level? I can only assume so, but I don't know for certain.

      Obviously, natural law would regard a sex change as purposeless mutilation and thus as a sin. There's no question about the rightness of it. I just wonder what one should do once one's there. The kid involved in this is too young to sin, but what about later on? What counts as a sin when you're transgender, if man and woman are defined by their reproductive function? It's all very strange.

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    3. I've wondered the same thing actually. I think gender in general is much more interesting, philosophically, than sexuality (that is, the difference between "being a man" and having sex appropriately), mainly because gender is almost like language in certain ways and nothing like it in other ways.

      I am actually a proponent of the idea that men and women are not solely defined by reproductive function, but I'm going to need a lot more time with that. I would say though that a person who removes his reproductive organs in a hospital is no more a woman than a man who loses them in a tractor accident.

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    4. I was basing my claim about reproductive function on Aquinas. I find his view a bit reductive in light of the Church Fathers' work (and the Bible itself), so it'd be interesting to see you challenge it. Good luck if you plan to make that argument--it'll be tricky.

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