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Old 08-13-2013, 02:23 PM   #1
Talon87
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Gender & Gender Identity

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Originally Posted by Altocharizard55 View Post
A real man is someone who was born with testicles, or in the case of really odd mutation, has XY sex chromosomes. Unless of course, you want to delve into the whole transgender discussion, which I don't feel like doing.
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There's no "discussion" to have. You can just say the not transphobic thing and say men are people who say they are men and that's it.
It's pretty clear that as we delve deeper into the 2010s, lines are being drawn in the sand between those who believe in individually-declared gender and those who do not. Only a few years ago, it seems, I would never hear people espousing the viewpoint that gender is something you decide entirely for yourself, not even out of my transgender acquaintances. (The rare personal acquaintance as well as novelists, television stars, and other transgender artists whose written or acting works I have read or seen.) But it seems like over the past year or two, an attitude has rapidly gained momentum. This attitude, this conviction, is that gender is something which we each define for ourselves. Part of this belief appears to be that being a "man" is not something which is inseparably linked to being "male", likewise that being a "woman" is not inseparably linked to being "female". Another part of this belief seems to be that while being "male" may be something you are born with, being a "man" is not, and that people ought not to confuse the two terms. (For example, you shouldn't say "Anyone born with two dropped testicles and a penis is a man" but should instead only say that "Anyone born with two dropped testicles and a penis is born male.")

I'll frame the debate thusly: "Gender is something you can choose for yourself. While other factors may influence your decision, the decision is ultimately yours to make." Do you agree with or disagree with this position? Why?

Just to make it quite clear what I am asking, I am not asking if you believe in transgendered states of existence. I.e. I am not asking if you believe or do not believe that someone can be born a physical man yet identify as a woman along the lines of the classic "woman trapped in a man's body". Personally, I don't even feel like that's up for debate; if you do, good for you, I guess, but that's not what I'm interested in discussing first. What I am specifically honing in on is Letter B below:
  1. someone age 27 who identifies as a woman is physically male. She claims to be a woman trapped in a man's body, has always (or long) felt something was wrong, and did not choose to be this way. She simply was. She has a strong association between womanhood and femaleness, i.e. she feels like she will not truly be a woman until (amongst other things) she has undergone sex reassignment surgery.
  2. someone age 27 who identifies as a woman is physically male. This identity may have only just come about recently; however, more importantly, she testifies that she made a conscious decision to begin identifying as a woman. There was a point where she chose to quit identifying as a man and to begin identifying as a woman. She never felt trapped or like she was born in the wrong body. In fact, she has no desire to change her physical gender -- she intends to remain physically male yet identify as a woman.
Obviously people will have their wide and varied opinions on both of these sorts of individuals; and obviously I cannot list every single transgendered case. Everyone's different, and everyone brings their own beliefs, hopes, and fears to the table. But I'm just trying to clarify that it's not the Letter A type I'm interested in us opening the debate with -- since, imo, that one's kind of a clear-cut case so long as you even believe in transgendered individuality -- but rather the Letter B case. I'm interested in discussing whether a person's manhood or womanhood is, in your opinion, a matter of choice or not.
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:47 PM   #2
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Gender is scientifically defined as the role a person plays in the society they live in. Believe it or not, being a drag queen is a different gender from being female, being male in America is different from being male in Japan, being a drag queen is a different gender from being male, and being male in 2013 is different from being male in 1950 or 1300.

Sex, on the other hand, is the biologically defined outward attributes (phenotype) of an individual. It has been this way since the beginning of time/the beginning of things that had chromosomes.

Sometimes there is a genetic anomaly where a genetically male organism fails to develop properly and instead is automatically assigned the female sex. Those individuals are female, but may have mild complications associated with that anomaly.

Attempting to insinuate that gender is fixed or that sex is changeable through means other than extremely invasive and life-changing surgery earn you negative Shuckle points.

As for my personal opinion, I hate to say this but I'm on the fence. All I have to go on is "let people be people and take offense only when the situation becomes dangerous, e.g. suddenly transgender people become killer robots?"

My stance on just about everything, by the way, is pretty much that last sentence only with replacements as necessary. It's a good stock sentence.
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:56 PM   #3
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Attempting to insinuate that gender is fixed or that sex is changeable through means other than extremely invasive and life-changing surgery earn you negative Shuckle points.
Either there's a crucial "would" missing from this sentence or else you're insinuating that I insinuated such things. Which is it?
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Old 08-13-2013, 02:59 PM   #4
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So my initial reaction upon opening this thread was going to be essentially "I don't care if someone wants to define themselves as man, woman or small goat from Betelgeuse IV, just let them get on with it." That's still my gut reaction. It's an extension of "don't interfere with peoples lives where it doesn't effect you". Unfortunately, sometimes this position will effect you, from a practical standpoint. What parent, for example, wants a middle aged physical male in the same open layout girls changing room at the swimming pool as their preteen daughter?

So I suppose my stance remains let people define themselves how they want - but those people who choose to define themselves against societal norms have to accept the unfortunate truth that practical concerns are going to occasionally impact their ability to exercise their identity. There are going to be situations where no matter what choice we make someone is going to be negatively impacted, and in those cases we have to choose the lesser evil, whichever that may be in whatever specific little situation we may be arguing at the time. You've chosen to identify as a woman? Sure, fine. But if you've got balls you're going to have to use the little boys room.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:03 PM   #5
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This is very simple, and it had happened to me with a close friend, so let me show you how this works.

Friend: I have something to tell you - I'm transgender. I'm actually a guy, just not physically. I'm changing my name to (insert male name here).

Me: Thanks for telling me, I appreciate the honesty and courage it took for you to open up about it. If you need anything, let me know, and good luck.

Simple as that. You don't argue or say "Well, you're still a girl technically, I'm just going to call you by your REAL name..." or however. You should respect the person's choice and the courage it took for them to take that step with you, and others. You should also stop calling the person by their birth gender nouns like she/her/he/him and call them by their new identity.

I think if someone tells you they feel they aren't the gender they are assigned that you should give them the benefit of the doubt even if you cannot understand it yourself and support them. I just don't really see the argument here I guess.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:07 PM   #6
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Of course, the far simpler solution to that problem is unisex bathrooms and private changing stalls within changing rooms.

Also, 13 states have passed anti-discrimination laws permitting transgender people to use the correctly gendered changing room/bathroom, without an increase in restroom-related incidents. I even have the article to link to on hand.

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Some 13 states, including Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont, have passed similar anti-discrimination laws without an increase in restroom-related incidents, according to the Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), a legal rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on sexual orientation, HIV status and gender identity and expression.
who knew that doing an english research paper on the dehumanization of trans* people would come in handy later
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:15 PM   #7
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Either there's a crucial "would" missing from this sentence or else you're insinuating that I insinuated such things. Which is it?
my typos are embarrassing okay ;_;

it's technically grammatically valid, but it's not grammatically correct because lolambiguity. my bad.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:19 PM   #8
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Of course, the far simpler solution to that problem is unisex bathrooms and private changing stalls within changing rooms.

Also, 13 states have passed anti-discrimination laws permitting transgender people to use the correctly gendered changing room/bathroom, without an increase in restroom-related incidents. I even have the article to link to on hand.
I was under the impression those laws applied to those who were jumping through the medical hoops - psych evals and progressing towards gender reassignment. Not someone who woke up this morning and decided to say "hey, I'm a woman now" but with literally zero other changes, which is one extreme end of what we're discussing here. I may be entirely wrong in this though.

Unisex bathrooms and private changing stalls are great, except that they just don't exist everywhere. Given the existence of open layout changing rooms it seems dangerously naive not to consider them.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:22 PM   #9
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I will say though, and this will be a controversial opinion: I heard something earlier this year or last year story that was something like that there was a first grade boy who felt he was a girl and his parents were enraged because the school wouldn't let him use the girl's restroom. While I am entirely supportive of the transgender movement, I don't agree with this. I don't feel like a six year old can properly determine their gender because they don't even know what the concept of gender is. They are exposed to many different things that may influence them one way or the other - hell, when my little brother was 6 and he'd make a wish by throwing a penny in a fountain, he'd say out loud "When I grow up, I wish to be a beautiful princess!" Sure, it might be funny, but he didn't know what he was insinuating really. To him, at the time, anyone could be a princess, he had no idea what the concept of a "gender role" or a "gender identity" was. He didn't even fully understand what a "gender" was, just that there are boys and girls and nothing more.

So essentially I suppose what I'm trying to say is, and obviously I don't know the story well enough to make a huge judgment about it, but from the gist of what I have heard, I don't think parents should be trying to influence their child's gender discovery nor should anyone really be taking what a six year old says seriously. If the kid was 13? This could be a completely different discussion, as by that point in his or her life the child will be somewhat mature enough to understand genders and actually be starting to develop sexually. But until then, I think anything a young child says should be observed carefully and nothing more, because they really are not old enough yet to determine if what they are saying actually has some merit to it or if they are just confused.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:23 PM   #10
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Similar to age laws in other areas (marriage, sex, voting, etc) this seems sensible to me.

On another note, does anyone else suspect this topic will be what our childrens generation hates about us? Like how our parent generation are more naturally homophobic than us, even if they honestly don't mean to be discriminatory, and our grandparents generation are more racist than our parents even when they honestly don't mean to be discriminatory.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:24 PM   #11
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I was under the impression those laws applied to those who were jumping through the medical hoops - psych evals and progressing towards gender reassignment. Not someone who woke up this morning and decided to say "hey, I'm a woman now" but with literally zero other changes. I may be entirely wrong in this though.

Unisex bathrooms and private changing stalls are great, except for the simple fact that they just don't exist everywhere. Given the existence of open layout changing rooms it seems dangerously naive not to consider them.
Probably more for the "daddy what is that lady doing peeing at the urinal" than anything else.

Or for less social stigma; if a transgender man->woman walks into the men's bathroom dressed as a woman because that's the law, everyone basically knows what's up. Some people are embarrassed about that. It's also public safety because sometimes people are jerks and will hurt or kill transgender individuals.

Dear Human Race: There are SO VERY MANY OTHER THINGS TO CARE ABOUT
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:27 PM   #12
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Probably more for the "daddy what is that lady doing peeing at the urinal" than anything else.
Eh not so much. The electoral system is also hard to explain to children. Substantially harder, actually.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:42 PM   #13
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I will say though, and this will be a controversial opinion: I heard something earlier this year or last year story that was something like that there was a first grade boy who felt he was a girl and his parents were enraged because the school wouldn't let him use the girl's restroom. While I am entirely supportive of the transgender movement, I don't agree with this. I don't feel like a six year old can properly determine their gender because they don't even know what the concept of gender is. They are exposed to many different things that may influence them one way or the other - hell, when my little brother was 6 and he'd make a wish by throwing a penny in a fountain, he'd say out loud "When I grow up, I wish to be a beautiful princess!" Sure, it might be funny, but he didn't know what he was insinuating really. To him, at the time, anyone could be a princess, he had no idea what the concept of a "gender role" or a "gender identity" was. He didn't even fully understand what a "gender" was, just that there are boys and girls and nothing more.

So essentially I suppose what I'm trying to say is, and obviously I don't know the story well enough to make a huge judgment about it, but from the gist of what I have heard, I don't think parents should be trying to influence their child's gender discovery nor should anyone really be taking what a six year old says seriously. If the kid was 13? This could be a completely different discussion, as by that point in his or her life the child will be somewhat mature enough to understand genders and actually be starting to develop sexually. But until then, I think anything a young child says should be observed carefully and nothing more, because they really are not old enough yet to determine if what they are saying actually has some merit to it or if they are just confused.
I don't think a 6 year old fully understands/comprehends the concept of gender. But it's better to let them figure it out and learn in an open environment than force them to adhere to their birth gender until someone decides that they're "ready" to be themselves.

The parents weren't influencing the child's gender by allowing the kid to be themself. Quite the opposite, really. Shutting down the child's gender self-discoveries/"experimentations" is a lot more harmful.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:46 PM   #14
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I think if someone tells you they feel they aren't the gender they are assigned that you should give them the benefit of the doubt even if you cannot understand it yourself and support them. I just don't really see the argument here I guess.
The premise of the debate is that there are two different kinds of people on the topic of gender identity by choice: those who believe it is a matter of choice and those who do not. To help perhaps make this distinction more clear, consider the following analogous questions:
  • Do you believe a white man can identify as black? Non-jokingly. A white man claims "I am a black man trapped in a white man's body." He asks to be treated as a black man, given the same benefits enjoyed exclusively by blacks or black men, etc.
  • Do you believe that an American with no known Irish ancestry (and indeed he's traced his ancestry back as far as five centuries, found hundreds of people, and not a single Irish ancestor) can identify as Irish? I don't mean that he simply pretends to be Irish, makes a big deal about Irish culture (food, religion, holidays, music, etc), and so on. I mean that he insists "I am Irish. I choose to be Irish, and so I am Irish."
  • Do you believe that a person chooses to be gay? Or do you believe that exclusive attraction to the same sex is something you do not choose for yourself, and that anyone who claims to be gay by choice is a phony?
These questions needn't all have the same answer, btw. They're just meant to illustrate the same sort of wavelength that I think this debate topic is on. There are some people who sincerely believe that homosexuality is purely a matter of choice, that near about everyone has the capacity to choose to be gay (or any sexuality, for that matter). There are other people who just as sincerely believe that being gay is something you're born with, even if as a child you don't realize it; it's something you don't notice until puberty but that, by the time of puberty, you realize "Well, I have zero attraction to girls and I have quite a few crushes on boys in my school. " In real life, I know individuals who represent both of these camps. I have one long-time gay friend who was for many years deeply ashamed of his sexual orientation, really resented it, and shared with us that he would pray to God at night that God make him a normal straight boy like everyone else. (This friend has since found a lot of pride in being gay and is a published member of the gay artist community.) LGBT individuals like him throw a wrench in the works for the camp that argues that sexuality is a matter of choice. (He chose to be straight. And it didn't work.) But I know other gay people who are in the camp that says that a person's sexuality is up for them to decide, that it is in fact a matter of choice no matter what anyone else says (even fellow LGBTs! ).

This is where the question is coming from. You're saying that, from where you stand, you don't even see how this is up for debate, so solidly do you believe that gender identity is a matter of declarative choice. Someone can just declare "I am a woman" and you are to accept that they are a woman. That's your position. But what I'm saying, in the opening question, is that there's actually a bit of a divide over this issue and that there are a lot of people who do not believe that womanhood or manhood is something you can just choose for yourself. Either you are a man or you are not. Either you are a woman or you are not. It may not be a platform you agree with, but it's a platform that's definitely out there. In fact, I feel like it's the dominant platform out there, and is one which a good number of my own LGBT associates subscribe to. After all, if physical gender and gender identity are totally divorced entities, why do so many transgendered people feel the need to "become" a man or a woman through sex reassignment surgery? There's obviously an underlying reason for that, and that reason logically would seem to be that they reject the notion that physical gender and gender identity are completely divorced entities.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:50 PM   #15
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Well my statement of "I don't see the argument here" wasn't so much about the thread as it was "I don't understand how anyone could argue against this point". Poorly worded on my part, I apologize. I was trying to suggest arguing against someone declaring they are a different gender than what they were born as is silly and saying "anyone who wasn't born with balls or the male chromosomes isn't/can't be a man, plain and simple" is also silly.
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Old 08-13-2013, 03:58 PM   #16
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Is it silly to forcibly escort a white man of 35 to the local psychiatric hospital if he is claiming to be Mary, Queen of Scots?

Is it silly to forcibly [...] if he is claiming to be an alien?

Is it silly to forcibly [...] if he is claiming to be a black elderly woman?

Black woman?

Elderly woman?

Black?

Elderly?

Woman?

At what point does it quit being a matter of choice and start becoming a suspected psychiatric episode?

The point here being, I doubt you categorically support all claims to womanhood. You likely have some criteria which must be met before you accept the other party's claims. No?
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Old 08-13-2013, 04:26 PM   #17
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Why should I? If someone biologically born a man claims she is a woman, should I not accept that and move on? What kind of "criteria" could someone possibly have to meet for me to accept their claim? Being transgender is being transgender, nothing more to it than that. I think it's a fairly simple claim to make, and all it boils down to at that point is you trust the person is telling you the truth and not just messing with you.


I feel like the rest of your examples are seriously apples and... pears. I understand what you are trying to argue, but it's out of bounds. Gender can be a completely different thing on a mental level or even dare I say a spiritual level than it is on a physical one.

What makes someone black? The amount of melanin in their skin. There's nothing more to it. Black people are just people. If you claim to be a black person when you're not, that's a completely different issue because there doesn't exist someone who is "black on a mental level", that just doesn't make sense. If you are considering stereotypical mannerisms, quirks, or other things that may be associated with black culture, it's not "theirs" exclusively, anyone can pick up on those and not be outcast or looked at oddly.

Elderly? This is just silly. We know that an elderly person is someone who is old or has lived a long life. That's it. You can't just "claim" this. I see what you're trying to do "but it's the same with genders!" No, it really isn't. "Well 100 years ago someone would have grouped those all together and said the same thing". But we have a better understanding now of what defines a gender and what it means. Gender doesn't equal genitalia type. While that is your sex, biologically, your gender transcends your sex. It is who you mentally identify as in terms of societal and cultural gender roles.

Comparing the mannerisms of a woman in society to the mannerisms of an elderly person or a black person is silly. Anyone of any skin color can pick up the mannerisms or quirks stereotypically associated with another race and most people won't think a second thought, because it's not seen as something restricted to only black people or what have you. But for a male to pick up on the quirks stereotypically assigned to women and vice versa, people are either going to think you're gay or you're odd. The point of identifying as another gender mentally is to somewhat counteract that, but also because it's like walking around in a shoe 2 sizes too small. It's uncomfortable, it doesn't feel right, and you just want to take them off and find the one that fits you - but for them, the shoe is their birth gender or the gender society assigns to them based on how they look or their sex.

Thus, gender is not something that can or should be equated with someone mentally claiming to be a black person or an elderly person. That just doesn't make any sense.'

Last edited by deoxys; 08-13-2013 at 05:31 PM. Reason: Accidentally wrote "melatonin" instead of "melanin"
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:17 PM   #18
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Hmm, not sure that I would automatically equate 'elderly' to 'having lived a long time'.

I tend to stay out of these kinds of discussions because this kind of stuff is really just the ice on the surface of a really, really deep hole which goes down to the very root of what it means to exist and that's a hole that I like to keep a comfortable distance from, for now.
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:19 PM   #19
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What's fun is that both gender and sex are false dichotomies, entirely independently of each other. There are more than two biological sexes and there are (far) more than two constructed genders. Now, I've never really had a problem with the concept of mismatching the two (I did read Famous Five books after all) and I understand the idea of multiple genders. It's much like sexuality or politics; there are not two sexualities. There is not a divide between liberals and conservatives in America. It is not a case of West vs East in geopolitical terms. This isn't a hard concept for me and I struggle to see why anyone with a bit of education and world knowledge would find it so. But I also understand the fairly epic cultural norms we've built up around them in much of the West. It's a hard thing, much like accepting that homosexuality is not a sin or that it's ok for your kid to marry a Muslim.

As for people wanting to transfer, to be honest it does weird me out a little but simply because I find it hard to empathise with not knowing your identity. It's in much the same way that sexual intercourse between two men weirds me out a bit; I have no problem with homosexuality but I don't want to picture two guys doing stuff, thanks. In the same way, I don't really want to wrap my head around a guy with man parts choosing to swap over. Or a woman choosing to become a man and then swap back. If someone wants to, they should be able to, but I don;t really want to have to think about it.
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:28 PM   #20
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Men have penises, women have vaginas. End of story. The way you act or think has nothing to do with it, in my opinion.
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:36 PM   #21
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No, it's not that cut and dry. You may not understand it because it hasn't happened to you in particular, but a lot of people literally do not feel comfortable in their own skin. They feel like their assigned sex was a mistake. Just because you were born with a dick doesn't mean you aren't a woman in terms of your gender and vice versa.

Do you believe my friend isn't a man because that's what he identifies as even though he was born with a vagina? Do you believe he should be called by his female given name as opposed to his newly changed male name?
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:40 PM   #22
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I'm with Concept on this one, but I won't say any more in effort to not be dragged into this.
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Old 08-13-2013, 05:46 PM   #23
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I don’t really have a strong opinion toward this. I think everyone should be treated equally and nobody should be discriminated for their sexuality. However I’ve been to a gay bar on a drag night and one of my (female) friends didn’t like how a load of men dressed as women were using the female toilets and I do agree that it could make women who aren’t homophobic or transphobic feel uncomfortable.

I'll agree that statements like "Men have penises, women have vaginas" are utter bullshit. Unfortunetly not that many people can empathise with transgendered people as they're far less common than gays, lesbians and bisexuals.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:02 PM   #24
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I think you're right and I done know what I'm talking about.

I just have trouble seeing it since it hasn't happened to me out someone that I know.
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Old 08-13-2013, 06:22 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deoxys View Post
I feel like the rest of your examples are seriously apples and... pears.

What makes someone black? The amount of melanin in their skin. There's nothing more to it.

Elderly? This is just silly. We know that an elderly person is someone who is old or has lived a long life. That's it. You can't just "claim" this.

I see what you're trying to do "but it's the same with genders!" No, it really isn't.
Don't you see that it very well could be, though, for other people? And whether you can see it or not, this is definitely the case for most people out there. UPN's pretty darn liberal on most views, so it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that thus far the views in this thread have mostly been either on the fence or else supportive of a person's right to choose their own gender. But even here, on liberally-skewed UPN, we've already got quite a few people weighing in that they feel that "a penis makes the man," so to speak, and a vagina likewise a woman. Never mind what people in the greater United States feel, the greater Western world, or the planet as a whole.

In transgender discussion, people may distinguish between a man who claims to be a woman trapped in a man's body and a man who doesn't say that but simply expresses a desire, a wish, to be a woman. You don't appear to make any distinction there, and not everyone does; but you're also flatly rejecting out of hand anyone who does as crazy. Putting aside that that's not very nice ^^; , it's also not really very helpful for actually debating the matter. You have yet to satisfactorily explain why gender is in a different category from race, ethnicity, or other things you are usually born with or born into. (Emphasis on the satisfactorily. You've certainly tried to explain why you feel the way you feel, but I don't think it's been that persuasive. I can't imagine it would persuade people who flatly reject your own views as liberal lunacy.)
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