How gender binary dogma and intolerance are products of our most pervasive beliefs about reality.
I have always found transsexuals, transgendered, transvestites and other human anomalies to be pretty fascinating. For most of my life I had never been opposed to them emotionally, intellectually or morally in any way.
However in the last decade some of the rhetoric regarding trans identity had become so foreign to me that I began to question the phenomena in ways that I had not before. I became skeptical of the motivations, intentions and psychological health of trans people.
Now I can admit that this was an irrational reaction to something that tends to cross my wires, which is political correctness.* Political correctness can sometimes come off as a form of puritanism, and when it does so becomes a barrier to the understanding and acceptance that underlie its intentions. However those intentions should be honored and it is important to see truth behind even hyperbolistic rhetoric. In this case I let myself get so wrapped up in how uncomfortable political correctness had become that it distorted my perception and judgement of trans people.
*(update): I no longer have that trigger. In fact these days when I hear somebody bring up the term ‘political correctness’ I instantly cringe, wondering what kind of regressive, hateful shit they want to say, but feel too victimized by critics to do so. This article has been updated a few times as I have evolved. One of the most interesting things about documenting your thoughts for years is seeing how they change, and I am glad to be publishing things electronically where I can sometimes just erase or edit old ideas that now make me cringe.
I’m not proud of that, and I have tried to become less reactionary to things that make me uncomfortable in order to better understand them.
Finally it dawned on me that all of my criticism and skepticism of the trans phenomena were based on an ideology that I abhor even more than political correctness – scientific materialism. So I did what you are supposed to do when you find out you are wrong, I rethought my position.
By ‘scientific materialism’ I mean the idea that mind is an emergent property of matter, and that the physical universe we experience is the actual universe. This belief is so widespread in the modern world that most people usually think, speak and act as though it is true without even investigating why they believe it. It is the most unexamined and literal-minded narrative of our existence, but somehow it goes unquestioned by almost everyone.
Scientific materialism would state that gender, sexuality and identity are all just biological functions designed by evolution for specific purposes, and that trans are thus acting against nature. That assessment is predicated on binary gender ideas based on physical traits. However human biology is not so simple, and physical gender traits run a full spectrum between what we call woman and man. The binary idea doesn’t even hold up under the evidence of materialist science.
Besides the problematic binary belief, there is another false dichotomy here, which is that trans were either born this way or they made a choice. Not only are both of those things possibly true and false in complex ways, there is a third way of considering the problem, which is that some form of imprint conditioning has played a role. However the biological and imprint approaches suggest a form of determinism, which requires we do not accept the agency of the individual – a very problematic solution.
The biological drive is probably the least influential factor of all. And the biological factor is what people are most focused on when they discuss the phenomena from a materialist science viewpoint.
This plays out in ways that support both acceptance and rejection. The acceptors accept trans because they were ‘born that way’. The rejectors reject trans as an abomination because they do not believe that, with their fundamentally incomplete and flawed understanding of biology, that this is what evolution and biology intended. The first is a patronizing reason for acceptance and the latter is just bigotry based on ignorance.
However if we are to play along with the naive realism of scientific materialism, then we would find it might produce an explanation for this phenomena.
Perhaps this ephemeral ‘nature’ biologically produces homosexuals and trans for a very specific reason. Historically, I am not prepared to guess what that reason might have been, but here and now it should seem pretty obvious. There are now 7.5 billion living human beings, and that number is skyrocketing as child mortality continues to decrease, life spans get longer and parts of the world are developing in ways that accommodate rapid growth. We are multiplying at a staggering exponential rate as a species, so it would make sense for biology to rewire the reproduction drive in order not to self destruct from overpopulation.
That may be true even if scientific materialism is not. I interpret the physical world as a narrative, not a set of rules and defined interactions. And since our narrative includes biology and evolution, they must still be considered, while not being thought of as the full truth.
If you think people are getting strange now, give it another 5 billion people. By then the ‘abominations’ of today will be tame compared to what happens to humans when we are no longer just genetic xerox machines. You are already seeing this as people identify as animals, anime characters, objects, etc. or have profound personal relationships with such things. By the end of the century there will be people who have had fourteen dicks surgically attached to them which they use only to rub up on giant silk shark puppets. And that will be pretty normal.
As far as choice goes, you have to be pretty brave still to come out as trans. That requires the kind of decision making most people could not even begin to comprehend. Non-normality is always the least easy choice, not just to make, but to have to make at all. And I am pretty burnt out on ‘normalcy’ myself, so I can begin to understand the sort of mentality in which trans start to use terms like ‘cis’ as a derogatory term for people who choose to live a standard issue life. If for no other reason that it fosters the courage to make a choice to be one of the evolutionary vanguard.
We are not just the sum of our genes or bodies or brain. Our consciousness must be larger than the physical reality it is required to encompass in order to do so. As such, variation in humanity is not just inevitable, it is the norm. Trans represent a future in which humanity learns to view itself outside of the narrow filter of scientific materialism, which is why they make most people uncomfortable. Fear of the unknown. Trans are one of many signs that the near future is so relatively exotic that most people cannot even comprehend it. This is evidenced by the ironic fact both supporters and critics use the same metaphysical rationale to justify their opposing views.
Wherever bigotry, ignorance and hatred can be found against people, you will also find materialist metaphysics. Narrativism does not just give me a better view of reality, it deconstructs all of the petty thoughts and emotions I have labored under before I realized they were materialist in nature, and I hope it continues doing so for life. Abandoning materialism is not just about understanding our existence better, it is about creating better experiences for ourselves.