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Marginalizing Nature

The Journal of Medical Ethics recently had a paper with the title “Transwomen in elite sport: scientific and ethical considerations.” Interestingly, my computer, which underlines in red words that I misspell, did not do so when I entered transwomen, which I suppose means that the word is as bona fide a word of the English language as, say, goldfinch or skylark.

Of course, the flexibility and adaptability of the English language is one of its glories. The ethical (and no doubt soon to be legal) problems referred to in the title of this paper arise when men who have had themselves changed into simulacra of women compete in women’s sport and benefit from residual male strength, such that they are able to win matches or tournaments in an unfair fashion.

The problem of the definition of womanhood in sport is not entirely new. I remember from my youth the problem of the Press sisters, the champion Soviet women athletes who won Olympic medals but were strongly suspected of not being women at all. To win medals at the Olympics and other world championships was regarded at the time as evidence of the superiority of one ideological system over another, surely one of the most fatuous notions ever to strike Mankind; but so it was, and totalitarian regimes were particularly ruthless and unscrupulous in the production of champions at all costs. In the days preceding the Moscow Olympics in 1980, the now-defunct magazine, Punch, ran a cartoon showing the sex-test of an athlete in Moscow. An inspector is looking at a female athlete trying to change a tractor-tire. “You’re not a woman,” he says. “A real woman would have changed that tire by now.” Such a joke would now probably arouse protests worldwide, because people so enjoy their outrage.

The problem alluded to in this paper is, of course, the consequence of a fiction, namely that a man who claims to have changed sex actually has changed sex, and is now what used to be called the opposite sex. But when a man who claims to have become a woman competes in women’s athletic competitions, he often retains an advantage derived from the sex of his birth. Women competitors complain that this is unfair, and it is difficult not to agree with them.

When it deals with the science of the question—for example, the effect of testosterone levels on athletic performance—the paper is measured and fair. But as soon as it comes to purely ethical problems, the authors give the impression of being frightened of being declared heretics by an unseen but clearly present Inquisition. They begin to write in a new langue de bois, that special kind of language utilised in totalitarian dictatorships (we seem to live increasingly in a world of various micro-totalitarianisms). It ends:

We conclude that it is important to both extend and celebrate diversity, while maintaining fairness for cis-women in sport. To be simultaneously inclusive and fair at the elite level the male/female binary must be discarded in favour of a more nuanced approach. We conclude that the gender binary in sport has perhaps had its day.

Man being both a problem-creating and solving creature, there is, of course, a very simple way to resolve this situation: namely that men who change to simulacra of women should compete, if they must, with others who have done the same. The demand that they should suffer no consequences that they neither like nor want from the choices they have made is an unreasonable one, as unreasonable as it would be for me to demand that people should listen to me playing the piano though I have no musical ability. Thomas Sowell has drawn attention to the intellectual absurdity and deleterious practical consequences of the modern search for what he calls “cosmic justice.”

The new Prometheanism, that we cannot accept any limits that nature imposes on us, is a manifestation of an inflamed egotism which remembers only the first half of the paired lines of Alexander Pope’s brilliantly compressed summary of the human condition in his Essay on Man:

Created half to rise, and half to fall;

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:

The Glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

We increasingly think that we live in an existential supermarket in which we pick from the shelf of limitless possibilities whatever we want to be. We forget that limitation is not incompatible with infinity; for example, that our language has a grammar that excludes certain forms of words, without in any way limiting the infinite number of meanings that we can express. Indeed, such limitation is a precondition of our freedom, for otherwise nothing that we said would be comprehensible to anybody else.

What one sees in the paper is the way in which, increasingly, the marginal in modern thought becomes central and the central marginal. This is the consequence of what Aristotle warned against, namely the investment of words with more precision than they can properly bear. For example, you deny that there are tall or short men in the world because height is on a continuum and there is no cut-off point between tall and not tall. True, there must be a tallest man in the world, but the next tallest man is probably only a fraction of an inch shorter, and in a world of several billion people there are people of every conceivable height between tallest and shortest. Thus there are no tall and short men.

There are various forms of biological intersex, but this does not mean that, in the great majority of cases, the human race is not easily categorised as either male or female. To accept the idea of normality—or, as the paper puts it with characteristically judgmental non-judgmentalism, normativity—is neither to reprehend those who are abnormal, nor to treat them badly. Moreover, tails should not wag dogs, as increasingly we seem to allow them to do, congratulating ourselves thereupon for our unprecedented degree of enlightenment.

Reader Discussion

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on December 05, 2019 at 07:35:47 am

TD says that a man competing as a woman “often” retains the advantage of his birth. When does he not?

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Dan Schnittker
on December 05, 2019 at 09:04:30 am

"The new Prometheanism..."

Perhaps, in some cases, we should refer to it as the New Procrusteanism, albeit with a different appendage chopped off!

Dalrymple is right, of course.
It goes even beyond trans issues and this abuse of the language now affects commercial advertising.
Consider a Kia commercial in which the narrator ends the ad with the comment:
"No matter how you FAMILY" - Family has now become not just a verb but something subject to the whims of the distorted imagination of the "woke."
One more example: Bayer does a commercial in which the narrator says:
"This is how we SCIENCE" - science as a verb; no doubt an effort to justify the create whims of "climate science" and its rather suspect processes.

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gabe
on December 05, 2019 at 10:06:42 am

Excellent of you to notice and bitch about the abuse of language. The conversion of nouns to verbs is one of the more noticeable examples because to any literate person it has the sound of fingernails on a chalkboard. There are numerous other examples, most much more subtle.

For a decade or so I thought the practice simply another element of the dumbing down of the culture, a verbal version of the notion that designer jeans with holes are stylish. Then I began to notice that the major media were more frequent verbal transgressors than Madison Avenue. But I attributed that to educational deficiency: they are, after all, mere journalists whose college years were wasted. Then after being subjected to 8 years of Obama's outlandish lies and verbal distortions I came to realize that language abuse was mostly intentional, mostly politically-motivated and mostly culturally-deployed through the media's echo chamber. I came to realize that language abuse was a political weapon and not principally an accidental consequence of wasted minds or the failure to read real books and certainly not due to brain-dead advertisers trying to be creative by being coy.

Now I see that there is a verbal abuse alliance between the forces of Leftist government and the major media and that verbal abuse is their means of distorting history and blurring reality and that it's part of their conspiratorial revolutionary alliance to bring down the culture and remake the society. One must read Orwell to appreciate what is going on. There really is in our culture a Ministry of Truth which deploys the wordsmiths, the actual creators of the daily political assaults on language waged by media and by politicians. The Ministry's existence is masked by pseudonyms, but its harmful verbal output is determined by myriad Wizards of Oz hiding behind academic curtains and masquerading as professors on college campuses across the land.

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Fustigate Plumply
on December 05, 2019 at 13:25:13 pm

I see I am in good company. We heretics must stick together.

You all will be glad to know there are a multitude of passages from the Holy Bible about what happens to people who think they know better than God how to run the Universe. They are a comfort to me.

And I find it interesting that so-called sex-change is entirely reliant on the great false god Modern Science in its guise as Modern Medicine. This Science recognizes no Creator to whom we are all directly equally accountable and no moral order that applies equally to everyone. Liberty is dependent upon both, which is why in a Just society laws are made to protect it.

Those who believe Liberty is a right to do whatever we want are mistaken. It is a combination of Freedom and Independence, meaning the absence of external control plus the exercise of self-control. This sounds easy but it is difficult for adults who haven't been taught these things from a young age to catch on after their bad habits are hardened into vices.

The path out is the Golden Rule, which is a summary of the Laws of God and Nature. Liberty is a part of this equation, the result of exercising the Wisdom & Virtue that is its predictable outcome. It all starts with the individual.

I keep harping on this message because the world is in great need of people who are able to exercise Self-Reliance and Self-Restraint, and people are in great need of a Compass they can rely on. I wish I was one of them.

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Standing Fast
on December 05, 2019 at 13:29:16 pm

"When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.” “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.” “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Lewis Carroll

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OH Anarcho-Capitalist
on December 05, 2019 at 14:06:25 pm

Presumably, as when the 'man competing as a woman' loses to an actual woman. It's probably happened, but in the case of the exception proving the rule--often being an inapt qualifier for the near-certain advantage.

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Forbes
on December 05, 2019 at 14:46:08 pm

Yes. And because the protagonist was in a world where everything was the opposite of the real world, it would be wrong to assume that Humpty had a sensible view of Reality.

If words mean whatever we want them to mean, what would be the purpose of dictionaries? How could we communicate with words?

The best way to confuse people is to redefine words and use them in exactly the same way as the people you are talking to, but really meaning something else.

For example, if you define Liberty to mean Freedom from any kind of control, you come up with a different equation for the Declaration of Independence than if you define Liberty mean Freedom and Independence, meaning Freedom from External Control plus Self-Control, Self-Government, or Self-Reliance & Self-Restraint.

Freedom from any kind of control also means the purpose of government (as explained in the Declaration) suddenly makes no sense. How can it make any sense at all for a government to protect the right of individuals to murder, steal, lie, cheat, etc.?

That's how you tell the Leftist definition of Liberty is Error.

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Standing Fast
on December 05, 2019 at 16:26:09 pm

To:

Standing Fast, OAC and (our new (?) friend) Fusti:

You do not know how satisfying I find all of the above comments. Here I was thinking that it was only my curmudgeonly self that became absotively pissed off at the abusive RE-definition of the language - and all in pursuit of continuing the (not so?) subtle RE-education of the citiznry into the new and, of course, vastly morally superior zeitgeist and political philosophy.
Yet< I find that there are others that have (I dread to use this word) a-"wokened" to the threat.

My Gawd, Edith - even sportscasters have decided to convert nouns to verbs and verbs to nouns. Then again, they are not appreciably more able than are the MSM "content readers."

Thank God, I just invested in new stereo equipment. At least "Night Music" can not be butchered, although, no doubt, we will soon find some "woke" music or literary historian claiming Mozart as a member of the LGBT movement.

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gabe
on December 05, 2019 at 17:06:24 pm

And in line with the above and just for the sheer fun of it, there is this which hints at the genesis of this wokeness( from NRO):

Against ‘Idea Laundering’
By Madeleine Kearns

December 5, 2019 3:48 PM

Peter Boghossian recent had an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal on “idea laundering” in academia. Boghossian, an assistant professor of philosophy at Portland State University — who has a background in scientific skepticism and the Socratic method — describes the hideous cycle of nonsensical jargon, which is now embedded in modern academia.

You’ve almost certainly heard some of the following terms: cisgender, fat shaming, heteronormativity, intersectionality, patriarchy, rape culture and whiteness.

The reason you’ve heard them is that politically engaged academicians have been developing concepts like these for more than 30 years, and all that time they’ve been percolating. Only recently have they begun to emerge in mainstream culture. These academicians accomplish this by passing off their ideas as knowledge; that is, as if these terms describe facts about the world and social reality. And while some of these ideas may contain bits of truth, they aren’t scientific. By and large, they’re the musings of ideologues.

Boghossian describes how non-scientific specialties such as “fat studies” emerge and flourish. It goes something like this: An academic with an ax to grind asserts something like obesity being a social construct (as opposed to a well-established medical problem). The academic backs it up with arguments from authority (the authority having been newly invented e.g. a “fat studies” journal, peer-reviewed by other fatness specialists). This is then passed off as knowledge to eager and well-meaning students.

This is far more than just an irritation. Ideas have consequences, and if we allow pseudo-science to masquerade as science, policymakers could do real harm to real people. In fact, they already are.

I would only add to Ms Kearns comments the following:

In fact, they already are AND that is their INTENT.

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gabe
on December 05, 2019 at 17:16:16 pm

In my collection of old books is one entitled "Grandfather Was Queer."
I heard Mozart was queer.
Was he a Russkie?
Eine Kleine Nacht Musik sounds Russian to me.

And, you rat, if you out me again I'll sic Joe Biden on you.

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Fustigate Plumply
on December 05, 2019 at 18:01:48 pm

Shhh!

don't say anything. I didn't want anyone to know that YOU are actually Bernie Sanders - so Joe is already on the "sic" trail but whatever you do, DON'T extend your index finger anywhere near Sleepy Joe's mouth.
Although the next digit over is undoubtedly more appropriate.

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gabe
on December 05, 2019 at 18:42:32 pm

Thank you for including Madeleine Kearns' piece here. Helps clarify a few things for me. So, does anyone know how to respond when someone accuses you--falsely--of racism, of being inherently racist because you are white, of being privileged because you are white, of being hateful, etc., because you of preferring not to know about other people's private lives, and so forth. I am getting sick of it.

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Standing Fast
on December 05, 2019 at 20:31:51 pm

It's all projection, virtually all of it. The Left's personal attacks accuse others of what they are guilty of.

So the best response is to return the accusation.
You will be right, feel better for standing on the truth, and they will feel their guilt (briefly.)

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Fustigate Plumply
on December 05, 2019 at 23:00:08 pm

Short answer:

1.) Diminish the authority attached to the word "social." When informed that something or another is a "social construct," or necessary for "social justice," or that the world needs "socialism," point out that "social constructs," and "social diseases," and National Socialists, and snooping, censorious "social networks" are bad. The are bad because "social" entities have no inherent virtue, and can be either good or bad depending on their nature and upon the character of those who use social phenomena to pursue particular interests.

2.) Make people explain their use of adjectives. When adjectives are attached to otherwise non-controversial things like justice, e.g. social justice, environmental justice, economic justice, etc., demand to know if the adjective is used because the noun isn't what is commonly understood, (for example "wax fruit" indicates that a wax banana isn't really fruit) or whether the concept is a subsidiary of a superior concept, much as "criminal justice" and "civil justice" are subordinate to more fundamental notions of justice. Refuse to concede that subsidiary forms of something, denominated by non-prioritizing adjectives, can have precedence over the principle from which they are derived; e.g. that environmental justice can supersede justice in general.

3.) Use the process of inventing new terms and concepts to negate their meaning. For example when someone uses the word "heteronormative," Hold up your palm, close your eyes and shake your head dismissively and say "the concept of 'hetero' is a social construct, therefore your point only has validity in the context of your personal lived experience, which I neither share nor recognize as imposing any type of obligation."

4.) Refuse to accept implied priorities. Demand to know if the person to whom you are talking prioritizes abortion rights, for example, over climate change, or wealth inequality, or gun control, or illegal immigration, or trans rights, or gay marriage, or raising the minimum wage. Demand an answer. If they say that they are all important, say "You obviously don't understand the meaning of the word 'priority'? What other words do you use that you don't understand?" If they say abortion is most important, accuse them of not caring about the victims of gun violence or LGBT issues, or polar bears. Shake you head again, this time judgmentally, and say "You must be an awful person."

5.) Use the Inigo Montoya strategy. When someone says they are a "survivor"of something that would not be expected to kill them, (like a mass shooting that occurred several buildings away), or say they don't feel "safe" because they saw a Ben Shapiro poster, or use the word "literally" figuratively, frown disparagingly and say "you keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."

6.) Recognize that it is easier to redefine words that refer to concepts than it is those that refer to facts. For example, the word "woman"has been co-opted to refer to cultural and psychological phenomena, but "female" is an anatomic description. That is why there are male and female electrical connections, and male and female plumbing fixtures. If it goes into something designed to receive it, it's male; if it receives something that designed to go into it, it is female, and this is a physical fact that does not change according to how one feels.

That's the short answer. The long answer is...longer, but deals with the fact that the words that have shifting meaning, like "rape" and "safe" and "violence" and "hate" and"survivor" evoke emotional responses, and the people who redefine them, or expand their meaning, hope to use those emotional responses for what are almost exclusively quests for political power.

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z9z99
on December 06, 2019 at 08:23:15 am

Well, Z gives a great answer below; but I am just a simple fellow and like to keep it simple.
I simply respond, "Why, YES, I am and I rather like being a member of the American race."

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gabe
on December 06, 2019 at 14:55:47 pm

Regarding language, Dalrymple objects that the authors of a paper "begin to write in a new langue de bois, that special kind of language utilised in totalitarian dictatorships...."

Dictatorships speak … French?

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nobody.really
on December 06, 2019 at 15:16:47 pm

At the risk of saying something on-topic:

[W]hen a man who claims to have become a woman competes in women’s athletic competitions, he often retains an advantage derived from the sex of his birth. Women competitors complain that this is unfair, and it is difficult not to agree with them.

Is it?

Let’s start at the beginning: What makes ANYTHING about the rules of sports “fair”? The rules of horseracing seem to favor the short, while the rules of basketball seem to favor the tall. By what standard would anyone judge these rules “fair”—yet judge competition by trans athletes unfair?

In US employment law, we judge fairness based on bona fide occupational qualifications—attributes that actually relate to job performance. Arguably, the ability to pick up a 200-lb body may be relevant to the job of firefighter. If you test job candidates on their ability to pick up 200-lb bodies, you may exclude more women than men. But you would not exclude ONLY women, and you would not exclude ALL women. The social role “woman” would correlate with, but not equal, the bona fide occupational qualification.

In sports, it becomes difficult to identify the bona fide occupational qualifications, because the rules are fundamentally arbitrary. People pick the rules based on what they think would produce a game that would be fun to play, or fun to watch. The rules of baseball, football, and basketball have changed over time to make the games more entertaining. The scoring standards of Olympic sports have grown stricter as athletes have grown better. Etc.

In short, there are not fixed standards in sports. The rules of sports change to suit the desires of the society that plays them.

When it deals with the science of the question—for example, the effect of testosterone levels on athletic performance—the paper is measured and fair….

Man being both a problem-creating and solving creature, there is, of course, a very simple way to resolve this situation: namely that men who change to simulacra of women should compete, if they must, with others who have done the same.

Agreed. And if we agree that people’s athletic abilities correlate with testosterone levels, then we could segregate athletes on the basis of testosterone levels—which would often, BUT NOT ALWAYS, correlated with social gender roles. Problem solved!

To accept the idea of normality—or, as the paper puts it with characteristically judgmental non-judgmentalism, normativity—is neither to reprehend those who are abnormal, nor to treat them badly. Moreover, tails should not wag dogs, as increasingly we seem to allow them to do, congratulating ourselves thereupon for our unprecedented degree of enlightenment.

I agree in principle. But people use words differently. Some people use the word “normality” to evoke a reference to “norms”—a concept that contrasts with “deviance.”

In contrast, I sense Dalrymple is using the term “normality” to refer to prevalence. Thus, given that the US is predominantly populated with white people, I find it normal that democratically elected presidents would tend to be white. But if I were to then state that therefore there should be a PROHIBITION of non-white presidents, because they would not be “normal,” you’d be justified in calling me a bigot.

So I’m happy to agree with Dalrymple that testosterone levels may provide an advantage in sports, that people with the social role “men” tend to have more testosterone than those with the social role “women,” and thus we might expect men to predominate in sports. But that’s a long way from saying anything about prohibitions.

Again, the rules of sports are arbitrary; we can design them to suit our preferences. We regularly segregate athletes between professionals and amateurs, between Class A schools and Class B schools, between Varsity and Junior Varsity, between Free Style Swim and Backstroke, between heavyweight and flyweight, between Formula 1 and stock car. And people don’t seem to get too hung up about whether these arbitrary distinctions are “fair.” So we can choose to segregate on other bases, such as testosterone levels, or not. But let’s not imagine that arbitrary distinctions are somehow unknown to sports.

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nobody.really
on December 06, 2019 at 15:46:02 pm

Surprised no one has quoted Horace on this subject: you may drive Nature out with a pitchfork, but she will keep coming back.

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QET
on December 06, 2019 at 15:56:37 pm

Ah, the usual *clever* wordsmithery from nobody!

Balderdash! How is that for traditional wordsmithery?

Gee, coming from one who so often decries the de facto effects of policy, we now find that such concerns are not proper subject for discourse when it touches upon a favored group. And the effect of such tranny participation is to diminish, if not eliminate opportunity for female athletes - both at the collegiate and athletic level.

Another of the Proggies heroes, Megan Rapinoe, women's soccer equivalent of Colin Kapineck, has repeatedly complained of the lower viewership / interest in women's sports. She is correct - there is far less interest in such sporting events. She is hailed for this, no doubt by the likes of nobody.really. Now comes nobody advancing a policy that would further erode interest in womens sports. Why watch "quasi-men" in skirts trounce women in skirts. If it is of marginal interest with all women participants (which is properly presented as an alternative to male sports) and as such ought to offer some level of interest (Ed. note: I enjoy womens golf far more so than the Senior Golf tour). Yet, now we wish to vitiate even that "alternative" attraction by allowing men, (yes, the absence / removal of a certain appendage does not eliminate maleness) dressed in skirts to participate.

If i want to see men run track, throw a discuss, shoot hoops or hit a friggin golf ball, then I will watch men do so; and I will not watch men in skirts, who presumably are unable to compete against other men, make a mockery of womens sports.

Nobody.really believes the happy horsepuckey he puts on offer. Nobody else does!

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gabe
on December 06, 2019 at 16:18:02 pm

Again, the rules of sports are arbitrary; we can design them to suit our preferences. We regularly segregate athletes between professionals and amateurs, between Class A schools and Class B schools, between Varsity and Junior Varsity, between Free Style Swim and Backstroke, between heavyweight and flyweight, between Formula 1 and stock car. And people don’t seem to get too hung up about whether these arbitrary distinctions are “fair.” So we can choose to segregate on other bases, such as testosterone levels, or not. But let’s not imagine that arbitrary distinctions are somehow unknown to sports.

In what sense are these distinctions/classifications "arbitrary"? You are using that word in its commonly understood sense to mean something like "the product of empowered will alone with no basis in reason." But yet every one of those distinctions can be defended on the basis of a reason. You might believe that that the distinction between men and women in sports is merely "arbitrary" according to your use of that term, and that's fine. You may believe that the reason supporting a particular distinction is not "compelling." Also fine. But it is a non sequitur to argue or imply that therefore the distinction between a man and a woman in terms of athletic capability is equally arbitrary. As to that subject, I found this article balanced and illuminating: https://sportsscientists.com/2019/03/on-transgender-athletes-and-performance-advantages/

Also, normality and deviance are amoral statistical terms as well as moral social/political terms. In the case of physiological men competing in sports against physiological women (gee, I can't recall a case where the reverse has occurred), the moral dimension is implicated because the basic issue is fairness. If you argued (sincerely, with evidence) that non-whites had an innate advantage in the competition for for president over whites, and that therefore they should be restricted or prohibited form competing, you might be wrong, but you would not be a bigot.

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QET
on December 06, 2019 at 16:35:13 pm

Nobody.really: “In short, there are not fixed standards in sports. The rules of sports change to suit the desires of the society that plays them.”

Gabe: “Gee, coming from one who so often decries the de facto effects of policy, we now find that such concerns are not proper subject for discourse….”

Which part of “The rules of sports change to suit the desires of the society that plays them” do you not understand”? I’m explicitly saying that people can alter the rules of sports to achieve whatever effects people value.

Gabe: “[T]he effect of such tranny participation is to diminish, if not eliminate opportunity for female athletes – both at the collegiate and athletic level…”

So you value preserving opportunities for [cis-]female athletes? And you would like to structure the rules of sports to promote that outcome? GREAT! Since those rules are fundamentally arbitrary, we can structure them however we like.

My point is not to argue for or against any specific outcome. My point is that the outcome we pursue is fundamentally arbitrary; it’s a matter of tastes and preferences, not “fairness.”

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nobody.really
on December 06, 2019 at 16:52:53 pm

In what sense are these distinctions/classifications “arbitrary”? You are using that word in its commonly understood sense to mean something like “the product of empowered will alone with no basis in reason.” But yet every one of those distinctions can be defended on the basis of a reason.

Great. I did not mean to suggest that the bases for segregation lacked reason. I mean to say that even with reason, there was no ONE, INDISPUTABLE, CORRECT answer. The choice of how to segregate competing athletes has always been that—a choice.

Here’s a history of the distinctions between the various weight divisions in boxing. I defy you to tell us which of these divisions was the ONE, RIGHT, and TRUE set of divisions, and which are merely collections of UNFAIR deviations from this absolute and unarbitrary truth.

Again, I don’t mean to say that people lacked any reasons for drawing the distinctions where they did. But quite obviously, reasonable people have reached many different conclusions about where to draw the lines.

In sum, it appears that letting trans athletes compete against cis athletes offends some people’s tastes and preferences, but not others. What else is new?

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nobody.really
on December 06, 2019 at 17:23:04 pm

No, your last statement does not follow from the others. That the specific weights assigned to the specific boxing classes have shifted over time and are not universal across all times and all organizations does not demonstrate that the concept of segregating by weight is arbitrary. To use the trans example: if, as has been suggested by some, FTM athletes are eventually required to reduce testosterone levels to X, Y or Z, depending on the time and the sport, that does not demonstrate that the concept of requiring physiological men to positively reduce one of their physiological male attributes in order to allow them to compete as "women" against physiological women is arbitrary.

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QET
on December 06, 2019 at 17:25:41 pm

Of course I meant MTF, not FTM (more of Chappelle's alphabet people). And I should have also said--nor that the concept of outright prohibition of MTFs competing against physiological women is arbitrary.

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QET
on December 06, 2019 at 17:26:34 pm

"... it’s a matter of tastes and preferences, not “fairness.”

Careful now nobody. Such a statement may be used in multitude of contexts. Gee, I don;t want to make a gay wedding cake.
Gee, I don't want to rent to homosexuals.
Gee, I don;t want to have an italian roommate. (In my case, it would be redheaded fat people).

It is all a matter of taste. It is ALL arbitrary.
So why then not simply say, "Guess what boys (real ones that is) and girls (again real ones) these are the arbitrary rules. Only those with a born male may play in male sports and only those born female may play in female games.

So much for arbitrary.

Then again, nobody's conception of the import of rules would allow an old knucklehead such as i to play in the major leagues. I would get 8 strikes or 1 called ball. If i managed to hit it past the pItchers mound, the umpire would be required to wave his hand in a circle indicating that I should circle the bases for my homerun. and of course, i could use a Safeway motorized cart to make my path around the bases that much more enjoyable.

The problem with nobody and his ilk is that they believe, or PURPORT to believe that all social conventions are ARBITRARY - as is biology, theology, philosophy, national borders, cultures, sports and - get this - even MATHEMATICS IS ARBITRARY. (OK, so some accountants believe the last one)

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gabe
on December 06, 2019 at 17:34:13 pm

“In short, there are not fixed standards in sports. The rules of sports change to suit the desires of the society that plays them.”

We are living in an age when there are no fixed acceptable standards for sexual acts and sexual relationships, as evidence by the fact that it is totally acceptable to engage in sexual acts that regardless of the actors or the actors desires, demean the inherent Dignity of our beloved sons and daughters, and yet we , who desire to protect our beloved from such demeaning sexual acts, are being coerced and bullied into condoning the engaging in or affirmation of demeaning sexual acts that we know to be universally physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually harmful and call those demeaning, harmful, sexual acts, good.

Is it any wonder, when human persons desire to reorder themselves according to sexual desire/inclination/orientation, sexually objectifying the human person and denying the essence of being in essence a beloved son or daughter, that such disordered confusion results?

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Nancy
on December 06, 2019 at 17:59:13 pm

Nancy said all that needs said on the matter.

When I was a kid (during America's zenith, the Fifties) this was a free country and sexual deviancy was considered deviant, judged an illness by the society, the medical profession and the Church.)

Neither is now so. The empirical evidence abounds of the devastatingly negative effects of that change.

Anyone who thinks that our Marquis de Sade sexual deviancy is culturally liberating and morally enhancing or that the country has improved since the 50's was not alive then, is a deviant, or is a fool.

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Fustigate Plumply
on December 06, 2019 at 18:54:37 pm

“… it’s a matter of tastes and preferences, not “fairness.”

Careful now nobody. Such a statement may be used in multitude of contexts. Gee, I don’t want to make a gay wedding cake.

Gee, I don’t want to rent to homosexuals.

Gee, I don’t want to have an Italian roommate.

Exactly. But why are you wetting your pants here?

Most forms of discrimination are perfectly legal—and often socially acceptable. If you announce that you don’t want to marry outside of your faith, for example, no court will force you to do otherwise—and many people wouldn’t even blink at this blatant exercise of religious discrimination.

Moreover, prior to the 1964 Civil Rights Act most Americans would bear no legal consequences for engaging in discrimination—including discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin. Since the passage of that act, you would bear no legal consequences for most forms of discrimination. But now there are exception to the general rule.

Why do courts punish some kinds of discrimination but not others? Because legislatures tell them to. Legislatures tell them which categories of things to punish, and which not to punish.

Could legislatures have picked different categories? YES. The proof of this is that they have picked different categories over time. For example, Congress subsequently passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), extending protection to people with disabilities that they did not previously have.

So the fact that the law now punishes certain kinds of discrimination, and not others, reflects legislative tastes and preferences, not some exercise of logic or edict from heaven.

So why then not simply say, “Guess what boys (real ones that is) and girls (again real ones) these are the arbitrary rules. Only those with a born male may play in male sports and only those born female may play in female games.

Indeed, that’s one possible outcome. It’s clearly an outcome that you (and Dalrymple) prefer. And I’m not going to try to dissuade you of your tastes and preferences.

I merely mean to argue that “fairness” ain’t got nothin’ to do with it. You like what you like. But you shouldn’t be surprised that other people like what they like. Other people are just as entitled to have tastes and preferences as you are. Indeed, in a democracy, we should expect—and respect—such differences.

The problem with nobody and his ilk is that they believe, or PURPORT to believe that all social conventions are ARBITRARY – as is biology, theology, philosophy, national borders, cultures, sports and – get this – even MATHEMATICS IS ARBITRARY.

Gabe, go back and read what I said about bona fide occupational qualifications. No, some things are not arbitrary, but rather are tied to recognized objectives. Thus, hand-to-hand combat is not arbitrary; some attributes make a person better at it than others—regardless of anyone’s tastes and preferences. High school wrestling is a sport that’s designed to emulate hand-to-hand combat—but not quite. It imposes a variety of constraints on what a wrestler can do. And those constraints reflect human choices based on human taste and preferences for the kind of sport the choosers wish to create. The people who create the rules for cage wrestling matches have different tastes and preferences, and have created different rules designed to promote their tastes and preferences.

To your credit, gabe, you have argued for certain rules of sports based on an explicit statement about your tastes and preferences. You haven’t tried to avoid responsibility by hiding behind some standard of “fairness.” That’s more than I can say about Dalrymple.

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nobody.really
on December 06, 2019 at 19:09:44 pm

When I was a kid (during America’s zenith, the Fifties) this was a free country and sexual deviancy was considered deviant, judged an illness by the society, the medical profession and the Church.)

You can read a lot about the relationship between sexual deviancy and the Church. But you might not like what you find....

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nobody.really
on December 06, 2019 at 19:16:10 pm

Look, let’s make this simple--

1. What outcome would result from NOT adopting your preferred policy regarding transgendered athletes?

2. What makes this outcome bad other than that it conflicts with your tastes and preferences?

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nobody.really
on December 06, 2019 at 19:20:53 pm

OH, BTW as to arbitrary rules of sport. Not quite what you make of it.

Do you realize that the distance between bases in baseball is structured so that invariably an improperly hit ground ball to the infield will result in a runner being thrown out - and that this is still true after some 160 years of organized baseball and with the noted improvement in physical performance of modern athletes.
The same may be said of the distance between the mound and homeplate. Designed to be on the very edge of a batters performance; and the size of the plate / strike zone also teeters on the edge of human performance.
Look more closely at other sports and you may similar underpinnings for the *arbitrary* rules.

Further when you consider that those rules have been adapted for the lower performance of women (shorter basepaths, shorter mound, etc) one may begin to question just how arbitrary the rules actually are. Added to that is the FACT of greater performance across all spectrums of athletic activity and one may also begin to question the appropriateness of "tranny" participation in sports.

And yes, I do subscribe to a certain notion of "fairness' for sports - why else have rules, even if, in a certain distorted sense, those rules may be deemed "arbitrary."

And why would yoyu want to deprive all those oppressed "womyns" of an opportunity to a) engage in team competition, b)earn a scholarship to college, c) earn an income as a professional athlete and d) experience the sheer joy of athletic competition and (hat tip to Jim McKay) the agony of defeat?

In pursuit of an agenda, we often find ourselves dismissing the rightful concerns of those that we putatively support in other circumstances.

But what is one to expect from those types that believe that everything is an arbitrary social construct - crimminy! even the length of the basepaths.

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gabe
on December 06, 2019 at 21:26:29 pm

Cute but immaterial to the point.

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Fustigate Plumply
on December 07, 2019 at 09:31:16 am

[…] 4. At Law & Liberty, Theodore Dalrymple takes on the ethicists who are confounded by trans lunacy. From the analysis: […]

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A Day of Infamy, A Week of Madness - Non Perele
on December 07, 2019 at 11:09:31 am

"You can read a lot about the relationship between sexual deviancy and the Church. "

One can also read about sexual deviancy and the teaching profession, or barbers or butchers, etc.
As Fusti says, it is still immaterial to the larger point.

Always, with the snappy sophomoric sound bite, that nobody! Am I back in sophomore High School debate class with all these snappy one-liners drawing cheers / snickers from young classmates, most of whom wish to be viewed as members of the "in-crowd."

As always, the spur upon which nobody seeks to embark, obscures more than it illuminates.

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gabe
on December 07, 2019 at 16:11:57 pm

And as to what nobody's latest adventure in *spur* riding* obscures:

1) The fact that the sexual deviancy at issue is homosexual abuse of children.
2) That DOJ figures reveal that clergy of other faiths are equally as likely to have committed similar offenses.
3) That the Proggies, such as nobody, are perfectly willing to highlight the "deviancy" of certain priests, while simultaneously applauding the very same homosexual disposition that is responsible for the deviancy.
4) Again, let us highlight ONLY those whose ox we seek to gore. Ex: The Boy Scouts sued by lefties for the homosexual abuse of children WHILE also being sued and denied access to public facilities / parks, etc for NOT hiring homosexual Scout Leaders.

What logic is this, you may ask.
One that if carried to its conclusion would see the Proggies DEMANDING that the Catholic Church ordain homosexual priests or else lose the right to use public facilities (at a minimum, compelling homosexual participation in Boston's St Patricks day parade and / or compelling Catholic Hospitals to perform abortions (see Canada as of late)).

I would surmise that both the Catholic Church and the Boy Scouts represented something that the Proggies despise and seek to change - traditional values. Consequently, every tool of deciet and mendacity will be deployed against them. It matters not if it is morally consistent - it does possess its' own internal logic, does it not? Whatever stands in our way must be destroyed, or at a minimum altered to suit "our tastes and preferences", (the Proggies that is).

Nobody really will not admit that.
Oops, wait, he did just that above. It is all arbitrary and a simple matter of taste.
Or is it? - just taste and preferences or is it really an effort to redefgine what IS normal. Notice the use of the term "cis"-female. At root, is this not a method of altering the understanding of a female (or male, for that matter). Rather than "female", such an individual is now "adjectizised" into a sub-category of a biological sex and as such must now be viewed as on a par with the type that denies its own biological reality. One is no longer able to determine which of the two is NORMAL.

SHEER BALDERDASH.

nobody really believes this and wishes have eveybody else do the same.

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gabe
on December 07, 2019 at 19:09:55 pm

It is not a matter of preference or taste.

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QET
on December 08, 2019 at 11:18:15 am

Sexual deviancy by priests is very sad. If God has emotions as man has feelings then God must weep at what sexual perversion has done to harm His Church and its mission in creation.

The sexual deviancy in the priesthood is not pedophilia, it's homosexuality, that most-favored special interest group of the secular, aggressively atheistic Democrat Party, that most diabolically populist of America's political factions, the political party of, by and for moral and sexual deviants; that political party which enslaved millions and then killed hundreds of thousands to protect, defend and advance the cause of slavery; that political party which murdered many to obstruct justice for many more, that party which converted sexual deviancy into constitutional right, made America safe for filicide and created capitalism's two most morally-perverse agricultural and financial industries, that of harvesting and that of marketing the organs of prenatal infants.

Yet, that some priests are sexual deviants, that some priests deviate from the Word, indeed, that the Church has always had sexual, moral and theological deviants in its midst, cannot, neither in reason nor in revelation (and these are fully compatible terms,) mean that the Church is deviant or warrants Nobody's or anybody's ridicule.

That Pope Francis is, theologically speaking, also a "deviant," an ideological fool who has harmed the Church by polluting it with political correctness, means that Pope Francis should be impeached for abuse of God's power, not that the Church should be ridiculed or discredited or that the Christian faith demeaned, subverted and neglected.

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Fustigate Plumply
on December 08, 2019 at 15:42:19 pm

This is for everybody:

The Laws of God and Nature are not arbitrary and they apply to everyone. We can argue with them or about them all we want, but in the end they will prevail over us every time. The sex you are born into is governed by those laws and nothing anybody says or does can change that.

The Laws of Man are supposed to be founded in God's laws to be just. They are not supposed to be arbitrary or relative, they are supposed to apply equally to everyone. Mankind is not capable of perfection, so our laws are often arbitrary or relative. This does not mean The Rule of Law is a bad thing. We jut have to understand the just limits of the law and live according to God's Word as best we can.

The Rules of Society are somewhat more elastic because they are more about manners than morals. However, societies that keep replacing long-established customs in favor of no boundaries do eventually destroy themselves. They are not legal laws, but they serve the moral purpose of keeping order.

The Rules of Sports are about recreational activity and therefore can be whatever the people who play them want them to be. In organized sports rules are set down so people can play fair, but they are not a good example for this discussion about Transgender issues.

So, it all depends upon what level of rules we are talking about whether they are absolute or relative.

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Standing Fast
on December 09, 2019 at 07:38:04 am

An excellent article regarding this issue:

https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2019/12/58839/

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Nancy
on December 09, 2019 at 17:01:36 pm

It is not a matter of preference or taste.

Glad to hear it. Care to offer anything in support of your assertion?

For example, arguably one reason we segregate athletes in contact sports is to prevent smaller athletes from getting hurt by larger ones, or stronger ones. This seems like a sound basis to segregate athletes by SIZE. Segregating by gender may have provided some approximation of this outcome. But if we care about avoiding harm to smaller athletes, why not adopt rules designed explicitly to address THAT issue--as we do with boxing and wrestling--rather than relying on some proxy variable such as sex?

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nobody.really
on December 09, 2019 at 17:19:09 pm

The Rules of Sports are about recreational activity and therefore can be whatever the people who play them want them to be. In organized sports rules are set down so people can play fair, but they are not a good example for this discussion about Transgender issues.

Well, the rules of sports help to illustrate SOME aspects of transgender issues.

While you and I may disagree about many things, I fundamentally agree on the merits of distinguishing between the types of issues under discussion. Monty Python's Life of Brian includes a passage in which an apparently male character declares a preference to be addressed as female. And to bear a baby. I think people might draw very different conclusions about the extent to which the Laws of God and Nature govern the first statement vs. the second.

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nobody.really
on December 09, 2019 at 19:21:29 pm

There have always been rare cases in which gender at birth is uncertain and relevant medical specialists can make logical decisions and make evidence-based decisions.
There have always been tomboys and they grow up to be happy women.
The recent astonishing epidemic of children expressing doubts about their gender and the collusion of their parents and uninformed doctors is extremely worrying. Actions taken such as operations and hormonal manipulations are life-changing, dangerous and wrong. There has been a recent epidemic of mass hysteria ; sympathetic support and observation is what the medical profession should do and probably in 20 years this epidemic will have fizzled out and we will have some sort of evidence base.

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Richard
on December 09, 2019 at 19:51:10 pm

QET:
Thank you for the reminder of Horace's quotation. Amusing and apt.

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Standing Fast
on December 09, 2019 at 19:59:29 pm

There is a reason to segregate by sex, but do I really have to explain? Okay. This is it: it is easier for men to compete in women's sports than for women to compete in men's sports. The reason is the male physique is top-heavy and the female physique is not. Pound for pound, men have more muscle mass, women have less.

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Standing Fast
on December 09, 2019 at 20:35:33 pm

There is a reason to segregate by sex, but do I really have to explain? Okay. This is it: it is easier for men to compete in women’s sports than for women to compete in men’s sports. The reason is the male physique is top-heavy and the female physique is not. Pound for pound, men have more muscle mass, women have less.

Ah—men have greater muscle mass than women, and greater muscle mass leads to greater athletic ability. And that’s why every man can beat Serena Williams at tennis or Simone Biles at gymnastics.

Oh wait. That’s obviously false.

So how ‘bout this: Men TEND to have greater muscle mass than women, and muscle mass TENDS to promote athletic achievement. And if that’s something we choose to focus on, then we could segregate athletes by muscle mass—which might exclude most BUT NOT ALL women from the upper levels of many competitions, while including many BUT NOT ALL male athletes. And by focusing on muscle mass, the issue of whether someone is transgendered becomes irrelevant.

Cool by me.

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nobody.really
on December 10, 2019 at 07:46:33 am

Let's stipulate to this for the sake of argument.

What then to say about adults who desire medical intervention for gender reassignment--and physicians who are willing to provide that assistance? Whose perspective should govern adults' lives: their own, or the opinions of strangers?

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nobody.really
on December 10, 2019 at 09:17:39 am

Well, at least nobody admits that children should be left out of this trans-formative process. finally, he acknowledges SOME limitations may be proper.
Now as to opinions of strangers:
Shouldn't one who seeks to undergo this process be made aware of the growing number of folks who now seek to DE-transition.
Shouldn't a MTF be provided with the opinion (actually medical knowledge) that the removal of a male organ and the surgical creation of an artificial vagina creates certain medical problems of its own. It appears that no matter how much one tries to "fool" the body, the MTF's body (understandably) continues to view the new organ as a *wound* and is constantly attempting to *heal* it. This also should be brought to the attention of the MTF. It is not "identity Nirvana" that awaits but rather an endless series of medications (and for some additional surgical intervention).

Perhaps, people should be made aware of this.

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gargamel rules smurfs
on December 10, 2019 at 10:52:40 am

Great, let's have informed consent. But once informed consent is given, then ...?

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nobody.really
on December 10, 2019 at 14:37:01 pm

Great, let’s have informed consent. But once informed consent is given, then …?

You ask a good question, but not all good questions have good answers. Let's stipulate to this for the sake of argument: There are some people whose psychological constellations of perceptions, feelings and affinities are markedly feminine, but whose physical bodies are male. This causes them distress, and this distress would be minimized, or eliminated if they think themselves as a woman, and others treat them as though they were a woman. Let us further stipulate that these people deserve the same respect that any other human is entitled to, and the same rights that they they would have if their subjective identification was congruent with their anatomy. They are not freaks. We may note this immediately: the underlying condition causes distress, and if it is a chronic impairment of the person's psychological health, it is by definition a disorder. If certain surgical interventions and hormonal manipulations serve to restore health, the they may be regarded as treatments for a disorder, but the need need for treatment confirms the nature of the underlying condition as a disorder. We then conclude that, if all trans-gendered people have the same condition, that all have a disorder, and in particular, the same disorder. But this is contrary to experience, but as to a disorder and to the homogeneity of a disorder.

The condition is more varied than is implied by its representation as a single letter in a protean sampling of the alphabet. If there are 72 "genders" there are at least 72 reasons why someone identifies with a specific one, and by extension, we may suspect that there are any number of reasons why someone may identify as trans-gendered or trans-sexual. Some fall into the category above; it is an unavoidable consequence of the diversity of traits that arise from sexual reproduction and interaction with an environment that gives our species adaptability and "fitness," even if it shows up at an extreme of the spectrum. Other people suffer from delusions. They do not "identify" with the opposite sex, they believe they are a member of that sex with an unexplained subsequent alteration. This results from the same spectrum as the Cotard delusion, in which people think they are dead or do not exist. Some people, in fact are trans-gendered when psychotic and non trans-gendered when stable on medicines, and one may conjecture for completeness that the opposite sometimes occurs. Others are "fluid," they enjoy consciously assuming variable sexual identities at various times, and it is the variety that is therapeutic for them. This would be undone by definitive transition, and therefore they seek neither hormonal intervention nor surgery. Still others are anti-social. They claim to be trans-sexual or trans-gendered to observe the reaction that the claim provokes in others or as a way to bully people, or achieve the vast benefits that society now bestows on self-proclaimed victims. The point is that "trans" people are a heterogeneous group, and as such have different problems, different solutions and different interests.

The same fact applies to interventions for people who identify as trans. In some cases, transition surgery is in fact therapeutic for a disorder. In others it is part of a spectrum of body modification that includes disfiguring piercings, tattoos, branding, scarring, and mechanical deformations. There is a class of people who self-treat anxiety and other distressing situations with cutting. Surgical modification of genitalia may occasionally be an extreme form of the same phenomenon. Some people derive sexual pleasure from self-mutilation and even amputation. The point, as above, is that the reasons for seeking genital modification are not uniform, and this vastly complicates your question. We may concede that "transitioning" is sometimes therapeutic and sometimes harmful. We may concede that some people who transition discover that it was a mistake, and that the medical principle of primum non nocere was violated by preconceived notions about the nature of trans phenomena, of which only the most arrogant and deluded of activists will assert we have adequate knowledge. Johns Hopkins got rid of their "reassignment surgery," program because they had enough integrity to admit that they couldn't tell in the best case scenario, if surgery would make things better or worse. It is because of this lack of knowledge that your good question currently has no good answer.

The bottom line is that there is no one model of trans-sexualism or trans-genderism (the fact that there is a distinction between the two should tell us something) that leads to satisfactory policy. And in the current environment, it is significantly more complicated because asking the questions necessary to sort these issues out is considered "trans-phobic."

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z9z99
on December 10, 2019 at 14:39:27 pm

",then...?

Then let adults perform whatever wizardry they desire and are capable of and desist from casting incantations upon those who do not share such appreciation of that wizardry.
Great wizards neither proclaim the depth of their wizardry nor do they require the approval of others for their magic.

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gargamel rules smurfs
on December 10, 2019 at 15:15:53 pm

If that's what they insist on doing, so be it. But taxpayers should not be footing the bill. It is not our business to meddle in people's private lives. Let people who believe in this sort of thing pay for it with their own money.

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Standing Fast
on December 11, 2019 at 15:19:41 pm

https://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2019/12/58498/

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Nancy
on December 20, 2019 at 13:30:46 pm

Fight them back using their own methods - as you say above. Tell them loudly and clearly that gender is a social construct and that the word is "sex" and that there are two of them: male and female. That usually livens things up.

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Steve
on February 07, 2020 at 22:22:33 pm

What will happen by success of the excess -- extreme -- unusual with all the genetic manipulation that abounds is a travisty of competition and a super race. Hitler would be happy! Russia still wants augemented success Let The biochemist begin!

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Bazz

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