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  1. #1
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    "Gender has nothing to do with biology/sex"

    I often hear/read the claim made in the title.

    If this claim is true, how do we square that with the definition of "cisgender"?

    "of, relating to, or being a person whose gender identity corresponds with the sex the person had or was identified as having at birth"

    If gender has nothing do with biology/sex, then you can't go on to define "cisgender" has having a relationship with biological sex assignment.

    Discuss

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  3. #2
    ODN Community Regular

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    Re: "Gender has nothing to do with biology/sex"

    I see it more often as a critique claim than an actual claim. But regardless, it certainly originated as a term as a synonym with sex.

    The point they are trying to make though is that they want to be identified by a chosen gender rather than birth assignment and they are trying to make a perception shift that gender is a social construct while sex is a biological construct. I think there is truth to that, though it's not so absolute as to say the one has nothing to do with the other.

    Like a lot of issues, anyone taking extreme positions tends to muddy the waters in a way that is not especially helpful in resolving the underlying conflict.
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  5. #3
    ODN's Crotchety Old Man

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    Re: "Gender has nothing to do with biology/sex"

    I think you hit the nail on the head, Sig. I think it’s not useful to look at it in a myopic way. However, I don’t see a way to look at it, even the way you’re saying, that isn't absurd.

    Also, I appreciate that making the claim is mostly an attempt to distill a complex issue into an easily digestible simplification for the masses. But I can’t help but think that it’s less useful than it is confusing and harmful, especially to anyone asking anyone else to take it seriously. It’s neither myopic nor closed-minded to say "Gender has nothing to do with biology/sex" is not a true statement. It ISN’T true.

    Consider this following claim: “Marijuana is a gateway drug”

    Now, in some loose sense, it IS true that one kind of use can lead to others. In this sense, this claim might have some deterrent effect, but I suspect it’s only persuasive to the already convicted. Often, when people find out that they tried weed and they weren’t instantly hooked on it and performing sex acts for the next hit, they then realized that the person who told them that was full of crap. Now they might be less inclined to trust those people with important issue, and be more willing to take risks, having learned that often these people tell them things as a scare tactic.

    It seems to me that the claim in the title is not unlike that. It certainly isn’t true in any useful, meaningful sense (there would be no such thing as hormone therapy, sex reassignment surgery, etc, if it were true), so the people applying it to themselves certainly aren’t doing themselves any favor. And all it does for people inside the “cisgender” group is add confusion and incredulity towards the claim and the people saying it.

    I’m all for being supportive, but I struggle with doing it in ways I perceive to be harmful. I don’t see that saying things that are plainly untrue is useful to any cause.

  6. #4
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    Re: "Gender has nothing to do with biology/sex"

    I think the claim of the definition of cisgender is sort of a thumbnail explanation to a complex idea. I think it is entirely proper to question whether the simple definition offered is useful or if a higher resolution explanation is required. The answer is that it probably depends. If we are simply offering a normative view of gender and wish to explain a certain type of hierarchy, then it probably is sufficient. If we are using it to describe actual biological conditions or are using it to describe different types of hierarchies which are not specific to the progressive left view, then it is probably insufficient.

    I'll offer two examples
    1) If I am simply describing a power dynamic in society where cisgender is the norm and occupies most of the power in society within a certain structure, say education and I wish to explain education in terms of power (i.e. the subject material is created by the people at the top of the hierarchy), then cisgender probably is a good enough description of the people in power writing the curriculum. Again, this requires that we buy into the premise that this sort of hierarchy exists which is an ideological claim and I am not expressing support nor rebuttal to this sort of claim here.

    2) If I am trying to describe group differences in society along biological sex, then discussing cisgender is probably insufficient to express the relationship between sex, gender, and sexuality. After all, something like 98% of the population falls into what we could call the cisgender category and for something like 95% of the population there is a positive relationship between sex, gender, and sexual preference. So, cisgender would describe damn near everyone and if we are trying to understand why men and woman are different (as an example), then such a low resolution grouping probably has little value unless we are specifically discussing the fringes of biology rather than major patterns.

    Hence, I think without knowing the context it is entirely impossible to understand whether the term is useful.
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