FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump’s Gender “Science” is Reductive, Mean and Wrong

Photo Source Kevin Dooley | CC BY 2.0

Trump is having a problem with sex, and it’s not exactly what you might think. There are no Russian tapes, spankings with magazines, or confessions of grabbing anyone this time around.

Specifically, it’s a problem with sex and gender.

Sex and gender aren’t the same thing, though many people mistake them for being synonymous.

I was mistaken too, until I began studying social science. I was born with two X chromosomes and all of the body parts that come with them. So I was assigned female (my sex) at birth and I was raised as a girl (my gender). Since my sex (assigned on account of chromosomes, body parts, and hormones) and my gender (all of the non-biological components of what makes you a man or a woman) matched, the two felt synonymous.

Nothing about my chromosomes or genitalia created a biological need to do the behavior associated with my gender: playing with dolls, wearing dresses, polishing my nails. But, as I was taught as a child that girls do those things, they felt right.

Social scientists say that gender is something you do, not something you are. We also talk about something called the “gender binary.” This is the false yet pervasive belief that there are two, and only two, sexes and genders.

It’s a lot more complicated than that, and not just when it comes to gender. Did you know that being intersex — having ambiguous sex characteristics — is actually as common as having red hair?

I’ve always loved being a girl. But not everyone’s sex assignments and gender assignments match. A transgender person is someone whose gender differs from the sex they were assigned at birth. A non-binary or genderqueer person may not identify as either gender.

I’ve never personally experienced what it feels like to be treated as the gender I’m not. That’s my good fortune. Trans people describe the experience as incredibly painful. Trans man Trystan Reese described it as a matter of life or death: If he couldn’t live as a man, he couldn’t go on living.

Yet Trump is now looking to define gender as the sex assigned as birth, supposedly because that’s “grounded in science.” No it bloody well isn’t, and I say that as a scientist.

Here’s what is grounded in science: Unless this country stops discriminating against transgender people and starts protecting them, more transgender people will die.

Four in ten transgender people attempt suicide. The list of reasons includes bullying, rejection by friends and family, violence, discrimination, and more.

Trump’s move — if he makes it — will serve to erase the civil rights of 1.4 million transgender Americans. An already vulnerable population will needlessly suffer more.

On the other hand, research shows that transgender people who are supported in their transition — that is, allowed to live openly and authentically as themselves, without harassment, violence, or bullying — have better mental health, life satisfaction, and even job satisfaction.

That shouldn’t be surprising: It’s true of all people. Why would the government want to do the exact opposite?

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 24, 2019
Jim Kavanagh
Eve of Destruction: Iran Strikes Back
Nino Pagliccia
Sorting Out Reality From Fiction About Venezuela
Jeff Sher
Pickin’ and Choosin’ the Winners and Losers of Climate Change
Howard Lisnoff
“Bomb, Bomb, Bomb Iran”
Robert Fisk
The West’s Disgraceful Silence on the Death of Morsi
Dean Baker
The Old Japan Disaster Horror Story
David Mattson
The Gallatin Forest Partnership and the Tyranny of Ego
George Wuerthner
How Mountain Bikes Threaten Wilderness
Christopher Ketcham
The Journalist as Hemorrhoid
Manuel E. Yepe
Yankee Worship of Bombings and Endless Wars
Mel Gurtov
Iran—Who and Where is The Threat?
Wim Laven
Revisiting Morality in the Age of Dishonesty
Thomas Knapp
Facebook’s Libra Isn’t a “Cryptocurrency”
Weekend Edition
June 21, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Brett Wilkins
A Brief History of US Concentration Camps
Rob Urie
Race, Identity and the Political Economy of Hate
Rev. William Alberts
America’s Respectable War Criminals
Paul Street
“So Happy”: The Trump “Boom,” the Nation’s Despair, and the Decline of Joe Biden
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Ask Your Local Death Squad
Dr. Vandana Shiva
Fake Food, Fake Meat: Big Food’s Desperate Attempt to Further the Industrialisation of Food
Eric Draitser
The Art of Trade War: Is Trump Winning His Trade War against China?
Melvin Goodman
Trump’s Russian Problem
Jonathan Cook
Forget Trump’s Deal of the Century: Israel Was Always on Course to Annexation
Andrew Levine
The Biden Question
Stanley L. Cohen
From Tel Aviv to Tallahassee
Robert Hunziker
Permafrost Collapses 70 Years Early
Kenn Orphan
Normalizing Atrocity
Ajamu Baraka
No Dare Call It Austerity
Ron Jacobs
The Redemptive Essence of History
David Rosen
Is Socialism Possible in America?
Dave Lindorff
The US as Rogue Nation Number 1
Joseph Natoli
The Mad King in His Time
David Thorstad
Why I’m Skipping Stonewall 50
Michael Welton
Native People: Changing Our Ways of Seeing
Peter Bolton
The US-UK “Special Relationship” is a Farce
Ramzy Baroud
‘World Refugee Day’: Palestinians Keep Their Right of Return Alive Through Hope, Resistance
Louis Proyect
The Douma Gas Attack: What’s the Evidence It was a False Flag?
Binoy Kampmark
Nigel Farage’s Grand Tour of Sabotage
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Sanctions are Sadistic and Spiteful
Norman Solomon
Clueless and Shameless: Joe Biden, Staggering Frontrunner
Tom Clifford
Hong Kong is Far From China’s Biggest Problem
Lawrence Davidson
On the Alleged “Preciousness of Life”
Mel Gurtov
Impeach Trump
Rajan Menon
America’s Suicide Epidemic: It’s Hitting Trump’s Base Hard
Dan Bacher
Oregon Governor Kate Brown Signs Five-Year Fracking Ban Bill
Ralph Nader
Congressional Interns and Congress Redirections—A Meeting
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail