The Transgender Dichotomy

What is the difference between sex and gender?

Certain cultural activists have spent the last few years blurring the line, conflating the two, and in general muddying the waters to the point that putative grown-ups are now using -- with a straight face (pardon the pun) -- terms like “birthing people.”

But in truth, sex is inherent, genetic, encoded, chromosomal.  In way more than 99.9% percent of humans, DNA, etc. determines whether one is male or female (obviously there is the occasional hiccup in the process -- that is a fact, that is real, and it should be understood and accepted).

Also, nearly as rarely, the rest of a person can be one sex but, for whatever reason, the brain’s “hardware” does not align -- that is also a fact and should be understood and accepted.

And then we come to gender, which is expression of sex but not sex itself; one’s sex is determined at birth but one’s gender is that plus the brain’s “software” getting involved.

In other words, sex is sex while gender is sex plus brain -- seems pretty simple.

If it were only so.

Much of the current “discussion” on the topic purposefully ignores -- when convenient -- this simple fact in order to gain socio-political traction, if not dominance, making following the logic of certain arguments about as byzantine as navigating the Istanbul sewer system without a map.

For example, the term “gender fluid” is used by many, but when one points out that “fluidity” and “being born this way” are by definition contradictory one can expect a mob of “-ists” to descend ferociously on one’s digital doorstep.

Because while being hip and trendy and really really easy to adhere to, the term "fluid" inherently implies mutability, impermanence.  Fluid flows back and forth, obliterating a key argument in favor of performing unchangeable medical procedures and sanctifying immutable rights.  Gender issues are often portrayed in the light of the race-based civil rights movement, but the claim of fluidity means that comparison cannot apply -- one cannot simply switch from black to white or white to black -- just ask Rachel Dolezal.  (It should be noted that those adult individuals who undergo complete surgical transformation have obviously discarded the notion of fluidity anyway.)

There is also the issue of the brain itself.  It physically changes over time and the thoughts one has running around in it change by the minute.  Therefore, one’s brain “software” -- especially in minors -- it not something that should be relied upon to make permanent physical changes.  If you are old enough, do you remember the clothes you wore in the 1970s?  Now imagine they were permanently affixed to your body like a tattoo.

Of course, everyday choices like what to wear and what to have for dinner are on a different order of magnitude, but to say that current” fashion” has nothing to do with the choices one makes is preposterous.

Still, transgender activists themselves have created another logical paradox by claiming simultaneously that the recent massive increase in the number -- particularly girls -- that identify as trans is purely personal has nothing to do with societal influence but has been proudly caused by society’s growing “acceptance.”  Obviously, nonsense on its face, but it does raise the interesting question: how can the phenomena have both been and absolutely not been impacted by society?

If, in fact, gender is fluid than much of the discussion and debate that has taken place over the past few years is utterly meaningless. So why then all the ruckus?

Power and money.

As to the latter, for years thousands of people fought for gay marriage (and other civil rights before that).  They marched, they wrote op-eds, they lobbied Congress, they funded political campaigns -- and many got paid to do so.  Once the court ruled gay marriage was fine it occurred to them – after the euphoria had drifted away -- that they had successed themselves out of a job.  So how could people and organizations keep the money flowing -- and the trans rights campaign was born.  As the March of Dimes did when polio was cured, many professional gay rights advocates simply pivoted to a new, related cause so as to be able to hang onto their financial and social standing. (This is not to cast aspersions on the March of Dimes, an excellent group that used the socio-economic capital it had built up over the years to fight other childhood maladies.)

As for the power aspect, that is rather self-evident.  The ability to shape government policy, social mores, and entertainment content is rather a heady mix.  Throw in the capacity to be able to destroy anyone who doesn’t agree with you, or ever looked at you sideways, or irked you way back in grade school, or was better at your job than you and you had to get them out of the way to get a promotion by destroying them on social media and one can understand the allure of such a life.

There is also power on a more personal level and people from flashers to murderers have already begun playing the gender card to improve their legal lot in life.  On a less awful but far larger scale, the countless tales of men in dresses crashing into formerly female-only groups and activities -- Lia “Rudder” Thomas of Penn comes to mind -- are not only infuriating actual feminists and disheartening many good old-fashioned lesbians but in fact show the power dynamic at its most basic.  One could call it the zealousness of the converted, but the countless reports of newly-minted women taking over various feminist causes engenders the idea that far too many men did not make the transition because they felt powerless in their own skin but that they thought they could gain power and acceptance and meaning and money and a Teflon shield from any and all criticism by jumping the fence, as it were. 

Mansplaining, indeed.

This gender politics-based dominance brings up numerous at least unattractive and sometimes even violent metaphorical descriptors, but the movement is already starting to eat its own, which is a positive sign that, like a collapsing star, it may be nearing implosion.

From cancellers being cancelled to the distaste an overwhelming number of people feel towards the Khmer Rouge-level of conformity being demanded, the movement has shown its innate implausibility and already sown the seeds of its own eventual downfall.

As gay men are deemed no longer hip enough to be allowed to organize New York pride parades or diverse enough to serve on school board committees in San Francisco of all places, maybe just maybe we’re at least at the beginning of the end.

Thomas Buckley is the former mayor of Lake Elsinore and a former newspaper reporter.  He is currently the operator of a small communications and planning consultancy and can be reached directly at You can read more of his work at:

Image: PublicDomainPictures

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