Identity

onewayOur pluralistic society allows far more freedom than societies that insisted on one religious “truth.” Of course, theocratic societies built strength by isolating themselves from other societies that had “truths” that conflicted with their own. If the one “true” religion of our society is challenged by another society’s “one true religion,” that other society must be teaching “lies” and so has to be evil since it’s going against the “truth.”

Once mankind got it into our collective heads that everyone doesn’t have to believe the same thing, religious wars went the way of the Dodo Bird. Today, we disagree about everything. We have a secular society but a sizeable minority resists secularism with everything they have.

scivspseudosci3Science (with a capital S) has a number of dogmas. Of course, before something can become an accepted dogma, it has to go through a rigorous process of truth testing including peer testing of theories. But there does seem to be an official set of “truths” which are opposed on scientific grounds. There is such a thing as pseudoscience. Fake science (no relation to fake news, Donald) hasn’t followed the proper procedures or hasn’t been peer tested.

Since epistemology is a great interest of mine, I am interested in separating the wheat from the chaff as it were. I’m not convinced all accepted science is really as pure and rigorous as it is supposed to be. Politics have a way of infiltrating pure science where desires and agendas are sometimes too keen on running things for my taste nor for the purity of science.

Case in Point — Transgenderism

A growing number of people, particularly children, are claiming to be a different gender from the gender of their bodies. There is such a thing as a female brain and a male brain they allege.

Gender Identity

For an elaborate surprise, this speech tells us there actually is a difference in male and female brains. But the speaker denies the claim that gender is a social construct. davidreimerPersonally, I have found it difficult to relate to those who say they are a certain gender born in the wrong body because I have never had a strong sense of being either gender. I knew I was a girl because I was told that people with my kind of bodies were girls. It’s hard to fathom how anyone can “feel” like a girl or boy aside from just the knowing what their bodies tell us. But apparently there are a number of people who really feel a gender identity independently of what they have been told or what their bodies look like. One example is the case of David Reimer, a boy whose circumcision was botched so badly that the doctors thought it would be better to remove all remaining male genitalia and raise the baby as a girl. In those days, they thought babies were blank slates to convincing this boy that he was a girl would be easy. Instead, he rebelled against this feminine identity from Day One.

“It was shortly after the Reimers’ return from Baltimore, and not long before the twins’ second birthday, when Janet first put Brenda (David) in a dress. It was a special dress that Janet had sewn herself, using the white satin from her own wedding gown. ‘It was pretty and lacy,’ Janet recalls. ‘She was ripping at it, trying to tear it off. I remember thinking, Oh my God, she knows she’s a boy and doesn’t want girls’ clothing.'”

Another example, Pidgeon (see above), was an intersex kid who felt the doctors who had routinely chosen a gender for him had made the wrong choice. And, lastly, Jazz Jennings who, of course, was a textbook case of gender dysphoria. This boy insisted from the age of two that he was a girl. (S)he eventually (with the help of doctors) persuaded the parents to raise hir as a girl. The doctors diagnosed Jazz as “transgender.” Jazz is the author of several books and has starred in a reality show on TLC documenting hir development living as a girl and getting puberty blockers and eventually hormones and surgery.

jazzThe striking thing about Jazz is her extraordinary social poise. She always says just the right thing and is so smooth, she is almost like a corporate creation. For example, the high rate of suicides among trannies is caused by they’re not getting love and acceptance. We see her at one of those instant dating things, she gets the boy she wanted, tells him she’s transsexual and he doesn’t bat an eyelash. Times change, for sure.

I’ve seen a lot of Jazz videos where she goes over her history, always starting with the fact that she declared herself a girl as soon as she knew there were genders. I guess we all organize our memories in ways that validate our identity.


genderfluidWhile I marvel at those who had a strong attachment to a gender as children, another trend (which seems to contradict the above attachment) is emerging called gender fluidity. I would imagine a sense of gender fluidity would be closer to my way of just accepting a gender because it matches my body and everyone told me I’m a girl. I could just as easily “known” I was a boy if I had a penis and everyone said I was a boy. In other words, my knowledge of gender was entirely based on external clues, not internal signals or sense of identity. Isn’t that the same as “gender fluidity?” Maybe the new “gender fluidity” is as much an identity as the claim that one’s in the wrong body because it’s the wrong sex for hir real gender. Maybe a “gender fluid” kid would refuse both the “he” and the “she” pronoun. That is certainly not the indifference that is my experience. Perhaps they are just altering the meaning of the noun, gender. I do think the meaning of the word be kept fluid. If boys could accept the fact that the male experience can include things previously only consigned to the realm of female, perhaps fewer would feel the need to change to the other gender.


Cluster B

beesI belong to an impressive number of Facebook groups dealing with Cluster B Personality “Disorders.” Here are a few of them:

I’ll bet there aren’t a bunch of groups for people in Clusters A and C. We Bees are pretty aspdnotmonsterbig on identity, especially the narcs, of course. What does it mean to be a psychopath? For starters, the American Psychiatric Association made a huge assault on our identity by replacing psychopathy or psychopathic Personality Disorder with Antisocial Personality Disorder. There was more changed than the name. ASPD has a lot more to do with behavior than psychopathy which is really a way of seeing the world beyond any specific behavior. So what is a psychopath? The concept used to lurk in the Not Otherwise Specified label in DMV-4. NOS was eliminated in DMV-5. Psychopathy still exists in the prison system. Parole boards seem fond of Hare’s checklist and use it to make sure psychopaths don’t get paroled. To them, it’s a way to know someone is more likely to re-offend.

MRI-Machine-6The PCL-R is still the state of the arts method of diagnosing a psychopath. But MRI brain scans have detected different wiring in the brains of psychopaths. Can someone be diagnosed as a psychopath by a brain scan? Chris Chambers says no. This is bad news for Tina Taylor, publisher of The Psychopathic Times. It’s her pet theory that society can remove psychopaths from politics by subjecting every would-be candidate to an MRI. Then there is the confusion about what is a psychopath and what is a sociopath. The popular answer is that psychopaths are born while sociopaths are made that way by their environment. I used to think I could tell if I was a psychopath or a sociopath by getting a brain scan. I guess it’s more complicated than than. And who’s to say a sociopath’s brain won’t develop the same appearance as that of a psychopath. Science doesn’t even have consensus on what the difference is, if any. Some use the two terms interchangeably.

We have a lot of self-identified psychopaths on Facebook, other forums, the blogosphere and Quora. Some are diagnosed. Many are not. The question of a psychopath’s identity being questioned has been covered in my blog post, FAKE. But people who claim an identity often are impervious to skepticism of others, just as impervious as the identity of transgender in their confidence that despite the shape of their bodies, they are what they “feel” they are inside. And so we have to accept the enormous extent with which identities are assigned and defined by society.

5 thoughts on “Identity

  1. I have no clue how someone can feel in some fundamental way that they are or are not in the correctly gendered body, any more than I know how people happen to be firmly straight or gay from an early age. What I do know from the self reports of some Trans folks is that getting into the right physical form is, for them, a huge relief. Part of that may have to do with the fact that the physical transformation has only recently, in historical terms, become possible, although there have been cross-dressers living as the other gender for a very long time.

    Identity cannot, I think, be other than a social construct because it is all tied up in how we relate with others and they with us.

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    1. An unknown number have “detransitioned” back to original gender but they are ruthlessly silenced by the movement which is like it’s on steroids. I’ve been in many movements but the suddenness with which this transgender thing has gotten so much power is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. And they are authoritarian. The tranny gets to decide what pronoun to use but everyone else has to use that pronoun. It’s in legal black and white in the schools, the military, the workplace…

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      1. My curmudgeonly curiosity wonders about the profit margin of the transition process given the involvement of the sometimes notoriously profitable plastic surgeons. Add to that the intensity of “identity politics”. I’ve also encountered complaints by people who identify as Bisexual and/or Fluid of discrimination in both the Straight and LGBTQ communities with demands that they make up their minds and are trying to have their cake and eat it too. We are afflicted by a plague of Black-and-White, mutually exclusive choices thinking in many areas, and the influence of the loudest and most strident voices.

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  2. It is fabulously expensive. Now little children are being diagnosed as “transsexual” and started on a treadmill of years of treatment. First, shrinks have to monitor years of their living like the desired gender. The school personnel have to use the pronoun of choice. Even the other kids are forced to use those pronouns. They can actually be suspended if they don’t comply. Gays have always looked askance at bis. This recent trend of trying to force all these ways of identifying into one movement, LBGTQ. And there are so many ways of being bisexual. Straights can dabble in same-sex relationships but really be straight. I think gays and lesbians resent what they see as a lack of commitment to their lifestyle. We’ve come a long way, Baby. But I kind of miss the good old days when gays and lesbians shared the same bars and there seemed to be a lot more brotherhood/sisterhood around then. Homosexuality was actually illegal then.

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