In my last essay, “If Gender Identity Isn’t a Religious Belief, Then It’s Really, Really Stupid”, I demonstrated how gender identity, which could be completely respectable as a religious belief, is utterly ridiculous as a secular belief.
One of the things I talked about in that essay is the “What is a woman?” game, and I’ve decided to dive deeper into that topic here because I believe I now have an even better resolution to that game than I settled on in my last essay.
As a reminder, the “What is a woman?” game is simple. After a gender-identity believer says something foolish about gender like “some men have periods” or “some women have penises”, a rational individual will respond with the question “What is a woman?” And the game begins.
Now, with a proof-based concept of gender, the answer is simple: just use the empirical evidence. A woman has certain anatomical characteristics, certain chromosomes, etc. But for a faith-based concept of gender like gender identity, it is far more difficult than first expected, and as a gender-identity believer tries again and again to come up with something that makes sense, they will make their answers more and more convoluted in a vain attempt to make sense of the nonsensical, and that’s what makes the game entertaining. But at the very beginning, a gender-identity believer’s first answer is likely to be:
“A woman is someone who identifies as a woman.”
Now the obvious response from the rational person is that that definition is circular, forcing the gender-identity believer to scramble to come up with a definition that doesn’t involve a logical fallacy, and the game goes on and on.
But I’m going to stop here because after thinking about it more, I actually don’t think that definition is intentionally circular after all. And, more importantly, I think if you dig into the intention behind that statement, you can really understand what gender-identity believers are claiming, and you can better highlight how foolish gender identity really is.
But first let’s talk about words and the concepts behind words. If a word has no concept behind it, then it’s meaningless. If I write the word “eubl”, does that mean anything to you? Probably not. It probably just looks like a random sequence of letters. But what if I rearrange those same letters a different way: “blue”. Now that is a word you likely have a clear concept for. Perhaps you picture the color of the sky, or the color of the ocean as it stretches into the horizon. Either way, the word “blue” relates to a concept in your mind, which makes it meaningful. Yet just because a word is meaningful to you, doesn’t mean it is useful in communication with others. In order to communicate with a word, the concept you have for that word should match the concept others have for that word as well. Let’s take the word “blue” again. In a perfect world, when you said “blue”, everyone would know what you meant. But imagine a parent was sadistic and purposefully taught their child that the word “blue” applied to the color of an orange. Now when you say “blue”, that child would picture something completely different than what you meant, and confusion would result.
This is what is happening today with the word “gender” and by extension with the words “man” and “woman”. There are two separate concepts people are tying to these words, resulting in both confusion and foolishness. I’m going to dive deeper into these two different concepts for the word “gender”, but first I want to return to that enlightening game “What is a woman?”
When a gender-identity believer says “A woman is someone who identifies as a woman”, there are two ways that could not be circular. To examine the first way, let’s jump away from real genders like man and woman and instead focus on made-up genders like non-binary or pangender. Now, let’s try that definition again, using non-binary instead of woman:
“A non-binary is someone who identifies as non-binary.”
Once again, at first glance, this appears like circular reasoning, but I would argue that it’s actually saying something that isn’t circular. What it’s saying is that the only characteristic that the word “non-binary” indicates is that that person identifies as “non-binary”. In other words, it’s saying that the word is meaningless. Think about it. What do you actually know about someone who says they are non-binary? Nothing. You know they call themselves non-binary, and that’s it. They might as well call themselves pangender, or genderqueer, or any other made-up gender. In every case, the word is meaningless and tells you nothing except that they have chosen to identify as a made-up word.
Now, a gender-identity believer might say, “No, non-binary means this or this” or they might say “No, pangender means this or this”. To which I respond: “Don’t be ridiculous. Who made you the gender-identity police?” Gender identity is faith-based. Someone tells you what their gender identity is, and you’re required to believe them. Those are the rules, right? That means you could have the manliest of manly lumberjacks who wears nothing but flannel and does nothing but cut down trees and watch football all day, and he could say he’s non-binary and there’s nothing you can do about it. The word is meaningless. “A non-binary is someone who identifies as non-binary.” That’s it. There’s nothing more to it. You might as well say your gender identity is dodirdmi or solwooloth. Those words are no less meaningless than non-binary or pangender or any of the other made-up genders.
And this leads to the first non-circular reason for a gender-identity believer to say “A woman is someone who identifies as a woman”: They might be trying to argue that the word “woman” is just as meaningless as the words “non-binary”, “pangender”, or the other made-up genders.
But if this is what they’re trying to say, then they’re clearly wrong because the word “woman” obviously isn’t meaningless. You can see this even amongst gender-identity believers themselves. For example, look at all the fanfare in the progressive media about President-elect Biden’s “all-women communications team”. If the word “woman” is meaningless, then who cares if his proposed communications team is composed entirely of women or not? Would anyone care how many “non-binary” there were in a group compared to how many “pangenders”? Of course not because those words are equally meaningless so they’re interchangeable in a way that “man” and “woman” are not. As another example, look at California’s law that corporate boards must include at least one woman. Or look at the countless articles worrying about pay differences between men and women. Again, if the word “woman” is meaningless, then who cares? But people do care, so clearly there is something behind the word “woman” that everyone, even those who believe in gender identity, recognize.
And this leads me to the second way the statement “A woman is someone who identifies as a woman” can be non-circular: It could be referring to two different concepts for the word “woman”.
In other words:
“A (definition one) woman is someone who identifies as a (definition two) woman.”
This, I think, is the real answer. What’s going on here is there are two different concepts behind the word “gender”, which extends into two different concepts behind the words “man” and “woman”. Let’s call these two concepts real-gender and woke-gender.
The real-gender concept of gender is simple: The word “gender” is just a euphemism for the word “sex”. In other words, people say “gender” because they are embarrassed to say “sex”. Imagine a questionnaire that asks people what their sex is. If enough people fill it out, then you know that eventually someone is going to answer “Yes”, or “Please”, or “Not Enough”. The way to avoid that is to replace “Sex” on the questionnaire with “Gender”, and with real-gender that works fine because the two words are synonyms. Your gender is your sex. Your sex is your gender. And this direct relationship with biological sex makes real-gender completely proof-based. You are the gender you can prove you are. That’s all there is to it.
The woke-gender concept of gender, on the other hand, is based on the belief that gender is something different than sex. Woke-gender claims that gender is a social construct and that your gender is based, not on your biological sex, but on your gender identity, which is what you believe your gender is. There is no proof of gender identity. No way to verify it, and no way to limit it to real genders. You can make up a word and say it is your gender, and no one can tell you you’re wrong. Woke-gender is entirely faith-based. Someone says what gender they are, and everyone is expected to just believe them.
Now, with the competing concepts of real-gender and woke-gender explained, here is the true answer to “What is a woman?” according to a gender-identity believer:
“A woke-gender woman is someone who identifies as a real-gender woman.”
Can’t you see? The concept of “woman” within woke-gender cannot exist without the concept of “woman” within real-gender. It is that concept of “woman” within real-gender that gives that word the something everyone knows is there. And this is why woke-gender is entirely dependent on real-gender. It cannot exist without it. Woke-gender is a parasite of real-gender, and it’s a parasite that is trying to kill its host, which is rather stupid, but that’s gender identity for you.
And with this understanding of the two different concepts for the word “gender”, it should be obvious what concept of gender someone is using when they speak to you. If they say your gender is your biological sex or they say a woman is someone with XX chromosomes, then they’re using real-gender. On the other hand, if they say that gender is a social construct or they say that a man who identifies as a woman is a woman, then they’re using woke-gender.
Which leads us to our final question: If there are two competing concepts for the word “gender”, which concept should be used in a secular society? The answer is simple. Real-gender is proof-based. Woke-gender is faith-based. In a secular society, proof must always be given precedence over faith. Why is evolution taught in public schools instead of creationism? Because proof is given precedence over faith in a secular society. Why is archaeological evidence used to teach ancient American history in public schools instead of the Book of Mormon? Because proof is given precedence over faith in a secular society. And the same goes for gender. Real-gender must be used in a secular society because only real-gender is based on proof, and a secular society must always give precedence to proof.
You have the right to believe in woke-gender if you choose to, just like you have the right to believe in creationism or the Book of Mormon or angels or visions or reincarnation or anything else you choose to believe in. Everyone has that right, and I, for one, openly believe in many faith-based beliefs. But no one, neither you nor I nor anyone else, has the right to impose faith-based beliefs that contradict provable reality onto someone else. That cannot be permitted in a secular society. For secularism to be secularism, proof must always have priority over faith, otherwise secularism effectively becomes just another religion.
And that is ultimately what we are fighting against: a corrupted secularism that has failed to live up to its own name, a secularism that has been so focused on opposing formal religion that it has failed to recognize it was acting like a religion itself. That cannot be permitted to happen. If secularism is allowed to act like a religion, then it becomes the de facto state religion and religious freedom for everyone vanishes. We must stand up for the preference of proof over faith within a secular society because without that, we have no freedom to believe.
• If Gender Identity Isn't a Religious Belief, Then It's Really, Really Stupid
• A Non-Religious Theocracy
topic: gender identity