Saturday, November 9, 2019

Brian Giesbrecht: Gender self-identification

The transgender movement advances the cause of a marginalized minority. However, the recent decision by a confused Vancouver City Council to cancel funding for a rape crisis centre, that quite rightly allows only women at its facility, is a sign that the movement has gone too far.

Gender dysphoria is a psychiatric disorder involving an anatomical male who believes that he is actually a female in a man’s body (reverse for women). While the condition affects only about 1/10 of 1% of the population, the condition has received considerable attention in recent years — finding its way into legislation and, even, corporate and institutional policy.

Gender self-identification is different, it involves a widely-accepted right of people to identify with the gender of their choice. The problem comes when a person seeks to compel others to recognize their own gender choice “as fact.” But, just because a man thinks he is a woman doesn’t make him one. Recent legislative attempts to compel others to accept “belief as fact” have provided perverse results.

There are cases of men who have entered women’s sporting competitions, and won. This is very unfair to women participants — most men do better than women in sports involving physical strength. There are cases of men choosing to use a women’s bathroom, where women expect only other women to be present. Such occurrences can be extremely uncomfortable — even dangerous. Women should not be placed in such situations.

A related problem is of men pretending to be gender dysphoric in order to gain access to women-only areas. Besides women’s bathroom and changing rooms, domestic violence shelters and rape crisis centres are other spaces where the unwanted presence of men could easily damage vulnerable women. Clearly, the acceptance of an unrestricted right of gender self-identification often leads to unfairness.

Until recently, those who spoke out about the perverseness of unrestricted gender self-identification tended to be people supposedly associated with right-wing groups or causes. One well-known in Canada and other western countries is Professor Jordan Peterson (the University of Toronto). But, now voices from the supposed left-wing are saying essentially the same thing. Megan Murphy, a self-described radical feminist, speaks out against the wrong-headedness of some of the sample circumstances listed above.

Recently, Ms. Murphy had her Twitter account closed, apparently because she referred to a gender dysphoric man as “he.” Ms. Murphy appeals and denounces Twitter’s unfair decision. She, from the left, and those of right-wing persuasion, can be on the same page on this issue. While the debate is far from over, it seems that the tide may be starting to turn on this issue. Common sense is making a bit of a comeback.

People with gender dysphoria — a medical malady — should be treated with respect and acceptance. They have the right to identify with the sex they wish. But, and given that, the privacy and safety of others should not be sacrificed for the sake of someone’s ideology.

A million years of evolution has led to a world of women with XX chromosomes and men with XY chromosomes. A new social movement — no matter how worthy its original purpose — cannot change that.

Brian Giesbrecht, a retired judge, is a fellow at Frontier Centre for Public Policy. This article was first published HERE.

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