Kids and gender — we have to (be able to) talk about it – The Boston Globe

Anthropologists and archaeologists have taught me that every culture we know of has gender — which I define as ideas about how women and men should behave — in some form or another, even if they make room for individuals who don’t conform to those standards. Gender is hardly a Western creation. Rufo also notes that many kids are learning that sex as well as gender is a spectrum, or that everyone has a gender identity — that is, a gendered soul, independent of the body. Such ideas are taught and are rippling through mainstream publications as unassailable truths.

Plenty of feminists and liberals, and some trans people who acknowledge their biological sex, object to this belief system and find these claims about sex dubious but are rightly afraid to say so. They fear losing their jobs, friends, or livelihoods, being censured by colleagues or censored by social media. I believe people should be armed with the knowledge and courage to question and push back — effectively and respectfully — on these notions. Questioning and pushing back should be standard practice in a democracy and an acceptable approach for both liberals and conservatives.

Rufo writes that gender ideology advances the notion that “sex and gender are socially constructed — that is, they are human inventions used as instruments of power, rather than features of objective reality.” Of course sex is not socially constructed; biological sex is real and, in humans, dimorphic. But after that point, I diverge from Rufo. While some male-typical and female-typical behavior has biological roots, much of gender as I and other feminists define it — culturally based expectations of how men and women should behave — is socially constructed. And gender can indeed be used as an instrument of power.

Gender identity ideology embraces the very gender stereotypes that feminists and others on the left spent decades dismantling in order to advance women’s rights. These days, in an attempt to be inclusive, some adults assume that a girl who wears her hair short and plays baseball or has other typically masculine interests may identify as or actually want to be a boy, as I know from personal experience. We hear tales of young boys who wanted pink, sparkly dresses and felt at an early age that they were girls.

We have taken social transition, a treatment for extreme gender dysphoria, and rejiggered it for the larger population, telling children that “boy” and “girl” are constructed social categories, not biological ones. We have redefined gender to be a fixed feeling inside someone — rather than a repressive idea imposed on them.

I want liberals to help spread this message: There is no one right way to be a boy or a girl — and these are fundamentally biological, not social, categories of humans. It’s important for scientific and medical reasons to recognize sex differences. You can be as masculine or feminine as you want to be or naturally are. There is nothing wrong with your body if you behave more like members of the opposite sex than your own — and there are many ways to treat gender dysphoria if you feel that way. There is nothing wrong with same-sex attraction.

Source: Kids and gender — we have to (be able to) talk about it – The Boston Globe

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