I reject both gender fundamentalism and gender anarchism

Transgender individuals make up less than 1% of the population but they’ve been inspiring a lot of fear and anger.

In my view that’s the result of inappropriately conflating gender and genotype.

Gender fundamentalists insist that genotype (chromosomes) and gender (identity) are ALWAYS the same. They believe that this justifies excluding both trans women and trans men from women only spaces. They adamantly oppose the inclusion of trans woman Lia Thomas from women’s sports and adamantly oppose the use of gender neutral language such as “birthing person.” They are often derided as TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists).

Gender fundamentalists are biological essentialists and they assert that respecting the gender identity of trans individuals is profoundly disrespectful of women.

Gender anarchists, on the other hand, insist that genotype is ALWAYS irrelevant; the ONLY thing that matters is gender identity. They believe that merely declaring that you are a woman is all that is necessary to merit inclusion in women only spaces. They imagine that inclusivity is the highest moral value and that the best way to adjudicate between competing desires of any two groups is to give priority to those who experience the most prejudice. They favor the replacement of “breastfeeding” with the inaccurate term “chestfeeding” and insist that “some women have penises.”

Gender anarchists ignore biology, believing that the destruction of biological categories will lead to a more enlightened future. They view anyone who opposes the destruction of biological categories as blighted by irredeemable prejudice.

Over the past year or so I’ve been trying to articulate a third, centrist view of gender and biology and the relationship between the two. The fact that I’m being pilloried by both the gender fundamentalists and the gender anarchists suggests that I am heading in the right direction.

The key tenets of gender centrism are these:

– Gender identity can differ from genotype.
– Gender identity is ALWAYS deserving of respect.
– Genotype STILL matters — and is often dispositive — when considering who should be included in women only spaces.

What does gender centrism mean in practice?

1. Individual respect – each person is entitled to the pronouns of his or her choice. When provide medical care to an individual, he or she is entitled to the use of their preferred terms, e.g. “chestfeeding.”

2. Genotypic males who have transitioned should be able to compete in sports as women, but ONLY against other genotypic men. Anything else will destroy women’s sports. Therefore Lia Thomas should never have been allowed to compete in women’s swimming.

3. Medical language should reflect genotype, NOT gender identity. There are no birthing persons; only women give birth. There are no “persons” with endometriosis; only women suffer from endometriosis.

Gender centrism is a nuanced position, especially as compared to gender fundamentalism and gender anarchism. The fear and anger swirling around issues of transgenderism are inimical to nuance. That’s why my position has angered so many on both sides of the issue. But that doesn’t make a nuanced position wrong.

Trans women are real women and trans men are real men; they merit respect. But genotypic women ALSO merit respect and that that often means genotypic-women only spaces and genotypic-women only language.

Gender identity is real but so is genotype. Gender centrism means that respecting gender identity does NOT necessitate ignoring genotype.