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How the Nonbinary Trend Hurts Those with Real Gender Dysphoria

Within the conversation about transgender rights has emerged a debate about whether nonbinary people should be considered transgender. Over time, concerns about nonbinary rights have begun to dominate this discussion in online spaces and within the community. For those in support of nonbinary rights, the belief that someone must experience gender dysphoria and undergo medical transitioning in order to identify as transgender is seen as exclusionary because it requires a certain bar to be cleared in order for an individual to be part of the community. To question whether nonbinary people are the same as trans people is derisively known as “transmedicalism.”

I believe it’s important to be compassionate, because in many cases, an individual who identifies as nonbinary is communicating that they are experiencing distress and discomfort. In some cases, a person may legitimately be struggling to figure out their gender, and with that comes much introspection and pain. I don’t believe mockery or making fun of nonbinary people will lead to anyone changing their minds, nor does doing so allow for honest dialogue to unfold. My issue is that none of these ideas are backed by science, and that pretending they are only directs the focus away from the underlying issues we should be addressing.

For those who are skeptical, identifying as a third gender may seem to be a fad. Gender has become trendy, and being something other than female or male sounds exotic; a person appears interesting and ahead of the curve. By simply being known as nonbinary or genderqueer, or going by “they/them” pronouns, it immediately conveys to other people that this particular individual is different and to some degree, special, because they are an exception to the rule, which could be expected in young people and especially teenagers.

As more people take on these labels, being nonbinary has become a way to find community, a sense of belonging, and acceptance. It’s not so much about individuality as it is about group membership. In some cases, a person will identify as being a third gender without modifying anything about themselves beyond their clothing and pronouns.

As mentioned, the word “transgender” has expanded to encompass anyone who feels, in any way, different from what would be expected of them, based on their birth sex. This includes gender-atypical and gender-nonconforming people and anyone who feels even mild discomfort about their bodies. The widening of the application of what it means to be transgender means more people will potentially identify this way, thereby inflating its prevalence in the general population. If a larger percentage of people identify as transgender or nonbinary, this offers support for the argument that these identities are real phenomena and discrimination against them is unjust. But we can advocate for this acceptance without socially engineering numbers in favor of it. Doing so only leads to a further lack of clarity for those who will be inappropriately grouped as part of the community.

For the purposes of this text, whenever I refer to the transgender community, I am referring to those with gender dysphoria (who identify more with the opposite sex than their birth sex), who are taking steps to transition to the opposite sex, whether it is socially or medically.

To collapse all of these labels into one haphazard group that includes nonbinary people and transgender people who do not have gender dysphoria, and to then call everyone “trans,” diminishes the suffering of those who experience gender dysphoria, a legitimate condition that is recognized by medicine and science. In contrast to how those who are “genderfluid” describe their gender, gender dysphoria is not a whimsical feeling that comes and goes depending on which direction the winds are blowing that day.

If anything, the concept of gender fluidity calls into question the very idea of being transgender. The concept of gender dysphoria rests on the idea that gender is innate and that the brain of one sex exists in the body of the other. Gender fluidity suggests the very antithesis to this, that one’s internal sense of gender can vary by the hour. If one’s gender can change, why shouldn’t it be malleable to align with a person’s birth sex? The concept of gender fluidity argues against trans adults’ right to transition.

I understand why the nonbinary movement has gained such momentum so quickly, and why it’s being held in such high regard. Other sexual and gender minority groups, including gay and transgender people, have long had people telling them that what they experience isn’t real or that they’re just going through a phase. Part of the push to accept people identifying as nonbinary (and also, children who say they are transgender) stems from the empathy of those who want to correct for mistakes in the past.

Then we have celebrities who are capitalizing on gender’s moment in the sun. If someone has a large public following, and they announce they are nonbinary, it is hard to believe that doing so is anything but a publicity stunt to get people talking about them. Identifying as nonbinary provides social, and literal, currency; and public figures who “come out” as nonbinary obtain adulation and a newfound relevance as every media publication in the world hails them for their courage and strength as a trailblazer.

What I find particularly sad is the number of gay men who have embraced the nonbinary label. When asked in media interviews about how they knew they were nonbinary, many profess a love of being a man, but also wearing makeup and high heels. A few prominent media personalities come to mind here, but they shall remain unnamed. One of the bedrocks of the gay community is drag shows, in which adult men dress up as very feminine women to lip-synch to pop songs promoting female independence and empowerment, all while maintaining an in-your-face sense of humor. It’s unclear why, for these individuals, being a drag queen on their days off wasn’t good enough. In turn, the next generation of young gay men, who look up to them, are identifying as nonbinary instead of gay men.

It’s also worth mentioning that feminine gay men and masculine lesbians, by virtue of being gender-nonconforming, are not trans or nonbinary; they are gender-nonconforming men and women.

Based on poll findings, millennials are almost twice as likely to identify as “LGBTQ” as people in Generation X. Despite this, millennials who are not part of the community were less likely to know someone who identified as “gay” or “lesbian.” This means those who consider themselves to be “LGBTQ” are identifying as something other than lesbian or gay, speaking to the broadening of identity labels used to describe one’s sexual orientation.

One interpretation of these data would be that more people are identifying as part of the community, not out of a true sexual identity, but because it is trendy to do so, or because they believe sexuality is “fluid.” This undermines biological explanations for sexual orientation, which has been a disturbingly growing phenomenon and one I never thought I’d witness. Gay-rights activists fought for the “born-this-way” narrative because it came with greater social acceptance—and not only that, it is scientifically correct. A person’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have to be hardwired (and thereby, nonvolitional) in order to be accepted, but it doesn’t appear that nonbinary activists have thought through the implications of denying biological evidence. If being gay is a choice, it makes it more difficult to advocate against attempts to change it.

Some nonbinary people will say that they don’t like labels such as “gay” or “lesbian” because they are binary terms; attraction to a man or a woman, even in the context of being gay, is still considered attraction to a binary gender. Others have argued that you can be a “nonbinary lesbian,” which doesn’t make sense. In order to be a lesbian, by definition, one needs to be a woman. The whole thing illustrates how ill-conceived these theories pertaining to the gender spectrum are.

 

 

Excerpted from The End of Gender: Debunking the Myths about Sex and Identity in Our Society, by Debra Soh. Copyright © 2020 by Dr. Debra Soh. Reprinted by permission of Threshold Editions, an Imprint of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

 

 

Featured image: Miss Fame speaks during a talk on Gender Fluidity in Fashion & Beauty at London Fashion Week September 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart Wilson/BFC/Getty Images)

Comments

  1. I can’t help feeling that nonbinary could have been so much cooler, if it had been modelled on trailblazers like David Bowie or Boy George. The problem is that the Left’s obsession with the cult of victimhood, the narrative of oppressor versus oppressed (which is in itself horribly divisive), complicates the issue of nonbinary needlessly. What is worse, is that our teaching establishment has allowed concept creep to surround the issue of bullying to the extent that excluding teens who are routinely rude of obnoxious with their peers is now classed as bullying.

    This has supplanted the normal and essential processes of status jostling inherent to establishing a pecking order, which teaches us, somewhat painfully, to be fully formed adults able to compromise and negotiate. So, we have introduced new ways to ascend the status hierarchy and be popular, by being a victim, whilst simultaneously suppressing natural ones. Worse, defending those who are victims, is the only way for those who are not, to collect their meagre allotment of status points is through allyship.

    Little wonder then that the socially awkward and those who feel like wallflowers might be tempted to occupy a niche which not only offers refuge, but also social status. Please note, I am note arguing that there are not those who feel deeply uncomfortable with gender stereotypes or feel suffocated by the expectations placed upon them. Society was cruel in this regard, long before nonbinary hit the scene.

    But adding social incentives to being a teenager, which is fraught enough without social engineering was a huge mistake which has serious consequences. Although I’m generally not a fan of self-reporting studies, contemplating suicide amongst nonbinary adolescents is 41.8%, compared to 17.6% for girls and 9.8% for boys. For those who are dubious of the effects of natural peer group jostling, having been on the receiving end of the bottom end of the status hierarchy when young, just consider the awful, awful way girls treat each other over Social Media- we have no way of knowing how much of this is the technology and how much is a warped social structure.

    Ungirding are the ideas that gender is a spectrum and gender is a social construct. Of course, there have always been those who are gender atypical or gender nonconforming, but the roots of this lie mainly in biological, rather than social construction. Low and high digit ratios are a well-established biological observation, which is caused by levels of prenatal testosterone.

    We could have been designing sports academies in urban centres for boys and girls with low digit ratios, with a view to smashing Olympic records, and creating future careers in Sport and Leisure Management, Personal Training and Physical Fitness Instruction; simultaneously playing to potential strengths in music, the Arts and Maths; addressing deficits in reading through engaging reading material and capitalising on potential higher interest in engineering and the sciences.

    Instead we got gender is a spectrum, gender is a social construct and gender neutral teaching, the last of which has proven an unmitigated failure time and again. Personally I think the encouragement of gender as spectrum and inviting children to identify as nonbinary has been a disaster. Would it not have been enough to state that people are different and that we should always be kind? There was nothing wrong with girls as tomboys, and the victimisation of artsy boys could have easily been dealt with as a specific issue.

    Ultimately attempts at interventions are always fraught with risks, whether we look at the macro scale of ill-conceived Government intervention, or at the micro level of ideology affecting teaching. What is really appalling is the natural divisions which this approach creates in society, encouraging each other to other each other across the political divide. And for what? A narrow political process which almost never delivers on its promises and is very nearly congenitally doomed to fail.

  2. Everyone is “nonbinary” and “gender fluid” to some extent (using the definition of “gender” as referring to cultural customs related to sex). The obsession among progressives with labeling and compartmentalizing people according to their gender presentation is ironically restrictive and divisive, rather than being freeing. People like Bowie, Boy George, Little Richard, Robert Smith etc. helped to break down gender norms, showing that it could be cool for men to dress and act effeminately. They didn’t insist on being labeled in rigid ways based on how they presented themselves and certainly didn’t insist that such presentation actually made them members of the opposite sex in any sense. I see putting people into boxes based on their gender presentation to be highly regressive rather than progressive, and I would instead advocate for continuing to define men and women based on biology for obvious practical reasons while pushing for acceptance of people who don’t wish to conform to the traditional gender roles of their sexes, as we had been doing for quite some time and making good progress.

  3. Oh, and can’t leave out Prince!

  4. My daughter has a friend who is either transmale or non-binary. I’m honestly not sure at this point. Her friend goes by he/they, but was born female. Or “assigned” female. I have had long talks with my daughter on the subject. I started worrying about it when she was in middle school as I saw it becoming a trend for girls in her grade to identify LGBTQ in some way.

    I mentioned Prince to her just this morning and explained how in the 80’s we had SO MANY gender nonconforming artists and nobody really made a big deal out of it. Annie Lennox comes to mind for me right now as well.

    One thing I just can’t bring myself to believe at this point is so many are identifying this way now because there’s more acceptance and it’s safer. It’s definitely being used to rebel and exploited for politics.

  5. It may have a lot to do with the fact that identity is important if you want to have a voice. A normal heterosexual girl doesn’t have the platform that a non-binary girl has.

    In the 80s a non-binary person would probably have been referred to as a punk, a rivet-head, or glam. Maybe it’s good to separate the concept from musical taste, but why attach it to anything at all. I’m sure that’s what David Bowie would tell you.

  6. Right. Like I said, it’s being exploited for politics. To play the attention and power game of “look at me and listen to me,” - the thing is it leads me and others to believe it’s a choice and always has been.

  7. For those who are skeptical, identifying as a third gender may seem to be a fad.

    Because there IS no third gender.

    There is no way to experience such a thing.

    Gender is part of sexuality and is rooted in biology. And humans come in two sexes. Two individuals fill all the roles in human sexuality. A fertilizer, and an egg bearer. And that’s it.

    There are no tripartite sexual systems on the planet. So one cannot BE ‘non-binary’. or ‘third gender’

    And, in fact, no one is or presents as being such.

    Instead, they combine existing gender stereotypes in various percentages until they get to a point where they feel comfortable on any given day.

    This is what’s known as ‘fashion’.

    The people in question ‘present’ as male or female. Usually as male or female wearing some clothing that is either sexually ambiguous or typical of the sex they are not.

    They do not ACT ‘third gender’, they do not engage in ‘third gender’ sex acts. They do not have the psychology of someone who is of a ‘third’ --or fourth or fifth gender.

    Because they cannot.

    They cannot even conceive of what this ‘third gender’ might do.

    You can be ‘genderqueer’. You can be ‘genderfluid’ or ‘gender non-conforming’

    But you can’t be non-binary or third sex.

    Because there isn’t one.

  8. No, because those things were considered masculine at the time. They weren’t in the 20th century.

    That’s what I was talking about.

  9. “Ignore transgenderism”? Yes and no.

    “Yes” because it’s a complete crock but why should it bother me?

    “No” because 1) it’s a lie start to finish 2) there is a requirement to publicly agree with it 3) women are being actually hurt by men wearing dresses who compete on an unfair playing field 4) the modesty desires of normal women are being made secondary to the desires of men wearing dresses 5) men pretending to be women are being allowed into female sanctuaries and places of protection for women.

    On the balance, the “no” side is bigger and more important than the “yes”. So we should not ignore it. We should speak up, because there is a truth out there, and transgenderism is a lie. Transgenderism really is an IQ test - if you admit that it is possible or a real thing, you fail.

  10. Sounds like you’re an Ares or a Leo, with a Moon Sign is Pisces or Aquarius. These observations have about as much scientific validity as the concept that people are born in the wrong bodies.

  11. Now there we go. Trans delusion as the counterpart of astrology. Good thought.

  12. I appreciate it @Tj2mag. I have listened to this author be interviewed on Rogan. I have been following this stuff for the past 4 years due to concerns I had for my daughter. She really didn’t fall into it, thank goodness. But in 8th grade she would come home with stories of girls at school identifying in some way LGBTQ and in addition everyone being depressed and suicidal. I immediately made an appointment for a family therapist. Her father and I took it head on and thank goodness we got a good one who explained to our daughter that it is NOT NORMAL for 8th grade girls to behave that way and that they are likely following a trend similar to punk, emo or goth.

    The reason I became concerned was for one my daughter is high functioning autism spectrum and ADHD - which is unusual for females. Two it makes her a tad quirky and a bit of social misfit. Girls like this are easy prey for sites such as Tumblr and SJW ideologies. I was not going to have it! It’s as simple as that.

    So I began researching and reading and following the battles between rad fems and TRA’s etc. I also started reading the site 4th Wave now. I have formed my own educated opinions on the issue and shared them with my daughter. So I don’t feel I need to read this book. But I’m glad it’s out there now for parents who do need it.

    My daughter came through that period just fine. She’s very much an independent thinker and her own person and doesn’t follow any crowd. She also just got her first 2 college acceptance letters! Yay!!

    Now we have to navigate THAT chapter under present conditions and it’s stressful. But it’s still an exciting time for her and us.

  13. Fair enough. I don’t disagree with much of what you say except this phrase (quoted above). As I won’t follow that “words are violence” I also don’t think violence is “done to language”. Language is deliberately misused. This has been the case of tyrants from time immemorial. So to the extent that the tyranny of trans-nonsense misuses language to achieve their aims, it is worth pushing back on. But the trans-issue is still pretty trivial in my book.

  14. @Obamawasafool
    Yes I regret using the word violence in conjunction with words. I should have said I object to the Left’s Orwellian use of language. It is as euphemistic way of speaking and writing full of implications and plausible deniability. It is also slick, slimy and cowardly.

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