Gender: is It Fixed, Fluid, or Formed from Society’s Stereotypes?

How do we resolve the inconsistency with regards to claims that gender is innate, that it can fluctuate, or that it is rooted in social constructs?

Every parent of a child who announces a transgender identity has heard the same emotionally manipulative slogan from the “experts”: “You must agree with who they say they are. Would you rather have a dead son (daughter) or a live daughter (son)?”

The transgender activism community would have everyone believe that affirmation is the only kind, loving, and safe response to a person’s statement about his or her alternate gender identity, no matter what. Anything less than wholehearted applause for the creatively gendered will usher the transgendered person straight onto the path of self-inflicted death, it is prophesied.

Notwithstanding that in no other area of medicine, psychology, or education do experts advocate a one-size-fits-all approach to anything, let’s, for the sake of argument, agree that in every single case of gender dysphoria, the person actually is the gender he or she claims to be at the point in time that he or she so claims it.

This belief begs a simple question: Is gender fixed, or is it fluid?

Gender is one or the other, fixed or fluid, and it’s bewilderingly unclear from reading gender studies materials like this and this and this and this and this which one it might be.

Is Gender Fixed?

If gender is fixed, i.e., it is a feature of innate biological or psychological determination and cannot change, then that leads to a follow-on question: When is gender fixed?

Is it fixed at birth? If so – and if we believe that one’s anatomy has no relation to one’s gender – then a child’s very first utterance of “I’m a girl” or “I’m a boy” must be considered the fait accompli, never to be questioned again. Because either “children know who they are” or children may not yet know who they are. It’s one case or the other.

If gender is not fixed at birth, but becomes fixed later, we must determine, for the sake of good standards of care, when that wicket closes: at three years old? ten years? 16? 38? Given that people are “coming out” as transgender from 18 months or younger (gender therapist Diane Ehrensaft declares that if a toddler pulls a barrette out of her hair, she’s telling you she’s not really a girl) to middle age and beyond, there seems to be no definitive cut-off for when you actually, no kidding, really are what you think you are.

So, if we don’t know when gender is fixed, how can we in good conscience affirm someone in their belief about it?

What if we support a teenager’s desire to transition hormonally and surgically, then we find out that gender isn’t actually fixed until, say, age 25? What if at 25 s/he wants to be something else entirely? That’s a hideous situation to imagine. The body has already been manipulated by drugs and surgeries costing multiple thousands (or tens of thousands) of dollars. There’s no undoing all the changes that have been wrought, even if one could afford to make the attempt. ^Thank heaven such a thing has never happened.^

(Those ^carets^ are sarcastrophes, by the way.)

Or Is Gender Fluid?

But what if gender is fluid, on an ever-floating spectrum, shimmering like an ethereal rainbow hanging untethered in the vaporous air? A genderfluid person can be a man today, neutrois tomorrow, genderqueer the next day, androgyne on the weekend, and a then be a woman in the gym sauna with the girls on Monday night.

What would one actually affirm in that case? “I affirm that you are whatever you think you are at this particular, passing moment in time”?

But more importantly, to what would affirmation lead, in the case of a genderfluid world?

By definition it would lead to ever-changing hormonal and surgical cocktails, delivered on demand. Despite gender researcher Johanna Olsen-Kennedy’s eye-popping statement that if a girl has her breasts removed and later regrets it, she can “go and get them” again, the truth is that amputations cannot be reversed, and cross-sex hormones actually do have permanent effects on multiple of the body’s systems. Gone-and-gotten, fabricated breasts will neither feed a baby nor experience sexual stimulation the way the real ones would have.

It seems that the people who have the most to gain from affirmation of gender transition may be the suppliers of synthetic drugs and reconstructive (destructive) surgeries.

Gender Is a Cultural Concept Based Entirely on Stereotypes

History, biology, linguistics, developmental psychology, and simple common sense indicate that gender cannot change, because gender, with respect to persons, does not exist. 

The word “gender” was co-opted from language studies in the 1970’s; before that decade gender referred to nothing outside of linguistics. It has ever since been fraudulently applied to one’s sense of self as described by inane stereotypes around personality and preferences:

“Girls like pink.”

“Boys play with trucks.”

“Women like to wear makeup.”

“Men don’t like ballet.”

One has a sex (male or female, based upon one’s role in reproduction) and one has personality and preferences that are a combination of innate biological processes and external environmental experiences.

That our gatekeeping institutions – physicians, therapists, school administration, teachers, and counsellors – have enthusiastically embraced a response to gender dysphoria which has no robust data or long-term study to recommend it, and whose proponents cannot even answer the simplest of questions about it, is shocking, indefensible, and contemptible.

Until some “gender expert” can defend a rational explanation about whether gender is fixed or fluid, as well as how either answer to that question could ever support medicalized gender change, there is no other reason to think or act otherwise.

Maria Keffler is a co-founder of the Arlington Parent Coalition (Arlington, Virginia, USA), which supports parents in holding schools accountable to respect parental authority, and which works to keep children safe in school. Keffler is a former middle and high school teacher, holds a masters degree in educational psychology, and lives in Arlington, VA, with her husband and three children.

Article Discussion

  • Posted by Joy

    21 August, 2020 at 4:12 pm

    Outstanding! Now if only everyone who needs to read this does readit. (Also, ^ is spelled caret like in diamonds)

    • Posted by Maria Keffler

      22 August, 2020 at 12:50 pm

      Thanks! Got that fixed.

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