Reviews carbohydrate, liquid, spheroid – “excludes” in a trivial sense and so simply accepting that some people fall into different categories “is not a value judgment about superiority or inferiority, or any other positive or negative connotations.”
It is astonishing that Stock’s conclusion “As binaries in nature go, the sex division is one of the most stable and predictable there is” is now considered by many not only to be outrageous but prejudiced. If the argument that the gender critical position is transphobic rests on the denial of biological sex, it must surely collapse.
“I am a trans man, I am a woman. I can’t be one without the other.”
A more reasonable position is that biological sex is real but just doesn’t matter in all, or almost all, social contexts. Sure, a doctor may need to know your biological sex in order to decide what tests and screenings you should have, but that’s about it. And even here, it can be argued that the doctor doesn’t need to know your sex, just some anatomical facts about you, such as whether you have testes, breasts, a cervix and so on.
Stock argues that sex cannot be so easily set aside. For example, she argues that it is important that certain women-only spaces exclude people with penises, even if they self-identify as women. “Are you saying all or most trans women are predators?” she (correctly) imagines her critics saying. “No, obviously not,” she emphatically replies, “just as to say that males generally shouldn’t be excluded from women-only spaces isn’t to say all or most males are predators. They aren’t.” Her worry is not that trans people are demonic but that “it would be easy for badly intentioned males to take advantage and so expose females to risk.”
She also thinks that allowing trans women to compete in women-only sports would put cisgender women athletes at an unfair disadvantage, and in some contact sports such as rugby, under threat of physical injury.
Stock makes a strong case and while it is conceivable that the benefits of allowing self-assigned gender to determine access to everything outweigh any risks and harms, that would not make Stock transphobic, merely wrong.
The most convincing evidence that there is nothing hateful in Stock’s position is that she cites several trans people who agree with it. “I am a trans woman, I am a man, I can’t be one without the other,” said the trans woman Fionne Orlander. Similarly, the trans man Buck Angel said “I had a legal sex change and now live as a male. All male pronouns. I am a transexual and will never be biologically male. But I do live as a male”. Such testimonies rather deflate the idea that the only thing decent people need to do is to listen to and believe trans people, as they say and believe different things. And if many trans people can happily accept that there is a difference between their self-assigned gender and their biological sex, the distinction cannot be bigoted, unless, Stock says, you dismiss such witnesses as “self-hating” or in a state of “false consciousness.”
Why then has the gender identity narrative become so dominant, to the point of being the only acceptable one for many? Stock believes a laudable concern to do the