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Gender Debate: For some people, it's a matter of life and death


The assertion that there are in principle only two sexes is not scientific knowledge, but an attack. For those affected, it is a matter of life and death.

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Various LGBTQI flags: Transphobia is suitable as a hate kit across political and social camps

Photo: Vladimir Vladimirov / Getty Images

How good do you think forced sterilization is?

This is actually an absurd question in a liberal democracy.

If you were to ask people in a pedestrian zone when there was something like forced sterilization in Germany, many would probably guess it was the Nazi era.

That is not completely right.

A not-so-rare form of anticipated sterilization was only banned in May 2021.

Namely, the completely arbitrary determination of a gender in intersex children, on the basis of which an operation was often carried out that later destroyed fertility.

Until 2011, sterilization and castration were even mandatory by law – for people who wanted to change their marital status, i.e. their gender entry.

In effect, the legislature took the stance that transgender people should not reproduce.

These backgrounds are important because there is a sometimes bizarre and even spiteful gender debate going on right now that is centered around trans and non-binary people.

And it is precisely with the forced sterilization mentioned that it becomes clear how crucial narratives and thus debates are.

Because the 1981 legislation is based on the idea that you can only change your gender entry if you have been sterilized beforehand.

There was and is no medically comprehensible reason for this.

It's just the idea that was widespread at the time that it had to be like that.

Trans people have always existed

Transgender people are, therefore, acutely aware of the power of the gender debate to shape the attitudes of the majority, which in turn has tangible implications for their lives.

And her dying.

Because the number of transgender people who kill themselves or attempt to do so is astronomical.

In Germany, young people with a trans identity are almost six times more likely to attempt suicide; in the USA, over 50 percent of trans boys and young trans men between the ages of 11 and 19 have already attempted at least one suicide.

The reasons for this have been researched; according to studies, they are not so much - as many assume - to be found in gender identity itself, but in social interaction or, more precisely, in the discrimination that transgender people experience.

This obviously feeds into the aggressiveness of some trans-activists, which is sometimes lamented – those who are fighting for their lives and have been bitterly discriminated against for decades sometimes simply lose the desire for friendly differentiation.

This applies in a similar way to most fundamental rights movements, be it Black Lives Matter or the climate youth.

The incorrect and discriminatory impression that trans is a "fashion" has very understandable reasons.

There have always been trans people, in many countries and cultures there are traditions, some of which are thousands of years old, of considering three or more genders to be completely normal and »natural«.

But only with the knowledge machine internet and social media as well as a certain social freedom of the 21st century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the minority of transgender people could become loud and thus perceptible.

Before that, most of them were either secretly trans or didn't even know that their nature has a name and does not only affect them.

And those who spoke out were often simply ignored.

Much more than "just" a discussion about a minority

The current debates in Germany have been going on in a similar way in the USA for years, and there is a frightening realization from this parallelism: transphobia is suitable as a kind of hate putty across political and social camps.

Right-wing propaganda is simply much more popular when it is directed against trans people and their needs.

The debate about transgender people - which is often not a debate at all but an aggressive battle for self-determination - is therefore much more than "just" a discussion about a specific gender minority.

It's the current frontline of the question: are we going towards a progressive, people-oriented society - or towards a regressive, authoritarian society?

The argument that there are so few transgender people is highly toxic, which can be explained by a simple comparison: if you take the most plausible numbers for Germany (one transgender person for every 298 non-transgender people), you get a figure of around 25 million transgender people worldwide.

There are around 15 million Jews in the world, but nobody in their right mind would think that the fight against anti-Semitism is not that important.

Unfortunately, in many minds that consider themselves enlightened, there is still a very patriarchal view of gender.

It is now a well-known strategy, especially of the US right-wing radicals, to create anti-liberal sentiment in their favor by attacking transgender people.

For example, after the mass murder in Uvalde, Texas, right-wing propagandists spread the false rumor that the perpetrator was a trans woman.

In this way, the uneasiness of many people, which has long been virulent, is to be transformed into open hostility towards a minority.

This discomfort is a very old acquaintance, namely the rejection of the unfamiliar, here in combination with a certain sexual insecurity of many people.

Due to their own insecurity, the mere existence of transgender people is viewed by all too many people as an attack. These psychosocial mechanisms have been researched and are still influential today, especially in gender issues.

This insecurity can be kept in check with aggressive exclusion, which is unfortunately also a well-known, reactionary procedure.

Right-wing propagandists use this starting point to make their hateful language and thus their hateful goals more socially acceptable and ultimately social or legal facts.

Denying the existence of trans people is a deeply hostile act because it follows that

Even some women's rights activists are unwilling to acknowledge the existence of trans women as women, almost automatically shifting their own political coordinates to the right.

Because behind it, whether you like it or not, lies one of the oldest and most effective instruments of patriarchy, i.e. the ideology of the rule of powerful men over everyone else: the radical simplification of sexuality with the aim of narrowing people down to their biological functions under the wrong one cloak of the term "natural".

The simplification means that there is and may only be a man and a woman.

Because anything else would be an attack on the power base: in a patriarchal society, multiplication is everything, because influence grows with the increasing number of people.

Anyone who does not fit into the classic male-female pattern or prefers other forms of relationships becomes a threat and is therefore defamed as "against nature" or "identity simply made up".

From a patriarchal point of view, the threat lies in their very existence: every non-binary person, every trans person and also every non-heterosexual person is living proof that otherness exists.

Which could give people the idea to ask themselves what their gender and sexual identity actually is.

And so the patriarchy and its cis-hetero compulsion to reproduce could cause trouble.

With this attitude, people who don't fit into the classic male-female pattern immediately become outsiders and, as a result, are usually exposed to contempt.

It is particularly easy to scoff at gender issues because in virtually everyone it is burdened with shame or other psychological distortions.

That is why the often-made assertion that there are basically only two sexes and you can tell them between your legs is not scientific knowledge, but a camouflaged attack on the existence of many non-binary and transgender people.

It is similar to saying that there is only one sun and that it is in the sky.

Yes, you only see one sun, that's right.

But for anything further, you would have to talk to experts and even believe them.

Because the science is much less clear.

Even with chromosomes, which constitute a biologically essential aspect of sex, there are more than just two combinations.

Which can then even have different characteristics, such as a person with an XY chromosome pair, but who has a vagina and ovaries.

There is nature and it plays a role


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Actually, however, there is no need to have this discussion, because in Central Europe a large number of human certainties are simply socially determined without any greater consideration for nature.

For example, one might consider it unfair that all (employee) people retire at the same age, although not all live the same length of time - a culturally determined decision that hardly takes nature into account and is nevertheless widely accepted.

That doesn't mean pretending that there aren't differences, for example in needs, between people who can get pregnant and those who don't have a uterus.

This also does not mean that you have to ignore hormonal realities, as can be seen from the sensible introduction of days off in the event of severe menstrual pain (in Spain).

The key to a meaningful, non-contemptuous, and productive discussion of gender change, therefore, is self-awareness, respect—and insight into the nature of progress.

We too often assume that both the level of knowledge and the social normality of today are the final ones.

That's not only wrong, it's always dangerous if you derive authoritarian constraints from it.

However, this also automatically shifts what is »progressive«.

It may have been considered progressive at one point not to kill homosexuals outright, but only to pretend they didn't exist.

Today it is no longer that, and now it is time to allow social progress to take effect in the discussion about transgender people.

Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-07-06

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