The intersex analogy

In explaining ourselves to cis people, should trans folk compare ourselves to intersex people? Probably not; but helloanonme gives wrong, offensively transphobic reasons to argue that.

Arguably, transsexualism syndrome is similar to intersex conditions. Gender identity as female is as much a sex-marker as having ovaries or a feminine pelvis. If someone really does not get why I would want to express myself female, I could explain not all my sex-markers point the same way- just like an intersex person. In some intersex conditions it would be more accurate to say that sex-markers have not fully developed- so in partial androgen insensitivity, someone XY may have a slightly enlarged clitoris rather than a fully developed penis. Categorisers have produced the Quigley Scale.

Helloanonme argues that intersex people have a hard time, and intersex people should be the ones to explain themselves. However that does not work as an argument: if the straight person has no idea what intersex conditions are, then the analogy will do no good.

The problem with the analogy is that it is a way of claiming that my desire to express myself female is not weird or reprehensible. I have no control over it, any more than an intersex person, so it is unfair of you to mock me for it.

However transsexualism is not weird or reprehensible. Transition is perfectly reasonable, for anyone who wishes to undertake it. No-one has a right to object. So the analogy is useless. Anyone who thinks my transition immoral- Thanks very much, Frankie– won’t be persuaded.

I don’t want to use that analogy any more. I am happy with my choice. Three years ago, when I commented on Helloanonme’s post, I was dealing with my internalised transphobia. It was not the hater whom I wanted to persuade, but myself.

But why would anyone object to the analogy? Helloanonme says intersex people can have a hard time, with other symptoms beside genital ones. OK- but does my analogy of transsexualism to intersex actually decrease understanding of intersex? Only, possibly, in this way: the hater, hearing us compared, hates intersex people as weird and disgusting as well as trans people. The intersex person objecting is saying “I may be weird, but at least I’m not as weird as them“. Arguments from how hard it is to live with a condition are ablist. Conditions affect different people in different ways. No, ways of being- calling these things “conditions”, as deviations from the illusory Normal, is also wrong: there is ordinary human diversity, and there are ways of living it.

I don’t want to use the analogy any more. But you have no right to object to me using it. You don’t get to define how I explain myself to the world.

I realised, writing this, that a strong motivator to activism- the need to persuade myself that it is OK to be me- no longer applies to me. Perhaps now is the time I should become activist. I can be a street fighter, now I am less easily hurt. I hate this guy’s argument, but I love his chutzpah: faced with an incident showing the complete moral bankruptcy of his position, Erick Erickson comes out fighting. It’s the Liberals’ fault, just like everything bad.

Cranach, Judith and Holofernes III

4 thoughts on “The intersex analogy

  1. Oh, I really don’t like these pictures! This one is even more disturbing. It’s the bland expression, and the rings for some reason.

    It must be annoying having other people arguing about what it’s like to be you. I think the intersex example is useful when discussing things with some Christians, because their default position is the their god created man and woman. It’s a clear example where their simplistic boxes make no sense.

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    • Actually, I have six of them, and he painted more…

      The rings are strange, and the greyness of the hands: I wondered if they are from a suit of armour.

      Praise the Lord, for he is kind
      when I dress he does not mind
      God loves all the Village scene
      female, male and in between
      Abigail and John are one
      God likes both to have their fun
      Happy in God’s love I see
      Male and female God Made Me!

      And- Obergefell v Hodges!!

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