Science Requires We Not Call a Man a Woman

 

Jenner-711x999What’s my name? Muhammad Ali

“What’s my name? What’s my name?” In the eighth round of their 1967 bout, Muhammad Ali yelled that question to Ernie Terrell every time he hit him. Terrell refused to call the former Cassius Clay his new chosen name before the fight, and Ali wanted to make a point about it.

There was no politics to Terrell’s refusal. There was no religion about it. Terrell was trash-talking against the man who, regrettably, made trash-talking in sports mainstream. I never liked Ali the bully in the ring or Ali the coward outside the ring (full disclosure: I grew up a Joe Frazier fan).

Yet, at another moment, I did learn something from Ali about names. When Howard Cosell called him Clay, Ali corrected him and insisted on the new name. Howard then agreed, saying yes, of course, a man should be called what he wants to be called.

That’s a poignant moment in a plural society that favors individual choices and respect. I’ve always agreed that a man should be called what he wants to be called.

During my time, we’ve seen an oscillation in the black community as to how they wish to be addressed. They have favored “colored” (see NAACP), “negro,” “African-American,” and today there is a rebirth of “black.” The rest of us have, to our credit, respectfully used the favored name.

A man should be called what he wants to be called.

That’s an easy call with proper names. They are randomly chosen by parents, have no scientific rhyme or reason (though they certainly have cultural moorings), and they are changed with frequency.  Surnames were traditionally changed by women upon marriage, and that is still substantially the case.

Gender and sex are different than proper names. There is some science that sets rules to follow.

The nebulous issue of gender is a product of the loose science of sociology. Since there is no discipline in that discipline, gender does not follow strict rules.  It’s a social construct, and is a sliding scale between what is considered “masculine” and what is considered “feminine.”

America has a culture.  It developed naturally over a couple of centuries. As in other countries, our culture developed identifiable symbols of the masculine and feminine — and, because of that, gender.

America has not been without its social shifts in masculine and feminine, whether in women entering into a variety of roles in the workforce or the current experiment with some women’s desire to enter infantry roles in the military.

It is noted with interest (not with explanation, as it is outside the subject of this treatment) that our cultural shifts have been easier to accept when it is the female attempting to take on masculine roles. It is framed as a matter of equal right — but I wonder if there isn’t something more to it when it comes to human beings. There is, after all, a masculinization process that happens to fetuses, as boys are created when the female pathway is redirected to become male. There is no such scientific process wherein a male pathway switches to female.

Perhaps, due to some subconscious dynamic, that is why there has not been the same acceptance of men trying to feminize their gender. Some change has admittedly occurred. When I was a young boy, nurses and flight attendants were women. Today, however, men are part of those work forces and none of us gives it a second thought when we see them.

Yet some things haven’t changed. A woman in pants is a 20th century invention that’s accepted today, but a man in a dress is still an oddity that will occasion repulsion in both sexes. Men don’t carry purses either — no matter how many times those who run the fashion industry try to push European handbags on us.

Masculine and feminine were not, however, simply created out of thin air. They were tied to sex — which is a different matter altogether than gender.

Sex is more rigidly defined by science. It is chromosomal. In our most common situation, female humans have XX chromosomes and male humans have XY chromosomes.

Sure, there are some rare situations that involve unusual chromosomes. Yet they don’t affect sex. Turner Syndrome is someone with one X chromosome, but that person is still female. XXX-females are still females. Klinefelter Syndrome has males with XXY chromosomes who show some female traits, but their sex is still male. Swyer Syndrome is a person whose genitalia does not perfectly match the chromosomes, but their sex is not in issue.

For the above rare medical instances, we, of course, should be open to accommodations. For now, however, we’re dealing with the huge majority of everyone else.

The science is clear on the rest of the human race. XX is a female and XY is a male.

Is Caitlyn (nee Bruce) Jenner a woman?  No. The definition of ‘woman‘ has always been tied to female in every medical reference you’d like to check. ‘Man’ is similarly associated with the science of being male.

I owe Caitlyn Jenner dignity and respect. A man should be called what he wants to be called. I’ll use Caitlyn. I owe Jenner that.

I don’t owe Caitlyn an ignorance of science. That would be asking too much of me. Caitlyn is, scientifically, a man. He can lop anything off and sew anything on, but not change chromosomes. It is an imposition upon me (and quite rude I might add) for Caitlyn to insist that I ignore science. I don’t owe that to Caitlyn or anyone else.

The same is true of the pronouns “he” and “she.” They have been connected to the scientifically established male and female. I don’t owe Jenner a “she” in place of “he,” as that denies the science of the matter.

I wonder too about the idea of someone like Jenner being able to finally “be himself” (or herself, as he would have it). Isn’t that the opposite of what is going on here? Bruce Jenner is not being himself – he’s a man. He’s trying to change himself.  Is this not antithetical to the stated idea of “be yourself” or “be who you are?” He is trying to change who he is. A gay man is still a man and a gay woman still a woman.

Culturally, I might be able to accept a feminized man or a masculinized woman. I can acknowledge that. Don’t ask me to deny science and agree a man is a woman because he wishes it to be.

A question for Claire Berlinski regarding the Ricochet Code of Conduct: We live by a different creed here on Ricochet.  We go out of our way to treat others with dignity and respect. What will be the Ricochet rule on pronouns here?  On our august, civil and well-mannered website, will we have a rule on calling Caitlyn Jenner a he or she?

 

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  1. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Not to be snarky, or to bring up any future issues with Ms. Jenner, but I do have to say Caitlyn is…rather youthful looking for 65.

    • #1
  2. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    Brad2971:Not to be snarky, or to bring up any future issues with Ms. Jenner, but I do have to say Caitlyn is…rather youthful looking for 65.

    And a grandfather.

    • #2
  3. Jason Rudert Member
    Jason Rudert
    @JasonRudert

    She quit returning my calls at all.

    • #3
  4. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Jason Rudert:She quit returning my calls at all.

    A hot mama with good taste, too!

    • #4
  5. Jason Rudert Member
    Jason Rudert
    @JasonRudert

    I will say, that’s a rather well-executed tuck.

    • #5
  6. user_1030767 Inactive
    user_1030767
    @TheQuestion

    Brad2971:Not to be snarky, or to bring up any future issues with Ms. Jenner, but I do have to say Caitlyn is…rather youthful looking for 65.

    That’s what I thought too.  Magazine cover photos are normally touched up, and I would imagine that is doubly true in this case.

    I think it is an interesting question whether it is possible for a man to really become a woman, or a woman become a man.  Like Tommy De Seno, I don’t buy the idea that you can surgically change your sex, but actual sex changes do occur in nature in other species, and I don’t see any reason why the technology to biologically change sex couldn’t exist someday (for better or worse).

    However, even if the technology to change sex existed today, we are all products of our prior development and experience.  If you spent, say, the last 5 years as a woman, but the previous 65 years as a man, it seems like you’re more a man than a woman.

    • #6
  7. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @

    Michael Sanregret:

    Brad2971:Not to be snarky, or to bring up any future issues with Ms. Jenner, but I do have to say Caitlyn is…rather youthful looking for 65.

    That’s what I thought too. Magazine cover photos are normally touched up, and I would imagine that is doubly true in this case.

    Seriously, take a look at the video that accompanied that Vanity Fair article. Even in black and white, Caitlyn looks…rather young.

    • #7
  8. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @SoDakBoy

    Tommy De Seno:I owe Caitlyn Jenner dignity and respect. A man should be called what he wants to be called. I’ll use Caitlyn. I owe Jenner that.

    I don’t owe Caitlyn an ignorance of science. That would be asking too much of me.

    Perfect!

    I’ve known men who were named Stacy and Courtney by their parents.  Many men were named Morgan or Mason before people decided that was going to be a girl’s name.  Clearly, a man can have a “girl’s name” and a girl can have a “boy’s name”.  That may be unusual but it is not ridiculous.  Saying a person with 46XY chromosomes and a penis is a woman is too preposterous to stomach.

    • #8
  9. user_216080 Thatcher
    user_216080
    @DougKimball

    I find this all pretty sad, whether it is getting a facial tattoo, a giant nose ring or going through a hormonal/surgical sex change.  Vanity and delusion can be pretty close allies.  I think most will find these changes both unsatisfying and irreversible.  But folks are free to do it.  I, for one, advise against it.  Whether he is a she or she a he, I guess I’ll just call them as I see them.  Life is confusing enough.

    • #9
  10. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Well said, Tommy.

    But I won’t call a man by a woman’s name when the obvious purpose of that name change is to pretend he’s a woman. Besides, if I say “Hello, Bruce”, guess who will turn around.

    When a woman changes her name after marrying, she is not pretending. She is recognizing the creation of a new social entity: a family, in which two people will forever more be treated as one.

    I will honor a marital bond. I won’t support a delusion.

    • #10
  11. Rightfromthestart Coolidge
    Rightfromthestart
    @Rightfromthestart

    Watching the morning news this morning what I saw was abject fear. The anchors used Caitlyn and she every time, never Bruce or he. They all to a man and woman applauded his decision , as if they had a choice . They knew, as we all know, what would befall the news anchor who used the wrong pronoun or who expressed anything less than full throated approval. The social justice police can and will destroy careers and lives with the ease of swatting a gnat. We are witnessing 1930s style fascism on an almost daily basis with everyone keeping their heads down rather than even accidentally setting off the wrath of the brown shirts.

    • #11
  12. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Science does not “require” that “we” call Jenner one thing or the other.

    A doctor needs to acknowledge that Jenner is biologically male, if that doctor is actually working on Jenner, but I, as a casual observer, do not.

    In the same way, science does not “require” that I deny the existence of Santa Claus. If I want to talk about Santa Claus as if he’s real, that’s my business.

    I can call Jenner whatever the heck I want. Neither science, nor law, nor any cabal of Social Justice Warriors, should have any say in that.

    Personally, I’m more tickled by the outrage online that he spells Caitlyn with a “C” rather than keeping with the naming conventions of his family by spelling it with a “K”.

    • #12
  13. Quinn the Eskimo Member
    Quinn the Eskimo
    @

    When a woman does this, it is oppressive, heteronormative and objectifying.  When a man becomes a woman to do this, it’s awesome.

    • #13
  14. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    The magazine cover is one thing, but will we see a 40th anniversary Wheaties box next year?

    • #14
  15. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Rightfromthestart:Watching the morning news this morning what I saw was abject fear. The used Caitlyn and she every time, never Bruce or he. They all to a man and woman applauded his decision , as if they had a choice . They knew, as we all know, what would befall the news anchor who used the wrong pronoun or who expressed anything less than full throated approval. The social justice police can and willdestroy careers and lives with the ease of swatting a gnat. We are witnessing 1930s style fascism on an almost daily basis with everyone keeping their heads down rather than even accidentally setting off the wrath ofthe brown shirts.

    Morning news anchors conforming to the dictats of the market is not 1930s fascism. Just because a morning news anchor would get fired for saying something does not mean that I cannot say it. The morning news anchor is paid to speak the words that their employer puts in their mouth. I am not.

    • #15
  16. Blue State Blues Member
    Blue State Blues
    @BlueStateBlues

    Tommy, you have nailed it.  Not politically correct, of course, but every word is true.

    I find the whole subject rather sad.  I don’t know about Jenner’s case specifically, he seems like an attention seeker, but I think a lot of the transgendered are profoundly unhappy people (suicide rates are an order of magnitude higher than the general population) who seek a sex change in the (frequently mistaken) belief that it is the answer to their problems.

    • #16
  17. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    Bruce is still a he. And Cassius is still a draft dodger.

    And those pictures weren’t photoshopped. (Pfffftsh! Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!)

    • #17
  18. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    He is a he. He is mentally disturbed.  It is sad.  We should pray for him.  If he were to announce he actually felt he was a dolphin, would we be obligated to go along with his delusion, communicate with him by squeaking and throw him herring to eat?  Of course not.  We would know he was suffering from a delusion and would treat him accordingly.

    • #18
  19. Ricochet Member
    Ricochet
    @Manny

    Absurdity follows absurdity.  What has happened to this culture?  It just doesn’t stop at SSM, does it?  Those that argue that it will only stop at homosexual marriage are just flat out wrong.  And that is why I’ve been so ticked off lately with Libertarians.  They have contributed to this.  This is individual freedom gone wild and destructive.  I disagree with those that say they should be free to do this.

    • #19
  20. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Michael Sanregret:If you spent, say, the last 5 years as a woman, but the previous 65 years as a man, it seems like you’re more a man than a woman.

    From what little I’ve read, Jenner is still sexually attracted to women. If true, he’s the personification of the old “lesbian trapped in a man’s body” joke.

    • #20
  21. DrewInWisconsin Member
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I don’t think we do someone like Bruce Jenner any favors by celebrating his mental illness as if it’s a virtue. I wish he could get help in private rather than be put on public display. I don’t think his supporters care much about him as a person. I think they just want a high-profile transgendered person to wave around like a flag.

    We have drifted so far from the norm that “normal” looks like a rebellious act.

    • #21
  22. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Manny:Absurdity follows absurdity. What has happened to this culture? It just doesn’t stop at SSM, does it? Those that argue that it will only stop at homosexual marriage are just flat out wrong. And that is why I’ve been so ticked off lately with Libertarians. They have contributed to this. This is individual freedom gone wild and destructive. I disagree with those that say they should be free to do this.

    So, Bruce Jenner should have been legally prohibited from using his own money to have this procedure done?

    How would that be accomplished? Jenner is rich, and could easily get the procedure done in another country if desired.

    • #22
  23. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Tommy De Seno: I never liked Ali the bully in the ring or Ali the coward outside the ring (full disclosure: I grew up a Joe Frazier fan).

    To paraphrase Marcellus Wallace, “Tommy, you’ve lost your Louisville privileges.”

    • #23
  24. The King Prawn Inactive
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    • #24
  25. user_836033 Member
    user_836033
    @WBob

    No one can deny–and I can’t imagine that anyone, including “transgender rights” people, would even try to deny–that being born into a body of the wrong gender is either a very serious somatic malfunction, or a very serious psychological issue.  The point is, either way, from any perspective, something is wrong.  So when Bruce is applauded or celebrated or whatever, is it the same kind of adulation shown when someone comes out as gay, since it is insisted that being gay is not a malfunction at all? If not, then what exactly is being “celebrated”?

    • #25
  26. Arahant Member
    Arahant
    @Arahant

    Tommy De Seno: Yet some things haven’t changed. A woman in pants is a 20th century invention that’s accepted today, but a man in a dress is still an oddity that will occasion repulsion in both sexes. Men don’t carry purses either — no matter how many times those who run the fashion industry try to push European handbags on us.

    Sean-Connery-Kilt-small

    Ah dinna ken what you mean, laddie. What’s wrong with a man showing off his knees? And where does he put the whisky without a sporran?

    • #26
  27. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    David Knights:

    Tommy De Seno: I never liked Ali the bully in the ring or Ali the coward outside the ring (full disclosure: I grew up a Joe Frazier fan).

    To paraphrase Marcellus Wallace, “Tommy, you’ve lost your Louisville privileges.”

    frazier-ali

    • #27
  28. billy Inactive
    billy
    @billy

    David Knights:He is a he. He is mentally disturbed. It is sad. We should pray for him. If he were to announce he actually felt he was a dolphin, would we be obligated to go along with his delusion, communicate with him by squeaking and throw him herring to eat? Of course not. We would know he was suffering from a delusion and would treat him accordingly.

    David Knights:He is a he. He is mentally disturbed. It is sad. We should pray for him. If he were to announce he actually felt he was a dolphin, would we be obligated to go along with his delusion, communicate with him by squeaking and throw him herring to eat? Of course not. We would know he was suffering from a delusion and would treat him accordingly.

    Dolphinoplasty

    • #28
  29. EJHill Podcaster
    EJHill
    @EJHill

    If gender is the question, why surgery is not the answer – by the retired head of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins.

    • #29
  30. user_3130 Member
    user_3130
    @RobertELee

    I don’t really care what he or she or it calls itself or chooses to believe itself to be for the most part.  It’s no skin off my nose if he, she, it wants to be a ring-tailed lemur.  In the words of my generation…”Be what you want to be, baby!”

    • #30

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