Going along to get along

No, Democrats have NOT become a personality cult the way the Republican have.

But we on the left (or “left of center”) often get embroiled in purity wars; one of the latest is over how pure one has to be in supporting transgender people (this one involves Harry Potter author J. J. Rowling).

I freely admit, I find much of the back and forth both irritating and confusing.

I agree that transgender people should not be discriminated against with respect to things like employment.

I do think that, in sporting events, the female category is for biological females and exists for statistical fairness to females. If you don’t meet the criteria (and I am happy to let sports science people set the criteria), then you compete in the open category (that is, against males (and possibly others?)).

But what gets me is all of the discussion about biology.

Yes, “biology” isn’t quite as simple as “XX” vs. “XY” or “penis” vs. “vagina.”

I am aware of that.

But so are top-notch scientists and some have written about it, in reasonable detail:

(here) and (here)

To me, this is key:

Now of course you can find some exceptions among some species. In seahorses, for instance, males can “bear offspring” because they raise the fertilized eggs in their pouch, but nevertheless they still produce sperm. But in humans it’s rarely doubtful whether an individual is a male or a female. Males have a chromosomal constitution XY, produce small gametes that fertilize the large eggs of females, and have male genitalia (penises). Females produce fewer but larger gametes, are XX in chromosomal constitution, and have female genitalia (vaginas).

Of course there are some exceptions to all of these. We have humans with chromosomal constitutions XXY and XO; we have developmental intersexes that have characteristics of both male and female, we have females and males with all the traits above but which are sterile and so can’t produce eggs or sperm, and so on.

The point is that these exceptions are rare. I don’t know the figures for males and females that fit neatly into the classes I’ve given above, but I’d guess it would be about 98% of humanity; the Intersex Society, lumping chromosomal and developmental exceptions together, gets a frequency of non-binaries of about 1-2% (Fausto-Sterling gave roughly the same figure in 2001). So yes, sex isn’t truly binary in that every individual can’t be unambiguously slotted into either male or female—but the vast majority can.

What this means is that if you do a plot of sex versus frequency in which you combine all traits that define “males” (above) at one end and those defining females at the other, and then plot the frequency on the Y-axis, you’ll get a plot with two distinct and widely-separated peaks, with a valley containing some intermediates (intersexes and the like) between them. This is what I mean by the bimodality of sex. And there’s a reason for it: having two sexes is the result of evolution in our ancestors. (I won’t go into why, nor do we fully understand the selective pressures). Let me add that I’m talking about biological sex here and not gay behavior, so that I am counting male homosexuals as males because they have the physiological and chromosomal features of males, even if they are sexually attracted to males, and the converse for lesbians.

And there is the rub: the approximation that is typically made which, while not 100 percent accurate, is good enough for mammals to reproduce and for ancient humans to have propagated the species.

I think of it this way: it is safe to say that “humans have 2 legs and 5 fingers on each hand” even though there ARE genetic exceptions to this “one size fits most” rule. And I no more deny the reality of transgenderism than I deny the reality that some are born with 6 fingers in each hand.

And saying that about sex doesn’t make you a bigot. Firing someone (or denying promotion, etc.) for being transgender DOES (IHMO).