Do it both ways during the transition | Opinion
The other day I had a surprisingly civil Twitter conversation with someone who identified themselves as a “trans” woman. I understood that to mean she was a biological male, but presented as a female. I was right.
In fact, it didn’t take a lot of skill to figure it out, because being “trans” means being something other than what you were before. “Trans” is the abbreviation for transition, and in order to transition you must first have been somewhere or something. A butterfly does not “transition” to another butterfly. It started out as something else, namely a chrysalis.
The problem with a lot of trans people is that they don’t want you to remember that they were something else. They insist that they were “born” in the wrong body, which means that they’ve always been the kind they want to be, just out of place. That’s why this particular trans person took offense when I used the term “biological woman” to describe myself and other women who were, to quote Lady Gaga, born that way. She said it was hurtful.
I hate being unintentionally hurtful. However, I couldn’t let this comment go without observing that “biological female” is a scientific term, just as “fetus” is a scientific term. If I am forced to call an unborn baby a fetus to meet the draconian demands of the abortion rights crowd, why do I have to give up the correct terminology when it comes to adults who have ‘transitioned’ ? A person with a penis can be a trans woman, but it is most definitely a biological man.
As you can imagine, it didn’t go well, and the civil conversation remained civil until it ended, which was immediately. And I wondered why we should approach the trans issue on tiptoe carefully, choosing our vocabulary as carefully as they chose their gender.
This conversation on Twitter was a perfect example of why today we find ourselves divided along social dividing lines. If, like JK Rowling, you politely point out that while you can identify yourself as one of many genera, biology still matters, you will be vilified. You will be erased from your own work and shunned by the mean and ungrateful little actors who only exist thanks to your imagination. If you tell the truth, you will be sent to the social media stake.
Worse yet, you will be an example to those who might agree with you but tremble with fear that they too will be shunned. When the biological man who swam for the University of Pennsylvania men’s varsity team decided to become the biological man who swam for Penn’s varsity women’s team, no one was supposed to notice. We were all supposed to claim that this man who had spent almost two decades living in a male body and enjoying the physiological benefits of testosterone was actually a female. In fact, not just a woman. A woman who broke swimming records.
Thankfully, whether it was out of anger, outrage, self-preservation, or a combination of all three, some of the biological women on the team have stepped up to complain.
The problem is, most of them have remained anonymous precisely because they knew the kind of reaction they would get if they dared to tell the truth.
And what is this truth? It is that you cannot become a “woman” just because your mind is not in tune with your genitals. You cannot become a “man” just by magical thinking and the near support of those who have been intimidated into silence. You can be a trans person and you deserve respect, but you cannot order that we suspend our beliefs or ignore biological realities.
I’m a little fed up with having to toss my years of training in logic and critical thinking in the trash just so I don’t get destroyed on social media, receive death threats, or look like a bad guy to old friends. If that’s the price I have to pay for living in today’s society, count me and all my pronouns.
Flowers is an attorney and columnist for the Delaware County Daily Times and can be contacted at [email protected]