Biological determinism vs. enviroment, if you’re not an apple you must be a banana.


For years this debate has waged on, Radical feminists often attacking trans women or trans men based on the claim that our behaviour reinforces biological determinism. Something that would be very harmful to the feminist movement and womens community as a whole were it completely accurate. While from the trans side of things the majority opinion seems to be that our nature is an immutable part of who we are. Any attempts to force us back into a stereotypical assigned at birth gender role are met with resistance. Rightly so , nobody should be forced into a gender role against their will.

Both sides in this debate have valid and very real concerns that overlook one small fact, the theories are not mutually exclusive.

Everybody seems to forget one simple fact, in all the madness people forget it is not nature vs. nurture, for the plain and simple reason both play a part in the development of human life and identity. Holding an exclusive viewpoint one way or the other in this inevitably means standing up for one groups rights while decimating the others. If you favour the biological determinism theorem you automatically minimise the voices of women all over the world who have fought damn hard to be recognised as more than just a societal role, and no matter how you colour it that aint right, However if you choose to favour societal conditioning and control as the cause of the problem you inevitably hurt a large number of trans women and trans men who are fighting equally hard for recognition in a society geared to force them back into what society considers an acceptable role for them against their will. Either way somebody gets pushed back in order to further somebody elses reality. This wouldn’t be right no matter what the reason, but the fact is both arguements are fundementally flawed.So I propose we look at a different theory, the one currently favoured by an overwhelming majority of biologists , anthropologists, psychiatrists, and quite a lot of laymen too.

Suppose for a moment Both played a part in defining who we are, Biology does indeed play a major role in setting our base identities, which means forcing somebody to fit a role does not work, any attempts to define who a person should be based on their biology alone harm both groups massively. If a person was defined by biology alone then society as a whole would stagnate, nothing would ever step outside the confines of their programmed preferences and identities. so we get to the issue at hand. Yes I agree nature plays a major part in defining who we are in my opinion , however so does a persons free will , a persons ability to be influenced by their enviroment and in turn change it for better or worse.

So yes women are conditioned by society, and it is a very noble thing to do to change society for the better, destroying privilege and sex based discrimination is vital work, Here is where things get problematic though.because both groups have massively different experiences being forced into roles that do not match who they are.The reality of this situation from both sides of their experiences are massively different.
For a trans woman based on experience we are told from the outset that we have to fit a male gender role, we are forced to dress a certain way, act a certain way, walk how we’re told, people even try to tell us how to bloody talk  or we face physical consequences . A trans person is forced into a hyper exxagerated role as a way to “fix ” them is the assumption (the creator of reparative therapy should be shot for what he has done to innocent people) in many cases by their own parents, in my case my mother decided to buy me a toy once I loved , but according to my father (a homophobe of the highest order who was already violent towards me)  it was a “girls toy” whatever the fuck that means boys toys girls toys are just another way to mindfuck you even in childhood, I’m sure you can figure out what happened.It was destroyed in front of me under the assumption I was turning gay. Over a toy , Ironically while I have no interest in sex whatsoever I have romantic tendencies that lean more towards dating women than men and always have yet society tends to assume I’m a gay man in denial even going as far as to attack me physically verbally and on occasion sexually . I was told how to dress how to act how to speak how to walk like a stereotypical male, and harshly punished when I didn’t fit his tidy little preconcieved boxes. He eventually kicked me out age 13 at which point my mother and stepfather took me in for which I am eternally grateful. Eventually I as told of transition after desperately seeking help (I’d been suicidal since I was 10 years old and at that age made a genuine bid to end my life but failed). I confess I did after breaking free of the stupid control of my identity for a time go hyper girly, yes it was stupid and idiotic but how else are we supposed to figure out our identity and comfort zones.

Looking back at that now I see how offensive it was, but sometimes you need to do something in order to grow as a person. Whether you are proud or ashamed of it later it is hindsight. Female assigned at birth FtM often have the same issue from the opposite direction.

While women assigned the role at birth are often forced into the trappings of supposed femininity, dressed up like dolls, forced to dress act and think as society is conditioned to think a girl should . young girls are constantly bombarded with plastic smiles, irritating platitudes, constant patronisation, billboards showing stick thin supermodels photoshopped so much they are barely recognisable as human anymore. Society plasters images of perfect little dolly stepford wives all over TV, it’s all so much brainwashing as to make you lose your lunch.

I could go on forever and not be able to point out all the injustices done to either party , not by the others existence, but by society itself, meanwhile master sits upon his phallic throne laughing his ass off while we squabble over his fucking tools.

For anybody interested in the biological proof of transsexuality here is an early study

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19341803?ordinalpos=2&itool=EntrezSystem2.PEntrez.Pubmed.Pubmed_ResultsPanel.Pubmed_DefaultReportPanel.Pubmed_RVDocSum

Note the report uses the term gender identity,

it does not in any way imply that a person does not have free will beyond their identity to define everything about themselves.

For more on the influence of enviroment, look around you, people are constantly exposed to sexist genderist propoganda wherever they go. I will be posting links in the sidebar eventually.

3 Comments

  1. Amy said,

    March 19, 2012 at 2:38 pm

    For anyone interested in the biological basis of “nurture” then look up epigenetics. There are some interesting studies done with genetically identical mice, one implanted into an attentive mother, another implanted into a neglectful one. The clone with the attentive mother grew up to be far braver in later life. They then took cell samples and looked for the levels of DNA methylation and where it was.

    I think a big problem trans people face is that they want the childhood they were denied. A little girl will be given dolls to play dress up with, a little girl will have princess themed parties where she wears giant silky poofy dresses, one day she’ll be bought makeup and at first she will put it on like a clown. Other days she’ll be made to wear plain clothes as they clean/paint, she’ll have do do chores around the house, and she’ll have mum help her with her makeup for the family get together at Christmas. And through all of these things she learns, learns what is is to be feminine, it the most and least exaggerated of ways, then find her own balance.

    A trans woman gets none of this, but still must learn the same lessons. So it must happen later in life, usually during transition. This often results in a time when they are very visible because 1) they haven’t had much time on hormones (assuming they are on them) and 2) they haven’t really settled into themselves and found out what kind of woman they are.

    • March 19, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      Too true.

    • Reneta Scian said,

      May 7, 2012 at 1:56 am

      I’d have to disagree with the “wrong rearing” position. What is difficult for me about my childhood wasn’t that I didn’t get dolls, or learn how to be a “girl/woman”. It was the fact that I was androgynous and I was denied the rights to my body. It caused untold amounts of suffering being unable to express a true, genuine self. Many woman who are cisgender may even feel as if being raised to express gender in a way that wasn’t right for them probably feel the same way.The problem is that gender dysphoria comes from being denied autonomy over ones own gendered body, identity, and expression.

      A role, or rearing style which is flexible enough to allow a child to be themselves, while still teaching them values, etiquette, manners, respect, et cetera is far more healthy for a child than a gender biased form of rearing. Neither my cloths, hobbies, likes, disliked, hormone levels, sex chromosomes, hair style, or any adjective of me makes me a woman. Who I am, who I feel I am makes me a woman, the rest is just fluff. I, for one, conclude as the author of this blog does; that socialization (how we are nurtured) as well as a series of complex biological mechanisms contribute to our sense of self identity and gender identity.

      A mixed bio-sociological constitution is where the greater preponderance of evidence is pointing, not to an “either or” conclusion. Specialization of the brain is affected by gender identity. Human biology is polymorphic, with a tendency towards dimorphism with gender. The brain is likely both malleable in some areas and hardwired in others governed by well-timed chemical signals, genetic switches, and other biological and environmental factors. There is no evidence that hypotheses about neurological hard-wiring or neurological malleability are mutually exclusive, and conclusions that they are stand against evidence.

      People have a tendency to try to “tidy-up” the complexity of humanity into alignment with presupposed categorical determinations, but those people are wrong and do cause harm to people, infringe upon autonomy, a marginalize those who don’t fit neatly into those determinations.


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