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The Anti-Politics of Identity

We identify as things we generally are not, thus Rachel Dolezal, men who identify as women, women who identify as men, and people of both sexes identifying as non-binary. No amount of empathy, compassion, or wishing will change that. I could identify as a classical guitarist and even be recognized as such. However, how I might choose to identify wouldn't change the fact that I don't play classical guitar. Some seem to believe that regardless of that fact, my identity, if genuinely held, should be validated by others. Refusing to see people as they want to see themselves, regardless of reality, is portrayed as a form of bigotry. They believe we must accept people as they say they are. It is clear that the people saying this have not even begun to reckon with the consequences to the individual who expects external validation for an identity he cannot validate for himself. They can barely acknowledge the consequence to society as a whole when strangers are forced to accept a falsehood for the comfort of others or face punishment.

I am of the opinion that no one truly believes that anyone's sex has changed. It is either toxic empathy, a form of pretending, fear of being ostracized, condescension, or outright lying from people who have decided that identity is more important than fact. If they truly believed, there would not be such a need to repeat mantras or punish people for rejecting identity as materially irrelevant. The accusation of transphobia appears to mostly mean that someone recognizes the reality of sex difference and refuses to pretend otherwise (see JK Rowling).

There is no consequence to a man lying about being a woman or being a better woman than actual women on social media. At the same time, a woman might lose her account for making it clear why he's not: he is a man. Misgendering, accurately stating the sex of someone identifying as the opposite sex is cause for permanent suspension on Twitter. It doesn't matter that when anyone says gender they actually mean fantasy

The problem is that this censure of free speech isn't limited to social media. There are numerous examples of United Kingdom police investigating women for social media posts and harmful stickers defining women as adult human females. In May, three Wisconsin middle schoolers were charged with sexual harassment for refusing to use they/them pronouns for a classmate. The school district interpreted the  protections against sexual harassment written into Title IX as also covering gender identity. Norwegian feminist, Christina Ellingson is under investigation for hate speech. She faces up to three years in prison for making the point that men cannot be lesbians. Brazilian feminist, Isabela Cepa faces up to 25 years in prison for pointing out that a male politician who chooses to identify as trans is a man.

So when someone like John Cleese dismisses this as merely a culture war issue, there are real world consequences to elevating identity over material reality. In addition to people facing prison for not upholding the identity of strangers, there is a compelling argument that the defense of Roe v Wade failed because of the desire to include men as women based on how they identify. Certainly, abortion supporters seem more concerned with using inclusive language around abortion than ensuring it is a right. Not to mention that there is an inherent conflict between upholding sex based rights and rights conferred to an identity based on sex stereotypes. For some reason, the desires of males to have their chosen identities validated seem to consistently supersede the rights of women against sexual harassment and discrimination

There is a danger in assuming that every identity is inherently good and the efforts to validate those identities have a neutral impact on others. The current Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services is promoting chemically castrating children to empower them in their gender identity. This is not hyperbole. The protocol for adolescent gender affirmation starts by stopping puberty using a drug also used on pervasive sex offenders. Preventing sexual, cognitive and bodily maturation in this way almost guarantees future sterility.

Levine is a man who chose to identify as trans after the age of 50 and after fathering children. I have suggested before that adolescent transition only exists to validate men who want to believe they were "born this way". This is a clear example. Levine is advocating to remove bodily function for which adolescents can give no informed consent to losing. He is doing this not because it reflects his experience or what is best for those adolescent, but because it validates his identity. He is doing this at the same time other nations are halting adolescent medical transition because of the weak evidence supporting it. 

It is not respectful to validate the desires of people who cannot accept reality. It is pure condescension. I have written about how identity politics has been used to distract from political movements for increased economic security. In this case identity is an argument against empirical reality in support of quasi secular religious beliefs. Universal human rights are being supplanted by the subjective, idiosyncratic desires of narcissistic individuals. It is not bigotry to reject this imposition. It is the only way to ensure that any political goals unrelated to gender are ever considered and contested.


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