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Morality of Trans-genderism

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TheEgoist
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First, I reject the idea that someone can actually biologically change their sex. You can't create a womb, ovaries and extra Y chromosomes in a man, nor can you create potent sperm in a woman. Or at least not with the current surgery, which is essentially a mutilation of one's private parts.

But I was wondering what everyone thought about this issue. Do you think its right for someone, if they are going through gender dysphoria, to eventually get their sex changed to what their brain tells them is appropriate? Often times it's the only way people like that can feel happy and sexually gratified, but it seems to extend from a severe hatred for your true identity, which will always be man or woman. I know Rand was not supportive of homosexual relationships herself. This seems to kind of give the idea of homosexuality a new twist though. I never agreed with her that homosexuality was inherently an immoral lifestyle, but something tells me that this whole transgender issue is just warped.

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When I watched the "pregnant" man on Oprah, he stressed that there is a difference between sexuality and gender. He said that the reason he wanted to become a man was because of conflict with his gender, not his sexuality. I think that is an important aspect to remember. Thus, I do not think that it is entirely correct to compare transgenderism to homsexuality because the latter is a sexual preference, while the former is gender preference.

As for the morality of transgenderism, I am not sure myself what the fundamentals of the issue are. Thus, I am unable to come to a moral conclusion. I am interested in reading what other people think.

Edited by Mimpy
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First, I reject the idea that someone can actually biologically change their sex. You can't create a womb, ovaries and extra Y chromosomes in a man, nor can you create potent sperm in a woman. Or at least not with the current surgery, which is essentially a mutilation of one's private parts.

But I was wondering what everyone thought about this issue. Do you think its right for someone, if they are going through gender dysphoria, to eventually get their sex changed to what their brain tells them is appropriate? Often times it's the only way people like that can feel happy and sexually gratified, but it seems to extend from a severe hatred for your true identity, which will always be man or woman. I know Rand was not supportive of homosexual relationships herself. This seems to kind of give the idea of homosexuality a new twist though. I never agreed with her that homosexuality was inherently an immoral lifestyle, but something tells me that this whole transgender issue is just warped.

I´m not sure it´s impossible to change your sex. It may be now, but science and the human potential are unlimited in my opinion. Eventually someone would figure out a way to make a woman create sperm and man have a womb.

Tramsgenderism isn´t necessarily homosexual either. Just like crossdressing is more common among straighters than gay people.

I don´t have anything against it per say. I think it doesn´t hurt me and if someone thinks it will make them more happy then I think they should just go for it and try to be happy. That can´t be immoral, can it?

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I don´t have anything against it per say. I think it doesn´t hurt me and if someone thinks it will make them more happy then I think they should just go for it and try to be happy. That can´t be immoral, can it?

I think this issue is similar to homosexuality. Man is clearly physically equipped to mate with the opposite sex, but happiness should be a higher value than biological compatibility.

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I think this issue is similar to homosexuality. Man is clearly physically equipped to mate with the opposite sex, but happiness should be a higher value than biological compatibility.

Yes, but personally I´d advice any friend against it. Once it´s done it´s difficult to change ones mind. But of course if you are willing to tear your genitalia apart then I don´t think anyone can stop you, I can´t imagine it to be easy.

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Parts of this topic were already covered here.

There's nothing immoral about having a medical condition, nothing wrong with trying to fix the situation into the most consistent (or least inconsistent) set-up possible, and nothing immoral about not being worried about it if it doesn't otherwise harm your life. Fears about transgender or homosexuality as such are holdovers from religious ethics, IMHO. There are other details where ethics does apply and vehemently so, but not at this root level.

JJM

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Fears about transgender or homosexuality as such are holdovers from religious ethics, IMHO.

Out of curiosity, what do you mean by "fear?" Who have you ever known to be afraid of transgenderism (or homosexuality, for that matter)? I mean that one character from American Beauty was indeed afraid but that was because he was himself repressing his own urges. I've found that generally the term fear or "phobia" is used, but very few people are actually afraid in any sense - they're disgusted, offended, or hatemongering. But not afraid, per se.

And secondly, I don't think it's a religious holdover at all. Most men who I've observed or spoken with consider it a challenge or affront to masculinity*, quite apart from anything to do with religion. Then again, I don't converse with people who are that religious because they are insane.

*I think this is mistaken - it's certainly distasteful from a masculine standpoint (i.e. "I don't like that; that's not for me"), but it really doesn't challenge masculinity any more than women acting feminine challenges masculinity. Everyone I've ever seen who is gay or transgender is saying that what they do is right for them and has no bearing or application on masculinity or what masculine men are or do. The Euro-style metrosexual thing, however, is very much saying that straight, masculine men ought to act differently, so I'm surprised that that isn't seen as generally more offensive than gay people. But then again I don't think most people really haven't thought this stuff through.

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Out of curiosity, what do you mean by "fear?" Who have you ever known to be afraid of transgenderism (or homosexuality, for that matter)?

You mean you've never heard of people who fear that contact with 'perverts' is going to corrupt them or others? Or those who are afraid of it being somehow "catching", and afraid of physical contact of any kind?

I've frequently heard that line about "I'm not afraid of X, I just hate X," and my response is always "uhuh." Put race in place of X rather than homosexuality or transgender and then tell me again it's not actual fear and that the "-phobia" word-fragment is not appropriate.

And secondly, I don't think it's a religious holdover at all.

If there were never any religious component to it there would never have been the trouble in the first place. Was it not commonly accepted in ancient Greece? Why should that not return today? Pederasty was common in Greece too, but our rejection of it today is objectively justifiable as a violation of children's rights. The same cannot be said about homosexuality.

As to most men, what is the origin for fears about their masculinity being questioned? Did the Greeks have such problems?? As far as I can tell, those insecurities about masculinity arise from religious thoughts on dominance and submission. The Romans held that much explicitly, and Christian culture originates in Roman cultural practices as much as it does Jewish. As to the doctrinal part, the highly religious often hate all sex, but consider pregnancy to be something that justifies it (though sometimes not even that). Homosexuality has no such saving grace. From all the observations I have ever seen, the visceral reaction to homosexuality comes primarily from the fact that its increasing acceptance is a challenge to religious beliefs about sex and gender roles, either directly to the religious or indirectly to those brought up in a culture that has a vacuum in the place where religious belief use to be on the matter. In the same manner as the root of racism, it is actual fear originating in fear of threatening ideas.

I see no reason why the prevailing distaste should not be viewed as originating in this. All I can see is that this is remnant prejudice that has detached from its primitive origins and not recognised as such by otherwise modern people. Physically dirty? I've seen pellet-plant workers head to to toe in red iron ore dust, and conveyor-belt workers likewise in black rubber debris, but while others would be concerned about messing their clothes they wouldn't find these people as "distasteful". The biological matter? Plumbers, butchers and surgeons get far dirtier than that, daily. What would you call hatred of surgeons? What would you call the claim that plumbers and butchers who like their jobs are somehow immoral?? What's so special about homosexuality to warrant such distaste? The culture's religious past, that's what. I see no reason why a plain shoulder-shrug attitude towards it by people lacking such insecurities wouldn't be the norm once all the crap is finally swept away, just as nowadays far fewer people go bonkers at premarital sex than did 30 years ago.

JJM

Edited by John McVey
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Anti-homosexuality sentiment is NOT rooted in Christianity - it's rooted in Judaism. And I agree - I think "fear" is an inappropriate word in our discussion here.

The fact that ancient Greeks were homosexual does not make it objectively moral. I'm sure there are multiple topics on this forum that would address this, so I won't bother.

*

As for transgenderism, I think the term "mutilation" is also inappropriate. I don't see what about the procedure separates it from cosmetic surgeries such as rhinoplasty or breast augmentation, or from a procedure like an appendectomy.

I don't think that transgenderism is any different, morally, from homosexuality. What conclusions one has about homosexuality, I think would necessarily have to apply to transgenerderism.

I think they are completely two separate issues! One deals with a man sleeping with a man (or woman/woman), and the other deals with someone biologically changing their sex. How are they at all the same? If someone becomes a biological woman, in what way would it be immoral for her to sleep with a man?

I think the fundamental question surrounding this issue is: should people be allowed to change what their genes determined? I agree with the Objectivist principle that homosexuality is a denial of self, but I don't see how changing your sex is (especially since transgenders DO go through therapy to become their new, respective sex in both body & mind). Perhaps Inspector has a comment on this?

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I find the politics of transgenderism fundamentally contradictory. Transgender activists argue that gender is a "social construct," that we are born male or female ("sex") but that our "genders" are a product of socialization. Also, many believe that these "gender constructs" should be abolished because they are the root of oppression, and yada yada. This is contradictory because if gender is a social construct that should be abolished, then why feed into gender, rather than leave things as they are? How can you say you want to destroy the masculine / feminine dichotomy, but also revel in it?

A clearer way of looking at this. Take a boy who has always "felt feminine." According to transgender theory, one's "gender" (in this case, the boy's feminine traits) should be cherished and accepted. But at the same time, they would conclude this means that well, he must really be a girl. This is where I say, wait a minute. If his "femininity" is a construct, why would you need to change your body to fit the very social construct you despise? Wouldn't the real "radical" thing to do is to leave his body alone and let him be as he is? By arguing for sex changes transgender theorists are shooting themselves in the foot. Bottom line: something cannot be both a "social construct" and aninherent trait. If masculine / feminine traits are "constructs" (can be learned), which transgender theorists argue, then they can also be unlearned, and the boy could eventually learn to be more masculine.

I have never understood why transgenderism gets lumped with the gay and lesbian movement. (GLBT = "Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered.") As others have pointed out in this thread, being gay has nothing to do with being unhappy as your sex. On a further note, I have never understood what bisexuality has to do with the gay rights movement. For instance, a lesbian has nothing in common with a "bisexual" woman married to a man who lives a heterosexual life. It just doesn't make any sense. Interestingly, it was precisely my annoyance with this forced GLBT identity (read: "group politics" / "rights movements") which has lead me away from group politics to individualist politics, and ultimately to Objectivism. I think it's unfortunate that many gays / lesbians are turned off by Objectivism because of Rand's statements. The way I reconcile it is that context is key, and Rand was writing at a time in which homosexuality was more of a mystery than it is today. In the same way is that Rand was a voracious smoker, but during her lifetime, little was known about the hazzards of smoking.

Edited by Tabitha
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I think the fundamental question surrounding this issue is: should people be allowed to change what their genes determined? I agree with the Objectivist principle that homosexuality is a denial of self, but I don't see how changing your sex is (especially since transgenders DO go through therapy to become their new, respective sex in both body & mind). Perhaps Inspector has a comment on this?

I'd be curious as to where you derived the 'Objectivist principle' that homosexuality is a denial of self. Ayn Rand made her statements against homosexuality in 1971, but later stated in an interview with Harry Binswanger in 1980 that "we didn't know enough about the development of homosexuality in a person's psychology to say that it would have to involve immorality." Nathaniel Branden considered her "absolutely and totally ignorant" about homosexuality, but I'll just go with Peikoff when, after Rand's death in 1982, he went on record disagreeing with Rand's statement in his 'Love, Sex, and Romance' lecture. He argued that homosexuality itself is not open to moral judgment. Edwin A. Locke wouldn't disagree either I would think, considering he specifically includes same-sex couples as among those who he wishes to lecture on successful relationships in his OCON 2006 course: http://www.objectivistconferences.com/ocon...nal.htm#romance

Further, I don't think there's any question that people should be "allowed" to change what their genes determined. First, I do not recognize anyone else's right to "allow" me to do what I wish to my own person, and the extension of me consenting to another (a surgeon, doctor, etc) adult to perform it for me (other controversial things such as euthanasia included). Second, we change things that our genes determine for us all the time. Could it possibly be wrong to dye our hair, get breast implants, get porcelain veneers?

This is why it's a question for psychology, not philosophy (without context, at least).

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Isn´t denying your homosexuality a denial of your self?

:rolleyes:

After all it exists not only in humans so I´m inclined to think it´s something you´re born with rather than psychologically created.

Haven´t all psychological treatments until now failed to stop it?

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Do you think its right for someone, if they are going through gender dysphoria, to eventually get their sex changed to what their brain tells them is appropriate?

Do I think it is right for someone to go for his whims instead of his identity? Not as long as I am I.

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You mean you've never heard of people who fear that contact with 'perverts' is going to corrupt them or others? Or those who are afraid of it being somehow "catching", and afraid of physical contact of any kind?

No; not outside of things making fun of it.

I've frequently heard that line about "I'm not afraid of X, I just hate X," and my response is always "uhuh."

Hate and fear are two separate emotions. As I said, yes, there are some people who are actually afraid but they are the completely insane ones who - like you said - are afraid they will catch "the gay." The term "homophobia," however, is used to describe anyone who has any objection to or distaste for, the practice whatsoever. This is my objection.

Pederasty was common in Greece too, but our rejection of it today is objectively justifiable as a violation of children's rights. The same cannot be said about homosexuality.

That hasn't stopped at least some people I've seen from arguing that it is a Christian holdover as well, in arguments about statutory rape laws. The temptation, it seems, is to attribute anything one does not like that involves restraint on a sexual practice, as Christian. And, as a corollary, to also make the same accusation of anyone advocating such a position.

But lots people play it fast and loose with this practice, without fully thinking the matter through. So I make it a point to call into question any such accusation. Christianity might be a major influence on our culture, but it is not the be-all-end-all boogeyman such that you can just blindly accuse it whenever you "smell" something "repressive." (Not you, JJM; I'm speaking generally here)

As to most men, what is the origin for fears about their masculinity being questioned? Did the Greeks have such problems?? As far as I can tell, those insecurities about masculinity arise from religious thoughts on dominance and submission. The Romans held that much explicitly, and Christian culture originates in Roman cultural practices as much as it does Jewish.

So you're saying that when you say "Christian," that you mean Roman rather than Biblical? Could you elaborate?

As to the doctrinal part, the highly religious often hate all sex, but consider pregnancy to be something that justifies it

Sure, but per my post I am not talking about the highly religious here. I'm talking about the majority of men I've met who consider homosexuality offensive and who have explicitly given a masculine, non-religious explanation to me as to what bothers them. Are you telling me that they're all repressed Christians even though they don't even know it? That's an awfully Freudian claim, and frankly Freud was full of crap.

All I can see is that this is remnant prejudice that has detached from its primitive origins and not recognised as such by otherwise modern people.

Sure, that much is apparent. But as I said, the objections I refer to are those of an explicitly non-religious nature. The explanation that they really are religious without even knowing it is unsatisfying to me.

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Yeah, I would also say that I haven't seen much correlation between one's religion and one's views on homosexuality. If anything, I know more Christian types that are pro-gay out of the whole "love thy neighbor" mindset than I do Christians that are opposed to gays for religious reasons.

Edited by Tabitha
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I think they are completely two separate issues! One deals with a man sleeping with a man (or woman/woman), and the other deals with someone biologically changing their sex. How are they at all the same? If someone becomes a biological woman, in what way would it be immoral for her to sleep with a man?

I'm not sure what you mean - what I said was that logically whatever view - positive, negative, or neutral - one has toward the one, would have to apply to the other. If you think that homosexuality is a defiance of one's male or female identity, then how is transgenderism not the same? And if you see Homosexuality as a psychological flaw that one may have to live with on its own terms, then the same would apply to transgenderism.

Perhaps it would help if you knew what my personal position was on the subject of homosexuality? For the record, I agree with Dr. Peikoff's views on this subject. And I think Flibby's summary is pretty much spot on.

I agree with the Objectivist principle that homosexuality is a denial of self, but I don't see how changing your sex is...

Because there does not exist such an ability. You cannot change your sex, despite all superficial attempts to the contrary. So both homosexuals and transgenders are practicing the same defiance of the reality of their physical sexual identity. But if you read what I linked to, I also think that this may be the best option that they have.

--------------------------------

Adding to my reply to JJM, take for example that most masculine men who get angry at gay men have no such objection to a pair of feminine, lesbian, women. Quite the opposite, in fact. But if it were rooted in religion, then wouldn't they be just as disgusted by that?

--------------------------------

but I'll just go with Peikoff when, after Rand's death in 1982, he went on record disagreeing with Rand's statement in his 'Love, Sex, and Romance' lecture.

Wait, what? I don't believe he went on record as "disagreeing with" Rand's statement. Perhaps you should follow the link I gave to Flibbertigibbet where he actually puts Rand's statement in full context before you conclude what she was in fact saying about homosexuality. Because it's pretty easy to misinterpret.

Edited by Inspector
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Isn´t denying your homosexuality a denial of your self?

Yes and no. Yes, in the same sense that denying one's angry personality or one's timid personality would be a denial of self. Of course, all three psychological traits can and should be evaluated along the lines of: is it rational? Ought my self be this way? Should I seek to change this aspect of myself?

Haven´t all psychological treatments until now failed to stop it?

Yes, and therein lies the rub. There isn't any sort of psychological technology available to change homosexuality. So regardless of one's evaluation of the rationality of the thing, there aren't so many options available to do anything about it. So the best option available may just be to shrug at the irrationality of the thing and make the most of the situation.

After all it exists not only in humans so I´m inclined to think it´s something you´re born with rather than psychologically created.

Plenty of things which are clearly learned behavior in humans exist automatically in animals. Saying that something exists in the animal kingdom proves exactly nothing about its status in humans as learned or inherited because humans are not the same as animals.

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Because there does not exist such an ability. You cannot change your sex, despite all superficial attempts to the contrary.

What do you mean by this? Not only is it possible to switch your reproductive organs, but there are also mental and hormonal therapies available to men/women who undergo transsexual surgeries. Are you suggesting that your only true "self" is the self you are born with? Because at this point in time, it IS possible to both physically and mentally change your sex. I'm not sure how you're using "superficial" here.

If you think that homosexuality is a defiance of one's male or female identity, then how is transgenderism not the same?

Again, if you change your "self" - biologically and mentally - how is it a denial of self? Homosexuality is a denial of what our reproductive organs are designed for, and what our physical/mental needs are as men and women. Transgenderism is BECOMING someone of the opposite sex. I would agree that transgenderism without sex change is a denial, but post-sex change operation, I would disagree.

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Wait, what? I don't believe he went on record as "disagreeing with" Rand's statement. Perhaps you should follow the link I gave to Flibbertigibbet where he actually puts Rand's statement in full context before you conclude what she was in fact saying about homosexuality. Because it's pretty easy to misinterpret.

I don't see how I misinterpreted what she said. The part about the government prohibiting what private individuals do is irrelevant, thus I didn't feel I needed to include that in context. She did in fact say that she found homosexuality to be immoral because "it involves psychological flaws, corruptions, errors, or unfortunate premises, but there is a psychological immorality at the root of homosexuality. Therefore I regard it as immoral." She ended her response to the question with saying that in her sincere opinion, she found it disgusting.

In his lecture, Peikoff made a statement that contradicts what she said. He does not regard it as immoral, and in fact, considers it outside of the realm of morality. I would think this classifies as "going on the record, disagreeing with Rand's statement." Conclusion X cannot both be considered immoral AND outside of the realm of morality.

Homosexuality qua homosexuality is not immoral.

Because there does not exist such an ability. You cannot change your sex, despite all superficial attempts to the contrary. So both homosexuals and transgenders are practicing the same defiance of the reality of their physical sexual identity. But if you read what I linked to, I also think that this may be the best option that they have.

How are homosexuals qua homosexuals defying the "reality of their physical sexual identity"? From the link that you posted from Flibbertigibbet, I gathered that Flibber considered the sexual self to be an amalgamation of one's biological makeup in addition to the development of one's consciousness. Just because one is born with a penis, does not mean that it is immoral or even psychologically bizarre for him to insert it in places other than a woman's vagina.

Edited by West
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In his lecture, Peikoff made a statement that contradicts what she said. He does not regard it as immoral, and in fact, considers it outside of the realm of morality. I would think this classifies as "going on the record, disagreeing with Rand's statement." Conclusion X cannot both be considered immoral AND outside of the realm of morality.

You need to focus on the term, "psychologically immoral" and ask yourself what that term might mean, and how it may differ from the term "immoral." Just like Flibbert explicitly did in his videos.

How are homosexuals qua homosexuals defying the "reality of their physical sexual identity"? From the link that you posted from Flibbertigibbet, I gathered that Flibber considered the sexual self to be an amalgamation of one's biological makeup in addition to the development of one's consciousness.

Well, if you agree that it is an amalgamation of one's biological makeup in addition to the development of one's consciousness, then we have two questions. That of biological nature, and that of how the consciousness develops. Now you asked me how homosexuals deny the reality of their sexual identity. I think that in the case of the biological aspect, it is quite clear and uncontroversial. So I'm going to assume you're asking about the latter aspect - that of the development of consciousness.

Which, as agreed by both Dr. Peikoff's lecture and Ayn Rand's statements - represent errors, flaws, and unfortunate premises. Masculinity, in Ayn Rand's view, was an essential recognition and development of the fact of one's maleness. So, while your statement of "Just because one is born with a penis, does not mean that it is immoral or even psychologically bizarre for him to insert it in places other than a woman's vagina" is crude and oversimplified to the point where it makes it nearly impossible to understand the issue, it yet retains a grain of truth. Yes, the fact that one is a male is a fact of reality by which one would rationally derive certain conclusions about what exactly one ought to want to do with one's genitalia.

Which is not to say, that if one made errors in constructing one's psychology which one is now saddled with and cannot change, that it makes one immoral simply for having those emotions, or even acting on them given the fact that that may be the only available option for happiness.

So the statement "Homosexuality qua homosexuality is not immoral" may not be true as such. Homosexuals are not necessarily immoral; which is not to say that "homosexuality qua homosexuality" is not. Yes, I know: it's quite a concept to absorb.

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Because at this point in time, it IS possible to both physically and mentally change your sex.

No, I think you are highly misinformed about the completeness of the medical procedures which exist currently. There exists no procedure by which a woman may become a fully functional male nor a man a fully functional female. All procedures currently in existence only change superficial appearances. Even the hormone therapies are crude at best compared to actually being a man or a woman.

I suggest reading up on the subject, if you're interested.

The fact is that one cannot, right now, become anything more than a mutilated approximation of the opposite gender. Now, even given this, a transgender individual may be happier living as one of those than as a fully functioning member of a gender that they cannot feel. So everything that applies to homosexuality applies in this case as well. It's just more unfortunate for them.

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No, I think you are highly misinformed about the completeness of the medical procedures which exist currently. There exists no procedure by which a woman may become a fully functional male nor a man a fully functional female. All procedures currently in existence only change superficial appearances. Even the hormone therapies are crude at best compared to actually being a man or a woman.

I suggest reading up on the subject, if you're interested.

No, I think you're misusing the word "superficial". You haven't offered any evidence that it is, except to say that the current medical procedures are "crude at best". There are women AND men who aren't "fully functional" - and yet are still, for all practical purposes, "male" or "female". I suggest you ask a transsexual, or listen to a radio broadcast/television interview. I doubt any of them will call the process "superficial". While it hasn't been perfected, the medical procedures that currently exist are still pretty advanced - transsexual women still can achieve orgasm, etcetera. They may not be able to reproduce, or nurse their children, but a ) certain women NEVER will and b ) I doubt that it will be impossible for scientists to figure out how to enable transsexual men to.

The fact is that one cannot, right now, become anything more than a mutilated approximation of the opposite gender. Now, even given this, a transgender individual may be happier living as one of those than as a fully functioning member of a gender that they cannot feel. So everything that applies to homosexuality applies in this case as well. It's just more unfortunate for them.

Whether we cannot RIGHT NOW is irrelevant to the morality of the subject - especially since medical professionals are nearing a point when people CAN change their sexual identity completely. The discussion here is: if it were possible for a person to undergo a sex change, could they change their sexual identity and still be fully happy? and is a person's "self" defined by what they are born with?

Edited by Catherine
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Whether we cannot RIGHT NOW is irrelevant to the morality of the subject - especially since medical professionals are nearing a point when people CAN change their sexual identity completely.

I disagree that we are anywhere near that point, unless by "near" you mean 100+ years. But then again my standard for completeness in this regard is obviously much higher than yours.

The discussion here is: if it were possible for a person to undergo a sex change, could they change their sexual identity and still be fully happy? and is a person's "self" defined by what they are born with?

I believe I have answered that - "Now, even given this, a transgender individual may be happier living as one of those [mutilated half-genders] than as a fully functioning member of a gender that they cannot feel. So everything that applies to homosexuality applies in this case as well. It's just more unfortunate for them."

The problem with both issues is that their psychology isn't matching up with the reality of their physical makeup. In both cases, if there is no way to treat the psychology to make it comply with reality then it is not immoral to act within that psychology. It's just that with transgender people, it involves complicated and expensive surgery which still won't fully solve their problem - so it's just more tragic.

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