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Reblogged:Caplan on Transgenderism

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If you're like me, it's quite possible you have been quietly bewildered by both sides of the transgender debate. It's often particularly shrill on both sides, and that's saying something in an age when even topics that should be innocuous -- vaccines and patriotism come to mind -- raise defensive hackles or serve as excuses to start a harangue.

I refuse to get drawn in, either by the left-wing fad of rudely starting every conversation with a stranger with a pronoun ritual (i.e., by jumping onto sex and politics before anything else) -- or by the right-wing practice of stewing over the fact that somebody somewhere might decide to get gender reassignment surgery.

Whatever happened to live and let live?

If you sympathize, let me recommend Bryan Kaplan's Substack post, titled "Woman: A Non-Circular Definition." This fits the description of what I have been dying to see for a long time: someone discussing this topic in an even-handed, rational manner.

Caplan takes Matt Walsh's What Is a Woman? as his point of departure, quickly making it clear that the documentary was much better than one might have expected from its detractors. (I have not seen it myself and have no plans to do so.)

As examples of Caplan's thinking, let me post his last two points.

His penultimate point reiterates a very interesting way of conceptualizing trans men and women that I found thought-provoking:
Image by Foto Phanatic, via Unsplash, license.
My own view: I'm happy to extend honorary woman status to anyone who asks nicely for it. I'm also happy to be friends with people who feel differently. At the same time, I find Walsh's transableism analogy compelling. I just bite the bullet and affirm that adults have a right to amputate whatever they want, and surgeons have a right to sell such services. That said, if an adult friend asked my opinion of elective amputation, I would adamantly discourage them from doing it. I'd probably say much the same about hormonal treatments as well.
Caplan comes up with "honorary man/woman" by analogy to honorary (i.e. adoptive) parents and elaborates earlier. This might be a good way of thinking about people who have made such a transition, but I haven't thought that much about it and could see arguments either way.

I am definitely on board with Caplan's views about such surgeries: I think adults should be free to have them done and physicians free to perform them ... on adults.

And that leads me to Caplan's last point, with which I substantively agree, and is about the only thing in the whole discussion that animates me:
Last, while I favor a strong presumption of deferring to parents' judgment of what is best for their children, surgical or chemical treatment of minors' gender dysphoria looks like child abuse to me. I am amazed that adults who are horrified by teens [having] sex, drinking alcohol, and using drugs would be blasé about elective amputation. And no, I don't trust the judgment of the professionals who offer such services.
I would go further and say that, outside of obvious physical abnormalities, performing such treatments on anyone under the age of consent is child abuse, and I am stupefied by the people -- I know some! -- who were riding the Consent! bandwagon only a few years ago and yet don't bat an eye at the idea of having such treatments performed on minors.

-- CAV

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