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« What counts as an explanation? | Main | Interesting research »

August 04, 2009

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Richard

"But transsexuals almost never describe things in terms of wanting to be the other gender, they claim to somehow know that they really are the other gender"

Robin Hanson's theory of identity might help make sense of this, especially if complemented by the idea that they already ("really") have the dispositions to more easily construct and abide by a transgendered identity.

The Wizard of Oz

Data point from someone inhabiting a female body: I can't detect an internal sensation of my sex or gender either. Transsexual people definitely face even more cultural pressure than the rest of us to impose an essentialist narrative on their experience: they have to convince their doctors and insurance providers that they really need medical stuff like hormones and surgery.

I suppose it's conceptually possible that some people have a gendered essence perceptible through introspection and others don't.

I've never quite understood why women would have more reason than men sex as an essential property. I'd have thought that the most obvious way of psychologically coping with belonging to a low status group was to think of that group identity as something imposed from outside, and unrelated to one's true self. (This is all compatible with the claim that women are more likely than men to view sex as an essential property, and just I don't have a good explanation of why. I'd like more data on this point, though.)

Also: how have you been? Australia is treating me well, but keeping me busy.

www.google.com/accounts/o8/id?id=AItOawnxJ4f7MH5TOcsHH4TXJwXvI_WUBM4iNr8

I've never quite understood why women would have more reason than men sex as an essential property. I'd have thought that the most obvious way of psychologically coping with belonging to a low status group was to think of that group identity as something imposed from outside, and unrelated to one's true self.

This reminds me of the idea that (in the United States) African-Americans are more conscious of racism because it impinges on their daily life and seldom allowed to forget their 'place', while many 'whites' as a privileged class can be blissfully unaware of the basic injustice of a social system where they are the beneficiaries and come to think of the way things are as simply 'natural'. It's more important for the oppressed to be aware of their relatively low status because transgressions are punished, and more necessary for the oppressed to have some understanding of their oppressors because that is a part of their environment with potentially lethal consequences unless understood.

As far as the discussion on transsexuals in the link is concerned, I must admit that there is a lot I don't understand and clearly many of the posters don't agree either (though clearly a lot of thought has gone into it). Being in a privileged caste, I suppose there is so much which I am free to ignore.

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