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Gender Identity, Perception of Gender, and the Tolerant Society

Tue 3 Nov 2015 18:22:18 2 comments

There’s been a bit of chit-chat around the gender-sphere lately about a petition pushing for Germaine Greer’s speech at the University of Cardiff to be cancelled. The petition was based on the fact that Greer had expressed trans-exclusionary views and on the premise that:

Trans-exclusionary views should have no place in feminism or society.

Many of the responses reached a more moderate conclusion, that: Greer should still be able to give her talk in spite of her views on trans gender people. A common opinion is that Greer’s views might “have sold just fine forty-odd years ago” but now are outdated, and that Greer’s view “will die with today’s [Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist] leaders and in a decade or so, among feminists it will be confined to a few cranks.

In this post I’m going to argue that Greer’s views ought to be heard because of, not merely in spite of, her views on trans-gender people. I’m not writing in order to specifically defend Greer or her views; she is enough of an intelligent and independent thinker with more than enough experience as a provocateur to defend her own views. Nor is this a post about the issue of academic freedom or censorship; I’ve already made more than a few comments on that issue in the thread over at Alas.

This post will argue that while trans-inclusive views on gender have made an important contribution to our collective understanding and appreciation of gender, and that protecting trans individuals remains an important social justice goal, alternative views on gender, particularly a perception rather than a self-identification based view, will continue to have a significant contribution to make to the gender debate and are an aspect of people’s gender that should not be suppressed. In short I’m arguing for the inclusion of views on gender that might be trans-exclusionary (but not the exclusion of trans-inclusionary views on gender).

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