When I retired as a humanist celebrant I thought I'd stop writing this blog, but my fascination with all things death-related prompted more posts. They're just written from a slightly different perspective, that's all. Oh, and I still do the odd one, by special request.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Death doesn't misgender. You die as you were born.

In a discussion (if you can call it that) about transgenderism and the proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act on Twitter, the tweet above was aimed at me. It'll be familiar to those of you who question the claim, since it's been repeated umpteen times by irritable transgender people and their chums. According to them, anyone who dares to question the assertion that you can change your sex, whether from male to female or female to male, is a "transphobe", or we "misgender" people, or worse. These absurd beliefs are nonsensical and deny all the evidence to the contrary.

Statue of Death, Trier 
Cathedral, Germany
When I die my body should be sent to the teacher of anatomy at The University of Cambridge, as it's been bequeathed for medical education. For how to donate your body, see the link on the right. I wrote should be sent, as it may not be accepted if they have a glut of cadavers or if it's not in good enough condition. The medical students who dissect my body will discover that I was a woman, as I have female anatomy, minus a couple of bits. I have no uterus, as it was removed years ago, and only one breast, as I've had a mastectomy. But there will be no doubt that it was a female body.

If a transgender person's body was dissected, either for medical education or a post-mortem examination, his or her sex would also be obvious to a student or pathologist. Not the sex that he or she chose to present as, but his or her natal sex; the sex that he or she was born with. Even when a body has been buried for a very long time, so that there is no soft tissue left, only bone, it is still possible to identify the sex. DNA and characteristics such as the shape of the pelvis will be clear proof of the sex of the corpse. Any surgery that had been intended to make someone appear different from his or her biological sex, the sex they were born with, will make no difference. It will still be obvious. There is a very small number of people who are described as intersex, because their anatomy isn't typical of a male or female, but their existence doesn't validate the claim that a man can be a woman or vice versa. They are very different from transgender people. So no, in life or in death, trans women are not women, no matter how many times you say it's so. It's simply impossible to change your sex.

Gender is different. Gender roles are determined by convention, culture, tradition, the family, and a while bunch of other variables. It's not so much what sex you were born with as where you were born, the society you were raised in, and how independent you are or are allowed to be. In countries like ours, Great Britain, we have more freedom to follow our interests and express ourselves as we please. In other countries, such as the Islamic theocracies, unconventional people risk punishment or even death. So transgender people are fortunate if they live in relatively liberal societies. They can express themselves as they please. But this doesn't mean that claiming to be what you're not is any more ethical, or that it's ethical to claim rights that disadvantage others, such as women's hard-won rights. We are entitled to our safe spaces, to representation in women's organisations, including political ones, to prizes and awards specifically for women, and to compete on equal terms in athletics and sports where male physical strength and size would put us at a disadvantage. And there are very good reasons why there are separate prisons for men or women, and no good reasons to change this.

So, in conclusion, you die as you were born, whichever sex that was. That's a fact.

If the skeleton in the image was a real skeleton, and it could be properly examined, you could tell if it was male or female, though Christians generally assume that the Angel of Death is male, like their God. Jadzia Dax wouldn't have made this sort of fuss.


28 comments:

Margaret Nelson said...

I've had a phone call from a policewoman to warn me that this blog post and some of my Tweets have caused offence to transgender people. Seems it's offensive to state the truth about gender, and that there are people who'll track you down and report you to the police for doing so.

PetuniaCat said...

I saw that on Twitter. 😢😠 And it made me come read this post. It’s wonderful! So that’s one tiny good thing that came out of this. 🤷🏻‍♀️

I think we need to make a sheet for people in Britain to keep by the phone, phones aren’t stationary anymore though, so people know what to ask when they get that phone call. The name of the person, the force, badge number. Other people will know other things to have on the list.

Best of luck to you in dealing with this madness. May this weirdness end soon so we can all laugh at it together.

Fudgefase said...

It's appalling. I've often thought this while reading some posts, especially on Twitter. Wanna know your sex? Ask an archaeologist.

Zeno said...

Utterly bizarre that anyone should think it in any way offensive, never mind report it to the police, never mind it to be so important that it warranted the police phone you.

Gareth Williams said...

The Orwellian nonsense is becoming increasingly common. See for example here: https://blogs.spectator.co.uk/2019/01/is-it-now-a-crime-to-like-a-poem-about-transgenderism/

It is time for the sane majority to push back. Please give details of which police force was involved, so members of the public can tell their PCC whether this is the kind of matter they want the police to spend their time on. http://www.apccs.police.uk/find-your-pcc/

Mnem said...

Brilliant article.
I made this point once on Twitter and had to take it down.

Heather said...

I too came to this interesting blog via the news on Twitter that the police had called to 'raise awareness' that there had been complaints. There is nothing remotely offensive to any sensible person about the post - and even if someone is not sensible (and of course some people are not) it is not a police matter if they decide they're offended....don't know whether to be worried or just despair at the waste of time.

Janet Georgiou said...

Well said! I hope all this publicity directs others to your writing and some sanity ensues.

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Tom Williams said...

Like the above commenter, I read this blog after seeing your tweet and it is very concerning that a statement of ABSOLUTE fact can be construed as offensive. Not only is it concerning that we are now expected to bend the very fabric of reality to appease a tiny minority of fantasists, but also the wasting of valuable police resources on such absurdity, while children lay dying in our streets from knife crime. If facts offend you, seek professional help.

Patricia Lockhart said...

I'm transgender male to female. I'm both in the least offended. I'd put the post in the stating the obvious category. No. Much as I hate my male body it will always be a male body. Not much I can do about that. Gender. Well I'll just stick to calling myself trans. Have I got a psychological problem. No idea. Maybe maybe not. But to not be open to others opinions is to be closed minded. So I'll listen to your opinion with an open mind. You are right about sex. I cannot change my sex. Gender. Well im really not sure. But I'll listen. Good luck. I'm sure your not transphobic in any way.

Helen Ilitha said...

When the police call back, ask them to phone up the Equalities and Human Rights Commission for a copy of their pack for Students on the Equality Act.
For some weird reason, the students are now in possession of the law, but not the silly police forces. The students have been clearly told that stating that transwomen are men is NOT HATE SPEECH, so therefore can't possibly render you guilty of a Hate Crime.
I really, really wish the police would get back to doing proper policing - or if they must sit on computers all day, track down the paedophiles and cyber stalkers writing utter filthy online about women they don't like.
Your blog is great. Best of luck with it and if they are stupid enough to interview you under caution for every question say "no comment" and don't accept a caution. It means they have insufficient evidence to charge you with but hope you'll be too stupid to realise.

Grant Gibbons said...

I had no idea who you were. This us how their hate works, it shows us good people like you.

Helen Krummenacker said...

It seems bizarre to me that there are offensiveness police. You must have such a low rate of actual crimes to spend police time letting people know their posts were offensive. Did you inform the policewoman that you find the complaints about your writing offensive? Or are men (oopsie, said it) allowed to offend women but not vice versa?

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Javier Sanchez said...

What's wrong with being offended? By all means, be offended. Or choose not to be. Either way.

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Bronwen Davies said...

I love this! So true, so clearly written: the bottom line. I hope you don't mind me having Shared it on Facebook. Solidarity.

Margaret Nelson said...

I've clearly stated that anonymous comments aren't allowed.

I had a phone call from a Suffolk Detective Chief Superintendent this morning, who apologised and admitted "we got it wrong". To be fair, the call was more advisory than anything and hate crime legislation is badly written to include "causing distress", which is very woolly. I'm happy with the apology.

Unknown said...

Excellent story I was distressed by the way the police contacted you. That part was worrying

William Scott Scherk said...

I'd love to see you do a blog series on laws on Transgender folk in both Iran and Pakistan. It might open up a few minds ...

Ian Wilson said...

Interesting choice of image. The Christian “Grim Reaper” is a thought by many a misattribution of the Titan God Cronos who famously cut of his father genitals! Keep up the good work.

Matt Osborne said...

It's so hateful to acknowledge reality. Just the other day I claimed to be seven feet tall and an NBA player, then someone said "you liar you're only 5 foot 9 and can't dribble for shit" so I blocked them because no one needs that kind of bigotry in their life.

trueabundance said...

brilliant article! I've only just discovered you because of a video on youtube by Sargon of Akkad. I'm glad I took the time to look you up.

Margaret Nelson said...

Thanks everyone.

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Margaret Nelson said...

I'm campaigning with Fair Cop.
https://www.faircop.org.uk/margaret-nelson