I was recently in a position where I adopted a gender role I was rather uncomfortable with. The reason I went along with it initially was in an attempt to create a better community for future generations. For various reasons, I do not feel comfortable airing my feelings on that thread.
However, I try to live an open life so I am going to make a post about my actual beliefs here.
I feel like our whole model of gender and the non-biological-imperative parts of sexuality is wrong. Moreover, I think we should replace it. Or at least we should take a serious stab at experimenting with replacing it. This opinion was likely formed somewhere between my strongly second-wave mother, Carl Djerassi, and Ursala K. Le Guin. ”Kemmer is one honking great idea, let’s do more of that!”
Context: The reason I am ‘male’ is for much the same as the reason I am (ethnically) Jewish. Other people define me as this way. I could contest these external labels, but it would not really matter. In a keenly post-WWII life, my personal sense of self holds little weight to the misconceptions of others.
Yes, there are implications for being born biologically male-bodied. These are issues which my doctor should worry about. However, I do not feel particularly ‘man’-ish nor do I like what that implies.
If I had a choice, I would not have been male. Not that I would have chosen female, either. I just want to be human damn it!*
Innovations: Technology is becoming available that promises to mitigate some of the confines of sex-of-birth. In the long term what I would love to see is the ability for one to change one’s physical sex as easily as one might change a shirt, into and out of as many sexes as their are articles of clothing in a wardrobe.
I anecdotally believe that this would necessitate a successful replacement to our current, failed gender and sex model. In order to accomplish such a heady goal I advocate a many-stage series of experiments to test, and learn from, different scenarios.
In the near term, products will likely become available that allow same-sex couples to bio-techno-logically reproduce. I think we should actively experiment with homogeneously sexed** communities. Individuals would be free to enter and leave such communities at will.
This in turn might open the door for asexual, reproductively-capable groups. Lessons learned here could be applied to groups of switchable sexed communities. Basically, as technology improves, we will be able to perform a greater variety of experiments.
Paramount here is that we should treat these as hard science experiments rather than social ones. Yes, there are social goals (as there always are in science), but the methods should be rigorous.
As I and most other multi-celled organisms will freely admit, the biological ability to swap genetic material with a partner has been shown to be the correct way of doing things. Yet since we have already freed ourselves from the shackles of traditional natural selection, we may as well take this opportunity as a species to truly innovate.
Paradoxes: It is generally considered a good thing to talk about getting more women into science and engineering. However, in order to even have this conversation I have had to abandon all of the scruples I have laid out above. In the face of reality, I have forcibly applied labels (‘female’, ‘male’) to others that I do not want applied to myself.
Additionally, some people claim that affirmative action is bad because the under-represented individual might wonder “Did I get this position because I was truly qualified or because I am a XXX?” However, I claim that the status quo or the lack of affirmative action is equally bad because I constantly wonder “Did I get this position because I am truly qualified or because I happen to have a circumcised penis**?” I struggle with this daily.
The above two paradoxes are the clearest thought experiments that I have which demonstrate that humans are clearly still thinking about issues of gender and sexuality (let alone ethnicity) in the wrong way. Transformative measures seem to need to be taken to meaningfully resolve these quandaries***.
* Similarly, the Jewish situation is muddled. While I am a Jew-by-choice religiously, I have no internal compass that makes me ethnically Jewish. I am ethnically Jewish because other people have a mental construct which the forcibly apply to me.
** You tell me I am Jewish and male. Clearly you have put this much together.
*** In the very near term, I am also in favor of escapist romps in the metaverse that allow people a degree of gender self-expression and innovation without the messy biology.