1. I claim to self-identify as a woman.
  2. I self-identify as a woman.
  3. I am a woman.

How do we get from (1) to (2)? And then from (2) to (3)? With a whole lot of as-yet-suppressed premises. After all, I could be lying. In fact maybe I have lied, on this very matter. In the event we ever get a hire in the Department, I want to be able to say we’ve met quota, so we needn’t restrict ourselves to a diversity hire. 

Even supposing one does self-identify as a woman, could he have misidentified himself? He thought he must be a woman because he found himelf sexually attracted exclusively to men. But it turns out he was just gay. 

And even supposing he rightly self-identifies as a woman – just as I might rightly self-identify as the legitimate heir to the throne of France – there’s not a soul on the planet, including my wife The Empress Josephine, who’s willing to treat me as such. I can shake my fist at the injustice of it all, but to what avail? 

The error here is in thinking that there’s some deep metaphysical further fact-of-the-matter about whether one is a woman, if only we could discover it. But there isn’t. What it is to be a woman is to be categorised as such for these and these purposes but not for those and those. I will NOT be booked for a PAP smear. I ought NOT to be admitted to the girl’s shower room. Nor, unless I’ve cosmetically transitioned, to the women’s shelter. I ought not to be exempted from the draft. Or sent to a women’s prison to serve my time. But dress as I like? Sure. Raise my pinky when I sip my wine? Why not? Expect the Empress Josephine to be willing to be seen in public with me? That’s yet to be negotiated.

Are there real problems facing the trans community? Of course there are. But the question is always, What accommodations is it reasonable to ask the rest of us to make? It’s the same question, I submit, to be asked about accommodating my conviction that I’m Napoleon. The analogy is not that I’m crazy and that therefore so are they. It’s that sane or crazy has nothing to do with it. Neither does whether I really am Napoleon. (I am, by the way.) 

We’re all crazy. And because we’re all crazy, we just need to cut each other enough slack so we can all live together. I think if we stopped worrying about (1), (2), and (3) above, and just focused on that, we could get off this toxic runaway train and go back to matters that really matter, foremost among them the toilet paper issue.

Categories: Everything You Wanted to Know About What's Going On in the World But Were Afraid to Ask, Social and Political Philosophy


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: