Saturday, June 13, 2015

Today's Question to Ponder

If Caitlyn Jenner can declare herself a woman, why can't Rachel Dolezal declare herself black?

I do understand that Dolezal has opened herself up to these questions by pursuing a very aggressive line against police harassment and so on, leading people to wonder about her basic truthfulness. So is that the answer -- we'll let you choose your identity as long as you're not a jerk about it?


G. Verloren said...

I identify as the sole rightful absolute god-ruler of all humanity, so now it's true, right? And I'm also a racoon.

Denialism simply isn't healthy. You can't just reject reality. To do so is literally insanity.

Yet even if it weren't, such behavior doesn't actually help anything - it simply serves to reinforce stereotypes and binary divisions that shouldn't exist in the first place.

Allowing a person in one arbitrary social category to demand that society treat them like a a person in a different arbitrary social category doesn't fix anything. There simply shouldn't be arbitrary social categories to begin with.

The physical expression of your genetics shouldn't influence how you are treated. And people who want to be treated a certain way shouldn't be encouraged to alter their appearance in order to "pass" as the a member of a different genetic typing. We simply shouldn't be giving special treatment to different people based on such arbitrary factors.

Men should not be treated different than women. Lighter skinned people should not be treated differently than darker skinned people. Tall people should not be treated differently than short people.

Letting people pretend to be something other than what they are in order to manipulate society into giving them the sort of special treatment they prefer doesn't solve anything. All it does is demand senseless conformity to artificial stereotypes, and encourage unhappy people to act manipulatively and deceitfully.

No, the only real solution is for us to work to break down our artificial divisions. We must work to treat everyone equally without criticality and judgement based on meaningless differences.

If a big burly man wants to wear a frilly pink dress, that should be no different than if a dainty petite woman wears it. A person's skin color should not be an influencing factor in what kinds of music they enjoy listening to. Your personal tastes and what cultures you belong to should not affect your quality of life, nor how the rest of society treats you.

And until we decide to stop treating people differently based on this nonsense, nothing else we do is going to help.

pootrsox said...

In general, I agree with you, Mr/Ms V.

However, I have known several people with gender disphoria-- all genetically male. Every single one of them desperately wanted to be rid of their masculine external genitalia.

I do not know if this woman "desperately" wants to be rid of her Caucasian skin hue, but I believe her issue is not the same as the issues facing transpeople.

pootrsox said...

Also, found a good discussion on Vox:

G. Verloren said...

Desperately wanting to be rid of an otherwise physically healthy part of your body is a form of mental sickness.

Categorized as "Body Integrity Identity Disorder", it usually takes the form of a desire to have one or more limbs amputated. Sufferers of BIID often pose as amputees, and sometimes resort to self-amputation. Variant forms of the illness involve wanting to become blind, paralytic, et cetera.

These kinds of desires are irrational and destructive. I view them as being closely akin to suicidal tendencies - the unfortunate byproducts of psychological trauma, indicative of other deeper problems. People simply don't resort to the destruction of their own lives or bodies when they are happy and well adjusted.

What makes these illnesses so horribly insidious is that they mask whatever real problems a victim is suffering from. The symptoms get mistaken for the sickness. An unhappy person who doesn't understand their own unhappiness will often turn the first plausible-seeming explanation, and cling to it like gospel.

Thus, suicidal people believe that death is the only answer because they mistakenly believe that life itself is what makes them unhappy. Likewise, people who feel compelled to alter their bodies mistakenly believe that their bodies are what makes them unhappy. Both notions are demonstrably absurd when analyzed rationally, but to a wounded psyche desperate for respite, such irrational answers are irrestiably compelling.

John said...

Gender disphoria may be a mental problem, but that doesn't mean that for some people changing gender might not be the best solution. Or the best way to go about pursuing a solution, since just the change doesn't seem to really fix anybody.