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Steve Ahlquist is an award-winning journalist, writer, artist and founding member of the Humanists of Rhode Island, a non-profit group dedicated to reason, compassion, optimism, courage and action. The views expressed are his own and not necessarily those of any organization of which he is a member.

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"We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” - Elie Weisel

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor." - Desmond Tutu

"There comes a time when neutrality and laying low become dishonorable. If you’re not in revolt, you’re in cahoots. When this period and your name are mentioned, decades hence, your grandkids will look away in shame." - David Brooks

2 responses to “Where is the outrage as Trump revokes protections for transgender students?”

  1. cailin rua

    “Gender: social and cultural expression of sex, not biological sex(Advocates For Youth, 2016).”

    from: the guidance for Rhode Island Schools on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students, linked to in the original post.

    There are large questions about whether there is a difference involving the term “gender” meaning something different than the word “sex”. Elizabeth Grosz asserts that sex and gender exist in a mobius like continuum that moves in and out of each from their mobius like surfaces. The sex/gender distinction has been manipulated by patronizing allies as much as it has been by haters. So, here there is a question for some about where their “outrage” is to be focused when the language used is so confusing.

    A little history of how the word gender developed in all its current contortions:

    “Bryon Strong posted the following on Women’s Studies List back in July of 1993: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who originated the term “gender discrimination,” described the origin of the term in her July 21 testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I thought list members might find it interesting: In the 1970s, when I was at Columbia and writing briefs about distinctions based on sex, and writing articles and speeches, I had a secretary, and she said, “I’ve been typing this word sex, sex, sex, and let me tell you, the audience you are addressing–the men that you are addressing”–and they were all men in the appellate courts in those days–“the first association of that word is not what you’re talking about. So I suggest that you use a grammar book term; use the word `gender.’ It will ward off distracting associations.” …. Millicent, if you’re somewhere watching this, I owe it all to you (NY Times, July 22, 1993: A14).

    So, is there a difference between “sex” and “gender?” Well, that depends on whom you ask. Anymore I often don’t know which one to use. . . . ”

    http://core.ecu.edu/psyc/wuenschk/docs00/Sex-Gender.htm

    The following statement from the RIDE document is clearly in error:

    “Assigned Sex at Birth:the assignment and classification of people as male, female or intersex or another sex assigned at birth based on physical anatomy at birth and or
    karyotyping (Trans Student Educational Resources, 2016).”

    Currently, no one is “assigned intersex” at birth anywhere in the U S. I am acquainted with and friendly with many intersex activists from around the world. Being relegated into a “third sex” category is a huge problem among the intersex activists I know. Even though many intersex people reject sex assignments much more than the non intersex population do no one I know wants the stigma of being segregated with a third out group.

    “It is estimated that one in 2,000 babies is June, 2016born with the biological characteristics of both sexes or of neither sex entirely (Advocates For Youth, 2016).”

    According to Anne Fausto-Sterling and Melanie Blackless 1.7 percent of the population is born with a sex atypicality. The numbers who are born with a mixed karyotype of XXY, alone, is considered underreported at 1 in 500 because the only ones found to karyotype that way are only those who turn up at fertility clinics or those who possess phenotypical expressions of Klinefelter Syndrome. There are many people born who karyotype with two X chromosomes, probably many more (one of which is inactivated and has Barr Bodies the same way as those who karyotype with only two X chromosomes) who do not display the characteristics of those with Klinefelter’s. There are many other types of chromosomal variations beyond that of XXY.

    Re: the term “gender identity” used and “defined” in the RIDE document is a hotly contested concept. There are those who say gender is entirely socially constructed. That would imply that “gender identity” is not developed perinatally. Anne Fausto-Sterling, herself, is fond of theories of gender identity development formed in the early years of a child’s existence as a result of a very plastic neurological early post natal developments, which contradicts the thinking on so called “transgender male or female identity”. Fausto-Sterling, though a seeming ally, is very hostile towards those who are dealing with sense of self issues that may or may not have originated from brain “hard wiring” occurring in the womb. Her brand of gender development theory is very ideologically based and very hostile towards anyone who would provide contradiction to the fundamentalist tenets of social constructionists.

    The term “gender identity” was developed by the head of the psycho-hormonal unit at Johns Hopkins. It was based on his theory that gender identity could be socially constructed in a child, if embarked upon early enough, regardless of their hormonal or chromosomal make-up. The problems with gender identity conceptualizing were documented by John Colapinto in his Rolling Stone investigative piece into the life of “John/Joan”, a pseudonym for the person who changed his name back to David Reimer and committed suicide, pretty much proving Money’s social construct and “gender identity” theories did not always pan out in reality, and in some cases(many?) led to tragedy.

    Dr. William Reiner does research into so called gender identity in patients born with cloacal extrophy at Oklahoma State University which, in the cases of people born with the variation(in this case an actual medical condition which a sex variation is often not among those born intersex.). His research, although it provides a very incomplete picture of reality, involving only people born with a specific intersex variation, actually leads to the mistaken conclusion that gender identity aligns with karyotype. I am unsure of the details but I think most of his human research subjects karyotype as XY. Many, if not most, are assigned female at birth and have sex reassignment surgery and estrogen replacement therapy so their sex conforms to an assignment many, I believe, reject.

    It’s hard to direct outrage when there is so much distortion in the media and elsewhere, even in many of the corporate funded activist groups, about the serious need some have to reject a sex assignment and, many times, needing to have that sex reassigned. The problems result, for many, by ignoring the biological aspects involved for those many whose biological needs and realities are overlooked because there are poorly understood psycho social issues involved.

    How many people even know about the controversies involving a fairly prominent urologist who worked at R I Hospital who performed surgical interventions right over at R I Hospital, surgeries that many of those patients are probably not even aware of all, in the name of making their sex conform to their karyotypes? This issue is very complicated and does not yield well to stupid slogans, stupid neologisms, 30 second sound bites or sensational statistics.

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  2. Wagner on transgender policy: “You can’t force people to love”

    […] have failed to adopt policies protecting transgender and gender non-conforming students after the Trump Administration withdrew guidance, five people spoke during the public comment period of the meeting in favor of a state wide […]

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