Q & A
You can read part one here:
For more background on McClosky here is my first post on him.
The second part of the discussion opens the question and answer session. The first one talks about “gender” and how there may be typical things described as feminine and masculine but why can’t you be a girl who likes typical “masculine” things and he wonders why Deidre thinks they are a woman and not a “feminine” man. McClosky talks about how there are overlaps in what constitutes “feminine” and “masculine and how he knows women who are sports fanatics or English men who don’t like cricket. He then segues into something about ice cream which is hard to follow but, I think he is saying we can’t question what he desires. (The marriage ended, by the way).
Next up he talks about his past as a “macho” man and how he is now a “macho” woman, like his mother.
He continues with this statement which he seems to assume will have Kathleen’s agreement.
Kathleen responds with disagreement on this point. She doesn’t see “womanhood” as something akin to training to be a lawyer. She thinks the best definition of a woman is Adult Human Female but she does refer to a chapter in her book which talks about “immersive fictions”. Stock is aware this won’t satisfy Deidre but she is happy to go along with the fiction, in some contexts, for example using preferred pronouns, but she doesn’t think it’s literally true.
[I reviewed Kathleen’s book at the link below]
McClosky finds the concept of “immersive fiction” useful. Deidre counters with recognising they have a philosophical difference because Kathleen still thinks a rock is just a rock.He then states that this belief doesn’t make Kathleen a bad person but it does make her naive.
What makes a woman?
Kathleen goes with Adult Human Female adding that whenever a new definition is tried it tends to be based on sexist stereotypes. Deidre goes with “it’s a social construction” and then confirms Stock’s point by retailing a sexist stereotype.
Kathleen responds, to laughter, that she takes 15 minutes to buy clothing too! (Same here. I rarely buy them, I get hand me ups from baby sister and on rare forays to buy clothes my speed in doing the deed is legendary).
Thoughts on detransitioners?
Deidre: “It’s very very rare” . Kathleen points to the 10,000 on the detrans subreddit. (That group now has over 47,000 members.) She says this is not unsurprising given the social contagion and that there are people emerging age 25 with many of them regretting a medical transition and some being without genitals.
McClosky is again rude and dismissive responding to Kathleen detailing the many medical interventions that are regretted, double mastectomies, ovary removal etc. McClosky says we regret many things in life. Hethen compares it to bringing up your children without books. He thinks this is equivalent to men who lost their penises. He knows lots of “trans” people who are ecstatic about their “transition”; adding “this is what the terfs say”. (I thought he agreed that this was a slur?). Stock makes the point that there are different demographics and someone “transitioning” at 50 has a fully developed prefrontal cortex.
Do you think the state should be involved?
McClosky puts this question to Stock. He’s a libertarian so you can guess his answer. Kathleen references the NHS review that has concluded there is a very low evidence base for gender medicine. The Dutch have changed their mind, Sweden has rowed back from this model of care. The State should be regulating this area of medicine, or if not the state we need some adults in the room. She also makes the point that it depends on the State. Iran, for example, outlaws homosexuality but funds “transition”. McClosky finishes that segment with a statement that he sharply disagrees.
You can’t protect what you can’t define.
Audience members asks a question about the reality of being a female and what happens when we deny our biological reality. She mentions sports, prisons, changing rooms and the erasure of female language. She addresses the question to Deidre.
McClosky is not keen on State involvement but claims not to be worried if he’s excluded from female sorts or even changing rooms but he is very dismissive about the concerns she raises.
Kathleen asks McClosky how he would feel about protecting sex and gender reassignment but not defining the latter as changing sex. McClosky points out that he uses XX and XY which Kathleen acknowledges but points out this is unusual and trans activists would see this as “transphobic”. He then adds “I don’t know why they don’t understand biology” which he then spoils by raising the intersex gambit. Kathleen skilfully bats away the forced teaming of people with disorders of sexual development. He then brings up comparisons to racism and treating black people as “other” and the treatment of male homosexuals. Full bingo card of “trans” talking points.
Kathleen shares the concern that extremist on the far right will run with this issue of the left doesn’t start speaking up and reining in the extremists.
Dysmorphia v Dysphoria
This question asks at what level of discomfort with your sexed body should give rise to medical interventions. What is the cut off for telling /counselling someone they have to reconcile with their biological reality.
McClosky opens by stating that he was never uncomfortable with his body when he was a man. Kathleen points out that lots of women are uncomfortable with their body and indeed our culture encourages this. This is why we should be worried about girls who think they are “trans” because they will use the tools available in their culture to express their distress. Currently the tool is to identify out of your sex in the past it was annorexia and self harm. McClosky concede that this has the ring of truth to him.
Age restrictions on medical interventions
McClosky comes out in favour of puberty blockers, shocker. Kathleen wants more evidence on the medical consequences. McClosky interrupts to point out that he would have loved his growth to be stunted. As I have written before these men are using medical interventions for children as a sort of vicarious, retrospective wish fulfilment. Kathleen points out the consequences for children who start on puberty blockers which, almost invariably, lead to cross sex hormones (98% progress to CSH). The boys will have stunted genitalia and permanent loss of orgasmic potential. Stock is against puberty blockers full stop and no surgeries until age of majority. (Here, I disagree. In the U.K sentencing guidelines allow the judiciary to take into account lack of brain maturation in the under 25’s. We protect convicted criminals better than dysphoric youth).
Next question is in a similar vein about the role of the state to protect children from harm even when perpetrated by their parents. He supports the Texas ban on these treatments for children. McClosky once again disagrees.
He proceeds to compare it to passing on bad dieterary habits of transmitting racist ideas. He also, once again, denies the irreversibility of the treatments. Kathleen says the idea of being born in the wrong body is in our culture which is solidifying playful ideas about self expression and involving gender clinics. MCClosky returns to the homosexual gambit and would Kathleen be in favour of measures to limit the way culture accepts homosexuality. Stock points out that this is an unfair analogy because there is no medical route for when a kid comes out as gay.
Reality versus nominalism.
A more philosophical note to end on. Kathleen answer is grounded in biological reality and the fact of sexual dimorphism. McClosky returns to arguments about scientific racism and his suspicion of the state. Kathleen finds this argument is losing her but she presumes it must be because McClosky sees her as on the opposite side to a libertarian perspective. In that case, she argues, take the state out of the argument let medical authorities step in re medical harms to children, or prison authorities on the harms of mixed sex prisons. The key point is she wants some body to step in and prevent the harmful consequences.
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