Very precise indeed?

Margaret Atwood interviewed in the Times:

The Handmaid’s Tale made her not only a famous writer, but also a public figure. The oppressed class of women in the book bore a clear feminist message. Opinions were expected of her. But she was, and remains, too meticulous to give easy answers.

“Look up kinds of feminism, and you’ll find 75 of them. So when people ask me about feminism, I ask them which type and they never know.”

Fair enough. It’s a good plan to be precise about what one thinks, what one endorses, what one signs up to.

On the subject of trans rights she is very precise indeed. After our conversation she emails me a video attacking JK Rowling’s view of the issue. Rowling defends the ultimate biological reality of sexual differences as a feminist cause: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.” Atwood also emails a Scientific American article stating the opposite case: “Why the new science of sex and gender matters for everyone.”

“The most bothersome thing about me,” she explains, “is that I’m a strict agnostic. By which I mean there’s a difference between belief and fact. And you should not confuse the two. You can believe all you like that trans people aren’t people, but it happens not to be a fact. It is not true that there are only two [gender] boxes. So the two questions to ask about anything are: is it true? And is it fair ? So if it’s not true that there are only two gender boxes and that gender is fixed and immutable, is it fair to treat trans people as if they’re not who they say they are?”

That’s precise? You’ve got to be kidding. It’s not precise to imply that dissenters from trans ideology “believe that trans people aren’t people” – in fact it’s a venomous calumny. People lose their minds on this subject, I swear, and I mean it literally – Atwood has a brilliant mind and that’s just a stupid thing to say. And she said it in an email, so it wasn’t just blurted out in conversation, it was typed out and then not reconsidered and withdrawn. Nobody thinks that trans people are anything other than people. What could make her temporarily dumb enough and malicious enough to say that? She’s never had that kind of full-on commitment or loyalty to feminism, so why is she suddenly a fanatic about transgenderism?

So, yeah, we know it “happens not to be a fact” that trans people are not people. Duh. Rabbits don’t talk about their gender identity or their women’s brains in men’s bodies.

Fine, it’s not true that there are only two [gender] boxes, but it is true that there are only two sex boxes, DSDs notwithstanding.

It is true to say that there are two sexes (with a small percentage of DSDs) and that sex is what it is, and yes it can be fair to treat any people of any kind as if they’re “not who they say they are” if they are lying or deluded or both. There is no moral law or imperative to treat people as if they “are who they say they are” in all situations no matter what. Trump says he is a stable genius; we do not have to treat him accordingly.

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