How dare anyone appear to question

And more of the same ridiculous idea that saying X is not Y is denying X’s right to define her own Xality. The Guardian purses its lips and frowns and says Ian McEwan has been a naughty naughty boy.


Booker-winning author appears to question people’s right to decide their own gender

No he doesn’t. He questions his (McEwan’s) obligation to believe whatever people tell him. People have every right to decide all sorts of things, an infinite number of things; it doesn’t follow that we all have a corresponding duty to believe or endorse or repeat or praise whatever they’ve decided.

Campaigners have criticised author Ian McEwan for comments that appeared to question the right of transgender people to choose their gender.

No, they didn’t appear to do that. See above.

In a speech to the Royal Institution, the Booker prize-winning writer asked whether factors such as biology and social norms limited our ability to adopt a different gender.

“The self, like a consumer desirable, may be plucked from the shelves of a personal identity supermarket, a ready-to-wear little black number,” McEwan said. “For example, some men in full possession of a penis are now identifying as women and demanding entry to women-only colleges, and the right to change in women’s dressing rooms.”

People can identify however they like. That doesn’t mean they can control how we receive their identification. A scruffy white guy age 20 can identify as Barack Obama; if he sits next to me on the bus and tells me he’s Barack Obama, I don’t have to take his word for it.

In a Q&A after his speech, one woman asked McEwan, 67, to clarify what she called his offensive remarks, the Times reported (paywall). “Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think of people with penises as men,” he said. “But I know they enter a difficult world when they become transsexuals and they tell us they are women, they become women, but it’s interesting when you hear the conflict between feminists now and people in this group.

“It’s quite a bitter conflict. Spaces are put aside, women are wanting to put spaces aside like colleges or changing rooms, and find from another side a radical discussion coming their way saying men who want to feel like it can come in there too. I think it’s really difficult. And I think there is sweeping through American [university] campuses a kind of strange sense of victimhood and a sense of purposeful identities that we can’t actually all of us agree with. Of course sex and race are different, but they also have a biological basis. It makes a difference whether you have an X or Y chromosome.”

It makes a difference where you grew up. It makes a difference who your parents were. (If they weren’t the same as Obama’s parents, there goes your identification as Obama.) It makes a difference where you lived as a child…and so on. Identify how you like, but if the facts don’t support your identification, that’s not the fault of all the people who aren’t you.

Stonewall condemned McEwan’s “uninformed views” as “extremely sad”. In a statement it said: “The complexity of gender identity extends beyond genitalia. Trans people need and deserve acceptance and equality. This sort of commentary doesn’t just denigrate the trans experience, it denies its very existence, and that’s especially hurtful for a group of people who have spent their lives fighting to be heard and understood.”

No, that’s exactly what it doesn’t do. It does not deny the existence of the trans experience. It’s dishonest to say it does.

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