What to do about the cues

A further thought occurs to me, pondering this business of Justin Weinberg and his heightened (and in my view exaggerated) empathy for t philosopher (who claims to be a trans woman) along with his barely detectable empathy for women and other subordinated categories of people. Imagine being made to feel bad about yourself the way t philosopher is, he tells us. So I ponder what it is that makes t philosopher feel bad. According to tp it’s terfy women talking about sex and gender, but I was attempting to look behind that.

So I thought about the fact that academics have to stand up in front of groups of people, small groups or large or both, and lecture at them and/or discuss with them.

So, yes, I can see how that would be freighted for a trans person. (It’s freighted for others too though, of course. What is an academic supposed to look like? Oh, you know – corduroy jacket, beard, pipe, pallid skin.) One of the big hurdles for trans people is the voice, and academics have to use their voices a lot. In other words teaching is quite likely a very self-conscious activity for trans people, over and above the self-consciousness that can afflict anyone.

What would the ideal be? I guess that students and colleagues and everyone would just smoothly accept the trans teacher as her/his chosen gender, with no lapses of memory or any other kind of glitch.

But the difficulty there, it seems to me, is that people also and at the same time have to accept everyone else as her/his chosen gender, with no lapses of memory or any other kind of glitch. I’m thinking it’s not all that easy for human beings to do both of those things at once. We have to internalize a lot of cues to who is which sex starting in infancy, and we also have to learn to override all those cues in the case of a very few people.

Is that even possible? Can people internalize both sets of cues, that give opposite results, without ever getting confused or absent-minded?

If it’s not, the result is that the acceptance embrace etc of the trans person as her/his chosen gender is always a conscious overriding of lifelong cues…and the trans person knows this.

So…maybe, even if everyone agreed that trans people are the gender they say they are, end of story, trans people would still feel edgy and self-conscious about it, because they would know people were always having to override the cues.

I don’t know what to do with that thought. My ideal is a different one, in which trans people would be content to identify as her/his chosen gender and leave it at that, without any insistence on “validation” and the like from the rest of the world. I think that would go a long way to eliminate this “anguish” that Justin Weinberg talks about, because it would be so much easier on all parties. It would no longer matter all that much if students were thinking “not a man, a woman” or the reverse every minute of the class, because the trans academic would be at peace with knowing people can’t help seeing what they see and hearing what they hear.

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