Guest post: It’s a choice except when it isn’t

Originally a comment by Screechy Monkey at Maybe science.

because no one gets to choose what sex they’re assigned at birth.

I object on behalf of the English language.

There is no general rule that says that the statement “Person A is Category X” implies that Person A chose to be X. I didn’t choose to be white, or blue-eyed, or even human, but if I went around declaring that I was “assigned human at birth,” people would back away slowly and look for an escape route.

There are, of course, some types of X where there arguably is (or should be) an implication of choice. I’m thinking of Richard Dawkins’s complaint about referring to “Christian children” or “Muslim children” as being as ridiculous as a “monetarist child.”

But then, that’s just it, isn’t it? The underlying belief is that there is no biological sex at all, only gender, which is a choice. Except when it isn’t, of course. It’s a choice when protesting that “you can’t say I’m female, because I didn’t choose to be female.” but it’s not a choice when complaining that “I can’t just choose to be female, that’s not who I am.”

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