Guest post: The most vocal TAs want something completely different

Originally a comment by latsot on The most extreme elements.

A compromise is supposed to be a mutual acceptance of terms. A deal. It’s expected that each party give something up to achieve a result beneficial to everyone. The phrase a “compromise on the rights of women” implies that it’s only women – as usual – who are expected to give anything up and what they’re expected to give up is – as usual – their rights.

This is not a compromise as the word is generally understood. Sullivan uses it to make disagreement seem unreasonable and himself the sole arbiter of reason.

That much is obvious. What’s not, apparently, is that negotiation isn’t really about making compromises, it’s about creating options. If there’s something one side won’t budge on, then chances are you – the negotiator – are thinking about the problem in the wrong way. Think about it differently and you might find that new options drop out for free.

That’s what’s happening in this whole argument and why compromise isn’t possible. While putative negotiators like Sullivan are (presumably) looking for a solution that respects the wants of trans people while preserving the rights of women and homosexuals, the most vocal TAs want something completely different: the domination of women. No compromise can be made because the destruction of women’s rights is what – for a variety of reasons – they want. The goalposts will shift alongside any and every compromise. We know this.

Wiser heads than Sullivan’s have been saying for decades that to negotiate our way through this mess we need to scrap gender altogether. Free options! Anyone can live and present however they like without taking away anyone’s rights! And anyone who disagrees can rightly be called a bigot! Everyone wins (except the bigots, and even they aren’t actually losing anything!)

This is negotiation: persuading societies to be more accepting of the non-conforming – something we’d all benefit from – and giving the non-conforming the option to dress and act how they like, with the usual caveats. We shouldn’t even be talking about how rights need to be compromised when that’s not only absolutely unacceptable as should be perfectly obvious to everyone but entirely unnecessary even given the wildly fluctuating demands of TAs.

It is still something of a surprise, even after all these years, that it’s the non-conforming who are proving the most resistant to persuasion. It’s not that I don’t know why, but it will still surprise me as long as I’m still capable of that emotion.

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