How can anyone know that?

What is the point of any of it if you can’t or won’t think clearly and say things clearly? Very first paragraph of Hemant Mehta’s oooh Dawkins is twanzphobic post:

On Saturday, for some reason, Richard Dawkins randomly decided to question the humanity of transgender people — under the guise of I’m-just-asking-questions — while comparing their situation to that of Rachel Dolezal.

No he didn’t. Even if you disagree with what he said, even if you despise what he said, he still did not question the humanity of any people. Not even close. Saying men are not women is not questioning anyone’s humanity.

It’s a pretty glaring sign of a weak case when people keep stumbling into those lies while trying to defend it. If the harm done by not agreeing that men are women if they say they are has to be inflated as denying their humanity, then it’s probably not much harm. If it were real harm, there would be no need to talk childish nonsense about denying their humanity.

Trans people, on the other hand, aren’t changing genders just for the hell of it. They sure aren’t doing it because it gives them some kind of advantage in society. More to the point: They don’t “choose to identify” as the other gender as if it’s some kind of light switch; they are the other gender. If they undergo surgery or take hormones or request a change on their driver’s license, it’s to correct a mistake, not because they wanted to be another gender on a whim.

How does Mehta know that? How can he know it? How does he and how can he know that it’s true of all trans people, i.e. all people who say they are trans? I don’t think he can, so I don’t think he does. It’s in the nature of the whole “trans” belief system that we can’t possibly tell who is faking it and who isn’t, or that absolutely no one is faking it. The criterion is: they are if they say they are. The problem should be obvious: people can lie, and they can be wrong. People can also be confused, ambivalent, changeable – a lot of things that make simple self-descriptions not so absolutely reliable that outlandish claims have to be believed without question. Usually the default is to believe what people say about themselves, unless there’s a lot of cash at stake, but when people say something magical about themselves, politeness does not require us to believe it.

It can be true, and it seems to me very likely that it is true, that some trans people really believe the whole magical explanation and that some are consciously faking it and that some are somewhere between the two. Where Mehta gets his certainty that all trans people just are the other “gender” is beyond me.

So back to Dawkins. He’s comparing a liar, whose lie he passes off as genuine, to trans people, whose truths he dismisses. He’s comparing race to gender, as if they’re the same thing, in a way that allows bigots (including right-wing Christians) to use his words as a weapon against trans people. He also defines trans women as “men [who] choose to identify as women” (and vice versa) when that’s not the case at all.

Not ever? Not ever? But we hear from people who choose it all the time. As the trend has intensified and spread, we’ve been hearing from plenty of people who choose it, and plenty who argue loudly and often that self-declaration is all that’s required.

Why is questioning someone’s humanity just a fun little hypothetical for him?

Does he realize he’s parroting arguments made by conservative Christian pastors who have long fought against LGBTQ rights?

There it is again. Saying that men are not women is not questioning anyone’s humanity. Women and men are human. As for the conservative pastors, there’s always some overlap even with people we intensely disagree with – in fact there’s more overlap than disagreement. If we could compile a list of everyone’s beliefs, most of them would be uncontroversial and universal.

Here’s a more pressing question: What is the Center for Inquiry going to do about this?

When Donald Trump banned trans people from the military, CFI’s president denounced it by saying “We stand proudly with the transgender community as an ally in the fight for equal treatment.”

Well, the foundation that Dawkins began is now a division of CFI. Dawkins is on CFI’s Board of Directors. In the past, when one of CFI’s affiliates posted a transphobic comment online, the organization acted quickly to take it down and reiterate its support for the trans community.

So what will they do now? Do they stand with Dawkins, who mischaracterizes trans people and suggests that those who reject trans identities are unfairly maligned, or do they stand with trans people?

Maybe they don’t see what Dawkins said in such stark terms as Mehta tries to put them in – i.e. as “denying the humanity” of anyone.

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