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Old 5th August 2022, 02:23 PM   #321
Rolfe
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As I said, it wasn't a hostile question.

I'll point out again that in the 1990s the International Olympic Committee used "does not have an SRY gene" as their criterion for eligibility for the women's events. The reason they stopped wasn't that they changed their minds, but that they concluded it wasn't cost-effective.

The tests were set up as the latest and most sophisticated "definition", superseding things like karyotyping, as a guard against cheating. Earlier in the century some countries had been suspected of entering feminine-looking men for the women's events. I don't know if they caught anyone at that point, but that was the reason for the testing. They tested everyone entering for the women's events, which was serious overkill, but presumably they didn't want to stigmatise women who looked a bit butch. They did find some SRY genes, but nobody was eliminated as a result because the decision was that they had not found any deliberate cheating.

Understandably the reasons for the presence of the SRY genes they found were not published. It may be that there were CAIS or Swyer women there. It may be there were women with mosaic or chimera conditions there. It may be (and I think this may be more likely) they found some undiagnosed 5ARD athletes and decided that as they weren't deliberately cheating, and the rules about DSD conditions weren't formulated at that point, they'd let them compete rather than stir up controversy. They looked at the cost (a lot) against the number of cheats identified (none) and decided the game wasn't worth the candle.

Now that more and more athletics organisations are coming straight out and saying that nobody who has ever gone through male puberty is allowed to compete in women's events, the question of testing will surface again. A large majority of female athletes in a recent poll wanted them to reinstate this testing. They may stick to karyotype plus hormone levels, but they may well go back to the SRY gene testing.

So basing a definition of male and female on the presence or absence of an SRY gene is neither without precedent nor unscientific. It may well become standard practice again.
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Old 5th August 2022, 02:31 PM   #322
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post

<snip>

This is the point where they then start bringing up CAIS, chimeras and mosaics. It seems to me that if one simply specifies that the SRY gene system as a whole has to be functioning in the body, then we're there.

There's nothing either contentious or unscientific about this. It's simply a process of refining a definition that was good enough until the TRAs started getting militant.
I await, with bated breath ..., your re-definition of both "female" and "sex" - and its subsequent publication and endorsement by Lexico and the OED. Possibly along these lines:

Quote:
female (adjective): Of or denoting the sex in mammalian species that are somewhere along the line of exhibiting various structures that can - potentially, actually, or previously - bear offspring or produce eggs, distinguished biologically both by the absence of the SRY gene, and by the production of gametes (ova) which can be fertilized by male gametes.
https://www.lexico.com/definition/female

Quote:
sex (noun) Either of the two main categories (male and female) into which humans and other mammals are exhaustively divided on the basis of their potential, actual, or erstwhile reproductive functions, and on the basis of whether they have the SRY gene or not.
https://www.lexico.com/definition/sex

Do keep us all posted on how that project progresses and turns out ...
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Old 5th August 2022, 02:33 PM   #323
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Let me know how your project of having pre-pubertal children and post-menopausal women no longer recognised as male or female gets on.

And I mean actually recognised, not just in your own head.
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Old 5th August 2022, 02:39 PM   #324
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Not quite sure how you think the issue can be resolved if we don't - you know - try conversing with - talking and listening to - the proponents of the other sides ...
Physician, heal thyself. Listen to what we're saying to you here.

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And your evidence for that is what? : rolleyes :
I've been on this forum, participating in discussions on these topics, for years. I'm not going to handhold you through a retrospective of my last few years on this forum. I'm saying you need to take more time to know your audience.

Quote:
Don't think you've been paying attention. Or even looked very far into what I've quoted and linked to.
I don't care. I'm not interested in any of that. I'm interested in the discussions here, and the terms as they are used here. Sorry if I didn't make that clear.

Quote:
The only "true Scotsmen" are here? ; )
The Scotsmen that are discussing these topics here are in fact discussing these topics here. The problem other Scotsmen are struggling with elsewhere, that you're trying to solve here, has already largely been solved. I think even the transsexual-rights activists here have largely acquiesced to the broader local consensus.

Quote:
Again, you may wish to try reading and thinking about the sources I've linked to.
Why? The problem they're struggling with elsewhere has been largely solved here. It doesn't become unsolved here just because other venues haven't come to an agreement yet.

Quote:
But a rather large number of people have the more or less justified view that "men" and "women" are NOT defined as sexes - i.e., "adult human male (sex)", and "adult human female (sex)" - but as genders, as anyone who happens to have the least bit of "family resemblance" to those who are actually adult human males (sex) and adult human females (sex).
Yeah, the whole gender versus sex question has been very extensively discussed here, in the Other Thread.

Let me ask you this: When someone here says to someone else here, "sex refers to the male-female binary of biological sex", are you at all confused about which people fall into the male category and which people don't? Like, do you seriously not know whether prepubescent boys count as "male" or not in in that discussion?
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Old 5th August 2022, 02:43 PM   #325
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
As I said, it wasn't a hostile question.
Really didn't take it as one. Just didn't think it particularly reasonable to thereby tar the whole process and principle of categorization with that particular "brush".

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
<snip>

So basing a definition of male and female on the presence or absence of an SRY gene is neither without precedent nor unscientific. It may well become standard practice again.
Think that is unnecessarily muddying the waters. Not to mention "distorting" the biological definitions for the sexes.

Entry into womens' sports, toilets, and change rooms really isn't, or shouldn't be, a matter of reproductive status - the biological definitions - but of genitalia and karyotype - SRY gene in particular. As I've said periodically, the watch-word or principle should be, for the first at least, no XY (or SRY gene holder) need apply.

You really might want to take a close look at Griffith's article, even the closing paragraphs:

Quote:
"On the other hand, whatever its shortcomings as an institutional definition, the concept of biological sex remains essential to understand the diversity of life. It shouldn’t be discarded or distorted because of arguments about its use in law, sport or medicine. That would be a tragic mistake."
https://aeon.co/essays/the-existence...uman-diversity
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Old 5th August 2022, 02:45 PM   #326
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Why are we (I mean you - nobody else is) even interested in changing the definition of "male" and "female" to exclude about 70% of the population? Nobody uses the words that way, I suspect even including your guru, outside of the articles he's getting paid to churn out.

Who benefits if that changes, and we have to find new words to talk about things we currently use these words to talk about?
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Old 5th August 2022, 02:58 PM   #327
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But what YOU mean by "male" and "female" is NOT what is meant and entailed by the biological definitions.
Here we will have to differ. The standard definition of male is something like "the sex that produces…spermatozoa, with which a female may be fertilized or inseminated to produce offspring." My definition is nearly equivalent to this, except that mine avoids confusion about whether one can be male or female at birth. Since you are the only person I've ever known to be confused about this, that little tweak seemed apt at this juncture.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
I'm pretty sure everyone has largely similar and/or complementary definitions for the terms in play. There may be some academic debate about the exact terminology to use for very specific things in very narrow and relatively esoteric technical contexts, but that's about it.
Agreed. My definitions differ from those used by Rolfe, for example, only in a handful of possible cases. What is more, I'd prefer her definition to my own in the special case of sports league qualifications.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
I think that is a reasonable position, but it's one I would argue against. I think that if you drill down into your "intersex" category it gets smaller and smaller until it may well disappear completely.
Well now that's exactly why I created this thread in the first place, to scope out this particular conceptual/evidential drill-down. Once you put the people who come into the world with the equipment to create sperm in the "male" bin and the people who come equipped to do oögenesis in the "female" bin, who is left and how should they be classified?

Functional SRY genes / androgen receptors seems as good a candidate as any, but as I'm sure you are aware there are plenty of in-between cases where mutations have rendered an individual's androgen receptors only partially functional.
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Old 5th August 2022, 02:59 PM   #328
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Let me know how your project of having pre-pubertal children and post-menopausal women no longer recognised as male or female gets on.
You think "recognized" is sort of like "valid"?

By the biological definitions, there are objective criteria to qualify as such. Which they don't meet.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
And I mean actually recognised, not just in your own head.
Maybe you think certificates and special dispensations from the Popes of biology, from Lexico, Lehtonen, and Wikipedia et al. would allay the "trauma" of being "excluded" from those categories?

Again, you're doing pretty much the same thing that Alfie and Novella are doing, what those referred to by Jones and Joyce are doing: evading the biological definitions and their logical consequences, turning the sexes into "immutable identities" based on "mythic essences".
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Old 5th August 2022, 03:09 PM   #329
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This Fellow of the Institure of Biology, with a PhD in a biological science, who worked her entire career in the biological sciences including two academic posts, laughs at your "Popes". Particularly when you include Wikipedia.

You and your "Popes" are entirely misunderstanding the biological definitions you are relying on, and the fact that your reading of the definitions ends up by excluding huge numbers of individuals who are recognised as male and female BY BIOLOGISTS might be a big freaking clue about that.

And SRY genes and the enzymes and hormone receptors necessary for their expression are not "mythic entities".
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Old 5th August 2022, 03:13 PM   #330
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Why are we (I mean you - nobody else is) even interested in changing the definition of "male" and "female" to exclude about 70% of the population?
Not quite sure where you get that "70%" figure from - I've generally only argued for 33% based on typical demographics; see below:

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
Nobody uses the words that way, I suspect even including your guru, outside of the articles he's getting paid to churn out.

Who benefits if that changes, and we have to find new words to talk about things we currently use these words to talk about?
So what? Pretty much everyone - at least 80% according to Pigliucci or Sagan - knows that the phrases "rising sun" and "setting sun" aren't accurate.

But the point is that if push comes to shove - some fundamentalist saying, "see!, everyone accepts that, as the Bible says, the Earth is the center of the universe!!" - then we have the facts and the science to say that they're full of horse crap.

SAME thing with the biological definitions; they're the line in the sand. Which you and far to many others are trying to overwrite and smudge-out such that the transloonie nutcases can drive, and are driving, a fleet of trucks through the gaps.

[AFKB]
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Old 5th August 2022, 03:20 PM   #331
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I am an actual biologist, although recently retired. I have the qualifications and the certificates to prove it. I am getting increasingly tired of this serial presentation of nonsense dreamed up by philosophers.
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Old 5th August 2022, 03:49 PM   #332
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That silly pie chart. Is it only meant to refer to human beings? I thought you were the one who didn't want to confine the discussion only to mammals.

It doesn't seem logical as regards a vasectomy. Don't they know vasectomies are reversible? Even if you reject the rather obvious point that men still produce sperm if they have been vasectomised, your belated recognition of the present habitual would suggest that a vasectomised man is still male if he gets the vasectomy reversed. What's the difference between a vasectomy and habitual condom use anyway?

There are all sorts of edge cases implied by that chart but not addressed. It seems to have been put together by someone who knows little of human reproductive biology and nothing of the reproductive biology of other species, even other mammalian species. No serious biologist or medical researcher or practitioner would produce something like that.
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Old 5th August 2022, 05:36 PM   #333
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post

<snip>

The Scotsmen that are discussing these topics here are in fact discussing these topics here. The problem other Scotsmen are struggling with elsewhere, that you're trying to solve here, has already largely been solved. I think even the transsexual-rights activists here have largely acquiesced to the broader local consensus.
"largely solved" The "controversy" here over where to place various "intersex" - AKA, sexless - individuals on the "sex spectrum", which is what your idiosyncratic definitions basically boil down into, would seem to belie that claim.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Why? The problem they're struggling with elsewhere has been largely solved here. It doesn't become unsolved here just because other venues haven't come to an agreement yet.
Y'all clearly need to be doin' some proselytizing to show them the errors of their ways ...

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Yeah, the whole gender versus sex question has been very extensively discussed here, in the Other Thread.
Sounds like you're defending an orthodoxy, giving me the Courtier's Reply ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_reply

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Let me ask you this: When someone here says to someone else here, "sex refers to the male-female binary of biological sex", are you at all confused about which people fall into the male category and which people don't? Like, do you seriously not know whether prepubescent boys count as "male" or not in in that discussion?
You don't seem to quite get, or want to consider the idea that whether individuals "count" as members of particular categories or not is contingent on what we stipulate are the conditions, the membership dues, to qualify them as referents of the terms.

Just calling a dog's tail a leg doesn't make it one:

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/a...lincoln_107482
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Old 5th August 2022, 06:05 PM   #334
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steersman:
But what YOU mean by "male" and "female" is NOT what is meant and entailed by the biological definitions.
Here we will have to differ. The standard definition of male is something like "the sex that produces…spermatozoa, with which a female may be fertilized or inseminated to produce offspring." My definition is nearly equivalent to this, except that mine avoids confusion about whether one can be male or female at birth. Since you are the only person I've ever known to be confused about this, that little tweak seemed apt at this juncture.
As they say, "close" only counts in horseshoes and hand-grenades. And if you're first name is Glen and you're a woman, nominally speaking at least ...

But you and far too many others seem to have some difficulty with the concept that we generally don't get to make up our own definitions. The process isn't a free-for-all, not a game of Dungeons and Dragons where we can make up new rules and definitions on the fly just for our own entertainment.

That's what the transloonie nutcases and their fellow-travelers like Novella are doing; if those are the rules you want to play by then I'm not sure that you have much of a leg to stand on if they wish to do likewise. Why I've argued in favour of going back to first principles.

<snip>

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rolfe:
I think that is a reasonable position, but it's one I would argue against. ....
Well now that's exactly why I created this thread in the first place, to scope out this particular conceptual/evidential drill-down. Once you put the people who come into the world with the equipment to create sperm in the "male" bin and the people who come equipped to do oögenesis in the "female" bin, who is left and how should they be classified?

Functional SRY genes / androgen receptors seems as good a candidate as any, but as I'm sure you are aware there are plenty of in-between cases where mutations have rendered an individual's androgen receptors only partially functional.
A perfectly reasonable and worthy objective. But don't think either you, or Rolfe or Hilton are ready or able, much less willing, to deal with the fact that the SRY gene is, apparently, only applicable to mammals. That's the whole point of the biological definitions - they apply to ALL of the 7 or 8 million sexually-reproducing species on the planet. Will you all, as I argued above, push for definitions to be endorsed by Lexico and OED that apply only to mammals?
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Old 5th August 2022, 06:12 PM   #335
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
"largely solved" The "controversy" here over where to place various "intersex" - AKA, sexless - individuals on the "sex spectrum", which is what your idiosyncratic definitions basically boil down into, would seem to belie that claim.
It's a very niche debate, in the local context. IIRC, d4m10n started it up to noodle about actual intersex DSD conundrums, without getting entangled with the trans debate in the Other Thread. I don't think anyone in this particular niche thread is confused about where non-DSD folks fit into the male-female binary of biological sex. Anyone other than you, perhaps?

Quote:
Y'all clearly need to be doin' some proselytizing to show them the errors of their ways ... : rolleyes :
Why? I'm sure they'll work it out to their satisfaction, in their own idiom, in their own time.

Quote:
Sounds like you're defending an orthodoxy, giving me the Courtier's Reply ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_reply
Well, when you put it that way... Yeah, pretty much.


Quote:
You don't seem to quite get, or want to consider the idea that whether individuals "count" as members of particular categories or not is contingent on what we stipulate are the conditions, the membership dues, to qualify them as referents of the terms.
Luckily that's not the problem here. You just misunderstand the wording of the basic definition we're referencing.

Quote:
Just calling a dog's tail a leg doesn't make it one:

https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/a...lincoln_107482
On the other hand, calling a dog's tail a tail and moving on neatly short-circuits spurious debate about what's the difference between a tail and a leg.

-theprestige
-Michael Scott


Actually, Rolfe puts it much better. You've lost the actual biologist; you might as well give up.
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Old 5th August 2022, 06:25 PM   #336
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
But you and far too many others seem to have some difficulty with the concept that we generally don't get to make up our own definitions.
And yet here you are, pushing for the entirely novel idea that people become male after puberty and stop being female after menopause.

Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Will you all, as I argued above, push for definitions to be endorsed by Lexico and OED that apply only to mammals?
Lexico seems to think that male children are a thing.
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Old 5th August 2022, 06:45 PM   #337
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
And yet here you are, pushing for the entirely novel idea that people become male after puberty and stop being female after menopause.
Does that conclusion logically follow from the premises - i.e., the definitions - or not?

Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Lexico seems to think that male children are a thing.
Same answer: Does that conclusion logically follow from the premises or not? For a hint, see below:

Just because someone says, in one form or another, that "2+2=5" is hardly shaking the foundations of mathematics; it only proves them to be innumerate or mathematically illiterate or politically motivated:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innumeracy_(book)
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Old 5th August 2022, 07:08 PM   #338
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
<snip>

Quote:
Steersman said:
Sounds like you're defending an orthodoxy, giving me the Courtier's Reply ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_reply
Well, when you put it that way... Yeah, pretty much.
Nice to know which side of the believe-know divide that you at least come down on ...

Quote:
“what is wanted is not the will to believe, but the desire to find out, which is the exact opposite.”
― Carl Sagan, The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God
https://www.goodreads.com/work/quote...-the-search-fo

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Luckily that's not the problem here. You just misunderstand the wording of the basic definition we're referencing.
I quite understand the definition you subscribe to. But don't think you quite realize, or want to consider that's it's quite inconsistent with and antithetical to the standard biological definitions. I guess you're welcome or entitled to try turning the place into a benighted backwater but most people seem to prefer wider horizons.

Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
<snip>

Actually, Rolfe puts it much better. You've lost the actual biologist; you might as well give up.
"biologist" covers a lot of ground, many of whom peddle "dreck" - as Rolfe Herself put it - and think that "gender" can be applied to fish.

Having a degree is hardly proof against sloppy or politically motivated language.
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Old 5th August 2022, 07:29 PM   #339
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
You think "recognized" is sort of like "valid"?

By the biological definitions, there are objective criteria to qualify as such. Which they don't meet.



Maybe you think certificates and special dispensations from the Popes of biology, from Lexico, Lehtonen, and Wikipedia et al. would allay the "trauma" of being "excluded" from those categories?

Again, you're doing pretty much the same thing that Alfie and Novella are doing, what those referred to by Jones and Joyce are doing: evading the biological definitions and their logical consequences, turning the sexes into "immutable identities" based on "mythic essences".
So basically, if I have this right, you've found a very rigorous definition, but have not so far, it seems, found a way to use it that does not make an awful mess. If a child before puberty has no sex, what do we call it? Can we reliably predict its future, and if so, might that give us a hint at the shortfall of the definition? And if a woman after menopause has no sex, then what is it? What pronoun is used? Can I still be married to it? Am I committing some kind of sin if I (a male and not thus subject to menopause) continue to enjoy its conjugal companionship?

My jocular comment earlier about Regina Vs. Ojibway (I got the name wrong before) had a kind of serious point, though the case in question involves obvious and comical sophistry. Even if you have a definition of something, does it cease to be that something if a part of it is lacking? "Is a bird any less of a bird without its feathers?"

Be careful how stringently you define things, lest you end up in Plato's cave, where nothing at all is real.
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Old 5th August 2022, 10:04 PM   #340
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by Steersman:
<snip>

Again, you're doing pretty much the same thing that Alfie and Novella are doing, what those referred to by Jones and Joyce are doing: evading the biological definitions and their logical consequences, turning the sexes into "immutable identities" based on "mythic essences".
So basically, if I have this right, you've found a very rigorous definition, but have not so far, it seems, found a way to use it that does not make an awful mess.
Think I need to find a way of providing a permanent link - maybe a signature line? - to Griffiths' Aeon article. One of his salient points is more or less that the biological definitions for the sexes are simply the wrong tools for the jobs that society is trying to force it into doing. Much of that "mess" is largely because, as I've periodically suggested, far too many - on pretty much all sides - are trying to shoehorn the rather ugly feet of social justice warriors into the glass slipper of biology - so to speak:

https://aeon.co/essays/the-existence...uman-diversity

Originally Posted by bruto View Post
If a child before puberty has no sex, what do we call it? Can we reliably predict its future, and if so, might that give us a hint at the shortfall of the definition? And if a woman after menopause has no sex, then what is it? What pronoun is used? Can I still be married to it? Am I committing some kind of sin if I (a male and not thus subject to menopause) continue to enjoy its conjugal companionship?
We can still call the prepubescent boys and girls - all we have to do is redefine the definitions, as I think I've argued here recently, so as to indicate that they're potentially male and female.

As for "menopausees", what do you call a teenager after they've had their 20th birthday? Do they cease to exist once they no longer have the "essence" of "teenager"?

"teenager", "male", "female" - and their "intersections" - are just labels for transitory states. Much of that "mess" is, as I've periodically argued, because far too many - on virtually all sides - are trying to turn them into "immutable identities" based on mythic essences. More or which later.

Originally Posted by bruto View Post
My jocular comment earlier about Regina Vs. Ojibway (I got the name wrong before) had a kind of serious point, though the case in question involves obvious and comical sophistry. Even if you have a definition of something, does it cease to be that something if a part of it is lacking? "Is a bird any less of a bird without its feathers?"
Good question and, arguably, one close to the crux of the matter. Requires a fairly convoluted and intricate answer - which I'm sad to say the margins here are much too small to do justice to ... - but an essay by Robert King at Psychology Today gave something of a fairly succinct overview of the issue and problem:

Quote:
Humans love categories, and humans love distinctions. That’s how we’ve evolved to think. Categories—nouns and adjectives—are quick ways to sort the world into appropriate emotional, and behavioral responses. “Stay away from that 'poisonous' tree." "Fight for your 'noble' country.” ....

None of this categorizing is a problem unless we start insisting that these categories are deeply reflective of external nature. It’s not, we like to think, that some categories are just useful, or helpful, or shorthand filing systems admitting of exceptions—but that they are essences built into the very fabric of reality. ....

No one has the essence of maleness or femaleness, for one simple reason: Since the 17th century, what science has been showing, in every single field, is that the folk notion of an “essence” is not reflected in reality. There are no essences in nature. For the last three hundred years or so, the advance of science has been in lockstep with the insight that is what really exists are processes, not essences.
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/b...biological-sex

Not easy to summarize his argument in anything like "25 words or less", or even in a lengthy quote. Though I had taken a kick or two at that kitty some time ago on the now-defunct LetterWiki - the authors of which seem to have now shown up at Substack.

But the crux of the problem seems to be that, in part at least, the names for categories are just abstractions - no one can weigh their "male" and "female", locate them so many inches to the left or right of their kidneys. And as abstractions there's a tendency to turn them into real things - the "sin", the logical fallacy of reification.

Far too easy to turn category membership, as an abstraction, into some sort of "essence"; the only things that are really "real" are the properties - like the habitual process of producing gametes for reproduction ... - that qualify individuals for membership in those categories.

A fairly serious "cognitive distortion" with some far reaching and quite sticky consequences.

Originally Posted by bruto View Post
Be careful how stringently you define things, lest you end up in Plato's cave, where nothing at all is real.
I'm still a neophyte or a dilettante noodling about the edges of philosophy. But one thing that seems clear is that far too much of philosophy is, as they say, still stuck in the footnotes to Plato.

Rather remarkable, at least from my limited vantage point, the extent to which both Plato and Aristotle have contributed so much to philosophy, but it seems that both had some untenable claims and perspectives that have, to some degree, been more of a hindrance than a help:

Quote:
Essentialism has been controversial from its beginning. .... It has been argued by some that Essentialist thinking lies at the core of many reductive, discriminatory or extremist ideologies.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Essentialism
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:42 AM   #341
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
That silly pie chart. Is it only meant to refer to human beings? I thought you were the one who didn't want to confine the discussion only to mammals.
Yes, I created it some 4 years ago for Twitter discussions on sex in humans. That it is more or less is specific to them hardly precludes its applicability to other species - many farm animals are neutered. But, being based on human demographics, the size of the pies would most likely change accordingly.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
It doesn't seem logical as regards a vasectomy. Don't they know vasectomies are reversible? Even if you reject the rather obvious point that men still produce sperm if they have been vasectomised, your belated recognition of the present habitual would suggest that a vasectomised man is still male if he gets the vasectomy reversed. What's the difference between a vasectomy and habitual condom use anyway?
You seem to have the idea that membership in categories is "immutable", once in one, in it forever. Were you a teenager at some point? Did you survive the transition out of that category without too much untoward "trauma"?

If a guy with a vasectomy gets it reversed then he's changed his state from sexless to male. As for "habitual condom use", male then not-male then male then not .... Like being "hungry" at breakfast, full shortly thereafter, hungry before lunch, full thereafter, etc., etc., etc.

Y'all seem to be making rather too much of categories and the names for them - turning them into identities - while losing sight of the often quite tangible though often transitory traits that are the "membership dues". Straining at the gnat while swallowing the camel whole.

Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
There are all sorts of edge cases implied by that chart but not addressed. It seems to have been put together by someone who knows little of human reproductive biology and nothing of the reproductive biology of other species, even other mammalian species. No serious biologist or medical researcher or practitioner would produce something like that.
For the purposes of that graph, what more should I have known? Other than that the biological definitions stipulate that to have a sex is to have functional gonads - which habitually produce sperm or ova for reproduction - of either of two types? And that those with neither are thereby sexLESS?
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Old 6th August 2022, 06:02 AM   #342
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
.... the biological definitions stipulate that to have a sex is to have functional gonads - which habitually produce sperm or ova for reproduction - of either of two types? And that those with neither are thereby sexLESS?

You are mistaken. These are not the definitions used by biologists. We would hardly be able to have a meaningful conversation or write meaningful articles if that were the case.

We refer all the time to male and female embryos, male and female foetuses, male and female puppies and kittens etc. Castrated animals are recognised as male and ovariohysterectomised animals are recognised as female.

I literally cannot imagine a context where the word "male" would be used to mean only currently sperm-producing males, and be understood as such, and be understood to explicitly exclude pre-pubertal and castrated males.

(I might once again point out your inconsistency here, that vasectomised males still have functional gonads. By your definition above they are therefore male, but you classify them as sexless. Conversely, if retaining functional testes but blocking off the delivery system makes a male sexless, how is a man not rendered sexless every time he puts on a condom?)

You really are floundering here. You seem very invested in all this, for reasons I don't understand. You remind me of the woman who wrote and published an entire book about the execution of homosexuals in a particular historical period. In fact the men she referred to had not been executed. Nobody had been executed for homosexuality. She had misunderstood the legal form of words used to describe the proceedings. As soon as her book came out several more knowledgeable historians, with some incredulity, pointed out the actual situation. She tried to explain away her mistake as I recall, but it was hopeless.

You're heading the same way. How many biology texts do you need to read referring to male and female embryos, male and female foetuses, male and female puppies and kittens, castrated males, infertile males and females - and indeed fertile males and females (because fertility is not implied or assumed from the use of male and female alone) before you will finally get this into your head?
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Old 6th August 2022, 06:28 AM   #343
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Here we go. Google is your friend.

Naomi Wolf admits blunder over Victorians and sodomy executions

Quote:
According to Sweet, who first challenged Wolf on Radio 3’s Arts and Ideas, her error concerning Silver stems from a misunderstanding of “the very precise historical legal term, ‘death recorded’, as evidence of execution, when in fact it indicates the opposite”.

The historian Richard Ward agreed, adding that the term was a legal device first introduced in 1823. “It empowered the trial judge to abstain from formally pronouncing a sentence of death upon a capital convict in cases where the judge intended to recommend the offender for a pardon from the death sentence. In the vast majority (almost certainly all) of the cases marked ‘death recorded’, the offender would not have been executed.”

Wolf has committed a “pretty basic error”, Ward added. “If all the people who were mentioned in the Old Bailey records as ‘death recorded’ were subsequently executed, there would have been a bloodbath on the gallows,” Ward said, “yet anyone who has a basic knowledge of crime and justice in the 19th century would know that that wasn’t the case.”

It almost seems understandable in her case, because to the lay person the wording is ambiguous at best. But the problem is that she wasn't a lay person, she was writing a book about the subject, but she simply assumed that her take on the meaning of the words was correct and went right on with her thesis on that basis, oblivious to the sheer impossibility of what she was proposing (as explained in the last paragraph quoted). Also, apparently, without even asking anyone else working in the field to confirm that she was on the right track.

Steersman, you're in a very similar position to Naomi Woolf here. You have latched on to a particular interpretation of certain definitions which is simply not supported by any observation of how the words are used in practice, not only by the general public (and bodies like the passport office), but biologists themselves. Or you've latched on to the writings of others who have chosen to present this mistaken interpretation, for whatever reason.

And all you can do when people explain to you in very different ways how it is obvious you're wrong, is say "this is the definition, suck it up buttercup".

Sigh.
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Old 6th August 2022, 07:25 AM   #344
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Yes, I created it some 4 years ago for Twitter discussions on sex in humans. That it is more or less is specific to them hardly precludes its applicability to other species - many farm animals are neutered. But, being based on human demographics, the size of the pies would most likely change accordingly.
I noticed you never answered my question: Are you actually confused by the common usage of the terms?

If someone refers to a male child (or a male kitten), are you actually unsure of what they mean? Are you actually unsure of what genetic pattern they inherited and were born with? Do you have any doubts or confusion at all about what role they'd play in reproduction, if and when their sex organs mature?

Elsewhere you said that this doctrinaire insistence on defining sex according to a perfect system of formal logic was necessary to address the problem of forcing trans-activists to deal the reality of binary sex in mammals. I think you're going about it all wrong, for reasons best discussed in the Other Thread. Feel free to take that argument over there, if you'd like me to address it.
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Old 6th August 2022, 07:30 AM   #345
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Nice to know which side of the believe-know divide that you at least come down on ... : rolleyes :
I don't think you do know.

Courts are real. Courtiers are real. Specific subcultures and venues have real jargon, real shibboleths, real conventions and customs that are sometimes (and sometimes necessarily) opaque to outsiders. Getting to know your audience before you start to lecture them is a reasonable and often necessary practice. Taking the time to learn and understand what has already been said is often very important to making contributions to a conversation already in progress. Sometimes the courtier's reply is indeed a fallacious dismissal. Other times, you're actually at court, and need to learn and mind your manners before mouthing off.

Nobody is obligated to hold your hand and give you a guided tour. Expecting you to take your time and learn the discussion a bit before jumping in, is totally reasonable.
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Old 6th August 2022, 08:20 AM   #346
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It would be nice if Steersman could engage seriously and constructively with the various points that have been rained down on him, instead of simply resetting his argument back to "this is the biological definition, you need to accept it". No it isn't, so no we won't.

I thought I had saved an image of the table which classifies DSD conditions according to whether they affect males or females, but it doesn't seem to be in my files. If I come across it again I will save it. The fact is that it is universally recognised that Klinefelter's is a condition of males and Turner's is a condition of females. The importance of this for the trans debate is that TRAs frequently (and insultingly) insist that these people are neither male or female.

Steersman seems to be carrying this mischaracterisation of the situation even further by insisting that whole swathes of the population who have perfectly normal sexual development and function for their entire lives are neither male nor female at certain times in their lives, and moreover that anyone with normal reproductive anatomy who is not producing gametes for some medical or surgical reason is also neither male nor female. How this might assist the argument against the trans agenda so far escapes me.
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Old 6th August 2022, 08:41 AM   #347
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
If someone refers to a male child (or a male kitten), are you actually unsure of what they mean?
I'd like to hear an answer to this one as well, Steersman.

Also, if you had to task someone with purchasing a neutered male puppy, how would you phrase the request?
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Old 6th August 2022, 09:17 AM   #348
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Originally Posted by Rolfe View Post
It would be nice if Steersman could engage seriously and constructively with the various points that have been rained down on him, instead of simply resetting his argument back to "this is the biological definition, you need to accept it". No it isn't, so no we won't.

I thought I had saved an image of the table which classifies DSD conditions according to whether they affect males or females, but it doesn't seem to be in my files. If I come across it again I will save it. The fact is that it is universally recognised that Klinefelter's is a condition of males and Turner's is a condition of females. The importance of this for the trans debate is that TRAs frequently (and insultingly) insist that these people are neither male or female.

Steersman seems to be carrying this mischaracterisation of the situation even further by insisting that whole swathes of the population who have perfectly normal sexual development and function for their entire lives are neither male nor female at certain times in their lives, and moreover that anyone with normal reproductive anatomy who is not producing gametes for some medical or surgical reason is also neither male nor female. How this might assist the argument against the trans agenda so far escapes me.
My take is that such lapidary obtuseness can only help the transsexual agenda.
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Old 6th August 2022, 09:39 AM   #349
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Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
My take is that such lapidary obtuseness can only help the transsexual agenda.

It does appear designed to, whether it actually could or not. On the one hand: "Transwomen aren't female because they don't produce female gametes, so they have no inherent right to access women's spaces." On the other hand: "My mother doesn't produce female gametes any more, and she's allowed to access women's spaces, so obviously the categories are useless and arbitrary and everyone should just be allowed to do what they want."
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Old 6th August 2022, 09:54 AM   #350
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
It does appear designed to, whether it actually could or not. On the one hand: "Transwomen aren't female because they don't produce female gametes, so they have no inherent right to access women's spaces." On the other hand: "My mother doesn't produce female gametes any more, and she's allowed to access women's spaces, so obviously the categories are useless and arbitrary and everyone should just be allowed to do what they want."
That exact argument has been tried in the Other Thread, once or twice.
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Old 6th August 2022, 10:27 AM   #351
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
It does appear designed to, whether it actually could or not. On the one hand: "Transwomen aren't female because they don't produce female gametes, so they have no inherent right to access women's spaces." On the other hand: "My mother doesn't produce female gametes any more, and she's allowed to access women's spaces, so obviously the categories are useless and arbitrary and everyone should just be allowed to do what they want."

That's the way I was thinking, but you put it so much more succinctly.
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Old 6th August 2022, 10:33 AM   #352
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I just remembered my cat's vaccination certificate. He was the only male kitten in a litter of three. He hadn't been named at the time he got his first vaccination so all that bit was left blank. The certificate just has the word "boy" scribbled on the front, presumably by the vet, to match the paperwork with the right kitten.

He could have written "male", but he didn't. Was that because he, as a biologist, believed that this two-month-old scrap of feline potential was sexless? No, he was being a bit twee. And since there aren't different colloquial words for male kittens and female kittens, he appropriated the word for a male child to identify the male kitten.

Why did he write "boy" and not "girl" on a cat's paperwork? What on earth was it about these kittens that made him feel that "boy" could be applied to the one with the openings slightly further apart, while (presumably) "girl" could be applied to the ones with the openings closer together?

Boys and girls are sexless, two-month-old kittens are sexless, how could he have used these words to differentiate the kittens?
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:06 PM   #353
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
A perfectly reasonable and worthy objective. But don't think either you, or Rolfe or Hilton are ready or able, much less willing, to deal with the fact that the SRY gene is, apparently, only applicable to mammals. That's the whole point of the biological definitions - they apply to ALL of the 7 or 8 million sexually-reproducing species on the planet. Will you all, as I argued above, push for definitions to be endorsed by Lexico and OED that apply only to mammals?

You're the one who produced a pie chart that only seems to be applicable to human beings, never mind other species.

Emma has dealt with non-mammalian species, that you don't like how she's done it is your problem.

You also seem to think you're talking to people who want to engage in activism. We don't. We're not TRAs. Dictionary compilers can get on with what they're doing, which is describing how words are actually used in current speech.

You're pet interpretation leads to the definitions you want to endorse not actually describing the way the words are actually used, at all. So either the dictionary compilers are spectacularly incompetent, or you misunderstand their definitions.
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:16 PM   #354
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Originally Posted by d4m10n View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by theprestige
If someone refers to a male child (or a male kitten), are you actually unsure of what they mean?
I'd like to hear an answer to this one as well, Steersman.

Also, if you had to task someone with purchasing a neutered male puppy, how would you phrase the request?
Do cats have a prepubescent stage? One would assume so - mammalians and all that, really the only game in town ...

But if so then how about picking up a very young prepubertal cat who has been fixed and who would have become a male otherwise?

Fairly convoluted answer and probably unnecessarily so for most situations. But I don't see, offhand, how it is logically contradictory, how any underlying premises and (biological) definitions are contradicted - which is the issue at hand.

I understand what is meant by a "male kitten" - as I understand what is meant by "the sun rises at 7:02 tomorrow". But NEITHER of those constructions are logically coherent or consistent with facts or a priori definitions.

There's often a whole bunch of ellipsis in colloquial conversation:
Quote:
In linguistics, ellipsis (from Greek: ἔλλειψις, élleipsis 'omission') or an elliptical construction is the omission from a clause of one or more words that are nevertheless understood in the context of the remaining elements. There are numerous distinct types of ellipsis acknowledged in theoretical syntax. Theoretical accounts of ellipsis seek to explain its syntactic and semantic factors, the means by which the elided elements are recovered, and the status of the elided elements. Theoretical accounts of ellipsis can vary greatly depending in part upon whether a constituency-based or a dependency-based theory of syntactic structure is pursued.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellipsis_(linguistics)

But the problem is in failing to understand what's under the hood, and reaching - or peddling - untenable conclusions; in engaging in politically motivated equivocation; in changing horses in midstream for fun or profit:

Quote:
Since only man [human] is rational.
And no woman is a man [male].
Therefore, no woman is rational.[1]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:33 PM   #355
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Do cats have a prepubescent stage? One would assume so - mammalians and all that, really the only game in town ...

But if so then how about picking up a very young prepubertal cat who has been fixed and who would have become a male otherwise?

Fairly convoluted answer and probably unnecessarily so for most situations. But I don't see, offhand, how it is logically contradictory, how any underlying premises and (biological) definitions are contradicted - which is the issue at hand.

I understand what is meant by a "male kitten" - as I understand what is meant by "the sun rises at 7:02 tomorrow". But NEITHER of those constructions are logically coherent or consistent with facts or a priori definitions.

There's often a whole bunch of ellipsis in colloquial conversation:


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ellipsis_(linguistics)

But the problem is in failing to understand what's under the hood, and reaching - or peddling - untenable conclusions; in engaging in politically motivated equivocation; in changing horses in midstream for fun or profit:



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation
No. You're just misunderstanding the definition used by the dictionary, by biologists, and by everyone else*.

There are two sexes in mammals these are distinguished by the genetic combination that sets up each of the two developmental paths. Anyone who inherits the male combo is male, regardless of where they are on that path. Only one path produces male gametes. Being anywhere on that path makes you male, even if you're not presently so producing. That's what "of the sex that produces male gametes" means. Everyone* but you understands this.

You're indulging in crackpottery.
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:40 PM   #356
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The sun doesn't "rise" at 05:29 tomorrow only if you insist that the word "rise" can only and exclusively be used in English to denote an object moving further away from the centre of the earth. Your problem is that in English, "rise" does not only mean that. It has a variety of meanings, one of which is that the notional easterly horizon intersects with the position of the sun at that particular time.

I'll tell you something else, the sun won't become visible here at 05:29 tomorrow morning even if the sky is absolutely cloudless. For the fairly obvious reason that there are some hills in the way. Should I therefore tell the Met Office that its sunrise time is bollocks?

You seem unable to comprehend that words can be used in different ways and with different meanings in different contexts. That does not make one of these meanings incorrect. I can use the word "rise" in relation to the morning sun with just as much validity as I can use it to describe what I hope is going to happen to a cake I'm baking, because that's how the language works. Any dictionary will give several meanings for many commonly-used words to reflect this.

You also seem not to comprehend that nobody actually working in biology uses the words male and female in the way you want to interpret the definitions you're looking at. Nobody uses them that way in normal conversation and nobody uses them that way in actual biological discussions or writing.

In fact the use of "male" and "female" in ways you don't like is probably more common in academic biological discourse than it is in normal conversation. In the interests of clarity we're more likely to describe a horse as a castrated male than as a gelding, as I mentioned. We talk about male and female embryos and foetuses and calves and lambs and kittens and puppies all the time. We talk about infertile males and vasectomised males all the freaking time.

Never do we imagine that when someone says "that animal is male" that they are specifically stating that the animal is actively able to produce sperm at the time. If they want to convey that information they will have to be more specific.

So "the sun will rise" passes the test because that is one normal, commonly understood meaning of the word "rise" in English and a good dictionary will include this among its given meanings for the word.

"Male" used in the sense that the listener will understand it only refers to individuals currently producing small motile gametes isn't something that actually happens. So I repeat, if you think a dictionary compiler's wording implies that, then either the dictionary compiler is incompetent, or you have misunderstood.

You're terribly invested in this misunderstanding. Can you possibly explain why?
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Last edited by Rolfe; 6th August 2022 at 12:43 PM.
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:42 PM   #357
Steersman
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Originally Posted by Myriad View Post
It does appear designed to, whether it actually could or not. On the one hand: "Transwomen aren't female because they don't produce female gametes, so they have no inherent right to access women's spaces." On the other hand: "My mother doesn't produce female gametes any more, and she's allowed to access women's spaces, so obviously the categories are useless and arbitrary and everyone should just be allowed to do what they want."
Sure.

IF we define "woman" as "adult human female (habitually produces ova ...)", and IF we stipulate that "women's spaces" are for the exclusive use of "adult human females (habitually ... ova ...)" THEN, of course, it necessarily follows that neither transwomen nor your mother can be "allowed to access women's spaces".

But it most certainly does NOT follow that "categories [in general or 'female' and 'male' in particular] are useless and arbitrary". The most that one MIGHT conclude is that membership in those categories is not particularly useful for gatekeeping access to "women's spaces". You HAVE to ask and answer the question about what objective it is that you have in mind - the sine qua non or claim to fame and fortune of categorization right out of the chute:

Quote:
Categorization is the ability and activity of recognizing shared features or similarities between the elements of the experience of the world (such as objects, events, or ideas), organizing and classifying experience by associating them to a more abstract group (that is, a category, class, or type),[1][2] on the basis of their traits, features, similarities or other criteria that are universal to the group. ....

Objects are usually categorized for some adaptive or pragmatic purposes.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Categorization

Which is more or less exactly what I and Griffiths have been beavering away at from square one: the biological definitions for the sexes are the RONG tool for the jobs that society is trying - rather unsuccessfully - to force into doing.

Reproductive status - basically what the biological definitions for the sexes encompass and entail - is largely useless for controlling access to "womens' spaces". It's a red herring the size of Moby Dick to be conflating the biological definitions with the criteria that are, in effect, what are actually being used to control access to those spaces: genitalia for toilets and change rooms, karyotype for sports - for those of "women's", no XY need apply.

If society had more intellectual honesty and weren't so crippled with prudery, those are the criteria that we would explicitly stipulate as the requirements for access to "womens' spaces".
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:51 PM   #358
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Originally Posted by Steersman View Post
Do cats have a prepubescent stage? One would assume so - mammalians and all that, really the only game in town ...

But if so then how about picking up a very young prepubertal cat who has been fixed and who would have become a male otherwise?

Fairly convoluted answer and probably unnecessarily so for most situations. But I don't see, offhand, how it is logically contradictory, how any underlying premises and (biological) definitions are contradicted - which is the issue at hand.

I understand what is meant by a "male kitten" - as I understand what is meant by "the sun rises at 7:02 tomorrow". But NEITHER of those constructions are logically coherent or consistent with facts or a priori definitions.

You don't know enough about biology to know whether cats go through puberty. Oh dear.

It's quite common to castrate male kittens before puberty. I prefer not to and all my cats have been allowed to go through puberty before castration, but most vets will perform the operation pre-puberty if requested as long as the kitten has descended testicles.

They're still male. They were male when they were conceived and were male embryos. They became male foetuses. They became male kittens and they will then grow into male cats. All without at any point having produced spermatozoa.

This is commonplace. It's how the word is used in biology. If all you are going to do is keep falling back on dictionary definitions you are misinterpreting, we're not going to get any further with this. One of these definitions you quoted to support your position actually gave the phrase "male child" as an example of the usage of the word.
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:51 PM   #359
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Steersman, how would you define male and female in a way that preserves access to sex segregated spaces for females, such as women's shelters, women's sports, and women's prisons?
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Old 6th August 2022, 12:57 PM   #360
Rolfe
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Quote:
... what I and Griffiths have been beavering away at from square one: the biological definitions for the sexes...

You and "Griffiths" need to understand that what you are punting as "the biological definitions of the sexes" are in fact no such thing. That the words are not used in biology in the way you imagine they are. That your interpretation of the wording of the definitions gives you a usage that doesn't exist.

So either you and Griffiths have misunderstood, or the dictionary compilers have made a terrible mistake. The thing is, I and everybody else here seem to understand the dictionary definitions no problem. We think they're a reasonable account of the meanings of the words in normal usage.

So, as Oliver Cromwell once said, "I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible that you may be mistaken."
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