If identity politics win, a man of 69 can be 49 by Janice Turner in The Times 10.11.18
The original article is here.
When self-identification trumps biology, men can be women, white can be black and age really will be just a number
Emile Ratelband is 69 but feels like a “young god” of 49. His doctors agree he has the constitution of a much younger guy. So Ratelband is fighting through the Dutch courts to change his legal birth date from 1949 to 1969 so he can get a mortgage, a better job and, crucially, pull more chicks on Tinder.
A man who identifies as a woman, he argues, can obtain a new birth certificate stating she was born female, so why can’t he wipe 20 years off his age? A court has argued it would mean deleting part of Ratelband’s life, but is this different to trans people who request no further mention of their birth name and childhood?
“I am who I say I am,” is the slogan of modern trans activism. We should accept a natal male is a woman without question, whether she has retained male genitalia or indeed physically transitioned at all. The only thing needed for access to women’s changing rooms, prisons, refuges, sports, scholarships or posts created to combat sex inequality should be her word.
If you can transition to another gender, why not race? In America, a white woman called Rachel Dolezal was hounded for purporting to be black. No matter that she claimed close affinity with her four adopted black siblings or that she’d battled racial injustice, Dolezal was a wicked imposter. Now Anthony Lennon, a Londoner of white Irish descent who adopted a Nigerian middle name and directs a black theatre company, has been condemned for accepting a grant intended for black and ethnic minority artists. The fact that he’d never concealed his ancestry, while his skin tone and bone structure meant society “saw” him as mixed race, has not saved him from black community fury.
Yet there is no logical, coherent argument why racial identity is fixed while gender is fluid. Some claim race is more concrete since it is hereditary but this ignores scientific evidence of scant difference between races. Besides, this is the ideological terrain of eugenicists and architects of apartheid. And what level of ancestry qualifies for membership: is US senator Elizabeth Warren really a Native American because Cherokee showed up on her DNA test? At a cellular level there is more to support Emile Ratelband’s claim that a few lucky humans are biologically younger than their birth age.
Meanwhile there is no scientific proof that gender identity is innate, that a trans woman was born in the wrong body with a “pink” not a “blue” brain. Some argue that trans gender identity is “authentic”, while trans racial identity is not. But when identity is reduced to subjective inner feelings, who is to say Rachel Dolezal feels her blackness less profoundly than Caitlyn Jenner feels her womanhood?
The feminist philosopher Rebecca Tuvel, in an essay on trans racialism for which she was predictably eviscerated, argued that changing identity has two stages. First, how you see yourself; second, whether society grants you full group membership, with all accompanying privileges.
A Gentile who feels great fealty with the Jewish community should, of course, be allowed to take religious classes, but equally a rabbi should retain authority to block your conversion if he judges you insufficiently sincere.
All of us have multiple strands to our identity which transcend the raw circumstances of our birth. A black friend is a talented classical musician and conductor, despite being asked by relatives as a child, “Why are you playing white music?” The DJ Tim Westwood, a white bishop’s son, has championed black street music his whole career. People switch religion or nationality, feel uncommonly moved by a foreign culture or food or language. Unless you subscribe to the miserable, blinkered concept of cultural appropriation, piecing together your identity from diverse sources is one of life’s profound joys.
But only those who transition to the opposite gender believe they are entitled to automatic, full membership. The reasons for this aren’t based in science or any objective measure but stem from arcane post-modern theory. In several influential books, the US academic Judith Butler argued that gender is a “performance”: you are a woman because you act out womanhood. Biological sex, however, is not real, merely a social construct. This reasoning has swept through liberal campuses, into the political mainstream. It is the source of the belief that trans women should not only be legally viewed as women, but are biologically women. Butler’s theories are now such an article of faith that to state there are two human sexes or that the penis is a male organ constitutes hate speech. (Writing this, I brace myself.)
People have identified as the opposite gender, cross-dressed and subverted gender roles throughout history. But in the 2004 Gender Recognition Act trans people were granted full membership. Anyone with a diagnosis of gender dysphoria could after two years apply for a new birth certificate. No one thought a trans person could literally change sex, rather this was a legal fiction to protect, rightly, the privacy of a small, vulnerable group from exposure or blackmail. But in the past 14 years Butlerian theory has taken over. Now activists demand that anyone who says she is a woman is entitled to a document stating she was born biologically female.
There is no logical reason at all why such magical thinking should not extend to other identities protected in equalities legislation. Why should the disabled have to prove their status via rigorous medical tests? And why is Emile Ratelband’s age a rigid number when he feels much younger inside? An unqualified, unchecked policy of “I am who I say I am” should apply to everyone or no one at all.