“He who thinks great thoughts, often makes great errors”
Eleven years ago, I was blissfully pregnant with my first child, excited and unaware what gender my baby was going to be. I did know however, it was either going to be a baby boy or a baby girl. After having two beautiful boys we waited a few years before deciding to go for number three. It had been nine years since my first pregnancy, and I was surprised to find how much things had changed, I read so many articles on the baby internet sites headlining “why we raised our baby gender free” or “10 ways to raise a gender-neutral child”. Each article was written with great enthusiasm and although the concept was very new to me, it seemed to be a cool and trendy way to parent, especially when advocated by popular celebs like Russell Brand and PiNK.
There seems to be many reasons for raising children gender neutrally, although the major drive in my estimation is cause driven parenting, with the idea that breaking down the gender norms will lead to higher equality between men and women in the future. Other parents have experienced overwhelming struggles with their own gender identity, perhaps during childhood, or even adulthood, and feel raising a child non-binary will avoid personal adversity or confusion. I discovered there is an enormous difference between parents raising their children gender free based on their ideology, and parents who are raising a child who has genuine gender dysphoria or are born intersex which is a medical condition.
Individual choices on parenting is a parental right, however, I find it interesting that the education institutions have also adopted this phenomenon. The state of Victoria in Australia has followed suit from Canada and are teaching gender studies in primary schools. Children are being shown “the Genderbread Person”; an image that shows a person’s anatomy, feelings, expression and identity are all independent of each other, but is this a fact or an idea? I think it’s important us Mums Who Matter know what’s going on, so with an open mind, I did some research, and found an overwhelming divide between philosophy, science and psychology.
A little bit of philosophy…
In 1948, Simone de Beauvoir, a French existentialist feminist wrote a book called ‘The Second Sex’, suggesting ‘one is not born but becomes a woman’. De Beauvoir, a controversial woman of her time, was bi-sexual and often shared lovers with her long-term partner Jean-Paul Sartre. Sartre was the philosopher of Existentialism (existence precedes essence), which had influence on De Beauvoir’s theory. De Beauvoir’s original articulation is what is known today as the sex-gender distinction. She believed your existence comes before your identity. Hence, you are not born a male or female, you become a male or female by social expectation. Existentialist’s claim that if you want to live the most authentic life, you need to not become the narrative that is expected of you. To be free, listen to your own perceptions. They also admit, living this way takes courage, the outcome is not known. De Beauvoir, in my opinion was an intellectual rebel, caught up in scandals for seducing her female students and supporting the decriminalisation of statutory rape. Her philosophy is the foundation of gender theory studied today.
American philosopher, Judith Butler created the Gender Performative Theory. Butler claims that gender is not relatable to biological sex and is not binary. “Gender performativity is not a matter of choosing which gender one will be today. Performativity is a matter of reiterating or repeating the norms through which is constituted”. Butler is known for her book Gender Trouble: Feminism and the subversion of identity. She challenges the conventional notions of gender, which sees as oppression and is active in breaking down the social norms to avoid stereotyping behaviours. By continuing the traditional bias behaviours towards girls and boys will result in continued inequality between men and women. She is an influential speaker, and respected professor that has influenced young students and the Humanities Departments of Universities all over the world.
There are many modern gender theorists who think similarly, each having a motive for equality of the LGBTIQ community and equality between men and women. I found their mindset interesting, I have watched countless lectures and debates about gender, and almost all the activists have a post-modernist view that marginalised groups and women are oppressed by the patriarchy. They believe that gender is a broad spectrum and is not binary, an individual can even be off the spectrum and can be an ‘otherkin’ which means you identify as a non-human. Browns University released a study claiming there at least 70 different gender identities. If you are one of the 98% majority, and your biological sex and your gender identity are relatable or aligned, then you are known as cis-gender. It is also believed that without the performative roles of male and female, there is actually no difference between the biological sexes, having a penis or vagina is the same as having blue eyes versus green eyes according to gender theorists.
But, not all philosophers think the same way, Christina Hoff Sommers, a professor, author and philosopher of ethics, disagrees with the gender theorists’ approach to gender. She believes there are innate differences between men and women, that should be celebrated, not disregarded. A study she found showed that monkeys in an environment without social construct, stereotypical advertising or culturally manufactured gender norms still had interests with gender specific toys. The female monkeys were more sensitive, sentimental and gravitated towards the doll toys. The male monkeys were more objective, tough minded and gravitated towards the balls and toy cars. She asks the question, what if gender identity is assigned, not from oppression, but from well-being, freedom and genuine equality? Sommers claims she is a proud feminist and bases her lectures on facts, not ideology or rhetoric.
A little bit of psychology…
My go-to Professor of Psychology, and Clinical Psychiatrist Dr Jordan Peterson, has been studying human behaviour for over 30 years. He has spent over 20,000 hours treating patients at his clinical practice, has studied neuroscience and philosophy and authored books. He criticises the gender theorists claim that a) biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual proclivity vary independently of each other and b) there are no differences between the sexes (society forces us to be different). He finds both claims intolerable. He expresses science has concluded for decades that the correlation exceeds .99 between biological sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual proclivity, and to argue they are independent of each other is illogical. As an expert in psychological personality he argues there is empirical evidence that there are differences between male and females both in personality and interest.
He doesn’t ignore the fact that some individuals are born one sex, and after a very difficult internal challenge have decided to transition to another sex, albeit the individual will still result in being one of two genders, male or female. To insist there is a ‘spectrum’ is ludicrous in his opinion. You can have feminine men or masculine women, but you are still fundamentally a male or a female. A very small minority are born with a chromosomal abnormality and are intersex.
Dr Oren Amitay, a Psychologist and University Lecturer at Ryerson University claims that his patients who have gender dysphoria understand it is a metal health disorder, however the gender theorist activists are trying to amend that diagnosis through the political route. Amitay argues, having a mental health disorder doesn’t mean it is a moral judgement, it is just a fact. His patients explain to him that they have great distress with being in their biological bodies, and often will refer to the dysphoria as a curse. A Psychologists role is to help them work with the challenge, so they can live the best life possible. The activists would say gender dysphoria is a blessing, and it is a societal problem that makes it difficult for individuals to be who they really are, however, many people with genuine gender dysphoria don’t feel that way at all. He claims the truth is we don’t really know what the best solution is to tackle this issue, only sample sized preliminary research has been undertaken to date, yet the gender ideologs are pushing for children with gender dysphoria to begin transition as early as possible. He explains gender is extremely confusing for some, and personal beliefs are getting in the way of facts and clinical experience. There is no credible evidence to show long-term results are positive for trans individuals, who have transitioned as a teenager, this is a social experiment based on an idea and is playing with the lives of young children.
A little bit of science…
To understand the human brain I turned to Dr Sarah McKay, founder of Your Brain Health and author of The Women’s Brain Book. McKay explains in her book that sex hormones organise the reproductive regions of the prenatal brain, but most of the brain is “a rough draft ready for editing” and a newborn’s rough draft is “sculpted and customised” by interactions with the world. There lays the argument for gender neutral advocates; social constructs enforce the gender identity of a human, not biology. However, after scrupulous research undertaken by McKay during her doctorate thesis at Oxford University, she found both nature (genes, molecules, hormones and patterns of neural activity) and nurture (childhood experiences, social connections, education and culture) are both responsible for the developing brain. The brain is therefore plastic and is continually evolving throughout our lifetime. Your gender being in alignment with your biological sex comes about by a complex interplay between nature and nurture.
Dr Michelle Cretella, President of the American College of Paediatricians, claims that the biological sex of a baby is imprinted by our DNA and human sexuality is binary. You are born male or female. Identity is not biological, they are our thoughts and feelings, therefore you are not “born this way”. In many cases gender dysphoria has other underlying psychological factors, maybe child abuse, divorce or a new sibling of the opposite sex is having more attention. The evidence is clear that 80-95% of children who show signs of gender dysphoria will realign to their natural sex at some point in childhood. Cretella makes the case that the diagnosis process of a young child with gender dysphoria is quickly being labelled ‘trans-gender’. She sees the dangers that this non-medical testing is allowing young children to be forced into gender reassignment at puberty. She states this is not a scientific debate, this is an ideology that is experimenting on children.
She also points out the gender theory being taught at schools is psychologically damaging; young children simply don’t understand that biological sex is constant, stable and permanent. Some children under her care, are fearsome that their bodies are going to magically change overnight into the opposite sex after being taught gender theory at school.
My mind is made up…
Acknowledging the gender theorists, the catalyst for their ideology is simply about acceptance and equality of people who don’t quite fit into the stereotypical box and an aim to increase equality for women and LGBTIQ. I feel that is a reasonable desire, society does have a responsibility to be accepting within reason, and allow for equal rights of everyone. The win for gay marriage was a significant marker in how rights should change for the better. However, the idea that men and women are the same is nonsense. Scandinavia is at the forefront to achieve this ‘utopia’, and has made the most significant changes to break down societal constructs of men and women, and it failed.
Social psychologists undertook a cross cultural study, set on a standard model of five personalities dimensions that proceeded to look at differences between men and women, and whether society is responsible for gender differences. The crucial evidence came from the Scandinavian countries that have achieved egalitarian societies. The consequence for their efforts resulted in the opposite outcome; there was an increased difference between men and women, not only by personality but also interest. As a rule, women tended to be more nurturing, risk averse and emotionally expressive, where men tended to be more competitive, risk taking and emotionally flat. Men also seemed to be interested in ‘things’ and women seemed to be interested in ‘people’ at a much larger rate than anywhere else. The authors hypothesise that prosperity and equality bring greater opportunities for self-actualisation, so men and women are empowered to be who they really are.
Despite the evidence proving there are inherent biological differences in personality and interests between men and women, the gender advocates are still pursuing their ideology. They were hoping for higher numbers of females to be mathematicians, engineers and technologists (STEM fields) but saw a decline in entries, despite their efforts. The left leaning researchers believe humans are malleable, if you push societal structure hard enough you could force the differences out. Hence the rise of gender free schools, which is technically handing your children over to the state to enforce boys and girls into interests that are against their predisposition. I for one do not want to go down that road and I fear this change is coming to Australia.
It was announced by the Attorney General, in Australia a few weeks ago that the state government will investigate QLD’s birth registration process and will consider putting a non-binary option on future birth certificates to appease the gender activists. Birth certificates are the principal source of statistics for reliable figures which I personally don’t think should be tampered with based on an ideology. Intersex cases are very complex and few, and in those instances an agreement needs to be made. However, the proposal is that parents who want to raise their child gender-free could select non-binary even when a sex is apparent.
I believe, we live in a time where there is equality between males and females, every child has the right to free education and can choose whatever pathways they desire, there is no reason why girls can’t become Astronauts and boys can’t become Hairdressers. Life isn’t completely perfect, there is always room for improvement in every aspect and I am grateful that I live in a free society that allows changes to happen. Albeit, an imaginary higher degree of equality surely can’t be achieved by denying the biological sex of a child, or insisting a child doesn’t have a gender. Stripping femininity from girls and masculinity from boys is a social experiment, and we don’t know the outcome, so lets not pretend we do.
I have respect and compassion for all parents raising their children in a way that is right for their family. It is without doubt that children who are struggling with genuine gender dysphoria is challenging for both the child and parent, allowing them to feel comfortable in their choices, and showing kindness, care and tolerance should be without question. Schools definitely have some responsibility to teach kids that we are all individuals and we aren’t limited to choices whether its toys, hobbies, clothes or interests. Let kids be kids, without the ideological rhetoric.
From a political view, reality must prevail when it effects government policy and state education. Theory, like religion is an idea, its not fact. Politicised pressure is placed on legislators to pass legislation and learning scope based on a theory that many intellectuals can argue against with empirical evidence. Governments are buckling under political correctness from the left wing activists, and we don’t know where this leads. Humanity began with a male and female, nothing more and nothing less. I feel indoctrinating children with ideological beliefs that allows them to believe they can be one of 70 genders, a unicorn or even change their identity and pronouns daily, is a step too far. The government should not be replacing its responsibility for empathy. Society has learned and will continue to learn to accept lifestyle choices if its based on logic and truth. Finally, it saddens me that babies and children are being used as political pawns in the war of identity politics. I say this with love, please stop, their lives are far too precious.
Thanks for reading guys xoxo
My Queer Life “My Queer Life” records occasional videos explaining what it is like to be raised gender free. In my opinion, this has to be the most confused child ever.