You may have heard of American Exceptionalism; the idea that American foreign policy seems to expect America to live by an entirely different set of rules then it expects everybody else to live by. Along the same lines, I previously wrote about our tendency toward “spiritual exceptionalism,” to treat spiritual discussions as though they were not bound by the same rules that govern the rest of life.
Similarly, there is a tendency to treat human sexuality as though it is not bound by the same rules as the rest of reality; we find yet another double standard.
A question of what really is
Suppose I were to tell you that I just don’t “feel” like climate change is actually happening. It may be happening for you, but for me, I just don’t “feel” like it is happening. The very thought would send many an environmentalist in a tizzy. I would have temperature trend charts slapped on the table in front of me. I would be introduced to the infamous “hockey stick.” I would be shown patterns of glacial melting. And on it would go. Evidence would be piled upon evidence to make it clear that my “feelings” (wherever they came from) were, frankly, dead wrong.
Let’s consider a different example. I used to ride a 650cc motorbike but I upgraded to an 1100cc bike a few years back. The larger displacement could handle higher speeds with greater ease, so it didn’t “feel” like I was speeding. Rather, the bike just seemed to “feel” at home somewhere in the range of 110 – 130 kph. But when the police officer pulled me over I can assure you he didn’t particularly care about my feelings on the matter; the reality of my speed was what is was and my feelings were quite irrelevant.
There are a number of domains in life where our feelings are legitimate guides (personal culinary preferences, for instance) but insofar as our feelings clash with objective reality then, with all due respect to our feelings, reality wins.
Or, more correctly, reality wins unless our feelings have anything to do with our sexuality. In that case, reality plays second fiddle. In particular, reality must conform to our feelings with respect to our gender identification.
First let’s consider reality as it actually is, feelings aside. What follows is a purely scientific description of human genetics, devoid of any ideology.
Human DNA is “bundled” into packages called chromosomes. Of all the sets of chromosomes that mammals have, one pair is called the “sex chromosomes” because that pair of chromosomes determines the mammal’s biological gender. Within that chromosome pair every human being either has a “Y” chromosome or they do not. Every human has at least one “X” chromosome in the sex pair, but not all humans have a “Y” chromosome.
If a human has a “Y” chromosome that human is referred to as a male. If a human does not have even one “Y” chromosome – if they only have “X” chromosomes – then that human is referred to as a female. And DNA is associated with certain biological features, especially with respect to the genitalia as will be discussed in more detail later. Humans with a “Y” chromosome have certain biological features not found in humans with only “X” chromosomes, and vice versa.
There are some genetic mutations, of course. While the overwhelming majority of humans have either “XX” chromosomes or “XY” chromosomes, there are a very small number of humans who have extra chromosomes. But the interesting fact is that even those with mutated sex chromosomes are still referred to as “male” and “female” by scientists, depending on whether they have even one “Y” chromosome. So with or without genetic mutations, the categories of “male” and “female” are essential defining characteristics of the human race, as they are with all mammals. In fact, these categories are vital to the very survival of the entire human race, as we shall see in a moment.
These are the realities of science, devoid of ideology. But the story one hears from the transgender community is quite a different tale. One of the key themes that underpins much of the transgender language is the notion that one’s gender is “assigned at birth.” The use of this terminology is quite deliberate. The intent is to make it seem as though gender is arbitrary and malleable. If it is merely “assigned” at birth (like how one’s name is arbitrarily assigned at birth) then there is no real reason why it cannot be changed at some point after birth (like one’s name can be changed).
The idea behind this language is that the gender categories of “male” and “female” are not descriptions of objective reality, but rather they are arbitrary conventions “assigned” at the whim of whichever doctor happens to deliver the baby that day. Dr. Smith declared, “It’s a boy!” but if Dr. Green had been on duty he might have declared, “It’s a girl!” Or maybe Dr. Smith also would have declared “It’s a girl!” if he hadn’t ordered his coffee at Tim Horton’s that morning instead of his usual Starbucks.
But that’s not how things actually work in the delivery room. The statement of the baby’s gender is not based on the doctor flipping a coin or making some arbitrary “assignment” of gender based on how the doctor happens to feel that particular day, rather the doctor makes a medically informed statement about the objective characteristics of the baby that was just born. The statement “It’s a boy!” is the kind of statement about which those who disagree are actually wrong. Factually mistaken. If the baby possess even one “Y” chromosomes then any gender declaration other than “male” simply does not accord with the facts of the matter.
A baby’s gender, weight, length, time of birth and medical conditions are all facts about the baby. None of these are assigned to the baby, rather they are observed about the baby. These facts remain 100% true regardless of how anybody feels about those facts, even the child in 5, 10, or 20 years time.
There are, of course, cultural expectations relating to the social roles of men and women. What does it mean to be “manly” or “womanly?” It seems virtually certain that at least some people might not fit the mold on those issues; a man might not relate very well with the cultural norms associated with men. That is an issue, and clearly worthy of discussion, but to go from “I don’t feel like a typical man” to “I self-identify as a woman” is to try and deal with the issue by arguing with our very genetics. That’s one argument you will never win.
Since such claims are directly contradictory to one’s own genetic code, could a person with a genetic disease simply “self identify” as somebody without a genetic disease? Would that cure them? Would such a declaration actually change anything? Such declarations – if made about anything other than our sexuality – would be grounds to question the sanity of the person making the declaration. At 6′ 5″ tall, if I were to claim that I “self identify as a midget” you would be right to look at me funny. But under Sexual Exceptionalism the exact same type of claims, if made with respect to their gender chromosomes, are supposed to be taken seriously.
Contra Sexual Exceptionalism, the facts of human gender are both very real and vitally important for the very survival of the human race, as we shall see next.
A question of why it really is
As well as asking about the actual nature of reality, as it really is, there is the question of the purpose for various features of reality, including parts of our body.
The heart is meant to move oxygenated blood throughout the body. I know a little of what happens when the heart fails to fulfill it’s purpose; the results are catastrophic. Will anybody seriously entertain the idea that the heart doesn’t really have an objective purpose, or that the heart’s purpose of moving oxygenated blood is, perhaps, “assigned at birth?” One doctor may have assigned a purpose to the heart of moving blood, but some other doctor may have assigned a purpose to that very same heart of chewing food. Really? Of course not.
Our eyes are meant to see; through our eyes we get a visual picture of the world around us. If our eyes fail to serve that function – if they do not fulfill their purpose – then our picture of the world becomes far more limited.
The purpose of skin is to keep stuff that’s supposed to be inside the body inside, and stuff that shouldn’t be in the body outside of the body. Without skin we would suffer from continuous infections until we died.
The purpose of a vehicle is ease of mobility. Without a vehicle we have to expend more effort, and take more time, to travel between our destinations.
The purpose of a lightbulb is to provide light. If a lightbulb fails to fulfill its purpose we bump our toes and trip over the toys that our kids failed to clean up before bedtime.
The purpose of food is to nourish us. Without food we die.
And on it goes.
But did you notice a consistent theme in how I illustrated each of those examples? I explained what the purpose was, and I illustrated what the consequences would be if each of those examples failed to fulfill their purpose. That’s one of the easiest ways of testing what something’s purpose really is. Skin may also be used as a canvas for tattoos, but if somebody’s skin did not permit tattooing, the person would probably survive just fine. Thus the ability to host tattoos is a secondary purpose, protecting us from the elements is a primary purpose.
So what about human genitalia? Once again, if we turn to reality – as it actually is – the answer is clear. The primary purpose of human genitalia is reproduction of the species.
Let’s apply the same test I did with all the other examples of purpose; what would happen if human genitals were never used for reproductive purposes, or if that reproductive function failed for some reason (as was illustrated in the movie Children of Men)? Very simple answer: Species extinction. If our genitals failed to fulfill their reproductive purposes, at a species level, then we would die out, as a species. Or, alternatively, if we collectively failed to utilize the reproductive purposes of genitalia, the human species would die out.
Hetrosexual intercourse that allows for the possibility of reproduction, to put it perfectly bluntly, is absolutely essential to the survival of the human species.
Any sexual activity not aimed at reproduction, including but not limited to Homosexual intercourse, is not essential to the survival of the human species.
Let me expand on what I just said. If every human on the face of the planet only ever engaged in heterosexual intercourse without any kind of birth control measures, the human race would survive to the next generation. If every human on the face of the planet only ever engaged in homosexual intercourse the human race would disappear in one generation.
There is no ideology here, folks. This is science. These are facts. This is biology as it really as.
Facts are facts, but Sexual Exceptionalism rejects these facts. According to Sexual Exceptionalism we are supposed to treat these very different sexual interactions as “equal,” whereas science and biology make it abundantly clear that one type of sexual interaction is essential for the survival of the human race, and the other is not essential. If we were talking about anything other than sexuality we would be allowed – nay, expected – to affirm the undeniable conclusions of science, but not if we are working from a paradigm of Sexual Exceptionalism.
That which is essential to the survival of the human race is not equal to that which is not essential to the survival of the human race. The essential one must be strongly preferred.
This is all highly politically incorrect stuff I’ve said, but if you read it carefully you’ll notice that every word of it is strictly fact-based. I have said nothing that isn’t perfectly consistent with the realities of biology and science, but even though I have confined myself to matters of fact I am equally certain (as another matter of fact) that I will have upset certain readers. This anger over the statement of objective truth is a defining characteristic of Sexual Exceptionalism. In most areas of life facts, science, and data are respected and it is understood that human preferences must fall in line with reality. If my feelings about climate change disagree with the infamous “hockey stick” then it is my feelings that must change. My feelings must fall in line with reality.
But in some areas of life – spirituality as I argued previously, and also human sexuality – it is believed that a different set of rules apply. We are expected to abide by a double standard. There are those who will demand adherence to the facts in one area, and demand ignorance of the facts in another area; the very nature of “exceptionalism.”
Just as we need to do away with spiritual exceptionalism, American exceptionalism – or any other kind of exceptionalism that allows some field of human thought or experience to operate by its own special rules – we need to do away with Sexual Exceptionalism.
Welcome back to reality.