Gender self-identification – quantifying the risks

The Alberta government is on track to introduce, “new government guidelines for respecting the rights of gay, lesbian and transgender kids in schools.” In particular, the question of allowing students to use whichever washroom they self-identify with is one of the major issues under debate.

I don’t know what you believe about all this. You may embrace the LGBTQ+ movement, or you may have hesitations about it. Either way, hopefully we can all be honest enough to acknowledge that there are some very serious risks associated with this proposal. And, in a twist of irony, these guidelines put the LGBTQ+ community at increased risk!

Some facts

Before we get into anything contentious, let’s start with some facts that are beyond dispute.

There are over 114,000 students enrolled in the Calgary board of education and another 54,000 students in the Catholic system. About 168,000 in total. Roughly half would be in junior or senior high (84,000) and roughly half of those will be male (42,000).

There are enough male students in junior and senior high in Calgary to fill the Saddledome to capacity. In fact there are enough to not just fill the Saddledome to capacity once, but to fill it to capacity twice.

The prevelance of those who identify as homosexual is about 2-3% of the population. According to Statistics Canada 1.7% of Canadians consider themselves homosexual and 1.3% consider themselves bisexual – 3% in total. Similarly, 3.4% of Americans identify with the LGBTQ community. These numbers are fairly consistent around the world, but really it’s just Canadians that we are interested in for this discussion.

The prevalence of folks who self-identify as transgender is extremely small – on the order of 1 out of every 10,000 to 30,000. This is between 0.000033% and 0.0001% of the general population. It’s a little higher for the younger crowd – let’s assume 0.001% for argument sake – a ridiculously generous assumption.

I mention the LGBTQ+ statistics only to highlight the reality that if we take out all the LGBTQ+ boys from the Saddledome, it’s still almost packed twice. The overwhelming majority of boys are heterosexual, self-identifying males.

One last data point that deserves consideration. I’m not sure how else to put this, but teenage boys today have been hypersexualized by pornography. As this study of Alberta youth reports,

Ninety per cent of males and 70 per cent of females reported accessing sexually explicit media content at least once. More than one-third of the boys reported viewing pornographic DVDs or videos “too many times to count”, compared to eight per cent of the girls surveyed.

The study also revealed different patterns of use between males and females, with boys doing the majority of deliberate viewing, and a significant minority planning social time around viewing porn with male friends.

The emphasis is mine, not the author’s. The study author comments,

Though being curious about sexually explicit media may seem a ‘natural’ part of early adolescence, porn is a major presence in the lives of youth. The media environment in Alberta homes makes access to porn easy for teens and viewing pornography at a young age can set children up for problems later on…

Problems? Really? Do tell…

Today’s problem

Those are some facts? Why do these facts concern me, with respect to the transgender guidelines?

In the past there existed institutionalized discrimination associated with one’s skin color and gender. If your skin color was black then you did not enjoy the same freedoms as if your skin color was white. There was a time when women could not vote. Such discrimination is more or less behind us, which is a good thing, but we are told that discrimination still exists with respect to a person’s sexual orientation and/or their gender self-identification. But this new breed of “discrimination” is fundamentally different from the previous breed of discrimination on at least one very key point.

There is absolutely no way that an independent observer could positively identify another person’s identity.

While past discrimination was based on immediately identifiable characteristics, today’s discrimination is clearly not based on anything immediately identifiable.

Consider homosexuality. How can you determine if the person next to you is gay or straight? Could you somehow measure their height, weight, skin-color, eye-colour or some other physical parameter like that and provide a confident assessment of their sexual orientation? Is there a blood test to identify this? Can you do a DNA test? Some people may dress, talk or behave “gay” but that stereotype does not fit for all homosexuals, nor is it exclusively limited to homosexuals either. Some straight people “seem” gay.

No such external tests exist because such an identification is inherently a “self-identification.” In other words, the only external evidence of a person’s sexual orientation is that person’s explicit statements on the matter. In the absence of their self-identification, we have no way of knowing.

And the same evidential challenge faces gender self-identification. Externally, all evidence (biology, DNA, etc) points conclusively to one gender, but the person may claim to “self-identify” as the other gender. Even if they go through the process of having surgery to alter their physiology, that would be a useless reference because how would we know if their self-identification had reverted back after the surgery? Once again we are completely at the mercy of their statements on the matter; we have not one piece of external evidence by which we can verify or refute their claims.

The authors of the NDP guideline seemed keenly aware of the impossibility of verifying or refuting such claims; this is likely why the document clarifies that, “Self-identification is the sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” The child says it, I believe it, that settles it.

And of all the flaws with the proposed guideline it is this reliance on self-identification alone that should raise the biggest red flags for one simple reason; the certainty of deception.

Note, I did not say the “possibility” of deception, I said the “certainty” of deception.

Imagine a high school packed with hormone-raging teenage boys (hopped up on porn as I previously described), and they have just been handed the ultimate “free pass” access to the girl’s locker room. And they don’t even have to be sneaky. All they have to do is claim to “self identify” as a female and, viola, unlimited access to partially (or completely) disrobed young women. Not only would such deception not be caught, every level of appropriate authority would go out of their way to assist them in their efforts and protect their “rights” on the matter!

Earlier I calculated that there are enough junior and senior high boys in Calgary to fill the Saddledome twice. Now consider that the majority of them have seen porn at least once, and most of them probably view it on a somewhat regular basis. We live in a culture drowning in sexuality, especially for young men. Of all those teenage boys packing the Saddledome, how many would secretly love to spend a little time in the girl’s change room? Even if they wouldn’t admit it to anybody else, I’m going to wager that number is pretty close to 100%. I was a young man at one point too. So the only thing standing between their fantasy and the realization of that fantasy is their honour.

But how many boys have enough honour to resist the temptation?I believe the overwhelming majority of them have enough honour, – in fact I’m sure that nearly all of them are sufficiently honourable – but “overwhelming majority” is not the same as “absolutely every single last one of them.” And if the number of boys with sufficient honour is anything less than 100% then we can be guaranteed that at least some of those 40,000 boys will abuse the system at some point.

So here’s a key point; the only way the NDP can guarantee that the system will never be abused is by guaranteeing that absolutely every one of those junior and senior high boys packing the Saddledome twice over has enough honour to resist the obvious temptation to abuse the system.

Every last one of them.

Is that even possible? Not a chance.

That the policy will be abused at some point is about as certain as any prediction of the future can get. It’s just a matter of time.

Backfiring for the LGBTQ+ community

So there are clearly some significant risks for the non-LGBTQ+ community, but I would argue there are also risks for the LGBTQ+ community as well. The fact that some young boys are eventually going to lie their way in the girl’s locker room is likely to inspire backlash against the LGBTQ+ community for at least one unavoidable reason.

Given the certainty of deception, every transgender claim will be met with suspicion. It will make no difference whether the young man in the girl’s change room is sincere or not, the mere possibility that he could be lying (and the school system obviously did not exert one iota of effort to screen for deception; they are expressly forbidden from doing so) will be enough to raise suspicion. And that suspicion will not be inspired by fear of the trans-community, but by fear of the deceptive elements of the heterosexual community. In short, because these policies explicitly rule out any verification of the transgender self-identification, anybody who uses the policy will be viewed with suspicion whether they are sincere or not.

Even the legitimately transgendered child will be viewed with suspicion. How can we be certain that their claim is legitimate? How do I know this boy isn’t just a sick pervert abusing the system? Increased suspicion will lead to increased alienation and isolation for anybody who self-identifies as transgender. Whether they are sincere or not is irrelevant; no system has been put in place to verify their authenticity.

For those who would like to break down barriers and create a welcoming environment in schools, these guidelines are clearly a step in the wrong direction. A much better system would be to only allow a child to use the opposite gender facilities after they have been carefully and thoroughly screened. This would bring increased peace of mind that the perverts are being kept out.

But, alas, such common sense has been ruled out from the start. The system will be abused, girls will be exposed, the queer community will be viewed with increased suspicion, but somehow this will allegedly make our schools more welcoming and safer.

Not likely.


One thought on “Gender self-identification – quantifying the risks

  1. Why don’ t you send this to

    Sent from my iPad


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