First of all, this is my first post on PhilPercs and I want to thank Jon Cogburn for inviting me to blog for this fantastic platform. I look forward to engaging with the philosophical community here - I can already tell I am going to learn a lot. To tell you a bit about myself, I am a 5th year graduate student at Wash U in the PNP program. My dissertation research focuses on the issue of informed consent in transgender healthcare (which I will likely blog about in future posts). I am also a trans woman who has recently begun her transition so these issues are very real and personal for me. She/her pronouns.
For this post I want to tackle the sex/gender distinction. I will argue that the distinction is pernicious both conceptually and politically and we should abandon it.
What is the sex/gender distinction? The easiest way to illustrate the distinction is with trans people. If you believe in the sex/gender distinction, you might describe a trans woman as having a male sex but a female gender (assuming they identify along the gender binary). Under this schema, it becomes possible to describe a trans woman as having “male parts”, “male chromosomes”, etc. but a “female” gender. In the sex/gender distinction, "sex" is also described as one's "biological sex" or "physical sex" and "gender" is described as one's "gender identity" or "psychological sex".
I want to reject this way of thinking altogether. On my view, there is nothing “male” about a trans woman - the term "male" is simply not appropriate as applied to trans women. They don’t have male body parts because only males have male body parts and on my view trans women are not males but females so any body part or physical characteristic they have is only appropriately described as female. On my view a trans woman's "physical sex" is female, not male.
I recognize that this might be seen as a “radical” view but let me flesh it out more.