Instigator / Pro
7
1736
rating
24
debates
100.0%
won
Topic

THBT: We ought to define "female" in terms of sex, as opposed to gender.

Status
Finished

All stages have been completed. The voting points distribution and the result are presented below.

Arguments points
3
0
Sources points
2
2
Spelling and grammar points
1
1
Conduct points
1
1

With 1 vote and 3 points ahead, the winner is ...

Bones
Parameters
More details
Publication date
Last update date
Category
Science
Time for argument
One week
Voting system
Open voting
Voting period
One month
Point system
Four points
Rating mode
Rated
Characters per argument
15,000
Contender / Con
4
1493
rating
1
debates
0.0%
won
Description
~ 570 / 5,000

THBT: We ought to define "female" in terms of sex, as opposed to gender.

Definitions
Sex - a scientifically and biologically grounded concept which differences between "male" and "female".
Gender - the way in which one feels in relation to their sex.

Rules
1. No arguments made in bad faith i.e, kritiks.
2. No new arguments are to be made in the final round.
3. Rules are agreed upon and are not to be contested.
4. Sources can be hyperlinked or provided in the comment section.
5. A breach of the rules should result in a conduct point deduction for the offender.

Round 1
Pro
THBT: We ought to define "female" in terms of sex, as opposed to gender                                        

0.     Preliminary

  1. As stipulated in the description, the burden of this contest lies equally with both parties. This means that, in order for CON to win, not only must they show that my arguments are faulty, but they must also propose their argument in a way which makes it logically tenable. Merely refuting my argument will, at best, bring the contest to its status quo and thus result in a draw - each participant must present an active case which supports their position. 
  2. A further note is that each party must use their own prescribed mechanisms for defining "female". In practice, PRO can only use sex (scientifically and biologically grounded concept) whilst CON can only use gender (the way in which one feels) to defend their position, as stipulated in the description. 
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I.     Gender does not facilitate for a cogent defining of “female”

The scopes of the conversation is purely around two competing vehicles for defining the term “female” - sex or gender. The nature of the dichotomy, at least within this debate, is that it is either the case that we ought adopt “sex” or we ought adopt “gender”. Thus, for PRO to win, the only burden is to prove that “sex” is a comparatively stronger means for definition when compared to “gender”, not that it is a flawless indicator. 

The topical stipulation frames the debate as one around the term “define”, that is, how well each vehicle can define the term “female”. As such, I wish to open with the postulation that, under gender, there is no definition which can be proposed which isn’t incoherent or internally contradictory. 

P1. If defining female in terms of gender results in incoherence, we ought not define female in terms of gender. 
P2. Defining female in terms of gender results in incoherence. 
C1. We ought not define female in terms of gender. 

P1.
Truism. If a definition is incoherent, it cannot be adopted coherently or properly into our vocabulary. 

P2.
CON can nullify this if they can provide a definition for “female” which is 1) cogent and non contradictory, 2) one which ought to be used on top of sex i.e. the definition is superior. I assure voters that they cannot - the gender ideology is fundamentally an attempt at making it is possible for anyone who wishes to, to identify as “female”, so long as they desire. The broad range of people (everyone) which the ideology must accommodate for makes it near impossible for there to exist a critical criteria. 

Furthermore, if CON is able to somehow scraper a definition, I can almost guarantee that they would have mistaken "female" with "feminine".  The portraying of characteristics such as "nurturance, sensitivity, sweetness, supportiveness" in a male is not indicate of a female, rather, a male who is feminine. This concept is one which is perfectly cogent. 

C1. 
The conclusion is thus sound. I must reiterate that if it is the case that CON cannot provide a definition for "female" within the scopes of "gender", the contest is over. In a battle of which definition ought to be adopted, the failure to produce a definition for your position calls for an immediate loss. 

-

II.     "Sex" is precise, whilst "gender" is not

"Sex", as defined in the description is a scientifically and biologically grounded concept which differentiates between "male" and "female". This means that it is reducible to facts that are grounded in the physical world. This is contrary to the nature of gender, which is irreducible to physical facts.  

In the science, all observations are reducible - if we were to analyse the temperature of water, we can find the temperature is reducible to particle vibrations thus temperature supervenes on facts regarding some physical property (thermodynamics). This distinction is known as one between "primary A properties" and "secondary B properties", in which the A property is one which is objectively featured in the world, whilst a B property is ungrounded and mindful. B properties can only change if A properties are modified - temperature can only raised if vibrations are increased. To return to the scopes of this debate, "sex" is a characteristic which supervenes on genotypes in somatic cells and thus is grounded in biology. Gender, on the other hand, supervenes on "social" and "cultural" factors, characteristics which are not reducible to the biology, science or even the physical world. Thus, to define "female" in the scopes of gender, that is,  in the absence of supervenes in science, biology or even physical properties is simply absurd. Cultural and social factors do not supervene on anything empirical, thus “male”, “female”,  cannot be coherently assigned to anyone. Syllogistically. 

P1. The definition of "female" must be grounded in some A-property. 
P2. A-property is either biological (sex) or cultural/social (gender) 
P3. The grounding is biological. 
C1. "Female" is therefore not grounded in cultural or social factors. 
Ergo. "Female" is not grounded in gender. 

II.I Sub Contention which corroborates the precision of the term "sex"

The precision of sex can be observed through the fact that it can be identified even after an individual has died. The fact that archeologists were able to identify that Cleopatra was a "female" is a testimony to the exceptionally accurate and objective tool which "sex" is. The fact that this identification could be made on a body which was over 2000 years old should be indicative that the tools by which we use when referencing "sex" is exceptional. Now consider live, human persons - if it can be determined that some long dead corpse is a "female", we ought to have no hesitation in the abilities of modern day science to differentiate between a "male" and "female". 

On the other hand, if we were to use "gender" as the indicator, we would not have be able to determine whether Cleopatra was a male or female. In fact, we would not be able to determine the gender of anyone who cannot communicate in a way which we understand. 

-

III.     Argument by Reductio ad Absurdum 

P1. If adopting X as opposed to Y leads to incoherence, we ought not adopt X as opposed to Y. 
P2. The adopting of X as opposed to Y leads to incoherent and untenable concepts. 
C1. We ought not adopt X as opposed to Y. 

Let X be the way in which one feels in relation to Y. 
Let be the manifestation of some biological complexion. 

P1.
This is truism. A concept which is incoherent cannot be reasonably adopted. 

P2.
Suppose that we accept the gender ideologists postulation that we ought define "female" in terms of self identification as opposed to biology. This axiom leads to much incoherence. Consider

  • Gender (X) is the way in which one feels in relation to sex (Y). 
  • Spocies (X) is the way in which one feels in relation to species (Y). 
This is clearly a significant issue for CON - their position logically entails that we ought preference the feelings of an individual more than biological facts. If feelings trump the significance of biology in regards to the term "female", then it must also trump the significance of biology in regards to every other biological fact, if all else is equal. In order to maintain consistency, CON must do one of two things. 

  • Provide a reason why we ought preference X over Y in the case of "female" but neglect the overarching principle when considering species. 
  • Jeopardize all biological facts and favour feelings. 
  • Accept the principle and agree to use "spocies". 
C1.
The intellectual price tag of CON's position is apparent - we must either admit that their position is contradictory and only applicable to their taylormade scenario or we must jeopardize our scientific understanding of biology. 

III.I     Subcontention in regards to the veracity of one's feelings 

If CON maintains their position they must accept that "feelings" is a stronger vehicle of determining one's objective identity than biology, then they must also reverend all other feelings to maintain consistency. I ask how they would respond to someone with apotemnophilia, the condition where people have a desire to amputate a healthy limb. Their feelings tell them that their limb ought not be apart of their body. How will CON's position respond to such a situation. Their reverence for one's feelings obligates them to respect the person's decision and provide them a saw. Any scrutiny can be viewed as harmful, an act of undermining one's identity and fundamentally apotemnophiliaphobic. 

-

IV.     Accepting CON's position entails that we must jeopardize our understanding of "female" with regards to animals

P1. If "Female" is determined by one's feelings, then we cannot categorise "female" animals. 
P2. "Female" is determined by one's feelings. 
C1. We cannot categorise "female" animals. 

P1.
Like the previous, this argument is a reductio ad absurdum which concedes a contention from CON in order to demonstrate the incoherence of their concept. We can accept the first half of the stipulation as true for the sake of this argument. The second half seems trivial. Humans do not possess any way to seriously communicate with animals and thus any labelling of them in terms of "female" is "assuming one's gender" - a hideous crime. As, under gender, the only way for determining whether one is "female" is by their self expression, there is no sound way for determining whether one is "female" and as such, we must abolish the idea on the grounds of it undevelopable. 

P2.
Premise held by CON and granted by PRO in this argument. 

C1. 
The conclusion logically follows. The implication of this is that we cannot differentiate between "male" and "female" within animals and thus lose essential knowledge in biology and zoology. 

-

Conclusion 

As my seven arguments show, CON's position is thoroughly untenable, especially when considering the fact that PRO's position is both logical and consistent with the scientific enterprise. 
Con
In this debate, I will argue that definition 1.b provided by Merriam-Webster is sufficient and coherent, and should be adopted because it is inclusive of trans people.

Having a gender identity that is the opposite of male.

Moreover, my case will make some assumptions about what conditions make a word coherent and meaningful. First, I assume that the primary use of words is in communication, so that if someone means to convey x by their act of speech, and I understand x, then we can consider that act of speech meaningful. Further, I assert that the meaning and use of words can change over time. This includes both their semantic definition, but also the grammar and syntax rules which organize speech. Therefore, an instance of language cannot be nullified simply by the fact that it is structured differently from what is conventional. Whether a word or act of speech is “meaningful” depends on whether it communicates something. This can include phrases such as “ouch!” which are an expression of the speaker but do not refer as a noun to a specific object. By these standards, I argue that the terms female and male can be understood as self-elected labels which individuals choose, and stating that “I identify as female” would communicate to the listener that this person identifies with that label, although the specific psychological reasons for this may differ in each case. I will also argue that whether we ought to accept this definition, is not a problem of internal coherency, or objective truth, but instead it is about values. One’s value judgment about the trans movement, and its relation to the broader social context which it reflects, is what will determine their final decision about accepting its language.

Here, I wish to view the phenomena of transgenderism, primarily not as a single, disconnected “culture war” issue, but instead as part of a shift in the overall world-system, from the structures of social organization formed under the nation-state model, industrial state-capitalism - and the institutions and systems of knowledge which naturally accompanied that system - to a globally interconnected information economy, in which communication primarily takes the form of instantaneous feedback loops, using electronic communication technologies, rather than the sedimented knowledge of the museums, scientific laboratories, and universities of the industrial nation-state. This new form of organization promotes the interactive over the passive, engineering over science, and self-expression over austere objectivity. By eliding the distinction between producer and consumer, our daily habits become acts of art, and we become the engineers of our own identity. The “ought” of the title of this debate emanates from a “point of view” which is being deconstructed by information technologies, the “view from nowhere” (or nunc-stans, standpoint in eternity) of the Leviathan, or composite, corporate person, of the nation-state - which provides the ground of knowledge upon which the stability of social roles is founded. A stable and unchanging definition of social roles requires large academic institutions which delimit in advance the field of application for their concepts. The changing nature of our understanding in a new information society, which is clear at the everyday level of our work and personal lives, is harder to understand at the scale of the sedimented concepts which organize our social lives at the national and international level, at which the enforcement of a national boundary has become an ambient condition of our lives, which thereby creates an assumed sense and assumption of timelessness.

Being that transgender people make the distinction between biological sex and gender identity, nobody is under any illusions that a trans person biologically becomes the sex associated with their preferred gender. Therefore, the disagreement here is not so much about biological facts, but about how we use language to refer to those facts, and about the cultural status given to those facts. In specific, it is about freedom of expression - the freedom of expression of trans people to express their identity as they wish to, and to treat their identity as a form of art. Further, it is a debate about what is culturally emphasized, about the difference between what is transparent and what is opaque. I argue that there is an inherent link between ambiguity and autonomy, as one’s ability to keep things to oneself, to leave things in the dark and indeterminate, is associated with their freedom. Totalitarianism is the dream of a world without ambiguity. Hannah Arendt defined totalitarianism as the erasure of the distinction between the private and the public sphere. The idea that we should live in a social landscape totally dominated by the biological, in which our decisions and attitudes are directed by our innate traits - to live naked and exposed, a brutal Darwinist “war of all against all” - is certainly fascist in spirit. I am not claiming that opposition to transgenderism is itself fascist, but it is something to note that all of the mainstream figures who frame themselves as opponents of “transgender ideology” (Jordan Peterson, Tucker Carlson, Ben Shapiro) are allegedly secretly fascists.

Should “gender” be defined in terms of biology? If it is defined in terms of a technical underpinning of sex, such as chromosomes, then what should we make of those understandings of gender which preceded the discovery of chromosomes in 1882? Preindustrial tribal cultures understood gender spiritually, and in terms of the social roles associated with each gender. Native American communities already had nonbinary categories such as “feminine man” or “masculine woman.” An understanding of the sexual function of course existed, but this was not seen as the “essence” of the gender division. The prioritization of the sexual reproductive function originates around the 17th century, when the development of industrial technologies allowed for steadily increasing pace in the development of populations. As philosophers like Thomas Malthus noticed this explosion in population, fears of overpopulation began to penetrate the popular consciousness and especially the intellectual elite classes. Social Darwinists like Herbert Spencer feared the degeneration of the species. Therefore, the female sexual reproductive function began to be viewed as something needing to be regulated. Reproduction became the essence of the human being, and this perspective culminated with Darwin’s Origin of Species in which it was the process of sexual selection which explained the development and improvement of the species. The Victorian society represented an immense social apparatus for the management and administration of the female sexual function. Guides were written with rules which instructed women to be as selective as possible about their choice to give sex - an attempt at the controlled apportionment of the sexual act according to a highly artificial, pseudoscientific logic of sexual austerity:

“THE wise bride will permit a maximum of two brief sexual experiences weekly — and as time goes by she should make every effort to reduce this frequency.  Feigned illness, sleepiness and headaches are among her best friends in this matter.”
“A SELFISH and sensual husband can easily take advantage of his wife. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: Give little, give seldom and above all give grudgingly. Otherwise what could have been a proper marriage could become an orgy of sexual lust.”

These exemplify the nature of the gender relation throughout history, which I argue is primarily a normative framework, which organizes groups of people into social roles, rather than a biologically determinate description of the bodies of individuals. The idea that scientifically measured traits such as chromosomes should determine how we express our identity socially, is a recent invention, and showcases the presumptions of those biological essentialists who claim that our decisions about large scale political issues, our assessment of the psychology of individuals, and complex questions of identity, can be directly dictated by the findings of empirical science. The possibility of establishing causality in science, or of finding sure results using an experiment, and understanding the results of such an experiment, rely on the ability to control for intervening factors, holding as many variables stable as possible. They also require a large enough pool of data so that the experiment is representative. We must also be able to communicate the meaning of the findings using language that is not so emotionally loaded and oversaturated with connotations (e.g. intelligence, gender expression, etc.) that the strictly scientific sense of the findings is lost. The social sciences infamously lack these prerequisites; we simply do not have the ability to concretely tie particular biological traits to large scale, complex and multivariate phenomena such as individual expression of identity, in a strictly scientific manner. In truth, the idea that empirical science is an all-encompassing tool that can provide answers to every question, is in many ways an unscientific idea that broadens and waters down the standards of evidence and proof involved. Ironically, those who promote this kind of crude scientism hold strikingly loose conceptions about what constitutes conclusive evidence for the kind of sweeping generalizations and prescriptions they want to enforce upon the whole of society.

To clarify, my claim is not that identity can vary arbitrarily, or that anyone can identify as anything they desire to. I instead see that trans people are a large minority of people, with a coherent and reasonable set of ideas about how the language around sex and gender can be used, in a way which would be more inclusive of their feelings about their identity. Any language game can be assessed on its own merits, and we can pick and choose whose communities and paradigms we want to accept the language of. Just because we accept the language of trans people, does not mean that we allow the parameters of identity to swing wildly out of control, so that the specificity of individual identity is entirely lost. However, the recognition of identity has always included the element of a kind of contract between the person who expresses themselves and the person who acknowledges and accepts their self-expression. We recognize others by hearing them speak, seeing their appearance, understanding their worldview, and so on. Biology only enters into it insofar as it makes its effect known through these manifestations, and as communication becomes more global, and technologies become more advanced, the distance between the invariant features imposed by biology, and culture, grows wider. My opponent's arguments are invalid because they assume that we are all robots who follow the rules of grammar as if they were a programming language. Just because we apply a definition in one way, in one situation, does not mean we need to apply that word or concept in an exactly parallel way in every other situation. I do not argue that every identity or act of self-expression is valid. PRO's argument that "If CON maintains their position they must accept that "feelings" is a stronger vehicle of determining one's objective identity than biology, then they must also reverend all other feelings to maintain consistency" - demonstrates the robotic view that we must apply every rule or concept unilaterally, ignoring the fact that human beings are able to exercise discretion and make an improvised response to situations depending on contextual factors. As for the point about animals, the same response holds because animals do not have agency, so obviously in that case the idea of "female" would have a different meaning. The argument that everything is "reducible" ultimately to something physical does not prove PRO's case because even social phenomena are reducible to physics ultimately, but they are environmentally contingent physical situations.

To summarize my argument. First, I claimed that transgenderism is part of the inevitable social shift from the industrial nation-state to a world information economy. Second, I claimed that transgenderism is about the freedom of self-expression. Next, I described the totalitarian nature of the dream of a world without ambiguity. I framed the idea that the essential meaning of gender is anchored to biology, through chromosomes or the sexual function, as contingent and historically recent. I argued that empirical science cannot decisively tie biological traits to social self-expression. Finally, I argued that we can accept the language of trans without erasing the specificity of identity. To conclude, I want to emphasize the most important point of my argument: that this is not a debate about the truth of biology, but about the norms and customs which we normalize or accept, and the language we use to speak about that biological truth. Since gender identity is defined as that person’s chosen identification, a trans woman who says that her gender is female, is being honest because that is how she identifies, and the statement that she “is really a man” is false, or at best misleading, since it obfuscates the distinction between gender and biological sex. I see the language of gender identity as a means for trans people to communicate the truth about their own identity, and it does not need to involve any untruth about the fact that a person can’t change certain aspects of their biology.
Round 2
Pro
Rebuttals

0.     Preliminary 

All my arguments were dropped, but as it is the first round where debaters are supposed to propose their own substantives, I don't think this is really an issue. I only raise this because I hope that CON's stipulation that my opponent's arguments are invalid because they assume that we are all robots who follow the rules of grammar as if they were a programming language is not all that they have to offer. 

I.     The definition proposed is not a definition 

CON opens their definition of women. That is, having a gender identity that is the opposite of male. Let us unpack this. 

  1. The phrase "gender identity" is defined as person's internal sense of being male, female, some combination of male and female, or neither male nor female. Note that the driving force for determining one's "gender identity" is merely "internal sense of...", that is, your feelings. Thus we can modify CON's position (by modify, I mean substituting the Merriam Webster's definition in place of certain terms) into the following. 
    1. FEMALE: having the internal sense of, or feeling, that is opposite of male. 
      1. With feeling established as the driving determiner, I address votes to my III.I substantive which unpacks why "feeling" is not a sufficient force for determining one's identify. 
  2. Defining something as the contrapositive of something else without establishing what that contrapositive thing (especially when there is only a binary of options) is vacuous. This would be akin to me defining "Gluglu" as "that which is opposite to Blabla". This simply relocates the requirement for a definition - what is "Blabla". CON's relocation to "opposite of man" begs the question of what a "man" is. I presume they will use the Merriam Webster 1.b definition of "male", just as they did for "female". I'll save voters time, the definition of "male" according to the same source is having a gender identity that is the opposite of female. So we now have "male" which is "opposite of female", and "female", which is "opposite of male". This is truly the pinnacle of circular reasoning. The "Gluglu" example illustrates this perfectly. I can tell you that Gluglug is not Blabla vice versa and yet I would not have told you anything meaningful about either concepts. 
I could end the debate here - as established in the resolution, this is a contest of who's definition we ought adopt. In light of CON being unable to produce a non-circular definition, their position can be considered nullified. 

II.     Acknowledged assumptions in CON's case 

CON admits that there are some assumptions that we ought grant for their position to be sound. They argue that if someone means to convey x by their act of speech, and I understand x, then we can consider that act of speech meaningful. This is then used to imply that as we understand what someone means by "female", it is meaningful. I disagree. I can say "I am 99 years old" without there being any confusion - the individual terms within the sentence I utter are non-contradictory, yet if we are to accept the claim (you can take my word that I don't look 99) the phrase "99 years old" will lose it's meaning. People can understand what I am communicating, yet the meaning is lost. 

To corroborate their claim, CON argues that "ouch" is an example of a scenario in which the term does "not refer as a noun to a specific object" and yet has meaning. Conflating "ouch" with "female" is erroneous. Ouch is an interjection which is used to express sudden pain, whilst female is a noun denoting X characteristics. Interjections and nouns differ in that nouns denote things and concepts. A noun cannot be circular on the basis that things and concepts cannot be circular (perhaps they can in advanced sciences but defining "female" is hardly advanced science). 

The absurdity of CON's case can be observed in their stipulation that I will  argue that whether we ought to accept this definition, is not a problem of internal coherency, or objective truth, but instead it is about values. I can hardly think of any value which is so valuable that we ought forget "internal coherency" and "objective truth" when defining "female". CON's attempt at painting my case as one which values hard cold facts and ignores human values is disingenuous - the value which I adopt is truth. The only axiom my argument holds is that we ought value that which is true. It is also the value which CON holds - they believe that it is true, that it is coherent to value the trans people. The difference lies in uncovering which of our values are more true. 

III.     CON's digression 

The second and third paragraph is an example of if you can't convince, them confuse them. CON's opening 91 word long sentence references "transgenderism", "industrial state capitalism" and "globally interconnected information economy". From what I understand, CON is arguing that the shift the "world system" has resulted in a promotion of "the interactive over the passive, engineering over science, and self-expression over austere objectivity". I argue that a shift in culture cannot change facts regarding human beings. The time of Pythagoras is almost socially uncomparable to our society, yet his theorem remains true - truth remains the truth. Social values are what can change, ideas about femininity and masculinity, expectations of women and men, yet the objective features and nouns (woman and man), does not. 

CON concedes that being that transgender people make the distinction between biological sex and gender identity, nobody is under any illusions that a trans person biologically becomes the sex associated with their preferred gender. This merely highlights the difference in CON and PROs position  - the debate is a discussion regarding which ought we use, that is, between sex and gender, which is ought we use to define female. Saying that no one thinks a trans women belongs to the category "female" when defined through "sex" does not actually prove anything for your position, it doesn't show why we ought define female through gender. 

CON's argument here is that the debate is about freedom of expression - the freedom of expression of trans people to express their identity as they wish to. I argue that "freedom to expression" does not equate to "freedom to redefine facts about yourself". Expression is akin to the clothes you wear, the values you defend and concepts such as "femininity". Expression does not include stipulating that "I am the president". Why? Because concepts such as "president" are not grounded in feelings - they are grounded in external reality. Being the president is not a mere feeling. Much the same is the term "female".

All in all, this contention merely defines what "gender is". It is argued that gender is expression yet, this is not under contention, I know gender is defined as expression, but the debate is about whether this term ought be used. Merely defining what the term means is not an argument.  

III.     Should "gender" be defined in terms of biology (4th paragraph)

CON has severely lost sight of the topical stipulation, which is that we ought define female in terms of sex as opposed to gender. CON is attempting to redefine the the resolution to give themself a much easier debate. The statement "should gender be defined in terms of biology" is a blatant strawman. Of course it shouldn't, gender is by definition not biological, that is how the term was conjured up. If it were, then there would be no distinction between gender and sex. The debate is not about whether a distinction exists, but rather, when given the terms gender and sex, which one ought we preference? 

CON argues that indigenous tribes adopted gender. Firstly, indigenous tribes are not moral arbiters, many of them are cannibals yet no one is rushing to make a case for eating fellow humans on the grounds that some tribe did it. Furthermore, CON's case refutes itself when they identify what they really mean by "different genders" - non binary categories such as “feminine man” or “masculine woman. These categories do not harm my position. A feminine man is like a talkative man, or a humorous man - it is a description about an objective characteristic of a human being. 

CON then states "to clarify, my claim is not that identity can vary arbitrarily, or that anyone can identify as anything they desire to". I ask, non rhetorically, who then can identify as a women? CON's position is necessarily arbitrary, for the nature of "feelings" is such that anyone can have them. 

CON introduces some one line rebuttals which I will withhold from responding to as I sincerely hope that the refutation were merely in passing and will be elaborated in the next round. 

IV.     CON's conclusion

I claimed that transgenderism is part of the inevitable social shift from the industrial nation-state to a world information economy.

A shift in culture does not mean there is a shift in the biological build of our beings. If there were an epidemic in which people thought they were cats, ought we reconstruct our understanding of zoology to accommodate for such a shift?  

Second, I claimed that transgenderism is about the freedom of self-expression.

Again, freedom to expression does not mean there is a freedom to redefine facts about you. I could dress like I were in the 80's yet that would not literally make me a 40 year old. I can dress as if I were apart of an Asian culture, yet that does not literally make me Asian. Much in the same way, I could dress like a female to express femininity whilst still being a man. 

Next, I described the totalitarian nature of the dream of a world without ambiguity.

I must have missed this. 

Conclusion

CON's primary issue is twofold. One extraordinary serious oversight is that they have not argued what a "female" is. They have argued that there tool exists and conforms to social standards yet don't argue that it can specifically define "female". This would be akin to me arguing that mathematics is a strong tool (which it is), therefore it can define "female". The cogency of a tool does not mean that the tool is itself universal. CON needs to define what a female is, instead of saying this and that about gender. They argue about what gender is, complete with a brief history (interesting avoids the pedophille founder of the term John Money for good reasons) yet does not argue that it possess the capability ito define the term. Furthermore, they spend a large portion of their round arguing for "femininity" and "masculinity" which are concepts which my position allows for. Though I do not wish to dictate CON's argument, a couple syllogisms would be a clear way of articulating what you are trying to argue. 

Con
I believe that the disagreement can be summarized in two parts:

  • Is the definition of gender, and its corresponding definition of female, coherent?
  • Should we adopt gender as the generally inferred meaning in conversation, when talking about females?
In fact, these two positions are connected, since PRO has argued in Round 1 that the definition should not be adopted because it is not coherent. Therefore, the question of whether gender ought to be adopted depends largely on whether it functions meaningfully in conversation, or whether our talking about “females” necessarily retains some link to biology. It must be made clear, in this context, the strength of the argument which PRO must make here: If the reason not to adopt gender as the primary meaning of “female” is because it is incoherent (and not for consequential reasons, i.e., regarding actual social or historical outcomes, consequences of in fact adopting that language, which PRO has not offered), then any discussion of “female” or “male” that is not grounded directly in biology (being the definition of “sex” here) must not function linguistically, it must be totally illegible and fail to transmit meaning whatsoever, this being the implication of being incoherent. This was the purpose of my historical excavation of gender, being that the social role associated with gender was the primary referent of gendered language for most of history, and that the preoccupation with the technicalities of biology or with the sexually reproductive functions are historically recent and contingent. This gives rise to the question, not whether these historical figures are “moral arbiters” - but how these language games were able to function at all given what is supposed to be a completely empty and illegible use of language.

PRO refers back to III.I in their original argument, in order to prove that “feelings” cannot determine one’s identity:

If CON maintains their position they must accept that "feelings" is a stronger vehicle of determining one's objective identity than biology, then they must also reverend all other feelings to maintain consistency. I ask how they would respond to someone with apotemnophilia, the condition where people have a desire to amputate a healthy limb. Their feelings tell them that their limb ought not be apart of their body. How will CON's position respond to such a situation. Their reverence for one's feelings obligates them to respect the person's decision and provide them a saw. Any scrutiny can be viewed as harmful, an act of undermining one's identity and fundamentally apotemnophiliaphobic. 

This concerns the strawman position that I am advocating that one’s identity can vary arbitrary, in other words that my position is that anyone can identify as anything - not only in terms of gender, but in any category whatsoever. In fact, I directly addressed this in my round 1 argument:

To clarify, my claim is not that identity can vary arbitrarily, or that anyone can identify as anything they desire to. I instead see that trans people are a large minority of people, with a coherent and reasonable set of ideas about how the language around sex and gender can be used, in a way which would be more inclusive of their feelings about their identity. Any language game can be assessed on its own merits, and we can pick and choose whose communities and paradigms we want to accept the language of.

The argument also falls into the slippery slope fallacy when conservatives feel that allowing identity to vary in one area must necessarily open the floodgates, and turn every facet of identity (not only sex / gender) into an arbitrary label which can be self-elected. I want to clarify that this is not what I am advocating, and not what I need to advocate to make the case for my side in this debate. I have described in detail what makes gender applicable specifically in this sense, and if PRO believes that it would necessarily follow, it is incumbent upon them to prove that it would.

PRO argues that the definition of female is “vacuous” because it is only “the opposite of male,” which does not establish a positive material referent for the term. However, as I stated in the round 1 argument, I view “female” and “male” being used like labels, and I view this as a potentially unorthodox use of grammar, which nevertheless transmits meaning. It transmits meaning because although the essential definition only establishes the terms as a kind of label, the specific psychological reasons for adopting this label in each case can vary. For another similar example, we can look at names. Someone might change their name, and we can understand that name and use it to refer to them, even though there is no essential definition for that name which determines who or what kind of person that name refers to. Further, although the name lacks in definition, the name might be rich in meaning for the person who selects it, and more so because they chose this name for their own individual reasons. PRO’s case must therefore be that it is illegitimate to use a word that has the grammatical status of a noun, in  a way which more resembles a proper noun. However, technically the definition is grammatically valid since the material referent for the noun is those people who have that gender identity which is opposite of male. So, barring any further proof which shows that such an unorthodox use of grammar or semantics cannot function, PRO’s case amounts to a kind of appeal to incredulity.

I can say "I am 99 years old" without there being any confusion - the individual terms within the sentence I utter are non-contradictory, yet if we are to accept the claim (you can take my word that I don't look 99) the phrase "99 years old" will lose it's meaning. People can understand what I am communicating, yet the meaning is lost.

This argument blurs the distinction between a false claim, and an entirely vacuous or meaningless claim. One of the main differences between PRO’s view of this and my own, is the validity of the idea of wildly applying norms from one category of identity to another, and expecting that they should hold as parallel. That is, the assumption that the norms that we apply to gender should automatically apply to other categories like age or species, and that if they don’t this establishes those norms as invalid. I am arguing for something related to gender, for very specific reasons which relate to the context and history of gender identity. Age is a number which is understood to count the number of years since one was born, and as such to understand it as a label which one could adopt would understandably cause confusion. Gendered categories, as I have argued, have not historically been understood primarily as methods for counting one's chromosomes, or even of measuring one's ability to conceive a child. Instead, I have argued that their primary function is to organize groups of people into social roles. It is difficult to respond to these challenges because PRO offers them with seemingly the assumption that this way of viewing all categories of identity as parallel is self-evident, and does not establish why we would need to address age in the same way we think about gender. We could imagine the same kind of inappropriate comparison being made with some category in which PRO presumably thinks change is alright, e.g., you think it is okay for someone to change their hair color, so why can’t they change their species? You think it is okay for someone to change their name, so why can’t they change their social security number? You think someone can identify as liberal or conservative, so why can’t they identify as an immortal God?

PRO’s opposition to gender identity comes back to a problem of grammar:

Ouch is an interjection which is used to express sudden pain, whilst female is a noun denoting X characteristics. Interjections and nouns differ in that nouns denote things and concepts. A noun cannot be circular on the basis that things and concepts cannot be circular (perhaps they can in advanced sciences but defining "female" is hardly advanced science).

This again seemingly assumes that using words in a way which is grammatically unconventional, automatically renders them entirely vacuous and useless. There is a conflation here which I want to stress: the concept of “incoherency” and “meaninglessness” is an extremely strong claim, which therefore requires a very high standard of proof, regarding the degree to which that concept is incapable of functioning in communication successfully. In fact, transgender people exist today, and large communities exist in which transgender people are already referred to by their preferred pronoun, and are called “female" - so it remains for PRO to explain what exactly it really means to call such language “vacuous” given that it already works as intended for large groups of people, and both speaker and listener in each case fully understand what is being communicated.

The absurdity of CON's case can be observed in their stipulation that I will  argue that whether we ought to accept this definition, is not a problem of internal coherency, or objective truth, but instead it is about values. I can hardly think of any value which is so valuable that we ought forget "internal coherency" and "objective truth" when defining "female". CON's attempt at painting my case as one which values hard cold facts and ignores human values is disingenuous - the value which I adopt is truth.

PRO has somewhat mischaracterized my argument, in the sense that my claim is not that values are generally more important than facts, but that I view what PRO and other critics of “transgender ideology” put forward, as a set of value statements under the cloak of seemingly objective statements about facts. This undermines and waters down the real standards of scientific objectivity. PRO’s claim that certain uses of language are “incoherent” mask an underlying set of values about how language “ought” to be used. When a “critic of transgender ideology” sees a transgender person say, “I know my biological sex is male but I prefer to be referred to in social situations as female, because that is how I like to identify,” they respond, “that is objectively false / incoherent” - which masks their real objection, which is that we ought not use language that way, because it makes certain facts of biology less socially transparent.

PRO's misconstrual of my position here would be parallel to saying that, if I said "Scientology hides its religious and supernatural claims under the cloak of science and practical self-help," this would be my own valuing of spiritual truths over scientific and practical ones. In fact, to put something like Scientology under the rubric of science is to damage the standards of evidence and objectivity, which is precisely what I am objecting to.


I argue that "freedom to expression" does not equate to "freedom to redefine facts about yourself". Expression is akin to the clothes you wear, the values you defend and concepts such as "femininity". Expression does not include stipulating that "I am the president". Why? Because concepts such as "president" are not grounded in feelings - they are grounded in external reality. Being the president is not a mere feeling. Much the same is the term "female".

Here, is it PRO that has made a “circular” argument. It is claimed that we ought to define female in terms of sex, because it is true that trans females are not females, and this truth is grounded in biological reality. Therefore, PRO is arguing that we ought to use a certain definition, but assuming that same definition in advance as the “truth” in order to justify that position.

CON is attempting to redefine the the resolution to give themself a much easier debate. The statement "should gender be defined in terms of biology" is a blatant strawman.

This was simply a problem of wording, as the same argument applies regarding “female” and “male” or any gendered language, which has not been dominated by any anchor in biological science for most of human history, up until the 17th century.

Furthermore, CON's case refutes itself when they identify what they really mean by "different genders" - non binary categories such as “feminine man” or “masculine woman. These categories do not harm my position. A feminine man is like a talkative man, or a humorous man - it is a description about an objective characteristic of a human being. 

The question is about how our language is subdivided into gendered categories. The fact that some societies have subdivided their gendered categories based on social roles, proves that untethering gendered terms from biological chromosomes does not make them disappear into incoherency.

CON then states "to clarify, my claim is not that identity can vary arbitrarily, or that anyone can identify as anything they desire to". I ask, non rhetorically, who then can identify as a women? CON's position is necessarily arbitrary, for the nature of "feelings" is such that anyone can have them. 

I was not talking about gendered terms here, which can vary arbitrarily within the limits of a reasonable request, but instead about the comparisons to species, age, etc.

Round 3
Pro
Thanks for the quick response!

0.     Preliminary

I'll keep this one brief as I believe my case stands untouched. 

We arrive at the close of this debate, which means this will be my last opportunity to communicate my stance to voters. It also means that, in light of CON dropping 9 premises, 4 conclusions and 7 arguments, if they do somehow chose to refute them in their final round, I will not be able to opine on it.  Whilst the dropping of my every single one of my 7 arguments is unfortunate, it renders voters a easy time to cast a ballot. I recommend voters to do so. 

I would also like to note that CON has failed to produce a definition for "female" which is not circular, thus, the fact that this is a contest of whose definition ought be accepted, and CON has failed to provide a definition, means that PRO's stance ought to be voted on.  

I.     Feelings 

CON argues that my "spocies" argument is a strawman. It is not. I highlighted very clearly why it was a serious comparison. 

  • Gender (X) is the way in which one feels in relation to sex (Y). 
  • Spocies (X) is the way in which one feels in relation to species (Y). 
This is clearly a significant issue for CON - their position logically entails that we ought preference the feelings of an individual more than biological facts. If feelings trump the significance of biology in regards to the term "female", then it must also trump the significance of biology in regards to every other biological fact, if all else is equal.

Further accusation include the fact that it is a slippery slope argument. It is not. A slippery slope is stating if we allow A to happen, then Z will eventually happen too, therefore A should not happen. I am not saying that spocies will be a thing. I am saying that by CON's logic, spocies is a cogent idea, not that it will, or it may happen. This line of argument is akin to me arguing "if you accept that we can abort a fetus because it is unconscious, then you must accept that it is moral to kill a person if they are unconscious". Regardless of your stance, this is a valid argument which may then be put into contest. 

-

II.     CON's vacuous definition

Recall that CON defined "female" as "that whose gender identity is not male", and "male" as "that whose gender identity is not female". CON attempts a comeback by stating 

I stated in the round 1 argument, I view “female” and “male” being used like labels

CON uses "female" as a label, yet does not define what they are labelling. If I were to tell you that "Gluglu" is that which is not "Blabla", and also added in the fact that "Gluglu" is a label, would you be any wiser? 

CON then draws the comparison between names and gender, by arguing that names do not have definitions yet are rich with meaning for those who select it. This is disingenuous.

  1. If gender is really a label in the same way that a name is a label, then why do transgender people get surgery? It seems they are doing a bait and switch, in which they open with CON's meaningless self identification definition and, when accepted, switch to my definition as a "model" for which their surgeons can modify them. When people change their name from "Jim" to "Tim", it is a pure label switch and does not carry any other meaning. 
  2. The world "female" is a noun which, by definition, must denote something and have a cogent definition. I ask CON for any word in the english dictionary which is both a noun and internally contradictory and meaningless. 
I view this as a potentially unorthodox use of grammar, which nevertheless transmits meaning.

Unorthodox is merely a pretty way of saying "wrong", but nonetheless. The second half of the sentence again can be refuted by 1. above. Yes, "female" has meaning only because the PRO stance exists. It is the PRO stance which gender affirming surgeons look at as a model to transition people. It is the PRO definition which is used as the archetype of "female". As stated, gender ideologists commit a "bait and switch" in which they argue that "female" is a mere label, and when they have gotten the label, apply the traditional definition. 

CON takes issue with my assumption that the norms that we apply to gender should automatically apply to other categories like age or species, and that if they don’t this establishes those norms as invalid. Again, refer to above. I am not saying we should apply these categories to age or species because I do not even agree with the categories in the first place. My argument merely draws a parallel to show the absurdity which CON's position entails. 

Gendered categories, as I have argued, have not historically been understood primarily as methods for counting one's chromosomes, or even of measuring one's ability to conceive a child.

CON conflates "feminine" to "female". 

CON then attempts to show how silly my arguments (the one which applies the concept of gender with species) with a parallel. 

you think it is okay for someone to change their hair color, so why can’t they change their species?

Changing your hair colour only requires you to do one thing - to change your hair colour. Changing your species requires much more - if it is possible, you must somehow acquire the plethora of biological facts that defines a species. What you can't do is say "I feel like a cat" and become a cat.  

You think someone can identify as liberal or conservative, so why can’t they identify as an immortal God?

Liberal and conservative is an idea which you prescribe to. Immortal God requires you to be in a state of immortality. 

All CON's arguments are disingenuous. My comparisons, however, are not. To recall 

  • Gender (X) is the way in which one feels in relation to sex (Y). 
  • Spocies (X) is the way in which one feels in relation to species (Y). 
Notice how my comparison is geniene? If you attempt to slot in CON's "hair colour" comparison, it fails, because changing hair colour isn't changing an immutable fact. The more geniene comparison would be if someone biologically had black hair and wanted to identify as having blue hair. 

This again seemingly assumes that using words in a way which is grammatically unconventional, automatically renders them entirely vacuous and useless.

It's not purely that it is unconventional - the entire issue is that it is circular and doesn't actually describe anything. 

PRO’s claim that certain uses of language are “incoherent” mask an underlying set of values about how language “ought” to be used.

I'm very plain about my axiomatic ought, and that is, to use language which is most true and coherent. My argument, which were all ignored, show that we ought not use the term "female" in terms of gender because it is incoherent, leads to absurdity, scientifically irreducible like all good facts etc. 


it PRO that has made a “circular” argument. It is claimed that we ought to define female in terms of sex, because it is true that trans females are not females, and this truth is grounded in biological reality. Therefore, PRO is arguing that we ought to use a certain definition, but assuming that same definition in advance as the “truth” in order to justify that position.

It isn't "true" because I assumed it, it is "true" because it is more in accordance with fact or reality than the term gender is. When I say "she's a female", this is in accordance to facts about reality which can be tested and scrutinised. When CON makes the same stipulation, is it on the grounds of the imprecise and incoherent desires of the mind. 

Conclusion

  1. CON has not provided a non circular definition of "female". 
    1. This alone should result in an instant loss. 
  2. PRO has provided a provided a non circular definition of "female". 
  3. CON dropped all of PRO's arguments.  
  4. Thus you ought vote PRO


Con
I would like to thank my opponent for an entertaining and enjoyable debate.

PRO has falsely claimed that I dropped their arguments. While I did not mark with headings or quotes the responses to each point as such, the faults in the assumptions behind each argument are addressed in my responses. As evidenced by certain claims made in PRO’s response, I believe that the reason it is perceived this way is because PRO (characteristically for this point of view) sees their position (or certain crucial presuppositions behind it) as self-evident. In other words, the innovations upon language suggested by trans people are self-evidently invalid, harmful, incoherent, etc. The problem with viewing a perspective as self-evidently incoherent and wrong is that almost anything you say in response is a valid criticism, and any rebuttal in favor of the self-evidently invalid perspective is automatically a non-answer. Also, incoherencies or contradictions in the criticism being offered can always be reframed as contradictions in the mind of the person being criticized (e.g. “How could I be accused of believing both x and y if they are contradictory and incompatible?” - can be responded to by, “It’s your own cognitive dissonance,” etc.). The idea that, for example, a noun can be used in a way that more resembles a proper noun, and that this - although unconventional - still communicates some meaning, is brushed off by my opponent as incoherent. PRO’s blind-spots and bias in this respect are most clear in the statement that, “unorthodox is merely a pretty way of saying wrong.” I will just emphasize here that the main point and area of contention in this debate, that either side would need to argue for their point to stand, is precisely that which PRO treats as self-evident and therefore fails to account for in their arguments. The idea that an unorthodox use of language can be an innovation that nevertheless allows for meaningful communication is the entire heart of my point, and therefore PRO has not properly refuted my position.

PRO has in fact, offered three different refutations of my understanding of the word female:

  • It is internally incoherent, vacuous of any meaning and communicating nothing.
  • It is “circular” in the sense that it operates like a label, and this is not how a noun should be used.
  • That it is being used as part of a “bait and switch.”

If the term were being used as a label, this would mean that the definition was “circular” in that the meaning of the word would involve itself, it would be a description of its use rather than tying it to a material referent, much like a name or a proper noun. This would mean that the term is not completely incoherent or vacuous, any more than any name or label was vacuous, but instead the objection would be on the grounds of grammar.

Unorthodox is merely a pretty way of saying "wrong", but nonetheless. The second half of the sentence again can be refuted by 1. above. Yes, "female" has meaning only because the PRO stance exists. It is the PRO stance which gender affirming surgeons look at as a model to transition people. It is the PRO definition which is used as the archetype of "female". As stated, gender ideologists commit a "bait and switch" in which they argue that "female" is a mere label, and when they have gotten the label, apply the traditional definition. 

Here, PRO overlooks the distinction between the meaning or connotations of a term, and the definition. I covered this fact when I said that the particular psychological reasons for adopting a label might vary in each case. It would make no sense to make, for example, breasts or long hair part of the definition of female, because there are even biological women who lack these things. The fact that particular trans women carry more associations with the gender identity they adopt, compared to what is contained in its definition, does not undermine my case whatsoever.

PRO in fact dropped my argument that the language game of trans gender identity in fact operates in reality (there are communities where people are acknowledged by their preferred gender identity rather than biological sex), and does not manage to explain what it means to dismiss a use of language which actually successfully operates in reality and fosters mutual understanding between the people using it, as “vacuous” or “incoherent.” Again, this displays the circular nature of my opponent’s presumption that only language which references biology is coherent or meaningful in this context. However, if the use of a noun in a way which resembles a proper noun were so grammatically incoherent, then we would expect these communities to be completely unable to communicate. Also, in some cases they even manage to accept variability of gender without referring to each other as airplanes, toaster ovens, or zebras.


I am not saying that spocies will be a thing. I am saying that by CON's logic, spocies is a cogent idea, not that it will, or it may happen.

In fact, as an artificial term, then “spocies” is a cogent idea, in the sense that it refers to one’s feeling about their species. The question is instead whether it ought to be the assumed meaning in conversations about species, or whether accepting gender identity requires us to also accept species identity as a self-elected label. The reason for accepting one and not the other comes down to the specific nature of gender as a facet of identity, which is deeply different from species in more ways than it is possible to articulate. A superficial grammatical similarity between two statements or concepts does not require us to apply the same norms and standards to both concepts unilaterally.

This line of argument is akin to me arguing "if you accept that we can abort a fetus because it is unconscious, then you must accept that it is moral to kill a person if they are unconscious".

I never claimed that “we should accept gender identity as a self-elected label because it is a facet of identity.” If I had, then PRO’s rebuttal would stand. However, I provided a detailed account of the history and context of gender, and reasons why the transgender movement and the category of gender provide the groundwork in particular for such a linguistic innovation.

I ask CON for any word in the english dictionary which is both a noun and internally contradictory and meaningless. 

As I have referred to it as a kind of linguistic innovation, I do not necessarily need to provide a precedent. However, I can provide a vaguely parallel example. I have bookmarks in my web browser. The difference between what “is” or “is not” a bookmark it not defined in terms of anything about the contents of the page, since any page can be arbitrarily “a bookmarked page” or “not a bookmarked page.” Therefore, the concept of a bookmark refers only to the concept of bookmarking, and specifies nothing about the material content of the page which is a bookmark. In fact, there are many nouns in which the material object referred to can vary, see: friend, enemy, favorite, etc.

Likewise, treating “female” and “male” as self-elected labels allows people to choose those labels because of the functional aspects of those labels, the social role they are associated with, which does not need to be contained within a definition which would delineate an exclusive “inside” and “outside” for these concepts in biological terms.

I will conclude by emphasizing the strength of the argument, that PRO must have made in this debate in order for their point to stand. If one believes that gender identity ought not to determine the meaning of “female” because of the bad consequences of adopting such a definition, i.e., undermining womanhood, separating gender from biology, etc., then we must agree that PRO has entirely neglected to make such a case. The validity of PRO’s case hangs entirely on the claim that the “gender identity” definition of female and male are internally incoherent, contradictory, and transmit no meaning whatsoever.