In the application form for a British passport you’re asked to state your gender by putting a cross in one of two boxes. These are labeled ‘Male’ and ‘Female’ so that’s clear enough. ‘Gender’ here is a synonym or euphemism for sex, otherwise it could lead to misunderstanding. Sex? Yes please! Or it might bring to mind the 1973 comedy film, No Sex Please, We’re British.

Putting the word ‘identity’ in apposition to ‘gender’, however, is both unnecessary and confusing. It’s fine if I’m asked in the passport application form to state my gender as male or female, but what if someone were so curious as to ask my ‘gender identity’? This question wouldn’t make sense to me, nor did it make sense to a young girl who was badgered over this matter when attending for a routine check-up:

This is because there’s no good reason for such a construction; it seems to have been devised only in order to promote the ‘transgender’ ideology. I understand some people may be unhappy with their biological sex (and incidentally, what other kind of sex is there?) and wish they were of the opposite sex. But what of people who apparently think of themselves as being neither male nor female, both male and female, something in between, or as something that changes from time to time?

Then that’s how they think of themselves and I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that. But if we call such thoughts an ‘identity’ we’re hypostasizing an abstraction and this leads to the absurdity where anyone can identify as anything. I could identify as Napoleon, or as a cat, or, although I am a white heterosexual man, as a black lesbian and expect everyone to take my new self seriously.

The ever expanding list of so-called gender identities is reflected in the addition of letters and symbols to the acronym LGBT. This is merely short for ‘lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender’, but now it’s grown to LGTBQIA2S+, standing for lesbian, gay, transgender, bisexual, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, and two-spirit. Oh, and the ‘+’ means the acronym is incomplete – there may be more to come. Surely not. Yes! We have, apparently emanating from Ghana, an alphabet soup: LGBTIQCAPGNGFNBA. This is said to mean lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, questioning, curious, asexual, pansexual, gender non-conforming, gender fluid, non-binary, and androgynous. So there!

All terms such as gender dysphoria, gender identity, transgender, gender non-conforming, gender fluid, and non-binary serve no useful purpose and should be abandoned. They are either a reworking of existing medical terms such as transsexual, or neologisms which distort the English language.

As I have argued before, rather than turning an unhappy state of mind into a pseudo-medical diagnosis, the unhappiness should be recognised as such. Then, if so desired, its origin(s) can be explored with the help of psychotherapy, family therapy, or counselling so that the person can come to accept his or her reality.

Text © Gabriel Symonds

Picture credit: Ingmar Drewing on Creative Commons