Trump Administration Tightens Definitions Relating to Sex and Gender (On Identity)
Media reacts as the Trump administration gets closer to totalitarianism
10/23/18, 7:05 pm EDT
By John Corry, photo from RedBubble
Actually, what the Trump administration did was define ‘sex’ as whatever appears on one’s birth certificate. From the New York Times: “‘Transgender’ Could Be Defined Out of Existence Under Trump Administration.”
This is a heated issue, so, before I get into this: any outrage over this situation, or anything having to do with the transgender thing or whatever, is justified and legitimate; I am not trying to decry personal experience and emotion (as you’ll see in a moment) as mere ghosts (why do I feel I have to start with this?). Nor am I trying to say that anything is as simple as either ‘fact’ or ‘emotion’ (in fact: a misunderstanding of the dichotomy between the two is what I find to be the culprit behind most dissidence). All I am trying to get at is indeed how those two things work, where they fit into the dichotomy between society and individuals, and whether moral outrage is the only thing which leads to prosperity. I understand the emotions going on here, and for the most part the facts (I think (for both of those there)), but all I’m really doing is talking out of my (educated) ass here (primarily Kant in this one, but there’s some Nietzsche, and a bit of my own spin as well), and I’m very confused as to why I need to feel so afraid to say anything (and especially in relevance to both extremism regarding this issue, and given the current political climate as a whole), so I’m going to shut up now and get on with it.
I’m going to take that NYT headline. Clearly, and rightfully so (reference: a long history of discrimination), there is a fear out there. It’s a fear that’s been brewing for decades, likely much longer, and it has to do with identity, specifically: whether identity is inherent in man’s existence, or if man can stamp it out. Obviously, politics and potential tyrants are in question here too, but the question of identity is one much more mired with the intellectual human experience than politics or the primal residue of hierarchical power (rather than ‘intellectual power’, or the understanding of such a thing (the will-to-power (primarily time-based, rather than solely action-based–which is hierarchical)), which came about through Nietzsche, though I’m not sure he’d heed that nomination) ever could be. Because man can now recognize himself as ‘alive’, the question becomes ‘why'?’. Why should he have to?
And the answer has to do with personal experience (for more history on the differences and similarities between Nietzsche and Kant, check this out).
As quantified as we can possibly get (/> difference between intellectual and primal existence here), there are no two ‘human experiences’ or ‘lives’ which could ever possibly be exactly the same, throughout the entirety of human existence. This is because, in whichever reality humans ‘exist’ right now: time moves. No two times are ever the same, yet humans exist in-time, so even if two people did have the ‘exact same life’, they could never occupy the same spaces at the same times, and as such could never have the ‘same exact experience’. This makes experience complicated, much more complicated than the power politics of the primal animal could possibly understand it, and as such humans need a way to actualize it, and to understand it: this is what we call ‘identity’.
‘Identity’ is a necessary part of Kant’s Understanding-Mind (‘the understanding’), used to realize where one stands in reality, in relation to the rest of reality (“The mind could never think its own identity in the manifoldness of its representations, and indeed think this identity a priori, if it did not have before its eyes the identity of its act, by which it subjects all synthesis of apprehension (which is empirical) to a transcendental unity, and thus renders possible their connection according to a priori rules.”–Critique of Pure Reason, Penguin Classics, pp. 140). It enables us to understand that while we may look and act in ways extremely similar to all other humans (on average) (or even all living things, to get real Kantian about it), we are still Absolutely different, because, as far the time-moving part of the Intellect is concerned, experience trumps existence (because otherwise ‘existence’ could not be defined). It is a faculty of the understanding necessary not to be overwhelmed by the vastness of time and space, and is so directly responsible (though far from fully) for the ability of humans to act in them (space and time).
Because of this fact, however (the fact that identity is almost fully personalized understanding, and only has anything to do with generalities (or ‘society’) when it’s used strictly as ‘fact’ (statistic)), ‘identity’, in itself, has no place in intellectual power politics, if we’re defining ‘intellectual power politics’ as that part of society which seeks to understand how people work on a collective scale, and to then subsequently affect in some way. This is not to say that the identity, or the emotion begot from identity politics, has no place in politics (it obviously does inevitably (people are emotional, dude, however shitty you may find that to be; get over it)), only that its place is reactionary, given the question. Identity is who I am in relation to the world, as far as I can tell right now, not at ‘any time’, nor as something that is subconscious; identity is not what the world is in relation to me, that’s philosophy (or: philosophic action??).
This whole ‘trans’ issue here is only an ‘issue’ (outside of the shmucks who are going legislate discrimination–but, again, as MLK Jr. said (and very tangibly proved, by the way), you don’t beat those people by yelling and screaming, you beat them by arguing, and by understanding, no matter how objectively difficult and amoral that may be)) if we’re attempting to define any ‘in-action’ process (in-time) as something which could only be understood by groups of people rather than the individuals themselves (or: if the Intellect is a product of tangible action/reaction, rather than thought). This is because most individual people aren’t going to give a shit how you ‘identify’ because ‘identity’ is an Absolutely personalized experience before it is a collective one (not to say that it’s not collective at all, but it understands itself in relation to the individual before the collective (otherwise: how could such a collective possibly be defined???)). Whatever you want to be called, most people will call you that, and if they won’t /> FUCK THEM! Who gives a shit that some closed-minded asshole thinks her identity is more ‘important’ than yours? You don’t have the right to make that call, and neither does she. All you can do is do your best to recognize all people as human; not your fault when they refuse the fact. Loving disappointment has always proved more affective than forced lobotomy (in the Intellect??).
The real issue comes up when you start trying to legislate how people should feel, because when thinking becomes too complex, feeling is far easier to manipulate.
And when thinking is becoming too complex: you’re talking science (or you’re getting into its territory).
Just because some fuck refused to treat you with respect doesn’t mean that the scientist has to bring the concept of ‘psychological respect’ into her lab, does it (unless she’s a psychologist)? The scientist has to know what she’s dealing with, she needs it defined, at least in whatever context she’s looking at, otherwise how can she even know what she’s looking at? How can the concept of ‘respect’ even come up at all?
And that’s really all the Trump administration seems to be doing here (aside from being dicks about it). I heard an argument from Ben Shapiro on his podcast yesterday (I know, not the best guy for this topic (but primarily just because he’s such an asshole about it)) saying that without a basic definition of the sex (which can be different than ‘gender’, by the way; we only need to appropriate a context here), there’s no way to define ‘discrimination’. In other words: if there’s no difference between men and women, then there’s no way to discern discrimination against them.
Is it possible that Trump is only doing to try to piss people off? Or that he really does want to wipe the concept of ‘transgender’ off the place of the planet? Sure, but he’d have to fight off a hell of an argument regarding whether personal identity or emotion has anything to do with the question of what it means to be human in order to do that, and I don’t actually think that many of his supporters really think that it doesn’t anyway (it’s primarily a difference in rhetoric, or a misunderstanding of the economics/psychology dichotomy in relation to human experience and existence (Nietzsche)).
Or at least that’s my personal experience (¯\_(ツ)_/¯).