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“Then the word ‘woman’ has no meaning”

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I have written here about why I believe Bill C-16 unintentionally destroys women’s rights, protections, and freedoms- indeed, their very identity. Purple Sage is a lesbian feminist blog that beautifully articulates the problems that I see. I encourage you to read the arguments in these two posts:

A Linguistic Analysis of Woman

A Second Response to Daniel

There are certainly things I would disagree with here, and I’ll warn you about language. But this is cogent and convincing stuff. Here’s some excerpts:

What I demonstrated in that post is that if you define ‘women’ as ‘the group of all adult human females and humans who are living as women,’ then the definition of woman dissolves entirely. If male humans who identify as women are women, then the only common characteristic across the group called ‘women’ is that they are all human. There is no other characteristic that this group universally shares. However, if you define a woman as an adult human female, then there is a characteristic that everyone in this group shares—they are genetically programmed to produce ova and bear young. (Whether they do eventually reproduce, and whether their female anatomy works or not isn’t an issue—even non-functioning female anatomy is still female anatomy.)

You said that you can define man and woman coherently even while including trans people in the definition. I don’t believe this is possible—I’ve tried it myself and I can’t do it. For example, can you answer this question: What is the common characteristic that is universally true across the group of all adult human females and humans who are living as women that distinguishes this category from other categories? I do not believe such a characteristic exists.

If there is nothing this group has universally in common, then the word ‘woman’ has no meaning. It could just be replaced by ‘human.’

The trans community wants us to believe that the common characteristic across the group ‘woman’ is that these individuals all identify as women. But if they identify as women, that leads us back to the original question: what is this thing ‘woman’ that they identify as? Surely if they identify as a woman then they can describe what a ‘woman’ is? If no one can describe what a woman is, then how can anyone know if they are one? The definition “a woman is anyone who identifies as a woman” is a circular definition that leads nowhere.

And

I believe it is not useful to destroy the words ‘man’ and ‘woman’ by making them meaningless, and in fact, it is downright dangerous, since women are oppressed by men in our patriarchal system. Anyone who is in the trans cult and is saying that there is no difference between trans women and women need to consider the following questions:

  • If there is nothing distinguishing trans women from other women then why are we calling some women trans? How do we know which women to call “trans” if there is no way to tell them apart?
  • Assuming that transgender means transitioning from one gender to the other, then what did trans women transition from? If they were born women and have always been women then why did they need to transition?
  • Do you think we need a word that describes the set of all adult humans who can produce ova and bear young? Why or why not? If so, what do you think this word should be?
  • Can you define the word ‘woman’ without using the word in the definition? (i.e. without using a circular definition.)
I welcome answers to these questions from anyone. However, I think you’ll find that if you are holding on to the idea that trans women are women, you won’t be able to answer them at all.

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