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How not to be a transphobe

Since I waded into the trans debate I’ve been accused of being a transphobe on several occasions, though it’s rarely been spelled out what I did to deserve that label, but the other day it was.

So, according to, believing that humans cannot change sex and accepting the dictionary definition of women makes one transphobic.

The dictionary defines sex as

either of the two major forms of individuals that occur in many species and that are distinguished respectively as female or male especially on the basis of their reproductive organs and structures

To avoid being transphobic you must therefore reject dictionary definitions since dictionaries themselves are, by’s definition, transphobic. Words can change meaning though, and maybe the dictionaries are out of date, no longer reflecting how these words are actually used, so let’s see what happens if we do reject these dictionary definitions.

If sex is not only dependant on anatomy, what else could it be dependant on? If it’s also dependant on one’s inner sense of what sex one is then, to avoid being transphobic, you need to accept this inner sense, which sounds a bit like a sexed soul. You need to be a dualist. And you need to accept that the sex of someone’s soul overrides the sex of their body.

That’s quite a big ask.

Perhaps though, for some, it doesn’t seem so. When we’re mostly online and most of our interactions are online, our bios and avatars are like our souls. We will never meet in the flesh most of the people we interact with so the flesh doesn’t matter. Our souls are who we really are so we want our souls to be respected. We want people to believe we are who we say we are. We don’t want to be thought of as pretending to be something we’re not.

One day we may become a totally online species, able to pick a body off a peg and take an excursion into meatspace with it. Then, our sex will be the sex of the body we pick, but we’re not there yet. We’re still physical sexually reproducing beings, stuck with our bodies, though now able to modify them in ways that previous generations would never have imagined being possible.

Our language evolved to describe the physical reality we live in, and it may now need to evolve to take into account the virtual reality we also live in. Poaching words like “man”, “woman”, “male”, “female” and redefining them is not the way to do that. The concepts those words currently point to still have significance. We have words for adult males and females of many other animals so it would be weird and awkward if we no longer had words for adult male and female humans, and male and female are quite specific terms when talking about other animals, and plants, crucial in biology, so we need to hang onto those words, but there’s no reason why we shouldn’t create new words for new concepts.