Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

MugaSofer comments on LW Women- Minimizing the Inferential Distance - Less Wrong

58 [deleted] 25 November 2012 11:33PM

You are viewing a comment permalink. View the original post to see all comments and the full post content.

Comments (1254)

You are viewing a single comment's thread. Show more comments above.

Comment author: JulianMorrison 27 November 2012 02:13:10AM 1 point [-]

whereas it is still so for men.

So break it.

Are you saying gender identity is not determined by biology? Because I have some transsexuals who would like to talk to you.

The etiology of trans is unknown. There are suggestions that hormones in the womb may play a part, with the brain and body controlled by hormone flushes at different times, resulting in something like "intersex of the brain". But what I meant was more simply, that social categorization of bodies as "male or female" doesn't determine their gender identity. Bear in mind I say social categorization here, because society looks at some things (penis length, particularly) and not at others (brains, particularly) about the body to put people into categories.

And no, I meant cross-gendered in the specific sense of "person socially assigned gender A in clothes socially assigned gender B".

BTW: trans being inborn and immutable is a political thing. It is easier to get rights if your discriminated-against attribute is "not your fault" so you can't be "blamed" for it. This doesn't affect the rightness of the cause, only the ease of implementing it in the face of religious (sin focused) transphobia.

Comment author: MugaSofer 27 November 2012 02:19:13AM *  2 points [-]

whereas it is still so for men.

So break it

Once again, I support the right to wear underpants on your head but I wouldn't teach my kids it's socially acceptable.

snip "trans is a choice"

It shows up on brainscans.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 28 November 2012 01:21:21AM *  10 points [-]

snip "trans is a choice"

It shows up on brainscans.

How is the second sentence at all evidence against the first?

Comment author: MugaSofer 29 November 2012 10:52:38PM 1 point [-]

... because you don't, as a rule, choose your own neurophysiology. Certain structures in transsexuals' brains are closer to the form they take in cisgendered members of the sex they identify with than the sex they appear to be.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 30 November 2012 01:08:12PM 4 points [-]

... because you don't, as a rule, choose your own neurophysiology.

Become a taxi driver and grow your hippocampus. The boundary between what you can change and what you can't is not as clear as you seem to think.

Certain structures in transsexuals' brains are closer to the form they take in cisgendered members of the sex they identify with than the sex they appear to be.

Do we know what these structures do?

Comment author: MugaSofer 01 December 2012 06:27:07AM 0 points [-]

Become a taxi driver and grow your hippocampus. The boundary between what you can change and what you can't is not as clear as you seem to think.

As I have said elsewhere, there is a sliding scale involved. This is decidedly towards the "unchosen" end, and considering that transsexuals report having changed their lifestyle as a result of preexisting problems, it seems reasonable to call this one for the "nature" side.

Do we know what these structures do?

Besides this? No.

Comment author: Eugine_Nier 30 November 2012 02:08:44AM 4 points [-]

... because you don't, as a rule, choose your own neurophysiology.

You have some control over it. Everything you do and every thought you have affects your neurophysiology. How much control you have over it is an interesting question, which can't be answered simply by pointing to differences on brain scans.

Comment author: MugaSofer 30 November 2012 09:23:12AM *  0 points [-]

There's a sliding scale. At one end, we have things like frontal lobes. At the other, we have imagination. This is the kind of structure that doesn't alter without external stimuli, and even then it's bloody hard.

Comment author: RichardKennaway 28 November 2012 11:59:56AM 7 points [-]

It shows up on brainscans.

If you take physicalism seriously, every experience can be expected to show up eventually, on sufficiently advanced brain scans. That has no bearing on what is a choice and what is not. Choices and non-choices will both have physical correlates.

Comment author: MugaSofer 29 November 2012 09:56:10PM -1 points [-]

Autism is a choice!

Comment author: JulianMorrison 27 November 2012 02:23:15AM -3 points [-]

Then you are perpetuating cissexism.

And no it doesn't, there are brain areas that are statistically different in the small population of trans brains donated to science, but there is no brain scan for trans and it would be useless anyway, because if you experience yourself as trans and the scan says "nope" it's the scan that's wrong. The individual is the sole authority and the diagnosis is by telling a shrink what you experience.

Comment author: MugaSofer 27 November 2012 02:34:24AM *  3 points [-]

Then you are perpetuating cissexism.

... how so?

there is no brain scan for trans

The fact that we cannot currently diagnose gender dysphoria [EDIT: in a living subject] with a brain scan does not change the fact that it is caused by a neurological disorder, and as such is biological, not a choice.

if you experience yourself as trans and the scan says "nope" it's the scan that's wrong. The individual is the sole authority and the diagnosis is by telling a shrink what you experience.

Are you saying that cisgendered people should be eligible for gender reassignment surgery and so on, or that any brain-scan based test will be imperfect?

Comment author: JulianMorrison 27 November 2012 02:40:06AM 2 points [-]

I am saying that a trans person can only be diagnosed by saying "I experience myself as [fill in the blank]" because that unspoken, personal experience is what trans is. Not the brain stuff. That may be what trans is caused by. It's like having a sore toe, that can be caused by a dropped hammer or kicking the door, but the essence of sore toeness can't be determined by testing for hammers and a negative test for a dropped hammer would not disprove it, the essence of sore toeness is the ouch.

Comment author: MugaSofer 27 November 2012 02:48:43AM *  3 points [-]

I'm pretty sure that the ouch is merely evidence that someone is experiencing pain. We're perilously close to arguing definitions here, though. If someone developed such a scan and there were a lot of trans people coming up as cis that would be warning sign, but it is not impossible (merely unlikely) that there are "trans" people who have more in common with cis people than "real" trans people.

EDIT: it may help to consider autism here.

FURTHER EDIT: dammit, stupid karma toll cutting off my discussions.

Comment author: Bugmaster 28 November 2012 01:25:02AM 2 points [-]

If someone developed such a scan, and it labeled a bunch of trans-identified people as cis, then IMO that would be good evidence for the proposition that the scanner is buggy.

Comment author: J_Taylor 29 November 2012 05:39:27AM 0 points [-]

"I experience myself as a beetle in a box."