While Beacon Hill legislators debated adding a gender “X” designation to state IDs this week, it became clear that no one was actually looking at the state-issued documents that are at the center of this legislation.
Proponents of the bill testified that current ID’s don’t accurately reflect their “gender.” But if you pull out your MA driver’s license right now, you will not find the word “gender” on it anywhere. Instead, what is listed on drivers’ licenses and birth certificates is “sex.” As I explained in the Boston Herald yesterday, “The concept of ‘gender identity’ is based on internal feelings, but sex is binary (male or female) and grounded in biology…” Nevertheless, the article goes on to conflate the two terms, referring to the bill as requiring “an ‘X’ option on all state documents that ask for gender identification…” Again, look at your license, or a birth certificate. Neither of them mentions “gender” at all. They list “sex.” They are not the same thing, and ceding semantics to the sexual revolutionaries has been a losing strategy.
In general terms, “sex” refers to the biological differences between males and females, such as the genitalia and genetic differences. “Gender” is more difficult to define, but it can refer to the role of a male or female in society, known as a gender role or an individual’s concept of themselves or gender identity. When I was growing up, “gender” was a term I encountered only in studying a foreign language. To say “the chair” in German is “der Stuhl,” because the word for chair is considered a masculine noun. An inanimate object like a chair may have a gender for linguistic purposes, but it does not have a sex. A chair is not inherently male. In fact, in Spanish, the word for chair “la silla” is considered female. These words have been assigned their gender by the historic process of linguistic evolution. This is why activists began applying the term “gender” to humans:
Psychologists writing on transsexuality were the first to employ gender terminology in this sense. Until the 1960s, ‘gender’ was used solely to refer to masculine and feminine words, like le and la in French… However, in order to explain why some people felt that they were ‘trapped in the wrong bodies’, the psychologist Robert Stoller (1968) began using the terms ‘sex’ to pick out biological traits and ‘gender’ to pick out the amount of femininity and masculinity a person exhibited.”
Massachusetts law was amended in 2011 to add “Gender identity,” which is defined as “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.” Sex and gender are different things. (And, by the way, sex is not something that is “assigned” at birth, it is acknowledged based on obvious physical distinctions). Individuals may feel or identify as more or less masculine or feminine, but this has absolutely NO effect on their sex. To continue to require that ID’s reflect the objective, scientific fact of a person’s sex (which is determined by our reproductive systems, not our feelings) does not “prevent someone from identifying themselves truthfully on official documents” (which was an argument we heard yesterday). Also, don’t be confused by claims that “gender identity” has anything to do with disorders of sexual development, often referred to as “intersex”. These physiological disorders, while often tragic, do not constitute a third sex. They don’t create a new sex chromosome or new type of genitalia.
Why is all of this important? Well, I can give you a personal example. I was speaking at a Bathroom Bill repeal event in 2017 in Newton when a man, who sometimes identifies as a woman, spat on a colleague of mine, stole some of our signs, and then ran off. The police later told me they had located the “woman” who had committed this assault. I had to say to the police, “Just so we’re clear, we’re talking about a man who did this, albeit wearing a dress, but a biological male.” The police sheepishly admitted that the “woman” they located was in fact a man. It’s easy to see how this type of politically correct confusion in a law enforcement setting will only be amplified by doctoring drivers’ licenses and birth certificates based on feelings.
What designation will the police use when they put out an APB for a person officially identified as ‘gender X’? Hopefully, we’ll never have to find out.