Where Does Gender Come From?: Social Constructivism Versus the Trans Experience
Those who hold what Jacob Hale calls the “Natural Attitude” toward gender believe that sex and gender are biologically and psychologically connected; that one is born with a gender just as one is born with a sex, and the two always match. Those who hold the social constructivist view of gender believe that we are born only with a sex – a biological set of features that distinguish males from females – and gender is imbued on us through society based on what biological features we have. Many (though not all) transgender people claim that they felt to be a different gender from the one in which they were raised, and some have felt this way from a very early age. People on both sides of the gender debate view transgender folks as deluded, because their reported lived experience is incompatible with both theories of gender. Is there a theory of gender that validates, rather than denies, lived trans experience? What would such a theory look like? In this talk I’ll investigate the contradictions between social constructivism in particular and the trans experience, and suggest avenues for constructing a theory of gender that has room for trans experience.
Dr. Benjamin Buckley is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Clayton State University. He teaches logic, ethics, and courses where philosophy and social justice issues overlap. His research is in philosophy of mathematics, gender studies, and feminist philosophy.
Posted: March 17, 2017