Thursday, 23 January 2014

Externalist Child, Internalist Father

I described my externalist view of gender in the last entry.  To summarise, my view of gender is that it's an external fact which cannot be altered, like date of birth.  This leads me to the rather absurd conclusion that a man can in theory have a fully functional female reproductive system unless he's a gender dysphoric female-assigned person.  If old age is the accumulation of health problems and pure old age doesn't exist, the resolution of health problems is a limited form of rejuvenation, but it doesn't alter date of birth.  So that's my position:  I cannot change gender any more than I can change my date of birth, although it's possible to adopt a different calendar.

This is similar to mathematical Platonism, and there are other examples of this out there in the world, as it were.  Mathematical Platonism is the view that mathematics is discovered rather than invented.  This view is also reflected in my belief that there are no inventions, only discoveries - inventions exist "out there" in an "invention space" and are found rather like Columbus would've found America if there hadn't been people living there already.  Then again, maybe America was discovered by the first person who realised it was a set of landmasses.

So that's all fine, or rather not fine but rather a downer, as it makes gender identity disorder a manageable rather than a curable condition.  Clearly it's not a very life-affirming view.  Then again, my view of my gender dysphoria is that being biologically male constitutes a health problem for me rather than me looking at myself as a person of one gender trapped in the body of another.

Well, it turns out that whereas I'm mathematically Platonist, my father's not.  He believes maths is invented.  A similar view to that would be an internalist view of gender - that your gender is something you invent and therefore may conceivably have control over.  Therefore, if my father's view of gender is similar to his view of the nature of mathematics, rather oddly, he could consistently believe that people can change gender but I can't believe that consistently.  This raises another issue about subjective experience of one's own gender, i.e. the emotional and therefore perhaps more authentic experience of it.