QAnon ideas are so extreme that they are still rejected by most people, although The Observer, last week, reported on how browsing for wellness content leads some people straight to conspiracy theory, a phenomenon they call “Conspirituality.” It appears to seriously degrades its followers’ mental health. (The Observer, 17/10/21, “The Dark Side of Wellness”.)
Other implausible theories have gained widespread acceptance, however. There’s the confused attempt to make a distinction between sex and gender, for example. People are always solemnly explaining to me that sex and gender are different. They say, “Sex is biological and gender is a social construct. No, no – gender is biological and sex is a social construct. No, hang on, maybe it is sex is biological…”(etc.) This is always stated as a universally accepted scientific fact, yet my conversationalist’s assumption that I need to be told, demonstrates how new this concept is for both of us. Their hesitancy and confusion show how counter-intuitive and externally imposed it is.
Until a couple of years ago, the words “sex” and “gender” had always been interchangeable. A person’s sex or gender is determined biologically. It is encoded in their DNA, replicated in every cell in their body (to paraphrase Robert Winston’s courageous defence on Any Questions.) We can’t avoid it. Every human society on Earth makes the distinction between men and women, presumably because they look markedly different (and have different roles and experiences in reproduction.)
Of course, all of our psychology is, ultimately, biologically coded, including the desire to renounce our biological gender. Behaviours and desires may also be conditioned before we are old enough to make conscious decisions. And much of how maleness and femaleness presents in society is socially constructed.
These norms are restrictive and will be repressive if you do not conform to them easily, but they are rooted in our genetically dictated biology. They build up from, or resist, those foundations. We have no control over this. It is not our decision to make. These are the cards you have been dealt. Life is unfair and naturally unequal. Not everyone gets dealt a royal flush.
But everyone should be free to play those cards in whatever way they wish. We must build an equal and tolerant society where everyone is free to express their gender and sexuality in whatever way they want. If you are a man who wishes to live as a woman, under a woman’s name, you should be free to do so, with the respect and support of your wider community.