It’s only when Mr Underwood starts taking about gender that his book strikes a false note. Suddenly, rather than scrupulously exploring his own thoughts and experiences, he is reciting a catechism of Liberal pieties. He announces, “The specifics of your sexual anatomy are beside the point of your personhood… but the world as it stands will summon your dormant reproductive organs to give a primary account of your ontology… You should not be subjected to this binary sexualised cleaving” (p34) No discussion or interrogation follows these doctrinaire statements, despite being highly questionable and unscientific. My own experience of Graves’ disease and anorexia have demonstrated how biology, hormones, even levels of nourishment, are inextricably linked to human thinking and thus the experience of self and of society through the interactions with those around you. This conclusion is supported by over 200 years of scientific research.
Unfortunately, you do not own yourself. You are the common property of your community. Your identity is a construct negotiated between you and those you interact with, a compromise between your aspirational self-perception, how you are perceived and treated by those around you, and how you respond to that.
The raw material of Jack Underwood’s daughter’s “personhood” will be fundamentally shaped by her gender because of the inevitably biologically gendered development of her body and brain, the recognition and reception of that by the society around her, and her response, in turn, to that reception. Trans men and women, because of the difficult journey they must embark on, are denied the defining formative experiences of the gender they aspire to. Those who wish to be regarded as non-binary must actively renounce their own biology as well as the social constructs that attend it and are founded on it.
The assumption of self-ownership and authorship is a legacy of naïve cartesian mind-body dualism. This theory privileges a mythic spirit with a fully formed identity that is randomly assigned to an alienated body-casket. The theory encourages hostility to our own bodies because, rather than viewing them as an integral part of who we are, we view them as obstacles to our inalienable right to be who we want to be.
This heroic individualism is the monstrous child of consumer capitalist self-gratification. That Economic theory sells us lies that selfish, individual self-actualisation is the highest good, that it is a fundamental and inalienable right which trumps all social obligations, that it can, and should, be demanded of social providers such as governments, and that it can be expressed through purchasable merchandise. In other words, heroic individualism can be very effectively monetised.
Heroic Individualism is the very opposite of community-mindedness that is the basis of all brands of socialism. It is a capitalist Trojan Horse. Socialism has been infected by capitalism.