Transphobes often respond to this by claiming that the definition is ultimately circular and cannot be granularized to a single, tangible point. They use this to claim that trans-inclusive definitions of womanhood are circular, rely on “Gender Woo Woo”, but their plithy “Adult human female” is tangible, RATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC, and acknowledges FACTS that DON’T CARE ABOUT YOUR FEELINGS!
But here’s the thing - as the entire previous section illustrates, every definition or explanation ultimately boils down to truisms, going “you know”, special pleading, and hand waving if you try to examine it too closely and break it down too thoroughly.
And yes, that includes “Adult human female.”
Let’s break that down into its parts and examine those.
I’ll not contest or expand on “human” because as of current, evidence suggests that humans are the only species to exhibit gender identity in a way that I’m prepared to examine. And I’m not going to contest or try to nitpick “Adult” because I’m not a Gadsden-flag-waving libertarian. What I will point at is “female” because as much as transphobes like to pretend that it’s tangible and quantifiable, it really can’t be without being unduly invasive and - to be blunt - misogynistic.
“The class of people who can produce ova.”
“So, what of someone who has every other characteristic typically associated with being female, except they do not have or produce ova, such as having their ovaries removed, or having been born without them?”
“Then they’re still of the CLASS of people that produce ova.”
“How is someone in a class of a quality without having that quality?”
“They have a female body and therefore are part of the female sex class.”
“The fuck is a sex class if it’s determined by gametes but makes exceptions for people who don’t produce gametes?”
“What about someone who has anatomy that is otherwise typical of males, but instead of testes, has ovaries.”
“Male sex class.”
“What’s the male sex class?”
“Class of people who produce small gametes.”
“How can someone be part of a ‘sex class’ that is defined by a characteristic…without actually having the defining characteristic’?”
It all ultimately boils down to special pleading because, when you have 8 million living clumps of cells wriggling around at any given moment, there are going to be lots of edge cases and exceptions to the two common patterns. In the end, and I cannot stress this enough, there is no tangible characteristic possessed by all people transphobes want to call women that is also NOT possessed by ANY of the people they don’t want to call women.
Some cis women are born without them or have them removed later in life, so possession of a uterus doesn’t work.
Same problem, plus some intersex people are born with both testicular and ovarian tissue.
Not having a penis?
Some cis men are born without penises or have their penises removed. But also consider that penis transplants are on their way, and transphobes screaming about “can’t change sex” would, if they defined sex by the presence or absence of a penis, would have to concede that a person who didn’t have a penis and then received a penis had “changed sex”.
And one of my favorite - “Whether you grew wolffian ducts or mullerian ducts”
Buddy, not only do some people lack those entirely, you’re basically arguing that we should sort people into bathrooms based on the structure that connects their gonads to the rest of their reproductive systems.
Which brings me to the next question,
As I said earlier, every dichotomy, taxonomy, or classification system should have a good reason for existing. Back to that example of champagne and how it’s only technically champagne if the grapes come from the Champagne region of France?
Well, that’s because if the grapes come from anywhere else, then it just won’t have the same chemicals and therefore, won’t get you as high when you snort it. Or whatever you do with champagne, I don’t do hard drugs. When someone puts “Contains Peanuts” on a product package, we don’t fuck around with what ‘counts’ as a peanut because the important thing is that the product does or potentially contains peanut allergens which could put someone’s life at risk if they have an allergy.
When we joke around about whether or not a hotdog should count as a sandwich, they’re not doing it for any real reason, just to goof off. There’s nothing at stake in determining if a hot dog counts as a sandwich. Nor whether or not a poptart is a ravioli - it’s not, by the way. Ravioli are boiled. A poptart is a calzone as it is *baked.*
But why are transphobes so insistent on defining women, defining female? Why do they see it as so unreasonable to let each person decide for themselves what the different gender labels mean on a personal level and use them as voluntary self-description instead of asserting that there’s a single, tangible definition of womanhood that we all *must* use?
The short answer is biological determinism - the eugenical notion that what we are inclined to do, capable of, and how we “should” be is determined for us by our birth and our biology. It’s antithetical to this neat thing I call “Free will.” (picture of the cover of Free Willy)
And the long answer is beyond the scope of this video.
For now, it’s enough to say that the reason for demanding that only “Adult human females” get to call themselves women boils down to transphobia. This almost always stems from the belief that trans people are delusional, ignorant, deceptive, or dangerous. And for that, I refer you to my other video, “What Is Transphobia?”
And again, I remind the audience - if you’re being asked to “Define Woman” - they’re not actually interested in your answer, with understanding you, or with coming to a more inclusive and better position, they just want to waste your time. So I suggest you either link this video, or another like it, or answer accordingly:
“What is a woman?”
A featherless biped.
“What is a man?”
A miserable pile of secrets.