“What will it cost you to use the preferred pronouns of trans people?” she asked. This is a very good question, and not just for me, but for all of society. Even as a child with a few cents, we had to choose between one expensive chocolate and a handful of cheap toffees – how much more do we need to do cost-benefit comparisons of large proposed societal changes?
1) It costs mental energy
To explain, I will use a little exercise. Say the colours in which each of these words are written:
Thank you! Now say the colours of the font – not the spelled words – for each of these: (Purple, grey…)
The second exercise went more slowly and took a lot more mental energy, because you had to deny what you see, and say something else.
Similarly, to remember to talk of someone like Danielle Muscato, transwoman, as “she” takes some mental energy, which could have been used on something else:
2) It costs some youths their sexual bodies
Many young adults deeply regret losing their penises, breasts or uteri to the trans craze. They wish their looks were never masculinized or feminized. They wish they could have children. They wish the body parts that could have sexual pleasure was not mutilated. One of the reasons they are mutilated, is because people kept calling them “he” or “she”, affirming to them that the feeling in their mind is the truth, and their bodies has to be adjusted to fit that truth.
3) It costs some of us our identities
When a trans ally first told me: “Your vagina does not make you a woman“, I was baffled. If being a vagina-having adult does not make me fit into the group called “women”, and people without them could identify into womanhood while people with them could identify out, then what is my group called? What should I say when I have to fill in one of the many forms that bureaucracy demands from me? Fill in what I feel? I can only feel I am a woman if womanhood have some definition in my head.
Even more important, I speak up for women’s rights in church – but the penis owners who think of themselves as women already have those rights! If we change the meaning of “women”, I need to change my writing on women in church to talk about those who are disadvantaged – but trans people tell me I do not have a word for my group, in order to discuss our issues!
4) It costs the loss of terms to discuss large and important demographic groups.
Have anyone ever done a study on how common violence by Coca Cola drinkers are, versus violence by Pepsi drinkers?
It is ridiculous, right? We do not measure violence by personal preference. Except, nowadays we do.
We used to be able to say that the class of people who have penises, called men, are statistically more violent than those who have vaginas, called women. But where police use preferred genders to report crime, we say those who, for whatever reason, prefer the name “man” are statistically more violent.
But making policy to keep people with the word preference “women” safe from people with another word preference is silly. Why have, for example, a “women’s shelter”, if “woman” is just a word people may or may not like to use? It is as silly as a “Pepsi drinkers’ shelter where Coke drinkers are not allowed.
If “women”, on the other hand, is a recognizable word with meaning, and part of that meaning is that it is the class recognized to be statistically more likely to suffer from physical violence from the other sex class, who is stronger on average, then a women’s shelter makes sense.
In that case, it also makes sense to study why one sex class is a lot more violent.
Does it make sense to study heart attack symptoms in women? Only if women are a biological class. If women are simply a group of people who like a certain word, it makes as much sense as comparing the heart attack symptoms of to-mah-to pronouncers versus to-may-to pronouncers. Suppose you want to study heart attacks in a particular sex class, but doctors report gender identity instead of sex, whose medical records do you look at to study these heart attacks? And when the doctor hear a woman is coming in with symptoms which are common heart attack symptoms in penis people but not vagina people, how quickly can the doctors help if they do not know whether this “woman” is from the penis group or not?
5) It cost us our ability to reject sexist stereotypes
If we have to call a guy with false eyelashes, high heels and a dress “she”, are we promoting sexist stereotypes? Are we saying that these things are womanly? Caitlyn Jenner, for example, said: “The hardest think about being a woman is deciding what to wear.” If I call Caitlyn “she”, I seem to be agreeing with Caitlyn that what you wear is a component of what makes you a woman. And I seem to be throwing women under the bus who dress in a masculine way, as well as those who do not think about clothes.
6) It costs us our integrity
We are asked to say things which, at best, we have no evidence for the truth of it. We all know a word needs a definition before it could be used meaningfully. Not one trans person wants to tell me how they define “man” or “woman”. To repeat words despite knowing that (by the definition we know) they are not true is to become dishonest.
7) It costs some people years before they could accept themselves for who they are
If we keep on calling a boy a girl, we encourage him to not accept himself for what he truly is. In fact, we help him to believe the opposite. If we continually call a woman “he”, we also work for her not to accept herself. Yet, they can never fully become the other sex, but only bear a superficial resemblance by working hard on it.
For the same reason that I won’t call an anorexic “fat”, I would not knowingly accept the pronouns of a trans person.
This may or may not be an itemized bill – there may be other costs I did not think of. If you say this price is worth it, in order to affirm the identity of a minority group – did you read the list? Point 3) shows that large groups of people have their identity stolen to pay for this. If identity is so important, why do you think we should lose ours? As for me, I am not willing to pay this price.