TransAgeism: An Exercise in Incredulity

If you have been referred to this article by a friend or family member, it was probably because you might have felt and voiced your thoughts as deeply against the transgender movement. Afterall, “everything can’t be a social construct, right?” Wrong. And of course, this depends on what you mean by social construct. Categorization, for example, is a thing that humans do automatically (how we categorize is questionable, I am not saying that the binary or spectral dynamic of gender is a natural category, just one we seem to have). And some distinctions seem to be common. Including the preference of certain types of toys or more arbitrary distinctions like colour or shapes. This is a common way in which humans think and that doesn’t mean a different social environment could not change that. There is a saying in psychology: all that is psychological is biological and the biological psychological. That which creates social construct like etiquette, preference for colour and so on has a biological basis that isn’t what makes a thing a social construction. What makes a thing a social construction is whether it is a notion also predicated on your society. If you were to grow up somewhere completely differently the way you would express yourself, your understanding of nature and biology that could all change. The environment changes one’s physiology and there really isn’t a barrier between the biological and psychological.

What if I said the craziest thing to you right now? What if I said that not only gender and race but age was a social construct? I know, crazy! So let’s imagine two people having this conversation going to watch a movie at a theatre. The first a man, Pyrrho and the second a woman, Xanthippes. 

“I would like a ticket to this movie please.”

“I am sorry little boy, but this movie is for adults only. You aren’t old enough to watch this movie.”

“I certainly am, ma’am.”

“Ridiculous, let me see your birth certificate!”

“Here you go, but ma’am, you realize that this doesn’t matter for the movie?”

“What do you mean it doesn’t matter? The rules clearly state that people under the age of eighteen may not see this movie! And you are only fifteen!”

“Age is a matter of perspective.”

“Age is an objective fact! It is the number of days that have passed since you came from your mother’s womb!”

“Yes, but that isn’t the reason I am restricted from seeing the movie.”

“Why else would you be restricted?”

“Well, do you think people would restrict the age to go to a movie if babies were born fully developed humans?

“Well, no but that is a ridiculous philosophical proposition! I have no clue how that is relevant to this conversation, young man.”

“Well that’s because it is a very relevant philosophical proposition, It highlights the real reason I cannot see the movie!”

“What do you mean the real reason? I swear if you don’t get to the point I will call the mall guard.”

“Jim? You think Jim is going to do something? I am surprised he still has a job here to be fairly honest.”

“Okay, okay, you’re right. That damn old geezer can’t move a limb.”

“That is just more ageist prejudice from your mouth…”

“What! Ageist nonsense? Age is the most objective fact about a person! Explain that philosophical mumbo-jumbo you were about to say was relevant! I swear, kids watch a Youtube video and think they understand the universe.”

“You see, age is an indicator of what is the underlying thing for which we seek: Maturity, physical or mental depending on the situation.”

“Isn’t that shifting the goal posts? We are talking about age here, the number of days since birth. Don’t try to shift age into a discussion about mental faculty.”

“No, I think that you are artificially narrowing age to the point that it doesn’t matter. That wasn’t the point of the rule in the first place. If you restrict age to such a reduced definition in this context, there is no reason behind the rule.”

“Okay, fine. I admit that I guess we could expand the definition a bit. Go on then.”

“Alright, I will. If maturity is what we seek then it can be said that what you should be really testing is my mental maturity in my ability to watch a movie. You should be assessing my mental age.”

“No, I shouldn’t, just because you might be slightly different from people of your age doesn’t mean you are able to handle this movie. There is an objective measure of how the brains of children develop into adults, so, how can you say this is a social construct! How can you say age is disconnected?”

“Simple, I can say this because of the fact that it can be argued I don’t fit the normal distribution(of mental maturity) of the people considered at fifteen. Restricting me from watching this movie because of a clearly arbitrary ageist law that has no sense of nuance.”

“Oh! How could I forget! You are one of those transageists, you are all mentally ill! Age dysphoria they call it. You are a smart boy and your the situation is a tragedy but you are deluded into thinking that somehow the world needs conform to your standards. I heard that transageist suffer from depression, suicide and are more likely to take risks than even teenagers of the same age. You see, this the problem with people like you. You have a whole bunch of problems of your own that you export onto society. I bet if you just cleaned your room you would have your life in order in no time!”

“There are so many problems with what you have said. First of all, not all transageists have age dysphoria and–”

“But most of them do! Just because ‘not all’ of them do, that doesn’t mean transageism isn’t a mental disorder. Exceptions don’t disprove the rule!”

“In this case, they actually do if you say that they are indeed one and the same thing. If being transageist were a mental disorder it would necessarily mean that all transageists would have mental disorders!”

“Okay, maybe ‘not all’ are mentally ill but most of you are!”

“Yeah, well that is no surprise, seeing as how people who don’t fit the general categories of people in their ages are completely disadvantaged compared to people of the same mental maturity! If society just accepted us more than we wouldn’t have these issues!”

“Oh, there it is! Society this, society that! Oppression of this, the oppression that! Excuses, excuses, why can’t any of you transageists take care of your own issues on your own! You say you’re mature but you are practically babies. We all have problems! That is a fact of life. Get over yourself.”

“I realize we all have problems! But it does nothing but harm to ignore that the identities of a person’s arbitrary age which you identified me with, can be a harmful way to label someone even though they might be of considerable mental maturity despite the indicator. We should pay attention to the way that we don’t account for the nuances of all the people we meet because everyone truly is a snowflake in some shape or form. We are all unique and we are to some degree, all the same. If we want to solve problems with ourselves, created by us, we must work together in a dialogue between the two us to gain some consensus. If not we split as we wish. Such is society, such is living with other snowflakes. Such is living with one’s self.”

“I couldn’t agree more. I can’t give you the ticket but you know what? I am going to sneak you in, my treat!”

“It’s okay, you’re a woman so you can’t afford it.”

Remember that this is not at all perfectly analogous to 
transgender people at all. 
There are a number of striking differences. First, there aren't at all 
people transitioning to make them look more mature or 
taking hormones to speed up their growth and so on. 
I also recognise that this can open a whole can of worms with 
pedophilia as all discussions about age do.
I want to make clear that I do not at all support or are 
interested any pedophilic tendencies or desires. 
The societal concensus on pedophilia is sensible and is necessary to 
protect youth.
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diogenesoftoronto

Who am I? A ghost in the machine. Or maybe not even a ghost in a machine because on here I have no machinery, I am the symbols in your head. Your ghost gives me life.

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