Farrukh Dhondy | If you can pick your gender... why can’t you choose species?

The Asian Age.  | Farrukh Dhondy

Opinion, Columnists

Liberal opinion in the shape of the Scottish Parliament passed a law to allow people to choose their gender.

The debate around trans-genders is about the rights of people to identify as they wish and not be discriminated in any way for so doing. (Photo by DIPTENDU DUTTA / AFP)

“And the punters said, ‘O Bachchoo

Speak to us of Love’. And Bachchoo

Said: ‘Love is the nectar of emotions;

The defiance of death; the prelude

To bondage; The illusion that one person

Is different from another; And

Love is the zero in ping-pong scores….’”

From The Profit of Conlil Gibberish, by Bachchoo

In London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), a screen in the foyer of the main building declares that binary gender is a lie. SOAS doesn’t have a biology or genetics department and the slogan is not intended as a scientific discovery but a political influencer -- a contribution to the controversy about “transgender”.

Within this controversy, one finds the argument that humans can identify as scores of genders between male and female. The counter-argument, presented by physiologists and geneticists, is that the human body is made up of several trillion cells and each of these has an XX or and XY chromosome which determine whether the body is male or female. The many-gender advocates quote the fact that in (albeit very, very rare cases), the cells exhibit deviations from this strict distinction by having XXY chromosomes and they don’t see this as a biological deviation, but as proof of a proliferation of genders.

The controversy has become political in many ways. Men profess that they are really women and undergo hormone and surgical treatments to transform themselves. This may entail the surgical removal (ouch) of their male organs and the hormonal inducement of secondary sexual characteristics such as the growth of breasts. For women who regard themselves as males, there is a parallel diet of hormones and possible surgical interventions to get rid of breasts and perhaps have penises surgically shaped in their groin. To date, I know of no transwomen having the capacity to conceive or give birth to a baby and of no transmen able to fertilise an ovum.

The debate around trans-genders is about the rights of people to identify as they wish and not be discriminated in any way for so doing. Fair enough. Their cause as the LGBTQ+ movement implies, by incorporating the trans-gendered into the “community” or organisation of gay and lesbian people is an extension of the protective umbrella to include them in the movement against such discrimination.

This protection extends to denying platforms and attempting to silence the opinions of those who believe, as many feminists do, that transwomen are not real women and so with transmen.

The most prominent case of such a violently disputed assertion was that of the Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has been stalked with abuse and even death threats for saying just that, though she vehemently protests that citizens in a democracy ought to be allowed to claim that they are women or men, even if they are not. There have been lecturers who have had to resign their university posts for holding the view that one is born into a male/female gender and can’t change it by claiming that you “know” that you belong to the opposite one. Even using the word “opposite” in that last sentence will be rejected by the trans lobby.

One argument against the lobby is that the body and the brain are material entities.

Consciousness is a chemical miracle. There is, scientifically, no ghost in the machine – unless you believe, as many religious people do, that there is a soul within the body which separates itself when the body dies and floats up to heaven (if the body has behaved well in life, of course).

There have been reactions to the trans-lobby’s demands and assertions. Sporting organisations have taken to banning transwomen from participating in all-women sports.

Transwomen are not sent to women’s prisons. There is still a heated argument as to whether transwomen ought to be allowed to use women’s changing and toilet facilities.

The government has legislated now to prevent sex and gender clinics from beginning the gender conversion of under-age children who say they are, or would rather be, the opposite gender to that into which they were born.

Liberal opinion in the shape of the Scottish Parliament passed a law to allow people to choose their gender. Prime Minister Hedgie Sunak vetoed it. There has been a backlash to this legislation from within the Scottish National Party who passed it.

Now the inevitable has happened. If one can choose one’s gender, why can’t one choose one’s species? Two school children in England have recently asserted just that. One says she identifies as a cat and answers all queries with a “meow”. Another identifies as a dinosaur.

Reports tell us that teachers at the schools have taken these children at their word, saying they should be recognised as trans-species individuals and even reprimanded their classmates who were openly sceptical and suggested they find another school. Are these cat and fantosaurus children fantasists, mentally in need of serious help or, as I believe, they are consciously, to use a British phrase, “taking the piss”? Are they trying the trans-species imposture to bring ridicule on the entire trans idea?

The trend they have set will, in our SOAS-endorsed day, undoubtedly catch on. Humans may say they are really dogs and we have to agree it’s their right to trans as such — as long as they don’t go pissing on lamp-posts, excreting on the pavements and biting passers-by.