Normally, I would refrain from piggybacking on other people's questions, but I am not sure when I will again find occasion to ask the kinds of questions I have in mind. Very recently, a woman asked a question about transsexuals and how they could feel that they were of a certain gender (Question #4282). I have some related questions, although it does not exclusively concern the transsexual and transgender identities. I will focus for now on the transgender identity in asking my questions, but I hope it is clear that my question applies just as much to the cisgender identity.
It seems to me that many people whom I encounter confidently hold both of these beliefs:
(A): Gender, as distinct from sex, is a social construction.
(B): People can be transgender.
I have struggled to reconcile what has struck me as a glaring contradiction between these two beliefs. For people to be able to be transgender, it must be possible for them to have genders; this cannot be possible lest, in some fundamental sense,...
Since I answered the original question, I will try also to answer this one. We need to reconsider the phrase "social construction and nothing more", or at least to what you take to be the implications of such a description, that somehow what is socially constructed isn't real. One would need a lot of argument to establish that conclusion. Prima facie, socially constituted facts are no less real than biological or anatomical facts; they are just different. Consider, e.g., facts about political and legal authority. Surely these are socially constituted, but I would not suggest you tell a military tribunal that you can't be guilty of disobeying an order from a superior because social facts are unreal. That should answer question (1), I hope. Similarly, socially constituted facts matter to people every bit as much (and in some cases more) than biological facts. As I pointed out in response to the previous question, the mere fact that gender is a social (not merely anatomical) matter does not imply...
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