Gender Reveal… It’s Brands!

Yves here. Jared Holst looks at gender proliferation, which per the post below is so elastic as to include people who identify as not human. I have been told that the Thais, depending on who is counting, have between 11 and 17 genders, and they include categories like tomboyish but straight women and men who like that type.

By Jared Holst,  the author at Brands Mean a Lot, a weekly commentary on the ways branding impacts our lives. Each week, he explores contradictions within the way politics, products, and pop-culture are branded for us, offering insight on what’s really being said. You can follow Jared on Twitter @jarholst. Originally published at Brands Mean a Lot

‘Let a hundred sexes bloom!’ This must go beyond insisting on recognition for a wider range of identity categories – a move which, as with the numerous self-categorizing options available to us on Facebook, can generate a ‘plural but static constellation’, in which gender continues to bear the weight of signifying something beyond itself (attitudes, capacities, affinities, consumer behaviours, and so on). The aim of this proliferation is not the beautiful blooming of a hundred drop-down menu options, but the stripping away of social ramifications associated with the heterosexual matrix.

– Helen Hester, Xenofeminism, 2018

Not only is Hester’s advocacy important, it’s the future.

As a social construct, gender is a categorization tool. Yet for all its uses, it isn’t a tool fit for every job. While gender’s disintegration may initially impede our ability to categorize people based on the signifiers Hester lists above, its will free people from hastily made judgements and open up new possibilities for human connection, culture, and governance. Hester’s book, Xenofeminism, from which the above quote is pulled, was published in 2018 and it’s clear we’re already in the midst of letting ‘a hundred sexes bloom’. As gender’s boundaries melt away, it’s evolving to become a construct which doesn’t necessarily even need to map to human characteristics.

While liberation–in whatever form it may take–may be the primary accelerant for social change, the market is usually right behind it. Given the erosion of gender and its signifiers, and commerce’s ability to accelerate social change, I foresee a future where brands could be identifiable genders.

* * *


Whether it’s the summer of love, women’s equality, the Black Lives Matter movement, or Pride, the market is incentivized to sell social movements back to us. By doing so, brands ingratiate themselves to their audiences and attempt to align with the cause such that anytime it’s brought up, people will think of the brand as well.

This manifests in all kinds of ways. It’s why Bank of America has a float in your city’s Pride parade. It’s why Kendall Jenner is on video handing a frosty Pepsi to a policeman (seen above). It’s why if you ask it, Alexa will tell you it doesn’t have a gender. It’s even why cities market themselves in certain ways for tourism (‘All Inclusive Boston’ comes to mind). This isn’t a recent phenomenon either: I was born in 1985 and somehow still know the summer-of-love-aping “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” jingle. Rosie the Riveter, now an iconic cultural image, was originally a design sponsored by the Westinghouse Corporation during World War II meant to encourage women to work in manufacturing.

* * *


Alexa and its ilk may be genderless, but it isn’t just tech which is shifting away from the gender binary. 5.1% of U.S. adults younger than 30 now identify as trans or non-binary. The Williams Institute, via the New York Times, reports that‘teenagers and adults under 25 make up an estimated 43% of the transgender population’.  And, according to The Trevor Project’s 2021 National Survey on LGBTQ Youth Mental Health, 26% of LGBTQ youth identify as non-binary.

This is all to say, the gender fluidity of today’s youth is greatly reducing gender’s overall viscosity.

“We’re all born naked, And the rest is drag” – RuPaul

Although difficult to measure objectively, cultural acceptance and inclusivity of trans and non-binary identification is gradually increasing as well. There are now 22 states–plus Washington D.C.–which allow individuals to select the gender neutral ‘X’ on their driver’s licenses or birth certificates. There’s non-binary representation in children’s shows such as Cartoon Network’s ‘Steven Universe’ and Dreamworks/NBC’s ‘Madagascar: a Little Wild’ and representation in adult media such as ‘Billions’ (boring) and ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ (too uninterested to care).

* * *

The internet, as it does to all things, has hastened the development of the ‘hundred genders’ prognostication by fertilizing new genders. Two such are Otherkins and Xenogenders.

As defined by the unofficial Otherkin wiki, Otherkins are:

“…those who identify in some nonphysical way as nonhuman or not fully human, more specifically beings who do not currently exist on earth…”

Xenogender, according to the unofficial wiki, is defined as:

“…umbrella term in which one’s gender is not connected to the binary or non-binary spectrum, and is instead crafted with other methods of gender categorization. This may include genders that are related to animals, plants, or other things that are not traditionally a ‘gender.’”

Like Thomas’ English Muffins, the internet has nooks and crannies galore. It’s in those nooks and crannies where just about anyone can find the solidarity they need to bring their digital selves into physical reality. Whether you’re a glob of butter hoping to link up with other globs to talk about how there’s a world wide cabal of Satan worshippers who rule the world or a sweet spread of grape jelly looking to commiserate about your gender existing outside the established binary, there’s a space for you. This isn’t to say the respective plights of Qanon and nonbinary people are the same, it’s only to illustrate the spectrum of spaces available online. In fact, while the online to IRL coming out of Qanon ding dongs has been unequivocally negative, the online to IRL coming out of those feeling something incongruous between their physical bodies and their internalized selves has pushed acceptance and culture forward in a myriad of positive ways, not least of which is the gradual obsolescence of gender itself.

* * *
If you hadn’t noticed, the unofficial Xenogender and Otherkin websites are ad-supported. Like I said, commerce is never far behind and the dovetailing of commerce and gender obsolescence isn’t that far off. With each passing year, gender becomes more fluid. Not just between the male/female binary, but between many other distinct identities. If Kendall Jenner and Pepsi can make a Black Lives Matter advertisement, is it crazy to conceive of Planet Fitness encouraging people–with inducements like discounts and personal training–to identify as Planet Fitness? PF’s yellow/purple colorway, no lunk/meathead philosophy, and low prices already appeal to several marketable segments, not just straight men looking to get a pump in. Instead of using brands to form part of what gender you identify as, what if you instead identified as those brands? In essence, brands would co-opt more of the space between your internalized self and your presentation to the world. I’d no longer be Jared, who identifies as a man and as part of my gender presentation wears J. Crew hoodies and Old Spice deodorant. Instead, I’d be Jared, who identifies as Nestlé and presents my gender through the exclusive use of Nestlé foodstuffs and apparel. At this point, brands will have absorbed the personality traits and social signifiers which presently signal a person’s gender.

The efforts companies would take to encourage this would undoubtedly be awful, cringey, and mostly tasteless. Yet, if gender’s reached such ambiguity that it can be so crassly commercialized, we’ll be in a good spot.  Is there anything more meaningless than identifying as Jiffy Lube?

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  1. Mikel

    “As gender’s boundaries melt away, it’s evolving to become a construct which doesn’t necessarily even need to map to human characteristics…”

    The ulterior motive revealed?

    1. Bjarne

      I identify as a wage-slave willing to work 16 hours a day for $1 who has no education or nurturing, was raised in a pod and can’t begin to fathom life without a diet made of bugs and the “rules based order”. The Soviet grand plan to eradicate the family and religious, cultural identity was unambitious compared to the current plans in the West. Anti-human malthusianism has gripped the overclass and will inevitably fail though not without much destruction first. Hopefully not the nuclear kind.

    2. Anon

      If one thinks about it, the relativism employed, opens the door to the further acceptance of eg. corporations as people, artificial intelligences as people, etc. Much in the way that it dilutes the concept of ‘man/woman’, it dilutes the concept of what it means to be human. This could be a beautiful thing, in that it challenges the long running conceit of human exceptionalism/dominance, but something tells me a return to oneness with nature is not what is intended; indeed there is nothing natural about it.

  2. Bemildred

    As others have said, let me know when black people get to identify as white, & vice versa.

    And I want to be able to identify as rich and good looking too.

      1. fresno dan


        That is to say, as is ever clearer and ever more important to note, race politics is not an alternative to class politics; it is a class politics, the politics of the left-wing of neoliberalism. It is the expression and active agency of a political order and moral economy in which capitalist market forces are treated as unassailable nature. An integral element of that moral economy is displacement of the critique of the invidious outcomes produced by capitalist class power onto equally naturalized categories of ascriptive identity that sort us into groups supposedly defined by what we essentially are rather than what we do. As I have argued, following Walter Michaels and others, within that moral economy a society in which 1% of the population controlled 90% of the resources could be just, provided that roughly 12% of the 1% were black, 12% were Latino, 50% were women, and whatever the appropriate proportions were LGBT people. It would be tough to imagine a normative ideal that expresses more unambiguously the social position of people who consider themselves candidates for inclusion in, or at least significant staff positions in service to, the ruling class.

        This perspective may help explain why, the more aggressively and openly capitalist class power destroys and marketizes every shred of social protection working people of all races, genders, and sexual orientations have fought for and won over the last century, the louder and more insistent are the demands from the identitarian left that we focus our attention on statistical disparities and episodic outrages that “prove” that the crucial injustices in the society should be understood in the language of ascriptive identity.

      2. Insouciant Iowan

        Thanks for the Adolf Reed link. I missed it years ago. Still very relevant. A powerful critique from a great Marxist analyst.
        We’re having some volatile exchanges in Iowa regarding trans-kids and gender-affirming care. Republicans are doing their ham-handed best to deal with the tangle of issues as poorly as possible. Democrats, who are now a microscopic minority, have taken this up with a vengeance, as if it is a party builder.

        1. polar donkey

          I used to be able to talk to populist rural republicans along class lines. Fair pay, decent healthcare and housing, and affordable education. This transgender stuff just shuts people down. If democrats still wanted to talk about meat and potato politics, it isn’t going to work if the same politicians are talking about transgender rights. People get upset when a biological male gets to crush biological females in sports, or see kids can’t go to tanning salon in California even with a parent but can get surgeries and off-label drugs for transitioning. Parents REALLY lose their minds having drag queens read to kids at the library and then do an all age drag show. A local museum tried to have an all age drag show in Memphis, black people and white people showed up with guns to stop it. If you wanted to stop any New Deal type traditional democratic policies dead in its tracks just talk about gender/transgender issues.

    1. Skip Intro

      It is a powerful inversion of reality: Race, which is 200 year-old pseudoscience becomes essential while gender, which is imprinted in every cell, is made fluid. What better way of subjugating bodies to social order? Confusing social gender roles with physical gender traits is completely understandable, but ‘treating’ dysmorphia by changing the latter rather than the former also gives primacy to social constructs over cellular realities.

      I think Idiocracy was visionary here… brought to you by Carl’s Jr

      1. plurabelle

        I think the word you’re looking for is sex. Gender originated as a euphemism for sex, but then was utilised by a Dr John Money (‘expert’ on/butcher of intersex infants) to refer to psychological adjustment to the superior (male) or inferior (female) role in a sexist society. See his biography “The Man Who Invented Gender”.

        This distinction between sex and gender was then appropriated by second-wave feminists who were trying to point out that these sex roles were socially constructed. These feminists were trying to abolish gender (in the sense of inferior and superior roles for the two sex castes), not to make it more “fluid”. The idea of gender fluidity is similar to the idea of “colour blindness” as a solution to racism. They’re both liberal ideas heavily criticised by feminists and anti-racists.

        Race is based on ancestry, which is absolutely physical/biological. You can’t identify as being Black (having relatively recent African ancestry) if you are White (have relatively recent European ancestry), or vice versa. That’s not a feeling, that’s a material reality, beyond our control, something we do not choose.

        Both gender and race are thus pseudo-sciences:

        This is early modern race science – very influential and respected scientists of their day:

        “The Americanus: red, choleric, upright; black, straight, thick hair; nostrils flared; face beat; beardless; stubborn, zealous, free; painting himself with red lines, and regulated by customs.[26]
        The Europeanus: white, sanguine, fleshy; with yellowish, long hair; blue eyes; gentle, acute, inventive; covered with close vestments; and governed by laws.[27]
        The Asiaticus: yellow, melancholic, stiff; black hair, dark eyes; austere, haughty, greedy; covered with loose clothing; and ruled by opinions.[28]
        The Afer or Africanus: black, phlegmatic, relaxed; black, frizzled hair; silky skin, flat nose, tumid lips; females without shame; mammary glands give milk abundantly; sly, lazy, negligent; anoints himself with grease; and governed by caprice.[29]”

        “The more intelligent and noble people are by nature, the more adaptable, sensitive, delicate, and soft is their body; on the other hand, the less they possess the capacity and disposition towards virtue, the more they lack adaptability; and not only that, but the less sensitive are their bodies, the more can they tolerate extreme pain or the rapid alteration of heat and cold; when they are exposed to illnesses, the more rapid their recovery from wounds that would be fatal for more sensitive peoples, and the more they can partake of the worst and most indigestible foods … without noticeable ill effects.”

        “They seem to require less sleep. A black, after hard labor through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection… Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to the whites; in reason much inferior, as I think one [black] could scarcely be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and anomalous… I advance it therefore as a suspicion only, that the blacks, whether originally a distinct race, or made distinct by time and circumstances, are inferior to the whites in the endowments both of body and mind.”

        “I will not wait for the friends of equality to show me such and such passages in books written by missionaries or sea captains, who declare some Wolof is a fine carpenter, some Hottentot a good servant, that a Kaffir dances and plays the violin, that some Bambara knows arithmetic… Let us leave aside these puerilities and compare together not men, but groups.”

        This is early modern gender science – very influential and respected scientists of their day:

        “We might ask if the small size of the female brain depends exclusively upon the small size of her body. Tiedemann has proposed this explanation. But we must not forget that women are, on the average, a little less intelligent than men, a difference which we should not exaggerate but which is, nonetheless, real. We are therefore permitted to suppose that the relatively small size of the female brain depends in part upon her physical inferiority and in part upon her intellectual inferiority.”

        “The man who fights for two or more in the struggle for existence, who has all the responsibility and the cares of tomorrow, who is constantly active in combating the environment and human rivals, needs more brain than the woman whom he must protect and nourish, the sedentary woman, lacking any interior occupations, whose role is to raise children, love, and be passive.”

        “In the most intelligent races, as among the Parisians, there are a large number of women whose brains are closer in size to those of gorillas than to the most developed male brains. This inferiority is so obvious that no one can contest it for a moment; only its degree is worth discussion. All psychologists who have studied the intelligence of women, as well as poets and novelists, recognize today that they represent the most inferior forms of human evolution and that they are closer to children and savages than to an adult, civilized man. They excel in fickleness, inconstancy, absence of thought and logic, and incapacity to reason. Without doubt there exist some distinguished women, very superior to theaverage man, but they are as exceptional as the birth of any monstrosity, as, for example, of a gorilla with two heads; consequently, we may neglect them entirely.

        A desire to give them the same education, and, as a consequence, to propose the same goals for them, is a dangerous chimera …. The day when, misunderstanding the inferior occupations which nature has given her, women leave the home and take part in our battles; on this day a social revolution will begin, and everything that maintains the sacred ties of the family will disappear.”

        Both race and gender (pseudo-)science are thriving in academic institutions today.

          1. JBird4049

            Hmm. In anthropology gender and sex are two different things and gender is used differently than in the very narrow European or Western civilization terms.

            A person’s sex is their biological, physical sex of either male or female, which is what almost everyone is born with; there are exceptions, but they are rare, and for practical purposes you are either conventionally male or female.

            In cultural anthropology, person gender is a social construct, not a biological description or category with the Western world being weird in historically having only the two of man and woman. Most societies outside of the west have more than two with them sometimes having no direct correlation with sexual attraction or orientation, but instead of marriage, age, and social position or occupation.

            Keep in mind that these divisions are often very well defined and are not determined by the person being labeled says they are, but by what others see them doing, or by their noted physical, age, social, even religious attributes. And again, often has little, or only partially, to do with one’s biology with the categories often strictly enforced or at least strongly accepted.

            I am harping on the differences between the conventional, essentially conservative, Western/European/American ideas of male/female, man/woman duality and nothing else as very unusual and the free floating whatever say, liquid modernity on steroids, is also very unusual.

            Further, the former is less dangerous than the latter as while the ultra conservative duality of western convention is overly tight or restraining, as well as very damaging, it still leaves a firm base to respond to; the latter’s lack of anything firm, of any categories that touches on upon widely agreed and accepted categories, but only whatever an individual or marketing campaign says it is, leaves nothing to build upon. And a society is a construct created from agreement.

            No agreement, no society, and probably a totalitarian society will arise, if for no other reasons than the elites can use such a fluid nonsociety to gain power unopposed because of the disempowerment of the baseless masses, or an authoritarian, if not totalitarian, government will take over to give the social order most people need just to survive. That the order imposed will probably be even more strict than of previous western societies will be the result of the new order’s need for absolute control.

            I am also saying all this not because I agree or disagree with any particular agreed upon categories of gender, but, to restate what I just said, because the desire or need by some to fill some inner emptiness, and the usefulness to the others for gaining wealth and power, is destroying even the minimum needed of agreed upon social rules for a functioning society; society will most likely either become so disordered as to allow an authoritarian/totalitarian society ruled by a hidden elite under a façade of anarchy or an extremely socially conservative authoritarian/totalitarian society ruled by an elite ostensibly for our own good.

            People live in a society and a society needs at least some generally agreed upon rules to function and survive especially those that allow the creation and maintenance of successive generations while giving the individual, their families, and friends meaning and purpose however limited. Coca-Cola the Brand is not it. However, it is a nice weapon to gain power that might also help to destroy the planet.

              1. JBird4049

                What is the issue?

                Too long, too disorganized, too disconnected from the post, weird or strange, or just completely discombobulated? Or even just wrong?

                I do tend to wander. So tell me.

            1. Cetra Ess

              I would disagree that gender fluidity is or will lead to a breakdown of social rules, which in turn will lead to totalitarianism/authoritarianism/anarchy. I see it as just replacing one set of social rules with a different and improved set.

              Also, I would disagree that anarchy = lack of social rules or even governance.

              By way of example, the state or corporation, or money, is a construct, like the gender binary, which we like to pretend exists in the world. In pretending and participating in the pretense we create the intersubjective “reality” of the thing. Any aspect of this “reality” is adjustable, it’s all a shared and negotiated understanding.

              But even within the framework, you can look at how science has thus far discovered 11 senses, not 5. Arguing that we must stick with 5 because of social rules would be strange, I don’t see a lot of people getting offended by 11, there seems to be more acceptance of this change/shift of understanding.

              1. semper loquitur

                “I see it as just replacing one set of social rules with a different and improved set.”

                Improved how, exactly? Like your DEI? Another ersatz social phenomenon that ends up supporting the overclasses.

                “By way of example, the state or corporation, or money, is a construct, like the gender binary, which we like to pretend exists in the world. In pretending and participating in the pretense we create the intersubjective “reality” of the thing. Any aspect of this “reality” is adjustable, it’s all a shared and negotiated understanding.”

                What’s missing here is that all of these constructs have a basis in consensus, “material”, reality. There is no state without the weapons to protect and extend it. The land to define it’s borders. There is no corporation if there are no incorporated with no assets. There is no money without, at a minimum, some zeros and ones somewhere. And there is no gender binary without something, namely biological sex, to present a binary in the first place. Consensus reality is where performativity becomes something more than the intellectual flatulence of cut-rate academics…

                1. Cetra Ess

                  There are no actual borders on land, these are figments of our imaginations. And corporations are the momentums of their discrete parts. States are corporations with the geopolitical landscapes and borders constantly shifting.

                  Apart from that I don’t think we disagree, I think the consensus is changing and material reality is in flux. I’m Gen X but work with Millennials and Gen Z’s and it’s quite stark how the new material reality is a foregone conclusion, the gender binary is on its way out. It doesn’t bother me or impact me in any way, other than the embarassment which results when I accidentally misgender someone, but that’s the same embarassment as when I mispronounce someone’s name – I just learn the correct pronunciation. I don’t see a convincing reason not to go with the flow.

                  1. semper loquitur

                    Because it’s contrary to consensus reality, not to mention driven by malignant forces as has been well documented here. It’s a misuse of the concept of “gender”. Gender is not sex. Pronouns refer to sexual traits. And it’s harming children. I don’t pander to such dreck.

                    No material reality has changed. It’s all language games, courtesy of the idiocies of the Derridas, Foucaults, and Butlers of the world. Intellectual degenerates.

                    Borders are not “figments of our imagination”, they are legal entities, mental objects, a complex of laws and traditions and they always have a physical component. Like a fence. Or a shoreline. Or the nation or state or backyard they delineate. Without those things, the concept would be empty of meaning. Can you imagine the border of nothingness? Just because they shift doesn’t mean they aren’t real, it just means they shift.

                    Corporations have consensus reality components as well, they are a legal entity, a mental object, with possessions in consensus reality. Like factories and buildings. And people who are incorporated. Can you imagine a corporation without the incorporated?

                    Believe me, we couldn’t disagree more.

            2. french75

              > Most societies outside of the west have more than two with them sometimes having no direct correlation with sexual attraction or orientation, but instead of marriage, age, and social position or occupation.

              A statement like this is all the better for specific examples.

    2. Alex

      How social status shapes race

      To examine changes over time in racial classification and self-identification, we analyze data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), which contains multiple measures of interviewer-classified and self-identified race over a twenty-year period. In each survey year between 1979 and 1998, NLSY interviewers were instructed to record their assessment of whether respondents were “White,” “Black,” or “Other” at the end of the interview. Respondents also self-reported their race in 2 years: In 1979 they were asked for their ‘origin or descent,’ and in 2002 they were asked whether they were of Hispanic origin and the ‘race or races’ they considered themselves to be.

      We begin by examining changes in racial classification, an often overlooked aspect of race that is nevertheless important because discrimination presumably rests on how people are perceived by others (4). Twenty percent of the 12,686 individuals in the sample experienced at least one change in how they were racially classified by interviewers over the 19-year period. This degree of fluidity is surprising because the United States is typically characterized as having uniquely rigid racial boundaries (5). Yet, the variation is clearly illustrated by the respondents’ racial classification histories: If we represent being classified as white, black or other in a given year by the letters w, b, and o respectively, we see that some people are consistently classified over time (wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww) or have only one discrepant classification (wwwwwwwwwwwwbwwww), whereas other people vary considerably over time (wwoooowwbbbobobwo) or experience a shift in their racial classification at some point (bbbbbwwbwwwwwwwww). It is possible that these changes could be the result of coding mistakes made by the interviewers; for example, where interviewers meant to record “White” but mistakenly recorded “Black.” However, we find that changes in respondents’ gender classification, which was also recorded by interviewers at the end of the survey, occur in just 0.27% of the cases. The much higher percentage of changes in racial classification from year-to-year (6%) suggests that the variation cannot be attributed to coding mistakes alone.
      To assess whether these changes in racial classification are related to differences in social status, we focus our analysis on the likelihood of being classified by an interviewer as white (Fig. 1A) or black (Fig. 1B). Fig. 1A reports the percentage of individuals who were classified as white in the previous year who are perceived to be white in the current year for three indicators of socioeconomic status: incarceration, unemployment, and poverty. Fig. 1B shows the same comparison for individuals who were classified as black. We find that individuals who were classified as white in the previous year are less likely to be seen as white if they are currently incarcerated, unemployed, or have household incomes below the poverty line. For example, among respondents who were classified as white in the previous year (Fig. 1A), 96% of nonincarcerated respondents are classified as white the following year, whereas only 90% of incarcerated respondents are still seen as white.

      Already happened. Because social constructs like race and gender can never have any truly comprehensive definition, those at the margins will always exist in a fluid role. However, they are always structured to some degree by class.

      1. semper loquitur


        Just because we don’t have a comprehensive definition of either man or woman, because nature is complex and oftentimes messy and we are limited beings, it does not then follow that there are no sets of differences that allow us to group men and women separately. We don’t have comprehensive definitions of chimps and humans but no one would claim the two are on a spectrum. And, in fact it is the fact that those on the edges exhibit traits that overlap both groups that help us to delineate those groups. What defines that overlap? It’s because they share sexual traits from either group. Not everyone shares sexual traits from either group; those individuals can safely be classified separately and they are the vast majority.

  3. Ignacio

    Didn’t see there anything about the bully genre, idiotic genre, boring genre, bored genre, the smart, the egocentric, the runner, the gymnastic, biker, scuba diver, dancer, rower, dull, sarcastic, tragicomic etc.

    This is not inclusive.

    1. Stephen

      I guess a lot of these categories are not mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive in the time honoured consulting phrase.

      Perhaps a multi dimensional matrix or mosaic is needed. People can be in multiple categories. At the absolute limit, there are as many categories as there are people so this reduces to pure individualism.

      1. Ignacio

        The problem, Stephen is that I find al these genre, racial, age, religion, even politic qualifiers totally useless from the commercial point of view (let’s not start with the more important personal stuff). When I review amongst the people I know, or I interact with, all those divisions look worthless. For instance, the two Muslims I have for friends. One is from Syria, white, male and older than me. Very wise he is with an enjoyable conversation. There is another Senegalese Muslim, much younger, black as the night. I can speak with him frankly about several matters, even if he supports F.C. Barcelona (my gowd!) and I support Real Madrid. These two are quite different between themselves and a common commercial approach for them would almost certainly fail. In between my female friends a common commercial approach would mean total failure as if these could be qualified ‘similar’ because they are women. They are all too different in style, needs… A homosexual friend I have, it would be more useful to know he is a keen tennis player rather than his sexual preferences. Commercially the qualification of runners, skaters, bikers does make more sense for certain kinds of products and this is much better approach than gender, race, whatever. This ‘Get sertified‘ article makes some fun about all this.

      2. Bill W

        It is just hyper individualism which looks towards social justice movements for identity.

        It is just what Engels said of class in Das Kapital volume 3. There are as many classes as there are people. Since each person has a different existence and this contributes to variation to all our work even if we go by the same titles and roles.

        There are potential problems on the horizon. Identifying one self as a “non-human” calls into question the universal beliefs of our government institutions that we are all human.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Good points about the link between gender theory and commerce. Is our vaunted medical industry developing drugs and surgeries for Otherkins as well? A pill to turn you into a hairy ape rather than a naked one? Attaching an elephant’s trunk or a lemur’s tail? C’mon docs! There’s gold in them there delusions.

    1. hunkerdown

      I’m told the modern scheme of gender color-coding, and Western society’s slavish devotion to it, was developed to create demand for more children’s clothing and hinder its reusability. Before that, men wore pink as they saw fit, with no particular guile or shame, and most kids wore yellow.

      “For sale: Baby shoes. Wrong color.”

      1. OwlishSprite

        The TQs have taken ALL of the colors now. I will wear my lavender, green and white scarf anyway, in defiance.

  5. Stephen

    These social movements are a great deflection from issues of economic stagnation and rising inequality.

    I would be interested in the extent to which fluidity is associated with higher social class and more years in higher education. Working class people who leave school to become truck drivers at 18 might have less time to think about their identity. But I have not seen systematic evidence.

    As with anything there is a grey zone between tolerating something and actively promoting it. My instinct is that western society is increasingly in the latter mode. Therefore you get more of it. As you do when you promote anything, especially with the young. History is full of such examples: eg every Russian was allegedly a Communist under the USSR but today almost no one seems to be.

    Whether the increased reported trans and fluid identification was previously suppressed latent desire or people being influenced by social proof is not clear. It is a counter factual debate so any research will always be influenced by one’s ideological starting point.

    Fascinating but not surprising that corporates can make money from this at the same time as deflecting from economic inequality. It also creates an ideological difference with overseas foreign regimes that still think in terms of men and women. So this is also super useful for Neo Cons and war mongers.

    1. mrsyk

      Maybe a symptom as well (These social movements). I remember reading in Smilla’s Sense of Snow that the Greenland Inuit that there are 50 words for snow. Maester Google tells me there are 40-70 (thanks AI!).
      There are tomboyish girls, and there are boys (me!) who like them.
      The laws of science doesn’t give a f about self identified gender.
      The organization of thoughts can be found on the inner surface of a coffee cup’s bottom. I hope.

      1. OwlishSprite

        Yes! Save the Tomboys. One of my early pictures was me in a frilly dress wielding a baseball bat as tall as I was. But that did not make me wish I was not a woman. I was fine with that, and all this kerfuffle just makes me appreciate the feminine all the more, and dig in my heels.

        Oh, and Smilla’s Sense of Snow–what a wonderful book!

      2. Bjarne

        The Jews in Nazi Germany learned very quickly that self-identification didn’t mean a thing. Its what people think you are, and no one walks around looking at each other thinking, “oh look, an otherkin!” I wish it was a conspiracy theory but this stuff comes straight out of the MKUltra perv scene. Disaffected youth facing a mass media onslaught of the beautiful people and mass porn consumption, combined with the rot of academia and grand utopian visions. Many other elements as well… coming together to form a perfect storm of misery. I don’t think any of us got through adolescence unscathed. But that’s life. The supposed cure for the discomfort and awkward alienation of youth is worth than the disease.

      3. Revenant

        The Inuit do not have dozens of words for snow. This is a linguistic misperception. They have an agglutinative language which glues modifiers of inflections and suffixes onto a small number of root words.

        English would have many words for snow too if we wrote them as wetsnow, freshsnow, powderysnow, walkedthroughsnow, slushysnow etc.

        1. digi_owl

          Aka compound words, something that is also common for Germanic languages excluding English.

          And any nation that has to deal with snow and ice for a large portion of the year learns to distinguish between dry and wet snow etc, as the wet stuff is far more of a bother on a day to day basis.

          1. JEHR

            Well and good, plus the word Eskimo is not recognized by the North People. We make a lot of insinuations and create beliefs that do not hold much water. Makes it hard to know the true from the false which becomes harder and harder the longer we live.

            1. OwlishSprite

              These are academics. The Inuits did not write a paper. If you read this excerpt, you would know that the author admitted they did not have a definitive knowledge of the subject, just hearsay. Anthropologists are either the scum of the earth or you can glean *something* from their efforts, or both.

        2. mikkel

          It’s more radical than this. Indigenous languages are almost uniformly focused on relationships rather than objects, meaning that about 75% of their words are verbs/adverbs rather than in Indo-European languages where 75% are nouns/adjectives.

          Therefore a more accurate translation tends to be something around usage, history or analogy, rather than quality.

          Sure enough I looked up the Inuit roots and among them are whether the snow is falling, its location, whether it’s used for drinking, the time of year it arises and so forth.

          I find indigenous anguages fascinating because area specific functional knowledge is built directly into the vocabulary. If you were to learn an indigenous language fluently without ever being on the land, you’d have a great foundation to live off it immediately.

          Of course the counter argument by most indigenous teachers is that it is impossible to become fluent, because you cannot separate the land from the language. Which is both true and also has deep implications for cultural preservation amongst the diaspora.

        3. britzklieg

          I believe there are several words for “rain” in Japanese but rather than compound they are onomatopoeic, they sound like the type of rain that is occurring… working from memory here and too lazy to look it up just now, but, as an example, I think the word for a soft, misty rain is something like “susuru.”

          I could be wrong about all of the above.

          1. El Slobbo

            Susuru (啜る) is indeed onomatopoeic, but it means to sip, to slurp, and on occasion to sniffle. Come to think of it, all those English words are also onomatopoeic.

        4. Don

          I would characterize “wetsnow, freshsnow, powderysnow, walkedthroughsnow, slushysnow” as five words for snow, and could easily accept adding 45 more (crustysnow, fluffysnow…?) to reach 50, and not consider it as cheating.

    2. mikkel

      On the contrary, there is a strong correlation between LGBT and poverty rates.

      They are also much less likely to be college educated

      And this is just about trans-identity. For sexuality there was a long time disparity between identity which tended to be associated with higher socioeconomic status and race and behavior, which was independent.

      I know that it doesn’t seem this way but it’s because the media and our culture at large dictates that we only talk about one frame at a time, so white and pmc dominates the queer discourse even though it’s a minority. It’s all the service and blue collar workers who face existential discrimination who get left out.

      1. Fred

        The link does not say that tho.
        1, you dont get access to the paper from the link.
        2, the reasearch only seemsto compare men and trans identified women who would not have the same economic profile anyway?

    3. Grayce

      An interesting observation about Communists under USSR structure. Even that was likely “fluid,” that is, some people were true believers and others were simply members of a group whose leaders held specific societal beliefs. When the USSR structure went away, perhaps some just tore up their membership cards.
      To the grey zone of tolerating v. promoting, you could add believing or generating.

  6. Lambert Strether

    “Classification struggles.” Over everything but class. So self-interested — at least for selves that “identify as” oligarchs — that it would be irresponsible not to speculate that there was some sort of agenda at play, not necessarily the visible one.

    1. OwlishSprite

      Immortality? Maybe someone thinks if you break all the ‘rules’ you can escape death too. Those oligarchs seem to have a terror of death.

      1. hunkerdown

        Elites in any society are forward-looking. They don’t get free stuff and recognition unless the society they ride upon is stable, functional, and productive in the ways that make that possible. It’s their business to create and manage the conditions that lead to those possibilities. If not immortality for their own embodiments, then fame for their names and their deeds will do. However, rabbles can do Damnatio memoriae too.

        1. OwlishSprite

          Hmmm. Well, if you have a strong stomach, you can check out Yuval Noah Harari and ‘hackable humans.’ And don’t overlook Martine Rothblatt.

          “Dr. Yuval Noah Harari is a seeker of the Fountain of Youth and immortality for humans — elite humans. Harari declares, “The leading project of the Scientific Revolution is to give humankind eternal life.” (from publishedreporter[dot]com)

          1. c_heale

            Hariri’s book Sapiens is one of the worst books I have read, for his complete misunderstanding of the topics he writes about. He at one point states that ammonia can be made from air using the Haber process. Since the Haber process requires hydrogen which is not present in air, this is completely incorrect (I studied chemistry). He could have found this out by looking at wikipedia. His assertion that before money everyone used barter is also disputed. As for the singularity nonsense he writes about… he has no idea at all of the problems which would have to solved to make this reality.

            He is a lazy author. Which for someone who is writing a non-fiction book is unforgivable.

          2. lyman alpha blob

            Harari ought to read Huxley’s novel about elite humans seeking immortality – After Many a Summer Dies the Swam. It does have a rather dreary ending if you are an elite human, but it’s pretty happy one if you are not a narcissistic plutocrat!

    2. Stephen

      I agree.

      Growing up in the U.K. in the 70s pretty much every cultural experience such as a TV show, film or book included some form of exploration of social class. Class tension was even manufactured at times: eg in the film Zulu the two British commanding officers are portrayed as one being upper class versus the other being pseudo working class which was completely contrary to the historical reality. Much comedy was about people seeking to be in a social class that they were not. There were also genuine sympathetic portrayals of working class people in popular culture. Interestingly, this was against a background of less economic inequality than today. It has all gone out of the window in favour of identity politics. When you rewatch films from that error they feel like historical time pieces.

      I guess a key subliminal driver is to get working class people of different “identities” to forget their class identity and solidarity.

    3. Mark Gisleson

      One has to hope there is a hidden agenda at work as the overt agenda is some of the most profoundly toxic campaign strategizing I’ve ever seen. Ignoring class skews everything about the Democrat party from the leadership to the rank and file, class avoidance perverts their platform and distorts their “brand.”

      You cannot easly target newly identified niche voters, many of whom have very fluid thoughts about what’s going on with their bodies and minds and little else in common. Democrats assume everyone is happy with their nonbinary state, make zero effort to call for a review of food additives, additional water testing, the impact of social media on young brains, etc., etc., etc.

      Astronomers discovered the outer planets by calculating orbits and discovering variables they couldn’t explain but which suggested the presence of still more planets. That’s our current political system. Political orbits are fairly stable (generationally speaking) but our “leaders” orbits are quite wobbly, almost as if there was a large invisible political force pulling on our leaders while gravitationally siphoning off [all our money/precious bodily fluids/autonimy].

      For lack of a better name, I’d call this political planetoid Mammon. It has multiple rings, moons and bank branches, and exerts a tidal (sucking) pull on our financial markets. Mammon is secretly worshipped by our leaders. Mammonians, in addition to being squid-funneled vampires, each possess over 100 different genders, all of which like to be on top.

    4. fresno dan

      Over everything but class.
      the only thing verboten to talk about is that people with money determine what is talked about, and more importantly, what is NOT talked about. So why you hardly have money and they have almost all the money naturally is never to be talked about…

  7. Random BSN Student

    How many trans people are there in a labor & delivery room? It’s strange to have to say this, but some extremely important things come down to biology, which is why the trans identity movement falls short for some feminists. People have different material needs which spring from biological sex. Child-bearing and lactating mothers and biological women have different economic and medical needs than biological men and transwomen. These needs are already ignored and belittled under capitalism. Now we have an entire youth culture movement piling on.

    I’ve also seen a growing trend where medical web sites refer to “people assigned female at birth” for medical conditions that affect biological women, when it is irrelevant what their culture assigned them at birth because the condition is predicated on biological sex (example). I have to roll my eyes. This kind of language is misleading to laypeople and has no place in websites that are supposedly meant to inform. If “Otherkin” takes off, are these websites going to talk about people “assigned human at birth”?

    1. jan


      it’s about four times more likely to develop in people assigned female at birth compared to people assigned male at birth

      Makes me wonder, who did the assignment, at birth, and how?

    2. mrsyk

      “but some extremely important things come down to biology, which is why the trans identity movement falls short for some feminists. ” Like/Additionally men (trans women) invading their space and sanctuary and commandeering their agency.

          1. vao

            Would you mind explaining the meaning of all the abbreviations you rely upon — TQ, AGP, LGB? I got LGB, but the others are really obscure to me.

            1. Fred

              TQ – Trans Queer.
              AGP – Autogynophile (a man who has the paraphillia of getting sexually aroused by the thought of themselfs as a woman)
              LGB – Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual
              TIM/TIF – Trans identified male/trans identified female.

        1. Etrigan

          In the years to come, if we get there, these intensely queerphobic attempts at pseudo categorization and vicious acronyms are going to be looked upon as a historical embarrassment.

    3. mittimithai

      “…medical needs than biological men and transwomen”

      such ‘transwomen’ are biological men.

    4. Alex

      Which conditions that you refer to as predicated on biological sex are applicable to, for instance, both women with and without uteri but not trans women? Both women with and without endocrine disruptions but not trans women? As your own link says, women developing goiter is a trend, not an absolute. The simple fact is, sex is more a series of ranges than absolutes, and people are better served if their medical providers are given knowledge as to what they have overall. If a woman has characteristics that make her less likely to develop it or a man those that make him more likely to, then they are better served as individuals than as a member of their sex. Your system only makes sense to you because it is what you are most familiar with, yet it breaks down when faced with margin cases and outliers. Jettisoning it does not harm women in any way, and in fact helps to preserve their dignity in cases where they may be lacking something we traditionally believe makes up womanhood.

      1. semper loquitur


        You have committed the univariant fallacy:

        or a version of it, where the demand is to find the one thing that differentiates a man and a woman. Your example of women with or without uteri versus trans identified men ignores the fact that there is a constellation of differences between the sexes. Not having a uterus doesn’t mean a woman is a potential man, somehow, there are plenty of other differences. You then say that sex is a series of ranges, which has some truth to it, but there are two distinct sets of ranges with a bit of overlap, not one big range. If graphed, biological sex would present as a kind of dumbbell shape with a skinny, pinched middle, your version would just be one long range of gradual differentiation, skipping over the fact that the individuals on the borders of each group are a tiny fraction of the population.

  8. OwlishSprite

    I am trying to have a sense of humor about this, and failing miserably. And I could have sworn that my recently elected House Rep was a proud Lesbian when she was in the State Leg., but wouldn’t you know it, after about a $1 mil campaign ad contribution to her House run by the LGBTQ Victory Fund Federal PAC, Ms. Balint came out as Queer to the Washington Blade.

    Balint’s campaign manager told Seven Days that neither Balint nor any of her campaign staff had met or heard of the cryptocurrency executive who made the donation to the Victory Fund, and denounced this type of campaign spending — allowed under the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision — as problematic.

    Her Twitter account covers all the bases, but she is pretty much an activist for LGBTQ, and her comment threads are not positive. And now she says she is a gay mom again.

    The good news about the World Athletics restricting female competition to females cheered me up considerably. The women have taken to wearing suffragette colors. Kelly Jay Keen is on the job, and women are the bad guys again. LOL

  9. The Rev Kev

    I’m going to take a guess and say that most of the world tends to be conservative in values and have little tolerance for these sort of gender games. Places like Africa, South America, Asia. Sure there may be a lot of tolerance of different genders in some places here like in Thailand but not to the extent where they are happy with western countries trying to push these ideas in their countries. Not every country for example is happy for foreign Embassies to fly the pride flag-

    And I am willing to bet that those Global South countries see the connection with gender and companies clearer than we do.

    1. Mikel

      Rev, I think human history is filled with exploration of gender roles.
      But what’s going on now like an intentional fragmenting of minds.

      Then to read:
      “As gender’s boundaries melt away, it’s evolving to become a construct which doesn’t necessarily even need to map to human characteristics…”

      In the end, I don’t think this is going to empowering for anyone.

    2. mikkel

      I would say the exact opposite, or rather that the cultural memory of their gender spectrum is much more recent in those countries because colonialism is what killed it. On the surface it doesn’t seem that way but like anything recent converts are the most dogmatic.

      In many of those cultures, there is a strong overlap between those who seek to preserve/rediscover their cultural heritage and queerness. Those stories are easy enough to find.

      Because of this I expect the global south and far east will be the first to reclaim gender in a coherent way.

      1. digi_owl

        Funny, my impression is that colonialism more often reinvigorated near discarded ideas in the colonies. This because they were potent tools to divide the local population and fuel an infighting that protected the smaller colonist group. For example I swear i read a claim somewhere that hindu castes were nearly gone when the English established control over India.

        1. mikkel

          You are correct in the sense that colonialism universalized when that was beneficial and fragmented when not.

          Exacerbating tribal tensions was done in conjunction with imposing a European derived definition of “civility.” Of course the English in particular used this to divide and conquer, but it also had the effect of providing a way for the colonized individuals to escape: by adopting the invading worldview as the proper one. I have had fascinated conversations with friends about how this personally affects them on a personal and all encompassing level, even in heritages were don’t think about as colonized such as the Chinese.

          Queerness was always attacked though, it’s not like there was any society where that was common enough to be a useful tribal marker.

    3. mikkel

      I’d actually say the exact opposite, or rather that the cultural memory of the gender spectrum is more recent in those cultures because colonialism is what originally killed it. It doesn’t seem that way on the surface but that’s only because recent converts are always the most fanatical.

      In many of those countries there is a strong overlap between movements to persevere/reclaim the culture and queerness. In part because queerness drives the individuals to question the existing state and in part because queer people traditionally had the role of keeping sacred knowledge.

      For this reason, I believe that the trend towards deglobalization will lead to a look towards the past and the global south/far east will actually become coherent on gender far sooner than the west.

      1. plurabelle

        This argument is appropriating and misusing colonised cultures for a Western neo-liberal agenda, as well as a heavy dose of the racist Noble Savage trope. “Queerness” has nothing to do with Third World cultures, it is a product of late capitalism through and through. (I am Indian)

        1. mikkel

          I accept your point and believe I alluded to it in a comment below talking about how it’s impossible to categorize gender in indigenous societies because there is so much variation from one to another. I agree it’s colonialist to try.

          I read the linked blog post about how some tribes didn’t have any such concepts and how it could be related to whether they were patriarchal or not. I will accept that too, the theme of all my comments being that I believe gender expression/identity is fundamentally a social construct, even while I also believe that there are universal biological tendencies that make some percentage of the population more likely to have varying levels of feminine/masculine qualities (whatever that means)

          That said, I stand by my assertion that in many cultures, particularly in the Pacific but also elsewhere, there is a recognized “queerness,” that they had an outsized role in preserving cultural knowledge and that they are quiet leaders in reclaiming cultural identity. Why can I say this? Because I’ve talked to them both about themselves and their friends in other cultures.

          I didn’t mean to sound like I was saying every indigenous culture was like this, it is a struggle to figure out how to articulate specifity vs generalizations in comments. I’ll try to improve

    4. Thuto

      A friend who works as a research medical anthropologist for a company mostly funded by western donors says the donors insistence that research interviews with members of rural communities here in South Africa include questions about which gender they identify as (and the choices given are 26 in number) is creating a challenge because it’s leaving people bewildered and stumped, and it’s usually all downhill from there (imagine a tribesman or chief of the local tribe being asked what gender he identifies as). It started with requests from donors that email signatures include gender pronouns in order to avoid mistakenly “misgendering” colleagues then in short order the neologisms and the phraseology of the cultural vanguard started showing up in research questionnaires meant for interaction with, I repeat, rural communities (“civilizing the natives” rearing its ugly head again). That’s why countries in the global south are pushing back against what they see as foreign values being pushed down their throats, and why cultural sovereignty will be a pillar of the emerging multipolar world.

      1. Stephen

        I agree with the Global South and suspect that Chinese business people seeking deals do not trouble people with these questions.

        Ultimately, the west is behaving in as imperialist a way as it used to. Whatever values we have decided are the universal truth at this precise moment need to be followed by everyone else, like it or not. Of course, as late as the 1960s much LBGT behavior was illegal in many western countries so these are not universal values given that human history is millennia old.

        It’s an update on nineteenth century missionaries pushing various religions onto people. We have no right to push our values and latest fads on the world via coercion.

        1. Thuto

          Agreed, cultural diversity in the world is something to be cherished instead of extinguished via the projection of western values as universal by the radical, totalitarian elements now fronting western liberalism.

      2. mikkel

        Knowing plenty of indigenous peoples from around the world, many of whom are queer, it’s not preposterous at all to me to wonder about their gender identity.

        What is preposterous is that you could have them choose it from a list. The cultural nuances are too subtle to categorize even among those with the same lineage–Polynesians for example had differences island to island–let alone a western perspective.

        This is because gender has a cultural function. I’ve seen indigenous queer people trade knowledge about their identity in the way that they might share about subtle differences in growing crops.

        1. Thuto

          While I’m sympathetic to your perspective on this, I can guarantee you that asking a Zulu chief or tribal headman in deep rural Kwazulu Natal what he identifies as will get you run out of the village, and that will be the least of it. If your objective is to conduct research on and in rural communities here in SA, and I spent a good part of my formative years in one, and my friend travels the length and breadth of this country interacting with them, you’ll be best served by operating within the confines of what they deem normal, even if your inclination is to believe said confines are narrow and necessitate widening via cultural retraining.

          1. mikkel

            Fair enough. As I commented above to someone who challenged me, I totally accept you can’t generalize indigenous cultures. If this isn’t part of their culture then it’s not part of their culture. I think it should be understood, accepted and respected.

            What I’m trying to communicate in my comments in general is that speculating isn’t required, just talk to people and suspend judgement. I don’t know anything about Zulu or other SA tribes so I can imagine doing mutual sharing about gender.

            But yeah that survey was eye rolling and an example of why I find those orgs insufferable

        2. Fred

          Can I ask, what do you mean when you refer to gender?

          Like literally what are you refering to?

          You cant mean sex, as there are only two of those.

          You cant mean sexist stereo types as these generally are confined to the west, so what are you refering to?

            1. Wukchumni

              I X-dress sometimes trying to gild the lily by appearing to be the younger genderation.

              I’ll get henna tats and cast aspersions at Baby Boomers for messing everything up.

    5. c_heale

      The anti-homosexuality laws like those recently passed in Uganda are really sad.

      For me the problen is that trans rights have been hijacked by politicians, and people with a divisive agenda and this in turn has led to a backlash from anti LGBT etc., politicians and bigots.

      It’s similar to the people who claim to belong to tribes and particular ethnicities who have no real claim to these origins. Unsurprisingly, most of them have done it for personal gain (monetary or political).

  10. mrsyk

    @OwlishSprite Color that with the fact that she ran on a shriek soundtrack militant “Jan 6 Treason!’ one plank platform.

    1. OwlishSprite

      She plunged headfirst into the DNC Blob, all right. Whatever ya gotta do to be the ‘first woman…’, right?

      1. aletheia33

        thanks to both of you for the info.
        i had suspected this but have not followed her trajectory closely.

  11. Lex

    I think brands are leveraging rather than creating. I would humbly suggest the trend is more a result of late Liberalism and the above all else quest for individual identity.

    All of these classifications of gender and sexual orientation have always been with us. More or less tolerated in ancient cultures but consistently represented in myth in some way. The modern proliferation is the only difference. I have a Gen Z niece who’s bisexual though didn’t become such until her very early 20’s. Her younger sibling is at least gender fluid if not trans. The niece has explained to me that being bi became very popular when she was in HS and now being gender fluid/trans is very popular (about 7 years between them).

    But these kids have no hope. They’ve never known a world that wasn’t the worst sort of mess. They understand the climate will be a mess their whole lives. Politics is pointless. They’ve seen multiple economic crises without the tools to understand them so they just feel them. The only thing they have, really, is a chance to declare “I am” in some way. So they do. They’re influenced by peers and rebellious desires like any other generation in youth. Brands want to build loyal customers for life so they reach out as early as possible and act as a multiplier. The brands fighting for an ever decreasing slice of society’s disposable income.

    I don’t question how the people identifying however they identify. All I care about is that my “nieces” love themselves, a task getting progressively harder. I fear for them in a world where it becomes harder and harder to live one’s self as it gets more atomized into destructive individualism inherent in the liberal world order.

    1. digi_owl

      I keep finding myself thinking about Chinese eunuchs when this comes up. As i seem to recall reading the claim that at some point during the later years of the empire, men would have their genitals removed in order to have access to the prestige and resources of the imperial court. This because China overall was in massive decline, and it was an act of desperation.

      1. mikkel

        Why do you make the assertion about it being a function of decline? Eunuchs having political power was a common pattern in many empires at all stages of success.

        I just looked it up and Wikipedia has quite a list of historical figures including advisors to Alexander the Great and so forth.

        In the ottoman empire in particular, many eunuchs played a part in its ascendancy, including as generals. (The Ottoman Empire is particularly fascinating to me as being the epitome of integrating people from all regions and social roles into high positions in return for rejecting their homeland.)

        I don’t know much about Chinese eunuchs in particular but considering the Wikipedia list mentions several during various periods I’d bet it has nothing to do with the underlying state of the empire.

    2. Rolf

      But these kids have no hope. They’ve never known a world that wasn’t the worst sort of mess. They understand the climate will be a mess their whole lives. Politics is pointless. They’ve seen multiple economic crises without the tools to understand them so they just feel them. The only thing they have, really, is a chance to declare “I am” in some way. So they do. They’re influenced by peers and rebellious desires like any other generation in youth. Brands want to build loyal customers for life so they reach out as early as possible and act as a multiplier. The brands fighting for an ever decreasing slice of society’s disposable income.

      I don’t question how the people identifying however they identify. All I care about is that my “nieces” love themselves, a task getting progressively harder. I fear for them in a world where it becomes harder and harder to live one’s self as it gets more atomized into destructive individualism inherent in the liberal world order.

      Agree strongly. Thank you for this great, compassionate post.

  12. Mac na Michomhairle

    I wonder if the whole thing is not mainly a further expression of classic Liberalism/Capitalism’s contention that the world is simply an arena in which self-maximizing, self-aggrandizing unique individuals make themselves by finding and expressing their unique self: combined with our system’s focus on identifying all possible markets, no matter how big or small, and supplying them for a profit? Another variety of the Financialization of gender in the ongoing Financialization of Identity? Financialization of adolescent search for self? The internet is a catalog from which you can pick your identity and now gender.

    I guess that’s pretty obvious, but the article crystallized it for me.

    I suspect the reason that this mostly involves the PMC is not only that they’re ones that have time and leisure for this, but because they are the ones who are able to live, and who do live, most fully in the Liberal/Capitalist universe.

  13. Carolinian

    Paging Adam Curtis. We’ve gone from the Century of the Self to the Century of Even More Self. It’s not that gender fluid is wrong–Gore Vidal, who spent a lot of time and experience on the topic of sex, said we are all to some extent bisexual–but more so what? If it’s normal then you don’t get to be special, complain about your victimhood, condemn others who don’t respect your “rights” etc.

    And you especially don’t get to condemn other peoples’ ideas of self such as religion or nationalism and bomb and shoot them. I have a friend who is gay and when I asked him whether he doesn’t also care about the epic slaughter we promote around the world he just shrugs. Gender is a movement that demands empathy while seemingly having none.

    But perhaps that’s simply my own prejudice. Still, it’s hard not to see this trend as little more than the Big Distraction.

    1. mrsyk

      “Gender is a movement that demands empathy while seemingly having none.” Good one. I’m using that. And it’s an idea that extends across much of western society’s clans and clubs. Not a good sign for its (western society’s) future.

    2. digi_owl

      It is effectively institutionalized narcissism, if not learned sociopathy.

      The system/society is so broken that the only way to get ahead is a kind of special pleading.

      What keeps fascinating me is that all of this seem to rise after the 2008 crisis, and in particular after the 2011 Occupy movement imploded.

  14. SteveB

    We frequent a local bar whose restrooms feature a picture of a squirrel on each door one has a small cache of acorns the other does not… They simple say Nuts and No Nuts over the squirrels….

    Seems simple enough…


    The biggest advantage for brands will be astroturfing these communities. The seeds are already in the ground for online enforcement by brainwashed/co-opted/non genuine people (see Covid, russiagate, hunter biden laptop, BLM) to stomp out free expression. It works all too easily. Why limit the domain to the political? Just like political “propaganda” became public relations after WWII to serve brands – same thing can happen here. If you identify as x then you must believe y or you’re not welcome here. You’re anti-identity-x. You’re banned. And here is your self-reinforcing-internet-advertising-algorithms-bubble to live in.

    It’s the famous Bill Hicks marketing rant on acid.

  16. Sibiryak

    1.6% of U.S. adults are transgender or nonbinary // 5.1% of U.S. adults younger than 30 now identify as trans or non-binary. –Pew Research

    Still, a long way to go.

  17. Chas

    A few days ago I listened to a NPR interview with parents of a 12-year-old child born male who they want to transition to a female. They didn’t say so, but I think they figured the child would be better off skipping being gay and going directly to being a female. That thinking is part of what’s behind this gender-change phenomenon, IMHO. I wished they had interviewed the child as well, but no. They had the kid on “puberty blockers” and I think the medical industry sees profits in gender changing and that’s another force behind the phenomenon.

      1. Chas

        Wow! That’s some powerful information. I had no idea the “transgender medical complex” is so far advanced. It is a scandal, as one of the authors said, and when the general public discovers what’s going on there will be anger.

          1. hunkerdown

            I suspect that allocation according to ambition rather than need is a general principle of PMC material distribution.

  18. KD

    Hard not to see the intersection of consumerism, narcissism and big medicine being that revolutionary movement of liberation for today. You have to hand it to the visionary billionaires bankrolling it.

  19. semper loquitur

    I wanted to comment on the article but it’s so chock full of idiocies masquerading as profundities that I literally don’t know where to begin. I think Lex has it right: the kids are confused and scared. The self is the only space left to exercise some autonomy. Of course, that exercise is being commodified as they conduct it. Meanwhile, the world continues to go to hell on the express line. It’s all so sad and depressing. Stupidest timeline ever.

      1. OwlishSprite

        “Those kids” only know what they have already been exposed to. And “kids” are by no means monolithic.

  20. mikkel

    As someone whose majority of friends are gender non-conforming in some way (some trans/nb but mostly cis who chaff under gender expectations) it’s incredible to me how insufferably ungrounded all the pop psychologizing is from their actual realities.

    I’m not even sure where to begin, other than to say if you’re actually interested in why and how gender identity is exploding it’s as simple as actually listening to people’s individual stories. To me they are quite clear… even when the journey is one of immense confusion there is clarity about the source of confusion.

    I have been reading NC since nearly the beginning and would overall classify it as pragmatically humanist, which is the rarest of positions these days. I’ve been waiting for that humanism to be extended to this topic and find it tiresome that it hasn’t been. All I will say is that the motivations for much of the gender questioning community align very well with what’s true to NC’s collective heart, there are reasons why class consciousness has not been sufficient to create lasting change and the greatest constant in life is that wisdom comes from the most surprisingly of places.

    1. OwlishSprite

      Who is to say that the NC community has not been questioning this topic in their lives? It would take far too long for me to go through my fairly long life and relate all of the experiences I have had relating to this topic. I was in the arts for many years and half of the people I knew were LGB, and some were crossdressers, at parties. There was angst in all of the people I knew, sexual and otherwise. There was good-natured kidding that I was a ‘club member’ and didn’t know it. But people were looking for community in a healthy way. They weren’t going after children. They wanted a space, and they created one. They let me be me in that space. There is LGB culture, and there is what I see as nonce culture. Talk to Fred Sargeant.

      1. mikkel

        I’m not claiming the NC community hasn’t been questioning this topic in their lives, I mean that’s a big driver of feminism which obviously many NCers have been involved with some way. I’m claiming that the articles and commentariat aren’t sophisticated in understanding what’s going on right now and are just making wild projections.

        A part of this is probably because NC skews old, I mean even in the queer community there is a huge generational divide, something that perplexes me. Like the majority of my family is queer and has no clue how to relate to my gender exploring cousin. It’s weird

        I could read your “going after children” remark as slander but I won’t. Instead I’ll just say another generational divide is that many older gays and lesbians often formed their identity in opposition to larger society and so view queerness as something that is apart from it. By contrast the younger generations grew up with more normalization and seek to integrate queerness into larger society, where it historically existed anyway (way back in the day in western societies and much more recent elsewhere)

        This integrationist goal therefore naturally seeks to provide the space for individuals to discover their identity as part of their development, not something which is treated like a club that you join when you grow up.

        And I’ll make the statement that it seems to be working well, since multiple studies have shown that the children of queer parents have statistically insignificant differences in sexuality behaviors compared to children of straight parents, but a large increase in confidence about their expression *even when they are straight*.

        It’s still too early to track this for gender identity but actually listening to young people makes it clear it’s not any different.

        1. OwlishSprite

          This is a bit of a word salad to me. I grew up with parents who provided a ‘wall’, as my Mother put it, for me to grow up without being hypersexualized. I could focus on things that would support me in my future life, whether that be a career or family. There is plenty of time for sex in adulthood without having to accomodate the desires of adults who want to rob children of their childhood. Sexual activity, unless you are to be a sex worker, is not really a valid focus for preparing for adulthood through education. Leave the effing kids alone and let them pursue their interests. Children want to expand their lives far beyond sexuality, not be detained by pedofiles. Sorry to be so blunt, but I know this struggle for health for our children.

        2. OwlishSprite

          I must say that, it takes two to tango, so to speak. Don’t appropriate what’s ‘easy’, work for it.

        3. semper loquitur

          “I’m claiming that the articles and commentariat aren’t sophisticated in understanding what’s going on right now and are just making wild projections.”

          Name one “wild projection”. I’ve been more vocal on this than anyone else here. I’ll back up everything I’ve said with both argument and data. Your sophistication is sophistry.

          “I could read your “going after children” remark as slander but I won’t.”

          Because you can’t, unless you truly aren’t as informed as you present yourself. There is an -industry- driving this phenomenon. There are buckets of money to be made on “gender affirmation treatments”. Children are being fast tracked into this via online indoctrination and a voracious surgical and therapy complex. You ignore these realities to paint a rosy picture of some organic “integrationist” groundswell.

    2. Anon

      Your argument goes: “people are having uncomfortable experiences because they are choosing to represent themselves in ways society doesn’t like, so we must change everything overnight to accommodate them”. Hardly pragmatic, and sounds more like silicon valley’s ‘move fast and break things’.

      From a humanist perspective, I empathize, however you offer your support for a TRANShumanist perspective, which has far more philosophical implications for society; and criticism of which takes precedence over the feelings of a minority of individuals and their existential crises. If I were you, I would take the fact that this progressive community has not jumped on this bandwagon, as reason for pause. Feelings are not facts, and not every wound gets healed; some ideas should be left to go septic.

      1. mikkel

        No that’s not my argument. I have two arguments.

        One argument is that gender has a social function and its expression/identifications are a natural reflection of underlying social dynamics. If you read my comments above, I perfectly accept (even honor!) that there are indigenous cultures who only have strict gender binaries. If there is a sudden proliferation of identities in our culture then I believe that means something. In this case I believe it is a function of hyper Individualism brought about by neoliberalism. Furthermore, I believe *that* is a natural consequence of capitalism and hyper-rationalism.

        What I object to is the marginalization and vilification of individuals who are adapting to our social environment in the way they feel compelled to. That they are literally being blamed for the breakdown of society rather than respected as members of society who are sensitive to the underlying social dynamics. ,(It’s incredible to me how many people in this thread accuse them of being non-empathetic and slave to their feelings when my daily conversations with my friends has a far higher level of sophistication and objective analysis than I’ve found anywhere else, and their identity seeking is a major driver of that)

        I’m not saying society should change everything overnight to accommodate the feelings of a minority, I’m saying that their existential crises are a reflection of how society is already changing, and gender is one aspect (among many) to provide clarity on how to navigate the cluster that we collectively face. In a more coherent society I think there will become far less identity signifiers

        My second argument is that I reject universalism. I used to consider myself liberal and humanist but do not any longer because I think it is objectively false (I much more strongly reject postmodernist relativism as being even more egregiously false).

        As I began to learn more about cultures across time and space, it became evident that they all had wisdom in their own ways and contexts. And as I make friends with more people from around the world and do shared exploration, those differences become material to me. I believe we need to incorporate wisdom from everyone to navigate our collective existential crisis and that also requires respecting people in their own reference frame and providing support for them to live in the ways they seek without judgement or even full understanding.

        In this I believe the proper strategy is of mutual support and evolving understanding, rather than trying to understand the universal, solve problems and fix things.

        In this way the people in our culture navigating identity do a service to the whole.

        1. JBird4049

          Please accept my apologies for this feels like word salad. The more likely I am to see homeless families, apparently the more important it becomes to argue over gender, sex, and ideology instead of getting people off the streets. It is an almost mathematical progression. The more economic misery there is, the more angst there is over gender identity even when one’s sexuality is almost of no issue except in the most socially oppressive areas. See some people in misery. Look, squirrels!

          These arguments are an excellent tool for the elites to distraction the general population, but for most people they don’t mean much compared to having a full stomach, decent clothes, and a safe place to sleep, which is increasingly difficult for a growing number of Americans.

          To me, this is all just nonsense. When I can’t get the money needed to eat, the local food pantry is giving out dried yams and seaweed, these issues don’t exist. However, it is a good idea means of distracting people from the sheer horror that is becoming of our lives. It gives power to the demagogues of all sides to emotionally whip up the people while ignoring the physical realities.

          Be straight, gay, lesbian, or bi. It does not matter. Really. But don’t come to me and complain about it, or call me a bigot when I say whatever. I am more concerned about class, corruption, and planetary collapse. However, if you see anyone trying to return to the old days of actually beating, arresting, or murdering anyone not conventionally straight, which I remember, albeit barely, do let me know so I can fight back. And if the focus continues to be on identity instead of class, I think that I will not have to use my memories to see it again.

          And that last sentence is a reason for my antipathy towards anything, no matter how reasonable, that has anything to do with Identity Politics instead of class, which is generally ignored. I have read too much history not to be aware of how economic misery eventually creates social oppression; the more the elites focus on social freedoms as a way to distract from economic repression, the more likely people will associate poverty with social freedom.

        2. anahuna

          Mikkel, you have obviously thought deeply about this subject. I can’t claim to have given it an equivalent amount of attention. I would venture, though, that the objection so many are raising is not so much to the exploration and testing of boundaries as it is to the lamentable politicization and commodification of that process, which seeks to invade personal space and to dictate individual responses.

          That is something that afflicts all of us in one way or another.


        3. Anon

          Opioid addiction is also a societal bellweather, along with rising suicide rates, etc.; all functions of hyper-individualism, brought about by neoliberalism, brought about by capitalism and hyper-rationalism, and i’m waiting for you to explain why any of it is positive. All you have to say is that they are pioneers, in a brave new world, and that we should not simply let them be, but support their behavior, because the outcome of their experimentation will magically be a net positive for society?

          Forgive my crassness, but I find it ludicrous that the people who would cut off their penis because they find it objectionable, should have valuable lessons to impart, re: identity. That sounds like a terrible position to be in, in the realm of schizophrenia and other such maladies, and requires care, but I fail to see how it helps to bring that castle in the sky down to earth.

          I’m sure they are lovely people, who have positive contributions to make, but if a man is eating dirt, I will not turn around and promote eating dirt as healthy in order to accommodate his pathology. The concern is not that he exists, the concern is that his rather extreme lifestyle is being promoted as virtue, and is set to become a norm. At this point, I’m beginning to feel naive for laughing down the slippery-slope arguments against gay marriage a decade ago… and therein lies the danger (and perhaps design?), as I would never imagine myself a Republican conservative, but I may yet become an evangelical the way things are going.

          1. Anon

            Also, bear in mind that I do have empathy for the trans experience. I have a dear friend whom i met as a butch lesbian, and witnessed their “awakening”, subsequent double-mastectomy and who is now balding (lol). For a decade they were always simply androgynous to me, though male presenting, and not once did I treat them as a her, beyond the awareness that they would experience a period, and employ feminine pronouns. I later discovered the pain they would experience when someone would eg. attempt to chase them out of a female bathroom, believing they were male. Their breasts were always a source of shame for them, and inevitable male attention caused them much distress. It’s not easy being trans, and I can see how physically transitioning makes it easier.

            It was when they moved to Los Angeles and began to politicize pronoun use (prior to transition), and became combative about asserting this new identity that I pulled away. It was the idea that there could be no discussion about these changes, and the arrogant assumption that these were entirely personal in nature (despite requiring me to contort my perception, and adjust my language) that I found especially distasteful, along with the obvious ontological issues. I called it quits when I was told it was not their responsibility to educate me (after raising many valid philosophical queries), and left them to manifest the reality of their choosing. Being the autodidact I am I sought this information in an effort to reconcile our differences, but could never come across an argument firmly grounded in reason, only empathy for their condition. Anyway, they seem happy, hair-loss notwithstanding.

            Typing this makes me realize I’m not as bellicose as I think.

    3. mrsyk

      I won’t disagree with the pop psychologizing observation in that is what we do. We’re curious. I am anyway. My opinions are just that, expressed here for others to further analyze, prop up or tear down. Further, as a sixty plus year old, I readily admit that many parts of society and the behavior within confuse me. I don’t think it’s dehumanizing for a feminist to express frustration that men (transwomen) are coopting their dialogue and threatening their sanctuary. It’s no secret that the vocal trans twitter presence has been incredibly hostile in the most self serving manner. Framing your argument as being the one in the know via your own friends and family makes incorrect assumptions about the rest of us (about me and mine anyway).
      We would all do well to take a glance from time to time at Chart 1 which Lambert posted the other day, Toward Parsimony in Bias Research: A Proposed Common Framework of Belief-Consistent Information Processing for a Set of Biases

      1. mikkel

        Thanks, please read my comment above. I am not saying that because my friends are such and such that all trans people are, I’m using them as a counterpoint to reject the broad generalizations that people are making.

        On a personal level I sympathize with women who feel put upon by transwomen just as I sympathize with transwomen who are distraught for being rejected. On a global level I think it’s great since it’s prompting so much exploration by everybody.

        I see extreme behaviors in all groups as a reflection of our society’s inability to synthesize tensions, leaving everyone feeling marginalized and powerless. If we do not learn how to synthesize then we will perish as there are problems of much more lasting consequence that we are creating which carry existential risk to ourselves and the richness of our planet.

        I would prefer that as a society we learn to synthesize by focusing on those issues directly, but I’ve learned that the only thing which matters is mindset and there are many paths to the same end goal.

        1. OwlishSprite

          Why should a fetish give precedence to physical reality? Women will never buy that. But maybe you don’t care about women, just euphoric satisfaction. I am personally fed up with people who live for orgasms while the rest of us want to support the Earth and the life still existing on it.

        2. mrsyk

          mikkel, thank you for your eloquent arguments. My foggy brain is slipping for words, but I wanted to acknowledge your passion on the subject. My priors run reason on this issue. I don’t agree with everything you say, but it sure is a messy complicated issue when one gets to the granular level.

        3. Phenix

          You have given a lot of thought to this subject. I do not care what adults do BUT I do not have to take part in their delusions. If someone presents as a male but wants me to call him a she then I will call him….he. I am not part of their delusion. However, if they try, I will use the correct pronoun. Gender Dysphoria is real and tragic…..

          Children can not consent. The movement to medicalize children is terrifying.

          Children can not understand that gender is not fluid. Your personality is fluid but 99.99% of humans are either male or female.

          A man with Gender Dysphoria will tell you that she is really a man. Trans woman put a lot of effort into making themselves pass as women. The same goes for trans men. They do not want you or me to ask their pronouns because if you do, they failed in achieving their goal/passing as the opposite gender…which is part of Gender Dysphoria.

          The alphabet soup of genders the West is dealing with has come from Tumblr. The Tumblr crowd are unable to confront reality so instead they made their own online reality and now we all have to abide by their fantasies

          Ironically, the 4chan trolls seem to have a much stronger grip on reality.

          I am not part of any online community.

    4. CanCyn

      I am not reading the same lack of empathy that you are. Indeed there are a couple of posts that are directed at people but for the most part I am reading frustration at the seeming suddenness of the trend and worry about the root causes. The anger, if any, seems to me to be at the profiteering that is taking advantage of the trend, this last being the point of the article. I see very little here that would have me believe that anyone posting here would not have empathy for a trans person they met face to face.
      For what it’s worth, I have personally known 3 trans people in my life. Two were students I knew when I worked in the community college system. Both of them had a boat load of trauma in addition to their trans-ness. Physical and sexual abuse as children, homelessness, poverty that made every day a struggle. The third is the father of a dear friend who did not come out until he was almost 50 years old. He had a long history of anxiety and mental health issues and not the greatest childhood. Perhaps that experience has coloured my perception that there is more going on with most of these individuals than being in the wrong body. I don’t know what kind of counselling these individuals are receiving but I worry that the focus is on their gender identity rather than a more holistic approach to their entire psyche and past traumas.

    5. lambert strether

      > there are reasons why class consciousness has not been sufficient to create lasting change

      Yes, prominent among them being continuous efforts by extremely wealthy capitalists to keep the working class divided and unfocused on its strengths.

      As we see all too obviously.

      How odd it is that nobody says I “identify as” a capitalist. No, one is a capitalist, not through some vague feeling of interiority, but by virtue of what one owns.

      > greatest constant in life is that wisdom comes from the most surprisingly of places.

      Yes, even a readership that “skews old.”

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I find it rather ironic that many of the people who oppose the rich white male patriarchy but celebrate the gender diversity thing don’t seem to notice that it’s most prominent supporters tend to be rich white males (Jenner, the first to bring it to widespread public attention, Pritzker, an extremely wealthy capitalist and financier of the movement, to name just a couple).

        Meanwhile, people of all races, colors and creeds are treated like slaves in amazon warehouses and nobody much seems to care.

        1. some guy

          The Amazon warehouse slaves of all races , colors and creeds have been 24/7 indoctrinated in the concept that every single one of them,too, has an equal one-in-a-million chance of getting rich, as long as they don’t threaten or even question the system which gives them that chance.

          If enough of the warehouse slaves decide to realize the implications of the basic fact that 999,999 thousand of them will never get rich, then they may well fall back on demanding a better life at the bottom.

    6. semper loquitur

      “I’m not even sure where to begin, other than to say if you’re actually interested in why and how gender identity is exploding it’s as simple as actually listening to people’s individual stories.”

      No, it’s not, although saying so makes for a folksy air. Such a claim ignores the role of wealthy individuals and the medical industrial complex in all of this. At least hundreds of millions of dollars, probably much more, being poured into funding NGO’s, university research, and Astro-turf activism. The role of social media “greenhouses” where these notions are promulgated and reified. The mindless “Don’t miss the band-wagon!” support from entertainment and media voices.

      “I’ve been waiting for that humanism to be extended to this topic and find it tiresome that it hasn’t been.”

      That’s because this is a community of critical thinkers and the “trans” ideology doesn’t make a lot of sense. There is far too much magical thinking, too many bad actors, and too many red flags for this to be swallowed whole. “Gender question” the day away for all I care but don’t pretend that’s the whole of the problem.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Such a claim ignores the role of wealthy individuals and the medical industrial complex in all of this. At least hundreds of millions of dollars, probably much more, being poured into funding NGO’s, university research, and Astro-turf activism. The role of social media “greenhouses” where these notions are promulgated and reified

        Why, it’s almost as if the erasure of class is pervasive. Makes me think that Rule #3 of Neoliberalism is something like “Never follow the money.”

    7. Raymond Sim

      I’ve been waiting for that humanism to be extended to this topic …

      I’m way late to this, and am not in a position to devote time to it today (We’re having weather.) but I share this sentiment, and have thought about commenting on it.

      The first difficulty, as I see it – and this arises when discussing transgender issues in almost any context – is that the subject is currently being heavily expoited to maintain our population’s distracted, agitated state of mind. The effects extend to essentially everybody who’s not a living buddha, but they’re harder to see in people we agree with.

      I think the people most subject to harm by all of this are people like your friends, who are struggling to figure out how to fit in this world. The way of our world is that it’s the Female Anxiety Industry, magazines like Vogue and so on, that are the standard bearers for “body positivity”. Personally I think it’s an excuse to put pictures of fat models in the magazine and really scare girls, while amping the anxiety by making them feel guilty for not wanting to be fat. I think something similar is happening with transgender issues.

  21. Anthony

    In very, very previous times one could play with gender: take e.g. Marcel Duchamp/Rrose Selavy. But Homo ludens is hard to find now. All those people who earnestly believe in tens or hundreds of “genders” seem to lack the brains for playfulness. And this may be the worst for the future of humanity, especially in “the West”: we are definitely becoming dumber. Why so is a difficult question but maybe it’s a natural phenomenon rather than the consequence of a conspiracy – I wish we knew.

    1. c_heale

      You can still play. But it takes more courage and strength to tell people who want to classify you to f off.

  22. britzklieg

    Since it is really about language, it should be noted that the French address this, perhaps inadvertently, through definite articles:

    la bite
    le con

    ’nuff said…

  23. Sausage Factory

    America is destroying itself and any social cohesion it ever had for 5.1% of its under 25 population. Great guns. Democracy is AMAZING. Gender regime change is a thing.

    1. CanCyn

      Well, there is some hyperbole. America is indeed destroying itself but the conflicts are many. Indeed I am sure that there are many, many people in the country who never give trans issues a thought.

  24. Sub-Boreal

    My thanks to all here for so many thoughtful and interesting comments.

    As someone who only really started thinking about these matters when I well-on in life (60s), I feel a lot of the puzzlement that others have described. I have been fairly heavily influenced by a younger feminist friend who would describe herself as gender critical. So I have to confess that seeing a lot of this as an elaborate branding exercise does fit with my developing views.

    We are certainly creatures of fashion in many other domains, so why not this one? Watching the Cool Kids decide that they’re bored with the material reality of viral propagation and control during the pandemic has certainly reinforced this for me. As I am fond of saying, just remember that the world works like high school, and you’ll be most of the way to understanding things.

    Perhaps this is too simple-minded an analogy, but could we consider sex as the hardware, and gender as the software?

    1. britzklieg

      “True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.”

      Kurt Vonnegut

  25. Insouciant Iowan

    Is anyone working on a theory of neoliberal sexual evolution? It’s broad parameters involve emphasize the importance of individual choice to aid each of us to become our own personal sex/gender. It also seeks to open an evolutionary path which allows the emergence thus far of the human hermaphrodidic. When that has fully sprung forth no one will need anyone else any longer. We can simply go screw ourselves.

  26. WestCountry

    Can anyone recommend any books on gender/sex (etc)? My education on this topic is pretty basic and honestly I can’t bear wading through the liberal swamp of books on this topic. Is someone like Judith Butler worth reading on this subject? I’ve had a communist friend recommend her

    1. Fred

      If you enjoy wading through meaningless word salad sludge; I would def recomend Butler.

      If on the other hand you want to learn about reality; Trans by Helen Joice is a good place to start.

  27. Questa Nota

    Upon seeing the article title and the brand aspect, here is what popped to mind:

    Narrow-casting, where Phishing for Phools comes to a new rain barrel.

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