Coming down in three part dissonance

September 14, 2012 Blogs, Former Pioneer Staff Print Print

If you know me, you know I’m difficult to offend. Sure I rant and the stupidity of humans angers me, but I don’t often take offense. My buttons are about a millimeter wide and protected behind a 5 inch shield of lead-like apathy. Just about nothing gets to me on a personal level.

Anyone that called this as a lead up to “but this one thing…” may now have a lollipop. (Disclaimer: Lollipops not included. Readers must provide their own.)

Of all the things I thought might ever offend me, however, a math textbook would never have made the list. And yet, it happened just yesterday.

So I’m working along on statistics problems, when I come to a problem that asks me to match a set of histograms with a set of questions that were used to generate the data the histograms are based on. No numbers, just the shape of the ‘grams and guesswork to go on. It’s not a hard question, since two of the inquiries are binary. Two responses only, which are entered into the data set as 0 or 1.

The binary questions are as follows: “are you right or left handed?” and “are you male or female?”

Well, I know the proportions of right to left handedness in the general population, so that’s a snap. But then comes the attached critical thinking exercise.

“Figure 5.18 shows histograms of the student responses, in scrambled order and without scale markings. Which histogram goes with each variable? Explain your reasoning. Would the 0–1 coding scheme work for someone who is ambidextrous (or transgendered)?” (COMAP 198. Emphasis added.)

I freely admit that I almost didn’t catch this. I was buzzing along, saw the word ambidextrous, and was all prepared to say “nope, wouldn’t work.” Thankfully it was a critical thinking exercise, and I realized my mistake. And then I got to thinking about it, and became mightily offended.The implication here, for anyone that missed it, is as follows: ambidexterity represents a third option in handedness, since by definition an ambidextrous person is neither left nor right handed. Following that train to it’s inevitable wreck, a transgender person represents a third option because they are neither male nor female.


I actually didn’t finish my freaking homework, I was so pissed. Since my math prof (who didn’t choose the book) doesn’t want, need or deserve a manifesto-like tract about discriminatory questions in textbooks, I gave him a paragraph about why the question is flawed, and left it at that. But the fact that I would even see that question in my textbook is freaking insane. This is a god damned college textbook. Why am I seeing discriminatory questions in a freaking college textbook?

Now, most of you might know why this is wrong, but I’m going to spell it out as best I can anyway. This is one of those things that I’m going to have trouble explaining, not because it’s a hard concept, mind, but because it’s so bloody basic it catches me off guard when I have to explain it. So please bear with me.

A transgender individual is born one biological sex, but is actually the gender associated with the opposite biological sexual characteristics. (Simplified explanation is simple. Go read the documentation if you want details, ok?)

So, a woman is born with a male body, or a man is born with a female body. The key point here is: fuck biology. The mind of a transgender person isn’t out of place, the body is. So a transwoman is a woman, full stop, end of sentence, no further freaking qualifiers. Just a woman. Same goes for transmen. That’s a man, done, end of story.

There is no third option. There is no in-between state that magically appears because some loser with a bias doesn’t have enough brain cells to store anything but the Bible verses some lunatic uses to denounce what ever makes him hard.

I’ve heard about and read about discrimination against trans individuals based on their “real gender” (read: congenital biological sexual characteristics.) And that’s horrific unto itself. I literally cannot comprehend the pain that it must incur to look in a mirror and see the wrong person staring back. These are individuals whose bodies are the wrong everything. Not just “I think I’ll color my hair, cause the color isn’t me” or “I think I’ll get my teeth whitened and straightened” but the whole freaking enchilada. Nothing matches.

And yet there are still people who will insist on mistreating trans individuals based on their congenital sex. Not all trans individuals get a perfect transition, if they can get one at all. So in some cases, an observer that’s already primed to discriminate might see a congenital biological male or female standing in front of them instead of the woman or man who is clearly standing there.

But my textbook goes that one step further, beyond cruelty and into the realms of horror. It implies that because the gender is one, and the biology is another, the person is neither.

Again: what?

What in the name of all the gods above and below gives anyone the right to decide a person is not a person?

Do we not remember slavery? The decision to call an entire chunk of our race sub-or-abhuman because of a skin color? How about pre-suffrage women’s rights? You know, when women couldn’t own anything and were treated as baby machines and free labor? Cause they were women?

What the hell is wrong with these degenerate, xenophobic, misbegotten trolls?

No-one gets to make those decisions! No-one gets to declare that a person is not a person, for whatever reason! Gods-damned ax-murderers get the basic respect of being treated as human beings, and we can’t extend that courtesy to someone that has enough freaking problems without putting up with bullcrap from some bigoted worm turd?

Taking deep breath now. Blood pressure too high already.

For anyone out there (though I doubt you’d read this if you were) who has decided that their opinion matters more than the mental, emotional and physical health of a human being:

You don’t get to decide that. You can have your short-sighted, close-minded, ignorant opinion. But don’t you freaking dare take it out on trans people. Your lack of functioning brain cells are not their problem.


COMAP. For All Practical Purposes. 9. W. H. Freeman, 2011. 198. Print.

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