[Posted to Medium 22nd April 2020].
The following quotes are all taken from Robin Dembroff’s forthcoming reply to Alex Byrne.
“The slogan “woman are adult human females” is a political slogan championed by anti-trans activists, appearing on billboards, pamphlets, and anti-trans online forums”.
“Byrne’s answer is, ‘clearly, yes’. Moreover, they claim…” (Footnote: “Throughout this paper, I use ‘they’ as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun”.
“One might be able to forgive this philosophically naïve framing from a newcomer to philosophical thinking about gender, were it not for the fact that…”
“By “dominant” meaning, it is safe to presume that Byrne means a meaning that best accords with their own linguistic intuitions — as well as dominant power structures”.
“…rhetorical bullying at worst”.
“Conservative groups insist that “there are only two genders”, and that “a woman is an adult human female”; liberal groups claim that “trans women are women” and that “gender is not binary”.
“Byrne does not consider the possibility that one can theorize about the metaphysics of gender using methodologies other than the analysis of natural language use. …One such methodology is, in fact, discussed (though misrepresented) by Byrne in their own paper”.
“In order to stave off objections, Byrne ignores the historicity of Western gender categories, and uses cherry-picked quotations to undermine the legitimacy of queer communities and non-Western cultures with nonbinary genders”.
“Responsible scholarship requires addressing these reasons, rather than stipulating their irrelevance”.
“We are presumably meant to suppose that Byrne is an uninterested, objective observer”.
“…while Byrne gives little content to adult human female, what content there is — especially when combined with Byrne’s insistence that this category is “not social” — shows that Byrne misunderstands or is unfamiliar with relevant work in social ontology, the history of sexology, gender theory, and biomedical anthropology”.
“In fact, Byrne themself [sic] acknowledges this, albeit in a confused way”.
“Byrne’s claim that a single, fixed category answers to “the” category adult human female is ignorant of the history and sociology of sex categorization”.
“…Byrne’s arguments… are uninformed and poorly constructed…”
“Finding this attitude at a family reunion or from certain riders on Byrne’s “Clapham Omnibus” is not surprising. But finding this attitude unexamined and on display in a scholarly paper, where one is expected to be responsive to existing literature, empirical evidence, and relevant testimony, is quite another thing.”
“Despite Byrne’s misrepresentations…”
“Byrne stipulates frameworks and assumptions that casually dismiss or ignore relevant existing literature. They cite the testimony of trans persons only for the purpose of undermining these persons’ self-understanding, or for pitting them against other trans persons”.
“…they sweepingly dismiss cultures with nonbinary gender systems in a footnote”.
“Byrne’s paper is fundamentally an unscholarly attempt to vindicate a political slogan that is currently being used to undermine civic rights and respect for trans persons.”
“All this leads me to wonder about the motives of someone who would so confidently insert themself [sic] into this high-stakes discourse while so ill-informed”.