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This is an interesting situation I've seen pop up after being in contact with people who identify as transgender (people who feel they are born the wrong gender). While Sexual orientation is a choice that should be allowed to be made freely and openly, this matter is complicated when someone rejects their own genetics and tries to change whether by action or, (as is the goal: by surgery).

Do you believe these people are right and should be addressed and seen how they want to be seen, or are they denying reality and trying to substitute/ escape? Is this rooted in biology or just in thought? And if this should be respected for transgenders, does this mean that those who feel they are born to the wrong species (Otherkin/ transhumans) should be treated in the same way?

It's actually difficult to word this properly, but I wanted to see what the general objectivist take on it was. Thank you

asked Sep 11 '12 at 21:14

Ace's gravatar image



I am only speaking for myself here, but I hope others would agree:

I see nothing immoral or wrong about individuals feeling they associate more with the opposite gender. Objectivism is a philosophy for living on Earth, and transgendered, homosexual, heterosexual, black, or white persons can each live rationally and respect the rights of others.

Objectivism does not confine individuals to gender roles, it merely presents a path to living well by living qua man, meaning living as a human being raionally must. Transgendered people are just as capable of living qua man as any other.

(Sep 12 '12 at 11:09) JK Gregg ♦ JK%20Gregg's gravatar image

This question deals with a broader debate with Objectivism's position on the mind. They believe in tabula rasa, free will, and that all mental activity is volitional, nothing automatic. They have a more or less traditional understanding of consciousness. But these are descriptions of appearances, not explanations of how things work, and should really be left to the hard sciences to determine, if they can.

This OP's statement is a common way of thinking: "While Sexual orientation is a choice that should be allowed...". But these attributes of identity are really discoveries, not choices.

(Dec 24 '15 at 11:44) Marce11o Marce11o's gravatar image

Up to now I didn't have much to add to the original September 2012 comment, but now a new comment by Marce11o mentions "a broader debate with Objectivism's position on the mind."

For those who are interested in Objectivism's position on "Tabula Rasa" and "Free Will," refer to those topics in The Ayn Rand Lexicon. It is certainly not true that "all mental activity is volitional, nothing automatic." Objectivism recognizes that sense-perception is automatic, and so is the process by which emotions arise from stimuli, although the values that lead to man's emotional reactions to stimuli are volitionally chosen (conceptual). It is certainly true (according to Objectivism) that the conceptual level of cognition is volitional, not automatic, including both concept formation and concept usage in thinking. But there is also a process of automatization in man (man's "subconscious") which operates automatically. For further overview of these points, refer to the Lexicon topics of "Sensations," "Perception," "Emotions," "Automatization," "Subconscious," "Sense of Life," "Sex," and related topics.

What about "sexual preference" or "gender identification"? Is that volitionally chosen? Objectivism does not claim to be a substitute for the special sciences on this issue. Objectivism's view of psychology, in particular, is concisely presented in the Lexicon topic of "Psychology." Objectivism offers philosophical perspective and methodological guidance for all of the special sciences, including psychology, but it remains the task of the special sciences to identify specific, more concrete conclusions. I have not seen definitive scientific conclusions about the volitional or non-volitional nature of "gender identification" myself, and I cannot confirm the validity of any claims that "non-straight" sexual preference and gender identity should be regarded on an equal footing with (or just as "natural" as) straight heterosexuality.

It has occurred to me at least to make a list of possibilities implied by the heterosexual versus LGBT classifications. I have identified three areas of classification: biological gender, sexual preference, and gender identification. I have identified "male" or "female" as the possibilities within each major area. Mathematically, this leads to eight possible combinations of "male" or "female":

  • MFm -- biologically male, preference for females in sex, male gender identity.
  • FMf -- biologically female, preference for males in sex, female gender identity.
  • MMm, MMf -- gay men, some of whom (but not all) seem to dress and act more effeminately.
  • FFf, FFm -- Lesbian women, some of whom (but not all) seem to dress and act more masculine-like.
  • MFf -- biological male who identifies with Lesbians and thus prefers females in sex.
  • FMm -- biological female who identifies with gays and thus prefers males in sex.

The "straight" category includes MFm and FMf. The LGBT categories cover an additional four combinations. The last two combinations above are a bit convoluted but nevertheless conceivable, though probably exceedingly rare. "Transgender," if I understand it correctly, seems to include either MMf or FFm, depending on how a transgender person's sexual preference relates to his/her gender identity. (The "B" or "Bisexual" category seems to have no consistent sexual preference, if I understand it correctly, as if a B-type simply doesn't care what type of partner he or she is sexually intimate with. Perhaps "B" should be classified as Mxx or Fxx.) Note also that the generic meaning of "masculine" and "feminine" is usually defined by reference to a heterosexual context or background.

That's about as far as I have been able go with my understanding of the LGBT categories so far. I believe my list of possible combinations raises a great many questions about exactly how LGBT-types actually function mentally and in concrete action, and I've seen little public discussion of these questions by either the individuals themselves or by the science of psychology, although other readers of this website may be able to recommend worthwhile references to consult. Meanwhile, I can readily sympathize with MFm and FMf types who completely fail to comprehend how the other six combinations can be viable at all.

It should also be noted that Questions on this website are accompanied by "tags" that can be clicked on to find other related Questions and Answers. There are two other links, in particular, that should be consulted for additional insights on the present Question:

  • http://objectivistanswers.com/questions/3404/is-rands-view-on-gender-roles-part-of-objectivism
  • http://objectivistanswers.com/tags/sex/

answered Dec 26 '15 at 11:10

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

edited Dec 26 '15 at 11:21

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Asked: Sep 11 '12 at 21:14

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Last updated: Dec 26 '15 at 11:21