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The Logic of Womanhood

 This essay is a test. Classical schools claim to value logic. Logic, we say, is how one learns to find the truth. Logic is a prerequisite for rhetoric; we must know how to find the truth before we can persuade others of the truth. In practice though, logic seems to bear very little weight in classical teaching. We say we want logic students (6th-8th grade) and rhetoric students (9th-12th grade) to uncover the fallacies in popular thought, but do we really? Are we interested in getting them to apply Aristotle’s logical canons in their daily lives, so they can avoid our era’s foolishness? The following essay tries to do just that. Many of us intuit its thesis already. But it is one thing to intuit an idea, and another to evaluate the idea methodically. That is why we value logic in the first place. If this genre of writing does not look like something your school would put in front of 6th-12th graders or would ask 6th-12th graders to write—if your school does not in fact ask students to evaluate ideas logically, whatever the content—your school may not care much about logic. 

 Logically speaking, the proposition “transwomen are women” cannot be true. I do not mean that transgender people are bad or deserving of scorn. I mean that the predicate “women” cannot be truly applied to the subject “transwomen.” It is not true that transwomen are women. Many people incorrectly and intuitively think transwomen are women. But classical students should rise above such intuitions. They should be able to show, logically, what is really true. 

 In logic, there are many ways to show that a proposition is not true. One is by showing that its terms are empty. “John is a dsfkjkds” is not true, since the second term is meaningless. Another way is by showing that the terms of a proposition contradict each other. Another is by showing that a proposition implies a second, false proposition. The statement “transwomen are women” must commit one of these errors, so cannot be true. To show this, I will borrow some definitions from pro-LGBTQ+ academia. 

 Sex: Maleness and femaleness according to biology, especially sexual gametes (eggs vs sperm). 

Gender expression: The way you present yourself relative to society’s expectations of masculinity and femininity. 

Gender Identity: The way you identify yourself in your core; what you know yourself to be.  

Transgender: An umbrella term for any person whose sex does not match their gender. 

Let us say Taylor is a transwoman who makes the claim, “I am a woman.” We must begin by considering these terms. The subject, Taylor, is a biological male whose sex does not match “her” feminine gender. The predicate, “woman,” seems unclear: what is Taylor claiming to be? It seems we can define the predicate “woman” in three ways: by sex, by gender expression, or by gender identity. But as we will see, none make Taylor’s proposition true. 

 If we define “woman” in terms of sex, then Taylor is not a woman. The claim “this non-biological woman is a biological woman” is a contradiction in terms, and therefore false. 

 If we define “woman” in terms of gender expression, this would just mean Taylor does mainly feminine things. But this definition leads to two problems. First, this implies that anyone who mostly expresses themselves masculinely is not a woman. But this is false: women can be masculine. Second, this implies that anyone who expresses themselves mostly femininely is a woman. But this is false: men can be feminine. So “Taylor is a woman,” understood in terms of gender expression, implies two false propositions. This makes Taylor’s claim false. 

 If we instead define “woman” in terms of gender identity, meaning “someone who thinks of herself as a woman inside,” we get two more problems. One, this is a circular definition, creating an infinite loop that explains nothing: “a woman is someone who thinks she is [someone who thinks she is [someone who thinks she is…]]]”, going on to infinity. This leaves the term “woman” empty, and a proposition with an empty term cannot be true, since it asserts nothing. So, Taylor’s claim would not be true.  Two, it is not generally true that thinking, feeling, or believing yourself to be something makes you that thing. Thinking myself to be kind does not make me kind; feeling I am really a black man does not make me a black man. This suggests believing yourself to be a woman is not enough to make you a woman. So “Tayor is a woman,” understood in terms of gender identity, seems to be false. 

 We have now exhausted the three definitions of “woman,” none of which succeeded. In summary, there seems to be no way to define “woman” which makes Taylor’s claim, “I am a woman,” true. But let us consider an objection. Taylor might argue there is no definition of women. This could mean three things. Perhaps the word “woman” means nothing. But then Taylor’s claim would not be true: “I am a woman” would now mean the same as “I am a dsfkjkds,” which means nothing, and therefore is not true. Or perhaps everyone has their own individual definition of “woman.” In this case, everyone’s individual definition would need its own analysis. Anyone who used one of the above definitions would face the logical problems we’ve already considered. Or perhaps “woman” has no logical definition because it has no specific difference. We know the term “woman” has a genus, namely, human. So if “woman” has no definition, it must have no difference, nothing to distinguish it from other humans. So either all humans would be women, or no humans would be women. Both results are absurd. So in any case, if “woman” has no definition, Taylor’s claim to be a woman cannot be true. And if it has a definition, Taylor’s claim cannot be true. In either case, then, it is not true that Taylor is a woman. It is not true that transwomen are women.  

 Having failed so far to say what women are, we might try another strategy. We need the definition that best accounts for our data about women, e.g. masculine women are women, feminine men are not women, some humans are not women, etc. This definition should also clarify why it’s not true that transwomen are women. The definition which does all this best uses biology as a difference: women are female (difference) humans (genus,) where “female” means what it means in all sexually reproducing species, i.e. producing eggs (female gametes) at healthy sexual maturity. Men can be defined similarly, using production of sperm (male gametes). Thus, masculine women are women, feminine men are not, and transwomen (biological males) are not. Where gender identity, gender expression, and lack of definition fail to explain our data, biological sex succeeds. 

 To close, I will note the painful experience of some men who deeply wish they were biological females, and the reverse experience of some biological females.  I have nothing but sympathy for this suffering. Those who bear it deserve to be treated with dignity, including the dignity of having their claims taken seriously. Many LGBTQ+ allies will accept all queer claims out of a sense of politeness. But this is really degrading, as though transpeople were not capable of careful logical thought. Transpeople are rational, and their ideas deserve logical treatment. Everyone’s ideas deserve this. That is why everyone should study logic. 

 If this genre of writing is not one that your school puts in front of students, nor expects them to write in, then your school seems not to care much about logic. Perhaps it has good reason not to: perhaps all this is too advanced. But all this is preparatory for rhetoric. If high school students are too young to think carefully, they are also too young to speak persuasively. Their speech would make them mere sophists, the very thing the great classical teacher Socrates most disdained. If this is too advanced, then the grammar stage goes well past 6th grade, past high school, and into adulthood. And perhaps it does. But if so, we have no business calling our middle schools “logic schools.” It’s grammar school all the way to the top. 

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