Fandango’s Provocative Question (3 March 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

Do you believe that a person’s gender is inextricably tied to his or her sex at birth, or do you believe that a person can legitimately identify as a gender different from his or her birth gender? Why do you believe what you believe?

Easier one today than last week. Let’s illustrate this with a name. You meet somebody called Elizabeth. She goes by the name Lizzy.

You don’t go calling her Betty, because that happens to be your preference, do you? You respect her choice, and you call her Lizzy.

Same with gender, far as I’m concerned. That is also the “why” – we respect their choice. That’s just being tolerant. It’s their choice, not ours.

That’s my gut feel. However, I can think of caveats.

First, people go 90% by what they see. There are all sorts of memes about hidden disabilities for example, and while we might wish people’s perception to be wider, that’s the way it is.

So, if you were born male, say, I don’t think you can get too hung up if somebody refers to you as “he”. I doubt there is any malice behind that, it is just someone making an error. There may be certain areas where you’d expect people to be more aware (for example a specific trans-gender organisation), but I think in general, you can’t blame people.

The second issue, you have somebody who identifies as a different gender. They commit a crime. Do you send them to a men’s prison or a women’s prison?

I don’t know the answer to that one.

Okay, prison is quite extreme, but it illustrates the dilemma. It’s the same as, say, do they use men’s or women’s changing rooms at the swimming pool.


  1. Well said. We should respect someone’s choice, whether someone wants to be referred to as he, she or they.
    And you pose an interesting question about prisons. I wouldn’t know the answer to that one either.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I suspect there would be very few cases in practise, but that’s not to say we shouldn’t think about it.
      My gut feeling is that many (most?) women would be uncomfortable if a someone born-a-guy came into their midst in the changing room. Or toilet, say.
      It’s a difficult one – someone’s not gonna get their way so whose rights come first?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. There’s a lot of wrongdoing that could happen if a person was incarcerated on the gender they identify with. I shudder to think if the bullying and abuse. As far as toilets go, I think gender neutral is the way of the future. Maybe gender neutral prison? Could lead to lots of new struggles but maybe a more balanced environment, like degenderized schools. Forms that don’t require gender reveal are also less biased.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think that this question hints at a bigger one, and that the answer is about respecting other peoples wishes and treating them in a way that we would like to be treated. Almost doesn’t matter if the issue is sexual orientation, sexual identity, race, religion, age…..anything really. All a matter of respect.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Interesting question (and maybe dilemma) regarding prisons, as well as changing rooms, restrooms, etc. I agree with you that we should respect how people identify themselves, gender wise.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My friend years ago had a maths tutor visiting their home every week for her 14 year old son. At the end of the summer holiday the college rang her up to ask if she would have any problem with the fact that the man was now a woman! Well she had no problem, but as they had enough trouble getting her son to take maths seriously anyway, it didn’t seem a good idea to continue with that tutor.

    Liked by 1 person

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