I Wasn’t Born This Way, but I’m a Human Being

Born this wayA lot of people try to defend LGBTQIA+ rights because they say that we were “born this way,” or that “we didn’t choose to be this way.” FUCK THAT NOISE.

While I admire the sentiment – that LGBTQIA+ rights should exist and be protected – I deny that they should be protected because they are “natural” within someone “scientific” framework. There are a number of reasons why I reject this, and I’ll explain the main ones below.

Being Trans and Queer is Fucking Incredible

Oh, you’re straight? I’m sorry. You’re cis? That’s a bummer. In case you didn’t see how I feel about being trans and queer from the subheading above, I’ll say it again: being trans and queer is fucking incredible.

This is my first rejection of the “born this way”/”we didn’t choose this” defense for LGBTQIA+ people. Why should we defend ourselves because we “didn’t have a choice”? Are people implying that they wouldn’t choose to be trans or queer if they had the option? Knowing about internalized oppression, I would argue that is exactly what they mean.

Whether people using this argument believe being cisgender and straight is intrinsically better, or whether it simply makes life easier, I cannot say. Honestly, though, I don’t care. This argument reinforces the idea that being cisgender and straight is better than being trans and queer. I don’t know who came up with that bullshit, but they definitely got that one wrong.

I would always choose to be queer. I would always choose to be trans. I would always choose to be myself. Being straight and cisgender would be fucking horrible. Why would anyone choose that?

Natural Today, Cultural Tomorrow

As I’m sure you know, science changes. Not only scientific knowledge, but methods for obtaining that knowledge as well. Generally, we’ve seen this happen in a progressive manner. The more scientists learn, the better they get at obtaining the most accurate information they can.

What is natural today – that is, what is supported by scientific evidence – can become a cultural belief tomorrow with new evidence. This is one reason to reject “scientific” arguments for rights.

The other, and more important, reason to reject “scientific” arguments for rights is that they erase trans and queer people’s voices from the conversation. These arguments reinforce hierarchies that give cis/straight people power over trans/queer people’s lives. We become the objects to be studied, but never the subjects with expertise.

This invalidates our truths by making other people the experts on our realities, our bodies, our feelings, and our lives. Ideas about what constitutes expertise are socially constructed though, and they function within hierarchies of power. Trans and queer people’s experiences, stories, and feelings are evidence, and we are the experts on our lives. “Scientific” arguments do not grant us rights, equity, or justice; they silence us by reducing our experiences to a matter of biology and circumstance.

Is Human Dignity Not Fixed?

The final reason that “born this way” and “we didn’t choose this” arguments are problematic is because they are based on a relative notion of human dignity. If scientific evidence about a certain group is the reason we protect them from discrimination, then that means that scientific evidence about any group is the reason we protect them from discrimination. This doesn’t sound like universal human rights to me, and it wouldn’t sound guaranteed to cis/straight people if trans and queer people were the dominant group in society.

My final question, then, is this: Is human dignity fixed? This question goes a little deeper than the ones I discussed above, but it’s central to this discussion. When it comes to justice, we should be engaged in understanding why our human rights are inalienable.

If trans and queer people weren’t born this way, then the “scientific” argument would fail, and LGBTQIA+ rights would no longer be valid. That means that human dignity – at least in the eyes of those using and accepting this defense – does not exist in all human beings; it only exists in those who meet the false “scientific” standard. This is an atrocious idea, and it can, and will, justify horrendous violence against us.

While many do not agree with me, I believe that human dignity is fixed. It cannot be traded, forfeited, or taken – no matter what. When it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights, even if scientific evidence came out (pun intended) stating that people are not born trans or queer, our rights would still be intact.

How to Expose a Bullshit Argument for LGBTQIA+ Rights

Now that I’ve discussed why I reject the “scientific” defense of LGBTQIA+ rights, I want to give you some questions to ask yourself when looking at arguments that appear to support trans and queer people*.

  1. Does it imply that cisgender/straight people are intrinsically better than trans/queer people? If so, it is oppressive and will only benefit some trans/queer people at the expense of others. For example, if there is an argument that states that monogamy is intrinsically better than polyamory, then it will only benefit monogamous queers while further marginalizing polyamorous queers.
  2. Does it include trans/queer voices as part of its analysis? No? Then it’s crap, end of story. Arguments that are formed without trans/queer input (not observation or analysis of trans/queer people from a normative gaze) cannot be sound. While the argument can be logically valid, it cannot rest on true premises because, as I discussed above, truth about trans/queer lives comes from trans/queer people.
  3. Does it rely on science or biology to protect trans/queer people? If so, then it can always be invalidated by further evidence. Also, ideas regarding sex and gender were shaped by norms, and they necessarily exclude human variations to keep their power in further shaping society. More importantly, arguments based on science or biology are inherently exclusive. They imply that the scientific/biological factor in question is either superior or inferior to another factor or set of factors. To understand why this is problematic, refer to point #1.
  4. Does it only give LGBTQIA+ people rights if they behave/speak/believe/live a certain way? If so, the argument is designed to assimilate trans/queer people into cisgender/straight norms and punish those who do not conform (also, look up respectability politics). This is known as cisheteronormativity, and it is a terrible force in society. Giving in to cisheteronormative standards leads to the problems discussed in point #1. Finally, it normalizes trans/queer people and divides us into acceptable and unacceptable groups. When this happens, rights can “logically” be taken away from certain trans/queer people, even by other LGBTQIA+ people who have chosen to adhere to the “acceptable” norms.

This list could go on and on, but I hope that it helps as a short reference. It is important to remember that all human beings have dignity, at all times, and in all places – trans and queer people included. Above all, though, remember this: if you’re trans/queer/gender non-conforming, YOU’RE FUCKING INCREDIBLE.

*Do you have any more problems to look for in arguments designed to support LGBTQIA+ people? Share them in the comments below!

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