The Transgender Issue
Fairness is a subjective—emotional—term in search of an objective—rational—definition. And fairness arguments in support of people who transgender are no different, which raises the question: Is there a rational argument? The answer is yes, and it is based on a principle of rational decision-making. In addition, there is a rational argument for who is responsible for the costs of gender transitions, and it is based on another principle of rational decision-making. The following explains.
First off, it is appropriate to define the term transgender. According to Webster and other updated dictionaries, gender is a cultural or social distinction while sex is a biological distinction. And to transgender is to identify as a sex other than one’s biological sex.
For example, a biological male can identify as a female by a name change to that of a female, changes in behavior and style of dress to that of a female, and changes that are more substantive by way of hormone injections and surgery. And to be clear on what it means to transgender, it means a change in the appearance of one’s biological sex and not an actual change in one’s biological sex, which as yet cannot be changed.
The first question to consider is whether a culture or society should accept people who transgender. The rational answer to the question is found in the application of the principle of Pareto Optimum, which states that if by moving from point A to point B, it makes at least some people better off without making others worse off, there is an overall gain in cultural or social benefits. As such, the move is warranted. It is Pareto Optimal.
Because people who transgender benefit from their transitions in terms of feeling better about themselves, and others in the culture or society are no worse off in terms of being disadvantaged, harmed, or made worse off in any other way by the transitions, acceptance of transgender people is warranted. It is Pareto Optimal.
Those opposed to acceptance of people who transgender on the basis of subjective moral grounds may question the gain in overall cultural or social benefits. Due to the physical superiority of biological males—broader shoulders, larger hands, greater strength via greater muscular build—over biological females in swimming and other sporting competitions, it is argued that the allowance of transgender females to compete with biological females puts the latter at a disadvantage or makes them worse off.
However, the argument is bogus. Biological females in swimming and other sporting competitions are not disadvantaged and made worse off by the cultural or social acceptance of transgender females. Rather, they were disadvantaged and made worse off by the allowance of transgender females with biological advantages in the competitions, which mean the allowance was not Pareto Optimal. So, a return to separating male and female sports on the basis of biological distinctions and not gender distinctions is warranted.
Next, consider the question of financial support for people who transgender. That is, who is responsible for any costs of gender transitions, including, but not limited to, hormone injections or surgery? The principle of rational decision-making that applies is those who derive the benefits are responsible for payment. And clearly, all of the benefits accrue to the people who transgender, so they are obliged to pay either directly or indirectly through private sector insurance programs that cover all or part of the costs.
In summary, rational decision-making yields the following: People who transgender should be accepted in a culture or society because it is Pareto Optimal. That is, overall cultural or social benefits are enhanced because those who transgender are better off without making others worse off. And those who transgender are responsible for the costs they incur because they alone derive the benefits.
Copyright © 2022 Frank Zahn