The gender debate: do you know where you stand? Then, I have questions for you

They told me I was wrong when I only asked a question

Lucía Ferro
11 min readFeb 13, 2023
A multicolored building
A colourful building, a photo taken by the author

We have to stop pretending we understand the matter to its full extent and stop calling people TERFs, fascists or transhumanists at the first sign of disagreement.

Most people are just confused about what gender means and what its relationship is with social roles. I would even dare to say that there are as many definitions of gender as opinions on the matter, which makes the discussion not only difficult but often even absurd.

Enough people don't acknowledge that sex and gender are different things. Some think both are just human inventions while others think that gender is a "natural" condition inseparable from sex. Perspectives that bend the debate to the breaking point.

While one is a scientific term that cannot be changed as DNA cannot be changed, the other is a social concept subjected to a whole cultural background that varies with time and geography.

What is the point of two people arguing about gender if one of them believes it to be just the same as sex and the other considers it more of a feeling? Clearly, there won't be any shared ground there to arrive at a common conclusion.

Every time I read an article about this matter I only read the words written in a presumptuous way, teaching people about their beliefs as if they were facts set into stone.

I found it very interesting when two people who've struggled with dysphoria are calling each other on their supposed brainwashed behaviours. You cannot say they have no experience in the matter and at the same time they can very much differ in opinion. They don't even listen to each other they assume the other person must be wrong because they see things in a different light.

You would say that this is a matter to be discussed and defined by whoever is affected by it, in other words, by the LGBT community. I will go ahead and say that I think it needs to be led by LGBT people but they cannot be the only ones in the discussion.

Those who fall into the traditional picture of gender can't ignore the subject either as plenty of people has a family member or a friend who struggles with some sort of dysphoria. If you want to be a good parent or a good friend you need to be in it.

I don't think we can even pick a side in the debate, as it doesn't have two sides. There are plenty of perspectives to choose from, and whoever thinks there is only one way to understand it, they've just given themselves away showing how nescient they are.

Some people argue that there has always been a Trans community. I get that there has always been a community that challenged social standards and expressed themselves independently of what they were told they should be doing by their culture. I know that homosexuality was normalised until it was not (unfairly and violently), as there are plenty of historical references that reinforce this idea.

But, you cannot say that there have always been people that undergo a great number of surgeries and treatments to shape their bodies so they can fit the opposite sex's cultural standards because the first cases date from the early 20th century, about 100 years ago.

I find this distinction very relevant to the debate because many disagreements are generated by the dichotomy that generates favouring or rejecting all the surgical treatment that today is offered.

That's not what I think, you are wrong

We have people on the most extremist edges of the discussion like fascists who just want us to follow their view of the world with little imagination. But then, they are not really in the debate as they refuse to listen and they don't actually give any valid arguments. And even if they, by any chance, happened to address a genuine problem in the system, they do it from such a raging place that they end up saying nothing anyway.

In the same way, those who don't acknowledge and blindly ignore any effects that sex reassignment surgery might have on both the physical and mental health of the individual; might come across as someone who jumps clueless into a fashion, as they defend what seems a progressive idea but without having doing any reasoning.

When I look at the various views I find truth in most of them. Which makes this debate very entertaining but at the same time very frustrating.

Gender, a social construct

These are people who find gender as an outrageous idea that our society should have never adopted. This theory considers that the notion of masculinity and femininity have been implemented to better control people, and to uniform society to suit those in power. You can say it makes sense as most individuals can't really be placed in those "perfect" boxes creating much distress on the average person who keeps on trying to fit the expectations of their gender.

But it's not so simple, because, within this category, you find more disagreements.

If gender is a social construct why are there people putting so much effort into redesigning their bodies or getting uncomfortable because they have been misgendered during a conversation? And if gender is a social construct why don't we treat it at a different level than biological sex?

Gender abolition

Some people just want to erase gender completely. They don't want it mentioned anywhere in hopes that would bring equality for everybody.

In this case, they often keep the concept of (biological) sex but don't associate any psychological behaviours with it. This means they refuse the idea of female/male brains which is manifested by men and women engaging in any kind of activity that suits them.

It sounds great. Simple, easily digested. Even harmless. But it doesn't give an answer to certain aspects such as gender dysphoria which is quite a theme in itself, or the huge impact that hormones have on our mood, and behaviours by extension.


Anyone who dares to talk about trans should be very familiar with the term gender dysphoria, as it is the first sign that a human shows when there is something going on regarding their gender.

"Gender dysphoria is a psychological distress that results from an incongruence between one’s sex assigned at birth and one’s gender identity."

And one more question arises:

Is this incongruence a consequence of an abusive society that doesn't allow any human expression outside of the "norm" or does the cause lies more in a feeling that pushes the person to reject their own body?

As a former health professional trying to help and understand a community that experiences much psychological suffering, I find this a mystery. And honestly, I don't think anyone has the solution to this puzzle. Not yet, anyway.

On one hand, there are numerous testimonies from people glad to have transitioned that make me think that this is just a step forward to eventually fulfilling the purpose of the human rights declaration.

On the other hand, there are also plenty of testimonies from people who are regretful to have done it and feel not only disappointed with the decision that they've made, but betrayed by the health professionals that assisted them during that time.

This is why I cannot have a fixed opinion about it. Taking one's side seems like disrespecting the other. The experience of one person doesn't make any less true the experience of the other.

Then, there are those who stay in between, trying to indulge their identity dreams but putting the breaks on mistreating their body too much. They get to experience the absence of gender expressing themselves in whatever way they need to, but they still experience sexuality based on the restrictions that might come with their biological sex. They have no aspirations for cis passing which means they confront an immense amount of homophobia.

What is clear and seems to be a pattern is the neglected mental health of whoever has to go through this experience, and I am not talking about the subject in particular, but more about the professionals and relatives that surround the individual, and chose to give physical solutions to a particular distress that is mainly psychological. These physical solutions can be as simple as recommending people to dress "discretely" or they can go as far as surgical or chemical treatment. But they rarely are accompanied by a set of psychological tools to fight against abuse, to set boundaries or even to investigate our upbringing.

How can anybody make the right decisions about their own life if they are constantly bombarded with the opinion of others, with solutions that haven't been proven or with a cocktail of chemicals (not only hormones but also antidepressants)? Even if that is the life they want to pursue, they will need to be in very good shape to confront the mental load that such changes bring with them.

LGBT lobby

For quite a while I wondered who the hell was this LGBT lobby that homophobic people uses to argue about the dangers of the LGBT community. I could not understand where the money was. Everybody can agree, or at least I do, that LGBT people deal with much discrimination in the job market, and therefore there are not really big businesses that favour them.

Though my point of view regarding this hasn't changed that much, I did learn that there might actually be a lobby profiting at the expense of this debate. And that is not a cowboy in leather pants and a colourful hat, neither is a diva showing off amazing vocal skills in a shiny dress and a synthetic wig. It is actually a lobby that is creating problems all over our society: the pharmaceutical and cosmetics industry.

This industry doesn't have an opinion about what you want to do with your life, instead, they only think about expanding their business. When they see a dysphoric person they see a customer, no matter which process decides to follow they will guide them in such a way the industry will make the biggest profit. You can see this pattern in other industries. Think for a minute about the minimalist movement. People join because they want to generate less rubbish and be more conscious, and still, the industry managed to turn it into a perfect excuse to buy new stylish furniture.

The pharmaceutical industry has shown before that, if it is possible, they try that you stay attached to them as long as possible, dependent for life would be perfect, just as a chronic patient.

If I hadn't seen it with my own eyes while I was working at the hospital I would consider it to be another conspiracy theory, but I did watch the jaws of this industry for eight years. I witness how easy it is for a doctor to prescribe fourteen tablets to a patient in a minute but it is nearly impossible for them to find fourteen minutes to listen to any patient. In these conditions, no wonder our mental health is so neglected. This is actually an issue that touches many areas of our lives, not only our gender identities or sexualities but our life as human beings in itself.

Gender creation: Non-binary

Earlier I mentioned gender abolition and now comes the other side of the coin: People who don't refuse the idea of gender but don't identify with any of the traditional genders, and so a blank space in between is created. I totally relate to this even though I don't identify as non-binary.

Who are you if you like glitter, loose clothes, ballet and football?

Who are you if you wear makeup, nail polish and a bear too?

Who are you if you do your hair in order to be comfortable but don't care about what message it gives?

Who are you if you like both romance and action movies? Are rude or are you soft?

Who are you if you enjoy musicals and gore? Are you joyful or tough?

Who are you if you shop without looking at the big men/women signs hanging from the roof?

I really get why this label has been invented though I don't really like how it sounds. It seems like non-binary is just a label for whoever is fucking tired of absurd comments, tired of caring about what other people think about them. Exhausted and unable any more to listen to any unconstructive critics. Think about it, you just say "I am non-binary" and then the irritating conversations about what you should be doing about your looks are done. More or less what a guy with incipient alopecia does when he finally shaves his head off so people just call him bald, but at least, they stop telling him to book a trip to Turkey. As I said, I don't like how it sounds. I would suggest a better name with a wider range of possibilities, something more like, non-fucks-to-give.


Here is a factual, tangible and very much ignored reality: the intersexual children that grow in uncertainty, or worse, in oblivious, until they become old enough to confront their situation by themselves. At this point, it can be an enormous mess given all the decisions that are taken for them during the early years of their life.

It is not easy to imagine what to do in such a particular case as every child is born with male and female characteristics but this doesn't happen every time in the same way. Oftentimes, they have physical health problems that need to be addressed if not urgently, eventually in most cases.

I wonder why is this scenario not discussed more often when we are talking about gender, as it is a great challenge that allows accomplishing deeper insight into the consequences of applying gender roles to others.

Have you ever imagined what would you do if you had an intersex child?

I will tell you that "supporting my child", though is laudable, is not an answer that will solve the challenge.

Have you ever put yourself in the skin of an intersex teenager?

I don't know if you were a confident teenager, but most are not. Try to make life-changing decisions when your brain is still developing.

Some people include intersex in the Trans label and hope that would be enough for them. As if gender dysphoria had anything to do with literally being born with a combination of male and female biological traits. This is completely wrong because, in order to transition, you have to go from one point to the other and in the case of intersex people, they are born in the middle.

Biology is not so clear anymore, is it?

Ethics, morality or feelings become incredibly personal and related to the individual at issue. Even the thought of giving a suggestion to someone in such a position makes me tremble. The only thing it comes up to my mind is meditation, getting in touch with the self and letting it talk. Let's see if the inner self has better ideas than the whole of society, which clearly has no clue.

Respect and compassion

That is what a debate is about: respect and compassion. We get into discussions too eager to expose arguments and convince those who disagree with us. But in this debate, I feel like we haven't got enough arguments to have such strong opinions as I often read about.

We ought to listen more to those who we disagree with because they might raise a topic that can lead us to something new for us to research, even if what they are saying is utterly wrong. Yes, it hurts, but they might have a point.

As long as respect is on the table we should be compassionate with whoever joins the debate with curiosity. I understand that it feels irritating to hear someone talking when they still know very little. Like the Dunning-Kruger effect shows, it is inevitable that the dumbest always try to speak loudly, but unfortunately, we all go through the lowest point of the curve before we rise up.

We are all wrong at some point in our lives and we all wish for someone to have enough patience so we have room to express ourselves as we learn. When we are constantly told to shut up because we've made a mistake we stop being interested in the subject. Gender is a very important subject, whether we end up creating new ones or erasing them all together.

The other Schrödinger’s scenario: while it's in the closed box, which gender is the cat?

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Lucía Ferro

Writer. I often think before writing, sometimes I even think without writing. So I guess I am also a Thinker. A Thinker and a Writer.