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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/5964/pick-your-gender-and-well-enforce-your-choice-says-new-york-citys-board-of-health/

Pick Your Gender and We’ll Enforce Your Choice, Says New York City’s Board of Health

December 1, 2006 by

The following is from The New York Times of November 7, 2006:

Separating anatomy from what it means to be a man or a woman, New York City is moving forward with a plan to let people alter the sex on their birth certificate even if they have not had sex-change surgery.

Under the rule being considered by the city’s Board of Health, which is likely to be adopted soon, people born in the city would be able to change the documented sex on their birth certificates by providing affidavits from a doctor and a mental health professional laying out why their patients should be considered members of the opposite sex, and asserting that their proposed change would be permanent.

Applicants would have to have changed their name and shown that they had lived in their adopted gender for at least two years, but there would be no explicit medical requirements.

The meaning of these statements is that if you’re a man and want badly enough to be a woman, or if you’re a woman and want badly enough to be a man, in New York City you soon will be able to be so. In New York City, at least according to the city’s government, wishing to possess a different gender will actually make it so.The Times confirms this judgment when it explains that “the proposed change … is an outgrowth of the transgender community’s push to recognize that some people may not have money to get a sex-change operation, while others may not feel the need to undergo the procedure and are simply defining themselves as members of the opposite sex.”

So, in New York City, starting soon if this rule is adopted, all you’ll have to do is define yourself as a member of the opposite sex and, according to the city’s government, you’ll be a member of the opposite sex. True, this isn’t strictly all that’s required. You’ll have to change your name appropriately, e.g., from Al to Alice, or from Samantha to Sam. And you’ll have to show that you’ve lived in your “adopted gender” for two years.

Please observe. This is not a matter of individuals being free to indulge in their sexual fantasies in their own bedrooms or in private clubs, or in any other private facility whose owner is willing to allow it to be used for such a purpose, whether it be a bar, a hotel, or an athletic stadium for that matter. No one who upholds private property rights can make objection to such a thing, irrespective of his personal evaluation of such behavior.

What is present in the rule being considered by New York City’s Board of Health is an attempt to forcibly impose the fantasy of some people on everyone else. It is an attempt to elevate fantasy to the level of actual reality and to compel everyone else to accept it as though it were reality.

The validity of this conclusion is demonstrated by The Times’ account of a young man who claims to be female and who said “she wanted a new birth certificate to prevent confusion, and to keep teachers, police officers and other authority figures from embarrassing her in public or accusing her of identity theft.” The Times recounts that when this individual recently visited a welfare office, “she included a note with her application for public assistance asking that she be referred to as Ms. when her turn for an interview came up. It did not work. The woman handling her case repeatedly addressed her as Mister.” The Times also states that “[t]he eight experts who addressed the birth certificate issue strongly recommended that the change be made, for the practical reasons [this individual] identified.”

What New York City’s Board of Health’s new rule would do would be to compel whoever handled such a case to refer to this young man as a woman, to call her “Ms.” and in every other respect treat her as a woman. Refusal to do so would necessarily constitute an actionable offense of some kind. For it would be refusing to comply with an official, governmental designation and doing so to the alleged hurt and humiliation of the person so designated. Refusal in such circumstances would have aspects of a “hate crime.”

Everyone who came into contact with an individual officially designated as a member of the opposite sex, and who refused to accept that designation, could potentially be accused of some form of hate crime. Supermarket checkers, cab drivers, waiters, repairmen, sales help of all kinds, and landlords and their employees, would all be at risk, along with doctors and nurses, policemen and firemen, and numerous other categories of people.

To comply with the law and avoid possible prosecution, people would be put in a position in which they would have to deny the evidence of their senses. Confronted with someone obviously belonging to one sex but claiming to be a member of the opposite sex and officially so designated, they would be compelled by the law to deny what they saw with their own eyes and to affirm as true what they knew to be false. Thus, what the New York City Board of Health is setting the stage for is the forcible violation of the human mind. In spirit, but on a far more mundane scale that can show up in the everyday lives of ordinary people, it is the heir to those who threatened Galileo because of his loyalty to the facts.

In its vicious treatment of Galileo, the Catholic Church claimed that it was acting to defend the foundations of theology and morality, which it believed required the anthropocentric view of the solar system that Galileo overthrew. What the New York City Board of Health is acting to defend is nothing nearly so grand. What it is acting to defend is a mere species of literal insanity: the insanity of fantasy indulged not now and then for a few minutes or a few hours, in the knowledge that it is fantasy, but raised to the level of a day-in, day-out way of life and regarded as reality. It wants to impose on everyone who may come into contact with those suffering from such delusion an obligation to participate in the delusion and to affirm that it is not delusion but reality.

A classic illustration of insanity is someone believing that he is Napoleon Bonaparte. The same logic that is present in its proposed new rule on gender identity would require the New York City Board of Health to certify such an individual not as insane, but as Napoleon. If someone changed his name to Napoleon Bonaparte, walked around in replicas of Napoleon’s uniforms, with his right hand always tucked into his tunic, and called his wife “Josephine,” and did such things for two years, he would have to be certified as being Napoleon by New York City’s Board of Health and the New York City government, if they were logically consistent.

If the New York City Board of Health does in fact enact its proposed rule on gender identity, its members who vote for the rule will have demonstrated a major loss of their own capacity to distinguish between fantasy and reality. They will deserve not only to be thrown out of office but also, it could reasonably be argued, to be committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Of course, it is next to impossible that they would be committed, because the source of the rule they are considering is none other than New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In New York City, the inmates, or those who arguably should be inmates, are literally running the asylum.

Postscript:

Of course, it is an unjustified act of physical force to commit anyone against his will to a psychiatric hospital who has not himself previously initiated the use of physical force. And this applies to those who believe they are members of the gender opposite to their own. It also applies to those who may believe they are Napoleon.

So long as they do not initiate the use of force, they should be free to come and go as they please. But by the same token, no one should ever be threatened with the use of physical force merely for refusing to support their delusions or for contradicting them. That threat of physical force is what is coming out of New York City’s Board of Health.

This article is copyright © 2006, by George Reisman. Permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute it electronically and in print, other than as part of a book and provided that mention of the author’s web site www.capitalism.net is included. (Email notification is requested.) All other rights reserved. George Reisman is the author of Capitalism: A Treatise on Economics (Ottawa, Illinois: Jameson Books, 1996) and is Pepperdine University Professor Emeritus of Economics.

{ 24 comments }

Mike R December 1, 2006 at 1:42 pm

I disagree with George Reisman, “Pick Your Gender…” While it is true that we are born with physical properties that are either male or female, and our genes are either male or female (both with some rare exceptions), how we address and treat eachother is social and cultural.

Calling eachother Mr., Mrs., Miss, Sir, Mz., etc. are social labels. Notice, they are not simply Man or Woman. They mean something – are often associated with how we treat the person. A married woman may choose to identify herself not as Mary Smith, but as Mrs. Mary Smith, or Mrs. Smith. Why? She wants to be treated socially in a certain way.

People that have gender identity issues (mentally one sex, physically another) don’t have illusions about what they physically are. What they want is to be treated in a way consistent with social norms for a given sex, the one which they identify with emotionally.

Given that our relationships with the government are usually involuntary, I don’t have a problem with the government being flexible in the way people are labelled. This should never be imposed on individuals, private businesses, etc. They should make their own choices, whether to accomodate or not, based on their own preferences and economic choices.

David J. Heinrich December 1, 2006 at 2:20 pm

Great blog entry, Prof. Reisman. Insanity indeed.

Mike,

Maybe it’s true that some people are born with the physical characteristics of a man, but the psychology of a woman. Some genetic mutation, or something; sort of like hermaphrodites. Fine. (and I’m sure that characterization would probably offend a lot of these people). But you could also say it’s just a psychological disorder that needs treatment, just like any other disorder. If you have the gender of a man, but feel like you ought to behave like a woman, etc., then you have a psychological problem. Just like someone who thinks he’s Napoleon Bonaparte.

Also, I don’t think you realize that this proposed requirement by NYC is an initiation of aggression, if passed. It would require everyone else to address someone as something they are not. I really don’t care about how someone wants to be addressed. If someone is a man, I’m going to call them Mr., not Mrs. I am not going to participate in a kind of cultural insanity, or delusion, some kind of multiculturalistic relativistic BS, that says we ought to refer to people however they wish to be refered to as, and treat them as such. What if I want to be treated as Jesus? By your argumen, I should be. I mean, it is a fact that I’m not Jesus; but treating people like Jesus or not like Jesus is just a social convention.

Furthermore, this proposed legislation would seem to require insurance companies to treat men as women if they “want to be” women, and have lived that way for 2 years, changed their name, changed their sex on their birth-certificate. So, no insurnace companies would systematically be losing money on these types of individuals, as men have more health-problems than women (e.g., shorter lifespan for life-insurance).

Yancey Ward December 1, 2006 at 2:52 pm

So why even require a doctor’s permit to get the changed identification? Why isn’t it enough for the person to simply declare what he wants?

Ryan December 1, 2006 at 3:35 pm

Interesting how you’re using the Galileo/Catholic church as an analogy. Church was protecting what it saw as being true – the sun revolting around the earth. From Church’s POV it was actually Galileo who was having a fantasy.

Transgendered people have enough problems to deal with, and those are no easy issues. Even though i’m a gay gay person myself i find hard to understand sometimes what they’re going though. As i said – these are very, extremely complicated issues, and ritoric simplifying doesn’t help. For instance, you can see it this way: what’s more true, the way your body is, or what you have in your mind? I hope you’re not questioning existence of transgendered people per se, just that everybody can choose their true gender more easily?

What the Board of Health did can be taken in several ways – in my POV they simply protected transgendered folks from at least some suffering.

Francisco Torres December 1, 2006 at 4:10 pm

So why even require a doctor’s permit to get the changed identification? Why isn’t it enough for the person to simply declare what he wants?

Because it is a racket created to give more money to doctors.

Dewaine December 1, 2006 at 4:15 pm

I feel like a billionaire, and that I should be addressed and treated as a billionaire. Can NYC make me so?

David J. Heinrich December 1, 2006 at 5:34 pm

I don’t see what’s so hard to get about Prof. Reisman’s point. This is institutionalized normalization of delusion, and systematic initiation of aggression.

Quote:
“So long as they do not initiate the use of force, they should be free to come and go as they please. But by the same token, no one should ever be threatened with the use of physical force merely for refusing to support their delusions or for contradicting them. That threat of physical force is what is coming out of New York City’s Board of Health.”

That really is the punchline. I don’t care how “tough” it is for transgendered people, due to social problems or whatever (did it ever occur to anyone, however, that it’s “tough” on them because of their obvious mental problems?). The simple fact is, they don’t have the right to initiate aggression against others in order to make it “less tough”.

David J. Heinrich December 1, 2006 at 5:36 pm

Dewaine,

So, you want to have 50% of your income stolen, and be demonized as being an evil greedy capitalist pig? ;-)

Quote:
>I feel like a billionaire, and that I should be addressed and treated as a billionaire. Can NYC make me so?<

Wot December 1, 2006 at 8:56 pm

I support the complete anarchy in gender.

If a person wants to call themselves god know what, and another bunch of people are cool with this and willing to go along with it and call them that also, then so be it. And if another bunch of people think this first bunch of people are who knows what for doing this and attempts to ostracize them (from whatever group they think they can), then that’s their prerogative too.

The problem here is the state, and either group getting the state to do it’s dirty work. Get government out of the ‘birth certificate’ business. It’s nothing more than a scheme to brand you like the cattle you are!

Reader December 2, 2006 at 10:17 am

Well said Wot!

It seems to me a step in the right direction.

The final step being having the right to put any information we should want to on these government granted certificates.

Some of those who replied ought to consider that transgendered people usually just want to get on with their lives and not face the awkward situation of presenting their papers to confused landlords, employers, customs officials etc.

Would readers here like to have ‘anarchist’ added to their citizen certificates? Most think us rather ill also.

gary December 2, 2006 at 1:04 pm

Wot’s the man. That’s the only truely libertarian comment in this thread. Everyone else seems to have a strong interventionist streak in them. I find that most people here on Mises are intellectually and philosophically much closer to Republicanism and Neo-conservatism than they are to Libertarianism.

David J. Heinrich December 2, 2006 at 1:22 pm

gary,

“Wot’s the man. That’s the only truely libertarian comment in this thread. Everyone else seems to have a strong interventionist streak in them. I find that most people here on Mises are intellectually and philosophically much closer to Republicanism and Neo-conservatism than they are to Libertarianism.”

Bull.

My comment, and those of Prof. Reisman and other posters were completely libertarian. There’s nothing unlibertarian about pointing out the delusions of certain mentally ill people. And no-one here is proposing any form of initiation of aggression against transgenders.

What several posters, however, are vehemently noting, is that this proposed law would initiate aggression against anyone transgender’s might interact with, as if you don’t consider them what they want to be considered, you’re violating the legislation. Thus, when applying for life-insurance, they would have to get the more favorable rates for women (as women live longer, thus have a lesser probability of dying at any given point), even if biologically you’re a mna. This would clearly be an initiation of aggression against the insurance companies.

And no, I’m not going to refer to a transgendered person as whatever they want to be referred to as. And most women, for example, feel uncomfortable with allowing transgendered shims into their rest-rooms (thus, by implication, many restaurant owners would also not want that). Of course, if some restaurants are fine with this, then that’s their right (I certainly wouldn’t take my family to these restaurants).

And also, there’s apparently the phenomenon of some transgenders, who have had their operations, bedding members of the “opposite sex”, without telling them that they’re transgenders. In my view, this justifies a major ass-kicking of them, as it is an initiation of aggression (actually, I would argue that such is passive rape).

TokyoTom December 2, 2006 at 6:20 pm

While I agree with most of which others have said, I am not sure that this is actually worth the hype. I don`t see that Dr. Reisman has justified this statement: “Everyone who came into contact with an individual officially designated as a member of the opposite sex, and who refused to accept that designation, could potentially be accused of some form of hate crime.” This might be the case for those in the belly of the beast – bureacrats, officials etc – but I fail to see any connection established to private behavior.

Vince Daliessio December 3, 2006 at 11:29 am

Wot’s comments are spot on – who here is willing to go to bat for government birth certificates, ID cards, etc? Please turn in your libertarian credentials if you really think government has any business documenting our lives.

On the other hand, Professor Reisman is saying (and I agree) that this law will result in massive violations of private rights to free association.

Back in 1969, a ragtag but brave bunch of gays and drag queens took on the brutal NYPD to defend their own right to freedom of association, and triumphed. How sad then that the same government wants to use the hard-won rights of gays as a canard to destroy the rights of others to associate with one another as they see fit.

And it won’t be long before the fraud cases start involving people whose claimed gender doesn’t match their biology in, er, interpersonal relationships…

Francisco Torres December 3, 2006 at 7:44 pm

“This might be the case for those in the belly of the beast – bureacrats, officials etc – but I fail to see any connection established to private behavior.”

Think: Model agencies.

Dewaine December 3, 2006 at 7:54 pm

Much of the loss of freedom we suffer, and much of the dismantling of libertarianism in the last 300 years or so, is due to the corruption of language. We now must explain to which freedoms we refer in order to even use the word freedom in a meaningful way.

The continual corruption of language — including the loss of meanings, changes in meanings to obfuscate other intentions, and the related decline of education — is dangerous to freedom.

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”

hard return ¶ December 4, 2006 at 8:50 am

I appreciate wot’s comment too. Go back into your genealogy and you can see the rise of the State in the 19th-20th century in the US for keeping more and more records of births, marriages, etc. as opposed to localized or private records. My understanding is that things like miscegenation laws and the rise of socialism in general were responsible for keeping these kinds of records. This is nothing new, just another problem related to too much socialism. In the US, the state’s preoccupation with labeling one’s ancestral origins was vogue in the 19th and 20th centuries. I suppose the fashion for the 21st may be labeling whether one is X/X, X/Y or Z! The state really has no business telling me who I am and labeling me.

averros December 4, 2006 at 7:59 pm

…and of course, the Government, in its infinite wisdom tossed out the baby with the water.

There are naturally-born people who have weird biological gender identities due to the rare karyotypes (47-XXX, 47-XXY, 47-XYY, 45-X) besides the standard (46-XX and 46-XY) or because of microchimerism. They are forced to fit into one of the two bins, when it should be nobody’s business to tell them to lie about their true identities.

Vince Daliessio December 4, 2006 at 11:45 pm

…not to mention that this is also an, ahem, BACKDOOR way to legalize gay marriage…

Sorry for the very bad pun.

David December 5, 2006 at 1:47 am

Averros said:
…and of course, the Government, in its infinite wisdom tossed out the baby with the water.

There are naturally-born people who have weird biological gender identities due to the rare karyotypes (47-XXX, 47-XXY, 47-XYY, 45-X) besides the standard (46-XX and 46-XY) or because of microchimerism. They are forced to fit into one of the two bins, when it should be nobody’s business to tell them to lie about their true identities.’

Quite. And I might add that there is a long history of forced medical interference whenever babies with ambigious genitalia are born. And there are lots of them. Many cases exist of intersexed children whose sex was arbitarily selected for them at birth and surgically enforced, long before they had a chance to find out what they really were.

there is a continuum of sexual identity between the male and female extremes. That is hard biological fact, not merely psychological delusion, and these features affect millions of peo[ple worldwide. With bona fide hermaphrodites in the middle, and verying degrees of mixing on either side of that: chromosomal men with female genitalia, or breasts, or an absence of facial hair, and likewise chromosomal women with male characteristics such as functional penisses and facial hair.

While these differences do not affect the majority of people, the simple fact is that nobody ( least of all a bureaucrat) is in a position to draw a definitive line somewhere along this continuum without that line being arbitarily selected – and leaving at least some of the people clustered close to it on either side the victims of social engineering.

SO if that absolute dividing line cannot be drawn with certainty, perhaps it should not be drawn at all. Which should leave the individual to choose his or her sexual identity, unimpeded by the state.

Whats wrong with that?

David December 5, 2006 at 7:02 am

Incidentally, the word ‘gender’ is misused here -a common mistake not least perpetrated by many in the hardcore socialist/feminist movements, and indeed among the absurdly PC everywhere.

‘Gender’ is a grammatical, linguistic concept that only has an incidental relationship to sex. The relationship just happens to be simple in English, much more complicated in French (where masculine/feminine genders are ascribed to all sorts of sexless things), and downright confusing in German, where, for example, some words describing real live female people are linguistically masculine gender-wise. And in some Native American languages, gender is ascribed not according to sex, but according to whether the thing being described is animate or inanimate.

So, the word ‘Gender’, meaning ‘Sex’ , used by the modern thin-lipped socialist/feminist/politically correct nexus, is in fact a product of Anglo-centric Western Cultural Imperialism. O the irony.

cornince July 14, 2008 at 8:39 pm

I understand that this proposed use of force against individuals (which I am glad was defeated) was wrong, but I am sick and tired of “rightest” libertarians and others always using transsexual/transgender folk as punching bags, almost as though they are the ultimate expression of statist mentality.

If you researched transsexualism a bit more, you’ll see that it’s considered by a majority of the psychiatric community that it’s of a different substance from believing oneself to be Napoleon Bonaparte. By substance, I mean to say that the origin of the condition and its nature. In other words, a deeply-held lifelong belief that you really should be a member of the opposite sex (while understanding how your body actually is) is different from thinking you’re really in the 18th/19th century waging war in Europe (and have a wife named Josephine, which may or may not be true).

Transsexual people, who usually had the condition their whole lives, always had a certain twitch, a certain dysphoria about being the sex they physically are. They understand where they are, who they are, and how their body physically is, but they hate it. They understand their body’s shape and worked at interacting in society with that shape, but they always had an internal sense that it is wrong somehow, and that they really should be the opposite sex. This is different from someone who suddenly thinks they are actually Napoleon and had the experiences and circumstances of Napoleon, and goes off acting like it. The psychiatric community in general understands this and thus does not consider transsexual people to be delusional, because those people understand how they physically are, but it is only that to them it causes pain and feels wrong.

Consider too that in the US the process for sex change therapy is among the least regulated and least funded by the government (of course the welfare states of Europe and Canada are going to be different!), but there is also a flourishing free market for this process in Thailand with surgeons providing such operations at lowered prices with good services provided. They also provide assistance for the individuals to be more able to fit in as members of the opposite sex with other surgeries in a competitive free market. Think about how this issue with the New York City council might be resolved if the medical regulations were dropped here, which would allow prices to come down, so that fewer and fewer people would even “need” to have that force imposed. We might not even need any government involvement!

Of course, Heinrich doesn’t argue against the wrongness of the government issuing birth certificates and other documents involuntarily on its citizens anyway, and he would advocate that the government refuse to change any of the transsexual people’s records so that they could be forced to bring government documents mentioning the sex of which they are presenting opposite, so they could continue to get harassed and turned away by employers who “don’t like their kind.” He doesn’t realize the statism that would result from that, in that instead of being able to change the records they were involuntarily given in peace and move on with their lives, the government might conveniently get them to want anti-discrimination laws passed to offset having to present their records, which increases the harassment and embarrassment for the transsexual person, who simply wants to pass as the opposite sex without disrupting cultural norms, while increasing government involvement in the economy.

Please oh please I hope you don’t advocate this statist solution!

Matt April 21, 2009 at 9:16 pm

Perhaps you all should read the Standards of Care, available on http://www.lauras-playground.com, and you’ll see that being TG is not a “mental illness” or delusion.

I can assure you that transgender is NOT a fantasy. One of the criterions that doctors examine is if a person’s desire to be the opposite gender from their physical sex is a paraphillia (sexual fetish).

Merely because some professionals are leftists does not mean they are stupid. Nor do their politics neccesarrily inform their theories and ideas.

This is the worse article I have ever seen connected with this Institute. Professor Reismann ought to be ashamed of himself for failing to do any research about his topic before writing about it.

hotoCoiva October 27, 2010 at 5:18 pm

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