Say ‘Men’ When You Talk About Men

And stop saying ‘gender’ when you mean ‘sex’

Men suffer almost twice as much from the Corona virus. And by “men,” I mean biological males with Y chromosomes. Whereas having an extra X chromosome seems to make a huge difference in patient outcomes, having a “gender identity” is no protection at all from viruses, which do not care about our tender feelings or self-perceptions.

So you would hope that public health entities use clear language when they are informing said public about the science of an ongoing pandemic, but you would be wrong.

The term “gender” comes from the construction of languages. It has only become a synonym for sex since the Second World War, and remains inappropriate to any public policy which addresses bodies rather than identities.

People with male bodies (men) need to know they are especially vulnerable to the virus. “Trans men” (women who identify as men) do not share this vulnerability.

I am not just picking nits here. Consider the damage that can happen when a trans man shows up for labor and delivery, and the staff are so busy learning new pronouns that they fail to treat the patient as a pregnant person with a uterus. Consider the linguistic contortions necessary to describe a mother-to-be as “pregnant person with a uterus” instead of just mother.

This verbal tic is supposed to be inclusive, therefore welcoming and kind. It is none of those things. To quote Orwell, it is a “political language … designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” Gender is a windy word; we should use it far less than we do, and we should say men or women when we are talking about different types of bodies.

When we queer our meaning, we make it unclear. That can only ever serve magical thinking, not public health.

About the author

Former progressive activist declared heretic by his former movement for refusing to believe that "woman" is a costume or a feeling and recognizing male pattern behavior as male even when it wears lipstick and high heels. Just because you hate something I say does not make it hate speech.
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