Page Summary

  • A person does not need to be fertile in order to count as a man or woman. Everyone inherently has the capacity to generate new life (either in oneself or in another), but sometimes the capacity is impeded from reaching its fulfillment.
  • Sex can only be binary, because the act of generation only admits a limited set of possibilities.
  • Sex can’t change, because any potential procedure to that end wouldn’t make the individual the author of the activity of the opposite sex. Such a procedure would only retro-engineer a function observed in the opposite sex.

Is biological sex inherent to each person?

Objections to the previous article

Are we saying that only fertile people are men or women?

Absolutely not. By saying that a person is “organized” to do something, we don’t mean the immediate ability, in the way that you have the immediate ability to communicate (even if you aren’t currently doing it while reading this). Instead, the sort of capacity we’re conveying is the innate ordering towards a particular act that belongs to something based on its very being.

Take the example of speech. Everyone has the capacity (or “power”, if you prefer) to speak, as a result of being rational. In practice, some people are incapable of speaking, whether because of age, injury, developmental impediment, or extreme isolation. In those cases, though, it doesn’t mean they’re any less rational. Such a person who is unable to speak is still different in kind from an ape that is equally unable to speak. One has a capacity that is impeded by circumstance, and the other is functioning as it should.

Is sex really binary? Why binary instead of a spectrum?

Because the act of generation only admits of a limited range of possibilities: generating in oneself (which pertains to women), generating in another (which pertains to men), not generating at all (which only occurs when one of the first two options is thwarted by intervening circumstances), or generating in both oneself and another (which has never been observed in human history).

Can sex change?

Let’s say for the sake of argument that Danielle’s husband Dave, a man who has the capacity to generate in another, has experimental surgery to add a functioning female reproductive system: ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, and all.1 If Dave still retains his original reproductive system, would this make him both a man and a woman? No, because that second system wouldn’t be a true aspect of him. He didn’t come into being that way or grow in that way. It’s not innate to him, he only acquired it because those who performed the surgery observed real women like Danielle and retro-engineered the procedure from what they observed. No third party had to observe how men functioned in order for Dave to be a man; he is the author of that activity, whereas someone else had to author the second ability that he uses instrumentally. The only way to make a woman is to conceive one.

Danielle can relax, because she doesn’t have to actually do anything to be a woman. Nobody can take that away from her. (search keywords: trans, transgender)

a woman looking at a laptop screen

1) This remains purely hypothetical, as there is no technological method for adding a fully functioning reproductive system to a person.

Other objections? Keep the conversation going: