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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars We're all transgender, October 6, 2010
This review is from: The Apartheid of Sex: Manifesto on the Freedom of Gender (Paperback)
Rothblatt makes the compelling argument that our notions of sexual identity are rooted in traditions that have always poorly served us, whether they derive from Greco-Roman civilization, early Christianity or even the "Enlightenment". Through all of them, "women" (or those born with vaginas) were judged inferior to "men" (or those born with penises), whether through character, strength or intellectual capacity. Rothblatt also notes that most major organized religions suffer from the same deficiency, citing Buddhism's belief that only a man can attain Nirvana.

While notions of female character inferiority have been debunked (at least legally) and physical strength is irrelevant for our modern world, arguments that men and women are different intellectually persist. Women are still (as of the writing in 1995, and as of the date of this review in 2010) judged to be better at writing and communication, while men are held to be better at "hard" science and math. Men are also said to test better. On the first count, Rothblatt rightly calls out that the overlap in scores is far greater than the discrepancies, and also notes that men tend to "dominate" the extremes of the low or high scores. However, those discrepancies account for 10% of the total population- both male and female. In other words, men and women are far more alike than they are different, and it doesn't make sense to draw inferences about everyone based on statistical outliers.

We cannot even depend on a chromosomal definition of sex. While we're taught that a boy= XY and a girl= XX, or that the presence of a Y chromosome makes for a boy, it's not always that simple. Many girls (1 in 500?) are born with XXY, and there are some with just an X. Further, some people with XX present with male genitalia. Sexual biology is hardly a "slam dunk", and it becomes increasingly specious to link emotional or intellectual capacity with genitalia.

The author argues that we are not "either/or" but that we are better classified- if we must classify- on a continuum. Most are going to find that hard to embrace- many have not quite made that transition with race- but I must admit, I find the idea of categorizing myself as a combination of eroticism, aggression and my capacity to nurture more useful than just what I'm able to contribute to the reproductive process.

All that said, I would give this 3.5 stars if I could. As much as I might have agreed or found her evidence from other sources useful, I cannot justify the lack of both footnotes and a bibliography for this kind of work. As my teenager said, that's Writing 101. Rothblatt would have done a greater service if those had been included.
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