Everyone who finds themselves caught in a war zone is deserving of sympathy. Some have suggested that transgender-identifying individuals trying to leave Ukraine are especially vulnerable. Oddly, by spotlighting trans-identifying individuals in a fight-or-flight context, progressive journalists have inadvertently demonstrated the irrelevance of gender identity compared with biological sex.
Writing for CBS News, Li Cohen tells the story of Zi Faámelu, a 31-year-old male who identifies as female. Faámelu is in a tight spot because, “If you have a male gender in your passport, they will not let you go abroad.” The Ukrainian military considers sex (not gender identity) in determining who they need to stay and fight. Faámelu considers this “a war within a war.”
Writing for Business Insider, Bethany Dawson complicates this narrative. She discusses the plight of a 19-year-old female who identifies as male (and whom she gives the pseudonym, Andriy). Like Faámelu, Andriy “read the news that all men in Ukraine ages 18 to 60 were not permitted to leave the country and obligated to serve in the military.” Like Faámelu, Andriy has no interest in military service and would rather be a refugee.
The difference was that Andriy possessed both male and female IDs. So, in order to leave the country, Andriy ditched the male ID and resorted to using the old female passport. Andriy chose sex over gender identity. She also painted her nails and put on women’s clothing, temporarily reversing the gender transition.
Dawson thinks this is tragic: “Andriy had to revert to being a person he was not — a shadow of the person he was before — a painful, gender-dysphoria-inducing process.” But Andriy had correctly identified something more tragic and painful — being blown to bits.
If Andriy were truly a man like any other man, it would be unfair for him to be allowed to leave while the other men stayed and risked their lives. As Andriy told Insider: “It doesn’t matter whether you are trans or not. The war is scary for everybody. I know even strong, big men who are afraid when they hear bombing.” This is exactly right. Men are not expected to stay because they are braver or because they want to. They are expected to stay because their greater strength, size, speed, and aggression make them more effective (and less vulnerable) as combatants.
If both Faámelu (who is male) and Andriy (who is female) were to be treated as the sex with which they identified in the context of war, then Faámelu would be allowed to leave, while Andriy would be forced to stay. Does anyone really think that would be fairer? Or are progressives advancing a more general argument that trans people are so vulnerable that they are ill-suited to military service? If so, somebody might want to tell Joe Biden that the progressive thinking on this has changed.
Content created by Madeleine Kearns
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