Why is it Critical to Determine if “They” as a Pronoun is Scientifically Defensible?
We stand at an interesting moment in our culture, as do other cultures around the world. Many millions of people are now being invited to identify themselves not as one gender or another—even if the gender does not match their biological sex. They are being asked if they identify as no gender at all, but rather as an amalgam of female and male. And they wish or insist to be referred to as “they” by family, friends, teachers, employers or anyone else.
It is among the most urgent frontiers for scientific inquiry to investigate whether there is a scientific basis upon which the “I am they” movement (an extension of the transgender movement) can be defended. Because if all of science were to be unable to demonstrate underpinnings of firmly believing that one is not male, nor female, then it might be wise to consider whether that belief is a disordered way of thinking that, traditionally, has been considered illness.
Why? Why would I rank this subject of scientific inquiry on par with, say, cancer research? It is because the unexamined acceptance of a massive assertion like “I am they” paves the way for adapting our culture—including our language, of course—in massive ways. It paves the way for people to insist on all manner of things as real, without the kind of foundation that society has relied upon to grow and to confront challenges. As strange as it may seem, a close cousin of “I am they” could be the assertion that one is disabled, when there is no evidence to suggest it, other than that belief. Another close cousin could of “I am they” could be the assertion that one has had cancer and defeated it, through a new way of dancing. If a person can be “they,” then a person can believe, without any diagnostic test whatsoever backing up the assertion, that he or she or “they,” had a massive brain tumor causing headaches (without a CT scan or MRI to corroborate that) and that eating Cheerios cereal made it go away.
The “I am they” movement is, therefore, a direct challenge to all of science. And if science isn’t going to stand up for itself when under assault, it is going to be a thing of the past. Note, for instance, how easy it has become for an important government agency to assert at one moment that masks prevent infection with Covid-19 and to assert at another moment that they do not, or that they might, under particular circumstances.
With all the news about UFOs lately, how long do you think it will be before human beings begin asserting they are actually aliens and insisting they be addressed as such. Funny, right? No. It will happen.
Why would I, the Founder of Pain-2-Power, want science to address the “I am they” movement? Because the presence of the “I am they” movement (and others), if untrue and embraced unchecked, can shake what we might call the true self movement. It can urge people—including those in the “I am they” movement and others forced to accept it—to exit the path leading to toward true, core identity, from which true strength derives, in favor of a fiction that sets the stage for future problems like depression, anxiety and weakness.
Let’s resolve to do what will be, in some ways and for some people, the painful work of determining if there is a basis for an individual to be regarded and addressed as “they.” That is the powerful way forward.
Dr. Keith Ablow
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