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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Swimming In Controversial Belief

Let’s go swimming in the waters of controversial belief.

Before we start, let’s don protective equipment. While I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), the current post represents my views and not those related to the Albert Ellis Institute. That stated; I will reference REBT principles within the current written submission.

Regarding a short biography requested of me by a previous employer, I stated, “When not engaged with therapeutic endeavors, I enjoy examining legal cases, listening to music, and watching movies.” Much of my blog content supports this assertion.

As I maintain an interest in the law, I’ve devoted some attention to a case having taken place here in Austin, Texas. Judge Maya Guerra Gambleis a judge of the Texas 459th District Court” and presided over the Alex Jones defamation case.

While I have no interest in discussing Jones or the sociopolitical matters linked to his case, I would like to explore something the judge stated during the proceedings. Before I proceed further, I will use the Eminem Method and identify potential criticisms to what I’m about to say.

Per her website, Judge Guerra Gamble is identified as “a Latina and as the child of an immigrant” who is “fully aware that discrimination based on race and gender still take a toll on community and progress.” As well, she is affiliated with the Democratic Party.

Unless I’m mistaken, Judge Guerra Gamble is a woman of color and the daughter of an immigrant, and who potentially has progressive leanings. This gives her at least three points on the progressive stack:

I’m a multiracial disabled United States (U.S.) military veteran with prior service in a hostile fire/imminent danger zone, as I have at least two points in the stack, qualifying me for a spot on in the Oppression Olympics competition, properly framed in the “pyramid of victimization.”

Noteworthy, I’ve not expressed my sexual orientation or preference herein. It is my business, not the concern of others. Nor is it something I desire to obnoxiously flaunt in the face of the world.

Nonetheless, if one claims I “ain’t black,” because I neglect to toe sociopolitical lines or I have so-called “white passing privilege,” the person has me mistaken for someone on whom that sort of shaming works.

“You never can use that over my head. He’s using the wrong stick. I don’t feel that stick.” – el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (minute 15:04)

Since I’ve been reliably informed, “Publicly endorsing — or amplifying — another person’s contribution, while giving attribution to that person, enhances the status of both parties,” the current blog entry serves as amplification of a supposedly marginalized person’s voice from a so-called marginalized individual.

Though some may claim that since I’m supposedly not a member of an alleged oppressed group, I have no right to speak about content contained herein. This isn’t factual from an enumerated vs. unenumerated powers perspective or positive vs. negative rights standpoint.

I write this blog entry using protection of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

One may declare a privilege not to be offended, though this is not a demand to which others are bound. Potential criticism about my supposed inability to challenge another person’s so-called “lived experience,” felt truth or personal truth, or beliefs is invalid.

Bayesian reasoning—updating the probability of one’s hypothesis when additional evidence and information is received—becomes difficult when lived experience, felt truth, and personal truth are at hand.

If these matters are considered as evidentially sound and one changes a perspective, the new understanding may be based on a flawed belief system. This sounds like a delusion, though some may disagree.

In the method of 8 Mile, I offer to my critics, “Here, tell these people something they don’t know about me,” though an ad hominem attack will not render one’s flawed perspective valid or sound. Say about me what you will.

Furthermore, in this blog entry, I won’t go the Helen Lovejoy route, because the “think of the children” call to action is of the low hanging fruit variety. In many ways, it’s self-evident not to harm children—even though the subjective definition of what does and doesn’t constitute harm continually shifts.

Now, I’ll address the judge’s disputation of irrational beliefs.

Judge Guerra Gamble stated to Jones, “You believe everything you say is true but it isn’t. Your beliefs do not make something true. That is…that is what we’re doing here. Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true. It does not protect you. It is not allowed.”

While a number of corporate, legacy, mainstream, and social media sources have chosen to focus on the judge reprimanding of Jones, I invite you to reread the judge’s quote—as it pertains to belief and truth.

Think about the declarations, “Your beliefs do not make something true,” and, “Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true,” as not only a matter of law though as a matter of pragmatism—how to clarify ideas and determine what is or is not.

Since I’m delving into philosophical consideration, let us also reflect upon David Hume’s is-ought problem—said to occur “when one makes claims about what ought to be that are based solely on statements about what is.”

Simply because one believes something ought to be a certain way doesn’t make the belief a true statement, because what is simply is. In my opinion, Judge Guerra Gamble highlighted this maxim quite effectively—even if I have reservations about the case verdict and free speech.

How far into these murky waters of contention is one willing to wade? The obvious comparison to draw when contemplating Judge Guerra Gamble’s assertions relates to identity—in particular what it means to feel or believe as though one is not of the sex or gender assigned, perceived, or otherwise.

While some suggest transracial and transgender (“trans”) issues “shouldn’t” be compared, others are willing to explore the similarities of these matters. If one believes one is of another gender than what others perceive, can another person also identify as maintaining racial characteristics contrary to what evidence may suggest—all on the grounds of believing it to be true?

Can the empirical evidentiary standard apply when scientific data are influenced by ideological entities and activism? Could these influences corrupt knowledge, wisdom, and understanding in favor of what a hive-like mob demands?

Let me see if I can navigate this underwater minefield of a topic. Rather than exploring matters of transracial, trans-species, transhumanism, transdisabled, or other “trans spectrum” identities, I will wade in the transgender pool for now.

Per one progressive source, “Everyone has a gender identity—a feeling or sense of being male, female or somewhere in between. Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not.”

I disagree with this premise. In order to better understand my contention, one may first need to know what a syllogism is. Per one source, “In logic, a syllogism is a form of deductive reasoning that consists of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.

An example of this is:

All humans are mammals (major premise).

I’m a human (minor premise).

Therefore, I’m a mammal (conclusion).

For the current written submission, I’ll set up similar examples in a premise 1, premise 2, and conclusion format. As well, I’ll focus on my sex or gender for a number of the following reference points. My primary disagreement with the aforementioned progressive source is thus:

Premise 1: Every human has a gender identity—a feeling, sense, or belief of being male, female or somewhere in between.

Premise 2: I don’t feel, sense, or believe I’m associated with a particular sex or gender—largely because there’s no universal feeling, sensation, or belief in which all males or men share.

Conclusion: I am not human.

I could survey 1,000 different men from across the globe and receive varying answers as to what they think it feels like to be a man or what they believe being a man is. For instance, one 2018 nationwide survey that included “1,615 adults who identify as men” yielded differing results to limited definitional questions related to what it means to be a man.

In a separate thousand-person survey, also with narrow categories related to the meaning of manhood, mixed results were received. There seems not to be definitive answers as to what it means to be a man. This harkens back to a classical antiquity tale.

Per one source, “When Plato gave Socrates’s definition of man as ‘featherless bipeds’ and was much praised for the definition, Diogenes plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato’s Academy, saying, ‘Behold! I’ve brought you a man.’ After this incident, ‘with broad flat nails’ was added to Plato’s definition.”

Defining what gender is or isn’t can be a hazardous affair when swimming in the deep portion of controversial waters.

In April 2022, a man was apprehended for allegedly “making threats against Merriam-Webster, Inc.,” purportedly stating, “It is absolutely sickening that Merriam-Webster now tells blatant lies and promotes anti-science propaganda. There is no such thing as ‘gender identity.’ The imbecile who wrote this entry should be hunted down and shot.”

Reader, I ask you, what do you know about the difference between sex and gender? Is there any meaningful difference? If so, by what standard do you draw your conclusion? Is your understanding predicated on belief, evidence, or otherwise?

At this point, it may be useful to draw a distinction between thoughts and beliefs. Per one source, a thought is essentially an observation or the product of thinking, and while a belief is also a form of thought, “a belief is a thought that is really rigidly and strongly held.”

Another source states, “To believe is to hold true something for which we don’t have any proof. If there is any evidence of the truth of something, we won’t say that we believe, but that we know.” I agree with this characterization, though people subscribing to a post-truth perspective may not.

A separate source claims of belief, “It is most important to know that it is not your thinking that creates your circumstances, but the emotion and core belief that is attached to your thoughts that influence the outcome of your situations.” This is essentially the premise of REBT.

Also worthy of elucidation is what distinction there is between feeling and sense, as I highlight how feelings, senses, and beliefs do not constitute truth. I understand others may disagree with my assertion.

I don’t know what it is to feel like a male or a man. When I consider feelings, I mean one of two things. One, feelings are emotions (i.e., joy, fear, anger, sorrow, disgust, etc.). Two, feelings are bodily sensations (e.g., “I feel tightness in my chest.”).

While I understand “feel” in common parlance can relate to opinions, inclinations, and understanding, these matters still do not adequately represent what it means to feel like a man or male. As far as I can tell, there simply is no global feeling or sensation of maleness.

I’m reminded of something I heard a former Central Intelligence Agency operative recently say. The reason this is relevant, coming from a former spy, is because he expressed how feelings are easily manipulated to deceive a person.

The individual declared, “Feeling is a predictable character trait of all human beings,” “It’s a cognitive trait,” “What all people feel becomes their point of view on what reality is,” and, “Feelings are not the same thing as logical, rational thought. They’re two different sides of the brain” (beginning at minute 1:18:43).

Aside from feeling and bodily sensations, when I speak of sense, I can also refer to perception or awareness. Even using this term doesn’t adequately describe an objective measure of what being a man or male is.

Therefore, default to the scientific definition that has nothing to do with feeling, sense, or belief. Even still, some will disagree with this assertion. As the current blog entry largely relates to belief, let us backstroke into the waters of controversy.

Given clarification about what a belief is, what do you believe about the difference between sex and gender, versus what you know about these identity elements?

One scholarly source asserts, “[I]t is generally understood that ‘sex’ represents biological differences between men and women, whereas ‘gender’ represents ‘the behavioral, cultural, psychological, and social characteristics associated with masculinity and femininity.”

Per a Wikipedia source, at the time this blog entry is posted, “A man is an adult male human.” To simplify this, think of the matter this way. One says there’s a male giraffe, lion, penguin, etc. One doesn’t say there’s a man dog, chimpanzee, zebra, etc.

However, information on Wikipedia is allegedly subject to sociopolitical influence, so who knows if the definition of man or male will change tomorrow? Noteworthy, Merriam-Webster has also been accused of similar practices.

Nonetheless, sex is largely regarded as male or female, with the exception of intersex. Gender is considered to be interlinked with sex, though assigned through terminology. Therefore, a minor-aged male is said to be a boy and an adult-aged male is referred to as a man.

When I served in the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC), Marines were required to complete a physical fitness test (PFT) that directly impacted our promotions. Because we weren’t treated equally, females had equitable standards.

Per official USMC guidance at the time, “The PFT consists of three events: male Marines will perform dead-hang pull-ups, abdominal crunches, and a 3.0 mile run; and female Marines will complete the flexed-arm hang, abdominal crunches, and a 3.0 mile run.”

For a perfect PFT score, males had to complete 20 pull-ups, 100 crunches, and an 18-minute 3-mile run. The minimum standard was 3 pull-ups, 40 crunches, and a 33-minute run.

For a perfect PFT score, females had to complete a 70-second flexed-arm hang, 100 crunches, and a 21-minute 3-mile run. The minimum standard was a 15-second flexed-arm hang, 40 crunches, and a 36-minute run.

As well, body fat maximum limit standards were based on sex (18% for males, 26% for females). Simply because a person may feel or believe thing A doesn’t mean the world at large, or the USMC, ought to concur.

Setting aside the obvious problem with equity—“the state must treat individuals unequally in order to enforce equality of outcome”—four arguably reasonable questions arise.

First, if one believes oneself to be a different sex than what one is, and biological classification is merely a matter of belief, what is the purpose or benefit of sex categories in the first place? Second, ought others to concur that one’s newly-adopted belief is real?

Third, if you do not concur that my believed sex or gender is real; does this constitute an attempt by you to erase my existence? Last, if sex is akin to female and gender is akin to woman, what is a woman? I suppose I have more questions than answers.

In the documentary What Is a Woman?, many so-called professionals and/or experts claim they are unable to objectively define what a woman is. Largely, the accepted premise by some of these people is that a woman is whatever one believes a woman is.

How does this function from a sex-based perspective?

Premise 1: No one can disaffirm the biological sex you claim to be.

Premise 2: You were born as a biological male and now believe you are a female.

Conclusion: You are a female.

Remember the words of Judge Guerra Gamble who declared, “Your beliefs do not make something true, and, “Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true.”

Perhaps the biological, scientific, and objective standard is a bit difficult for some to accept. What about those who believe they are of a different subjectively-assigned gender?

Premise 1: You can be whatever socially-constructed gender you choose to be.

Premise 2: You choose to identify as a mermaid.

Conclusion: You are a mermaid.

Isn’t this going just swimmingly?

Much of this knowledge was well-understood up until relatively five minutes ago. During her confirmation hearing for Supreme Court of the U.S. (SCOTUS), Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was asked to define what a woman is and her response was, “I can’t,” because, “I’m not a biologist.”

Keep in mind that “girl” and “woman” are genders most often associated with the female sex. Sex classification may be deferred to scientists, though a confirmed SCOTUS Justice cannot remark about gender?

This is an individual who in the future will likely rule on cases such as “a woman’s right to an abortion,” “trans athletes’ participation” in sports, or other such perceivable sex- or gender-influenced cases similar to those of the past. In the absence of a biology degree, is one to rely on belief?

I value the “search for truth,” not diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA). I acknowledge what is, not what I or others think ought to be.

It very well may be that alleged DEIA-inspired hiring practices are popular among some U.S. citizens. Are you a fan of treating some people unequally so that others are given special privileges?

President Biden has a pattern of purportedly nominating people based on identity, apparently to include positions to for his running mate, press secretary, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Health, U.S. Treasurer, U.S. ambassador, the SCOTUS, and continued support for one sex over another.

What more could one expect from a president who is said to have attained the most ever votes—though reasonable claims of election fortification raise doubts—whose “[s]ixth-quarter approval average of 40% [is the] lowest for an elected president”?

It’s almost as though use of “specious accusations of racial hatred to defame his political opponents” and identity-promoting appointment positions aren’t the actions of a so-called “unifier.” “C’mon, man!

Who does this supposed tokenism serve? Who does it harm? What difference does it make whether or not a nominee has an innie or an outie, is black or white, is indigenous or not, prefers or is oriented towards one sex/gender or not, or any other arbitrary identifying factor?

I suppose if bigotry is defined as “the possession or expression of strong, unreasonable prejudices or opinions,” focus on one identity over another makes sense. DEIA efforts seem to meet these criteria.

Likewise, if one is prejudiced towards a non-scientific—though socially acceptable—description of what a man is, this, too, makes sense from a bigoted standpoint. Perhaps bigotry in the form of excluding cisgender, straight, white, males is acceptable to some.

Contemplating what a man is may be easier to assess than what feeling, sense, or belief accompanies manhood. It seems to me that trying to verify what being a man feels like leads to unfalsifiability, because whatever I suggest cannot be shown to be false.

Suppose I claim that the color of nothingness is blue. Prove me wrong. Likewise, declaring that every male, boy, or man feels the same, shares equal sensation, or believes similarly is a pointless pursuit to disprove. It can’t be done, as far as I can tell.

My secondary disagreement with the aforementioned progressive source is thus:

Premise 1: Sometimes people’s gender identity matches their bodies, and sometimes it does not.

Premise 2: I have no way of knowing whether or not my personal gender matches my body.

Conclusion: Gender doesn’t exist to me.

Assessing the matter further, I’m reminded of two concepts. Christopher Hitchens, a late author and journalist, is credited with Hitchens’ Razor, which claims “what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence.”

Carl Sagan, a late astrophysicist and author, is credited with the Sagan Standard which states that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” Without evidence of imagined gender—and considering the extraordinary claim that, “It’s not correct that there is such a thing as biological sex”—the waves of controversy may require deep water rescue efforts.

Hitchens’ Razor allows belief-based sex or gender arguments to be summarily dismissed. The Sagan Standard requires extraordinary evidence to once again consider these dismissed arguments.

These are truly treacherous sociopolitical waters, dear reader. The topic of sex and gender—and what it means to feel, sense, or believe one’s own subjective identity—begs the question about the is-ought problem.

Can one demand what ought to be from that which is? Do you get to demand that others adhere to your rigid beliefs so that your “truth” will be validated? Per Judge Guerra Gamble, “Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true. It does not protect you. It is not allowed.”

That stated, a reasonable question remains; “Deric, are you saying you wouldn’t refer to someone by a preferred gender or the name of their preference?” I take no issue with addressing a human in a certain manner if not compelled to do so.

On the other hand, if I’m required to join with people in their belief systems, and I happen to disagree with aspects of these ideologies, I will stand out among the crowd and profess what others clearly neglect to state. I will not pretend as though one’s clothes are on when clearly they are not.

In my lifetime, I’ve had many nicknames given to me by family members, friends, and others. I know who I am aside from a name, so I don’t behave in a trivial manner by demanding that others refer to me only by my preferred name.

Regarding title-associated identity, one historical figure stands out to me. Known by various names throughout his life—such as Malcolm Little, Detroit Red, Malcolm X, and el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz—the man many know as Malcolm X has a name for each of his major life transitions.

Had I known Brother Malcolm, and if he asked me to refer to him by a particular moniker, I would have acquiesced. Likewise, if I met Blaire White and she asked me to refer to her by her preferred name and pronouns, no problem.

One would hope that neither of these individuals would participate in raiding, doxing, canceling, mobbing, brigading, review-bombing, or some other form of group bullying supposedly aimed at “speaking truth to power,” promoting “social justice,” or being on the “right side of history” if I was accused of deadnaming them. Collectively, this is referred to as “cancel culture.”

The similarity between the two aforementioned examples—because they likely share very little in common otherwise—is that the request by the person and resulting behavior on my part is voluntary. There is no component of unreasonable demandingness or control.

This reminds me of an experience with my second graduate program for a master of science in social work (MSSW) degree—two stories, in particular. First, while working towards a master’s degree between 2012 and 2014, there was a transitioning female-to-male student in attendance whom I shall refer to as Pietro (not his actual name).

Often, people misgendered Pietro. This behavior was met with a shy smile, gracious nod, and sometimes a mild correction by Pietro. He was understanding about the mishaps and didn’t rigidly demand that others should, must, or ought to appease him.

Then, there were students—largely white, female, from wealthy families, privileged, and identifying as feminists—who were offended by proxy on behalf of Pietro. They would berate those who made mistakes when referring to him.

I imagine there was some level of fart-sniffing fulfillment by expressing outrage on behalf of others and using righteous indignation to wield power over people—all while pretending to be a member of a so-called oppressed class, as though womanhood is equal to victimhood and being female is synonymous to having a disability. I don’t know.

Second, there was a student whom I’ll refer to as Eris (not her actual name) who purported to be gender-fluid and demanded that others refer to him according to how it felt at any given moment. This, of course—because why wouldn’t it be the case?—could change within the matter of a day or class period. We simply never knew when Eris would transition.

Other students were expected to stay abreast of Eris’ fluctuating gender identity, though we were informed by xir that, “It’s not my job to educate you,” regarding when Eris may switch their gender. Perhaps Eris entered the classroom believing she was a male, he transitioned to an androgynous gender at some point, and then believed they was a female.

It was our responsibility to somehow know what Eris was, you bigot /S. Whereas Pietro was rational and made a request to be recognized in a particular manner, Eris was irrational and issued a demand for an impossible standard.

How practical do you think Eris’ condition is in comparison to Pietro’s? Yes, I say “condition,” because if the emperor is walking through the streets without any clothing, I’m going to say something.

Dear reader, have you ever thought of what may have occurred in Hans Christian Andersen’s tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes” if people in the crowed not only pretended as though the ruler was clothed, though commanded others to acknowledge the same? Suppose the peasantry issued societal norm changes to suit the emperor’s condition of nudity.

In the field of mental, emotional, behavioral, and social health—collectively: mental health—there is an ongoing push to change norms regarding various conditions, presumably to “fight the stigma” of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, plus) people—colloquially referred to as the “Alphabet Mafia.”

While some people may clutch their pearls at that pejorative term, one wonders what characteristics are shared by a mafia and those promoting cancel culture activities. Aside from the obvious differentiating factor of organized crime, a mafia is said to envelop:

· a collective who “organized themselves and grew so powerful” that they could influence others

· a “peculiar system of private justice, which was regulated by a complicated moral code”

· the “right to avenge wrongs” was bestowed upon the group

· a collective that “joined together in a loose confederation, and they controlled most of the economic activities in their respective localities,” as millions of dollars are donated in the name of LGBTQ+ issues, with shaming of companies who fail to behave as expected is commonplace

As with perhaps most categorizations, the aforementioned comparison couldn’t possibly apply to every LGBTQ+-identifying person or organization, because LGBTQ+ isn’t a monolith. Nonetheless, the LGBTQ+ acronym has a logical problem.

Per one source, “Academic disciplines such as queer theory and queer studies share a general opposition to binarism”—presumed to mean the rejection of masculine, feminine, or sex-based classification. In order to classify as LGB, one presumably accepts binarism, so adding Q to the group defeats the purpose.

Nonetheless, I’m not here to should all over the world, so people can do as they do. What may be worth considering is how a movement supposedly developed to address a stigma could demonstrate the appearance of impropriety.

For now, let us wade away from LGBTQ+ waves and drift into the tumultuous waters of activism.

Addressing stigma is one matter, maintaining evidence-based practices, guarding the efficacy of a peer-review process, and risking offense in lieu of perpetuating social and occupational impairment issues is another matter altogether.

Consider the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)—often referred to as the “bible” of the mental health field—the DSM-V-TR. Concerning changes from the last version, one source states those who created the text revision “took into consideration the impact of experiences such as racism and discrimination.”

Per a separate source, “[F]or the first time ever, the entire DSM text has been reviewed and revised by a Work Group on Ethnoracial Equity and Inclusion to ensure appropriate attention to risk factors such as the experience of racism and discrimination,” and, “The DSM-5-TR [text revision] decenters whiteness by avoiding the use of ‘minority’ and ‘non-White.”

While the first source relates to a seemingly reasonable consideration, the latter reflects sentiment of activism. Where gender is concerned, the American Psychiatric Association—the entity responsible for the DSM—displays the following on its website:

It is one matter to alter psychiatric conditions due to changing evidence. It’s another matter to do so regarding social pressure and activist demandingness. While I’m not particularly skillful at making predictions, I suspect gender dysphoria will be excluded from the DSM in the future.

Academics, researchers, and journalists have all addressed the issue regarding sensitivity related to open discourse concerning the topic of sex and gender—under the umbrella of intersectionality. This ideological movement is said to be “destroying Western society.”

While many members of the “cathedral” seem to value credentialismappealing to authority by discounting anyone who isn’t a supposed “expert” in a particular field—I’m not certain the shitbricks with which the cathedral is built provide the stability others perceive it to maintain.

For instance, it’s been stated that the peer review process is “broken.” As well, it’s been said that social science has a “replication crisis,” as flawed methods and outcomes purportedly receive more attention than legitimate scientific study.

Additionally, idea launderingsaid to be, “Getting a university or media outlet to publish your fiction so it appears less absurd than it is”—was effectively demonstrated by way of the grievance studies affair. Effects of this sort of behavior are likely what led to the London-based Tavistock clinic fiasco.

Per one source a “decision about what level of care is reasonable is made by fellow clinicians and, where the standard has fallen below that benchmark,” allegedly led to reportedly thousands of harmed people who were subject to gender-affirming care at the clinic.

Per a separate source, “Girls who do not like pink ribbons or playing with dolls [were] being treated as transgender” at the clinic. Imagine the standard being set with this sort of action—not solely for children though for adults, as well.

Think about what may result when a university is said to turn down “an application for research on gender reassignment reversal because it was ‘potentially politically incorrect’ and would attract criticism on social media.” Is this science at work, or perhaps activism?

As a biologically male child, I preferred ballet to football. I got along far better with females than males. Rather than climbing trees, playing in the mud, or catching insects, I enjoyed playing in my room with action figures (dolls), organizing toys, and learning about interpersonal relationships.

As I aged, I was exposed to hunting and fishing though preferred neither. Rather, I favored being backstage for a play or other theatrical performance than to learn how mechanical objects worked. Well into my adulthood, I enjoyed many activities and themes often associated with feminine traits.

What inferences might you draw, dear reader? Do you conclude that because of these stereotypically gay elements, I must not be straight? Perhaps you think that because I didn’t behave in a manner similar to other boys, I should have transitioned at a young age.

After all, this is precisely the sort of outcome to which some idea laundering “research” may lead. If I believe I’m a woman, apply makeup, don a wig and a dress, slap my ass, and call myself Judy, do I have the right—or am I entitled—to force others to recognize belief in my own womanhood?

If activist-leaning social scientists say it would be better regarding my mental health for you to placate me, must you do as I demand? Where science is concerned, should what is be impacted by activism of this sort?

A reasonable question arises from such a proposition. Is there peril in politicizing science? Some suggest there isn’t a legitimate concern, largely for DEIA reasons. I maintain a soft rather than hard science degree, so I’ll provide my subjective two-cents take on the matter.

While conducting my MSSW studies, then-Vice President Biden called those who were opposed to the Violence Against Women Act as having been part of a “Neanderthal crowd.” As well, there were efforts to increase the number of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

Additionally, a 2012 Title IX governmental review revealed the following:

If sex or gender are simply felt, sensed, or believed, what was the point of devoting funds or enacting policy towards that which is said not to exist in the first place? How might “women in college sports”—per the above graphic—be affected if one’s belief equates to sex or gender?

While studying social work, I was summonsed to speak with one professor for a response I posted to a discussion board. The class was required to watch “Slip of the Tongue” and post a response to the video. I posted the following:

For those who can’t read my response to the social justice class discussion board, I referenced being a male and having a penis more than once. The complaint from (an) unidentified student(s)?

Reading the word “penis” caused “safety” issues. Later, during the MSSW graduate program, the university I attended hosted “The Vagina Monologues.” As far as I’m aware, there were no “safety” issues reported from the student body.

Penis = bad, vagina = good. Wait, suppose I was gender fluid at the time. When I wrote my discussion board response, who is to say I didn’t identify as a woman with a feminine penis? If I believed it to be so, wasn’t that my “truth”?

This is example serves as one of the many problems between hard and soft sciences. Hard science suggests, “Sex refers to the biological differences between males and females.”

Soft science, among other things, seeks “change,” prescribes solutions, and increasingly leans towards activism and advocacy rather than “testing ideas with evidence.” I’ve been told, “You can’t polish a turd,” though that doesn’t stop people from trying.

Where sex and gender are concerned, hard science is descriptive, as it tells what is. Soft science is prescriptive, as it demands what ought to be. This is an is-ought problem and could lead to micromanagement of society.

Science informs me that if I pee directly on an electric fence, I could be shocked or worse. However, science doesn’t tell me not to pee on electric fences.

Likewise, hard science suggests that there is male, female, and intersex categorization. Still, soft science—impacting hard science—advocates, “The idea of 2 sexes is overly simplistic,” and, “Some researchers now say that the definition should be widened.” This is an is-ought problem.

As was stated to me by the aforementioned social justice professor, I was informed that social work students in my program were educated and trained primarily to become activists and secondarily as social workers.

By that standard, admittedly, I’m not a very good social worker. The obvious critique of my attempt to truly understand matters addressed herein is that I’m “using phony science to justify transphobia.”

When making claims of transphobia—“irrational fear of, aversion to, or discrimination against transgender people”—“there’s a lot to unpack here.” First, a phobia is a “persistent, excessive, unrealistic fear of an object, person, animal, activity or situation.” I’m not afraid of trans people.

Second, an aversion is a “settled dislike” of something. I don’t dislike trans people as a collective. While I may dislike some trans people, I also dislike some multiracial people, veterans, people with the last name Hollings, and so on and so forth.

Third, discrimination refers to the “treatment or consideration of, or making a distinction in favor of or against, a person or thing based on the group, class, or category to which that person or thing belongs rather than on individual merit.” This is where the water gets choppy.

Suppose I said that on average, I tend to favor right-handed people. This arbitrary distinction may alienate 13.1% of the U.S. population. Without malice, I express warm regards for fellow righties while largely ignoring lefties.

How might you interpret my behavior? By defining standards, it’s discriminatory action. Are these matters as simple as good, bad, right, wrong, evil, righteous, or otherwise?

Discrimination I he defines as “an ability to discern differences in the qualities of people and things, and choosing accordingly”—in other words, “making fact-based distinctions.” Discrimination II he defines as “treating people negatively, based on arbitrary assumptions or aversions concerning individuals of a particular race or sex, for example”—in other words, what most people mean today when they talk of “discrimination.”

I make observation-influenced decisions which are subject to change with the receipt of new information. However, I generally avoid treating people negatively, based on arbitrary assumptions—unless you dance the “Electric Slide.” In that case, kick rocks!

Finally, if one does not prefer to advocate gender-affirming practice, though doesn’t do so from an aversion standpoint—yet as a matter of discernment—is the person guilty of Discrimination II? I don’t know that “transphobia” is the proper term for disinterest in an LGBTQ+ endeavor—particularly of the Q variety.

I’m reminded of a video I watched of Camille Paglia’s presentation at the University of the Arts. Paglia wrote her dissertation on androgyny and reportedly identifies as transgender. This didn’t stop the so-called Alphabet Mafia from stopping her lecture with chants about “transgender” lives.

Apparently, someone whose opinions differ from the group’s beliefs is deemed intolerable, because reasons. Is the entirety of Paglia’s work deemed invalid and her character considered bad for not pacifying the mob?

I suppose similar query could be used in reference to me. For instance, if a clinician within my field of practice chooses to believe I’m a bad person for questioning matters herein, what logic may be at play?

Premise 1: I’m a good person, because I believe in thing A, and people who believe thing B are bad.

Premise 2: Deric believes thing B and questions thing A.

Conclusion: Deric is bad.

The logic follows though “good” and “bad” are subjective terms. If one proposes that questioning the emperor’s choice to parade through the streets without any clothes is “bad,” I respectfully disagree, yet cannot disprove one’s personal moral code relating to what bad is or is not.

Likewise, if a potential client chooses to believe I’m a bad person for not specializing in gender-affirming care, what logic may be at play?

Premise 1: Gender-affirming care is a “medically necessary” practice to which I’m “entitled” in order to help me “feel happy.”

Premise 2: Deric doesn’t practice gender-affirming care.

Conclusion: Deric has deprived me of my entitlement to happiness.

The logic follows though the conclusion is “factually incorrect”—meaning that the assertion of fact is untrue. The imaginary client may have received misinformation, disinformation, or malinformation related to entitled services—which is perceived as factual—though even if this were so, I cannot guarantee an outcome of happiness.

As an REBT psychotherapist, it isn’t my aim to help people feel better, though to assist them in getting better. How might this be accomplished when disputing irrational beliefs while attempting not to drown in controversy?

I assist clients by disputing irrational beliefs and teaching people how to perform this function in their own lives. In this blog entry, I won’t go in-depth about how this is accomplished, though you can learn more about my method by reading Disputing Democracy.

A prime example of disputation, and one that prompted this entry, relates to the challenging of Jones’ belief system by a judge. For a refresher, Judge Guerra Gamble stated to Jones, “You believe everything you say is true but it isn’t. Your beliefs do not make something true,” and, “Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true.”

Ad hominem attacks, calls for cancellation, allegations of “hate speech,” and other measures do not negate the scientific process that involves questioning assumptions. As well, altering how science functions so that a relatively low percentage of the U.S. population can “feel” good may have unintended consequences.

Installing more like-minded people into STEM, creating an echo chamber, or declaring that gender identity cannot be questioned by others does little more than create confusion and further deprive people from understanding what is versus what some think ought to be.

Suppose I was Eris’ psychotherapist and its presenting problem was that others misgendered they. Though Eris identifies as gender-fluid, he believes she is rainbowcakegener and Eris’ coworker consider this claim to be absurd.

I would invite Eris to consider that xir cannot control the reactions of others, yet can be empowered enough to accept that others are autonomous beings who are allowed to believe in things other than what Eris believes. How might this be received?

It’s been my experience that this approach tends to go over like a wet fart in church for those subscripted to ideologically-driven narratives. If a therapist isn’t fully onboard with gender-affirming care, it could mean the end of a professional career in the mental health field.

Advocacy for belief in this regard has very little to do with tolerance, acceptance, or even support. Rather, I’ve observed fear, cowardice, and placation within my field from more clinicians than I’ve chosen to remember.

I’m reminded of a discussion I had with a psychotherapist about this matter. The individual’s primary concern when working with clients was how not to be involved in a lawsuit. The secondary concern was how not to face the ire of cancel culture.

Assisting a client with an actual problem—whether real or believed—wasn’t the focus. Helping to improve a person’s level of functioning and quality of life wasn’t the primary aim either.

Even if observing that the emperor has nothing on, say nothing. That was the therapist’s main concern.

In 2020, I attended a professional training for a clinical modality that cost around $1,500 for a “basic training” certificate. Evoking penalty rules of baseball, I noted three strikes regarding the training that took two separate seminars and ten clinical hours of post-training supervision to complete.

First strike: Similar to my experience when attending the MSSW program, participants of the training were recommended to embrace critical theory—of the “Marxist tradition.” The evidence-based modality was likely subject to institutional capture by the contagion of intersectionality.

Second strike: One of the main seminar instructors alleged that she was able to use the therapeutic technique on her dog and the modality could be used to treat racism (not in the DSM). Treating imagined conditions and animals is not what I had in mind when paying for the training.

Third strike: During the course of training and supervision, I was informed that treating imagined conditions was precisely what the modality could be used for. Rather than disputing irrational beliefs, I was invited to “go with that” when clients presented to session with fantastical conditions. This not only is unscientific, it seemingly borders on the absurd.

Three strikes and I was out!

Granted, I am an REBT psychotherapist and I can identify a glaringly obvious should statement. It goes something like, “I should not have to treat someone reporting pronouns of ey, em, and eir as though it’s a real thing, or as though the client is a member of a so-called trans-species community, presenting to session as an avian animal.”

I could practice unconditional acceptance—reasoning that I’m a fallible human being, others also have their shortcomings, and life doesn’t owe me a reasonable pool in which to swim, because controversial waters are choppy by nature. How could I argue with this?

Using REBT is precisely why I haven’t self-disturbed into a miserable state regarding the aforementioned training. I simply shrug off the experience as knowledge earned.

Likewise, when people present to sessions and demand that their “extreme, illogical, and rigid” beliefs must be validated, adopted, promoted, or amplified by me, I’m able to use REBT techniques to keep from disturbing myself. This method also helps me to prevent burnout.

Understandably, not everyone will appreciate my approach to REBT. Some people will discover that I, too, value the phrase, “Your beliefs do not make something true,” and they may disturb themselves into a frenzy.

I cannot lose potential clients, because I can’t lose what I never had in the first place. While it is true that I could lose current clients due to not supporting sociopolitical ideologies, doing so provides opportunity for new clients. I accept that.

Of course, I’d be willing to change my mind about whether or not one’s subjective belief regarding the objective world can alter one’s biological sex if valid and reliable future research were to demonstrate otherwise.

Until then, in the words of Judge Guerra Gamble, “Just because you claim to think something is true does not make it true.”

If the turbulent waters of this exploration tossed you to and fro, try to remember it is said, “(Alright, already) And we’ll all float on. Alright, already, we’ll all float on, alright. Don’t worry, even if things end up a bit too heavy we’ll all float on.”

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how irrational beliefs impact your life in an unhelpful way, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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