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Paper by François Rastier - n°2

Updated: Jan 23

François Rastier is a member of OPS's Scientific Advisory Board. He is a French semanticist, holds a doctorate in linguistics and is director of research at the CNRS.


Gender. Masculine noun [alas! NDLR]. Verbal derivatives: genrer, dégenrer, mégenrer.

In all societies, gender differences are semiotized by conventions that affect conventions that affect clothing, hairstyles and behavior. We can all these conventions by the term "genre" (or gender, as it was as in Victorian England), to avoid any mention of sex, as if gender were a sex ethereal enough to seem appropriate.

Gender is thus the cultural counterpart of biological sex. than this observation, and we don't need gender studies to recognize its triviality. triviality - unless another agenda is in the offing, with not only political not only political, but also theological or at least superstitious.

1/ A turning point came when sex was pitted against gender: in the mid 1950s, the psychologist John Money specialized in intersex patients intersex patients and coined the notion of "gender". A decade later, founding a Gender Identity Clinic for Transsexualism, he set about "curing" a young boy into a girl. into a girl. Reducing sex to the genitals, he overlooked the fact that sexual difference is inscribed in every cell of the body and that no surgery surgery or cross-dressing can change that(1). His guinea pig's suicide did not shake him.

So the duality of sex and gender became an opposition - or at least became one again, as ancient esoteric beliefs had already set them against each other. Anything that re-established a concordance between gender and sex was disparaged: those whose gender and sex concurred were said to be cisgender, a term pejorative enough for the militant elite to avoid contact with them at meetings, even single-sex ones. However, the loosely defined notion of gender, by dint of being invoked everywhere, has lost all precision, which only accelerates its spread. The term "gender" is used to designate sex, conventional appearances and social roles, as well as sexual preferences. The term "gender-based violence" (a manifestation of the Nous Toutes collective) is used to designate "sexist and sexual violence". While gender has nothing in common with sex in principle, we use the expression "gender surgery". We've gone from imposed sex to chosen sex, all the more so as C'est mon choix remains one of the axioms of consumer society in a late capitalism where the multiplication of customer segments remains imperative.

2/ In its fifth edition, published in 2013, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association and recognized as an international reference, medically confirms this defining subjectivism: "Gender identity is the subjective sense of belonging to a sex; that is, seeing oneself as male, female, transgender or any other identifying term (eg, genderqueer, non-binary, agender)" (emphasis added). The confusion between words and things remains constant in gender discourses, as they draw on a performative conception of language, implemented in particular by Judith Butler: "my identity" is defined by the identifying term I use to designate myself, or failing that, by the pronouns we must use to do so(2).

After several decades of casuistry, the choice of genders has become plethoric, and Facebook declines 63 identities at the whim of its users. These distinctions have become so commonplace that they are the subject of official fact sheets for secondary schools, as well as recommendations from the Council of Europe and the UN. For example, Éduscol's fact sheet no. 5 for schoolchildren explains: "Gender identity refers to each person's intimate, personal experience of their gender, the deep-rooted feeling of being a woman or a man. [...] Gender refers to the social relations between women and men based on the assignment of socially constructed roles according to biological sex. These social relations are asymmetrical and hierarchical, leading to a distribution of power and assets that favors men and disadvantages women. The concept of gender provides a framework for analysis and interpretation which, in its scientific application, particularly in the human and social sciences, enables a comparative study of the situation of women and men from an economic, social, cultural and political point of view. The aim of these studies is to promote real equality of rights between people" (emphasis added). Gender is presented here as a general key to both understanding the social world and political action(3).

3/Propagated by major Internet firms, taken up by leading international international organizations, gender "theory" has become a major field of ideology of late capitalism. In Europe, gender mainstreaming is now gaining ground in universities and research(4). In France, for example, we'll take a closer look at how the ministerial circular of September 30

2021 prescribes that schools must provide support, with all the care, to support students' gender transition - as if the transsexuality of minors as if the transsexuality of minors were part of their educational mission(5). Thus, every school-age child can claim to be supported in his or her transition by the in his or her transition, impose a new first name, choose his or her pronouns and enjoy special access to the toilet. No one asks the question of intellectual and emotional autonomy, or even consent to transition "therapies - often irreversible, and in this respect even more damaging than conversion therapies", which are rightly penalized by law(6). In legislators have set the age of consent for sexual relations at 15. In this way, sexuality is governed by human law, while transsexuality seems to be governed by transcendent superstitions.

Because of the prestige of higher gender interests, the rule of law should

be modified. One politician, Jean-Luc Mélenchon, declared on November 15, 2021:

"I'm in favor of gender freedom being in the Constitution [...]. We guarantee the freedom to change gender"(7).

4/ The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association (DSM-5) defines gender dysphoria as follows gender dysphoria as follows: "Gender dysphoria is characterized by strong, persistent identification with the other gender, associated with anxiety, depression, irritability irritability and, often, a desire to live as a gender different from the sex assigned at birth. Subjects with gender dysphoria often believe themselves to be believe themselves to be victims of a biological accident, and are cruelly imprisoned in a body incompatible with their subjective gender identity" (emphasis added). The diagnosis of dysphoria is established after questions such as: "Do you feel a feeling of discomfort or inadequacy about your human body?"(8). According to the DSM-5, "the most extreme form of gender dysphoria is called transsexualism". The latter term is a holdover from previous editions, and will be replaced in the next edition, in 2022,

by the term gender incongruence, taken from the International Classification of diseases (ICD11, drafted in 2019; emphasis added).

The series of substitutions that leads from transsexualism to gender dysphoria and then to gender incongruence seems revealing: in the first stage, sex is eliminates sex in favor of gender; in the second, what might appear subjective in dysphoria disappears in favor of objectification: sex, unnamed, no longer corresponds to the gender thus objectified, and can therefore be rectified by prosthetic intervention to re-establish congruence.

Although not recognized as a disease, incongruence nevertheless calls for medical or even surgical treatment. Duly catalogued, it can be cured with the help of post-Hippocratic medicine: it should be treated with hormone blockers at puberty, followed by "sexual reassignment" surgery. We know, however, that hormone blockers have irreversible effects irreversible effects not only on growth, but also on the skeletal and vascular system. As for genital mutilation, such as testicular ablation or mastectomy, are also irreversible, but are often veiled by euphemisms such as "torsoplasty", which places them in the benevolent domain of surgery the benevolent domain of cosmetic surgery(9).

Oddly enough, the Council of Europe recommends the term gender surgery and advises against gender reassignment surgery, sexual reassignment surgery

sex reassignment surgery, surgical sexual reassignment, etc. These laborious euphemistic substitutions imply, however, that an initial attribution that an initial attribution has been made by the civil registry and that an erroneous categorization erroneous categorization(10) ; but also that the aim of gender ideology is to do away with sex, which is best left nameless.

How, then, can the soul exiled in a sinful, misgendered body its gender, i.e. its astral sex?

5/ Freud once warned Jung against "the dark muddy flood of occultism". However, Butler and other thinkers rejected Freud and occultism spread into the sphere of sexuality through gender superstitions.

A painful reminder of astral gender, "gender dysphoria" bears witness to the nostalgia for a lost identity. By a stroke of providential luck, the creature who has fallen that glimmer of its former splendor that the Gnostics compare to a spark: sudden awareness of a buried origin, the intimate revelation of gender revelation of gender, the glimmer of a soul exiled in a body. Eighteen centuries before Freud, the Gnostics called this sudden recollection of a truth

now illuminating. Once it no longer corresponds to sex, gender becomes the operator that enables us to move from apparent or assigned sex to profound identity. It then assumes

of reconduction in what the Neoplatonists called the circuitus spiritualis called the circuitus spiritualis: after decay in the flesh, the spirit can, through its works can, through its works, lead the soul back to its celestial nature. ends there, for the works of the spirit have now been replaced by "gender surgery".

Gender theory thus appears to be a gnosis that promotes the inner revelation of a hidden truth. Speculative, of course, it has no use for methodology and empirical confirmation, since all it needs to do is multiply its believers.

6/ Gender theory doesn't exist, say its proponents, who attribute this formulation to a far-right that would turn it into a scarecrow. Judith Butler herself says: "When people talk about 'gender theory', what they're really saying is that people who use this expression are saying is that they don't know this field of research of research and don't want to know about it [...]. I think this term is a sign [...] that they refuse to educate themselves about the very broad and complex field of gender studies"(11). But don't studies without theory run the risk of being reduced to logomachy? And without a theory to define it and give it the consistency of concept, isn't gender simply a keyword, a sign of recognition?

Doubts are growing about this notion. In the first place, it affects its definition, for gender is linked to sex by a virtuous circle of reciprocal determinations: gender establishes sex, which determines gender. Thus, for Judith Butler, gender "designates the apparatus of production

institution of the sexes themselves"(12). And yet, sex determines gender : according to the authoritative Elsa Dorlin, "the concept of gender is itself determined [...] by the socially organized sexual polarization of bodies"(13).

Even if, out of courtesy, we call it virtuous, this circularity remains the hallmark of language, which locks itself into its own cross-references between terms indefinitely reaffirmed but never defined, as the deconstructive tradition deconstructive tradition, from Heidegger to Derrida and the post-feminists from Judith Butler to Avital Ronell and Catherine Malabou. The originality of gender ideology lies not in the observation that there are social roles that there are social roles corresponding to the difference between the sexes, since all human societies structure relationships of alliance and filiation, major principles of the relationship between nature and culture. Erecting this elementary fact as a transversal and "powerful" concept means abandoning all critical distance and and condemns us to tautology. The distinction between social roles is part of the initial and cannot be set up as an explanatory category so decisive that it transcends cultures and even the specificities of the various cultural sciences.

cultural sciences.

Gender ideology boils down to denying the objectivity of the phenotypes (and genotypes) on which our obviously cultural categorizations are based (and genotypes) on which categorizations, obviously cultural, are built species outside our own, is merely an assignment imposed by patriarchal tyranny.

A common feature of Gnostic beliefs and the conspiracy theories they denial of reality is presented as a militant act. The metapolitics of gender sanction the irruption of a myth into history : those who recognize the difference between the sexes are the unconscious victims, or worse, accomplices, of an imaginary world that closely resembles the "collective unconscious" of dubious memory. On the other hand, those who deny it on the side of the "deconstructed" in the first instance, and the "awakened" (woke) in the second ; in short, militants of an incantatory policy that consists in denying reality of denying reality in the belief of transforming it.

At this level of radicalism, ideology reverts to myth. Falsely claimed "critique" turns into superstition, the very thing that unites sectarian groups. Instrumentalized by militant groups, disseminated by international organizations, major states and most of the digital giants, gender ideology has ended up threatening feminism, which is accused of universalism. It now feeds a variety of superstitions that effectively avert our gaze from all kinds of inequalities: for example, a fifth of the world's girls are forced into marriages, without post-feminists busy denouncing transphobia being overly concerned. Finally, it develops a phobic mystique of sexuality, serving as a guarantee for the ongoing sexual counter-revolution. The irrationalism and mass narcissism that inspire it are thus well on the way to achieving a major political, economic and ecological diversion.

N.B. - This leaflet contains revised excerpts from François Rastier, Petite mystique du genre, Paris, Intervalles, 2023.

  1. Pour un exposé détaillé, voir Terry Goldie, The Man Who Invented Gender, Vancouver, UBC Press, 2014, et Jean-François Braunstein, La philosophie devenue folle, Paris, Grasset, 2018.

  2. Cela s’impose dans l’étiquette, et par exemple Frans Timmermans, premier vice-président de la Commission européenne, arbore de tels pronoms sur son profil officiel.

  3. Cela n’est pas sans conséquence sur les jeunes confrontés à l’injonction de devoir définir leur « genre » et qui se sentent dévalorisés quand ils ne peuvent pas se prévaloir du prestige LGBT+ ; voir Maroussia Dubreuil, « Je suis tellement hétéro que je n’arrive même pas à embrasser une fille, et ça me rend triste » : plongée dans les nouvelles amours adolescentes, Le Monde, 16.10.21.

  4. L’Agence Nationale pour la Recherche, dans ses appels à projet 2021, précise bien que « Le coordinateur ou la coordinatrice s’engage à considérer la dimension sexe et/ou genre dans sa recherche, et ce quel que soit le domaine, pour une production des connaissances de qualité. Cet engagement s’inscrit dans la politique de l’ANR soucieuse de contribuer à l’égalité entre les genres et à la réduction des biais de genre dans la production des savoirs » (je souligne cette précision qui intéresse aussi les sciences de la nature et de la vie, tout comme les sciences logico-formelles : la prescription de l’ANR est ainsi clairement métaphysique, puisqu’elle transcende tous les ordres de réalité correspondant aux départements scientifiques).

  5. Voici un exemple de formation continue proposée à ses personnels par l’Éducation nationale : « Les transidentités en milieu scolaire : défaire la norme cisgenre ». En ligne :

  6. Le 5 octobre 2021, l’Assemblée nationale a adopté à l'unanimité une proposition de loi LREM réaffirmant l’interdiction des « thérapies de conversion ». Ces « thérapies » qui prétendent soigner l’homosexualité, considérée comme une déviance, consistent en des pressions psychologiques, accompagnées parfois d’exorcismes ou de mesures jugées disciplinaires comme le mariage. Les « médications » se réduisent à des prises d’hormones correspondant au sexe biologique. En revanche, comme la dysphorie de genre est classée par le DMS comme une maladie qui doit être prise en charge, les « thérapies de transition » sont non seulement permises, voire recommandées, mais prises en charge. Par exemple, la sécurité sociale ne rembourse guère les soins dentaires ou les lunettes, mais rembourse intégralement les chirurgies esthétiques des trans, notamment MtoF, qui veulent rectifier des oreilles trop grandes ou des mâchoires trop affirmées. La transition accomplie n’est donc pas seulement psychologique et les réseaux sociaux fourmillent d’appels aux dons pour les opérations les plus coûteuses, le budget global d’une « transition » complète étant estimé à 150.000 €.

  7. Dans plusieurs pays, comme l’Argentine ou l’Uruguay, il suffit déjà d’une simple déclaration. Pour dissuader les indécis, en Allemagne une loi récente stipule qu’on ne peut changer de genre qu’une fois par an.

  8. « [Do you have] a feeling of discomfort or inappropriateness concerning [your] human body ? » (DSM-5, op. cit.), où human body évite soigneusement toute mention de sexe, mais laisse à penser qu’il pourrait exister un autre corps, sans doute le corps astral, celui que nimbe le genre.

  9. Les interventions financées par le National Health Service anglais sont notamment les interventions hormonales (oestradiol, testostérone), la mastectomie, la chirurgie de « changement » de sexe, l’épilation du visage et l’orthophonie.

  10. Voir Beatriz Paul Preciado : « Avec “la deuxième réassignation”, dont le paradigme est la transsexualité, on passe d'un moment performatif purement linguistique à un moment performatif chirurgical : adjugée à un homme, la dénomination “femme” exige le redécoupage physique de son corps. » (Manifeste contra-sexuel, Paris, Balland, 2000, p. 94).

  11. Cf. « Combats en tous genres », Judith Butler est l’invitée des Matins :

  12. Défaire le genre, Paris, Éditions Amsterdam, 2006, p. 69. Trad. Maxime Cervulle.

  13. Voir Eléonore Lépinard et Marylène Lieber, Les théories en études de genre, Paris, La Découverte, 2020, p. 4.



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