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Examining Apples whilst hiding Oranges

Updated: Aug 8, 2021

Hello World!

Over the last weeks I have been paying attention to the work of an academic by the name of Dr Debra Soh, I have even subscribed to her twitter feed this morning.

The podcast that went out recently (have a listen here) is entitled “What does it mean to be educated – knowing your apples from your oranges”

I owe Dr Soh, and my friend who linked me to her work a note of thanks. Now if you’re familiar with Dr Soh, and my own writing that might seem odd. Why so? Because we are on different planes when it comes to academic viewpoint and it has to be said current academic achievement. (although if you've listened to the podcast this doesn’t actually prove I know less than her, just propagates the assumption of same) There are some points of commonalty though.

So why the gratitude? Because I’ve ended up learning quite a lot. Not in terms of the content of Dr Soh’s arguments, but rather around the process of education and its perception and legitimacy.

But I do feel like I didn’t give Dr Soh a fair crack in my critique of her last video. So I thought I’d transcribe another one so I could apply a principle of charity and make her argument as strong as it could be, before attempting a critique.

So, here is that transcript of a short presentation Dr Soh gave in Nov 2018 interspersed with my own comments. I have further thoughts at the bottom.

Science doesn’t back up gender as social construct.

“Gender is binary & not a social construct we are drowning in miss information on this subject.“

A Binary System. “consisting of two mutually exclusive parts” with only two possible outcomes. A one cannot be a zero and the zero cannot equal one.

Gender is the outcome of genetic and other factors, factors which are well known to have more than two discrete outcomes. Gender is the means by which we communicate those genetic factors and thus whilst the western categorisations of gender have been based on a two-box system, humanity has long considered the indication that this might be restrictive in various cultures. Therefore, the “view” of gender is socially constructed, and is dependent upon which culture one is describing.

Even the view of “Science as a culture” would not result in a binary resolution to the phenomenon of human sex and therefore gender. Plus this statement right at the off doesn't allow room to consider the simple idea that sex/gender could be genetically derived and socially constructed at the same time. (false dilemma?) It is a miss representation of what a social construct is.

“Biological sex” is either male or female based on our reproductive functions. “gender” is how we feel, masculine or feminine in relations to our biological sex

Biological sex, based on reproductive function? Err you mean genitalia? Genetics? Gonads or gametes? You need to set up your definitional criteria Dr Soh. and in saying gender is how we “feel” in relation to our biological sex, but not because of it? what exactly do you mean here. (is she setting up an argument where someone rejects their biological sex? …lets read on.)

“When sperm fertilises an egg at conception the baby will either be male or female, biology will dictate hormonal exposure in utero and the child’s gender identity as well.”

Ok, the baby will be either male or female. Based on what? Genetics? Genitalia? Blood test? Ultrasounds? It is not explicitly stated which definitional method Dr Soh is using in this statement. The inference here being genitalia.

I agree the hormonal exposure in utero will probably affect the child’s gender identity as well. But wait, didn’t she just infer that they were basing gender on genitals>? Mixed messages? Now she suggests the brain might be affected too? Let’s read some more..

“for over 99% of us, our biological sex IS our gender identity”

If this is true how do we “know”? (The statement would have to fit the JTB distinction of knowledge – which is not proven here) And what is the other 1% doing exactly? Dear Dr Soh are you setting up an argument here that some people have a GI that isn’t biologically derived? This isn’t explained, but just stated and it is assumed to be understood.

“So if we want to talk about things from a scientific perspective there are only two sexes and there are only two genders to suggest otherwise is not scientifically accurate”

UMMMM. Nope, sorry, you’re conflating categories and descriptors with the phenomena that they describe, and suggesting observable cellular structures are that process. Poor phenomenology Dr Soh, and an inductive argument at best. also, Even the view of “Science as a culture” that would imbue a scientific perspective would not result in a binary resolution to the phenomenon of human sex and therefore gender. (which I've already said)

“I first started writing about the issue of gender because mainstream media’s coverage of it frankly terrifies me from my time in academia I can tell you there’s a long list of areas of research that are forbidden, and this is affecting what the public is and isn’t allowed to know.”

An Inference that isn’t backed up, and no evidence shown. The audience is just supposed to believe this point, and since this is an un provable stance, is also somewhat un dis provable. Very clever Dr Soh. A low ball, but clever. Since it panders to the collective mindset of those who consistently fail to be persuaded by arguments they don’t wish to consider.

Mind you, perhaps there’s some truth in the public not being told or things not being explained for years when one thinks of about the surgeries to intersex babies and the theocratic roots of westernised binary gender systems. That’s nice. Using projection to counter arguments against the very thing a binary classification system has done for years.

“Bill c16* has contributed to this climate by writing false and unscientific ideas about gender into federal law. Nowadays self-determination is everything and some people will stop at nothing to push this agenda. they will torture logic and tokenise certain groups to gain political ground, like pointing to people with a difference of sex development which is a medical condition previously known as intersex as proof that gender is a spectrum. But this isn’t accurate because people with a difference of sex development who make up roughly 1 percent of the population possess anatomy characteristic of both sexes. For example a child may be born with a vulva as well as testicular tissue this is due to difference in genetics and hormonal exposure in the womb so even in these cases biology is still dictating someone’s sense of gender.”

Yes, we might point to Intersex as a phenomenon to highlight that their existence proves that the manifestation of an individual’s sex can be more than two discrete outcomes, ergo it is a non-binary particulate process, and since you yourself suggested that the gender identity can be affected by those self-same outcomes, then why is it you seem to think a trans gender person’s gender identity could not be genetically and hormonally caused?

“There are thousands of studies showing the effects of pre natal testosterone on the developing brain. Even before birth exposure to testosterone changes the way in which male and female brains grow. There’s no way that social differences that we see between men and women are purely due to socialisation unless someone want to argue that the unborn child is capable of learning gendered stereo types while they are still in the womb”

You’re proving the argument for the existence of biologically derived brain physiology and neuro-chemistry to be causality for a person’s gender identity but still suggesting that there can only be two outcomes? And in mentioning gendered stereo types you reference the social construct of gender, that you say doesnt exist!

please try harder!

"The bottom line is the environment plays a role in shaping us but it cant override biology”

WE know. But you’re the one suggesting trans gender people are denying their biological factors, not us.

“People supporting the idea that gender is a social construct will often say that science back up their views and the next time you encounter someone like this I suggest you adk them what science are you referring to?”

I’ll drop you a comprehensive list of references at the end

“If they’re able to come up with anything, they’ll probably point to a study that came out a few years ago claiming that male and female brains exist along a mosaic and aren’t actually any different from one another. But a group of my colleagues reanalysed the exact same data from that study and found that you could in fact tell a male brain from a female brain at a rate much higher than chance. What’s disappointing is that the media promote the first study to no end, because its finding were flashy and politically correct, but they refused to cover the second study because apparently being scientifically accurate isn’t as lucrative. It isn’t sexist to talk about sex differences, what’s sexist is assuming that women need to be identical to men in order to be worthy of equal treatment. Defending biology nowadays gets you called not only alt right and misogynistic but trans phobic bigot too”

Oh really, which study is that ? Would you share that in your talk, or even reference it? No? oh that’s a shame because I wanted to look it up. The media reporting point is nice, sice it sets up an idea of censorship and thus untrustworthiness on the part of those who disagree with her argument, which is one she never outright states.

If you want this second study to see the light of day then share it… ? no … why not? I want to read it?

You’re right it isn’t sexist to talk about sex differences and literally no one is arguing that there are no observable differences between the descriptions of “male” and female… that’s your own strawman argument that you yourself set up.

“And so this brings me to the hate speech part of my talk people can identify however they like, but none of these identity labels are based in any science at all.

That goes for being gender non binary, gender neutral, a gender, bi gender pan gender, gender fluid, gender free or moon gender just to name a few

all of these labels mean that you identify to some extent as either both genders or neither moon gender ive learned, means that. Your gender only comes out at night.

I’m not making it up I swear


The reality is no one is 100% male or female typical, think of the average guy, he’s probably into a bunch of things that guys like, but he probably has some female typical traits too and there’s nothing wrong with that. Maybe he likes watching sports, but he also like talking on the phone. “

Dr Soh has literally just discarded the “scientific argument” for a binary dichotomy… by saying that diversity is equal, but some is more equal than others. And since the public are now being educated on the idea that sex determination is not a “you must be one or the other and therefore a mutually exclusive process” people are feeling like they can voice those feelings and express themselves differently… but I note Dr Soh didn't actually explain why she believed this to be wrong?

and what exactly are is she inferring are “female traits” here? Ummmmm….

“I see that you guys are laughing but if anyone gets upset when this is on the internet these are gendered traits that are commonly used in the field of social psychology so you can’t call me a sexist for using them as examples.”

nope, you’re right I can’t, and wont, but then that’s not the core problem with your arguments here anyways, so why would I?

but hang on are they really? Where’s your evidence? And if societal norms are something that can influence the mind of a person, then surely, they shape that person and become something an …. ermm social construct? You know things like, Family, prevailing opinion, acceptance of the rule of law and oh, and perhaps maybe…. Gender, having two categories?

Nope? I mean it’s all in here really…

“In my case I’m a woman who loves watching mixed martial arts which is sport that has mostly male fans so I spend a lot of time asking myself am I really both genders, or gender neutral or neither or does it just mean that I’m a woman that likes watching a male dominated sport?”

Equating interests and behavioural traits as the sole indicators of identity? Wow, way to over simplify the identity work of a whole population and extend the over reach of a deterministic view point, while referencing social norms that result from something you say doesn’t apply to gender. Namely social constructivism:

“Social constructivism is a sociological theory of knowledge according to which human development is socially situated and knowledge is constructed through interaction with others.”

“No one espousing this gender nonsense seems to have really thought it though, because from a practical stand point, to say that you are both genders, or neither still depends by definition on the concept of gender being binary”

Sure so language needs to catch up… maybe that’s gonna be part of the social derived learning we have yet to do? I mean we are not at the end of evolution, right? Just inhabiting this part of it?

Some people might say that ok, so its just kids on tumblr having fun why Debra do you have to go and rain on their parade? well I say it has implications for the rest of us when we look at the education system the elementary teacher’s federation of Ontario teaches children that gender is not binary. As I wrote in the globe and mail on Monday Ontario’s most recent sex ed curriculum taught children that gender is a social construct, the result of traditional gender norms and that some people are both genders or don’t have one. The other day someone sent me guidance from a school board a few hours from here, their sex ed curriculum teaches kids about puberty as it should but it refers to children as people with e penis and people with a vagina instead of simply calling them boys and girls”

A derivation of the slippery slope argument, “next they will want to be teaching this in our schools, no wait they already are! Shock horror! But Debra you still haven’t explained why you think this is bad?

As I mentioned earlier for 99% of us our biological sex is our gender, less than 1 percent of the adult population identifies as transgender, a number that has doubled in the last ten years. So to rewrite children’s education as though its common place for a person to identify as the opposite sex is inaccurate, potentially confusing to them and irresponsible.”

Sources? And using the rarity of a phenomenon to infer it is bad isn’t really a great argument. What you’re actually inferring here is the causality for people to identify as trans gender (a sex other than that which the doctors thought they might feel like because they looked at their genitals) isn’t biological, and therefore we shouldn’t treat kids that it is.

but if it’s not biological what IS it Debra.. Spit it out?

“Planned parenthood in Iowa recently tweeted that anatomy isn’t male or female it just is, and that it is trans phobic to believe otherwise. They also warned that the adults in the room may not get it and it’s a child’s job to re-educate them”

And this is based on information you presumably disagree with … ok? I mean that’s fine but new ideas do come up occasionly when one looks at people… not just their genitalia.

Paediatricians will also have an interesting perspective going forward. the Canadian paediatric society released a guideline a few months ago that was meant to help doctors and parents understand the concept of gender, among its recommendations Drs were told that gender is a spectrum, that gender identity and gender expression are unrelated, and a child sex is assigned at birth. And finally while attending a research talk at a university a few months ago one of the presenters actually showed slides of both the gender bread person and the gender unicorn, for those of you who may have been fortunate enough to not be exposed to either of these atrocities, they were cartoons that were made for the purpose of teaching children that there are more genders than male and female, that gender identity has nothing to do with gender expression, anatomy or sexual orientation”

Atrocities really? It’s a diagram, and not all that scary. Unless new ideas scare you of course. And no we are not teaching people that gender identity has nothing to do with the anatomy, that’s just your strawman butting in again, its YOU suggesting here that genitals are more important than the BRAIN of a person in determining their identity, and that once again is rather reductive, extrinsic to the person and deterministic.

So where does that leave us >?”

Tired Debra, that’s where Tired.

“More and more people don’t know what the truth is. More and more of these gender fantasies are being taught as part of the education curriculum means that young children are growing up with a distorted world view. I find it really unsettling that many parents who know better seem to be ok with this because they would rather be seen a progressive than dare to rock the boat”

umm.. we a literally sharing information with people and givein people the means to have a different world view. It a bit much to suggest this is bad just because you disagree with it?

Another side affect is that clinicians who work with children aren’t able to do their job. We only have to look at the rapidly multiplying number of young children who are identifying as trans gender to see the social contagion aspect of this way of thinking. Many of these kids have some other medical condition that is leading them to feel the way that they do ..whether its autism, BPD, or trauma “

Rapidly multiplying numbers….from which source? Oh, you mean like a social contagion…almost like social influence and systems can affect people knowledge and change things…like a social constructivist view point? And who wrote an article on rapid onset gender dysphoria? …oh yes .. you did. So, it’s your own argument. Nice plug.

And linking the trans gender phenomenon to pathologies, which certainly in the case of autism may or may not actualy be pathologies, just neurodiversity re packaged as one, would need citation Debra…

No? you just want to lean on that PhD and assume people will believe you .. ok then?

“But because of the current political climate along with laws like Bill77** that incorrectly conflate any kind of questioning of gender identity with conversion therapy therapists and doctors are too afraid to push back because they could loose they livelihood for doing so. I’ve written previously about my experience growing up as a straight woman in the gay community and what I find most disturbing about this movement is that gay children are being encouraged to transition so that they appear heterosexual. If you take the example of the little boy who is feminine who tells his parents that he is a girl when he grows up he’s likely to be a gay man. If you take that same little boy and allow him to transition to female when he grows up he’s going to look like he is a straight woman. “

FALSE>>this is literally NOT happening.. Dr Soh please show your evidence for this claim. Also your framing completely ignores the autonomous decision making capacity of the individual in question and suggests a "gay man" is the "same thing" as a "trans woman" ....oh dear.

“Let me be clear, I believe that transgender adults, people with a difference of sex development and those who are gender non-conforming deserve dignity respect and equal rights. I believe that gender dysphoria is a real phenomenon and those who are suffering should be free to live their lives as they choose including pursuing a social and medical transition in adult hood if they decide to. My issue is that the way we talk about biology and gender should not be maligned in order to facilitate these rights. Children should not be used as pawns to further this a gender.”

You believe gender dysphoria is a real phenomenon ..ok… how is it caused then? Please define it? You seem to be saying that gender dysphoria can only occur in adults? Where the evidence?

what do you think gender dysphoria IS Dr Soh?

“Scientists should be able to do their work without interference they shouldn’t have to waste their time debating facts as obvious as how many genders there are. What I find most frustrating about bill c 16 is that is doesn’t even achieve what it presumable set out to do which is increase societal acceptance for people who don’t fit our expectation around gender norms.”

Scientists (at least the competent and openly charitable ones) start with the idea that they might not know exactly what is known and ask “why”. If they believe something is obvious then they might ask why they believe this. Perceived wisdom never was a good argument to progress scientific, or philosophical enquiry.

“The ideology promoted by bill c 16 only fosters resentment shuts down meaningful discussion and impairs our ability to understand what it means to be human.

No Dr Soh, it merely suggests that society might be moving away from defining an entire identity, social set of characteristics and expectations purely on a quick cursory examination of what exists between a human’s legs. That is direct evidence of, and the outcome from our enquiry into what it means to be human, and how humans come to exist as we do.

*c 16 was the amendment to the Canadian human’s rights act to include transgender as a protected characteristic

**Bill 77 was the affirming sexual orientation and gender affirming act 2015 That's The end of the transcript and my anotations point by point. Seriously go watch the video... the above is exactly what she said. Onto the critique....

Dr Soh never stated her point in this 13 minute talk. Which the viewer is left to infer. Her point seems to be that the transgender phenomenon is either not biologically derived and is therefore a choice, one only possible for an adult. Or is biologically derived and exhibited by those who fit the Ray Blanchard derived narrative of the gay effeminate adult male. She therefore argues that trans gender would be a “manufactured heteronormativity” and thus homophobic.

So, after a few hours’ sleep and a whiskey, I am now sat at my desk with the principle of charity rolling round in my head and attempting to write a summative reply to these points.

In my previous two articles I uncovered much the same as I have in this one, and as I sit here I’ve asked myself what it is that I find so irritating and tiring about going through her work.

Well for one thing its straight out of the Dr Jordan Peterson handbook of obfuscation. In never actually stating what she believes trans gender phenomenon “to be”, she sidesteps the issue of direct contradiction and leaves the bulk the philosophical work necessary to do so in the hands of others.

Furthermore she, at least in this video, doesn’t cite the sources she mentions, whilst vilifying “academia” for withholding information from “the public”. In this way her narrative sets up an “us” and “them” mechanic with her audience being “enlightened and cleverer than the others because they have been let in on the secret

I don’t want to turn this whole piece into an ad hominem argument of “Dr Soh just isn’t being honest, and if she is then wow… clever people can be so blind “..but honestly it’s hard not to.

Over the last 5 years I’ve undertaken independent study of philosophy, I’m also BSc in applied physiology, and have 8 years experience in the nursing profession. (UK)

Sure I don’t have a PhD (I’m working on it) but if I can pick holes in her arguments here, then plainly they can’t be all that good. Unless that is you already believe them.

I did ask myself if I was guilty of conformational bias here. After all I do like the idea of a biologically derived causality for my own transgender nature. It seems quite elegant as an explanation. Yes, it is true to say I am vested in that argument. However, the mere fact that I am vested in scientific enquiry of this phenomena means I want to read the research base of detractors. Therefore, I approached this very article from the viewpoint of what can I research and what might I agree with, yet the closest I can get to Dr Soh’s research are these abstracts.

Her research, whilst engaging, is not directly involved in any way with Trans-gender issues but rather with paedophilia, and its prenatal neurological basis. Her comments on the trans gender argument seems to be coming from another source. That of Dr Ray Blanchard.

Dr Blanchard posited the Autogynephilia and “homosexual effeminate male” causality for trans gender-ism way back in the 80’s. I’ve read both it and the critique by Moser et al. I even did a you tube video on it some years ago... It seems Dr Blanchard now has a new champion, and (if one were going to be disingenuous about Dr Soh being a woman), one who is likely to get more air time due to the societal disposition of the base to which she is speaking.

(Sorry Dr Soh, and anyone else on the internet who might be upset by that classification, that’s not me being sexist – it’s based on the comments section from viewers of your own videos – some of whom value your appearance and attractiveness over your obvious intellect. Probably due to the socio-political constructs that pervade western ideas of gender, or social psychology, or both.)

To sum up, it sadly seems that Dr’s Blanchard/Soh are re-creating this old, discredited and regressive reductionist narrative (there I said it … so go snowflake me), by relying on the lack of education within their audience, whilst building a platform on their own perceived “academic objectivity”. The clue to this is in the misrepresentation and lack of explanation as to what is meant by the term "social construct" Dr Soh subtly subverts the meaning here, suggesting a "social construct" is a causality argument, and doesn't bother to actualy define the term. Like I said in the podcast, its a derivation of the natural law arguments and, to quote Oliver Thorn - philosopher and youtuber and all round clever fellow.. "you can't just point to the way things are and suggest that this is the way that they are supposed be" Discssions shut down and accused of being trans phobic. Dr Soh makes this ascertain several times in her videos, and quite a few people have suggested the same to me, whether they come from the pro trans camp or otherwise. Dr Soh's arguements and missrepresentations of the terminologies etc makes her seem objective and fair minded. But lets look at the premesis she is suggesting 1) sex is binary 2) Gender is gentically linked to sex 3) 99% of people have a Gender identity that is their sex The logical conclusions from those suggests would be:

4) Male and female phenomena are mutually exclusive

5) Gender change doesnt have a biological basis

6) 1% of people are choosing to identify as something their biology would say they arent

Notice she never actually states this:

Her point is implied in her arguments and it leads to a position where causality for gender transition must be something other than "biological factors" UNLESS one brings in the idea of sexuality as a driving biological force and eh voila... we end up at: 7) Transgender is an orientation ... which leads us to .. yup you guessed it... Blachard's theory of autogynephilia.

Where this argument falls down is in the fallacy of points 1 & 3, and thus 4,5,6,7 become false, since a valid argument structure if proven to have a false premise in its justifications, must have a false conclusion. Her argument IS valid. but philosophical speaking is not "sound" (the term used to define a valid argument with a true outcome due to true premises)

So, yes Dr Soh the accusation of transphobia IS justified because you are suggesting that trans gender people DO not and CANNOT exist by means of presenting an inductive argument (binary sex) that has been shown to be false as a deductive one that is still relevant. THAT is why your arguments don't get published... that is why no one wishes to listen save those who already think this is the case, and do not wish to change the existing power structure within the socio political beast that is the "gender" of the human species. Having said that: the explanation of the arguments to refute Dr Soh/Blanchard that exist out in the public domain have IMO fallen pretty short of the mark in convincing the general public that the hitherto binary concepts of sex and gender need updating.....

Overconfidence was our weakness?....

But why and how is it that we are still arguing this? Didn’t Blanchard get roundly trounced years back? Doesn’t everyone know this stuff is old? Outdated? And plain incorrect? Err no. Because - sadly - we the “educated” (see what I did there) the curious, open minded and charitable academics, with our spirit of genuine enquiry, took our eye off the ball and assumed the conversation was over. In my view a grave error of judgement.

This quote has been attributed to Stephen Hawking, and a few others but the following sentiment comes to mind:

“Ignorance is not dangerous. Rather what is dangerous is the appearance of knowledge where there is none

Dr’s Soh and Blanchard are not ignorant unthinking people. But they are enabling ignorance, so they can cling on to a platform of academic relevance, via arguments long bereft of any value. They suggest false equivalence arguments and use equivocation to muddy the waters of their explanations. Hiding their dislike of oranges whilst purporting to be experts at studying apples. So, what can be done? Well. here’s an idea?

Dear Dr Soh, how about an open honest debate? On the issue of transgender causality.

I’m hoping to study for my own PhD soon, and maybe, if scientific endeavour and truth is really the focus of your work, you’d like to engage with my own enquiry and add to the collective knowledge pool?

And if that means our audiences collective viewpoints on these issues may change, then hey, welcome to a brave new world. ;-)

And, as promised, heres the Bibliography: Types of reasoning Sex redefined ICD-11 Allen, S. (2017) ‘The high-stakes name game for transgender job-hunters’, The Daily Beast, 25thJanuary. Online. Available at: for-transgender-job-hunters

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Make the Road New York (2010) Transgender Need Not Apply: A Report on Gender Identity Job Discrimination, Brooklyn, NY: Make the Road New York.

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Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (2018) ‘Self-employment rate (indicator)’. DOI: 10.1787/fb58715e-en. Online. Available at:

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Understanding, selecting and integrating a theoretical framework in Dissertation research: creating the blueprint for your house. Cynthia grant PhD & Azadeh Osanloo PhD

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Warburton, N. (2013). Philosophythe basics.Abingdon: Routledge. 5thedition

Ted talks & YouTube:

Little, B. (2016). The puzzle of personality.

Baggini, J. (2011) Is there a real you?

Damasio, A. (2011) The quest to understand Consciousness.

Lepley, K (2015) Why being your true self is the most selfless act.

Rocero, G. (2014) Why I came out.

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