If gender exists on a spectrum through which individuals can move, and on each end of the spectrum are male and female respectively, it follows that there must be a midpoint on the spectrum between male and female that I must pass before becoming female. Let’s call this midpoint, "transgender."
However, before I arrive at transgender, I have to pass the midpoint between male and transgender. Given this, I also have to pass the midpoint between male and the midpoint between the midpoint between transgender. Logically speaking, this goes on ad-infinitum, meaning I have to pass an infinite amount of midpoints (or genders) before arriving at female. Therefore, it will either take an infinite amount of time or an infinite amount of genders in order for me to reach my desired location on the gender spectrum.
Think of it this way: On one end of the gender spectrum is "man," and we can assign it the location of point 1. On the other end of the gender spectrum is "woman," and we will assign that location as point 2. Now, if I want to move from point 1 to point 2, I necessarily have to pass point 1.5 (transgender). However, before I pass 1.5, I have to pass point 1.25, and before I pass 1.25, I have to pass 1.125. Again, this goes on ad-infinitum, meaning you will have to pass an infinite amount of midpoints (or genders) before going from point 1 to 2.
The problem of infinite divisibility in relation to the gender spectrum means that 1) once your initial gender is established, there is no way of moving anywhere else on the spectrum and 2) it means that there are infinite genders. If there are infinite midpoints between genders then there also must be infinite genders because each midpoint can be assigned a gender that fuses whatever features are associated with the genders closest to it on the spectrum. However, if you reject the premise that there are midpoints between genders (i.e there is just male and female) then the paradox evaporates.
So, if you reject midpoints or movement along midpoints, you can avoid Zeno’s Paradox, but then this seemingly means that you can only be male or female. The alternative route is to acknowledge that there is movement across the spectrum, but then you have to somehow overcome the paradox.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is obviously a BS paradox that some ancient Greek philosopher named Zeno espoused thousands of years ago in an attempt to disprove motion. You’re right. When Zeno’s Paradox is applied to empirical facts, it seems absurd to try and assert it as a real phenomenon. Mere observation refutes it. Whenever someone moves at all, they can be said to have moved from A to B. So, every time we move an arm, we technically have to pass an infinite amount of midpoints to get there, yet we still are able move our arm. The logical consequence of Zeno’s Paradox is that nothing actually moves — it’s all an illusion. When brought into the realm of empiricism, the paradox seems absurd.
Now, if the gender spectrum had any grounding in empiricism, it would be just as irresponsible to apply Zeno’s Paradox to it. However, since the gender spectrum is produced solely by the mind and is not observable, I think that it is apropos to subject it to paradoxes that are also only applicable within the realm of the mind. The gender spectrum theory, like Zeno’s Paradox, is a philosophically rationalist point of view, not an empirical one. You cannot empirically observe the gender spectrum, but you can observe someone move from point A to point B. Thus, Zeno’s Paradox can only apply to arguments that entail non-empirically verifiable movement/transition. Since asserting the existence of the gender spectrum entails movement/transition (along the spectrum) and it cannot be empirically verified, Zeno’s Paradox applies here.
We can confirm the application of Zeno’s paradox to the gender spectrum by examining it under the scope of an entirely different spectrum: the autism spectrum. Autism, like gender, is argued to exist on a spectrum. However, there is no evidence to suggest that autistic people can move along the spectrum throughout their life. If you’re autistic, you’re born somewhere along the autism spectrum and you remain there over the duration of your life. You don’t become more or less autistic over the course of your life. Since no one is arguing that autistic people move along the spectrum, we can’t claim that they have to pass an infinite amount of midpoints before getting there. Therefore, we cannot subject the autism spectrum to Zeno’s Paradox. It therefore passes the smell test. The only thing we might have to concede is that no autistic person is identical to another one. In other words, we might have to say that people with autism are individuals. Not much controversy there.
This cannot be said of logic supporting the gender spectrum. Gender-spectrum advocates make an entirely different claim. Their contention is that, unlike people on the autism spectrum, people can in fact move along the gender spectrum throughout their life and at will. For this reason, we can subject it to Zeno’s Paradox.
Can they avoid it?
The only real way to avoid Zeno’s Paradox is to assign biological determiners for points along the spectrum. For example, you could assign XY to male and XX to female, and include hormonal variations that would correlate to the other locations on the gender spectrum. I’m not even sure this solves the entire problem, because it doesn’t fully explain how one can move along the spectrum. It is a useful counter-argument in that it invites empiricism. The problem with it is that it admits there’s a biological foundation for gender, a reality that many trans advocates reject. It would mean that gender, like sex, is a matter of nomenclature and not one of identity. I highly doubt that gender spectrum advocates would want to concede this.
The other counter-argument would be to invoke some sort of quantum gender spectrum theory where people bypass space and time in order to arrive at a different gender on the spectrum. If you can do this and not sound like a leftist Alex Jones, I will applaud you.
Here’s the bottom line: There cannot be 72 genders or 35 or 548973079859 genders. There are either two genders or infinite genders. Since there are no instantiations of infinity in our observable reality, I am going to go with there are really only two genders. What about you?
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