I like the point you make about no one being gender conforming. The transgender/cisgender binary does NOT reflect the actual variety of lived experiences with gender. That dichotomy seems an artifact of the recent transgender rights movement. It serves convenient identity formation purposes (defining oneself against a putative opposite) but it’s not an accurate reflection of the true range of human gender diversity.
But, the notion that gender is solely a social system imposed from without is not entirely supported by the research data. Yes, that’s what we thought in the 1970s but there’s now considerable evidence suggesting there’s a biological component to gender identity — for everyone, not just transgender people. However, we’ll probably never have an answer to the nature/nurture issues raised here, if only because no one is raised outside of society/culture, so we can’t tell if humans would develop a gender identity if their ‘nature’ wasn’t embedded in ‘nurture.’ But the vast majority of the human population identifies as either women/female or man/male, so pretending gender identity isn’t “a thing” is just willful ignorance.
Lastly, I’m generally allergic to people who think they know for certain the “root” of gender dysphoria. That you put this word in scare quotes tells me you have a transphobic agenda. Gender dysphoria is a legitimate psychological condition and widely recognized as such. Pretending some people aren’t suffering from this condition is both cruel and inhumane.
I invite you to take your transphobic and TERFy observations elsewhere. They’re not welcome here!
Michael J. Murphy, MA, PhD, is Associate Professor of Gender and Sexuality Studies at the University of Illinois. He is the author of many book chapters, and encyclopedia and journal articles. Most recently he edited Living Out Loud: An Introduction to LGBTQ History, Society, and Culture (Routledge, 2019). He lives in St. Louis with his husband.