I recently came across an intriguing article titled "Why the Trans Inclusion Problem cannot be Solved" by Tomas Bogardus. As someone deeply interested in the philosophical aspects of trans inclusion, I'm curious to know if there have been any notable responses to this piece thus far.

I have checked PhilPapers for any direct responses to Bogardus's article, but I only found one paper that cites it. Unfortunately, that particular paper seems to draw on Bogardus's work rather than offering a direct response or critique. Therefore, I'm wondering if there are any published responses that engage directly with Bogardus's arguments.

If you have come across any noteworthy responses or if you have insights and thoughts of your own regarding the trans inclusion problem, I would be grateful for your valuable contributions to this ongoing discourse.

  • 6
    The paper is behind a paywall, so perhaps you could give a quick summary of the thing to engage?
    – Paul Ross
    Commented Jun 25, 2023 at 10:23
  • is the crux of this question "Help me find more published papers that respond to Borardus's paper"?
    – Dave
    Commented Jun 27, 2023 at 19:19

3 Answers 3


There's the Vaush vs Bogardus debate, though it doesn't seem anyone thinks Vaush came across well.

I don't think Bogardus contributes anything very original, although he makes his points in a clear way. The term 'transwomen' exists, so when saying they are women, that is not also saying they are not transwomen. So the slogan 'transwomen are women' is about expanding the category 'women', not eliminating any recognition of difference.

If Bogardus actually referenced any serious Feminist theory, he'd know the idea that presenting the idea women can and must be defined in a single way, is a false-dichotomy, when it has always contained multiple interacting layers and contexts.

Why is the issue around transwomen explosive, and that around transmen basically ignored, like here in this paper by Bogardus?

"Thus, humanity is male, and man defines woman not herself, but as relative to him." -De Bouvoir, in The Second Sex

This is a major source of grievance around this issue, the implicit idea that being female is for men, aimed at pleasing them and meeting their requirements. Being male as the default, and being female as this special category of being an object of desire.

Transwomen in sport, women-only spaces, transwomen in prisons, gender recognition certificates versus verbal affirmation, these are live issues. We need to discuss them, and we need to find ways to do it without the issues being used as weapons to prevent actual meaningful discussion.

Most of all though, the existence of unsettled questions must not be used to harass and deny basic civility towards transpeople as part of a political agenda to prevent social change. None of Bogardus' points bear at all, on the fact using someone's preferred pronouns is the polite thing to do.

I don't think being impolite is criminal, but it also doesn't mean no consequences. People can use the n-word in a workplace, but they are going to face a HR case regardless of Free Speech laws.


If you are inclined to want to take an opposing position to Bogardus, you might challenge both the validity and relevance of his arguments. The gist of his position is that it is impossible to define 'woman' in a watertight way that will satisfy all of the competing demands and claims that are put upon the word. One line he adopts is the problem of circularity if you extend the concept of woman to include anyone who identifies as a woman. I don't see why that is a problem. Suppose I were to announce the opening of the 'Ocram Club', a comprehensively welcoming institution, membership of which was freely conferred on anyone who wanted to be a member. Is there a circularity problem there? I could ask you if you were a member and you could say yes or no. To put the point in a more general way, consider the set of people who identify as being a member of the set- what is the problem with that per se? There is no need to pin down any attributes of the members of the set- their identification with the set is all that matters.

Even more generally, you might reflect on the fact that most arguments about the precise meanings of words are inherently futile, as the meanings are inherently fuzzy and subjective. Suppose I identify as a 'funny' person. Who is to say that I am or am not?

That said, the set of all people who identify as a member of the set would be a rather meaningless concept for practical purposes. You could not use membership of the set as being a sufficient criterion to determine the status of a person for a wide range of legal or social purposes. You could not, for example, use it as a criterion for deciding whether someone was old enough to buy alcohol, or should be entitled to maternity pay, or should be qualified to enter a particular sporting competition. To decide those questions you would have to look beyond mere membership at the more-specific attributes of the members. And in that sense, I think Bogardus has a point. If you expand the scope of the term woman to include anyone who identifies with the label, regardless of their personal attributes, then you can no longer use membership of the extended class of woman as a basis for making certain decisions- you would have to look beyond the question of self-identified membership to the other attributes of the individual. Extending membership of the woman club to all comers eventually has the effect of rendering it meaningless. And perhaps that might be a good thing. After all, most gender differences, like religious ones, are largely harmful hangovers from less-civilised stages of our development- the sooner we learnt to forget about them, the better.


I also suspect that the trans inclusion problem can't be solved. Here is why:

According to scientific theory, all biological life is here due to a process known as "evolution".

So... How does "evolution" work? A male of a species is somehow attracted to a female of a species, and if they are both fecund, and their body chemistries are in the correct state, their coupling will produce "offspring". According to Darwinism, this accounts for ALL life on Earth.

In most species (including homo sapiens) when two males couple: there will be no offspring, and "evolution" fails to occur. The same applies to two females. Notice that whatever they believe their gender to be does not affect the outcome.

Therefore trans behavior and/or practice: whether biological, or cosmetic, tends to produce non-reproductive, or non-evolving individuals. When their lifespan is over, their genes are permanently removed from the gene pool. This is not reversible.

I would expect the "normal" Gaussian distribution of reactions to trans behavior to be negative. This is almost certainly natures biological design to improve success of the species.

Therefore, trans-inclusion appears to be self-limiting to any society which practices it. If I were trying to make a society "trans-neutral", I would expect nature itself to put up fierce resistance. If natures resistance fails; so will the species.

I suspect that you are looking for a line of reasoning that would capable of normalizing behaviors outside of the norm, and can't see a solution because the natural drive is a feeling, and all advertising is based on the concept that it is easier to manipulate people by appealing to their feelings than it is to their reason.

See: The Century of Self Docu-series https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJ3RzGoQC4s


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