On Gender, Identity, and Clarity.

Jimmy Knibbe
8 min readSep 23, 2021

How can an individual BE a concept?

I love language. I really do. The written and spoken word are almost magical, in their ability to entertain, to communicate, and to command a response from others. In the hands of a master, we are brought to tears and outrage, to laughter and delight. Language, however, is also — and often — used for a more frustrating and insidious purpose; to obscure and obfuscate.

This latter usage is definitely a contributing factor in the ideas which are founded in — and permeate — academia. If you’ve ever read anything written by academics for academics, then you understand what I mean; the language is flowery, the sentences long, and the sense of self-importance practically oozes off the page. It can take a lot of effort and struggle to wrap one’s head around what is being said, and what is really being said, before one can even begin to question whether or not the ideas that support the words are sound… or even sane.

So while it’s not surprising that the confusing, undefined, and undefinable realm of gender theory is difficult to break open and comprehend, I’m still a little chagrined that it’s taken me this long to come up with a succinct and clear notion of why everything in gender theory — indeed, within much of post-modern thought around identity — is so clearly and utterly devoid of meaning.

A while back I wrote a piece called The Nonsense of Gender Theory, in an attempt to parse out some of my confusion around this very confusing subject. Ever since I had been exposed to the notion of gender identity, I knew there was something wrong with the idea itself. I have little comment on Trans people as a group, or as individuals; what bothered me was that there is something violently untenable about the ideas themselves — something that just didn’t work, that defied all reason. This original article was an attempt to uncover that.

This is another. It might be more clear and easier to follow. I hope so.

I’m not writing this because I have anything against Trans people. But I do have something against lies, and bad ideas, and folly. This is simply an attempt to counter the most foolish ideas that are being swallowed whole.

Defining Terms

First, before I get the usual claims of “That’s not what Gender Identity actually means…”, let’s recap.

The claims of the Gender Ideologues are thus:

- Gender “refers to the characteristics of women, men, girls and boys that are socially constructed” according to the WHO. Similar definitions can be found at the Ontario Ministry of Youth Services here, and at the United Nations, who claim “Gender theory informed approaches recognize gender as inextricably linked with social construct”.

- Gender identity is “A person’s internal and individual experience of gender. This could include an internal sense of being a man, woman, both, neither, or another gender entirely,” according to the Government of Ontario, while the APA says it’s “A person’s deeply‐felt, inherent sense of being a boy, a man, or male; a girl, a woman, or female; or an alternative gender.”

From these definitions, we can see that Gender is a social construct; this means it is an idea or concept which is built by a group of people; it cannot exist without the group coming together (consciously or subconsciously) and compiling an idea or a concept. The concept is, in and of itself, not a real thing — it is a conglomerate, a compilation, of all the different expectations and norms which that society, for good or ill, associates with that idea.

Gender Identity, on the other hand, is an innate feeling that resides within an individual. It is a person’s sense of ‘being’ a particular gender.

Okay. Hopefully that’s clear. Everything seems to make sense so far. Let’s take a similar example: nationality.

The notion of what it means to be ‘Canadian’ is also a social construct. Without a bunch of different people, experiences, history, norms, geographies, languages etc., we would never have come up with any sense of “Canadian-ness” or “American-ness” or “Scottish-ness”. But, as a society, we do have some sense of the ‘normal’ or ‘typical’ or ‘average’ behaviours of a Canadian: to apologize profusely, to love hockey, and to eat poutine.

And, I personally might have a sense of ‘being’ of a particular nation. I might eagerly await the next hockey fight, or feel a swelling in my breast when I sing “I stand on guard for thee!” Take me to another country and I might still feel Canadian. Take away my hockey and my poutine and I will still say “Sorry, eh?” when you bump into me.

So we all kindof… get it. We innately understand what Gender and Gender Identity mean.

But have you ever realized that none of this makes any sense?

Pulling on the thread…

Ignore your biases for a minute, and your desire to hold on to what you believe. Sometimes our beliefs are rooted in lies and confusion, and we need to step back in order to break through to something better, something more real.

Think about my example — We have a concept of a ‘Canadian’, which is not real, not an actual thing, but is an ethereal idea, constructed by many people and changing over time.

But is it this concept which MAKES me a Canadian? If I associate with this concept, and claim I AM a ‘Canadian’, is this a meaningful statement?

What does it mean, to BE a Canadian? Well, it could mean a statement of fact; something about me which is true whether I know it or not, whether I feel it or not. It could mean that I was born within a certain area of land. Or that I have lived in a certain area of land for several years. Or that I have been given certain privileges by a particular government. None of these definitions have anything to do with how I feel, or my particular ‘sense’ of being a Canadian. They are true — or false — regardless of my personal notions. So this idea — a statement of fact — does not line up with the notions of gender identity. As we’ve seen: gender identity is a person’s “internal experience” or “innate sense” of being a specific gender. It’s not about external facts.

In this sense, the claim “I am a Canadian” is not a statement of external/objective fact, but is rather a claim that my internal sense is in alignment with the concept of “Canadian-ness”. That I am, in some sense, the same as the socially constructed concept of a ‘Canadian.’

So what does that mean? How can a person have an internal sense that they ARE a concept, an idea? How can a person BE a concept, or feel like an idea? Can I BE a Russian by simply feeling like, thinking like, or acting like the stereotypical idea of a Russian?

Gender Ideology falls apart in the same way when we think about this thread. As we’ve seen, Gender is a social construct, a concept. The idea of a ‘woman’ — when we remove the objective facts related to sex and biology — is just an ethereal construction, a phantom. How can a person “be” a woman — a socially constructed concept — in any meaningful sense? What does the statement “I am a woman” mean, in that context?

I honestly do not know.

It might mean “I act like a stereotypical caricature of a woman.” It might mean “I want people to treat me the way that I believe women are treated.” It might mean “I associate more with the concept of a woman than I do with the concept of a man.” It might mean any number of things, depending on who is speaking. But one thing it cannot mean is “I am an idea.”

This is the reason that it is impossible for Gender Ideologues and Trans Activists to define what, exactly, a ‘Woman’ is. Because it is untenable to make the claim that “Trans Women are Women” and then define ‘woman’ as a concept. “Trans women are a conceptualized version of woman-ness” just doesn’t have the same ring.

Let’s go all in.

In what other areas can a person claim that an internal sense that they ARE a concept equates to them actually being that thing? In what other areas does a person’s internal sense override the objective facts?

If an individual is born in Lithuania, raised in Lithuania, and lived their whole life in Lithuania, but has an internal sense that he is ‘Canadian’, then should we give him a new passport? If a young woman has an internal sense that she is an ‘old person’, should we begin to pay out her pension? If an adult feels like he is a toddler, should we put him in daycare? If I feel like a tiger do I end up in the zoo?

If a teenager feels like she is worthless, should we put a bullet in her head? Because her internal sense of self gets to define who she is and how everyone treats her?

In no other area of life do we put an individual’s internal sense of self ahead of the objective reality, ahead of the facts. In no other area do we muddy the language in such a way as to make our explanations utterly unintelligible. In no other sense do we take acting/thinking/feeling LIKE a concept as proof that a person IS that concept.

Oh: in no other area, except with race, because the academics and post-modernists tell us that race, too, is an identity. And so — regardless of the facts of your skin colour or heritage — if you don’t think like, or act like, or politicize like the appropriate concept of what a black person ought to be, then “You ain’t black.”

Should we go all in and allow individuals to decide, based on internal ‘sense’ every thing that they are? Should facts be relegated to second place in all other areas? I see no reason why not, if we are prepared to allow it in the realms of gender and race.

If we want the claim “I am a Man” to have any meaning, then the ONLY useful way to use the language is to link it to a statement of fact — to a statement about biological sex. In the same way that “I am an astronaut” is either a statement of fact…. or a lie. Anyone who makes the claim that they are an astronaut simply because they have an internal sense that they are is acting like a child who is playing pretend. We can play along because the child might be upset if we stop playing the game, or we can choose to be the adults in the room and deal in facts.

So I, for one, reject gender ideology. I reject the notion of gender identity. I reject the idea that — irrespective of objective facts — I can BE a man. I reject childish notions that my own internal sense of self gets to override objective reality. I reject all these unproven and meaningless concepts.

It’s time we all grow up.



Jimmy Knibbe

@CanuckPlucky. Complex Topics made accessible and presented fairly. Not interested in affirmation.