Author Topic: So what IS transgender, anyway?  (Read 10770 times)

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Offline Random Dinosaur

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #30 on: November 01, 2012, 04:57:21 am »
Additionally, there was a trans female speaker who came to our school. To her, getting facial feminization surgery was more important than bottom surgery, because for her it was more how she was perceived and what pronouns were used automatically rather than her parts. So that would be I think where the divide between transgender and transsexual came in, too.

There are also a number of "non op" transfolk who don't feel the need to have bottom surgery at all. I suppose to them the fact that they're perceived as their target gender by society is enough and genital surgery is not necessary, but what do I know?
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Offline Sylvana

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #31 on: November 01, 2012, 06:33:57 am »
Additionally, there was a trans female speaker who came to our school. To her, getting facial feminization surgery was more important than bottom surgery, because for her it was more how she was perceived and what pronouns were used automatically rather than her parts. So that would be I think where the divide between transgender and transsexual came in, too.

There are also a number of "non op" transfolk who don't feel the need to have bottom surgery at all. I suppose to them the fact that they're perceived as their target gender by society is enough and genital surgery is not necessary, but what do I know?

This is true. Further, during the process of transitioning ideally the consulting psychologist helping with the process would help the person to realize at what point they are happy. Ideally, from a medical perspective, as little surgery and such should be done as possible, hence if the person is sufficiently happy without undergoing surgery then they shouldn't. Of course, ones primary sexual characteristic is generally the primary cause of the discomfort so such cases are somewhat rare. Additionally female to male transsexuals often do not go for surgery because the operation is hugely expensive, incredibly difficult and has a success rate of about 60%. Right now it is not worth the risk for them, however the methods are improving with time and eventually it should be as easy and successful as male to female sexual reassignment surgery. (On a note relating to costs, think of it this way this is in South African rands, but it shows the scale. Breast implants = R30 000, Sexual reassignment surgery = 120 000, female to male surgery 500 000 )

Offline TheReasonator

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #32 on: November 01, 2012, 10:50:50 am »
I should have been clearer. David Reimer is an example of the distinction between gender roles and internal gender identity, rather than an example of gender/sex discontinuity. His case doesn't prove transgenderism, but it does offer a counter to claims that gender identity is entirely determined by the expectations that society puts upon each sex -- an argument that is often brought up in tangent to the "transwomen are just men who like traditionally girly things" claim.

I think most people would agree that the psychologist who tried to coerce him into living as a female was a colossal douchebag.

As for transgender/transsexual: It does seem to be a matter of semantics.

It would be a good example if David Reimer's identity was that of an effeminate male, yet as far as I know he not only wanted to be male but also desired to follow male gender roles, so in his case "gender identity" and "gender role" do line up.

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #33 on: November 01, 2012, 12:23:53 pm »
Yes, but he rebelled against strictly enforced female gender roles and was led to believe that he was female up until he started questioning his identity, which throws a major wrench in the idea that upbringing is the deciding factor in one's gender identity. Whether or not his decision to follow male gender roles upon discovering the truth was internal or a response to societal pressures is really up in the air.
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Offline TheReasonator

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #34 on: November 02, 2012, 04:40:32 am »
Yes, but he rebelled against strictly enforced female gender roles and was led to believe that he was female up until he started questioning his identity, which throws a major wrench in the idea that upbringing is the deciding factor in one's gender identity. Whether or not his decision to follow male gender roles upon discovering the truth was internal or a response to societal pressures is really up in the air.

What about the complexity of societal pressures? Just because it can't have been societal pressures in the most straightforward way we can think of doesn't mean societal pressures had nothing to do with it.

Maybe this "chemistry" isn't of "Gender identity" but rather directs which gender a person tends to direct role-modeling behavior towards, and then the result of having role-modeled oneself towards so many "appropriate societal responses of that gender" leads the person to label themselves and identify themselves as that gender, then learn that their "gender" is supposed to have certain parts and get upset if they have the other set of parts. And if that's the case maybe we can teach people to decouple the "role" aspects from the "physical" to come to a conclusion that their early experience of "becoming boy/girl" was really "growing into their innate masculine/feminine personality trend" but does not mean they are or have to become a "boy/girl", respectively. Transsexualism could all be a psycholinguistic effect. Because of a child's limited exposure to words it doesn't instantly occur to them to equate the word "boy" with what "boy" means and are more likely to construe it based on various things they see associated with the word "boy" in their environment. For example, for the longest time in my childhood I thought the word "injured" meant "to become to have to wear glasses". Probably because my gym teacher when I was in 1st grade said at one point "no one likes to get injured" I hadn't been following along to the rest of what he was saying, he was wearing glasses, I was unfamiliar with the word "injured" and so I came to the conclusion that "injured" meant you needed glasses.
Similarly, a boy who says "I am a girl" at three years old does not mean the same thing as when an adult says they are a girl. The boy means "girl" based on his understanding of the concept, not ours. If his understanding of "girl" is based off an exposure to girls doing various play activities it could be he is calling himself a "girl" based solely on his enjoyment of these play activities, not understanding that that's not what the word means. But once people label themselves they often make decisions based on that label, he might decide that because he is a "girl" he then should try to participate in things he comes to associate with the concept, eventually he learns the actual definition, and then he wants to be physically changed into a girl.
In these cases simply getting through the message "you're not a girl, you just like girly stuff, which is fine, but you're not a girl" (perhaps not in that exact way) could break the trajectory and the boy could grow up to be comfortable with his body.
I generally don't hold labels in much esteem. I like what I like because it appeals to me. I'm not going to decide that because I am an "X" therefore I must like or dislike A,B,or C. I use labels for purely descriptive purposes. I acknowledge that certain subsets of behavior within society might hold more sway to me than others and that's just natural and comes through experiences, but I don't go out of my way to bring myself in line with a particular label. I consider myself a liberal, if someone told me "but you can't be a liberal because of X" I'd say, "OK, then I'm not a liberal." and that would be true since the "liberal" we are discussing is that other person's conception of the word, maybe they have a much narrower definition, I call myself a liberal because it seems like my views taken together tilt my significantly enough into what is generally considered "liberal" pro-gay marriage, universal health care, we should have free college... Still the rightness of one's actions, beliefs, positions does not depend on whether or not it fits into to some label, so I could have a position on something people say is against liberalism or even say that therefore I'm not a liberal and it's like "whatever".

Offline Sylvana

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #35 on: November 02, 2012, 07:06:31 am »
Ok, lets get the basics out of the way. TheResonator, I have only a vague idea what you are talking about, that block of text was incredibly difficult to read. From what I can make out of it, you are wrong and don't quite understand how the David Reimer case proved that societal pressure has no determining factor in transexuality.

In the case all of society and his family brought him up to live as and be perceived as a girl. He was never told about the accident and was encouraged by his parents and society to be a girl and do and enjoy female activities. Despite this, he still showed innate traits for cross gender behavior, including things like urinating while standing. He would be reprimanded for such things and pressured more to fit the female role. Eventually he submitted to pressure and tried to continue to live as a woman despite how he was feeling inside but that all came to a head, as all repression does. As a result his family eventually told him the truth and after that he switched to living as a male.

In all aspects, society, and family, was encouraging and forcing him to fit the body he had. Despite that, he still felt that he did not fit, proving that gender and sexuality is innate and not dependent on physical sex or society.

I will admit though that the aspect of linguistics that you touch on has some tangential relevance. You are right that when a young boy says he is or wants to be a girl, it is different from when an adult says it. However it goes a bit deeper. Young children have not undergone puberty yet and as a result their body and gender are more androgynous and cross gender feelings are not as intense. The sexual aspect is diminished because children don't understand sex yet, however there is a genital aspect. Young children who are cross gender will try and make their genitals imitate those of the other gender, even though they wont understand it. This however should not be used as a diagnosis because its hard to spot the real thing for young children messing around. The point though is that it does happen.

However, societal linguistics do not influence someone to become cross gender. If anything it specifically helps to keep them in the closet or in denial about themselves. You seem to think that through societal influence people may get confused and decide to become transgender, or may start thinking they are transgender. While that may have some point initially, the hard truth is that transsexuals don't do what they do because they are confused and want to. The reality of actually living in a cross gender role and life is really hard and if it is not truly for you you would not wish it on anyone. Transsexuals manage to do it because that is who they truly are. It is because living like that is better than the alternative that they can manage to survive and handle the harshness of it, despite society and everyone telling them to be happy with the body and life they have.

Lastly, it is not about liking girly stuff. It is not about being masculine or feminine in action, it is about gender identity and what gender you intrinsically relate to. I use myself as an example of a girl who is more into masculine activities than feminine activities but who still intrinsically relates to being a woman. I can look back at my past and remember in early childhood taping my penis away at night, where no one could see me or would know, because for some unknown reason I wanted to be a girl. I remember stopping that because my mom once told me about gays and it made me afraid to do it anymore. I remember being called a girl while I was playing with my neighbors barbies or when I wore pink and how it resonated within me to stop doing girly things and never wear pink again. I remember shutting off all my emotions and becoming emotionally dead as a teenager to get by and keep the feelings I had in check, despite wishing to become a girl every night. I remember looking for an answer to why I felt this way, and the complete psychological breakdown I had when I finally found out. Society and my family and my life in general had always been pushing and re-enforcing me living as a male. I had found plenty of masculine hobbies to be fun and I find numerous feminine hobbies to be boring. Despite that I still felt like this within the depth of who I was.

You may not understand this, but your sexuality is incredibly closely linked to the core of ones identity and personality. We are sexual creatures and our gender and physical sex are of great significance to us as humans. Despite the efforts of the gender equality lobby and their constant repetition of the supposition that gender is meaningless or a purely social construct, it is not. It is a core part of who we are. The different genders are equal, but not interchangeable. We can both do the same things and perform each others roles, but there is still within us a part that links who we are on the most basic level to our sexuality. That is the essence of transsexuality.

Offline TheReasonator

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #36 on: November 02, 2012, 07:39:24 pm »
Ok, lets get the basics out of the way. TheResonator, I have only a vague idea what you are talking about, that block of text was incredibly difficult to read. From what I can make out of it, you are wrong and don't quite understand how the David Reimer case proved that societal pressure has no determining factor in transexuality.

One case proves "no", one case proves for all cases? That isn't scientific at all.
Unless we have a physical test that can detect transsexuality 100% of the time there are other factors, which may or may not be active in every case or may just be active in some cases.

And furthermore, I'm not talking about consciously-directed societal influence, I'm talking about how a person may be influenced accidentally based on their misunderstanding of context. I gave my example of thinking "injured" meant "needing to wear glasses". So, if a kid associated "girl" strongly with a propensity to eat bananas and "boy" with a propensity not to eat bananas that could then become a determining factor in how the child thinks about his/her own gender, at least until they(if they) encounter, observe, and absorb enough counterexamples.

There's also the factor of "role-modeling behavior", if the child's innate tendancy is whether to watch mostly boys or mostly girls and learn behaviors mostly from them then that will influence the number of "boy" labeled and "Girl" labeled things they do and so increase the possibility that they come to label themselves as that gender. In that case it would be environmental but not socially-directed, merely an outcome of the interaction between an innate role-modeling drive, leading the person to observe and identify with behaviors at a younger age in contexts where they are more likely to hear the words "boy" and "Girl" and realize at some point it is being applied to the people they are watching, and then there could be a string of events where once the person learns in some way to associate "boy" things with boy anatomy and "girl" things with girl anatomy but still does not unlearn the association with other things.

Environment does NOT have to mean direct or even deliberate social instruction. Plenty of communication especially in early childhood is communicated by accident. An anti-huffing commercial left me obsessively breathing out harshly for several years as a child because it said "when you're sniffing you're brain thinks you're drowning" and at that age I thought it meant sniffing like you'd sniff air in and forget to release enough of the CO2. Society influenced me, just not in the way it intended, or even for a cause it was interested in(society wanted to discover me from huffing, instead it encouraged me to obsessively cough).

Also, there's the matter of the extent of role modeling, role models can be tv characters, and sometimes men or women are portrayed as gender non-conforming on tv. Kids obviously don't recognize this initially and will naturally assume the character is behaving according to their gender if they(the kids) are thinking about "gender". So, even really butch tomboy mtfs could've possibly role-modeled off of a lot of butch female characters as a child or even just heard the word "girl" at a very young age while watching tv.

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In all aspects, society, and family, was encouraging and forcing him to fit the body he had.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Not saying this is what they should've done, but we will never know what would've happened had his family allowed his male-typical behavior but encouraged him to not to identify as a boy or to change his body, or even to identify as a boy but with a female-transformed body?

Even if some cases or even most cases are legitimate, to me it just seems too easy for a kid to come to strongly associate a set of traits with a word, any word including "boy" or "girl" and then come to feel like he/she needs to change their physical sex once they learn their body doesn't fit in with which word they prefer to think of themselves as. Too easy for it not to make up at least a small fraction of the cases.

Offline Canadian Mojo

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #37 on: November 03, 2012, 10:58:28 pm »
Reasonator, have you ever actually sat down and had a conversation with a young child? They understand a hell of a lot more then you seem to realize and they have a pretty damn good idea of who they are and what they are. We actually refer to my workshop as the "Philosophers shed" because my five-year-old daughter always wants to come and hang out with me and inevitably ends up with me getting no work done and the two of us siting in the big comfy chair that just happens ;) to be in there discussing how and why the world around her works. She's been doing this for a couple of years, and at this point some of these conversations are getting pretty damned involved. At one point this summer she asked out of the blue 'what if we are fleas on a giants' back?' without any external stimulus to lead her to even ponder that question.

Frankly, I think you are grossly underestimating a child's capacity to understand who and what they are and their ability to question their own preconceptions of the world around them.

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #38 on: November 03, 2012, 11:47:13 pm »
Canadian, thank you so much for encouraging your daughter to contemplate the world around her.

Teaching a child to think for his or herself is quite possibly one of the best things you can do for them.
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Offline Canadian Mojo

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #39 on: November 04, 2012, 08:20:29 am »
Canadian, thank you so much for encouraging your daughter to contemplate the world around her.

Teaching a child to think for his or herself is quite possibly one of the best things you can do for them.

Thank you for the compliment.

Truthfully, in my experience children are sponges who naturally want to lean and explore and it takes active discouragement to make them stop. Sadly stifling that urge that is something far too many people do.

Offline Osama bin Bambi

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #40 on: November 04, 2012, 04:03:33 pm »
I've noticed the "children can't know any better" argument doesn't seem to apply when a child is cisgendered or straight.

For instance, nobody questions a teenager who says that they are straight. But if that same teenager says that they are gay or bi, then people will say that they can't "know for sure," that it's "a phase," or that they'll "grow out of it."

A similar thing happens with cis and trans* minors. A cis child who conforms to gender roles is never given a second thought, but a trans* child (or even any child who doesn't conform to gender roles) is treated as if it's a "phase they'll grow out of" because "they can't be sure of who they are yet when they're so young."

Just a thought.
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Offline Smurfette Principle

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #41 on: November 04, 2012, 09:53:15 pm »
I've noticed the "children can't know any better" argument doesn't seem to apply when a child is cisgendered or straight.

For instance, nobody questions a teenager who says that they are straight. But if that same teenager says that they are gay or bi, then people will say that they can't "know for sure," that it's "a phase," or that they'll "grow out of it."

A similar thing happens with cis and trans* minors. A cis child who conforms to gender roles is never given a second thought, but a trans* child (or even any child who doesn't conform to gender roles) is treated as if it's a "phase they'll grow out of" because "they can't be sure of who they are yet when they're so young."

Just a thought.

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Offline Sylvana

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #42 on: November 05, 2012, 02:50:03 am »
Please be so kind as to actually read and understand the counter point I am attempting to make. It seems like a lot of what I wrote previously was ignored including the direct example I gave as a counter. For once, please read and pay attention to the points provided by the members of this community that are actual transsexuals. They may just know what they are talking about.

One case proves "no", one case proves for all cases? That isn't scientific at all.
Unless we have a physical test that can detect transsexuality 100% of the time there are other factors, which may or may not be active in every case or may just be active in some cases.

Well yes, this one case does manage to prove no, because the fact of the matter that is possibly most defining was that David Reimer was not a transsexual. He was someone who would have grown up as a perfectly normal cis male, had he not had a botched circumcision. This didn't start of with a potentially androgynous child, this was a male who was forced to live as a female, it is about as 100% definition of transsexuality that you can get. This single experiment basically proved the lack of upbringing and environment as being a determining factor because all aspects of the example were taken to absolute extremes.

And furthermore, I'm not talking about consciously-directed societal influence, I'm talking about how a person may be influenced accidentally based on their misunderstanding of context. I gave my example of thinking "injured" meant "needing to wear glasses". So, if a kid associated "girl" strongly with a propensity to eat bananas and "boy" with a propensity not to eat bananas that could then become a determining factor in how the child thinks about his/her own gender, at least until they(if they) encounter, observe, and absorb enough counterexamples.

Give children some credit. While the example you gave of injuries meaning glasses is unique, children figure out the basic difference between boys and girls at an extremely young age. They may not understand the full sexual complexities of that meaning, but they know enough to not have some strange confusion like you are implying. Even in the case where there was some initial confusion, such confusion is removed relatively quickly during childhood. Of course the best example to prove that this has no impact or effect is to simply ask transsexuals if they ever encountered such a scenario. I can tell you on my side I know I never had such a problem.

There's also the factor of "role-modeling behavior", if the child's innate tendancy is whether to watch mostly boys or mostly girls and learn behaviors mostly from them then that will influence the number of "boy" labeled and "Girl" labeled things they do and so increase the possibility that they come to label themselves as that gender.

Additionally, role model has no effect because if it did we would be seeing problems with single parents, or single sex boarding schools. Neither of these scenarios have had any influence on either the occurrence of homosexuality or transsexuality. If anything what you are describing, influences learned gender roles which have already been proven to be unrelated to transsexuality by the behaviors of transsexuals themselves.

Environment does NOT have to mean direct or even deliberate social instruction. Plenty of communication especially in early childhood is communicated by accident. An anti-huffing commercial left me obsessively breathing out harshly for several years as a child because it said "when you're sniffing you're brain thinks you're drowning" and at that age I thought it meant sniffing like you'd sniff air in and forget to release enough of the CO2. Society influenced me, just not in the way it intended, or even for a cause it was interested in(society wanted to discover me from huffing, instead it encouraged me to obsessively cough).

Again this was addressed in my previous post. The current cis and hetronormative environment and society would only encourage children to act like their birth sex and to fight against their cross gender feelings. Further, with societal pressures being what they are, any early confusion would be quickly resolved, I even gave the example of how I was chastised for feminine behavior and that led to me stopping such behavior. Regardless, it did not have any effect on me as a transsexual other than keeping me in the closet for longer.

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Not saying this is what they should've done, but we will never know what would've happened had his family allowed his male-typical behavior but encouraged him to not to identify as a boy or to change his body, or even to identify as a boy but with a female-transformed body?

This piece is just plain rubbish, while the argument can be made that children will rebel against excessive pressure from a parent, the case of David Reimer proved that was not the case. There are plenty of cis children who are pressured both socially and environmentally to fit gender roles. These children do not rebel against such actions to the degree where they develop a gross gender identity. They are you more typical hyper-masculine males for example.

Even if some cases or even most cases are legitimate, to me it just seems too easy for a kid to come to strongly associate a set of traits with a word, any word including "boy" or "girl" and then come to feel like he/she needs to change their physical sex once they learn their body doesn't fit in with which word they prefer to think of themselves as. Too easy for it not to make up at least a small fraction of the cases.

Lastly, gender roles and term definitions have nothing to do with trans-people. As I already pointed out, the scope of the significant gender dysphoria only manifests during puberty. By that time gender roles would be primarily focused on ensuring that the child follow their birth sex's roles and they will also have an accurate understanding of what the term boy and girl means.

Something you seem to be missing, something I pointed out at least once before, is that becoming a transgender person is incredibly difficult. One faces massive amounts of social stigma not to mention the practical difficulties involved. For someone to choose to put themselves through all the trouble involved with being trans means they have deeply analyzed their own feelings. There is no confusion of terms, no confusion in role-modes, no confusion in societies expectations and pressures, no confusion in environment or gender roles. The only confusion would be the scope of their own inner turmoil.

I've noticed the "children can't know any better" argument doesn't seem to apply when a child is cisgendered or straight.

Just a thought.

I think the main reason for this is really just statistical numbers. Homosexual and trans people make up a small percentage of the total population. Hence in any given situation is it assumed that the majority would be cicgendered and straight. Further the very existence of the closet with regards to homosexuality proves that non cis and heterosexual people will attempt to fit the norm of being cisgendered and straight.

Although to be honest, for someone to actually come out as such, given all the pressures to remain in the closet, they should be given more credit for their statement. After all no one wants to be homosexual or transsexual (except SJW but there they are just faking it to gain prestige in the oppression Olympics.) hence, if anything they should know better.

There are plenty of homosexual and transsexual children who would swear they are normal, simply because they don't understand or know about the meanings of the feelings they have.

However, I will say as one final note, it is possible that a teen may be confused about their sexuality temporarily. After all, puberty is an extremely confusing time for children. Of course I am inclined to say that would be pretty rare.

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #43 on: November 05, 2012, 03:06:03 am »
However, I will say as one final note, it is possible that a teen may be confused about their sexuality temporarily. After all, puberty is an extremely confusing time for children. Of course I am inclined to say that would be pretty rare.

For what it's worth, I was only confused about my orientation when I didn't know that such a thing as bisexuality existed. After that, it wasn't so much confusion as it was inner turmoil, self-loathing, doubt, and fear, but never confusion.

Offline The Right Honourable Mlle Antéchrist

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Re: So what IS transgender, anyway?
« Reply #44 on: November 05, 2012, 07:04:33 pm »
Please be so kind as to actually read and understand the counter point I am attempting to make. It seems like a lot of what I wrote previously was ignored including the direct example I gave as a counter. For once, please read and pay attention to the points provided by the members of this community that are actual transsexuals. They may just know what they are talking about.

Seriously. This cherry-picking of a few details while ignoring the bulk of the evidence and the picture it paints is highly reminiscent of a creationist trying to disprove evolution.
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