In my interactions with anti-trans people, I've noticed that many of them deny the existence of gender identity (including their own I would assume). As a cis man, I must admit that I am not really consciously aware of my gender identity either, but can perceive its effects on my behaviour and presentation. I guess it's subconscious and instinctive?

This is in stark contrast to what transgender people report: real, vivid, persistent feelings of being in the wrong body. I assume such knowledge about themselves cannot be possible without an awareness of their gender identity. I have no reason to disbelieve them, but the inconsistency seems to demand an explanation.

Is it simply that their lived experience of constant incongruity between their felt gender and biological sex forces it to the forefront of their minds? While on the other hand, maybe cis people take their gender identity for granted because they feel no separation between it and their biological sex. (When I do try to pinpoint my gender identity, I usually fall into the trap of thinking about my sexual orientation instead, something -- as a man -- I am almost always consciously aware of. ;)

So, long story short, has anyone else ever noticed this? Has any research ever been done on how strongly different groups of people feel their gender identity? Or am I (and those anti-trans folks) missing the point somehow? Can one be trained to notice it, sort of like a gender meditation? Or are there canonical questions that professionals use to tease it out of patients?

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    $\begingroup$ I don't think this makes much logical sense: starting from the premise that someone anti-trans denies the existence of gender identity is absurd: whatever they say, to be anti-trans is to be explicitly concerned with and believe to know better about what someone else's gender identity should be. How is that possible without being aware and concerned with gender identity? $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 11, 2023 at 12:54
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    $\begingroup$ If my leg hurts, then I tend to be more aware of it. I suspect that if my gender identity was dissonant, then I would be more concerned with it as well - ie, mind the cause-and-effect. $\endgroup$
    – Arnon Weinberg
    Aug 12, 2023 at 1:14
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause I'm not saying it makes sense, but it's something I've heard repeated often in one form or another. I think the denial of the existence of gender identity comes from their equating it with biological sex; it is not a separate entity. They tend to think that men/males have penises and women/females have vaginas and that's all there is to say. And, at least in English, the distinction between sex and gender is relatively new, and the related concept of gender identity is newer still, so I think there's a perception of this being some new-fangled lefty nonsense. $\endgroup$
    – ibonyun
    Aug 15, 2023 at 18:13
  • $\begingroup$ @BryanKrause So when it comes to knowing better what someone else's gender identity should be, they're only looking at biological sex and think that anyone claiming to identify differently from their sex is either (a) delusional, ie mentally ill; (b) lying, eg trying to get into women's bathrooms to prey on women; or (c) jumping on the trans bandwagon to be cool. $\endgroup$
    – ibonyun
    Aug 15, 2023 at 18:21
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    $\begingroup$ I would liken it to other memes like "I don't see race" as an excuse or argument against affirmative action; basically, an argument from ignorance that it's okay to have racial disparities, and the implication that any such disparity is because of actual population differences rather than societal factors. $\endgroup$
    – Bryan Krause
    Aug 15, 2023 at 18:29


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