Quantum Gender

In a certain light, queer conceptions of gender are a lot like quantum computing.

I beg your indulgence, dear readers; I promise that I have not dived off into the deep end of quantum woo. I am merely pointing-out qualitative similarities.

But think about it: Classical computing performs operations using discrete quantities of information called ‘bits’, and a bit can be in only one of two distinct states: either it is a 0, or it is a 1. No other options are allowed, by definition.

Similarly, traditional (or “classical,” in analogy with the physics) conceptions of gender assume the existence of only two distinct states: male or female. Again, there is no possibility for cross-over or alternative options: you have two discrete states of being, and never the twain shall meet.

But when you apply quantum mechanics to computing, you end up with discrete quantities of information called “qubits.” These can be not only in either one of two discrete states, but also in any one of an infinite number of possible linear combinations of these two states. And transitions from one state to another become possible.

When your ideas about gender start taking into account the existence of trans people, something very similar happens; what had been a discrete binary of possibilities suddenly becomes a good deal more uncertain–and suddenly, things which once seemed impossible, like transitioning from one state to another, suddenly become allowed.

Doubtless, you are now asking: is there a point to this little analogy? There is, and it is this: quantum mechanics, as a discipline, came into existence when physicists started tugging at the few apparent loose ends of what had, until that point, been a “common-sense” understanding of how the world worked. They found, upon closer analysis, that their intuitions, being based entirely on the macroscopic world in which Human life takes place, could not be applied to reality at all scales of being. So they made the conceptual leap necessary to throw-out their intuitions. This is a conceptual leap that all scholars, and indeed all thinking people, should be prepared to make when the circumstances warrant it. The world is rarely as simple as it at first seems, and if you remain married to your “common sense” conceptions–about gender as about physics– you will miss-out on a more complete understanding of the world.

About thevenerablecorvex

I have the heart of a poet, the brain of a theoretical physicist, and the wingspan of an albatross. I am also notable for my humility.
This entry was posted in Academics, Physics, Science and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Quantum Gender

  1. rimonim says:

    Great analogy! Very illuminating.

  2. Wait, weren’t you possibly going to work for a quantum computer company at one point? Cause I like the idea of a quantum gendered person working for a quantum computer company, if that makes sense.

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