The Socratic method in conversations, trans issues and romantic relationships

Written by Lionir

For another episode of "I ramble about things", tune in! This time, I'll write about thoughts regarding using the Socrates method in conversations, how technology affects trans people negatively and how I think romantic relationships between two people (for the sake of simplicity) should be.

Is the Socratic method of discussion a kind one?

Refresher on the "steps" of the Socratic method which is important to understand this :

  1. Socrates' interlocutor asserts a thesis, for example "Courage is endurance of the soul".
  2. Socrates decides whether the thesis is false and targets for refutation.
  3. Socrates secures his interlocutor's agreement to further premises, for example "Courage is a fine thing" and "Ignorant endurance is not a fine thing".
  4. Socrates then argues, and the interlocutor agrees, these further premises imply the contrary of the original thesis; in this case, it leads to: "courage is not endurance of the soul".
  5. Socrates then claims he has shown his interlocutor's thesis is false and its negation is true.

This is something I've been thinking about because I've been trying to become kinder to people I disagree or don't understand. I want to employ a systemic method to help with that goal. The Socrates method seemed kind at first glance but after using it in a couple of discussions.. I'm not sure.

What tends to happen is that I'll try to make the other person clarify their position and they seem to see this as me giving it a judgment. Maybe they believe I'm leading them to an answer. The stream of questioning may also seem like sealioning. Maybe the way I phrase it seems condescending.

I've not talked with the people it happens with because I'm not friends with them. If you're reading this and you've noticed me trying to employ the Socrates method, I'd love to talk about how you feel. I'm not really sure how to initiate a discussion on that..

Ah, that reminds me. I think that employing a systemic way to discuss things also makes it seem like I'm not interested in the subject and as if I'm just debating for the sake of debate.

What even is a kind discussion on disagreeing topics? It certainly needs to be about understanding but how to reach there? I don't know.

Technology continues to fail trans people

This might seem like a strange premise to people unfamiliar with the effects of technology. Technology is neutral, right? No. Systems can fail people. It can be in the medical sphere where hospitals will be farther away from poor neighbourhoods or it can be a system simply telling you that you can't change your name. Machines are systems and they are failing trans people.

I was reading "Crucial Tech Like Email Is Still Failing Trans Employees" by Wired where a woman returned to a previous workplace and they couldn't change the name or email address of the account. She says :

I explained that using my deadname wasn’t acceptable. It would confuse my new coworkers and ensure that my first conversation with them would be about my gender identity and not my new job.

It was resolved in the end but they were still disadvantaged as a result and had this terrible experience. I believe this is a symptom of systems not being built by diverse teams. I believe that if these companies truly believed in diversity, the teams who make these decisions wouldn't have made these mistakes.

It's worth mentioning also that the workplace is not the only place where this type of disadvantage and lack of care can be felt. Here in Quebec, changing your name and gender are quite hard. There are fees associated with it of 144$ even after going through the hard process of convincing the government that they should let you. This is really unnaceptable and it's baffling that the systems are still this way.

Someone mentioned to me that the Netherlands plans to remove the marker on ID documents by 2025 which is great to hear. It seems to be a way to solve the problem which is supported by the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. I am a bit worried that this change might not propogate to companies with these policies.

Furthermore, in my Computer Science program, the examples given only take into account "male" and "female" in enumarations about gender when making profiles about people. This made me quite frustrated and in hindsight, I really should've spoken up about it.

A friend of mine had a survey distributed by the school which asked if they were "men", "women" or "transgender" which is quite awful. It might've not been done with bad intentions but it's really hard to not seen it as transphobic for me, no one should have their identity questioned by their education system.

It frustrates me that these issues still exist. I hope to be able to change things even a little bit.

Thoughts about romantic relationships

I've written previously that I believe relationships (even non romantic ones) should be based in honesty and that trying to do otherwise would simply be living a lie and that doing otherwise would simply be putting an act - not true friendship. I think I should try to explore how I think this affects romantic relationships.

Let's first destroy a popular preconception. I don't believe that people should find their partner perfect - this would imply that people don't change and that would be quite bad! I mean, just look at your past self, I'm sure you can notice how you've changed and evolved. You were not perfect and you are still not perfect - you never will be. You can only strive to be as good as you can. Give that right to your partner.

Now that we've established that. If you find something wrong with yourself or your partner, you shouldn't hide it. Be kind, try to build each other up rather than tear each other down. If they're not receptive to it then it's very likely to turn ugly and forceful. If it's not a pressing matter, maybe you can give it more time to turn the gears. It's possible that they were simply defensive on the issue rather than opposed to it. Maybe you can try to approach it another way. Just don't be forceful and be receptive to what they say.

I'd like to note that this doesn't mean agreeing on everything - remember that people are different. There are opinions that are okay to diverge on and that should be respected.


That was all the ramblings for today. Hopefully I've given you insight into me and made you think about things.