As this topic has again become front and center in public discussion, it brought to mind some thoughts I recorded last summer when "the bathroom bill" was a point of contention.
“But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
George Orwell – 1984
For those among you who find it tiresome to once again trot out this oft cited dystopian masterpiece you may feel free to stop reading here. For all the rest, please read on. This is a line taken from a piece of fiction. When attempting to support one’s arguments it is generally considered better to use fact instead of fiction, but as art will imitate life can not life also imitate art? Besides this there are political and social arguments that emanate from Washington and the halls of academia that are wholly rooted in nothing but fiction. Almost daily, I would venture to say.
The Oxford dictionary of the English language is generally agreed to be a good source for factual content so let us begin there. We must start with a single word: gender. Oxford defines this as follows:
Gen-der n. 1 a the grammatical classification of nouns and related words, roughly corresponding to the two sexes and sexlessness, b each of the classes of nouns (see MASCULINE,FEMININE,NEUTER,COMMON adj. 6) 2 (of nouns and related words) the property of belonging to such a class. 3 colloq. a person’s sex.
Now it is a reasonably safe assertion that the majority of English speaking Americans are not knowledgeable of language other than their native tongue, that being the American variety of English in all of its various dialects and manifestations. The concept of gender assignment to nouns is a curiosity; it is foreign. For those who may have wrestled through the obligatory two years of foreign language as a prerequisite to college there is at least a knowledge of such a thing, though even then it may not be a concept wholly grasped. Suffice it to say then that in the daily life of the average American the word “gender” is not typically associated with language. It is instead regarded as a term synonymous with the noun form of the word sex, as again defined by Oxford:
sex n. 1 either of the main divisions (male and female) into which living things are placed on the basis of their reproductive functions.
In spite of the clear differences in the proper definition of the two words there is a general acceptance in the public discourse that the word gender is known as a term corresponding to the individual’s sexual identity. Taking all of this into account let us return to the premise posed by Orwell’s words.
One may never be able to determine just where this began or who the culpable party or parties may be, but it does appear that we have a case of the latter half of Orwell’s proposition in this line. That language has been co-opted, used, to corrupt thought. The orthodoxy of politically correct speech dictates that gender refers to sexual identity. The definition, the thought, has been corrupted via the language. It is accepted now. Therefore you will accept it. Yes, you will, for you see the act of questioning this, actually seeking to use the truly correct as opposed to the politically correct definition is to allow thought to corrupt the language.
The specter of a number of other prescient ideas expressed in Orwell’s work begin to loom over any discussion of the matter.
“It’s a beautiful thing, the destruction of words.”
“Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
“…..two and two are four. Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.”
Though these words come to us from a work of fiction penned in the middle of the last century they speak very plainly to what is perpetrated in real life today. Words are made to mean what suits a particular agenda. The acceptance of these erroneous ideas is to be automatic, unchallenged. And at all times words will mean whatever they need to mean in the advancement of the agenda. If you do not accept this you are insane. You are a hater.
One who does not see this has been swallowed by the orthodoxy just as they have swallowed the proverbial purple Kool-aid. They have either been conditioned to a point that they are unable to see it, or? The other possibility is just that they refuse to see it. In denial, easier to accept and embrace the lie than to summon the necessary mental faculties to find the truth. When your currency is fiction facts can be very inconvenient.
I do not mean to suggest that we exist in a world that is all very clearly defined in black and white. The fact is that much of what we negotiate in our daily lives resides within the murkier shades of grey. But grey is composed of parts of the two. In order to make any sense at all of the grey areas one needs to understand the difference between its component parts; what is black and what is white. When the definition of either or both of these has been corrupted from the truth then it all becomes grey. Two and two are four. Or three. Or five. It doesn’t really matter now does it? It means whatever you think it means.
We are not perfect beings nor do we live in a perfect world. Nature can be a cruel mistress. To our eyes nature may sometimes make a mistake. Sometimes young are born with genetic defects. Incurable diseases, absence of limbs, improper function of vital organs, cognitive impairments. They happen. They are not mistakes, per se, merely the random function of nature. Or to some be it the will of God. However one chooses to define this they are occurrences beyond our control. We do not know the purpose of such things and nor are we meant to.
Can a person be born with a mental and emotional make up of one sex, but through some genetic mishap be born with the physical characteristics of the opposite sex? Certainly. It can happen, it has happened and it no doubt will continue to happen. For whatever reason that nature or God may ordain it. Although it is a rare thing there is indisputable physical evidence of the existence of hermaphrodites. Not the creation of science or surgery, but actual human beings that have been born that way. So to try to suggest that transsexualism is somehow a myth is absurd. It is a real thing. Pedophiles, whether the creation of nature or of experience are no less real things. I know I’m skating out onto the thin ice here, but bear with me. I am not attempting to equate the two. I mention it for the sound purpose of illustrating a point.
Let us consider this scenario. You are an average American with a child in a public school. Maybe you’re white and live in the suburbs in a traditional two parent home. Maybe you’re a single mother living in a more urban environment. Or a grandparent in a rural area raising one of your grandchildren. Maybe a family of illegal (or undocumented, if you prefer) immigrants whose children were born here. Different people, different backgrounds, socio and ethnic, but the one common thread is that each have their children enrolled in a public school. Your tax dollars, or at least someone’s tax dollars are supposedly going to educate these children. Your public school district will readily admit that many of those tax dollars come to them via the federal government under the kind auspices of the U.S. Department of Education.
Within this community of parents and guardians there are many differing beliefs, customs, values. It is not a monochromatic, bigoted, monolithic collection of haters. They all have school age children and share a concern for the best interest of said children. If some career bureaucrat within the Department of Education decides one day that they wish to use the power and authority of their agency to champion the cause of pedophiles and their plight in society it would be a policy that would arouse a good deal of controversy. First there is the question of how this matter falls within the purview of the Department of Education. Second, and more importantly, the parents and children served by the school are going to be, regardless of any other differences they may have, strongly opposed to the use of their school as a vehicle to implement such a policy.
The high minded and socially enlightened bureaucrat, who no doubt only acts from the most sincere desire to protect and preserve the sacred diversity that is the common good, will frame their reasoning in such a fashion as to appear completely benign in character. A full embrace of tolerance, which is of course a critical component of the social education of our children. This bureaucrat will likely have either the active and vocal support of the administration’s chief executive, or at the very least a passivity that will not stand in the path of the workings of good government. It will be a policy statement couched within the typical legalese double-speak of government, but in effect will say something like:
“The phenomenon of pedophilia is not an illness or aberration. These poor people did not ask to be born as they are; it is simply the circumstance of their genetics. Just because they are different from the norm does not mean that they are not entitled to the same tolerance of their sexual orientation as the homosexual, bisexual or transgendered individual. They have a right to be who they are, comfortable within their own skin, and not have to cower in a closet from the bigoted and intolerant treatment of ignorant haters. They have the same rights to access of public restrooms and facilities in our schools as any other American. Therefore, as a matter of public policy, these people shall be free to enter the restrooms or locker rooms of either gender at any time in any public school. The attempt on the part of any school or school district or state board of education to interfere with or controvert this policy shall be met with a filing against them through the Department of Justice for civil rights violations and the withholding of funding from the federal Department of Education.”
In other words the Department of Education is telling us that although they are unable to pass legislation that would legitimately mandate such a policy they will, nevertheless, ram it down your throats through threat of costly litigation and the leverage of those precious tax dollars. It is a form of paternalism akin to “ If you are going to live under my roof you will abide by my rules. If you don’t like it you can get out and fend for yourself.”
Now for those of you saying “That is patently absurd. The Department of Education would never try to do such a thing. Why that would be insane!”. I would ask you. Really? Are you so sure? If I had told you say ten years ago, that the President of the United States himself would, on a Friday afternoon issue an executive order, circumventing any constitutional process or recognition of the states’ rights on the matter, that would mandate the free and unfettered access to the restroom or locker room facilities in a public school or institution to an individual self identifying as being of a gender ( the correct word here would be sex ) other than physically indicated by their genitalia, or else? If this can occur through executive fiat why, then, could it not just as easily occur for the sake of the pedophile supported by the same sketchy logic? Ne dit jamais jamais, mes Amies!
The point here, however, is twofold and really does not require a lot of laborious reasoning to comprehend. The individual who openly identifies as being a pedophile will nearly universally be vilified. No set of parents or guardians defined earlier will accept being forced to allow this individual into such private and thus vulnerable circumstances with their children. The specious “right” of the pedophile could simply be preserved by the pedophile not announcing to the world what they are. The argument only becomes absurd if one will accept the notion that the pedophile will voluntarily identify themselves as such. Whether they may be a product of genetics or of experience does not change what they are. The only difference between pedophilia as a sexual orientation and pedophilia as criminality is the behavior.
There is the similarity with the case of transsexuals in this respect only. Whether they are a product of genetics or conscious choice does not change what they are. Oh, but wait! Maybe it does, actually. We could debate whether or not pedophiles are genetic or by choice, but how does one prove this one way or the other? Cloaked in a protection for their sexual orientation and not being able to determine positively one way or the other this places them into two categories. The first would be that there are those who are truly the victim of their own faulty genetics. The second would be those who choose to engage in the behavior and under the guise of protection for their involuntary orientation.
The problem that has been thrust upon us all now is this: we are to rely upon and accept nothing more than the assertion of an individual which gender (again, its sex) they identify as for establishing which restroom or locker room they may use in our public facilities. Well, as with the pedophile, how are we to be sure? I hear the rumblings out there of those who will insist that I am one of the haters, that I do indeed mean to equate transsexualism with pedophilia. In response I return to Orwell: orthodoxy is unconsciousness. You are not thinking, you are not listening.
Where the pedophile seeks to hide their true identity it would seem that that the transsexual seeks to openly declare it, or at least that’s what the media would seem to want us all to believe. My suspicion is that the voices of those championing most loudly for the rights of these individuals are not even transsexuals themselves. Rather they are individuals who have hitched their ride upon this as the latest cause célèbre. As with most things much of the controversy would be removed if government just kept their ever obtrusive nose out of the matter altogether. One only needs to objectively consider simple physiology to find a reasonable resolution to all of this.
For the individual identifying as female but who is equipped with male genitalia one should think that their objective would be to identify as being female by living as a female. If that were the case upon entering the ladies room it might be noted that there is a conspicuous absence of urinals. So, dressed the part and behaving as a female, would not this individual simply realize their public identity by not broadcasting the fact that they have a penis, go into a stall and do their necessary business, replace their panties and go on about their day? That’s not forcing someone into a closet. It is in fact allowing them to live as they identify. What’s the need to declare it? If that is who you are on the inside then isn’t that just being who you are, as surely this movement tells us is all these people really want.
Now I suppose the other side of this equation becomes a bit more difficult to realize where it comes to the restroom. For those identifying as male but finding themselves equipped with female plumbing the urinal becomes a daunting enterprise. Not really sure what your options are there, other than to always wait for a stall or enter the ladies room and simply be mistaken as a very “butch” female. I don’t suppose that would do, though, as it fails to accommodate their “living” their gender (sex. Its sex. The correct word is sex.) Sorry folks. I don’t have the answer for this one.
Those of you clinging stubbornly to the orthodoxy, I hear your wailing and gnashing of teeth. “ That’s the restroom!”, you retort snarkily. “ What about the locker rooms, huh?” Well you may rightfully ask. Here the accommodation becomes more of a challenge, I will grant you. I know this will fly in the face of your manner of thought, but here is what I would consider a reasonable solution to the issue. It goes something like this:
I am a parent or guardian of a child who during their elementary years may have perhaps exhibited some behaviors or traits that would seem opposite of their sex. It’s not so unusual to observe this in children really, as at those tender ages they aren’t really “sexual” beings yet, are they? Now if this were to continue into middle school with the onset of puberty and my child can begin to verbalize what they are experiencing then I might seek the help of a medical professional. I would want to have that discussion with that doctor or doctors and if there were enough cause to warrant it I might wish to take whatever steps are necessary to obtain an actual clinical diagnosis of the condition. If from that point it were confirmed then I would, as a responsible parent, upon enrolling that child in school make an appointment to meet with school administration and explain the facts. My child has this medical condition. He/she is different in this way. I want my child to be able to be themselves, but I understand that this does pose some challenges. I know that kids can be assholes and there is nothing you can do about that. It is not your job to change minds other than by educating them. The rest of it is on the individual. All I ask is that you make some accommodation with regard to restrooms, gym class or situations where the “identity” may pose a problem.
One of two things will happen here. The school will work with you to meet those requests or they will not. If they don’t, then I’m simply looking for another school. I would not want my child to live in fear of being who they are. I likewise do not want my child feeling that they need to broadcast their sexual identity. In parenting one has to continually confront some unpleasant truths. In this instance I would have to tell my child “This is the hand you have been dealt. This makes you unusual. Not abnormal, not deformed, just unusual. There are not great numbers of people who have what you have. You can be under no illusions; there will be times that this is going to make your life very difficult. You don’t have to like it, but if you want to preserve your sanity you are going to have to accept that. Who you are is determined by what is between your ears, not between your legs. Given your condition you should understand this as well as anyone. But you must also understand that not everyone will. The fact is you are very different. It’s not right or wrong, just different, and as long as you understand that then whatever anyone else thinks doesn’t matter.”
The bottom line is this. It only becomes a big deal if you allow people to make it a big deal. An executive order makes it a big deal when it doesn’t need to be. But I could, of course, be wrong.