It seems like my simple statement that “Caitlyn Jenner is a man wearing a dress” caught fire online on many sites and in different formats, expressing what millions of other Americans think and feel but are often reluctant to express lest they be branded hateful and intolerant.
In the interest of fleshing that statement out and giving voice to the feelings of many others, let me state more of the obvious.
I do recognize that some people have biological or chromosomal abnormalities, often grouped together under the category of intersex but representing well under 2 percent (or even under 1 percent) of the population.
But these very real exceptions only prove the rule, and in normal cases, which represent 98-99 percent of the population and therefore define cultural norms, the following remain truths remained fixed and immovable:
- A biological male does not have female genitalia.
- A biological male does not have female chromosomes.
- A biological male does not get a monthly period.
- A biological male cannot conceive or bear or nurse a child.
- A biological female does not have male genitalia
- A biological female does not have male chromosomes.
- A biological female does get a monthly period.
- A biological female cannot impregnate another woman.
It also remains true that chromosomes do not lie (meaning, XY = male and XX = female, and abnormalities are just that – abnormalities) and that biology is not bigotry (this line is not original with me, but I’m not sure who said it first).
And so, a biological and chromosomal male who believes he is a woman is no more a woman than he is a dog, a fire hydrant, or a Martian. Conversely, a biological and chromosomal female who believes she is a man is no more a man than she is a zebra, a telephone, or a Neptunian.
It is true, of course, that the brain is part of the body, but it is also true that not everything the brain perceives to be reality is reality, which is why we say that someone has a psychological disorder when they deny the reality of the world that surrounds them – and no sane person calls that diagnosis hateful.
Yet when we argue that many who identify as transgender do have a psychological disorder, we are told that we are driven by hate.
On what basis?
Interestingly, when it comes to gender distinctions, radical feminists, LGBT activists, and other opponents of “heterosexism” send some very mixed signals.
On the one hand, they tell us that the so-called gender binary (meaning, dividing the world into the distinct categories of male and female) is bigoted and antiquated. Then, on the other hand, they use stereotypical gender categories to argue for transgender identity.
For example, these activists want toy stores to become gender neutral, not just in their bathroom facilities but in the main shopping areas as well, no longer distinguishing between boy’s toys and girl’s toys. (Target made its toy aisles gender neutral in 2015.)
Yet these same activists will tell you that little Sally is really a boy because she prefers playing with boy’s toys.
So, which is it? Is there such a thing as boy’s toys and girl’s toys or not?
And, generally speaking, are there differences between male behavior and female behavior, between male tendencies and female tendencies, between male interests and female interests, between male perspectives and female perspectives?
More basically, is there a reason that Target has still not made its entire stores gender neutral – in other words, is there a reason that Target still has distinct sections for men’s clothes and women’s clothes? This, of course, makes perfect sense, unless we think that the day is soon coming when men are as likely as women to wear a bra and panties. (If some really extreme activists had their way, I imagine that day would come sooner rather than later.)
What’s interesting, though, is that those of us who celebrate gender distinctions do so in non-rigid ways, recognizing that some boys may have certain interests and responses that are more feminine, while some girls may have certain interests and responses that are more masculine.
Yet this does not mean that those boys are actually girls or that those girls are actually boys. Obviously not. To conclude that they were would be to confuse minor category exceptions with larger category rules.
I truly believe that one day (may it come sooner than later!), we will look back with astonishment at this bizarre period of history, one in which perception was mistaken for reality, one in which one of our most lauded male athletes received a courage award for acquiring female breasts, one in which children too young to be left home alone – let alone drive a car, drink, or vote – were allowed to make long-term, body-altering decisions about their future, one in which whole states were punished and boycotted for refusing to allow teenage boys to play on girl’s sports teams and share locker rooms and shower stalls with them.
The positive takeaway from today’s social madness is that we have become more aware of those who struggle with deep, gender identity issues, from early childhood to old age.
May we better understand their struggles, may we become a more compassionate society, and may we work together to help them true wholeness inside and out.
And may the cultural madness cease.
We’ve had more than enough of gender-fluid teens and gender-blender adults and 50 ways (and more) to define your gender and college professors being required to address students as ze and xer and fae and thon.
It’s time we get back to reality.