Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Being a jerk about gender pronouns

"A few years back," author T Cooper relates in The Slate, "if I had to draw a pyramid to represent who has it 'hardest' with respect to the subject of me and pronouns (with 'most difficult' on top and "not really difficult at all' on the bottom), it would look something like this:

"Notice that I am nowhere on the pyramid," Cooper continues. "This is because for many years, I was generally apologetic about my situation. I didn’t want to make anybody feel uncomfortable, ever, so I readily shelved my own discomfort over being referred to by the wrong pronoun." HANH!?

That's right ... Cooper is one of the thousands of people who think creative linguistics can overwhelm biology. In this case, Cooper is a woman trying hard to get us to accept her as a man.

The original ad that led me to her column asked, "Why Is It So Hard for You to Use the Pronoun I Prefer?" Umm ... maybe because most people, both religious and non-religious, agree that lying is a bad thing? Perhaps because I feel no real desire to indulge your narcissistic fantasies? Or maybe because gender-identity disorder is not properly treated by pretending that a man is a woman (and vice-versa)?

Our sex is more than just our gonads; genetically, it's an inextricable part of our very being. We are born male and female because that's how we reproduce; if we were amoebae, the question of sexual identity wouldn't even obtain. Leaving open the question of the degree to which our sex influences our behavior, it still remains that no matter how deeply one identifies with persons of the opposite sex, that doesn't change the sex we were born with, nor does it give any objective credibility to the idea of being "born (or trapped) in the wrong body".And the horrifically high rates of death, suicide and psychiatric morbidity among post-op transsexuals tells me that "gender-reassignment surgery" is a joke — it's not an appropriate treatment for those who suffer from gender dysphoria.

Look — gender-identity disorder is no laughing matter. I'm not looking to have transsexuals or transvestites thrown in jail or the loony bin. It's clear to me, though, that those afflicted with GID/gender dysphoria need help learning to like themselves for who and what they are instead of hating themselves for what they're not. 

Does that make me a jerk? Guilty as charged. I guess it's because I'm imprisoned by a cosmology that recognizes an objective reality behind subjective appearances — that bone breaks are objectively painful, dog poo objectively ruins your shoe when you step in it, and ice is objectively treacherous to drive on no matter what name you give it. And I can think of no more obvious or distressingly common a sign of insanity than the belief that reality is a social construct.