They is a Nice Person
By Patrick F. Cannon
Pity the poor doctor or nurse who is tasked with checking either the “male” or “female” box on a birth certificate, based only on the evidence of his or her eyes. If they only knew the consternation this could cause in the future, they might have wished for another choice, say “to be determined.” But more on this later.
I’m 81 now, and people my age often marvel at the technological progress that has taken place during their lifetime. Man has been to the Moon, for goodness sakes; and you can now correct spelling and grammar mistakes without whiteout. And while the quality of the content hasn’t greatly improved, you can literally at any given moment choose from among hundreds or even thousands of movies or programs to watch on your jumbo-sized television screen.
But to me the greatest advance has been in society’s toleration of sexual orientation. When I was born, sexual relations between same-sex partners was illegal in most US jurisdictions. If such laws are still on the books, they are not now enforced. Indeed, it is against the law to discriminate against anyone for their sexual orientation, although I’m not naïve enough to believe that subtle (and even not so subtle) forms of discrimination don’t still exist.
This does not mean that many religionists still don’t rail against homosexuality, citing the bible as their authority. While the bible is a worthy book in many ways, it continues to give cover to people who need to mind their own business. Nor can the Koran be held blameless – the majority of the 72 countries that still ban homosexual relations are Muslim. Some – Iran, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the UAE, among others – can impose a death sentence as punishment.
Toleration is necessary and admirable, but it should not blind us to reality. Many of our fellow countrymen were willing to ignore scientific evidence, for example, and caused a measles epidemic. And corporations are happy to pander to the anti-science brigade by labeling their products “No GMOs.” Every science-based study of genetically modified organisms has found them to be perfectly safe. And how, all of a sudden, did so many folks become lactose or gluten intolerant?
To get back to the beginning, when did people start believing you could change your sex? It’s simply not possible. Nor can you be born with the “wrong” sex. You are what you are. This does not mean that some men and women have not always preferred to live as the opposite sex. If they wish to do so, that’s their business. But when they ask us to change an official public record because they claim that some poor misguided medical professional “assigned” them the wrong sex at birth, then we’re not practicing toleration, but fantasy.
It is only in the last century that medication and surgery have permitted some transgender people to seem to be the opposite sex. Sex hormone injections and radical surgery can accomplish a cosmetic transformation (that is, by the way, irreversible); but they do not change the patient’s sex. I often wonder how a surgeon can justify surgery that doesn’t, in fact, do what it purports to do. What happened to “do no harm?”
So, let’s by all means tolerate people’s sexual orientation and proclivities. I fully proscribe to this dictum: what people do to each other in their bedroom is none of my business. I’m even happy for the media to go along by using the pronouns that folks ascribe to themselves no matter their actual sex (the latest one is “they” for non-binary people). Just don’t ask me to also deny reality.
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon
4 thoughts on “They is a Nice Person”
Obstetricians have it easy. Facebook identifies 58 gender possibilities. I read somewhere that there are now 63 personal pronouns correlating to those possibilities. To quote the New York City guidelines for pronoun use, “If your gender pronoun is something that never matters to you or that you rarely think about, then you may have pronoun privilege.” Further, again same source, “Gender pronouns are not set in stone…. You have the right to change your gender pronouns to match who you are and your gender identity.”
I can see where in spoken language these variations might be navigable. In writing, however, it’s dangerous waters: “Xena ate their food because they were hungry.” Or, “Xena ate hir food because ze was hungry.”
English language classes for new immigrants may ultimately be more effective than Trump’s Wall:
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I wonder how the Academie Francais deals with stuff like this?
They have rejected outright such inclusive language as an “aberration.” And they are only talking about male vs female, not 58 genders!
Better be careful with this rigid adherence to observable facts–remember what they did to Martina Navratilova.
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