The cover story of TIME magazine this week is “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier.” I read it on Saturday—thanks, airplane miles—and two things caught my eye.
1. The article mentions how some opponents of civil rights legislation in Maryland are concerned about what this means for public restrooms. One lady said, “I don’t want men who think they are women in my bathrooms and locker rooms.” State senator Richard Madaleno replied, “We hear this on every gay-rights issue. There’s always this parade of outlandish consequences that are going to occur that never do.”
Really? Is he sure that “outlandish consequences” never occur? He is being quoted in a cover story entitled, “The Transgender Tipping Point.” It seems they do sometimes.
2. The article distinguishes between sexual preferences and gender: “sexual orientation determines who you want to go to bed with and gender identity determines what you want to go to bed as.”
Previous generations thought both categories were fixed, while contemporary culture assumes that both are determined by the individual. Gender and sexual orientation are so malleable that “some trans people reject all labels, seeing gender as a spectrum rather than a two-option multiple-choice question.” I’m not sure how male and female is a sliding scale, but there you go.
The Enlightenment proved it’s impossible to enthrone the autonomous self without falling into contradictions, and I believe I see one here. Our culture often says it’s unrealistic to tell homosexuals to change. They can’t simply “pray the gay away.” Then it turns around and says that people are free to choose their own gender and sexual orientation. Which is it? Are they free to choose or not? I don’t think the LGBT community can have it both ways, though I’m sure they will.