In 1954, I was born six weeks premature. That was a bigger deal 60 years ago than it is now. But largely, I think, because of that, I was a small kid… skinny (believe it or not) and short.
Premature birth, however, had nothing that I know of to do with the fact that I was, as I say, “born without the sports gene.” My dad was a sports fan, a good athlete, and a sometimes sportswriter. But I never had — and still do not have — any interest whatsoever in sports. I was lousy at kickball, football, softball, and all the other sports we had to play when I was in school. I was always picked last for any team, and when I was as far in the outfield as I could get, I prayed the ball wouldn’t come to me. I knew that if it did, and I dropped it (which was quite often) I’d be bullied: called names, hit in the stomach, cruelly mocked.
Similarly, I had no interest whatsoever in the Industrial Arts, better known as Shop Class. Nonetheless, it was required. If it had been a choice back then, I would so much rather have taken Home Ec, particularly so I could learn to cook. But I was also aware that if I had been able to choose cooking, I would have been more mercilessly bullied than I had been already.
In other words, I was not a particularly happy kid. I actually remember thinking that things would have been easier if only I had been born a girl. I finally found happiness when I got involved with chorus and drama.
But I was not born a girl. I was a boy. It never occurred to me that I would ever be anything other than a boy, and, eventually, a man. I was not confused about my gender, or later, when I actually understood such things, my sexuality. I was a confirmed and committed heterosexual, and still am. I have a deep, resonant voice, no effeminate traits, and hair in all the right places. I am happily married to a confirmed heterosexual woman. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I still don’t know, or care, a damned thing about football. But I am a very good cook.
I was, though, like all kids who go through puberty, confused about a great many things, and did not understand why I was picked on so often. Why I couldn’t start loving football, baseball, and all those other sportsball games. I still have no interest whatsoever in sports. And I am still not at all confused about my gender or my sexuality.
It’s possible, though, that back in those lousy days of bullying, had I been presented with the idea that I could choose my gender, depending on what I felt like “identifying” with on a given day, I may have been convinced that I really was supposed to have been born a girl. And had I made that choice, it would have been disastrous. I was not meant to be a girl. I was born a male, and a male is what I am now.
Recently, I’ve read articles about how, in some places, kids as young as 4 have been urged to decide what gender they identify with. And presented with the idea that they can actually choose, I’m pretty sure that some, who have had similar experiences to mine, will in their confused and miserable states, make the choice that they’ll regret. At the very least, kids are in no way equipped to make that sort of decision, and those who urge it on them are guilty of nothing less than child abuse.
What I’m getting at here is this: You do not choose your gender. At least not on some whim of what you feel like on any given day. Putting aside for a moment the possibility that a few — a very few — may be able to make the case that they were somehow mistakenly assigned the wrong gender, and go through the necessary steps, including surgery and therapy, to permanently make that change, I can make this quite simple: If you were born with a penis, you’re a male. If you were born with a vagina, you’re a female. If you find that difficult, then do what humans have had to do since time immemorial: Deal with it. Grow up. Life sucks sometimes. Some people have it more difficult than others.
You can’t expect the world to bend to your aberration, your emotional issues, or your whimsical decision to decide that you want to try to be the gender that you are not.
And this is my take on North Carolina’s so-called bathroom law: If you have a penis, you use the men’s room. If you have a vagina, you use the women’s room. If you have actually taken it all the way, and have had the gender-change surgery, and have now have new and/or different parts, then you may use the restroom that goes with your new gender. But that’s if and only if, you’ve gone far enough so there’s no going back.
But if you’re a woman who decides that she’d rather identify as a man, or a man who has chosen that he wants to be queen for a day, tough. Deal with it.
To do otherwise is not enlightenment. It is insanity. Now you’ll have to excuse me. I have a souffle in the oven.