This is Not Enlightenment. This is Insanity.

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.

Tough. Deal with it.

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.



4 thoughts on “This is Not Enlightenment. This is Insanity.

  1. Rusty, so glad to see you’re writing again! Hoping your new professional and personal endeavors are everything you want them to be. I shall look forward to your posts–even when I disagree with your opinion, I love the way you articulate it! all the best, ccg

  2. I agree and disagree. I agree because for you, this makes perfect sense. You were born male, are male, have never felt any other way. I was born female, am female, and also never felt any other way (except when my salary is lower than Joe Schmo’s because I lack a penis, but that’s a different story).

    There is, however, a different side.

    My wife was also born in 1954. Grew up as a complete tomboy and cried when her parents made her put on a dress. She knew she was different and always thought she should have been born a boy. When she began puberty she was never attracted to men, and knew something was very wrong with her feelings based on her upbringing in middle-of-nowhere New Mexico. Nobody told her it was wrong, they didn’t have to. Every single person she knew was attracted to (or at least pretended to be attracted to) a member of the opposite sex. She was attracted to members of the same sex. Nobody felt like she did, so she was sure that there was something horribly wrong with her. Back then, her worldview was too narrow to think otherwise.

    Subsequently, she quashed all of those feelings and married very young. She proceeded to have two beautiful daughters with her ex- husband. After 29 years of living a lie, when her children were grown and self-sufficient, she finally came out as lesbian and divorced her husband. A lot of her decision was based on the discovery of the internet, which came with it the astounding revelation (to her) that there were literally millions of other people out there who felt just like she did. She was not a nasty, one-off mistake. There were people like her. LOTS of them. In many ways, she was ‘born again’ at age 45.

    Today, she still feels she should have been born a boy and had that option been even remotely available she might have pursued it. At 60+ years old however, she has no real desire to change her physical attributes and would also not have her daughters had she gone that road. She does sometimes wish she would have known that a complete mastectomy were an option after surviving breast cancer, but the doctors were more interested in saving her breasts than she was. If she DID decide she wanted to transition, I would not care a whit. Because; whether she has breasts or a vagina makes up exactly 0% of why I love her.

    Understand that I do not agree with giving a child hormones pre-puberty EVER; or even after puberty without a whole lot of serious counseling. However, there are people who have been tortured all of their lives by the fact that their bodies do not reflect who they feel they are internally. Some, like my wife, can come to terms with it and just be who they are. Others are not so lucky and end up miserable, often addicted to substances, out on the street, dead by their own hand, or all of the above. And I feel for those people.

    I am not talking about a person who ‘on a whim’ decides they want to play act being the other gender for a while. These are not people who identify with one gender or another on any given day. I am talking about the people who desperately want to change their bodies to reflect what they know as well as you know you are a heterosexual male. That without a doubt, over many years, 100% of the time, they are a different gender internally but lack the incredible amount of capital to make it happen. People like Caitlyn Jenner and Chaz Bono have both helped these people and hurt them. Jenner and Bono have helped bring awareness to these individuals, but they were each able to fully transition in just a couple of years because they had unlimited funds to do so. Most of these folks cannot come close to affording it so have to settle for changing their outward appearance.

    The whole “Bathroomgate” thing is silly to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve used the men’s room at a club because the women’s room had a line a mile long and couldn’t have cared if someone had a problem with it (nobody ever did). If the ONLY thing about a person that is male is their penis, and they otherwise look/dress/live as a woman, what difference does it make if that person uses the women’s room? It seems that people have more problems with that scenario than they do with a person with a vagina who otherwise appears male using the men’s room. Do people actually think that this aforementioned person is somehow going to cause harm to anyone just because they have to pee? That they are going to…what? Somehow by their very presence turn another person transgender? Rape someone?

    This begs the main question. Is the issue about gender, or about sexuality? Men who are attracted to men use the men’s room. You yourself have probably taken a squirt next to a guy at least once in your life (and probably a lot more than once) who has a husband or boyfriend at home. Likewise, women who are attracted to women use the women’s room. People as a whole use the restroom to relieve bodily functions that are required of every human being at some point or another and have no thought whatsoever of bothering the person in the next stall. If someone is intent on using a public restroom to cause another harm, that’s nothing to do with gender.

    Maybe I’m missing something, but I honestly just don’t see the problem. Almost every public place I go I now see a men’s room, a women’s room, and a one-toilet jobbie typically labeled ‘family restroom’ for, I suppose, dads with small daughters or moms with small sons. That actually IS a gender-nonconforming restroom. Men and women can both use it. At the same time if they want to.

    Way too much time is being spent on legislation banning anyone from one or the other. Someone like yourself, Steve, wouldn’t even think of using the women’s room and I wouldn’t think of using the men’s (unless I had to, and I would if I had to pee and that was the only option) and at the same time I wouldn’t mind using a ‘gender-nonconforming’ (or whatever word they’re using) restroom.

    But we are not talking about you and me. That’s where a different kind of understanding has to be explored. Times, they are a’changin.

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