Young at Heart

Jerry Lewis, then going on eighty, once put his real age at about nine. “If I had scissors, I’d cut your tie,” he told the interviewer.

No matter the degree to which Little Jerry may have been joshing or exaggerating as pertains to himself, why shouldn’t it be possible for a person to remain forever young at heart, to use a somewhat prosaic cliché?

Might you, in fact, feel so young at heart that you genuinely identify as a ten-year-old immured in the body of a grownup? And if so, why should you be charged full price wherever minors get in for half? Wouldn’t having your true age discounted in favor of the age of the vessel you inhabit constitute arrant discrimination?

After all, who are you really? Your spirit or your shell?

One problem, of course, would be the inherent unfalsifiability of your claim that your aging castle houses a perennial child—a problem entirely unrelated to the sincerity of your claim.

Chances are, if such a perennial child were to show up at a ticket counter rocking a blue and white Vienna Boys’ Choir sailor uniform and sucking on a lollipop while thumbing his nose at elderly ladies walking by, the salesperson probably wouldn’t peg him as a ten-year-old boy but as a middle-aged man dressed—and acting—like a ten-year-old and, therefore, refuse to admit him for half price.

But if being transgender entails the inalienable human right of access according to one’s unfalsifiable identity, why shouldn’t a trans-age person be entitled to choose likewise?

Or imagine someone that walks around on stilts because he deems himself a giant stuck in a 5’2″ frame—ought we regard him 7′ tall, in keeping with his self-image, or a short guy on stilts, in keeping with our perception of him?

The former, probably, for anytime our perception of others diverges from their own perception of themselves, the modern laws of compassion require that we privilege theirs over ours lest we be branded insensitive clods at best and reprehensible bigots at worst. It follows that if someone that identifies as a vegetarian wolfs down a steak, he’s a vegetarian. End of story. And if you find yourself puzzled by the manifestly oxymoronic phrase “straight men who sleep with other men,” wondering as to the raison d’etre of the G and the B in LGBT, be advised that the terms straight, gay, and bisexual apply to individuals who self-identify as either of these, their actual sexual preferences and behaviors notwithstanding.

Far be it from me to trivialize body dysmorphia, a condition that can range from mildly discomfiting to excruciating. No doubt people regularly go so far as to self-terminate because, due to some cruel cosmic mixup, they feel involuntarily incarcerated in a body they perceive as too short, too old, the wrong sex, or the wrong race. Or because they’re losing their hair. Their suffering is very real, and if they can attain some measure of relief or even happiness by walking around on stilts, wearing a hairpiece, doing the self-tanner-and-dreadlocks thing, or popping hormones and dressing like the opposite sex, good for them.

Just as there’s nothing wrong with arranging the pillows on your bed until you feel most comfortable at night, there’s nothing wrong with making whatever personal adjustments may be necessary so as to achieve the greatest possible comfort in other areas of your life.

That said, my feeling most comfortable and authentic with a war bonnet on my head doesn’t make me an Apache. Neither would undergoing cosmetic treatments to give me a more Native American appearance. And I certainly won’t be eligible for government subsidies available to Native Americans only, no matter how cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die convinced I may be that my Mescalero soul wound up in a Caucasian coil by mistake.

(Instead, any attempt of mine to come across as Native American would likely incur accusations of my “appropriating” from a marginalized group. Women, of course, are widely considered an oppressed segment of the population as well, what with “77 cents on the dollar,” tampon taxes, and other inequalities; which renders it rather puzzling that transgender women in full female regalia seem to enjoy the staunchest support from those that would otherwise be among the quickest to scream appropriation.)

So what is it that makes gender so fundamentally different from other qualities which, in the aggregate, comprise our identities? Where is it written that we feel, and hence are, more a man or a woman than we feel, and hence are, a member of a particular race, age group, height class, nationality, or religion?

Who decides which quality of ours is most fundamental to our individual identity?

A piece titled 3 Well-Meaning Assumptions About Women You Never Realized Were Sexist on everydayfeminism.com lists as the first of those sexist—and thus presumably erroneous, barbaric, and overdue-to-be-phased-out-for-good—assumptions the belief that “women possess certain characteristics that men don’t,” and declares that such attributes “reduce women to a stereotype many just don’t fit into” and “also strip men of the ability to freely express similar qualities themselves.”

Fair enough.

Obviously, though, to assume that there exist no (non-physical) characteristics that are unique to either gender—a supposition that lines up with the oft-floated theory of gender as a mere “social construct,” a theory generally proposed, somewhat paradoxically, in support of transgenderism—pretty much eviscerates the whole concept of “true gender” upon which transgenderism rests.

For if no trait, or group of traits, unambiguously identifies us as either male or female, how can we take the presence (or absence) of any particular trait(s)—such as certain sartorial predilections, a flair for intuition over logic, a preference of chick flicks over ball games, or a propensity for bursting into tears over concealing our vulnerabilities—as evidence that we’re either truly women or truly men?

At bottom, to be transgender, as to be cis-male or cis-female, it seems, has beans to do with intangibles unrelated to anatomy—for if being either male or female did cross over into the non-physical realm, then to engage in outdated and sexist stereotyping in order to define “male” and “female” would be unavoidable—but solely means that one feels more at home in the body of one sex than in the body of the other, just as a short person may feel more at home in a tall body, or an old person in a young one; except that in the latter two cases, there seems to be—quite inexplicably so—less of a societal movement afoot (yet?) to recognize such persons as being that which they desire to be, whether or not, in cases of a reality vs. desire mismatch, they’ve undergone limb-lengthening surgery (yes, there is such a thing) or various medical anti-aging procedures. (Keep in mind that, as per the current U.S. Justice Department, your subjective and unfalsifiable knowing that you’ve been dealt the wrong biological sex suffices to establish you as a legitimate member of the opposite sex, whether or not any “sex-change” procedures have yet been, or will ever be, performed on you. To ask a transgender individual for documentation, such as proof of sex-reassignment procedures either scheduled or already undergone, is like asking a voter for an ID—an egregious circumscription of their most basic rights.)

But who is to say that a person that feels trapped in a body much older or shorter than reflects his identity a) suffers any less emotional trauma than one trapped in a body of the wrong sex, and b) has been endowed by his Creator with a lesser right to be officially accepted as being his desired (= matching-his-identity) rather his actual (= biological) age or height?

How come being terribly unhappy with your sex effectively makes you a member of the other sex in a way that being terribly unhappy with your height, age, race, or species does not make you your preferred height, age, race, or species? (Recall the lady that had her auricles surgically removed because she’s a dragon.)

If I ran a circus, and the law required me to grant bathroom access based on gender identity, why should I be permitted by law to continue my discriminatory practice of selling lollipop-sucking fifty-year-olds in Vienna Boys’ Choir uniforms full-price tickets only?

How Do You Know I’m Not a Woman?

On Monday, New York City’s mayor signed an executive order requiring that people in city-owned buildings be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity, regardless of their anatomy, and without having to present any kind of proof-of-gender documentation.

I have discoursed upon this subject before, but its intricacies continue to fascinate me, so may the rare return visitor pardon the deja read.

Let’s say I enter a gym, sign up for a membership, pay my fee, the receptionist welcomes me to the club, wishes me a great workout, points me in the general direction of the locker rooms, but instead of walking into the men’s locker room, I walk into the women’s locker room and start changing into my workout clothes.

Presumably, it won’t be long before someone approaches and politely (or not so politely) informs me that I must have taken a wrong turn, and strongly suggests that I haul my ass ASAP over to where the guys change and shower.

Whereupon I explain to that person that I’m a woman, for which reason the women’s locker room is precisely where I belong.

To which that person replies that I’m clearly not a woman and doubles down on her injunction that I extract myself from the ladies’ locker room forthwith, or else security will be notified.

The question arises, how can this person presume to have x-ray vision into my soul so as to be able to tell whether it is male or female? Who, other than myself, is in any position whatsoever to divine my true gender and hence determine which locker room I belong in? And based on what?

Only I can possibly know which gender I identify with, no matter how often, or how rarely, and to whom I may have elected to come out in the past.

Am I not a woman because I’m wearing pants and no makeup? Am I not a woman because my hair is short?

While fashion and styling choices often do correlate with gender stereotypes, they are hardly a dispositive criterion for telling who’s male and who’s female. If they were, any short-haired woman in jeans and sneakers and without makeup would be a man, and that’s obviously not the case. (Even if a woman were to never rock a skirt or high heels, never put on makeup, and always keep her hair shorter than shoulder-length, that wouldn’t make her not a woman.)

Am I not a woman because I have a male anatomy?

That, of course, would be the most shockingly uninformed and antediluvian argument against my being female, for by now every enlightened member of society ought to have gotten the memo that one’s biological sex need not match one’s true gender. The entire transgender movement, after all, is premised on the assumption that biological sex does not determine gender.

Am I not a woman because I am sexually attracted to women only?

That argument also falls flat on its face, for so are lesbians, and lesbians are neither not women, nor are they banned from using women’s locker rooms on grounds that they might sneak prurient peeks at the other girls in various stages of undress.

Am I not a woman because I haven’t had “gender reassignment” surgery, and because I cannot flash documentation from a medical professional that identifies me as a woman?

Plenty of self-professed transgender individuals haven’t had surgery or hormone treatments—or haven’t had those yet—nor do they possess authoritative transgender IDs, yet woe betide any transphobic behind-the-times boor so insensitive and intolerant as to dare refer to them by the pronouns that match their biological sex rather than their according-to-themselves gender!

(With respect to identifying documentation, as the voter ID controversy has taught us, from the progressive point of view, the requirement to produce documentation in order to be allowed to exercise a fundamental right constitutes an egregious form of discrimination in itself.)

Moreover, gender-affirming medical procedures do not turn a person into a man or a woman respectively. Transgender 101 has it that everyone is already born with his or her true gender firmly in place, no different from his or her biological sex. Hence, in case of a mismatch, these procedures merely affirm the patient’s innate gender after the fact by modifying his or her sex (at least to the degree to which this can be reasonably differentiated from a mere mutilation, and opinions may vary on that). In other words, a transgender woman doesn’t become a woman by having a sex-change. She’s having a sex-change because she’s always been a woman, i.e., even before the sex change and independently thereof.

Am I not a woman because I seem comfortable in my male body?

Well, how can you tell? I may be a health freak terrified of any potential side effects of surgery and popping hormones, perhaps so much so that I’ve convinced myself that I’m perfectly content with my male anatomy lest I develop the unsettling urge to have myself put under the knife.

Or I could be a tomboyish lesbian that kinda gets a kick out of her body-soul mismatch.

So how do you know I’m not a woman?

Your best shot at a plausible argument is probably that you doubt very much that I, myself, really believe that I’m a woman.

Maybe so, but even if I don’t, over the course of my life I’ve been accused of being so utterly misguided—as an example, just consider the point I’m trying to make in this post—and “in denial” about so many things by so many people, might I not also be terribly misguided and in denial about my true gender? Even if I ever so sincerely were to deem myself a man, what would that prove—other than, perhaps, the depth of my denial?

So the question is not only, how do you know I’m not a woman; but also, how do I know I’m not a woman?

The Right to Self-Identify

We live in a society that places ever more importance upon respecting the way individuals self-identify.

If someone refers to herself as a woman, it’s not in our place to question her femininity simply because she lacks certain assets traditionally associated with being female, or because, as per our blinkered expectations, some of her anatomical appurtenances squarely contradict her claim to womanhood as we’ve been conditioned to define it.

And if someone is 90% one race and 10% another, the progressive and hence enlightened stance is to regard that person as whichever race he or she identifies with, not whichever race we may intuitively assign him or her based on percentages and stereotypes. (This goes so far that we’ve had a somewhat serious debate over whether an all-white lady ought to be granted her wish to be accepted as black because that’s how she views herself.)

Yet then we’re told that violent jihadists aren’t really Muslims no matter how much they profess to be.

But if they say they are—and assuming that self-identification is indeed to be respected—whence our authority to gainsay their claim?

Sure, these people pick and choose which tenets of Islam to follow and which to violate or ignore, but so do many “moderate” Muslims (i.e., the kind we like and feel safe around) whose adherence to Islam appears limited to observing Ramadan and abstaining from pork and hard liquor—the Qur’an surely looks a lot thicker than that.

Strictly speaking, you can’t be a “moderate” anything without violating or ignoring certain requirements the adherence to which would make you a full-fledged member of that group—otherwise, what, if not cafeteria-ism, is it that makes you a “moderate”? The question arises, if you’re a moderate, do you hold a legitimate claim at all to being that which you practice only moderately? If your diet includes vegetarian foods in moderation, does that make you a moderate vegetarian or not a vegetarian?

So why are we to recognize the claim to genuine Muslimhood of the so-called moderates but not the so-called extremists (who are themselves but moderates when it comes to following Islam) such that we presume ourselves entitled to declare the former practitioners of and the latter perverters of Islam?

Dressed to Choose

All people are born equal, but some are born more equal than others.

Most of us, for instance, are expected, indeed required, in situations where gender-segregation applies, to use whichever facilities (bathrooms, locker rooms, etc.) correspond to the sex we were endowed with by our Creator.

The equaler among us, however, get to choose.

In its Guide to Restroom Access for Transgender Workers, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) lay’s down the following “core principle”:

All employees, including transgender employees, should have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.”

The rationale for this is given as follows:

Gender identity is an intrinsic part of each person’s identity and everyday life. Accordingly, authorities on gender issues counsel that it is essential for employees to be able to work in a manner consistent with how they live the rest of their daily lives, based on their gender identity. Restricting employees to using only restrooms that are not consistent with their gender identity, or segregating them from other workers by requiring them to use gender-neutral or other specific restrooms, singles those employees out and may make them fear for their physical safety.”

Therefore, the governmental directive goes on to say,

a person who identifies as a man should be permitted to use men’s restrooms, and a person who identifies as a woman should be permitted to use women’s restrooms.”

Permitted to use, mind you, not obliged to use. So presumably, if you are—or can pull off—a credible trans, you get to pick your restroom the way an unalloyed cis does not get to pick his or hers.

Here comes the kicker:

The employee should determine the most appropriate and safest option for him- or herself.”

And lest the transployee feel singled out and picked on,

[u]nder these best practices, employees are not asked to provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities.”

Bottom line, if you say you’re a woman, you should be able to use the lady’s room, no questions asked.

Since these government-issued guidelines are likely intended as an enlightened general protocol—to be adopted beyond the workplace—for the treatment and accommodation of those that maintain nature erred in assigning them the wrong sex; and unless it is decreed with like authority that trans-individuals, besides having access to restrooms that reflect their gender identity, are explicitly barred from using those that do not (the same way conventional men and women are barred from using each other’s); the spirit of Equal Protection demands that everybody be allowed to select whichever restroom he or she deems “most appropriate and safest,” for it flies squarely in equality’s face to give some people an option that most people are not afforded.

(Equality aside, how exactly does one grant a minority an exclusive right to choose without committing the offense of singling them out as if they had special needs, as it were, that warranted such unique kind of consideration? This type of stigmatization, it seems, is precisely what the OSHA restroom guidelines are designed to combat, even going so far as to suggest that to provide separate trans’s rooms “singles those employees out” and “may make them fear for their physical safety”?)

To be fair, the guidelines in question state that choice of facility shall be granted solely based on gender identity, not on preference of association, i.e., the mere desire, for whatever reason, to hang with members of one particular sex, including or especially in more intimate settings that involve various states of undress.

Which returns us to the tricky problem, already touched upon here and here, not of how to tell whether a person’s gender identity corresponds to their sex, but of how to tell whether a person’s stated gender identity indeed agrees with their true gender identity?

Leaving out of account the quite non-remote possibility that one or the other natural-born female might fear for her physical safety if some dude in drag, no matter how sincerely the latter may deem him/herself a dame, suddenly waltzes into the lady’s room—which, under the OSHA guidelines, he/she is perfectly entitled to do so that he/she won’t have to fear for his/her physical safety in the men’s room—the question becomes, if we’re not supposed to ask for any kind of proof of gender (such as might be provided by some accredited professional trained in distinguishing genuine gender dysmorphics from pranksters, sexual predators, or the merely delusional), how do we know, for example, we’re dealing with a “true” female in everything except anatomy as opposed to an unequivocal male (in body and soul) that likes to ID himself as a female solely or primarily because he prefers to sauna, pee, and shower with the babes?

Trans sympathizers and activists will be quick to point to the rampant societal stigmatization that still attends sexual ambiguity and hence to the infinitesimal likelihood of a cissexual person mendaciously outing him- or herself as a trans for seemingly trivial reasons—for, unless driven by a truly compelling need, who would volunteer to sign up for that?

But first of all, what comes off as trivial to others (e.g., an open license to mingle with naked people of the opposite sex) may be less trivial to a given individual.

More importantly, once said societal stigmatization has been all but eliminated—as is, of course, the stated goal of trans-sympathy and activism—what will be the downside of claiming for oneself whichever gender happens to come with the perks one desires?

Since to have undergone medical procedures like sexual mutilation surgery or hormone treatments, and to be able to document those, is not considered a necessary condition for one’s “true gender” being different from one’s sex, besides self-reporting in the absence of medical or other documentation, what are the additional criteria, if any, for qualifying as one gender rather than the other?

If a woman spurns makeup, is she not a woman? If she favors slacks and sneakers over skirts and high heels, is she not a woman? If she sports a buzz cut, is she not a woman? If she body-builds and rocks washboard abs and deltoids like a Calvin Klein briefs model, is she not a woman? If she spends more time swinging a baseball bat than shopping for shoes, is she not a woman? Is she likes to present herself as the butchest tribade in town, is she not a woman?

Beyond anatomy—which is obviously no longer considered conclusive when it comes to identifying a person’s “true gender”—what externally recognizable trait(s), feature(s), or behavior(s) must be present in a person such that the absence of said trait(s), feature(s), or behavior(s) exposes that person as clearly not a woman (or, vice versa, a man)?

Is it implicitly assumed, for instance, that someone that evinces little or no inclination to dress and face-paint like a (stereo)typical female can’t be a she in spirit? And is it therefore expected of a male-to-female trans to showcase a traditionally associated-with-women set of external trimmings in order to be eligible for a choice of restroom at the workplace? Do you have to at least dress the part to be taken seriously, unlike a natural-born female that can goes-without-sayingly use the lady’s room, even without special dispensation from the government, no matter how tomboyishly she may caparison herself?

Hard to say. The OSHA guidelines call for restroom access that conforms not to a particular dress or makeup code but to “the manner consistent with how they live the rest of their daily lives, based on their gender identity.” Without wading into Stereotype City, how exactly does a woman live her life differently from how a man lives his in a sense that these differences unambiguously reveal a person’s gender? If you feel more comfortable changing a tire than sewing on a button, does that mean you’re a man?

So if an employee of yours announces that “I’m a man” or “I’m a woman,” and you sincerely believe he or she is pulling your leg in order to wangle a choice of restroom or whatnot, yet you’re explicitly enjoined from requesting that he or she “provide any medical or legal documentation of their gender identity in order to have access to gender-appropriate facilities,” what kind or rationale might you put forth in order to counter his or her claim without resorting to the intellectually unsatisfactory and gender-stereotypes-laden “I know it when I see it” line of argumentation?

You’ll have to define the terms “woman” and “man.”

Devilishly difficult, isn’t it?

Some Like It Trans

Earlier this year, at a time when the nation’s attention was conveniently diverted by the various shenanigans of Brian Williams and Bill Cosby, a cabal of diabolical legislators in Florida, quietly and under the public radar, proposed “one of the most viciously sadistic, hypocritical bills the legislature has ever considered,” namely a law that would “forbid trans people from using the public bathroom that matches their true gender.” (You can read more about this iniquitous inequity here.)

No matter how deeply under your rock you may have been hiding for no matter how long, by now it has most likely been brought to your attention that there exists an intangible quality termed “true gender” that may or may not correspond to whichever biological sex you happened to have been born with.

(Actually, the Connecticut legislature has just approved a bill that would allow transgender people to amend the sex listed on their birth certificates even without proof of “gender reassignment surgery,” provided they have undergone some other “appropriate treatment” for “gender transition.” Somehow, any of these treatments would retroactively change your sex at birth so that, for all intents and purposes, you were already born the way those appropriate treatments for gender transition were designed to help you become later on. By this line of reasoning, of course, I should be eligible to run for president after all, for my having undergone and completed the process of naturalization as an adult would mean that I was indeed born a U.S. citizen. If this Connecticut bill is passed, I’ll have grounds to sue for being barred from entering the 2016 presidential race.)

In short, whether you are a man or a woman is nowadays determined less—in fact, not at all—by inherent physical characteristics commonly associated with one sex or the other, but it is merely a function of what you know yourself to be in spirit. (In fact, the only reason to undergo gender reassignment procedures in the first place is because you already know who you are, and therefore you are precisely that, treatment or no treatment.)

Obviously, in an enlightened society like ours, a society that prides itself of retiring old-fashioned stereotypes, it would be grossly retrogressive to demand that women act and dress like women (whatever exactly that may entail), and that men act and dress like men (whatever exactly that may entail), or else to strip them of said gender designation. Externalities are not what “true gender” is about. True gender is about that certain je-ne-sais-quoi that transcends physical manifestation, although the two may coincide.

The old adage that “if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck” may still apply to our feathered friends, but to suggest that “if she talks like a woman and hoards shoes like a woman, she’s a woman” smacks of, well, stereotyping, and that’s a big no-no in this day and age. In an enlightened society it is neither sufficient nor necessary to conform to anyone’s expectations when it comes to who we really are.

Accordingly, of late we are inundated with pictorials displaying women made up as men and men made up as women, all designed to “shatter our preconceived notions of gender” or some such aspirational ideal.

Fine. Let’s emancipate ourselves of those preconceived notions.

And now, since our evolved state of enlightenment precludes us from expecting that men and women hew to their traditional roles in conduct and attire—must you watch ballgames, guzzle brew by the six-pack, and worship motorcycles in order to qualify as a man? how often must you don mascara and how many purses, if any, must you own in order to qualify as a woman?—based on what exactly might we legitimately question anyone’s stated gender identity, be it in conformity or at odds with that person’s biological sex? Recall that along with our preconceived notions of gender, there goes the argument that unless you dress the part, you’re an imposter.

The politically correct and enlightened answer, of course, is to never question anyone’s stated gender identity—we haven’t walked in that person’s shoes, so who are we to judge?

It follows that anyone, no matter how biologically male, ought to be allowed to use the ladies room if she insists on being female in spirit, and vice versa.

To this you may respond that I’m making a mockery of the issue, for it surely takes a heck of a lot more than merely claiming to be a particular gender in order for one’s claim to have validity.

But more what? Medical treatment? What if someone cannot afford medical treatment? Is an indigent woman trapped in a male body somehow less of a woman unless or until treated by a physician? Doesn’t such a requirement contradict the concept of “true gender” that manifests in spirit not body?

Or more conforming to external stereotypes, such as gait, dress, or demeanor? Doesn’t it seem oddly prejudicial and celebratory of unreconstructed pigeonholing if our willingness to buy into a given tale of gender transformation rises in proportion to the number of preconceived stereotypes that person fulfills that are widely associated with the gender s/he desires to project?

What if you encountered a tomboyish lesbian happily trapped in a male body? Would you not believe me and, God forbid, force me to use the men’s room? If so, shame on you!

Because in what ways, other than physical, am I not a woman in your who-never-walked-in-my-shoes estimation? And why does one have to suffer from and seek treatment for a disease (“gender identity disorder” or “gender dysmorphia”) in order to be deemed credible in one’s assertion that one’s true gender doesn’t match one’s body? Who says that such incongruity must necessarily cause pain for the patient? Some people like mismatching furniture. I certainly do, depending on the nature of the mismatch (some mismatches match and some don’t; an I’ll-know-it-when-I-see-it kind of situation).

Plus I hate beer, I couldn’t tell you more than three sports teams off the top of my head, I’m a lousy driver, I couldn’t change a tire to save my life, and I recently binge-watched all 78 episodes of Lifetime’s Drop Dead Diva, and every single one of them made me cry (yes, actual tears running down my cheeks), on average during several scenes per episode—how manly is that? (My only quibble with the show was the ending. When Grayson died, he should have returned as a woman. It would have added a nice gender-transformational touch if Jane/Deb had fallen in love with a female Grayson instead of with the dude on death row.)

Granted, I don’t dress like a woman, and I’m quite comfortable in my male body. But in terms of soul and spirit—and that, we are told, is where “true gender” is happening—I’ve always felt way more female than male. An ex-girlfriend once pointed out with puzzled bemusement that women had a curious tendency to share with me details about their menstrual cycles. That’s because, generally speaking, girl talk comes more naturally to me than guy talk. No guy ever discusses football or motorbikes with me, because after five seconds he’ll realize he’s talking to a card-carrying dunce in those areas.

So why, pray tell, should I have to use male locker rooms? My more-female-than-male spirit clearly doesn’t belong there. I cannot stand high-testosterone environments. Stag only? No thanks. I’d rather skip the sauna than spend time in a hot room with a bunch of sweaty naked men. Ugh. And because I cannot fathom why so many guys do not seem bothered by such environs, I figure I’m not a “true” guy. Ergo, I must be a “true” something else, and there’s only one other option.

Yet it seems that—even in the eyes of those who advocate that access to bathrooms, locker rooms, etc., ought to be granted on the basis of “true gender” rather than biological sex—I shall remain relegated to using male facilities primarily because I fail to exhibit enough stereotypically female external characteristics à la Caitlyn Jenner on the latest cover of Vanity Fair in order for me to be taken seriously when I say that my soul is at least 70% female and that, therefore, I feel I shouldn’t be forced to use restrooms that match the lesser part of my soul.

Notwithstanding the dilemma of attempting to phase out superficial gender stereotypes while at the same time applauding their existence by cheering trans-lebrities like the aforementioned Mr or Ms Jenner for going full monty on them (hair, makeup, couture—the whole shebang), when it comes to the thesis that soul/spirit transcends innate physical attributes, I see no reason why the right to self-identify—and the concomitant right to be accepted, socially and legally, as that which one self-identifies as—shouldn’t transcend gender itself and apply to other fields that reflect personal identity as well.

Rapper Chet Haze, the son of actor Tom Hanks, recently got into hot water over his habit of using the n-word, generally considered the proprietary prerogative of African-Americans for referring to one another without derogatory connotations. Mr Haze has defended his language by declaring that “hip-hop isn’t about race; it’s about the culture you identify with.” So because Mr Haze, in spite of his Caucasian features, self-identifies as African-American, he feels he has a right to say or write that word as often as he pleases.

Unless we doubt Mr Haze’s sincerity, and if we are perfectly down with referring to Bruce Jenner as “Caitlyn” and “she” from now on, whence our hangups about accepting the Hanks spawn’s trans-ness in the ethnicity department and giving him a heartfelt pass on saying “nigga”?

Director Cameron Crowe caught some major flak for casting Emma Stone as an Asian lady in his movie Aloha. Why didn’t he pick an Asian actress to play an Asian character, as would have been the ethnically and culturally sensitive thing to do?

Depends on how you define “Asian.”

I don’t know much about Emma Stone. I have no idea what ethnicity she self-identifies as. I’m guessing she views herself as Caucasian in accordance with her physical appearance, in which case the outrage over her being cast as an Asian woman seems justified on some level (at least provided we, once and for all, bury the concept of “colorblind casting” as an outdated affront to racial sensitivities—yet why do I have a hunch that the very folks that whinged the loudest about casting a non-Asian as an Asian are the ones that would most enthusiastically welcome a Middle Eastern Hamlet or a black James Bond?).

But what if Cameron Crowe had given the part to an actress that was biologically Caucasian but Asian in spirit, i.e., a “true” Asian, as it were? Why would such an actress be any less Asian than a biological Asian? If she were, then by the same logic Caitlyn (formerly known as Bruce) Jenner would be less of a woman than is, say, Emma Stone, a woman in biology as well as in spirit.

When I was a kid, like most urchins raised in German-speaking countries before the advent of satellite TV and the Internet fragmented the collective focus and greatly diversified the pool of available heroes, I worshiped Winnetou, chief of the Apaches, a fictional character created by the German adventure novelist Karl May and boosted in popularity by a series of German-made Western movies shot in Croatia in the 1960s.

I wanted to be Winnetou, to which end I owned a couple of Native American outfits, a wig, a tepee with bamboo poles my parents made for me, a wooden hobby horse, a tomahawk (with a rubber blade), bow & arrows, several toy rifles (Apaches did have firearms), and sundry other Indian accouterments that I would frequently don or play with.

By the time I graduated high school, though, I had sort of grown out of the trans-Apache thing and reluctantly accepted myself as but a lowly, run-of-the-mill paleface in keeping with my innate exterior.

But for the sake of argument, imagine that I had not grown out of it; that, on the contrary, my Native American identity had solidified with age—should I then fully qualify under the law as a Native American and be entitled to whatever benefits and entitlements may come with such heritage, such as preferred college or university admission so as to slip in under some “diversity on campus” provision or the like?

If I genuinely felt like an Apache (the Indian, although the principle would hold for the helicopter or the server software just the same) and, in order to satisfy potential doubters, wore my Apache spirit on my sleeve by rocking Apache garb and riding about on a New Mexican thoroughbred without a saddle, in whose place would it be to tell me I’m not an Apache? Wouldn’t it be transethnophobic to the max to question my true identity just because I was born in Austria to Caucasian parents and my facial features don’t exactly scream Native American? (Neither do Pierre Brice’s, incidentally, yet this blue-eyed Frenchman rose to become the world’s most famous Apache besides Geronimo—talk about a colorblind casting outrage!)

As I have indicated before, I solemnly swear that I am not an Apache. Not because I wasn’t born as one (that would only matter to transethnophobes), nor because I don’t dress like one (that would only matter to stereotypephiles), but because, frankly, I haven’t really felt much like an Apache ever since my early teens.

More than half of me, though, does feel like a woman—to wit, a lesbian that forgoes high heels and likes to rock pants—rather than a man.

The spiritual half, and that’s the dispositive one.

So tell me again—why can’t I shower with the girls?

Related Post: Why Can’t I Shower with the Girls?

Why Can’t I Shower With the Girls?

The Eurovision Song Contest 2014 was won by a long-haired and bearded Austrian dude that wears makeup and dresses as a woman.

Somewhat confusingly, everyone keeps referring to him as “she.”

Granted, “she” goes better with his chosen stage name Conchita. But then again, no one refers to Alice Cooper as “she.” So what gives?

Apparently, unlike Mr Alice, Conchita self-identifies as a woman, and everyone respectfully plays along.

In the olden days, a person’s sex was defined as a particular constellation of chromosomes (X for females; X+Y for males), accompanied by certain physical characteristics, and could be altered after the fact only by way of a rather elaborate set of procedures involving surgery, hormone therapy, and whatnot. Merely to gussy up as, and claim to be, a member of the opposite sex didn’t quite cut it.

Of late, the criteria for qualifying for a particular sex seem to have loosened somewhat. These days, if you feel like a woman, you’re a woman. If you feel like a man, you’re a man. And anyone that dares question your self-reported gender identity—should it conflict with the traditional notion of who’s what—runs the risk of being viewed as transphobic, mired in outdated concepts, and generally unenlightened.

It follows, of course, that all of us ought to be allowed to use whichever bathroom or locker room happens to reflect not our physical traits but our sexual identity. Ergo, vagina or not, anyone that feels like a woman ought to be allowed to use the women’s locker room at the gym, and vice versa. (Remember, if you disagree, you’re transphobic.)

Trouble is, enlightened trans-friendly tolerance aside, from a legal standpoint, how does a person prove s/he’s, say, a woman trapped in a man’s body as opposed to some guy that just happens to prefer ladies’ rooms for reasons ranging from innocuous to potentially nefarious? Other than self-reporting, what diagnostic tests for trans-ism are there, if any? Should it suffice to ask the rhetorical question of why on earth anyone would bother to pose as the opposite sex unless they sincerely believed themselves to be, i.e., were that sex in every way except in body, and that’s that?

XY-chromosomed I, for one, who have never been too crazy about the sight and physical proximity of naked male bodies, unabashedly admit that I would feel much more comfortable using ladies’ locker rooms. Who says I’m not a lesbian trapped in a male body? So if I signed up for a gym membership and told the receptionist I was female except in body and therefore requested leave to sauna, change, and shower with the girls, on what basis could I be denied my druthers? Might it help bolster my case if I showed up in high heels, fake lashes, and a skirt? Or would I need to present a letter from a board-certified psychiatrist or hormonologist, attesting I had been diagnosed with gender identity disorder?

Society will have to address these questions.

For as long as we hesitate to grant self-reporting trans-whatevers unfettered access to whichever bathrooms and locker rooms happen to reflect their stated gender identities, we, as a society, are projecting skepticism and, indeed, intolerance, are we not?