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it conflict with the traditional notion of who’s what—runs the risk of being viewed as transphobic, mired in outdated concepts, and generally unenlightened.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?