Young at Heart

By Cyberquill 05/20/20164 Comments

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 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?

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  • Richard

    You demonstrate vividly that identity is not purely the decision of the identifed. More, you show that it is the decision of the identifier or identifiers, who may or may not choose to follow the wishes of the identified, that prevails.

    However much the law may seek to impose an identity, the private estimation of the individual identifier remains intact. That estimation can vary, of course, and might well be influenced by the law.

    There are plenty of silly laws about, of course, there is no limit to a politician’s belief that he [in the generic sense -- I have a generous disposition when it comes to sharing a word that defines my identity] can change plain reality. Which state was it that legislated the value of pi?

    • Cyberquill


      • Richard

        What a thought!

        You spurred me to google it.

        So it looks like it was Indiana and to do with that ultimate in identity crisis: the squaring of the circle. In this case it never became law after all.

        You’ll come back no doubt about an Indiana rubber ball.

        • Cyberquill

          One can’t square a circle, but one can circle a square — haven’t we all?

          Not familiar with Indiana rubber balls. I could come back about a spaldeen, though. I’m guesstimating its pi at around 3.14.

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