Last week, scientists in Washington, D.C., made a shocking discovery: Certain species of male fish in the Potomac River are developing female sexual traits. No, the male fish weren't found congregating around a sunken television set watching reruns of "The View." They were, instead, developing immature eggs in their testes. According to fish pathologist Vicki Blazer, the trend is worrisome -- it provides evidence that certain harmful chemicals may be overly polluting the Potomac.
Across the pond, the British are experiencing the same problem. Approximately one-third of male fish in English rivers are changing sex due to pollutants. "This soup of oestrogen is responsible for causing these changes to the fish. It is abnormal. These fish should be male or female. The fact that we have got such a large proportion right across the country is not right," fretted Professor Charles Tyler of Exeter University.
I, for one, find Ms. Blazer's and Professor Tyler's antipathy toward gender-bending fish deeply problematic. What is it about a male fish experimenting with its sexuality that so disturbs hetero-normative fish pathologists? Why can't a fish simply do what is natural? How does a fish that swishes rather than swims bother us? Is it really our business if Big Mouth Billy Bass would rather be called Norma Jean?
Perhaps we should change our biology textbooks to teach tolerance of different types of Potomac fish. All of these bright-line sex distinctions are outmoded, a vestige of our patriarchal culture. We need to worry about science. We need to worry about genetics. We can't worry about your antediluvian value judgments.
This is biology, after all. Fish will be fish -- and they will be the kind of fish they're born to be. So what if the environment we create for them determines the sexuality of our fish? There's nothing wrong with variety, is there? How can we say that distinct male and female fish are better than queer fish, fish that move where the river takes them? Isn't tolerance better than rigidity? Only a Bible-thumping, gun-rack-on-the-truck, Confederate flag waver would claim that God created fish male and female, or that they have to stay that way.
So let's change our textbooks. Let's teach our kids to learn to live together with intersex fish in peace and harmony. And let's teach our kids that our society can be just like the society of the Potomac largemouth bass. We can learn a lot from nature -- free will is basically an illusion, so we are just as much products of our biology as the Elton Johns of the deep.