Before you dismiss all this as totally fringe, remember that Chastity/Chaz Bono is a very public figure, that in 2006, New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority ruled that men who identified as women could use the ladies bathrooms at all subway stations, that more and more TV shows are normalizing (and even celebrating) transgenderism, and that, in one high school, a male teen was voted class queen while in another school, a female teen was voted class king.
And let’s not forget that Massachusetts just passed a radical transgender bill, according to which, “’Gender identity’ shall mean a person's gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth.” (Yes, this is now the legal definition in Massachusetts.)
The MassResistance website explains that that the bill, “Forces charter schools to allow cross-dressing and other transgender behavior by students, and to include that in their published non-discrimination statement.” MassResistance also warns, “You could soon see your day-care provider, second-grade teacher, waiter, school bus driver, store clerk, etc. be a man wearing a skirt and lipstick, possibly with hormone-enhanced breasts” (their emphasis).
But why this should surprise us? After all, the mayor of Silverton, Oregon, Stu Rasmussen, was first elected as a fairly typical, heterosexual male, but then, after “acquiring cleavage,” he was reelected as a heterosexual, cross-dressing, cleavage-flaunting man (who has a girlfriend too).
He did come under criticism for one specific incident, though, and in August 3, 2009, he was censured by the city council after making an appearance at a children’s meeting in an inappropriate outfit, specifically, an open-backed bathing suit, a mini-skirt, and high-heels. Yet those criticizing Mayor Stu were careful to point out that they had no problem with him dressing as a woman at this children’s meeting. They only had a problem with him dressing immodestly as a woman.
This is nothing less than transanity.
When the MTA made its 2006 transgender bathroom ruling, Gloria David, a retiree from Connecticut, remarked, “I would not like that. I have nothing against gay men or drag queens, but they can use the men’s room. I just don’t want to go to the bathroom next to a man.”
Today, Ms. David’s perfectly understandable comments would be labeled transphobic.
Should we have compassion on those who feel there is a “mismatch” between their body and their brain? Absolutely. But we should devote our energies to understanding the causes of their mental and emotional conflict with the goal of helping them from the inside out. Otherwise, if we craft laws and embrace social categories based on how people identify themselves, we had better get ready for more and more “feminist gay trans men” along with “pansexual genderqueer transdykes” – and that’s just the beginning.
In a word, get ready for transanity.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.