Most Americans are aware that gay activism rarely presents itself as a movement solely for the rights of gays. For example, the acronym for the gay rights movement is "GLBT," meaning Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender.
Interestingly, few people ever ask about the "T." What do transgendered have to do with gays? How and why are they connected by activists, gay and straight, on the Left? Strictly speaking, gays have no more in common with transgendered people than straights do.
To understand the answer is to understand much of what animates the Sexual Left.
The aim of GLBT is not merely that society not persecute gays and accept them as equal fellow citizens. If it were, the movement could largely disband. The battle for acceptance of gay people has largely been won. And deservedly so: The persecution of people for being sexually attracted to the same sex has been as morally wrong as it has been consistent. I am among the majority of Americans, and presumably non-Americans, who still hold to the male-female sexual ideal and who seek to retain the man-woman definition of marriage. But I fully recognize there have always been individuals who are no more capable of sexual attraction to the opposite sex than men like me are capable of being sexually aroused by the same sex. They should not be ridiculed, let alone persecuted, for their sexual orientation.
And few people, conservative or liberal, have any trouble accepting a transsexual, i.e., someone who has surgically changed his or her sex.
But what does any of this have to do with the transgendered, i.e., people who do not psychologically identify themselves with their biological sex, who act as if they were a member of the opposite sex, and who have not changed their biology? Why does the Left include the transgendered in its activism on behalf of gays?
The latest example occurred this month in New York State when Attorney General Andrew Cuomo forced American Eagle Outfitters to rescind its right to enforce a dress code among its employees. This code included a ban on male employees from wearing dresses or other women's clothing and a ban on women employees from dressing as men.To the Left, this is just another example of fighting discrimination -- how dare society ask men who prefer to wear women's clothing not to do so at work? As New York Times columnist Frank Rich recently wrote with regard to changing the definition of marriage to include members of the same sex, Americans regard all this with a "shrug."
Likewise, last year, the civil rights commission of the State of Maine asked that no Maine schools should insist that biological males use only boys' or men's rooms in schools. From elementary school on, every student in Maine should be allowed to determine if he feels male or female, and enter whichever bathroom matches this self-definition.
The Maine commission also called for a ban on schools from enforcing gender divisions in sports teams, school organizations and locker rooms. It says forcing a student into a particular room or group because of his or her biological gender amounts to discrimination.
On the Left, few, if any, changes in the sexual arena are worthy of more than a shrug. Manmade carbon dioxide emissions are worth changing the nation's and world's economy over. But redefining marriage from male-female to same-sex, forcing companies to retain male employees who cross-dress at work and ending gender-specific teams and bathrooms in schools -- these are not worth a shrug.
But the gender-definition of marriage and the transgender issue are actually very big deals.
In his just-published book, "How Pleasure Works," Yale Professor of Psychology Paul Bloom, described by Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker, as "among the deepest thinkers and clearest writers on the science of mind today," writes:
"Freud claimed 'when you meet a human being, the first distinction you make is 'male or female' and you are accustomed to making the distinction with unhesitating certainty.' This is true for me at least; I get e-mails from strangers with foreign names and when I can't tell whether the sender is a man or a woman, it is oddly unsettling. It shouldn't matter -- I have no intention of mating with them -- but it does. When we see a baby in a diaper, the first question that many of us ask is: Is this a boy or it is a girl?"
Because the Left seeks to obliterate the distinction between men and women. This distinction is considered to be a social construct. That is why, to this day, despite all the scientific evidence (as if that were needed) proving how different male and female brains are, many Leftwing academics still argue that boys play with trucks rather than with dolls because of sexist socialization; and girls play with dolls because of socialization.
And that is why, on the Left, changing the definition of marriage is only worth a shrug. Since there are no inherent differences between men and women, what difference could it possibly make whether a man marries a man or a woman, or whether a woman marries a man or a woman? Or if children have two fathers, two mothers, or a father and mother?
For those of us who believe that the male-female distinction is vital to civilization, the Left's attempts to erase this distinction are worth fighting against. For those who see no purpose in maintaining this distinction, its demise is worth no more than a shrug.