If you’ve been to a grocery store lately, you no doubt have noticed the tabloids featuring photos of what appears to be a thirty-something man, with beard, with under-arm hair and, quite conspicuously, with child.
Thomas Beattie’s pregnancy is making headlines across the country. (Google “pregnant man” and you’ll get nearly a million references.) Not surprisingly, the 34-year-old from Bend, Oregon, became a media sensation after appearing on “Oprah” and telling her that “he” was looking forward to the birth of “his” “miracle” daughter, due in July.
There’s just one problem: Beattie is not a man. She is a woman. Beattie legally became a “man” a decade ago. But at the most basic anatomical and chromosomal levels, Beattie is still a woman.
Beattie is what’s known as “transgender.” For the uninitiated, transgender includes those who have had sex-change operations (trans-sexuals) and cross-dressers. Merriam-Webster defines transgender as: “having personal characteristics that transcend traditional gender boundaries and corresponding norms.” Wikipedia is, as is too often the case, quite a bit more helpful, defining transgender as: “people who feel that the gender they were assigned at birth is a false or incomplete description of themselves.”
Interestingly, the mainstream media’s near unanimous use of the pronouns “he,” “his” and “him” when referring to Beattie reveal how far the transgender movement has come in normalizing what the American Psychological Association still conditionally calls a “mental disorder.” Back in 2004, a New York Times story on transgender students on college campuses included this parenthetical: “Luke and Zachary, who were born female, asked to be referred to with male pronouns.” Just four years later and few media outlets seem to think twice about placing how one “feels” about his or her sex ahead of the biological facts of the matter.
Rights for the transgendered has become the Left’s latest cause celebre. And, as with most of the Left’s cultural crusades, considerable effort is being exerted to capture the hearts and minds of children. News reports suggest there are an increasing number of young children interested in “re-assigning” their gender.
Last year, the California legislature passed a law that redefines gender for the purposes of public school instruction to teach California children that “gender means sex and includes a person’s gender identity and gender related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with a person’s assigned sex at birth.” In short, it means kids in California can choose their own sex.
During an ABC News special on the topic, one father of a transgender child said, “We don’t encourage, we support. And we just keep listening to what she tells us.” Apparently from the moment the couple’s son was born, he corrected his parents whenever they told him “good boy.” And their son began asking for a sex change operation at the ripe old age of two. Then, on the boy’s fifth birthday, the family decided to allow him to become a “her,” and announced it to all his playmates. The parents say they will probably allow their son to undergo hormone treatment before puberty.
In a healthy society, we would be compassionately seeking counseling for people who cannot come to terms with their sex. But in America today, it’s the parents who must come to terms with their children’s transgenderism. A new clinic at Children’s hospital in Boston offers hormone treatment to children as young as 12 years old and related treatments to kids as young as 7 years old.
College campuses are also on the frontlines of the battle for pubic acceptance of transgenderism. At least 147 colleges and universities now include “gender identity and expression” in their non-discrimination policies. Many schools have instituted gender-neutral bathrooms, specialized housing and even sports team where men and women who do not feel as either male or female can play. Students who visit Wesleyan’s sexual health clinic are asked not whether they are male or female but to “describe your gender identity history.”
At New College of California, in San Francisco (where else?), signs on the bathroom doors attempt to explain a new policy of gender neutrality. “Lots of people don’t fit neatly into our culture’s rigid two-gender system,” reads one sign. But nature, not culture, has a very rigid two-sex system into which all people (hermaphrodites notwithstanding) fit neatly.
And “lots” is an exaggeration. While it is hard to know exactly how many transgender people there are, the APA estimates the prevalence of trans-sexualism at about 1 in 10,000 for biological males and 1 in 30,000 for biological females.
Though few in numbers, the transgender movement has had success winning a slew of special rights and legal protections. Most hate crime laws, which, as George Will has written, “mandate enhanced punishment for crimes because of thoughts that government especially disproves of,” now include protections for gender identity. And groups such as People in Search of Safe Restrooms have campaigned to establish gender-neutral bathrooms in public places. As of 2005, five U.S. cities, including San Francisco and New York, had regulations protecting public restroom access based on “gender identity.”
A Maryland county is considering a law that would force co-ed locker rooms in public places, including schools, malls and restaurants. The new law could even prevent religious schools from refusing to hire transsexual teachers.
Medicaid will even pay for a sex change operation, if it is deemed “medically necessary.”
An inmate convicted of murder in Wisconsin is suing for a state-financed sex-change operation. He claims the state’s refusal to pay for the surgery constitutes “cruel and unusual punishment.” His medical experts say the operation is medically necessary because he has had two suicide attempts. Where will it end?
We who oppose same-sex “marriage” have argued that it would lead to the legalization of other forms of “marriage,” including polygamy, and, eventually, to the dissolution of the institution altogether. “If marriage can mean anything,” we argue, “then it will end up meaning nothing.” And social science suggests a causal relationship between the widespread legalization of civil unions and same-sex marriage in western Europe and plummeting marriage rates there.
Will the same thing happen to sex? Doctors report growing numbers of young people who feel neither male nor female. The question is: If sex can mean anything we want, will it end up meaning nothing at all?