|Posted on August 15, 2016 at 12:15 AM|
By Dennis Stone
You are probably aware of the Nextdoor social networking service, which allows people within a neighborhood or nearby neighborhoods to communicate via public posts that are only visible to people in the area. I find it exceedingly useful in allowing me to keep up with crimes, lost dogs, FREE STUFF!, and any issues of interest within the neighborhood.
Recently a member posted a story of a traffic encounter she witnessed in front of her home between two drivers. She described one as “male presenting,” and I wondered if it was someone she knew to be trans or in some sort of non-binary gender situation. Then later in the story she described the other driver as “female presenting.” It became obvious that as a good progressive she was defaulting to what she considers a new paradigm for gender descriptions.
A followup poster questioned that reasoning, and asked “so this is now what it’s come to?” Another poster said that yes, this is now how things should be in a world that recognizes the existence of non-binary gender. The original poster chastised the questioner, and linked to a trans website so the questioner could “educate” herself and get up to speed with the modern world. As you might expect, the questioner was rather put out by the condescension, and said she didn’t need any lessons in “proper liberalism.”
I don’t personally contribute very often to Nextdoor discussions, but I had to get involved in this one. I pointed out that I’m queer myself, and that my best friend’s daughter recently described herself as gender fluid. I then told the original poster that I don’t like the idea of routinely using “male presenting” and “female presenting.” I didn’t say this, but I find the idea extraordinarly silly, an example of the politically correct excess so many of my fellow liberals are trying to inflict on society, and which makes so much of the country think we’re loons.
Imagine if every time a description of a person was given it followed the new paradigm. “A 38-year old female presenting person won the powerball lottery,” the story would begin. Descriptions of criminal suspects would say something like “a thin male presenting person about six feet tall.” The Oscars would be presented to the “Best Female Presenting Person In a Starring Role.” You could never know for sure whether an “actor” or “actress” was secretly self-identifying as a different gender. After all, Bruce Jenner won the Olympic decathlon, becoming seen as the best male athlete in the world, while he was secretly identifying as female.
It’s my view that if a person of any gender identity presents as male or female, then referring to them as male or female, respectively, is appropriate. It’s taken for granted and assumed that there’s a small chance that the reality could in some way be at odds with the apparent presentation. But when you say “male” or “female” what you really are saying is “male presenting” or “female presenting.” You’re reporting the presented reality.
I went to the website that the original poster linked to for the “education” of the commenter. It was an interesting site populated by some really intriguing people who seemingly would be fun to know. But, as I also pointed out in my Nextdoor comment, no one appointed or elected those people to be the official arbiters of what was acceptable. (And I saw no indication that anyone on the site was pushing for “female presenting” as a routine thing.) They are just individual gender non-conforming people with a fun website.
There are a lot of different opinions in the trans world. I was a bit taken aback when RuPaul used the word “tranny,” taking a lot of flak for the transgression. But even something that seemed to me to be “settled” turned out not to be. I saw several comments online by trans people who indicated they and their friends used the term all the time, and saw nothing wrong with it. Again, there is no official person or no official organization that determines what is proper. It’s an evolution, and often a disjointed one. On the website I visited there was a “Definitions” page, which included 50 terms, many of which even I had never heard. And the definitions were often really detailed. But no one voted on those definitions.
One other Nextdoor member thanked me for my comment, but then the whole thread was deleted within a couple of hours, presumably by the original poster. I’m not entirely sure what that means. I’m guessing she was taken aback by an actual queer person disagreeing with her, and pointing out her condescension toward the poster who questioned her. We liberals don’t mind pushback from the conservatives (after all, they’re just dumb, so can be ignored), but we’re not used to it from fellow liberals. As a group we’ve become even more insular and self-righteous than the conservatives. We need to start thinking about our positions, and engaging in debate with EACH OTHER, not just with the conservatives.
Progressivism is becoming a religion, with basic tenets that more and more are seen as unquestionable. Nothing should be unquestionable, and everything should be open to debate.