Guy W. Farmer: Understanding gender identity — or not
April 16, 2017
Something called gender identity is a hot topic these days in the mainstream media. To be perfectly honest, I don't get it. Let me explain.
A Reno newspaper thought this topic was important enough to devote a half page to it with an article headlined "Changing Times Unwrap a New Gender Debate," by Josh Hafner of USA Today. According to Mr./Ms. Hafner (I'm being politically correct), "The rise of the gender reveal party seems inextricably linked to social media." In a gender reveal party, the proud parents-to-be release a bag full of colored balloons, not only pink and blue because no one wants to pre-judge the baby's gender. "Conversations on gender aren't just pink or blue, as the idea of gender fluidity … enters mainstream culture," explains Mr./Ms. Hafner. And no, I'm not making this stuff up.
Back in the day most people were either male or female, and most of us knew from an early age whether we were boys or girls. But now, the gender identity crusaders are changing the old definitions. Some companies, governments and organizations have added a third gender identity: "other." I can understand that one but it gets more complicated when the crusaders add multiple definitions.
For example, Facebook now offers 56 gender identities in addition to male and female. To simplify matters, however, let's consider seven new gender identities listed by Jessica Mahmoud of College Campus Life News: 1. agender ("a person without gender"), 2. cisgender, 3. genderfluid, 4. genderqueer, 5. intersex, 6. gender non-conforming, and 7. transgender. Does that clarify things for you?
If not, we can move onto gender classifications in the New York state university system, which offers seven choices: man, woman, trans-man, trans-woman, genderqueer/genderfluid, questioning and unsure, although you can add your own definition if you wish. After all, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wouldn't want to exclude anyone for fear of facing costly gender discrimination lawsuits. I think I'd identify as "confused" so as not to offend anyone.
Getting back to those increasingly popular gender reveal parties, Mr./Ms. Hafner writes old, outdated baby showers "played up pinks and blues," but enlightened parents-to-be now throw gender reveal parties "to invite a community to rally around and support an unborn child in positive ways … as we see greater acceptance and recognition of gender fluidity…" Remember we're talking about unborn babies here.
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The USA Today journalist really ups the ante, however, when he/she writes about an expectant mother who decided to throw a gender reveal party in order to "make her baby-to be feel more real." Say what? Does that mean the baby-to-be is actually worrying about his/her gender identity before he/she is born?
Wow, that concept is way above my pay grade. All I'm trying to do is help my loyal readers understand new gender identity definitions. Not to make light of such a serious subject but if I was a 14-year-old boy with raging hormones I might show up at middle school one morning and make a startling announcement. "I feel female today," I'd say, "so I think I'll shower with the girls." School administrators would call their attorneys and gender identity consultants and all hell would break loose. I might be suspended from school or I might win an award for being sensitive to gender identity issues. Oh, to be 14 again … or maybe not.
These are the kinds of issues too many people are worried about. As for me, I'm much more concerned about radical Islamic terrorism than I'm about transgender bathrooms. Sorry about that.
Guy W. Farmer identifies as an elderly male person.