Thursday, November 29, 2018

Erasing Gender?

I just watched an interview with Celine Dion about her association with the gender-neutral clothing line called NUNUNU. For me, it is reminiscent of the age-old question about should we let little boys play with dolls and girls play with trucks, except that we are way beyond that innocent question. 

Most disturbing to me as of late is the notion that we can erase someone’s gender.   There is the thought today that we should not assign a gender at birth, so a child can be free to grow up without an “arbitrary assignment of gender at birth based on an inspection of their genitals.” (CNN)

I’m not even sure what that means—“an arbitrary assignment of gender.” Aren’t we born with particular physical characteristics which identify us as male or female?  How can that be arbitrary?

I don’t think the problem is with the words we use—male or female—but the distinction.

It reminds me of a morality class I used to teach.  I would say:  The light is either on or off, no matter what I think about it.  If I say it is off, when it is really on, I do not change the fact that it is on.

The problem is not with our words, but in acknowledging reality. Simply denying the existence of gender does not make it non-existent.  

Although there are some people who will try . . . 

According to NBCNews, the Canadian baby was actually issued an ID card a couple of years ago that read:  “Sex: U” which identifies the baby’s gender as “unspecified” or “unknown.”   

According to the baby’s non-binary, transgender father “a gender marker on the baby’s birth certificate violates the baby's rights to “liberty and security of the person, to freedom of expression, and to equality under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”  

Oh my. 

I certainly hope this does not catch on, but I actually fear the greater problem we face as a society is ideas that at first shock us, eventually become normalized, even though they may go against everything that is sacred.   

This is partly because we are good and kind people and we are afraid that we will somehow offend someone.  So, in order to be seen as tolerant, we allow the solid lines to become blurred.

Maybe the end goal in this case is not to erase gender (since we cannot actually do that), but to pretend it doesn’t matter, under the guise of “freedom of expression”.  But it is ill-informed and morally bankrupt to think that if we ignore gender at birth we will somehow unburden a child and allow them greater freedom to be who they were meant to be.

How much farther can we remove ourselves from, “God created man in his image, in the divine image he created him; male and female he created them.”? (Genesis 1:27)

Never mind.  Don’t answer that.

Of course, we are still called to love people--all people--even though we may disagree, but that does not mean we can re-create what God has already created.  While we must be unwavering in our commitment to loving others, we also must be faithful to what is true.  The two must go together--commitment to love and faithfulness to truth.

But we do, actually, have two genders, male and female, as God created them, and we are by nature, different, as God intended.  It's not being mean to say that, it is just reality.

If we are not careful, though, we may be convinced that even this is not true.

Janet Cassidy

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