Monday, March 06, 2023

It's None of Your Business

Conservatives are putting gender identity at the center of their message now. They are passing laws punishing trans people, they want to eradicate "transgenderism," which, first, it isn't an "ism." Some people are mislabeled at birth, that's all. The doctor holds them up, looks them over, checks the M or the F on the birth certificate, and the new person sets out on a new life. Mom and Dad paint the nursery blue or pink, they buy dresses or jeans -- did you ever look at the boys' aisle versus the girls' aisle at a toy store? They are like two different planets. If the M was checked the kid gets treated one way, a different way if the F was checked. You might think it's sexist or whatever and maybe it'll change someday but that's how we do it now.

In the meantime, the baby doesn't know who they are or how they got here, they learn from the people around them and from the sensations of embodiment, and some small number of children discover that the people around them are making a mistake. It isn't an "ism," a belief system, there is just a matter of maturing into your own subjective experience and knowing who you are, including the fact that you might not be who you were told you are.

Conservatives like to make fun of the concept of identity, like the Fox host who said he was going to start identifying as Chinese for the benefits it would bring him, ah ha ha ha. Identity is a unique kind of word. Where most words refer to a thing or event in the environment, the word identity means "the thing itself." Identity is not what a thing is called, its identity is it, itself. The identity of this rock is this rock. For people, identity is the answer to the question, who are you? You can ask the hilarious Fox host, are you Chinese? and he will say, of course not. You don't decide to identify as something-or-other, it is just what you are. Identity is not a label, it is essence. And a thing or a person may have essential qualities that are not apparent to an external observer.

When a majority of people share a culture they may not be aware of having an identity at all. They simply see themselves as normal or ordinary, and so white conservatives accuse other groups of practicing "identity politics." But take a white American and drop them into a city or village in Asia, or Turkey, or Africa, and you will find them suddenly extremely aware of their identity. "I don't eat that, I'm an American." "I'm sorry, I don't really 'get' that kind of music." "I am only wearing this strange outfit to fit in." Fact is, only 4.25 percent of the world's population lives in the US, and only about 75 percent of those identify as white, meaning about 3.1 percent of human beings are white Americans. And they are only normal or ordinary when they can bunch together.

Well there is no sense getting academic about it. There is only one relevant thing to keep in mind here:

It's none of your business.

If somebody is transgender or not, if they are gay or not, if they are Black or Christian or Asian or short or tall or speak with an accent -- it's none of your business. It doesn't affect you, doesn't hurt you, people don't all have to live their lives in ways that you understand. And that should be the end of the discussion.