Sunday, January 1, 2017

The Transgender Thing... Can We Talk?

When rational discussion is not allowed about an issue, it drives dissent underground.

One of the reasons the Democrats lost the last election, and have been losing elections, is not only that they appear to be tone-deaf to their constituents, but that even when they are willing to listen, they won't let people talk.   Political correctness (a term coined in Communist countries, by the way) dictated that certain subjects were taboo to even talk about except from one side.

This entire "transgender" thing is a case in point.   We are not allowed to discuss this in rational terms, unless we are celebrating the "bravery" of a tired has-been Olympic athlete who had his dick cut off.

Whoops.  I went there.

You see, having your genitals mutilated is not the equivalent of actually changing your gender.   Maybe it is something you would like to do, maybe not.  Myself, the idea of slicing up my body in general repulses me, which why I am not a big fan of tattooing and piercing.   At my age, just getting a shaving cut to heal properly in under three weeks is considered a big victory.  I am not sure why anyone in their right mind would engage in any form of  "elective surgery."

And that is what "gender re-assignment surgery" is - elective.   And no, it doesn't "re-assign" your gender, it just gives you fake genitals to play with.  If that's your thing, fine.  But expecting the rest of us to pay for such expensive surgery - forgetabouit!    And under Obamacare, this is exactly what was happening.   Should plastic surgery or breast implants (strictly for cosmetic purposes[1]) also be covered under Obamacare?   Where do we draw the line at what is "health care" and what is just nice things we'd like to have?

And regardless of where you think that line should be drawn, the discussion of where to draw the line should not be squelched.

And yes, this includes sensitive issues such as abortion and birth control.   Should publicly funded health care pay for such things?   Taking aside the moral objections of some taxpayers to the scheme, is this a necessary health care issue or an optional one?   Again, even discussing this is taboo in our country.   And it is a discussion worth having.

Some forms of contraceptives are inexpensive or even free - people hand out condoms for free all over the place.  Go to any gay bar - they have them in a fishbowl by the door like after-dinner mints.  The idea that people "can't afford" condoms is kind of ludicrous.

Other forms of contraceptives are more expensive and have their own issues.  IUDs can be kind pricey, and they do have some associated risks.  Birth control pills are fairly inexpensive (particularly at Planned Parenthood) but the doctor visits required to get a prescription can be kind of pricey - if not covered by insurance.  On the other hand, is $15 a month too much of a burden for most people?   You can spend more than that on a meal at the drive-through at McDonald's, for two people on a date.

So this begs the question:  If national health insurance didn't cover birth control, would people really stop using it because of this?  Are people really going to say, "Well, I got pregnant because I didn't want to get a free condom or spend $15 a month on birth control pills?"

Again, discuss amongst yourselves, but have the discussion and don't just shut it down.

From my perspective, growing up in the 1970's and having worked briefly at a Planned Parenthood, birth control seems to be readily available to young folks at a moderate cost.   Financing this through health insurance seems like overkill.

But what about abortion?  This is where it gets difficult.  As an outpatient surgical procedure, it is remarkably inexpensive, given the risks involved and compared to relatively milder procedures such as a colonoscopy, which can run $1500 or more.  Whether either should be covered by Obamacare is something that should be debated (incidentally, unnecessary colonoscopies can actually be risky, and Obamacare mandates these are free for anyone over 50, which has in turn lead to a lot of unnecessary colonoscopies, as the "imaging centers" doing these procedures don't make money by turning away patients).

Would people be more motivated to have an abortion if it were "free"? - I don't think so, and I am not trying to make an analogy between the two procedures.  Do people have a "moral right" to object to a national law paying for a procedure they believe is akin to murder?   Well, they have a right to object, of course, but not necessarily a right to prevail.

Personally, I think one way to end all of these debates and to cut the cost of Obamacare is to make it more like old-fashioned "Hospitalization Insurance" - catastrophic coverage for high medical bills incurred from car accidents, serious illnesses, and the like.   What most people are afraid of, when it comes to medical care, is not how to pay $200 to see a doctor, but how to pay $15,000 for hospital stay.   And it is the latter, not the former, that is bankrupting hospitals and the medical system.  Maybe if we went to a high-deductible, stripped-down, "basic" medical coverage, it would solve a lot of these social issues and economic issues at the same time.

The big problem with Obamacare is not that it covers too little, but covers too much, and once you tell pharmaceutical companies you will pay whatever they charge - just send the bill to Uncle Sam - they will charge what the more than the market will bear.   Do you think our prescription opioid epidemic would still be around if these pills were paid for with hard cash instead of co-pays?  I doubt it.

Just a thought.   But once again I digress.  We were talking about transgender issues, right?

One reason the Democrats lost and lost big was that they embraced a lot of fringe Left issues that they felt were the "right thing to do" and came from the heart.   But sadly, they didn't really give people time to discuss, debate, or even process these things before making mandates about transgender bathrooms and the like.

To be clear, no one being "against" transgender people by discussing the issue.   And it is an issue that has been around since the dawn of time.   There have always been "Tomboy" girls and "Sissy" boys, throughout the history of the world.   Today, we label them as "transgender" before they are out of the crib.   For some, it may be a phase they are passing through.  For others, a character trait.   And there is nothing wrong with a woman who has masculine characteristics or a man who has feminine ones.   In fact, they seem to be an essential part of our society throughout the ages.

They have also been persecuted, bullied, and beaten, throughout the ages - and that's just wrong.

We should accept people for who they are, and just leave it at that.   But the issue isn't as simple as that.

What do you do with a sixth-grader who likes to wear his sister's dresses?  Does he get to wear them to school?  Or a third-grade girl who "identifies as a boy" and wants to join the Cub Scouts?

The Democrats see this as a simple black-and-white issue:  You let these kids do whatever they want to do, identify with whatever gender they want to, and let them use the gender-assigned restrooms and locker rooms they choose to.   It sounds simple, but simple answers to complex problems are usually the wrong answers.

To begin with, is age eight a sufficient level of maturity to decide one's gender or sexual orientation or both?  This is a serious question - but one we are not allowed to ask.   Kids at that age are not sufficiently mature to make life-changing decisions, which is one reason minor children are basically considered property in this country until they reach the age of majority or are legally emancipated.  And even in the latter case, a child has to be at least 16 (14 in some States) - far above elementary school age - for emancipation.

We don't trust kids to drive cars, vote, or sign a binding legal contract until age 18, but at age eight, we are going to let them choose their gender?  For life?   This seems a bit premature.   Some young girls are "tomboys" at that age and then when they reach puberty, have different ideas.   Others remain tomboys, regardless of whether they are Lesbians, or merely prefer more traditional male-centric activities.  Some decide they want to live in a male gender identity.  This is a personal choice you are free to make- at age 18.

And there is no hurry to make such a decision.  So why the rush?   The idea that you will be "scarred for life" by not being allowed to "choose your gender" in grade school seems unproven to me.   Yes, discrimination, taunting, bullying, and assaults on kids who were "different" in the past was not a healthy thing.   We survived in spite of this.   The idea that a child who feels different or who is bullied has no other choice but to commit suicide in this day and age, seems to me, ridiculous.   Things were a lot worse when I was a kid!

(Oddly enough, in my parent's and grandparent's generation, gender issues among children were treated more liberally to some extent.   Young boys grew their hair long and wore dresses until they were nearly grade-school age.   At some point, they would be transitioned to "knickers" which were pants that went down to below the knees.   Getting your first set of real trousers was a sign of the transition into manhood.   Today, gender-specific clothing is assigned almost from the cradle.   How times have changed!)

But the flip side of the coin is this:  If we allow children to "decide their gender" in grade school, does this mean we have to force schools or other organizations serving kids to accommodate this choice?  Can't a young "transgender" boy[2] wear pants for six hours a day and use the boy's restroom?  Is that really going to scar him for life?  And if so, how?   He can wear all the dresses he wants to, at home.

Are the concerns of other parents irrelevant?   A young kid sees a boy showing up in class one day as a girl.  This might be more than a little confusing to a child.  Moreover, what does this have to do with primary school education?   Kids go to school to learn, not to express their gender identity.

When I was in grade school, there were always the boys who liked to jump rope with the girls and the girls who wanted to play rough with the boys.   By the end of grade school and the entry into junior high school, people tended to conform more to gender stereotypes, due to social pressures.   The rough-and-tumble girls still went out for field hockey and basketball, of course.   And the "kitten-like"[3] boys certainly weren't on the football team.

And yes, I know some people who struggled with the conformity of High School - one young man who almost went insane with the taunting and bullying.  But whether it was the taunting and bullying that made him crazy, or just an underlying mental illness, it is hard to say.   Others breeze through high school, being wildly popular with the "in" crowd while at the same time being outrageously gay.   Usually they are in band.

(And it goes without saying that the loudest bullies in high school are the closet cases).

There is also the issue of parents "pushing" a child in a gender direction.   In the past, it would be the parent pushing the child to conform to their biological gender roles.  Today, it is politically correct parents who seem to rejoice in celebrating their child's "differentness" and encouraging it at every turn.  While it is nice that parents today can be supportive of "queer" kids, maybe the should be more neutral instead of cheerleading for one side or another.

Because what it gets down to, is we are experimenting with people's lives without really understanding the ramifications and outcomes.   You can raise your kid to be "transgender" even if he/she is not inclined to be so.  But even if they are, once they leave the hothouse of some urban/suburban liberal bubble, they will have to interact with the rest of the world, and they may find the rest of the world is not as accepting as their parents were.

But let's not talk about that.   In fact, let's not talk at all.  We'll just sit in our separate camps and talk to ourselves.

That's sure to resolve things.  Right?

[1] Yes, my late sister had breast implants after she had a mastectomy due to breast cancer.  This, however, was not "breast augmentation surgery" but "breast reconstruction surgery".  There is a huge difference between a cancer victim getting their breast back and a stripper getting bigger titties so as to attract men. 

[2] For the sake of clarity, I am referring to biological gender. This whole he/she nonsense is another thing that is just getting out of hand.

[3] A term coined by Dave Sedaris to describe the boys in his school who were forced to take speech therapy classes to cure them of their incurable lisps.

UPDATE:   We should understand the terms of discussion before discussing it.  And the entire thing with "transgender" issues is that it encompasses a variety of issues and orientations.   Of course, most people want to talk about the sex part, because that is what people are interested in.  Or they want to talk about some ugly guy with a beard wearing a dress.  There are a lot of misconceptions.

1.  There are heterosexual males who like to wear women's clothing while having sex with a women.  They are not gay, they are not transgender, they are not trans-sexuals.  They have no desire to be a woman or act like a woman, they just have a fetish for women's clothing.  Since this mostly occurs behind closed doors, you do not hear from these folks much. I guess you could call them sexual transvestites.

2.   There are gay men who want to have sex with other men.  They do not want to be women or act like women or dress like women.   These are not transgender, transvestites, trans-sexuals or whatever.  These are merely homosexual men.

3.   There are women who want to have sex with other women, but do not want to be, act, or dress like men.  These are Lesbians.

4.  There are men and women who enjoy having sex with men or women, but are not interested in cross-dressing or acting like the opposite gender.  These are bisexuals.

5.  There are people of either gender who want to dress and act like the opposite gender, and it may have nothing to do with sex or sexual orientation.   They just like to identify with another gender.

6.  There are a very small number of people born with hermaphroditic genitalia.  In the old days, doctors would often "correct" this by surgically altering genitals.   Often such folks were forced into gender roles they did not feel comfortable with.

7.  There are also people born with extra "male" and "female" genes (XYY and XXY) which does not necessarily affect sexual orientation, but may affect the physical appearance and body of the person with this genetic makeup.

8.  There are people who are heterosexual but have interests that are not considered stereotypical for their gender.  They do not identify with or want to be an opposite gender, they merely are interested in things that are not considered typical by our society for their gender.   Women who want to repair trucks or men who want to arrange flowers are usually assumed by society to be homosexuals, but such is not always the case.

9.  There are people who cross-dress as a hobby, for entertainment purposes, or just to have fun.  They have no sexual interest in cross-dressing or any desire to assume another gender.  For them, it is a hobby or even a profession.  These you could call female impersonators (or male impersonators).

10.  Believe it or not, there actually exist something called heterosexuals, who are comfortable with their biological gender and are sexually attracted to the opposite sex.   Yes, freakish, I know. But there you have it.

11.  There are people who are any mixture of all of the above.   People are unique and really can't be categorized or pigeon-holed.

The mythology among much of the general public is that gay men all want to be women (not true) or lesbians all really want to be men (again not true).   The mythology is also that people who cross-dress (which both men and women do, although women can dress in a male manner and face less approbation for it) are homosexual or bi-sexual or that their cross-dressing is somehow a sexual act, which is may or may not be.  It is a lot more complicated than that.

And it goes without saying, that most people really don't care one way or another what you do in your personal life, but they don't necessarily want to deal with your personal issues in public.

And yet, that fails to explain why Bruce Jenner gets such high ratings on his or her TeeVee show...

Maybe it is like when people slow down to see a car wreck?   Maybe.