Let me begin this piece by saying this is not about the morality of transgender sexual identity, nor is this piece about who is in the bathroom stall next to your kids in school. This article is responding to one single line from the government’s letter to school districts on how Title IX should be applied to transgender students, which I think is an overlooked mountain in this entire debate. The government wrote,
“The Departments interpret Title IX to require that when a student or the student’s parent or guardian, as appropriate, notifies the school…”
This single line asserts that “a student” is empowered to notify the school of his or her gender identity. Let’s think about this for a moment. This letter is addressed to all types of primary schools. There are examples given regarding high all the way down to elementary schools. Again, the students are defended as being able to identify their gender. I know guardians are also mentioned in the above statement. I would love clarification on the conjunction “or,” but the letter clearly states that the student, personally, can notify the school of his or her gender identity.
Minors are not allowed to buy beer or tobacco. Most states do not allow minors under the age of 15 to operate a motor vehicle. It varies from state to state, but other commonly banned purchases for minors, include, lottery tickets, lighters, spray paint, super glue, among others. Minors cannot purchase certain types of music, movies, and even the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionally of banning minors from buying certain video games. Minors cannot quit school before a certain age, cannot move out on their own until a certain age, cannot do so much. In the state in which I live, Georgia, a 15 year old is declared to lack the ability to consent to any sexual contact. A 15 year old cannot legally kiss a boy or girl friend because he or she lacks the ability to mentally grasp the concept of sexual contact well enough to make a properly informed decision. Minors cannot vote, so they are viewed as to immature to understand the candidates and issues to choose wisely.
We do not trust our children with glue, but they can be trusted to have a proper mastery of manhood and womanhood to properly identify their gender.
Can you define manhood? Can you define womanhood?
Go ahead. Think about it. Take your time. What is manhood and womanhood?
First, do not begin your definition of manhood and womanhood by likes and interests. Most people say well, this child likes: dolls, cooking, the color pink, and playing dress up; therefore, this individual is a girl. This child likes: action figures, sports, hunting, the color blue, scratching, and wearing army uniforms; therefore, this individual is a boy. Manhood and womanhood does not work that way. Listing likes into feminine and masculine categories is almost always an arbitrary activity anyway. We decide which activity goes into which category. It speaks absolutely nothing to the concept of manhood and womanhood. I know girls who love hunting. I know boys who are dynamite in the kitchen. Defining manhood and womanhood by various activities enjoyed is an utter failure.
Second, do not give me the Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s line on pornography, “I know it when I see it.” Do not say, “I know manhood when I see it” or “I know womanhood when I see it.” That is lazy thinking. If you cannot express it verbally, then you do not understand it. Justice Stewart did not understand pornography, and if you cannot verbally explain womanhood or manhood, than you do not understand the concepts. How many of you think a 7 year old can explain manhood to you? How many of you think a 17 year old can explain womanhood?
Third, we have to be careful with feelings. A child saying he or she feels like a certain gender does not make it so, manhood and womanhood are more concrete concepts than that. Again, I do not mean that to condemn transgender. I can tackle the morality of transgender another day. I mean children and teenagers are raging roller coasters of emotions and feelings. Look at fads and how they come and go in young people. That speaks to the quick changing and powerful feelings that young people have. Just because a child feels something doesn’t make it right. Not all feelings should be indulged. Also, I feel like a girl or I feel like a boy does not speak to their understanding of womanhood or manhood at all or to their mental capacity to make an intelligent gender identification.
Lastly, the struggle for gender equality has made this discussion even more difficult. I do not mean that we need to stop the fighting for women’s equality. The gender wage gap still existing is one of the most odd truths I find about my country. What I mean to say is we have heard so much and so often, “Men and women are equal. A woman can do anything a man can do.” that what we now hear is “men and women are the same.” This fight for “sameness” has helped us loose sight of the differences in the definitions of manhood and womanhood, and by differences I do not mean inequality in anyway. I mean manhood and womanhood have their own unique definitions. We must understand their definitions and what they are to even begin to have an educated gender identity discussion.
The most frightening aspect of the government’s letter to school districts to me was not who is in whose bathroom. The most frightening aspect of this letter to me was the empowerment of the student to identify his or her gender with little oversight or assistance. Kids who eat boogers can identify their gender. Teens who we, as society, do not trust with spray paint, can identify their gender. Young people, who have sex education beginning in elementary school cannot choose to kiss their significant other until they’re 16, can be trusted with the sexual identify of their gender.
Where is the government’s letter defining manhood and womanhood to guide us in understanding this issue?
We have uninformed adults guiding uninformed young people on the concepts of manhood and womanhood. My fear is that these uninformed gender identities will lead to lasting damage to these students, empowered by the government to make identifications and choices they are not mature enough to make. Gender identity is much more serious than buying a lottery ticket or a video game, and our government, says minors cannot be trusted to purchase appropriate music without oversight, but they can be trusted with the philosophical concepts of manhood and womanhood. I am not sure that we didn’t just put to much upon our kids who are unable to handle this complicated philosophical debate.