Transgender Rights

I think that I am uniquely qualified to offer up my opinion on Transgender rights and how I feel about them. I understand most people are uncomfortable with the entire concept, and even a lot of us who are “openly gay” struggle with how we feel about transgender rights and how they have become “attached” to LGB people.


Why am I uniquely qualified? Three of my grandchildren identify as something other than the gender assigned to them at birth, as do two cousins. It is something that I think about often, and I’m one of millions of Americans who publicly smile and nod and appear to be sympathetic while in private I actually feel slightly guilty and more than a little confused.


I’m also aware that being transgender means a lot more than wishing you had a penis or wishing you didn’t have a penis. I can’t even pretend to fully understand what a trans person goes through, although I suppose if I try to equate it to how I felt growing up a gay little boy in a very straight world I do get a glimmer of what they suffer. But somehow, in our world, being transgender is way more complicated than being gay.


I’m sure that many people are confused by gay people. And I mean just the plain old vanilla gay – not the butt-less cut-off shorts guy kissing his man in the park kind. Come to think of it, there are some gay guys whose behavior makes me wince too, but that’s a different post. But pretty much everyone I know, even my gay friends are somewhat confused by Trans, even when we are sympathetic and supporting.

I love my family. As weird and unconventional and as far spread as we are, the fact that some of us don’t see each other except on social media or the rare phone call doesn’t mean that we don’t keep up. I know my grandkids have a rough time, and they are all adults now. They make their own choices and I fully support their desire to just live their lives without harassment or fear or shame. I still struggle to use their chosen names though and probably always will.


So far I’ve only discussed Transgender, but I also want to include gender fluidity. Nothing confuses me more than the leather-clad biker dude I saw this afternoon who shows up at the bar with painted fingernails and little rhinestone decorations on his leather short-shorts wearing lipstick and eye-shadow. Apparently a rather astonishing portion of our younger generation describes themselves as gender-fluid.


But again, if that is the way you feel, your feeling is genuine and we should respect that and do our best to accomodate everyone. We should just be nice. Rather Utopian, but it is the way things should be.


As for the bathroom? Why are we equating the biological need to eliminate with sex? Everyone poops and should have a place to go. Of all the mammals on the world, humans have the oddest bathroom rituals and it is no wonder that a lot of late night comedians still tell toilet jokes. Put me in the “who cares” category. I also grew up in a large household with only one bathroom.


There is a place I really do differ though and find myself in a very strange place where I’m actually agreeing with Ron DeSantis, a man I despise to the core of my being. You can do everything you can to appear as the opposite sex, up to and including the surgical re-arrangement of body parts, but what you can’t do is change basic biology to a point where it would become fair to participate in gender-based sports.


I am not a scientist, however in what world is it fair for a person born as a male to participate in a sport against a person born as a female? Any contest that relies on anything physical starts out with a biological boost if you are born a male, and while not going through puberty might offset some of that advantage, it still isn’t enough to make the contest fair.


I wonder if anyone has done any research on sports contests where a person born male participated in sports contests and what their win percentage is against those women? I suspect you would see an unfair advantage, which is why most sports have the division in the first place.


We’ve long fooled ourselves into believing that only people who looked a certain way or acted a certain way were worthy of our love and respect. Anyone not coloring inside the lines is an “other” and is shunned.  It simply isn’t true of course. Human sexuality has a spectrum so broad it probably can’t be fully described. I like to say that you can’t help what turns you on, it just does. To be fully human is to recognize that difference and still be able to have a relationship.


It’s OK for me to be uncomfortable with the idea of being transgender. That simple means it isn’t one of those things that turn me on. It doesn’t mean that I can’t support and love my family members and friends who are transgender or gender fluid. It’s just another of the things that make each human different.


We all need to find a place in the world where we feel safe and loved and wanted.

By Jim Richardson

A cranky moderate gay democrat making his way through his sixth decade on earth.

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