It’s funny how even journalists bury the lead sometimes. A colleague sent me an e-mail about this and that in Columbus, then oh yeah, I forget if I told you this or not, but a former department head from the paper in my era gave a cocktail party last night to answer any and all questions about … his sex change.
It’s not an all-the-way deal. At his age — 73! — he won’t have the surgery, but will take hormones, a female name and live out his remaining years as a woman. Named Diana.
I can’t tell you how rocked back on my heels I was by this news. I mean: No. Clue.
But as the shock wore off, I started thinking, once again, about the unfathomable mysteries of the human heart. Just a few days ago I was following yet another blog discussion — probably over at Amy’s — about the dangers of turning health ed over to the homos, who won’t stop at sex between men and women or even men and men, but want to open your child’s eyes to transexuality and bisexuality and bestiality and S&M and B&D and probably man-on-dog, except maybe that would be covered in the bestiality chapter.
Obviously, I’m not ready to have middle-schoolers snickering over drag queens. But I also wonder what it must have been like to spend your whole adult life feeling like you got the wrong set of genitals, and finally, at an age when most people have hung up the spikes once and for all, decide what the hell, life is short. I wonder if it would have been any easier if the idea of transexuality had been on the menu 50 years ago. High-school students are certainly old enough to hold such a concept in their minds. Shouldn’t we teach them about it?
Because while it’s true that most of us would be happy to order the cheeseburger or the chicken-noodle casserole every day for the rest of our lives, there is a small but significant number who want the pickled monkey brains, and they ought to know they’re available.
Which is a lousy metaphor, but you know what I mean.
Then I consider how far we’ve come. I’m sure my parents had gay friends, but not like I have gay friends. I doubt they knew any transexuals. I’m no longer surprised to hear that someone is coming out at 40 or 50, or that someone who I’d previously thought was gay has fallen for a member of the opposite sex. It happens. People are complicated and life is a river, and you never know what’s around the next bend. Maybe gender isn’t entirely a social construct, but maybe enough is to make it just a tiny bit unpredictable. I think we mistranslated Genesis. I think the order was not “be fruitful and multiply” (which is sort of redundant), but “be fruitful and really, really interesting.”
So Diana, wherever you are, good luck. You’re very brave. But as one of your golf partners says, if you think this means you can play from the ladies’ tees, you’re crazy.