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.
What a night. Ken Jennings lost and so did the man who rocked that look like no one since Mark Farner. I think I’ll go to bed.
james said on May 26, 2005 at 7:37 am
Speaking of “man on dog,” did you read the profile of Rick Santorum in the NYTimes last week?
It talks about the loss of an infant child, and how:
“Rick and Karen Santorum would not let the morgue take the corpse of their newborn; they slept that night in the hospital with their lifeless baby between them. The next day, they took him home. ”Your siblings could not have been more excited about you!” Karen writes in the book, which takes the form of letters to Gabriel, mostly while he is in utero.”
Carmella said on May 26, 2005 at 8:07 am
OK…I did not watch American Idol all season, but caught snippets as I walked through the room, b/c my husband…who loves Westerns and car chases and Law & Order…also for some reason loves AI. For me it was A-G-O-N-Y. The TWO HOURS of schmaltzy tacky icky clips of the bad acts and then the clips of the bad personalities of the judges…?!?!? Two hours of my life I WILL NOT get back. I did enjoy seeing Rascal Flats and George Benson. Who were on for about 30 seconds. Is it me?? It must be, b/c THE WHOLE COUNTRY is nuts about AI. Even my beloved Nance!! Help me out here…explain the attraction…
Nance said on May 26, 2005 at 8:23 am
Confession: I spent a harge chunk of last night’s very very special two-hour season finale on a phone call. So it didn’t seem quite so long, but I know what you mean.
Yes, it sucks, but a huge part of this is personal — Kate is sort of waking up to the idea of entertainment that isn’t computer-generated and speaks with a squeaky voice, and it happened to coincide with this season’s “Idol.” Gotta love that giant TV-G in the corner of the screen.
One of the Freep’s columnists has a similar take on it, here.
danno said on May 26, 2005 at 8:35 am
Bo rocks, but I’m glad he didn’t win. I think it would have not been to his benefit to be known as the American Idol, not for a rocker at least. Personally, I have no idea why he was on the show, he was far better than all the rest. Carrie’s career needs it far more than his does. We will being seeing alot of him to come, I hope!!!
blue girl said on May 26, 2005 at 10:26 am
James, you are the only other person in blogland that has talked about this part of that article. (At least I haven’t read it anywhere else.)
That was/is truly bizarre. And the fact that the writer described their decision to do that with their dead child as representing the “cultural divide” in this country.
The divide is much wider than I ever imagined.
Nance said on May 26, 2005 at 10:34 am
Blue girl, I’d heard that story about Santorum before, but never with so much detail. And I recall another, about a different right-wing politician, whose pregnant wife was killed in an accident. Both she and the fetus died, and I can’t recall if the child was delivered by emergency C-section or if it was still in utero, but this guy, too, made a huge deal out of this four- or five-month fetus’ body. The mother was laid out in her casket with the baby in her arms, which just struck me as deeply, deeply weird. But I guess if a cornerstone of your political philosophy is that zygotes have a full set of constitutional rights, then I guess it makes its own kind of sense.
MarkH said on May 26, 2005 at 11:12 am
Good Lord, Nance…
Thinking back to my days in the Dispatch family (some 25 years ago), I may know who the person in question is, but probably not. I can only imagine the Wolf family’s reaction to the event you have described. Guess no more invites to retiree’s soirees at the Wigwam for him/her, if that place still exists!
Kath said on May 26, 2005 at 1:19 pm
That was Allen Quist, the 1994 endorsed republican candidate for Minnesota governor, whose pregnant wife was killed in a car accident. Quist had the mortician remove the 6-month old fetus and it was displayed in the casket. Quist’s second wife Julie was a founder of the local feminist book store, but then had a rather dramatic change of heart, and became a republican pro-life activist.
Nance said on May 26, 2005 at 2:15 pm
Thanks, Kath. I had a feeling the fetus was undelivered, because I recall thinking that if it had died after an emergency delivery, it might be somewhat understandable to have them laid out that way — you’d have to do something with the body. But to have it removed… Creepy.
Richard N. / Toronto said on May 26, 2005 at 6:50 pm
About being gay or (more important) being made gay by having homos (sic) take over health ed …
I half-remember a great quote by a prof (MSU?) who’d been accused of attempting to seduce straight guys to “the gay lifestyle” who said that if he had the secret of changing people’s sexual orientation he wouldn’t bother with university students, he’d go for world domination.
If gays had been more out when I was in high school (1966-71 – Ontario had five years!) I can’t imagine it’d’ve made the slightest difference to me … I was always as, er, straight (I’m being delicate here) as any stereotypical straight teenage boy. I wasn’t like a character in American Pie, but I liked girls, was interested in girls, fascinated by girls … well, you get the idea.
I’m willing to believe some other folks’ sexuality may be more plastic, but I do find it hard to believe that a health ed teacher talking about homosexuality would somehow make it attractive. I mean, was your high school vastly different than the three I went to? Did you look to your health-ed teacher for actionable advice on any subject?
Having said all that … my 24-year-old daughter is gay. And she believes that sexuality is a social construct – even though that’s a politically difficult position to take for a gay person. (If you believe orientation is a social construct, than the view that exposure to “deviant” ways should be avoided is arguable and defensible. If you believe sexuality is pretty much innate, than you expose kids to other views as part of diversity-tolerance, or something. Anyway, it’s harmless because effect-free.)
Enough ranting for late at work – time to go work out. 🙂
Cheers, Richard in Toronto