A proposal to maximize gender wholeness

“Is this person male or female?” As I smiled at and conversed with the clerk ringing up my groceries last week, I observed conflicting gender clues…soft facial features, closely-cropped hair, loose unisex clothing, feminine-like voice, traditionally male name on the tag. After initially concluding female I switched my guess to male after reading the name tag, but later wondered if this might be a female identifying as a male. Perhaps instead a male who identifies as female but hasn’t yet changed his name. Or simply a slightly effeminate young man.

Several people were waiting in line behind me observing the clerk as I had been and I found myself wondering what they were thinking of this overweight person with the multiple piercings and nondescript gender. And then I wondered if the clerk was silently steeling him or herself for the disapproving and condemning looks of some who would come through the checkout line. I noted that he/she barely looked up.

Though I did not give a disapproving look to the clerk but instead was kind and respectful as I am with every store employee, as I walked out with my groceries disapproval was front and center in my mind. Not of the person I just encountered but of the notion front and center lately that a person can choose their gender. And more so, of the recent trend to condemn those who object and refuse to fall in line with the progressive playbook. The intolerance of the left directed at ordinary folks just voicing ordinary facts is so extreme as to be almost unbelievable. Upholding basic biology is now bigotry. That’s nonsense, and though I believe that what is increasingly becoming uncommon sense will ultimately prevail, this current craziness is not doing anyone any good, including the gender-confused ones progressives claim to be supporting.

The proposal
People are either male or female from the moment of conception. If the victorious sperm is from Team X the child will be female. Team Y makes a male. That is unchangeable and should be undeniable. What is also undeniable but not unchangeable is that in any society there are expectations of proper masculinity and femininity…norms in physical appearance, dress, likes and dislikes, habits and hobbies. What if we could change those expectations and delegitimize those norms such that those who don’t conform to them aren’t made to feel that there must be something wrong with them?

Imagine a society where males who naturally look or sound effeminate aren’t assumed to be gay because of it. They’re just on one end of a spectrum of totally and universally acceptable masculinity. Their relatively smooth skin, slender frame, higher frequency voice, feminine-like mannerisms, are not evidence of gender that conflicts with biological sex but instead of masculinity-lite, if you will. Just as you have men on the extreme opposite side of the spectrum who look and sound gruff and rough and might be considered hyper-masculine, and many between the extremes who would never be mistaken for female yet never shop “big and tall” nor spit in public, there are real men who are attracted to women even though they appear somewhat feminine themselves.

We tend to understand masculinity as descriptive of physical appearance and capability…facial hair, muscle strength, bone structure; or of temperament and behavior…level of aggressiveness, affinity for sports, commitment to achievement. But why does it have to be so? Is any of that what being a man is really all about?

Men have an innate drive to provide for and protect others, especially their family. Shouldn’t that be a prime indicator of masculinity? This is a natural, valuable, and honorable characteristic of males that is untied to their physical appearance or temperament. In fact, there are some on the gruff and rough side of the spectrum whose self-centered rejection of their responsibility to others actually renders them, I would say, less masculine than the most effeminate man who willingly shoulders that responsibility in some way.

A better rainbow
My point is this: We are all influenced by our interactions with others and the culture we live in. Many men and women, boys and girls, who don’t fit society’s norm for masculinity or femininity succumb to the suggestion, whether overtly spoken or subjectively felt, that they are either homosexual or somehow a different gender than what their body obviously exhibits. This creates a disconnect…a brokenness within them that can seriously hinder their happiness and success in life. And it doesn’t have to be.

Instead of championing and vigorously protecting self-conceptions that are untrue, unnatural, and unhelpful, how about we just champion a culture of inclusivity that upholds the inherent value of every human being no matter where they fall on the masculine or feminine spectrums? If we can cultivate a culture that affirms masculinity for every biological male and femininity for every biological female, we will have a rainbow of diversity worth celebrating without sacrificing gender wholeness and common sense.