December 2, 2015

IN TRANSITION: At Commentary, Christine Rosen writes, “Outside South Park, however, there is little that is gentle or fun about the discussion of transgender issues. There is a growing chasm between the message of acceptance that is promoted and the tactics often employed to achieve it,” adding later in her article, “We want our transformation stories to be seamless narratives of the ugly duckling becoming a true swan (and thus her true self); no one wants to see the duckling go under the knife:”

Today we want cultural conversations that rest on this kind of acceptance fantasy, especially when the facts are in dispute (or controversial). But when acceptance is withheld, all hell breaks loose. Germaine Greer was blunt but correct in her assessment of Caitlyn Jenner: Cultural acceptance of transgender identity means accepting the legitimacy of radical and often punishing physical alterations in the service of that identity—the kind of acceptance we don’t offer someone who “identifies” as anorexic, even though there are many websites that actually celebrate and offer coaching tips on how to be “ana.”

In fact, as a culture, we are always policing the boundaries of transformation, and not consistently. While we celebrate Bruce Jenner’s appropriation of the female gender, for example, we’re told to denounce cultural appropriation in other forms. God help the white pop star who adopts dreadlocks, as Miley Cyrus did recently when hosting the MTV Video Music Awards; and don’t even think about posting a picture of yourself on Instagram wearing something that looks Native American or vaguely “ethnic”—you will be reprimanded by real ethnic people proclaiming, “My culture is not a costume.” Even the liberal stalwart Lena Dunham was chided by her young female fans when she jokingly posted a picture of herself online wearing a hijab.

Read the whole thing.

Related: “New York Times adds ‘Mx.’ to the honorific mix for subjects who don’t want the gender-specific ‘Mr.’ or ‘Ms.’” As John Podhoretz tweets, “Idiocracy approacheth.”

Or perhaps a highly dangerous supervillain from the Fifth Dimension.

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