Insomnia, Too Many Pennies, & Gender Playgrounds

Everything is crazy right now. I don’t even want to go into all of it.

How about just the good things?

  • This morning I had an interview at the huge new Ann Arbor High School
  • Two more interviews tomorrow
  • Set up some babysitting jobs
  • Cashed in enough coins to pay for my certification… hurray!
  • Thanks to good friends (and lots of spare change) I have food
  • The bad stuff will pass, hopefully

I gave Derrida her flea bath, though I think it’s going to take some more medication to get the flea problem under control.

She was soooo mad! The next day I took her to the vet for the first time, and as it turns out, he is a she after all… and she isn’t too happy with me, after being bathed and then being poked by the vet.

I figure she’s only living up to her name, and won’t be changing it. Jacques Derrida was all about messing with binaries like gender.

Gender (and its deconstruction) has been on my mind. It is such a basic division for so many people. Compared to society fifty years ago, gender may not seem to be such big deal. People are a lot more okay with changing gender roles and working towards equality, but in a lot of ways it is still a separate but equal mindset. When someone blurs the lines, people freak out.

Recently a transgender man, Thomas Beatie, got pregnant and gave birth. His wife was unable to have children, and since he had not had his reproductive organs removed during his sex change, he decided to be the one to carry their child. They used sperm from a donor, with their first successful insemination resulting in a dangerous ectopic pregnancy. You can read about it over here. When Mr. Beatie went public about his pregnancy, many people were outraged. A lot of the comments I read were less related to the pregnancy and more to the fact that he considered himself a “he” at all. Many doctors refused to work with the Beaties, citing moral reasons.

The story is very interesting to me… as is the outcry that it has caused. Thomas Beatie said that, “Wanting to have a biological child is neither a male nor female desire but a human desire.” I can agree with this. I am less supportive of the need for a “biological” child. In a world with so many thousands of children in need of adoption or foster care, the risks and huge costs of artificial reproductive procedures seem to be a waste of parenting desires and skills. I believe the genuine desire to raise a child should trump more selfish needs to have your own “designer” baby. When we are out of kids to love and care for, and humanity is dying out, then we can start worrying about turning to artificial means of reproduction. As it is, there’s a lot of people popping out kids the old school way who can’t care for them themselves.

All that aside, it’s surprising to me how outraged people are at the concept of a man having a baby–stemming from an outrage that someone would ever choose to identify with a gender other than the sex that they were “born” with.

It’s so hard for people to relearn the very basic gender divisions they grew up with. I know plenty of good, loving people who I know care about equality and human rights, but when it comes to messing around with gender I can see a brick wall go up. No one wants to cross gender. I’m really not sure how I developed the ability to see gender so fluidly, growing up conservative, Catholic, definitely straight, definitely female, in a small town where everybody was straight, white, and conservative. It wasn’t until I moved away to school that I encountered anything different. I think I tend to forget that my family wasn’t as conservative as you might think. I was certainly not afraid to be completely different from the status quo, which I am grateful for. Anyway, it only seemed natural that as a human with respect for human life and rights, I would not let divisions of race, gender, sexuality, or anything else get in the way of that respect.

I’m just saying: if I can learn respect, so can you.

That has been your daily ranting. Thank you. Tune in next time.

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2 Responses to Insomnia, Too Many Pennies, & Gender Playgrounds

  1. d.cous. says:

    Wow, sounds like you’re busy as always.

    I’m not sure I’m on board with you on the gender thing, though. I certainly think that tremendous progress has been made in the past few decades in terms of women being able to gain independence and equality in society, though we’re (society, I mean; I’m a man) not there yet. On the other hand, I don’t think society changes in a vacuum, and if we ever do get “there,” we probably won’t like it very much and will try to get someplace else. Still worth working towards, though. I digress.

    I believe in a great deal of human choice, and within reason I think that people can be pretty much what they want to be. That said, I don’t see gender divisions, at least in the strictest sense, as some highly subjective and arbitrary thing which society places upon us. There are certainly many purely societal expectations and norms related to gender, but gender itself seems to be a very real physical and biological phenomenon, with several fairly easy-to-identify distinctions, as well as a few which are not so easily identified.

    In short, I think Beatie has every right to call him/herself whatever he/she wishes, but should not really expect people to take him/her any more seriously at that than if he/she had decided that he/she was really a giraffe. You can “be” a giraffe, if that’s what you want to “be,” but if you maintain all of the accoutrements of a human being, people are liable to think you’re a little silly for insisting that you’re a giraffe. This doesn’t mean you can’t do so, nor that you don’t deserve the basic respect due to every human and/or giraffe.

    If you go from being a woman to “being” a man, and then tell people that you’re pregnant, at least one child who doesn’t know any better will point out that the emperor is in fact naked, and that men don’t typically have a fully functional uterus.

  2. d.cous. says:

    There’s my two cents, anyways. Thanks for the interesting post.

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