Entry 393: Have You Declared a Gender?

A while back, I did a post about how tortured the English language has become due to its lack of gender-neutral pronouns. The bit of research I did for that post led me to discover that there are many more genders than I had previously been aware of. This, in turn, led to a second post called “Gay/Bi/Tri/Pan/Non Pride Parade,” which has become one of the most popular pieces I’ve ever done, particularly, for some reason, in Germany.

Well, perhaps “popular” is the wrong word.

Anyway, my point in that second post was summed up in this sentence: “…when you start talking about a third gender and non-binary gender, it’s time to admit that you’re making stuff up.” I also may have written something about choosing a bathroom and sticking with it.

It’s not that I have any problem whatsoever with folks who have gender identity issues, or those who are certain of their gender identity but don’t have the physiology to go with it. It just seems to me that society is sometimes expected to contort itself into really uncomfortable positions to accommodate transgender, bigender, trigender, pangender, nongendered, agender, other-gendered, gender-fluid, and genderqueer people.

Don’t get me wrong; nobody should be denied a right that other people have simply because of their gender identity. But neither should they have a right that others don’t have…like being able to use whichever public restroom has the shortest line.

I know–that sounds trivial. But what if accommodating these variously-gendered individuals threatens to undermine an entire institution?

That may be overstating it. Let’s just say it’s making that institution very confused.

The institution in question is Wellesley College, featured on the cover of a recent issue of the New York welleseley coverTimes Magazine, in a story not entitled “The Best Colleges in America.”

No, the story about this 144-year-old college for women was called “Men of Wellesley.”

It was about how Wellesley and other women’s colleges are wrestling with trans men, students who were born female but have changed their gender identities after beginning their college careers, just like some students change their majors.

Some, but not all, of these students have had treatments to transform their bodies to varying degrees. But almost all of them love Wellesley and want to stay there.

Which has caused a few problems, not the least of which are pronounial. The school has gone out of its way to be “trans-inclusive.” This proud bastion of female empowerment has even taken to using the word “siblinghood” (which is totally made up, like “pronounial”) instead of “sisterhood.”

So here’s my question: Why doesn’t a school that has an actual course called “Why is Miley in Malaysia?” have one with a name like “Applied Common Sense?”

Seriously, if any Wellesley student is reading this (which would indicate you could have taken on those additional credits), please help me understand why a college that is exclusionary by definition is jumping through hoops to include this one group of people.

This is not an institution open to everyone who can meet its academic and financial requirements. It is, and this cannot be overemphasized, a women’s college. It has managed to avoid having to take in students of the male persuasion for well over a century. Its very principles are based on giving women the confidence and knowledge to pursue their dreams and aspirations in what was traditionally a male-dominated world (and still is in many ways).

So what the hell!

Here we have Jane, who no longer thinks of herself as Jane, and who would like you to call her John, and refer to her as “him,” and may even have returned for fall semester suddenly spouting facial hair and biceps. Let me repeat: I have absolutely no problem with that. You identify as male? Fine. So what the heck are you doing at a women’s college?

And what is a women’s college doing trying to accommodate the student formerly known as Jane? If it’s that desperate to increase enrollment, then make the place co-ed and call it a day. There is no way that your core student body is totally comfortable with these new student bodies. And here’s the thing: they shouldn’t have to be. They chose Wellesley because, according to its website, it is “the world’s preeminent college for women.”

Again, according to its website, graduates are supposed to “leave as Wellesley women.” What, exactly, is John going to leave as?

To give you an idea how convoluted this issue has become, another women’s college, Mount Holyoke, has felt it necessary to define prcisely who qualifies for admission: “anyone born biologically female, whether identified as woman, man, neither or ‘other’ and anyone born biologically male who identifies as a woman or ‘other.’”

A decent SAT score will also help.

In conclusion, two things:

1. An institution should not talk about “inclusion” if the entire basis for its existence is exclusion. Either stick to your guns, or let everybody in. (BTW: interestingly, along with forbidding men to matriculate, Wellesley, unlike Mount Holyoke, won’t allow trans women: men who identify as women. How does that make sense?)

2. Individuals, too, should have the courage of their convictions. If you want to join my club, you’re welcome to…but you have to abide by the club rules. And one of those rules is: you can’t go to a women’s college.

On the plus side, though, you can eat cold pizza for breakfast.

See you soon.

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One Response to Entry 393: Have You Declared a Gender?

  1. Pingback: Entry 571: But Which Bathroom Should They Use? | The Upsizers

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