The Emperor’s New Clothes is an illustration about peer pressure. But I always thought it was an overstatement.
Of course peer pressure is real, but the prospect of a crowd actually gathering to cheer the clothes of a naked emperor was simply too ridiculous to take seriously.
Yesterday, was the day that former Olympic Champion Bruce Jenner revealed his new identity as “Caitlyn” through the release of photo’s in Vanity Fair Magazine.
The pictures are remarkable.
They demonstrate what’s possible with surgery and airbrushing.
But the avalanche of congratulations and plaudits for finding “your truth” proves something else entirely. They prove the adage that there is nothing so ridiculous that if you say it often enough people will believe it.
Or, in biblical terms, “Professing to be wise they became fools.” (Romans 1:22)
Feeling the need to whisper when stating the obvious feels odd.
But the fact is, Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner is a still man.
Once upon a time, in a land far away, a Y chromosome from Jenner’s father met an X chromosome from Jenner’s mother. The result was the biological reality of a male person. They called him Bruce Jenner.
He was not consulted.
However, if anthropologists stumble upon Jenner’s remains thousands of years from now, they might know nothing of his surgeries or personal struggles, but those stubborn chromosomes would betray his maleness, even if the whole parade shouted from the grave, “But, but…she’s a woman!”
It’s true that I don’t understand what it’s like to be “transgender” and feel stuck in the wrong body.
As best as I am able, I’m sympathetic to what is clearly a challenging situation because I do understand what it feels like to believe I’d be happier if reality was different than it is.
Don’t we all?
My concern is not with the desire to wish things were different, or even the impulse to take radical steps taken to make thing seem different.
My concern is with how thoughtlessly people join the fantasy that things actually are different.
Is the man with the toupee and six-inch elevator shoes no longer bald and short…er?
“But we’re progressing,” you say.
Next time I take my vertically challenged progeny to Disneyland, I will be sure to inform the staff that all of my children feel tall enough to go on the ride and therefore we’d appreciate it if they would step aside so my kids can live their truth.
Or maybe I’ll just explain that they’re still “transitioning.”
Like your date of birth and your species, the selection of your gender was determined the moment you became a zygote.
You can take steps to change appearances, but that’s all you’ve done.
Anti-aging treatments and cosmetic surgery can make one look younger, but they cannot change your age.
If you can be convinced that a man becomes a woman after surgery, you can likely be convinced of anything provided there are enough people with good intentions and pouty faces telling you it’s true.
What about the eighty-pound anorexic convinced she’ll be happy if she loses just a few more pounds or the “transabled” person who believes he would be much happier if his healthy body were disabled?
Are you going to hurt their feelings?
I certainly hope so.
Facts are not the same as feelings, opinions, or preferences.
We better figure out that difference. Soon.
Otherwise, we actually will be holding parades to celebrate the clothes of naked emperors.