Civil Liberties, Free Speech, Jon Caldara, Politics

My proposal for straight talk on gender identity

Due to his Down syndrome, my son spends a lot of time at Children’s Hospital Colorado. When he goes in they slap an ID bracelet on him so he doesn’t get mixed up with other patients. Like all forms of identification its purpose is for others to identify him, not for him to identify himself. So, they put a “m” on the bracelet to denote he is male. Or they used to, that is.

The hospital administration has removed the “m” or “f” from those bracelets, so they don’t offend transgender patients (however their private records will still remain accurate).

The world of medicine might finally be what starts a common-sense conversation about gender identity.

Let me do the usual preamble here. I don’t care what gender you think you are. I don’t care what bathroom you use. I don’t care what you call yourself. I. Do. Not. Care.

However, I care greatly about free speech. And what makes the trans-rights movement different from the gay-rights movement is that at its heart the trans movement is about coercing speech.

Gay people wanted the right to live their lives, to pursue happiness as they desired without being impeded. They wanted the liberty to have consensual relationships. They wanted the legal right to marry. I support all that. It’s their business, not mine.

I don’t care that a person with a penis sees himself as a woman. Again, none of my business. But, generally speaking, that person doesn’t want me to just leave him alone to do his own thing. He wants me to change my speech and call him a woman. But my speech is my darn business.

And while the trans movement is about ending discrimination, too, its real goal is getting others to say they see transgender individuals as they want to be seen, not as they accurately are.

My son doesn’t see himself as a kid with Downs. He sees himself as a typical boy, which he isn’t since he has three chromosomes compared to my pathetic two. He also identifies himself as a race car, which is totally wicked awesome. He doesn’t go to the doctor, he goes to the mechanic. And the good docs at Children’s kindly play along. But fortunately, the world, not just medical staff, identifies him more accurately than he does himself.

A 69-year-old Dutch man, Emile Ratelband, is suing to legally change his age by 20 years. As he said, “You can change your name. You can change your gender. Why not your age?” Because it’s not accurate, Emile, that’s why. And even in a post-modern world of swirling words disconnected from reality, sometimes accuracy counts.

In the medical world it’s not how you identify yourself that’s going to save your life. It’s how professionals identify you that matters.

A “man” with a vagina who forces the world to call her a man is still going to need to see a gynecologist, and if pregnant she’ll need the OB/GYN.

Different drugs have different effects, some deadly, depending on if they are given to a man versus a woman. A person’s anatomical gender matters. Accuracy counts here.

Official forms of identification are made to prove who you are, not who you want to be seen as. That’s why your driver’s license has identifying physical markers like age, height, weight, eye color and gender. It proves you are who you say you are. Therefore, physical accuracy counts.

So, I propose a new system for the purpose of accurate anatomical identification. Since “male” or “female” now are being confused between how you self-identify versus how others identify you, I suggest a change on all official records.

Do away with “male” or “female,” and replace them with the verifiable “penis” or “vagina.” We’re big boys and girls, we can use these words without giggling. Hospital bracelets, medical records, government documents, driver’s licenses, birth certificates and passports can have the judgement-free checkbox “p” or “v.”

For the purpose of identification, “Y” or “X” for the chromosomal difference would work as well. Even after a sex-change procedure, this would still be an identifying marker.

Moving from male-female to penis-vagina, or Y-X, lets those of us who prefer accuracy to be accurate without stopping others from calling themselves whatever they want.

I remember when the left was about protecting free speech, not coercing it. This change could let them be about it again.

Jon Caldara is president of the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Denver.


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