Word got out recently that the Trump administration is considering a binary approach to gender. In that approach gender would be determined by physical attributes at birth, indicating male or female and nothing more. The reaction from those supporting gender diversities and expressions was predictably loud and strong. As far as they are concerned, obvious human rights are being discarded because of transphobia and blind prejudice. One of their spokespersons stated that the existence of transgender and other gender diversities is simply a matter of “conventional understanding”.
Conventional understanding? Roughly speaking, that phrase is equivalent to common sense. What happens when we apply common sense to the concept of gender diversity?
First, humanity is one community existing in two dimensions, male and female. If it does not do so, humanity ceases to exist. Therefore, gender diverse lifestyles may exist but not gender diverse life.
Second, gender diversity is an elective. We live in a comfortable world with what seems like limitless opportunities for self-expression. The popular notion is that our feelings, desires, and proclivities are open doors we ought to go through. No need for limits here. However, nature and nature’s God impose their own limits. Gender diversity ends up being a long road to nowhere. Why go there?
Third, there is no clear definition of what gender diversity is. Various lists of psychological sounding titles have been produced trying to describe as many as a hundred or more different states of gender diversities and expressions. Who produced those lists? How do individuals decide what best describes them? Do they actually understand the various drives in their personalities? Can a child determine what cannot be defined?
Fourth, it is not possible to define in personality that which has no clear science to define it. Not long ago a Brown University professor was branded as transphobic because her research suggested that transgender may be caused by nonphysical factors rather than fixed physical characteristics. Yet, a few days ago, when the Trump administration was said to be considering establishment of gender in a traditional manner, gender diverse experts announced that no physical factors could be found to explain gender diversity. Therefore, they said, male and female anatomy could not predict gender outcome. Non-physical factors are obviously involved in forming gender they claimed. Apparently, science referring to gender diversity is like trying to glue a whirling dervish to the floor.
Fifth, lack of clarity in science means lack of clarity in law. If a person, even a child, can claim a gender status which has no objective standard of analysis or medical diagnosis, then virtually any claim about that person’s self-perception can be grounds for legal action and punishment. You are what you think you feel you are, and nobody can challenge your stance without paying a price! Common sense says that such an approach to law is the end of law itself.
Sixth, feelings alone can establish neither community well-being nor justice. Gender diversity is, preeminently, preoccupation with a person’s inner satisfaction without due reference to others in family or the larger social network. Everything revolves around the axis of keeping a personal interest in charge of one’s life. Some might think such an approach is a sort of courage. Common sense sees it as building a cocoon from which a person never emerges.
G.K. Chesterton observed over a century ago that common sense is not so common. If he were alive today watching gender diversity barge through the public square, he would probably say that common sense is dead.