One Way Fluidity

by Cameron Dominy, TFF Summer InternCharleston Southern University

There is no doubt at this point that the concept of  “gender fluidity” is one that most Americans are becoming increasingly familiar with. Through constant national media focus on celebrities like Bruce Jenner, (now known as Caitlyn Jenner), the trans-sexual movement is picking up speed, and has done so rapidly.

Last month here in Virginia, the Fairfax School Board voted ten to one to discuss the  inclusion of this increasingly popular concept in Family Life Education Curriculum, a decision that had the potential to influence students as early as seventh grade. The program was said to focus on the individual's ability to define their own sexuality, gender, and family structure; all centered around the philosophy that these variables are by no means set in stone. Hypothetically, one could be straight on Thursday, gay on Friday, a man trapped in a woman’s body over the weekend, and start off the new week fresh with whatever combination of sexuality and gender they so desire. In practice however, the concept of “fluidity” acts much more like a one way street than the open circle we have been told it models. Political pressure unrelentlessly plagues the gay man turned straight, just as undeniable biological consequences damage the teen who preemptively received a sex change operation.  One way fluidity is the brand of fluidity sold today in our state, and across the nation.

In a 2014 article, staff writer Mary Elizabeth Williams stated, “if you aren’t fretting over why someone is gay, you don’t have to worry about changing him or her. It’s just that simple.” The rest of her piece focused on the Richmond based organization PFOX (Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays), and their perceived intolerance of the gay community due to of their support for “conversion therapy”; church groups and others that seek to help those dealing with homosexual tendencies. But it isn’t nearly as simple as Williams would like to make it. For millions of Americans, the issue is not  why the individual is homosexual, but how they can help them. Obviously Williams believes that this help does no good, serves no purpose, and quite clearly isn't open to any use of it in the slightest. But regardless of what her opinions are, holding an all or nothing stance that doesn’t even consider opposing views is hardly the tolerance she claims to have. She is admittedly for those who choose to be homosexuals, but quickly marginalizes any who start in that position and move away from it, regardless of the countless stories of those who fall into this demographic.  This is the very mindset we find today, widespread on the issue of sexual fluidity in our schools. Movement in one direction is fine, but in another is chastised. As the Fairfax School Board and others stood for this form of sexual fluidity in Family Life Curriculum, they stood for what ultimately was a false fluidity.

Just as many fail to recognize the political one way street of sexual fluidity, they turn a blind eye to the even more obvious biological issues of gender fluidity. As fluidity would imply (when used correctly) gender movement can be back and forth, allowing the individual to associate with whatever gender, or lack there of, they so choose, on any given day. Unfortunately, when this philosophy is paired with modern day medical procedures, the very real biological contradiction of gender fluidity becomes painfully obvious. Simply put, if you have a sex change operation, you can’t go back. There’s no more “fluidity”, there’s no more helpful surgery, and those that make the decision to go this road often become aware of the harsh reality postoperative. Most agree that this is unfortunately a main factor in the staggering transgender suicide attempt rate, which hovers at around 41 percent. Add children into the mix and this concoction of misinformation becomes all the more volatile.  As Paul McHugh, Former Chief Psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins Hospital so aptly stated, “gender dysphoria—the official psychiatric term for feeling oneself to be of the opposite sex—belongs in the family of similarly disordered assumptions about the body, such as anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Its treatment should not be directed at the body as with surgery and hormones any more than one treats obesity-fearing anorexic patients with liposuction. The treatment should strive to correct the false, problematic nature of the assumption and to resolve the psychosocial conflicts provoking it. With youngsters, this is best done in family therapy.” How can we attempt to teach dangerous fluidity in a situation where the very concept of gender movement is contrary to what is medically possible? Must we simply agree to misrepresent the facts?

Quite clearly, there is no true fluidity in the “gender/sexual fluidity curriculum” that was introduced by the Fairfax School Board.  Whether it is in the systematic marginalization of the unwanted gay to straight demographic, or the clear biological impossibility of switching genders, then switching back again, teaching these ideas in public schools would be an educational injustice to children. The curriculum would have so obviously favored one side by avoiding these stated unpleasantries, that a balanced approach, which examines both viewpoints and allows the student to decide based upon evidence, would be impossible.