Colbert recently interviewed Janet Mock, a transgender woman who made headlines earlier this month for having dressed-down Piers Morgan on account of his sub-par knowledge of gender manifestation / expression. (Man. February 2014 has not been good for that guy.) According to Mock and others, these manifestation are incredibly vast, and companies like Facebook don’t go far enough with gender options that number upwards of 60.
Gender is confusing, I’ll grant Mock that; and I can only imagine the alienation and persecution that those on the periphery of society have faced as a result of their sexuality. If Grantland’s recent controversy over the publication of Caleb Hannan’s “Dr. V’s Magical Putter” (which I won’t link to, for various reasons) has taught us anything, it’s that we all have a lot to learn about each other, and it is unwise and unfair to assume everyone fits perfectly into hetero-normative constructs. I certainly don’t.
But I do have a bone to pick with Mock, and it has nothing to do with her educational intent. Rather, my problem is that her perspective on gender is so…American. So individualized. To the point that, advocating for innumerable gender identities, Mock dismantles community in favor of little islands of Transpeople (or Gender Queer, or Pangender, etc.): Party of One. Educating others about the rampant discrimination and hate for “the other” among us is one thing. But trying to nickel and dime sexuality only leads to frustration and encourages those who would be–or already are–against non-normative sexual expression, to dig in even more. Instead, what we need is less isolation, and I fear that in her quest to educate and inform, Mock unwittingly encourages a live and let live modus operandi that leaves little room for genuine outreach, empathy, or fellowship.
Alas, mankind is not unfamiliar with schism. There are approximately 38,000 religious denominations who, ahem, identify as Christian. Which is to say, the queer community is hardly the most egregious offender when it comes to forming autonomous fiefdoms.
Anyway, I really don’t know how best to end this post, other than to say that the division we sew amongst ourselves are great and profound, and I wish that wasn’t the case.