The Right Coast

April 22, 2004
Sexual identity
By Tom Smith

Crumudgeonly clerk links to my post on the flap over the California law requiring schools to allow students and staff to "define their own sexual identity." He notes that San Francisco will now pay for "sexual reassignment surgery" and that an Australian court permitted hormones to be given to a 13 year old girl who wants to be a boy.

I don't consider either of these events as support for the silly California law. I think "sexual reassignment surgery" is mutilation and ought to be illegal. Very, very few surgeons will perform it. The fact that some do is testament, in my view, to what some people will do for money. In San Diego within the last few years, there was a case of a man who for some pathological sexual reason, wanted his legs amputated. I think he found some defrocked doctor to cut them off for him. I think a surgeon who would remove a boy's or a man's genitalia for similar reasons, is every bit as ethically challenged.

I gather what most school boards are doing is just quietly ignoring this idiotic mandate from Sacramento. Westminster is simply being more honest about it. That means threatening to take away grant money from them is more about getting them to knuckle under politically than it is about actually enforcing the law. If this law were actually enforced, public outrage would doubtless insure that it was repealed.

Biology is very complicated, but with humans, all but a very few are readily identified as male or females. We're not like, say, emus, which I gather are difficult to sex (they are definitely male or female, it's just awkward to make the call). A reader emailed me about instances of ambiguous genitalia. I am aware of them, but the usual procedure there is to do surgery on the infant, which usually involves constructing female genitalia. In any event, that is not the situation which the law addresses.

Rather, the law is an attempt to enshrine in the California Code the politically correct, but patently false view that "gender" is the product of social conditioning and institutions, rather than the obvious fact that the sex of a human being is the product of biology. "Self defining gender" is rubbish, and is just as scientifically disreputable as the notion that potatoes could be made to grow in a proper Marxist manner. Some portions of the left have managed to get themselves in the position of disapproving the way nature works. But that is their problem. It is a bad idea to pass laws based on deluded ideas of how sex works, especially if those ideas are actually espoused only by a small minority of people, the majority of whom may have compassion for sexually confused people but are unwilling to throw logic out the window.