Caitlyn Jenner Is Asking Too Much

I have a vestibular disorder -- that is, my inner ear malfunctions. I have, spontaneously and uncontrollably, vomited in a supermarket.

If you do a Google search of the words "vestibular disorder vomit supermarket," you will see that getting sick in supermarkets is routine for people with vestibular disorders. The supermarket design affects us. High, narrow, aisles jam-packed with lots and lots of items overwhelm our damaged systems of balance.

How many of us are there? According to the Archives of Internal Medicine sixty-nine million Americans have some vestibular dysfunction. Not all of those people are in such bad shape that any given visit to a supermarket might result in uncontrollable vomiting, but plenty are.

In spite of the large number of Americans affected, no one has picketed your local supermarket demanding it be torn down and redesigned. No one has said that aisles must be made wider, shorter, and display fewer items.

No one has politicized vestibular disorders.

Rather, people with vestibular disorders -- again, 69 million people -- do the accommodating. We prepare ourselves before trips to the supermarket. We take ginger or other anti-emetic medication. We walk slowly down the aisles and breathe deeply. It's our problem, and we solve it with our own choices and behaviors. We ask nothing of others. We do not demonize others for not changing to accommodate us.

There are men who prefer to dress in highly gendered female clothing. By "highly gendered" I refer to a certain kind of clothing: high-heeled shoes, tight, low-cut blouses that reveal much cleavage. I can't really call these "women's clothes" because most women I know wear these clothes rarely if at all. I don't even own a pair of spike-heeled shoes, and I never have. The women I know wear a lot of modest, navy blue clothing when they are at work and these same women wear sneakers, blue jeans and sweatshirts at home.

I must confess I profoundly do not care that some men have this preference. It does not affect me. I grew up near such a man, Roger Browne in Pompton Lakes, NJ, who was locally famous and beloved. He is now deceased, but a Facebook page is dedicated to saluting the local color he added to an otherwise not very exciting town.

I met a man who preferred feminine-coded clothing in a remote village in the Central African Republic when I was a Peace Corps Volunteer there. He was a mailman. He delivered mail while wearing a Dutch-wax print sarong, typical of the clothing worn by women in Africa. He, too, was locally famous.

One of my cousins is a post-op transsexual. Before surgery, she identified as a lesbian. She now identifies as a male, and is married to a woman. I loved her before surgery, and I love her now. We ran into each other at family reunions, and neither I nor anyone else treated her any differently than any other family member. If anyone tried to hurt her, I would defend her.

I'm a Christian. It's my assignment to love everybody. I would never discriminate against a man who dresses in feminine-coded clothing. I would happily invite him to my house, teach him if he were my student, and hire him. I would base any judgment of him on his individual traits, not on his clothing choices.

I reject any mocking of any population. I don't make tranny jokes and I don't pass them on.

If I saw someone beating up a transsexual I would call the police and do what I could to stop the beating.

I feel that Jenner's "supporters" figuratively want us to tear down, and redesign, every supermarket in America to accommodate transsexuals. Of course, they don't want to do that with actual supermarkets. They demand that we do that with language, and with definitions. To me, this conversation is beginning to feel very 1984.

I have been told that I must refer to a man as a woman. If I decline to do so, however politely, I am demonized as an oppressor, a bigot and a hater. I have been told that I must use the female pronouns: she, her, and hers, not the male pronouns, he, his, and him. If I decline to do so, however politely, I am excluded from decent society. I am classed with murderers.

I am very wary of any movement that demands that people change their everyday language and that demonizes those who decline to do so.

If we redefine a woman as a person who poses in a corset and shows substantial cleavage on the cover of Vanity Fair, what does that make a woman who has had a double mastectomy and dresses modestly and hasn't access to Vanity Fair? My question is not rhetorical, it is not a joke, and it is not trivial. Definitions get to the scaffolding of society and the essence of things. If we don't answer this question now, it will become less and less of a joke as we proceed down this slippery slope.

A Caitlyn Jenner "supporter" asked me, "Who are you to judge?" My answer: I am a taxpayer. Obamacare covers gender reassignment surgery.

Is it established that our tax dollars will pay for a beneficial surgery? It is not established. Many post-op transsexuals express regret, and many commit suicide. How many? Because this conversation is so politicized, it is hard to ascertain. Opponents and proponents of gender reassignment surgery duel with each other, citing studies that promote numbers that support or detract from their position. What a layperson can determine from this debate is that it is not established with certainty that gender reassignment surgery is the best path. One cannot find a similar degree of debate about, say, appendectomies in the case of appendicitis or coronary artery bypass surgery. Few people express regret or attempt suicide after an appendectomy.

Further study may show that gender reassignment surgery is the very best path, but for now it remains controversial, and it is not controversial because those who question it are haters, oppressors, or the enemy. As long as that stigma is applied to anyone who questions the procedure, rational debate is impeded.

I am not a surgeon. I am a taxpayer. Most importantly I am a human being and I do speak. I don't want anyone imposing on me 1984-style instructions or litmus tests on how I use language. I don't want to be demonized because I use the words "male, man, he, his, him," when referring to a human with an x and a y chromosome. A 2011 Williams Institute Study estimates that 0.3% of the United States population is transgender. That is, significantly fewer people than suffer from vestibular disorders. I don't ask that America tear down and redesign its every supermarket to accommodate me. I am uncomfortable and wary when 0.3 % of the US population demands that we tear down and redesign language and definitions in order to accommodate them.

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