From our high 21st century vantage point, it's easy to look back on the 1950s and snicker at their cluelessness — they did, after all, believe that you could defend yourself from a nuclear explosion with this:
And let's not even start on their treatment of gay men and lesbians, who they lumped into a strange, horror-movie-tinged category called…
"Society's greatest curse?" I thought that was Communism! Oh, I never could keep track of all their their paranoid terrors. But, to be fair, they may have been on to something with all that "third sex" stuff because it's not like we've progressed much more when it comes to transgender people. Consider the reaction we've seen to "the pregnant man" Thomas Beatie:
For instance, blogger Jason Wilfong says Beatie "creeps me out" and rants, "Here’s a news flash: real men don’t have wombs. You are not a man, Thomas Beatie, just a woman playing dress-up. Pick a side and stick with it." He then ends his screed with the tag, "Jason Wilfong of Chicago, believes he has unrecognized genius." Uh-huh.
But hey, at least he's not driving Beatie to suicide. Like a lot of us, I've been watching what the press is calling "The Strange Case Of Caster Semenya" with much sadness. The South African athlete had to undergo gender testing that has apparently revealed her to be intersexed. Rumour has it now that all the public attention has depressed Semenya so much, she's been put on a suicide watch.
Now I'll admit that this is a problem for a sports ruling board that depends on a strict division between two genders. But this is an issue that came up in the friggin' 1930s and we are no better at discussing it now than they were then. In the 1950s, people at least considered the idea of more genders; today, conversatives stoke fear about men using the same bathroom as your daughter!!! as a political tool.
The discussions are out there and its up to all of us to get up to speed on the issue so that more people like Rudy can live the lives they deserve. Yes, all of us — even gay men who should know better spend a lot of our time policing ourselves and each other for effeminate behaviour, using "queen" as an insult and ranting about being "lumped in" with the transgender community.
How are we ever going to wrap our minds around stuff like this when most of the world still thinks two men getting married is controversial? Sing it, Chelsea:
Isn't she amazing? There's still a long way to go for gay, lesbian and transgender rights but at least it's happening…