A Boy Named Michelle
Since I published the article “Does Caitlyn Jenner Still Have Male DNA?” the traffic to my site has soared like Donald Trump’s ratings. (See original post here.) From Australia to Zimbabwe, it’s a question that, apparently, the whole world is asking. I can’t help but wonder why. And why have mindsets about transgenderism changed so much over the last 50 years?
Last year, I was at the post office and saw a teenage boy panhandling. When he asked me for money, I offered to buy him food from the Izzy’s across the parking lot. We set off and I asked him his name. “Michelle,” he told me, adding that he’d been born Michael. He told me a little of his story…his unhappy upbringing, his current troubles. My heart went out to him, and I wondered how he came to believe he was a girl. His voice, his boyish manner, his clothing, all said boy. We went into Izzy’s and I bought him an all-he-could-eat lunch buffet and prayed he’d come to terms with his true gender identity. The one his DNA identifies him as.
You may or may not be familiar with Johnny Cash’s song A Boy Named Sue (watch here.) The idea was, name your boy a girly name and he’ll grow up tough if he wants to survive. Nowadays, boys named Sue, or Michelle, or Brittany, are encouraged by popular culture to embrace their inner girl. And vice versa for girls named Mike or Ted. Did any adult in “Michelle’s” life ever sit him down and say, “You know, there’s nothing wrong with being a boy. Embrace who you are!” ? In most other circumstances, that’s what we tell them. We tell them to love their red hair, or their big hands. We help them accept who they are…their race, their culture, their heritage. Why not their gender? Why aren’t we consistent with our messages?
Life, and the world, are confusing enough without adding gender turmoil into the mix.When someone is confused about their real gender, here’s one solution: have a DNA test done and show them the results. “See? This shows you’re a boy.” (Yes, there are exceptions when someone is born with an extra X, or Y, chromosome, but that is a subject for another day.) School counselors and parents could do a lot to ease confusion by encouraging kids to like who they are…boy, or girl. Tall, or short. African, Chinese, Lithuanian. A person may not “feel” like the gender they were born with. But I wonder if Asian immigrants who have lived here for many years eventually begin to feel like European Americans. Yet, biologically and culturally, they aren’t. Nor do we tell them they are.
Kids who are gender-confused need strong role models, consistent messages, and tools to help them sort through their confusion. They don’t need mixed messages, and they don’t need to be encouraged in their delusions.