When I was first learning the ropes as a talk show host, I was told that the tricky subjects were always based in religion and politics. Every topic that you would bring up could have an element that could be discussed without dragging in the religious or political component.
As I grew into my career, I realized that the religion and politics discussions could not be avoided because it seems that people usually identify or define themselves by their political or religious affiliation.
However, the topic that was never discussed was sexual orientation or gender identification. Even when we were in broadcasting school we were told that sexual discussions on-the-air had to be handled carefully because people were uncomfortable with the topic.
Since that time, sexuality and sexual preference have now become political topics. The issue of gay marriage always seems to creep into political discussions and eventually it becomes a religious issue as most Christians will define marriage as an intuition meant for a man and a woman.
However, the future is more complex than that and soon we will learn that the labels we put on people are not going define them. Whether they are black or white, gay, straight or transgender – the labels that we have created to define human beings are not going to be effective for reasons we can’t even fathom now.
My mother used to tell me that labels were for canned vegetables and that human beings are different and that in the future there will be so many different types of people, including people who are half-human half-machine or even hybrid human animal – or even alien.
Part of the future shock that is coming is the definition of what it means to be human. Another part of it is what the definition of gender is. We have always been used to the notion that gender is decided by what is between the legs. However, now we are evolving into individuals that are realizing that gender is what is between the ears.
I was listening the other day to a talk show host that brought up the recent story about how Facebook is now offering at least 58 custom gender options for users that don’t necessarily see themselves as male or female.
Of course, the topic was confused with sexual preference and dovetailed into the homosexual agenda cliché. I realized that there was more to this than just arguing over sexual preferences. I then got a little nervous and for the first time in my adult life I actually believe that I experienced future shock.
Alvin Toffler coined the term ‘Future Shock‘ in the early 1970’s in order to describe how people may react nervously to the perceived notion that the world is going through too much change in a short period of time.
The idea of 58 gender options being offered made me realize that the future is now and that people may have ready-made answers for something they really don’t understand and probably won’t until humans change and that the changes become less in the closet and more out in the open.
Now what I am about to say will sound absolutely ludicrous, only because people do not normally think about this.
The 58 gender options that are being offered on Facebook for users may sound out of bounds for most people, however we are now on the cusp of overwhelming change as technology and social changes will challenge sexual definitions.
The same old story of how mechanical Pinocchio’s become aware have been the topic of several science fiction films and this film also takes the same route only it seems to cut deeper and true love between a human and artificial intelligence starts as being creepy at first and then later it becomes normal.
In one scene, the protagonist actually goes on a double date with his boss. His boss of course is seeing a woman and the image is an awkward man and smartphone with boss and human date. They play it as normal and accepted. However, I can’t help but wonder that if in the real world there would be a group of religious and or political pundits that see this kind of relationship as unnatural or immoral.
I don’t know if the message is lost on the audience of ‘Her’, but the predictive programming and the hidden message is that technological and social changes on the horizon will once again challenge our definitions and beliefs about sex, sexual preference and how we define ourselves sexually.
People are pretty well safe in the assumption that they won’t have to deal with having a friend or even a sexual partner that is part human, part machine, androgynous, transgender, or even trans-species.
I remember the film ‘Alien Nation‘ where aliens crash their ship on earth and are forced to integrate with us. The film explores not only how humans and aliens struggle to coexist, but it also touches briefly on the idea that there will be humans that will be a bit alien curious when it comes to sexual appetites.
Would it be ethical or moral to act upon those desires?
The mind-body sexual conflict, framed by real love, will be the core struggle for humans of the future and now we are beginning to see that human beings are capable of finding new ways of defining self-discovery.
Technology is heading towards a suspension of disbelief; definitions of life and even gender are now blurring and perhaps are in need of upgrades. However, there will be a lot of obstacles along the way as prejudice and insensitivity always seem to find their way into the mix.
We are always defining and redefining the sexual nature of humans. Technology and biological changes will do it again. It is not at all unbelievable to understand that people define themselves in ways that are considered peculiar. However, we need to now ask ourselves what is a peculiar and normal definition of gender and mental makeup in a human being with real feelings that they can’t define or put into a box.
For some people it is easy to define what they are between the ears and not between the legs. Some identify with both how they feel in both places, while others feel a disconnect. Some people feel that they are females in male bodies and vice versa. Our future relationships depend on our ability to reason our way to what is right. Out of curiosity, I decided to check and see what selections are available on Facebook to define your gender. There are 56 new ones and, of course, male and female to give us 58 ways to define your gender:
• Cis Female
• Cis Male
• Cis Man
• Cis Woman
• Cisgender Female
• Cisgender Male
• Cisgender Man
• Cisgender Woman
• Female to Male
• Gender Fluid
• Gender Nonconforming
• Gender Questioning
• Gender Variant
• Male to Female
• Trans Female
• Trans* Female
• Trans Male
• Trans* Male
• Trans Man
• Trans* Man
• Trans Person
• Trans* Person
• Trans Woman
• Trans* Woman
• Transgender Female
• Transgender Male
• Transgender Man
• Transgender Person
• Transgender Woman
• Transsexual Female
• Transsexual Male
• Transsexual Man
• Transsexual Person
• Transsexual Woman
When I first viewed the list and realized that it was going to be used on Facebook, I literally was afraid for two reasons. One, I was afraid of what this might mean for people who are already confused about gender identity and two, I was also concerned about how this may be a way to police gender definitions as in who can we finger in times of possible rounding up of those individuals that are seen as different.
I respect the right to self-identity and I also respect the right for people to identify themselves in a way that makes them feel whole, but history has not been too kind to those who are different and sometimes this type of defining in a public way can create more problems than it is worth.
People can identify themselves as they see fit, but I would hope that with these identities there would be some understanding of those who are shocked and frightened by the new gender definitions that most people do not understand.
There are some people that see this action by Facebook as pretentious and dangerous.
Like it or not, there are real medical conditions where there are people whose gender is not binary male/female. The medical term offered for this condition is called intersex.
The Loyola University Health System says, “In the past, the prevailing opinion was that it was generally best to assign a gender as quickly as possible, often based on the external genitals rather than the chromosomal gender, and to instruct the parents to have no ambiguity in their minds as to the gender of the child. Prompt surgery was often recommended.”
Many experts now urge delaying definitive surgery for as long as the child remains healthy. Doctors now believe it is better for the child to have a part in the in the gender decision.
It is a complex issue and should be treated with respect and care.
The fact is the majority of creation is male/female, but not all. The arguments over the use of gender definition can get heated and many forget that there are conditions like genetic mutations, extra chromosomes, hormone excess, hormone receptor defects and other factors that make sexual definitions not so clear.