Recently, a famous author, J K Rowling, has published an opinion about transgender with which I in part disagree. That I disagree with it partially makes it all the more important that she publish it and contribute to a discussion — which by definition means more than one opinion. If there is only one opinion, there is no discussion.
You can and probably should read Rowling’s long and detailed report here : https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/
Much that Rowling writes troubles me. Transgender is not to be taken as a fad or as a peer group happy trip. This is what Rowling sees happening, and if so, the situation certainly troubles me, as it should bother anyone. Again : transgender is not a plaything, not a gift pony that a kid gets bored with and mistreats. Any sexual or gender feeling ought be confronted by the person felling it and by his or her parents if the transgender is a child. I personally know several parents who are handling such a situation with great care and awareness. There no other good way. I can also assure you that transgender does not become any easier when one reaches adult years. It is never easy.
Upon this riddle, well observed opinions such as Rowling’s must be taken to heart BEFORE any sort of disagreement begins.
Divergent opinions must always be taken seriously, for in human affairs, as well as what human beings can or cannot know, there is no final; truth. Life is a mystery, and perception is subjective; Bishop Berkeley, 250 years ago, made clear that perception is literally in the eye of the beholder. Skepticism is therefore wise in all things.
As for Rowling’s view, she holds that transgender may not be the last word. As I believe myself to be transgender., I can attest that i find my situation an inexplicable mystery. That I feel transgender strongly does not mean that I comprehend my feelings. It is wise to respect those feelings, but not to be intimidated by them.
\Rowling has run into some opposition, not so much to what she opines as to her being able to publish it at all. This I reject. We who find ourselves on a sexual or gender path that doe snot fit the neatly binary categories traditional to society should do what is always wise for human beings to do about everything epistemological : never assume that any judgment is final or true. And if this approach makes one’s life difficult, or tentative ? well, life is difficult, and it is tentative.
That one’s gender or sexual situation is tentative does not, of course, permit anyone else to disparage anyone. Everyone’s life is for that person to figure out and is almost always none of anyone else’s business. So many of us arrogate a permission to decry other people for being who they believe they are. No such arrogance should ever be embraced. We are all journeying through a glass, darkly: and again, here, as everywhere., the rule stated by Rabbi Hillel the Elder apples : whatever is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. this is the whole Torah, the rest is explanation. You do not want to be judged by others, so do not judge them. Questions about sex and gender, as a general proposition, however, must always be on the table : for no man knows who he is or what is, or likely ever will.
I thank J K Rowling for offering her well-considered views on a topic that no one will likely ever understand.
Note : there may be people ho will feel moved to “cancel” me for writing this editorial. To which I say : “by all means — be my guest.”
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere