Yet Another Identity We Have to “Respect” at Universities: the COVID Transgender Peep

It is crucial in American academia these days that we all keep up on the very latest in identity politics so that none of us disrespect anyone who concocts all manner of ways of regarding himself or herself or, now increasingly an individual who is a themselves.

I therefore wish to alert readers to this opinion piece from the student newspaper of the University of Washington. Some of you may be unfortunate enough to be living under an oppressive regime of the pervasive gender binary and may even think that classifying people as men and women is acceptable. This op-ed will set you straight.

Oops, there I go again reinforcing the cishetero-patriarchy. Thank goodness we have the University of Washington editorial page thought police to make sure that I do not inadvertently manifest my complicity with systemic transphobia.

The cheery thing about this essay is that it lends a bright side to the pandemic:

quarantine allowed myself and others to explore and question gender identity

Gosh, the death of millions worldwide and the draconian curtailment of civil liberties in this country were all worth it so that this young person could find herself.

Oops—themselves. Even though we are talking about one person. Clarity and factual matters must be sacrificed in the drive to end what the writer refers to as, “isolation and otherness in both physical and virtual spaces.” Silly of me to bother about facts in front of me and my obligation not to confuse other people.

The writer goes on to gush about the upside of death from disease on a massive scale:

I’m a self-proclaimed “COVID transgender peep.”

Hold on. If that person says:

I could start by easily introducing myself with my preferred pronouns: they/them.

How can he or she be “I” and “they/them” at the same time? But one should not ask such questions given how easily annoyed his person gets over such issues:

Even when displaying my pronouns, others often misgendered me in person and online regardless.

I must admit that this pronoun business is all very confusing—even to the writer of the op-ed who confesses:

I cannot count how many times I’ve changed my pronouns in the Zoom tag

which must have been confusing to themselves’s classmates who were trying to get an education and to the instructor who was trying to, oh let’s say, teach. It is stressful enough to be a student virtually with being dragged down in the murky waters of someone else’s identity crisis. Or crises, in this person’s case, given how much identity-related turmoil is crammed into the op-ed. The writer is, as the writer puts it, “swarmed by dysmorphic thought patterns.” Total bummer-roo.

We are plunged into the reality of what it is like to be, well, really screwed up by reading angst-sodden passages as this:

Regardless of my tireless efforts, others misgendered me daily, and as much as I still identify with femininity, I wrestled with a lot of shame when presenting feminine as someone assigned female at birth. I struggled to reconcile this with affirming that my genitalia and gender identity do not determine my gender expression and presentation, nor am I culpable for others misgendering me. Even though I cognitively believed this, it was and is another feat to manifest this spiritually and emotionally.

The poor thing had not yet learned how to bully salespeople:

After nearly three hours of running through Ikea, with no energy to correct the employee or advocate for myself, I went on my way.

The writer sighs:

That’s the harsh reality of the constrictive gender binary: There’s no cisgender standard of nonbinary gender identities.

Standards? I thought everything was supposed to be fluid.

But the person rallies and, with grit and determination, decides to demand that the University of Washington recognize that “gender affirmation belongs everywhere, not just in spaces focused on the LGBTQIA+ community” and that the university community should, “expect faculty to demonstrate queer allyship.” That is far more important than maintaining expertise in the professor’s field of study. After all, what are physics or forest science or nutrition compared to the greater societal need to eradicate misgendering language?

Let us gird ourselves for the struggle for gender affirmation—that is, of the chosen ones, not the actual ones. I think.

I guess I still need to work on reevaluating my relationships to the transgender and nonbinary community. I would never, ever want to be one of those deplorable “uneducated cisgender people.”

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