Child's Play, The Citizen, May 2016 The Sexual Identity Question

Gregory K. Moffatt, Ph.D.

Who could have imagined that there would be a time in history when we would actually be debating whether or not boys should be allowed to use the locker rooms and bathrooms designated for girls?

By dictating that one's perceived sexual identity is a civil right, government decision makers are by default threatening the safety and privacy of everyone else. I suspect most parents wouldn't want their little girls being exposed to a biological male in the women's bathroom at a restaurant. Even though the policy intent is to be inclusive and protective of all people, I suspect the government hasn't considered that such policies create a host of problems beyond compromising the privacy of the citizenry.

The logical ramification of allowing one's perception of sexual self to be policy opens the door to many other "perceptual" selves. Suppose I am Caucasian and I want to apply for a minority scholarship. I can simply say that I perceive myself to belong to a minority group. Or suppose I want to get free admission on lady's night at a night club. I can perceive myself to be female.

It would be illegal for a university to tell a male student he couldn't be housed in an all-female dorm if the student proclaimed he perceived himself as female. A girl would be required by law to share a room with a biological male.

Or maybe I want to get the children's admission price at a theater or the senior rate at a restaurant. I can perceive myself to be 12 years old or 65 years old. If the government has determined that my perception of self is a civil right, then who can then say I'm not whatever I perceive myself to be?

Even more ominously, suppose a male sexual predator decides he wants to lurk in a girl's locker room. There would be no grounds on which any business, health club, swimming pool, or amusement park could require the person to leave.

If the government dictates that one cannot be discriminated against based on one's perceived sense of self, then the door is open to any perception at any time.

This is not meant to trivialize the question of gender identity, but the fact remains that these are the logical results of insisting on such a government-mandated policy.

It should be noted that this is an important civil rights question and the common perception of sexuality is oversimplified. I recently heard a media comment that referred to the "simplicity of one's biological sex."

Sexuality isn't simple. For example, all babies are girls by default. It is a response to a complex interaction of genetics and hormones that cause the differentiation we typically see.

There are several ways we can discuss sexual development - hormonal sex, genetic sex, gonadal sex, and genital sex as well as sexual identity.

Genetic sex refers to the 23rd chromosomal pair as either XX or XY. Hormonal sex refers to the preponderance of male or female hormones. Gonadal sex refers to ovaries or testes. All of us have the rudimentary gonad of both sexes. However, one usually develops while the other does not. Genital sex refers to what you see and this is what we usually are referring to when we say "boy" or "girl."

Sexual identity - one's personal concept of his or her sexual self - is what is in question in the current debate. Transgender people are not necessarily gay or lesbian and, most importantly, people can have questions of gender identity without being transgender.

In normal development, all of these types of sex are in harmony, but in some individuals they are not. For example, one can be a genetic male but have the genitalia of both male and female. This is called hermaphroditism and it has been well documented for many years. This is only one of many potential outcomes. "Biological sex" is not simple.

It would be dangerous to our culture to suppose that individuals are not worthy of civil rights just because their lifestyle, self-perception, religion, or any other variable might be misunderstood or distasteful to the rest of the culture.

But it appears that in an attempt to be open-minded and accepting of others, the government has overlooked the majority. As is often true of governmental policy, the compassionate thing to do has not been thought through. The challenge is finding public policy that protects all Americans without infringing on the rights of the rest of the population.

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