Saturday, 6 June 2015

Opinion: Regardless of our sexuality, our past and future is our whole story

We are still learning
The issue of sexuality is a very complex subject that too many of us still have to get our heads around. Across the spectrum of moralism through to science, people hold as many views as they can about what determines why people turn out the way they finally decide they should be.
In some parts of the world, we have in the last hundred years reached a level of acceptance on the matter of human sexuality and the relationships that ensue from such, yet, in other places, persecution, prosecution, animosity and danger bedevils people who just happen to be different.
I have seen people got from seemingly fulfilled heterosexuality to bisexuality or homosexuality and the other way round. The preponderance of heterosexuality weighs heavily on those not so inclined that absurd views and therapies are deployed to convert or change people to a particular ‘norm’ causing more harm than comfort. It is gratifying that such activities are now being outlawed.
Transsexuality is their reality
One area we all seem to struggle the most with is transsexuality, the case of people with one sex who seemed to be wired as the opposite sex.
The fact that people have been changing from the sex of their birth to another is hardly a new one and there are processes and procedures that allow for that. What has gotten people talking is the very prominent people who appear to have fully expressed lives in one sexuality and gender going public about changing their sex.
I visited the issue of Kellie Palace Maloney last year, but the one of Bruce Jenner becoming Caitlyn Jenner has elicited much commentary, some positive and some negative.
A seething transphobia, it is
What got to me was a petition to have Caitlyn Jenner stripped of the Olympic gold medal she won as Bruce Jenner, the decathlete at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, Canada. The screaming preposterous absurdity of the idea left me utterly exasperated and the arguments put forth were but for the Englishman’s politeness in me ready for risible condemnation and that would have been the start.
Tearing away the veneer of faux righteous indignation of the petitioners you are presented with shameless and deplorable transphobia, a clear fear of the unknown to the seething anger that a bastion of some presumed norm had deserted that profile leaving others somewhat vulnerable.
I will not promote those arguments here, rather, my case was simple. Regardless of the fact that Caitlyn Jenner always thought of herself as female even when she competed at the 1976 Olympics 39 years ago, ‘she in her head’ and ‘he in his body’ competed fairly, won the competition handsomely and was justly rewarded with the laurel of Olympic champion. That fact of history can never be expunged, erased or repudiated.
See the person first
To use the ‘she in her head’ argument to suggest she competed as ‘she in her body’ and thereby was ineligible to compete will be to persecute and punish someone for what is invariably a thought crime. One cannot begin to imagine the conflicts and struggles to remain one thing when you really think you are another. For those able to come to a full expression of themselves and live that realisation, no greater victory could have been won in their lifetimes.
Thankfully, I found someone to help buttress my case, Ayo Sogunro elevated the discussion by saying the person won the medal and their current iteration should not impact on that clear evidence.

I am glad that the International Olympic Committee has rejected that petition, Caitlyn Jenner will keep the medals she won as Bruce Jenner, that is part of her life story and long may this reasonableness continue. The issue should never have been up for discussion in any case, but that is the kind of world we live in.
The story is never lost
In the same vein, I was glad to read that Kellie Palace Maloney has returned to the career she made as Frank Maloney and has taken two boxers into her stable as a boxing promoter. As a person, Kellie Palace Maloney has 30 years’ experience as a boxing promoter, nothing can take that away from her. Her decision to restart boxing promotion with a low profile will not suddenly make her a neophyte, she comes with a life story that people in boxing cannot ignore.
Apparently, the boxers, macho and male as they seem recognised that and sought her out to help their careers and that is the right thing to do, if you have the skill, the know-how and the ability to mentor and manage people, that you have changed your gender does not mean you have lost your well-earned experience.
We can’t lose our history
In her own words, she said, “I have achieved a lot as Frank. I could never totally lose him.” In my view, that is what stories are about, we achieve a lot as our younger selves, we do not totally lose that, we build on it. Women can achieve a lot with their maiden names and they never lose that because they adopt a married name.
Consequently, a person can achieve a lot as one gender and they should never have to lose that because they have changed their gender. The ability, the knowledge, the experience and person will still be there, that they have changed from male to female or vice versa should never ever be used to persecute, prosecute, purloin or punish them.
We can’t lose our history, but we can gain a great future.
That is the kind of world I want to live in, one that lives and lets others live their lives to the full.
Thank you.

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