My last column touched a nerve with some readers, one of whom denounced me as a “ … woke, bitter little man.” Bitter, OK, I do have teenagers at home, but wielding the word “woke” as a cudgel reveals more about the author than it does about me.
Me? I’m a straight white guy who’s well into his 60s. I’ve been dealt pretty good cards by the standards of contemporary society, and I’m grateful for the advantages I’ve enjoyed.
Others in my extended family have tougher hands to play. There’s a transgender young man in the outer branches of my family tree, and a gay woman, among others.
Being “woke” means accepting these variations from the traditional, straight norm. It’s not simply resisting the urge to beat up gay and transgender people, it’s recognizing them as fellow humans who deserve as much respect — if not more — than finger-pointing bigots.
Does being “woke” come naturally? No, to be perfectly honest. I have to work at it. My neural pathways are deeply etched, so I fumble sometimes for the right words.
But I’m willing to try. It doesn’t diminish me, and it means everything to those who are struggling for acceptance.
Years ago, I chuckled — along with many others — at what were derided as the whims and indulgences of the queer community. For instance, one of my daughter’s friends went from “she/her/hers” to “they/them/theirs” and I’ll admit I was bemused at first.
After a while, I stopped chuckling and started taking it seriously. Again, it doesn’t diminish me, and it means a lot to those who are struggling for acceptance.
Unfortunately, some folks still don’t get it. They go out of their way to scoff at those who veer from the traditional, straight template for living a human life. For instance, there’s a guy I know who, in the signature line of his emails, includes the faux pronouns “Beep/Boop/Bop.”
Ha! He showed them “woke” lefties, didn’t he?
No, he didn’t. He reveals a smirking, school playground view of the world, and it comes across as churlish and small-minded.
No matter how conservative you are, resist the urge to sneer at those who are “woke.” They are showing tolerance and acceptance because they don’t see people solely as “transgender” or “gay.”
They just see people.
And another thing …
It is en vogue in some conservative circles to assume that transgender, gay and “other” people are motivated by a cynical desire to gain advantage. The assumption is they’re scheming on affirmative action perks, or equal opportunity advancements, or maybe a better parking permit.
Sorry gang, but that dog don’t hunt. Nobody comes out as gay or transgender to get a leg up on the rest of the world. Getting yelled at, spit on, or beat up is not a seating upgrade to society’s first-class cabin.
Even in sports, there is no inherent advantage to being transgender. I’ll admit to harboring misgivings about female athletes who began life as males competing against cisgender girls (female at birth). It didn’t seem fair at first glance, but upon further review, the referee has determined there is no harm/no foul.
As Jack Turban, a fellow in child and adolescent psychiatry at Stanford University’s School of Medicine wrote last month in Scientific American, “It turns out that when transgender girls play on girls’ sports teams, cisgender girls can win. In fact, the vast majority of female athletes are cisgender, as are the vast majority of winners. There is no epidemic of transgender girls dominating female sports.”
Turban continues, “The notion of transgender girls having an unfair advantage comes from the idea that testosterone causes physical changes such as an increase in muscle mass. But transgender girls are not the only girls with high testosterone levels.
An estimated 10 percent of women have polycystic ovarian syndrome, which results in elevated testosterone levels. They are not banned from female sports. Transgender girls on puberty blockers, on the other hand, have negligible testosterone levels.”
You can dismiss Turban’s assessment because he’s a pointy-headed “scientist” type, but that doesn’t make him wrong.
The world is changing. We need to change with it, because nobody lives in Mayberry anymore.
After years of collecting passport stamps, Brock finally ran aground on the Palouse. He has been a Daily News columnist since 2002.