Just when you think we’ve reached the limit, something else happens — and The New York Times, the parish newsletter of the Church of What’s Happening Now, is there to celebrate it:
If the gay-rights movement today seems to revolve aroundsame-sex marriage, this generation is seeking something more radical: an upending of gender roles beyond the binary of male/female. The core question isn’t whom they love, but who they are — that is, identity as distinct from sexual orientation.
But what to call this movement? Whereas “gay and lesbian” was once used to lump together various sexual minorities — and more recently “L.G.B.T.” to include bisexual and transgender — the new vanguard wants a broader, more inclusive abbreviation. “Youth today do not define themselves on the spectrum of L.G.B.T.,” said Shane Windmeyer, a founder of Campus Pride, a national student advocacy group based in Charlotte, N.C.
Part of the solution has been to add more letters, and in recent years the post-post-post-gay-rights banner has gotten significantly longer, some might say unwieldy. The emerging rubric is “L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.,” which stands for different things, depending on whom you ask.
L.G.B.T.Q.I.A.? Right. I’d like to buy a vowel. Lo, before we’ve even gotten used to the new initials, a disturbed co-ed finds that she’s been oppressed by it all:
But sometimes L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. is not enough. At the University of Pennsylvania last fall, eight freshmen united in the frustration that no campus group represented them.
Sure, Penn already had some two dozen gay student groups, including Queer People of Color, Lambda Alliance and J-Bagel, which bills itself as the university’s “Jewish L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. Community.” But none focused on gender identity (the closest, Trans Penn, mostly catered to faculty members and graduate students).
Richard Parsons, an 18-year-old transgender male, discovered that when he attended a student mixer called the Gay Affair, sponsored by Penn’s L.G.B.T. Center. “I left thoroughly disappointed,” said Richard, a garrulous freshman with close-cropped hair, wire-framed glasses and preppy clothes, who added, “This is the L.G.B.T. Center, and it’s all gay guys.”
Through Facebook, Richard and others started a group called Penn Non-Cis, which is short for “non-cisgender.” For those not fluent in gender-studies speak, “cis” means “on the same side as” and “cisgender” denotes someone whose gender identity matches his or her biology, which describes most of the student body. The group seeks to represent everyone else. “This is a freshman uprising,” Richard said.
Down the rabbit hole we go, ending up far, far out on a limb with another young Penn scholar, drawn to a convocation of the confused, perhaps by the promise of free condoms and ChapStick:
She explained that being bi-gender is like manifesting both masculine and feminine personas, almost as if one had a “detachable penis.” “Some days I wake up and think, ‘Why am I in this body?’ ” she said. “Most days I wake up and think, ‘What was I thinking yesterday?’
This is a person in need of psychiatric intervention, not gushing coverage in the Times. The reader who sent in this piece in wondered where this hiving-off into sex-and-gender identity politics ends, and lamented
the sheer unreserved fascination-bordering-on-boosterism of the author, as if there were nothing remotely strange about any of this, as though this were just a natural extension of the sit-ins at Woolworth’s, and anyone who disagreed was by definition–what else?–a closed-minded bigot, or heteronormativist (“cisgenderist”?), or whatever.
That’s the Times for you. It’s as objective and critical in its coverage of these matters as L’Osservatore Romano is on the Catholic Church. You could see a quarter-million Evangelical teenagers gather on the Mall in Washington, and the Times wouldn’t notice. Let five narcissistic weirdos with an acronym fetish and a quiver full of grievances gather by the flagpole, and it’s time for a fawning feature story.