Free Dumb

13 Jun

Over the past couple of weeks or thereabouts, the most important issue in the world – judging by the number of Facebook posts – is Bruce (Caitlyn) Jenner. The fact there’s a war on (and earthquakes in Sabah, and financial stalemate in Greece) seems to have been forgotten. There have been times when I have had to skim through dozens of posts (and Facebook ads) just to find anything else.

These posts tend to follow one of three specific lines:

One – Caitlyn Jenner is a REAL WOMAN and anyone who says differently is to be hounded to the depths of internet hell.

Two – Bruce Jenner is NOT A WOMAN and anyone who says differently is deluded/stupid/politically correct/etc.

Three – Bruce Jenner is a mentally disturbed individual who has been exploited by various people pushing a transgender agenda.

None of these, I feel address the important point.

There are certain milestones in a person’s life which mark the slow transition from childhood to adulthood. The age of sexual consent in Britain is 16. The full legal drinking age in Britain is 18. The voting age – which we may as well define as the full slip into adulthood – is also 18.

Bruce Jenner was born in 1949, which makes him 66 years old. I have no idea if it is permissible, within the law, to perform transgender operations on a child, but he’s 50 years over the age of consent in Britain. He is no child. There’s no reason to believe he’s not in full command of his facilities. He’s a grown adult, perfectly capable of making his own decisions …

… And taking the consequences.

That’s what freedom means. Your life is your own; you have the right to do as you please with it and no one has the right to interfere, as long as you aren’t hurting non-consenting people. Maybe everyone else thinks your choices are stupid, but that’s their problem. All that matters is that you take responsibility for your decisions.

Go get drunk, if you like, and no one has any right to object. Get behind a wheel while smashed out of your skull and no one will complain when the police haul you off to jail, because a drunk driver is a public menace. What’s the difference? A drunk in his house harms no one, but himself; a drunk behind the wheel can get someone killed or crippled for life. As far as I can tell, Bruce Jenner poses no threat to anyone but himself.

Maybe it won’t be good for him, in the long run. I have read dozens of articles suggesting that transgendered people are more at risk of suicide than any other group. Or maybe it will make him happy. It is his right to make the choice to become transgender and, as it isn’t hurting anyone else, I don’t see it as a problem. His happiness or not is in his own hands.

Freedom doesn’t mean being allowed to complain about your neighbour, as long as your neighbour isn’t doing something harmful to you. It doesn’t matter if you think your neighbour’s latest idea is stupid; you don’t get to interfere as long as it doesn’t threaten innocent bystanders.

Or, if you do think you’re his keeper, don’t be too surprised when he thinks he’s yours.

Sure, people make dumb decisions. But they’re their decisions to make.

There’s a point that should be added to this. Some people will seek validation and approval from others – and demand it, when it isn’t offered freely. It isn’t part of freedom to demand anything from other people, particularly something they are not obliged to give. If you want someone’s opinion, you have no grounds to complain if you don’t like that opinion. There is certainly nothing to be gained from demanding that everyone worships your choice – or accepts that it is a reasonable thing to do.

People have different opinions. As long as they’re not trying to stop you, it isn’t a problem and you shouldn’t try to shut them down. They, too, are entitled to freedom.

7 Responses to “Free Dumb”

  1. Gary F. York June 13, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    Well said! Been said before, of course, by you and others. Bears repeating.

  2. lanebrianp June 13, 2015 at 8:32 pm #

    Your closing statement rings very true but seems to be oppisite to the majority of FB posts.

  3. R Godfrey June 13, 2015 at 9:06 pm #

    well said.

  4. MishaBurnett June 13, 2015 at 10:39 pm #

    What is significant and what is harming other people is not what Jenner is doing, but how the media is handling it. Gender dysphoria is a real mental illness. The sufferers feel that they are in the wrong gender. This mental illness responds well to cognitive therapy, and most sufferers can–if they get proper treatment–learn to accept themselves as they are and be happy and productive members of society.

    Gender reassignment therapy, on the other hand, is not an effective treatment for the disorder. You’d never know it to hear the media talk about “transgendered people”, but most patients do not have any resolution of their core issues as a result of gender reassignment, and many are far worse off. The rate of suicide for patients who have completed sex reassignment therapy is higher than for those who have not.

    Read that last sentence again. This is a therapy that increases the risk of suicide in the patients it claims to help. If a heart medicine killed more patients than died from no treatment whatsoever, it would not be allowed on the market. It is irresponsible on the part of the media to portray as effective a medical treatment that makes the patient’s condition worse.

    Yes, the patients feel that changing sexes will help them. Suffers of anorexia feel that they are overweight and need to lose weight to feel good about themselves, but no respectable physician would preform a stomach stapling on an anorexic patient.

    If the media ever decides to tell the whole story about gender reassignment therapy, they will have my blessing to run as many stories as they wish. But until then, I will do what I can to spread the truth.

    This is not a civil rights issue. It is a medical malpractice issue.

    This is also a very personal issue for me. I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. I genuinely believed that I should be female. Fortunately for me, I encountered a therapist who was willing to work with me and help me learn to accept myself as I am and work through the issues that made me think that I could only be happy as a woman.

    If I had been given what I thought I wanted, hormone therapy and surgery, I definitely would have regretted it, and the odds are excellent that I would be dead by now.

  5. Anarchymedes June 17, 2015 at 12:06 pm #

    Wars, earthquakes, and even financial crises don’t seem to be important to people so long as they happen on the opposite side of the globe and don’t affect them directly. But things like sex change and gay marriage create a lot of resonance for two reasons.
    First, surprisingly many people are still deeply religious and absolutely seriously believe that God will get really, really angry and no apology will calm the Big Boss down. Both this subject itself and my opinion on it are too contentious for me to say much more (for example, it’s tempting to quote Mr. Bakunin: ‘As long as we have a master in heaven we’ll remain slaves on earth’).
    And second, all unorthodox, daring actions that challenge the existing order of things seem threatening to a lot of people. Just read Lovecraft’s stories: the man sees danger and evil in everything, from foreigners and people of different or mixed races to ancient civilisations to outer space. So people are scared – – no, scratch that – – worried that if someone has been allowed to change his/her sex then their kids will (immediately!) do the same, or if the same sex marriage is permitted, the kids will (immediately!) stop looking at the opposite one.
    When fear of the unknown is in, the reason is out.
    And about freedom, I find it amazing just how few people actually value it and how readily we, in our so-called free world, trade it for safety, security, and guarantees. Hence, an everlasting demand for simple answers to complex questions and a simple set of rules, to be enforced on everyone.

  6. thelyniezian June 19, 2015 at 12:25 pm #

    There is another argument, that freedom includes the right to express a point of view on a matter. This is not the same thing as direct interference on a practical level in someone’s private affairs. If I have for example views on transgenderism that some may happen not to like, then simply to express them is not interfering in another person’s life nor do they have the right to forbid me to express such views.

    There is yet another argument, that if certain things are right or wrong, it is right for the authorities to uphold that- personal rights and freedoms being not absolute. Quite where one draws the line is another matter, and it is not necessarily right for people to create their own law and/or take the law into their own hands. (I think less of things like transgenderism here so much as drug use, prostitution, &c. but the defence of personal freedom is often used for such.)

  7. Harmony June 20, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

    I am wondering about the medical malpractice issue, not from a psychiatric standpoint, but from a surgical problem. Any surgery performed on an elderly patient is higher risk than one on a young patient. Healing time is slower, complications higher, etc. Just a broken hip in pts >65 yrs old gives a 50% chance of death within the following 6 mo. Obviously he is old enough to make his own decisions about risking his life for something he wants, but is it worth it? If I was a member of his family I would be against any elective/cosmetic type of surgery.

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