By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
Recent events in San Francisco concerning health benefits for transsexuals have proven once again that the deconstructionists of academe have precipitated the Kulturkampf they've been planning for years.
Transsexuality, it seems, is fast becoming emblematic of our age, and this is not a good thing. It is to the new millennium what homosexuality was to the previous two. Sodomy did, after all, round out the Anno Domini rather nicely when you think about it, having come to poetical apotheosis before its beginning, in the classical age of Greece and Rome, and having come to political fruition after its end, in the postmodern age. Yes, you heard right, its end. For the years of our Lord are well and truly over, and have been for some time. Remember? Nietzsche declared God dead more than a century ago.
But it has taken the likes of Foucault, Derrida, and their imitators to kill something that is, arguably, far more precious. Namely, the self. And that, I submit, is what the rise of transsexuality indicates, orto use the thoroughly fashionable term"signifies." It signifies the death of the self, the soul, that good old-fashioned indubitable "I" so beloved of Descartes, whose great adage "I think, therefore I am" has become an ontological joke on the order of "I tinker and there I am."
All of this came to mind of late because the San Francisco Board of Supervisors just voted in favor of giving city employees health benefits that include coverage of up to $50,000 for sex change operations and procedures. This struck me as an astounding capitulation to postmodernism. Why? Because the city of San Francisco does not pay for its nontranssexual employees to undergo similar types of nonessential cosmetic surgeries like nose jobs, boob jobs, liposuction, follicular scalp implants, or penis enlargement. These are the kinds of plastic surgeries your average Jane and Joe undergo at their own expense, though, ostensibly, for the same reason that transsexuals dobecause they are unhappy with the way they look.
But, clearly, the Board of Supervisors does not see it this way. Apparently, they see transsexuals as a special case. What makes them a special case? The perception that plastic surgerieswhich are considered mere exercises in vanity to nontranssexualsare a means of self-realization to transsexuals. Without them, transsexuals literally cannot be themselves.
Now, this is an enormous leap. It changes entirely what we mean when we say "Just be yourself." Being yourself used to be metaphysical. It had nothing to do with what you wore or which set of genitals you had. It was sexless, and genderless, and classless. It just was, and always had been since the day you were born. What's more, medical insurance didn't cover it. But if you consider the implications of San Francisco's new policythat is, medical coverage being part and parcel of becoming a personthen metaphysics is thrown to the winds. If you take seriously the idea that a person cannot be himself without the intervention of modern technology, then you have lost the notion of a self altogether. What you are left with is a literally constructed selfa thoroughly superficial identity that someone has built with a scalpel.
And this is a notion that has its roots in philosophies that are all too trendy in academia today, those very Foucaldian and Derridian philosophies I just mentioned. The ones that would have us believe that there is no such thing as objective reality, facts, or real people. Instead, there are just constructions, perceptions, and cultural norms that have nothing to do with such quaint anachronisms as God or the soul.
The Board of Supervisors' decision to insure transsexuals means not only that dubious and pernicious postmodern conceits have seeped out of the academy and into the minds of public officials and other average folk, but that they have translated themselves into unfair fiscal policies. As a consequence, the unfavored "normal" majority is financing the self-proclaimed entitlements of the newest ordained minoritytranssexuals.
This is not fair, and should not be allowed to happen. Because there is a big difference between an equal-opportunity society in which people of all persuasions are allowed to pursue their own happinessat their own expenseand an ideologically skewed culture in which special-interest groups are merely piggybacking on the latest trendy philosophies. And getting special treatment.