Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Does This Make Me the Bully?

Many of you will remember the very recent tragedy of the young man who committed suicide at Rutgers because his roommate recorded him in an "encounter" with another male. The young man's name was Tyler Clementi. You can read the story here. Tyler's suicide prompted a nation-wide call to end the bullying of people based upon their sexual preference. This was a call echoed by many Christians as well, myself included.

I firmly believe that no one ought to be bullied. I find it reprehensible that Tyler's roommate recorded his tryst and put it up on the internet. I can only imagine the shame that could have been mine if any of my roommates had a well-placed camera hidden in my room back in the day. Perish the thought! How awful!

Today, I saw this article about Kye Allums. Kye is a female who believes that she is male. Upon graduation, Kye wants to undergo surgery and hormone therapy to become a man. Until that time, she wants to be recognized as a man on the women's basketball team. George Washington University has honored her request and now recognizes her as a man on the women's basketball team.

You really should go and read the article. I want to give you a quote from it here for consideration, "At a time when many college athletes feel uncomfortable publicly revealing that they are gay or lesbian for fear or backlash or repercussions, Allums should be lauded, cheered, propped up and respected for being brave enough to announce his differences without shame." First, notice that Kye is always referred to as a "he" throughout the article. Secondly, notice that Kye is to be lauded, cheered, and propped up for her decision to be recognized as a man, even though she is still biologically a woman. She feels like she is man, therefore she is a man.

I find myself in a dilemma. Upon reading this article, the utter insanity of Kye's request, the fact that it was granted by George Washington University, and the fact that this decision is to be lauded initially made me check to make sure I wasn't reading the Onion. When I found out this was a real story, I immediately realized, to my horror, that if I said out loud that I thought this was absurd that people would immediately call me a bully on par with Tyler's roommates.

Is this situation absurd? Is Kye's request that she be recognized as a man because she feels like a man absurd? Is my pointing out the absurdity of the request evil and mean-spirited? Let the reader judge, but let me first give a goofy scenario that is actually true.

My grandfather's name was Nokomis Williams. My great-grandfather's name was Powhatan Williams. My father wanted to name me Powhatan but my mother refused. I got the interesting name of John Williams instead. The fact is that I have enough Native American heritage to apply for, and perhaps receive, a tribal card and Native American status. I could have gotten money for college and received the benefits of a minority. I felt at the time that this was taking advantage of the system since I am at least 4/5's white dude, live in middle-class suburbia, and I have no immediate relations to a single indian. Would I have been an abuser if I had insisted on being called an Iroquois? Perhaps not.

But what if I decided I was an African american? I have no black ancestry. But, I have always felt African American. I like their clothing. I'm a good dancer. I'm more attracted to black folks than white folks. Therefore, I insist that everyone treat me as black, give me full status as an African American, and after college I intend on dying my sin darker and take hormone treatments to look more African American.

I imagine I would get bullied. People would think that this is ridiculous. African Americans would probably be offended. Would it be wrong if people said I was being ridiculous?

Or am I just being a bully?

1 comment:

Mike Cook said...

There is a difference between objecting, disapproving or having an opinion and bullying.

Saying, "I believe this is weird/wrong/dumb." is not the same as humiliating someone or pushing them down the stairs.