Historians refer to the European period of the 17th and 18th Centuries, as the “Age of Enlightenment.” During that period, major thinkers and renowned writers, revolutionized man’s understanding of the true source of knowledge, by concluding that reason and empirical experience is to permanently and decisively, prevail over atavistic and superstitious belief and religious dogma. The heliocentric theory of the solar system (viz., that the Earth orbits around the Sun, and not the obverse, as declared in the Christian Bible) was confirmed, and the “scientific method” was recognized as humanity’s appropriate guide to the acquisition of knowledge and its advancement. Great strides were made in the natural sciences, the understanding of the cosmos, in navigation, mathematics and ethical philisophy; however, by far, the most singular and enduring advance, was the recognition that reason and empirical experience, are the legitimate sources of knowledge.
As we appraise history, human enlightenment can be likened to a young tree, requiring regular and constant care and nurturance for its survival and growth. Ignorance and irrational belief emanate from fear, insecurity and from the psychological resistance to change; traditional thought patterns are seen as safer and more comfortable by reason of their familiarity and long history of common acceptability. By contrast, the exercise and nurture of innovative reason requires requisite self- confidence and imagination, qualities which, for many, is a bridge too far.
We live in an age clearly evincing a dire need for a reprise of the process begun in the 17th and 18th Century, Age of Enlightenment, which saw the removal of a great many persistant road blocks to the predominance of reason and sense experience, as the proper basis of knowledge. To this date, numbers of insecure or ignorant people still seem to find it easier to stay the old course, with regard to useless, and at times, harmful, retrogressive thought and outworn, disproven principles.
There unhappily still seems to survive, an infinite variety and number of areas of “Dark Ages” thinking; we have, nevertheless, selected, for present comment, the particularly troublesome, and psychologically injurious, subject of reductive ignorance and persistant bigotry, relating to the delicate subject of gender.
A binary gender system of classification is the simplist method, and the one generally employed by society. In this (much too) convenient system, members of society are split into one of two exclusive genders, presumably, dependent upon their genetalia. However, other than for limited purposes, such as population studies, current medical science would testify that such reductive, binary categorization is incomplete and inaccurate, and can be productive of extremely harmful results.
We read that sexual determination takes place in the prenatal stage, after the first four months of pregnancy; fetuses before that period, apparently, lack any indication of gender, which is thereafter, hormonally determined. Societal treatment and assumptions that gender is simply binary, is medically and scientifically erroneous. Gender has been scientifically proven to be the end product a broad spectrum, or continuum, of diverse, hormonally inherited (potential) traits. Nonetheless, continuing societal ignorance and existing reductive thought on the subject, adversely affects every aspect of life, education, career, finances and relationships. Retrogressive expectations, regarding the vast number of non-binary gender people has eternally been the cause of serious and hurtful problems. Unfortunately, those who even vary slightly from the binary gender stereotype, often become unjust and undeserved targets of disapproval, discrimination and even violence.
The price life generally exacts for human ignorance is eternally steep; whether by way of an unfulfilled and meaningless life, or myth-making and the resultant commission of acts hurtful to one’s self or others, including loved ones. The chance inventory and distribution of hormones, developing in the fetus, after the fourth month, is clearly unrelated to the subsequent value and worth of any matured human being. However, we would submit that ignorance concerning the determination and understanding of gender, has been so productive of unnecessary suffering and tragedy, as to, in our opinion, qualify for Holocaust status.
Suicides, bigotry, misunderstandings, failed opportunities (social and career), “gay bashing” by miscreants in an effort to exorcise personally self- hated traits and inclinations, the bullying, the unjust and hurtful criticism, and those insensitive “queer jokes,” would appear to exceed all standards of acceptible reality, and are the product of a reductive (bilateral) understanding of gender.
This category of mestasizing bigotry, the product of ignorance and personal insecurity, is avoidable, and constitutes a tragic and unnecessary waste of life, comparable to an ancient Sophoclean drama. Just as man is not empowered with the personal choice of skin and eye color, or the length of his arms and legs, he has no part to play in the distribution and category of gender determinant hormones, chemically assigned to him in utero.
It would be a salubrious and major advance in human reason and man’s avowed aspiration for enlightenment, if the biological basis of gender were recognized as amulti-faceted chemical spectrum, in permanent replacement of the ignorant, hurtful and reductive assumption of bilateral exclusivity. A significant light would then be cast on this atavistic vestige of a contemporary “Dark Ages.”