A true gender bender

Franklin Herr
Staff Writer

Jack Halberstam, author, and professor of gender and queer studies at USC, visited Millersville University on the 17th. Jack considers herself to be a man, although s/he was born Judith. This type of mindset, displayed by Jack and shared by many, has been gaining substantial approval in society’s eye as of late.
Such relativistic tendencies have been less about simply tolerating the “unorthodox” viewpoints (homosexuality, queer theory, transgender issues, etc.), and much more so about promoting them to a point where they are expected to be viewed as even more legitimate than their “orthodox” counterparts.
Can such viewpoints be respected on a sociopolitical level? In my opinion, yes, they can be respected. However, on a logical, legitimate, physiological level, girls are girls and boys are boys.

Judith (Jack) Halberstam is a Professor of English and Director of The Center for Feminist Research at University of Southern California.
Judith (Jack) Halberstam is a Professor of English and Director of The Center for Feminist Research at University of Southern California.

In Jack’s article on pronouns, titled, On Pronouns, s/he explains what it is like to be in a position such as hers, regarding gender. Judith changed her name to Jack, and elaborates on the journey that it has taken her on. Ultimately, Jack considers Jack to be a man, yet tries to steer clear of the usual transgender generalizations, such as having “top surgery,” and using the men’s room, due to her perpetual dissatisfaction with people mistaking her for a woman.
If Jack considers Jack to be male, it defies biology, genetics, and any other contributing field within the study of gender. If Jack was born Judith, Judith was a female. For Jack to intentionally begin to display him/herself as being male, it is assumed that Jack’s original gender was female. Therefore, Jack carries human eggs, has various other female bodily features and functions, and yet, expects society to view her as oppositely as logically possible: as a male.
When deciding one’s own gender became a matter of social acceptability and preference, I do not know.
To further illustrate this contradiction, let’s take a look at race. Is someone able to say, “I think I’ll be Hispanic now,” while they are legally Caucasian? Even in the scenario of race, if someone is genetically 5 percent Asian, 10 percent African American, and 85 percent Caucasian, are they not considered Caucasian?
This conclusion is found even when there are adverse factors of race (those of Hispanic, Asian and Caucasian genetic traits). As far as genetics go, human sperm cells are heterogametic (containing both X and Y chromosomes, representing both sexes). If a zygote (fertilized egg) is then either 100 percent male or 100 percent female from conception, does it not make sense to call females “females” and males “males?”
I find it hard to justify Jack’s frustration with being occasionally called a woman, considering that’s exactly what she is, down to every genetic detail. Calling Jack Halberstam a “man” is not wrong. However, it makes as much sense as it would if she requested to be considered African American in order to join the NAACP (although, there could potentially be African American traits found somewhere in her genetic makeup, whereas “male” genes are, by definition, absent).
I believe very strongly in the idea of universal respect for everyone’s views on everything. Although I may not agree with Jack’s views, s/he does still deserve my universal love and respect. I would call her a man if I wanted to honor her preference, just as readily as I would call her black if she opted to be referred to as African American. In truthful, legal, logical terms, however, I feel that Jack is a woman, and a Caucasian one at that.