There’s a great debate going on at the moment w/r/t (@louistheroux) Louis Theroux’s Transgender Kids, shown at 9pm (GMT) on BBC 2, Sunday 5th March 2015 (US Link) (UK Link). See this Reddit subreddit (r/Documentaries) for more details:
Aside from the obvious points that people will undoubtedly get stuck on – arbitrary markers of gender; is the documentary biased in anyway?; gender dichotomy versus gender fluidity; and so on… – there’s an interesting question that crops up, and, should you choose to consider it, it’s a question that starts to break down a lot of the ‘common sense’ arguments that we structure our lives by. The question, as I understand it, is:
Should a child be allowed to make a decision that will ultimately determine its own future, in a most serious and profound way?
We seem, as a society, to have a particular problem with acknowledging a child’s wish – if that wish is something more taxing than being allowed to choose ice cream over a piece of fruit, for example. We constantly fall back on the position that a child’s brain is not ‘developed’ enough to make serious decisions, and so as adults we take away any autonomy they have and instead, make decisions for them.
Now, let’s consider how we adults use our brains, if we purport to be so gifted at knowing what’s ‘right.’ We:
- Go around trying to amass personal wealth whilst millions starve
- We support, or are apathetic towards, governments that stock pile weapons and spend billions on warfare, whilst millions starve
- We watch TV, play games, go on holidays, and entertain ourselves in myriad ways, whilst millions starve
- And do a whole host of stupid, banal, and reprehensible things, whilst millions starve
In contrast to this ‘traditional’ way of thinking, let’s consider the message that came through from Theroux’s documentary. It was a message that a child can make a serious and profound decision about its own life. It was a message that a child can make such a decision before said child is indoctrinated into the very real gender binary structure that floods those early years (pink/blue, pretty/handsome, rough ‘n’ tumble/delicate). It is a refreshing change to see children’s thoughts, wishes, and beliefs being taken seriously. And who is to say that that’s not the way things should be?
And did we notice how important the use of pronouns became in the documentary footage?