Those who know me and have seen me walking around occasionally in orange and blue are aware that my undergraduate degree was from the University of Florida. If that troubles you, please be comforted with the knowledge that all my children have gone to the University of Georgia, and I have sent much more money to Athens than I ever sent to Gainesville.
And while the rivalry between Florida and Georgia is fierce, it is nothing like the rivalry between Florida and Florida State University. Gators could root for UGA, but we could never — and I mean never — pull for FSU.
In the fall of 1980, those of us in Gainesville had more than our fair share of pleasure. Not only were we beating FSU in sports, but FSU had also voted a male, Bill Wade, as its homecoming queen. It started out as a farce, but then he — uh, she? — won. Since this is a community newspaper, I cannot tell you what the bumper stickers and signs read all over the UF campus for months after that. (“FSU: Where the women are women, and the men are too” was one clean one.) Oh, did we have fun with it.
Memories of the picture of the young FSU male dressed as a woman (badly, I might add) came to mind this week as I could not avoid the media frenzy surrounding Bruce Jenner’s lingerie cover in Vanity Fair magazine.
Now, you might expect that, as a pastor, I am about to launch into a diatribe about “cross-dressing,” “transgendered” individuals, the Bible, and all that. No, I am not. If I see you at lunch in Effingham, I might. But here, no.
I do have, however, something I think is important to say about this comedic tragedy, besides the obvious two realities — that the media loves this, and Bruce Jenner loves the media loving this.
In a recent newscast, one reporter explained that Mr. Jenner might be considering a “gender reassignment surgery.” Let me make sure you got that: Gender “reassignment” surgery.
Oh my. Where shall I begin? Well, let’s start here: We do not “assign” genders. Gender is not an optional accessory on a human being, where one has choice to opt in, out, or make a change. Gender is not something like a political party, where one can simply check a different box on a form.
Gender is “assigned” when DNA is created in a new human being, long before that person has consciousness. Gender is assigned at the creation of that person; that is, gender is assigned by God. Gender is part of God’s creation of humans — “male and female, he created them” (Genesis 1:27b).
Who in the world do these physicians think they are in their attempts to “assign” gender? What arrogance.
When that young FSU male took off his dress, he was male. When Mr. Jenner takes off his lingerie, he is also male. His genetic format is and always will be male.
Physicians can cut skin off, attempt to create organs that look original (but do not function as such), and give hormones to help create a look, but they cannot — ever — reassign a gender. As humans, that is not our bailiwick, our purview, our role.
Mr. Jenner has the right to do to his body what he feels he needs to do, no matter how ridiculous I may think it is. What he or anyone else does not have the right to do is to claim authority in an area over which they have no control.
As Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 20:21b) Creation and life, no matter what society and the media tell us, are still among “the things that are God’s.”
Mr. Jenner, if you do decide to run for homecoming queen, please enroll at the University of Tennessee.
Rev. Dr. Bob LeFavi is a member of the Society of Ordained Scientists.