The Truth about the Body

Identity politics also demands an almost medieval belief in the difference between the body and the soul, but without the Christian’s submission to a ruling god. Its sacred text must be William Ernest Henley’s “Invictus”. You know: “I am the master of my fate/ I am the captain of my soul.” (etc.)

For these activists, the self is an act of pure will that appears out of the void, with no antecedents, or constituent parts, like the Big Bang. The self lives as a sacred flame in the corrupted shrine of the body, but is wholly unconnected to it. Or the body is an ugly beast of burden, reviled or ignored, a sort of ill-formed donkey, that serves only to carry the self from place to place. 

It seems a misguided approach. The body is the author of the earliest sense-impressions that coalesce to become you. The body collaborates in forming who you are and how you experience being yourself at this moment, in this world. We shouldn’t ignore that. Gender is inescapable. If someone is inescapably male, but wishes desperately, obsessively, to enact their perception of “femaleness”, they should be loved and supported and accepted for who they are. We should strive to use the pronouns they wish us to use, out of kindness, but we should not deny the brute facts of their biology, just because they wish it so desperately to be otherwise. 

I’m not saying we should ram it down their throats, unnecessarily, but truth is important. We would not say, to a cancer sufferer who desperately, obsessively wanted to be free of cancer, “Alright, then, if you say you are free of cancer, then you are.” Or if we did, we’d know we were lying to them. 

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