One day, a hot day – it’s Florida after all – I sat on a bench outside of my notsolittle community college. SPC (St. Pete College), known for its many campuses (give or take six or seven), and lovely landscaping, played the pretty outdoor setting to an interesting conversation. Interesting, of course, to me, and interesting to, maybe, the other person, but a conversation that held quite a bit of weight within today’s idealogical society. Words have ability. They are the reason for our functioning society, and, as a person who believes in the power of words, I never hold my tongue in the face of a difficult question.

So, when a fellow college student sat next to me, sun bearing down in all its finite glory, I did not expect anything other than the simple nod, hello, and silence that I was generally used to. He spoke hello. I acknowledged. Then silence assumed the position for maybe a minute. Not too different from me, an average guy: brown hair, sort of tan, brown eyes, fit. Nothing at all special about the either of us. He turned to me, however, and asked a very peculiar question: “What do you think about the transgender situation with Bruce Jenner?”

Well, I never expected a random person to initiate such a heavy topic of discussion. Celebrities are not my cup of tea, that rests with politics, philosophy, nerd things (like Game of Thrones), and video games. Celebrities? Naw, nothing to them. So I shrugged and tried to let the conversation drop, but, as college students are stubborn, he pestered on. He continued on about people being disrespectful, hateful, prejudiced. Everything that I also agree with. He stopped. The pause lasted a while, maybe he felt awkward, maybe he did not, I could not tell, but his words triggered me to think about the situation. Right or wrong, better or worse, male or female, gender or not gender. After some thought, I turned to him and disagreed. Not to anyone’s right to do with what they will to their own body. That decision is theirs. I disagreed with the idea of transgender in general.

I did not know the guys name. I never met him, associated with him, or ran into him in passing, but after my response he looked completely offended. God forbid another college student to disagree with the idea of basic human rights, am I right? But no, he misunderstood, and I saw that right away. I explained:

I live in a very Aristotelian world. I truly believe that someone can become truly virtuous by the act of doing. This mixes with the ideals of Taoism and how we should work to be like water: malleable, but strong (Calm as still water). Along with this view, I believe in a golden mean. You have extremes on both sides of a spectrum. For example, you can eat too much, you can eat too little, and you can eat the right amount. Eating too much or too little have adverse effects on one’s health, while the middle option leads to a healthy lifestyle. To me, the amount of body mutilation and reconfiguring involved in a transgender operation is an extreme in terms of this model. I do not agree that a person needs that much done to them to find acceptance within themselves, and this is because to gain true acceptance there needs to be harmony between your mind and body. You are not accepting your body when you choose to carve it up.

Most of the time, when I use this example, people throw out the tattoo counter question, but, as I stated, things fit into the golden mean. To me, a tattoo is close to the extreme, but does not quite fit the bill. Things like collagen, implants,

Equal Access/Equal Opportunity
The Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College affirms its equal opportunity policy in accordance with the provisions of the Florida Educational Equity Act and all other relevant state and federal laws, rules and regulations. The college will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnicity, religion, sex, age, national origin, marital status, pregnancy, sexual orientation, gender identity, genetic information, or against any qualified individual with disabilities in its employment practices or in the admission and treatment of students. Recognizing that sexual harassment constitutes discrimination on the basis of sex and violates this Rule, the college will not tolerate such conduct. Should you experience such behavior, please contact Pamela Smith, the director of EA/EO/Title IX Coordinator at 727-341-3261; by mail at P.O. Box 13489, St. Petersburg, FL 33733-3489; or by email at eaeo_director@spcollege.edu.


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