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Dear editor,

 

In Mr. Dunkerley’s recent article, “Embracing gender-deviant people’s societal roles,” he made the claim that Western society does not make room for those who do not fit within our gender binary — that is, male and female. He seemingly celebrates the societal role of the pre-colonial Hijra, gender-deviant Indians, mostly eunuchs and transvestites who served as guards, dancers, and singers. The gender revolution, however, is a controversy of the 21st century, so we should start in the here and now.

As it stands, many argue that gender-deviant people are rejected from mainstream society and stigmatized in the West — hence the argument for bathroom accommodations. In our discussion of such problems, we should not look to Indian society, which maintains a caste system to this day. A caste system degrades those who do not fall into the higher echelons of society. It treats human beings like animals, and gives no opportunity for rising in the ranks of society. The role of the Hijra in modern-day India is overwhelmingly sex trafficking. They generally live in the lower dregs of society, from which there is no escape. The name “Hijra” is even used as a derogatory term.

As Westerners, a people who, up until the modern era, have held the two-gender binary system as sacred to society, we should not look at the backwards societies of old tribes in Africa or India’s caste system for inspiration. Mr. Dunkerley walks a dangerous line by asking the question, “How could we maximize the utility of deviant-gendered individuals in society?” The Indian caste system has done a stunning job of “maximizing” the utility of human beings; for transgender or intersexed individuals, this seems to be the utility of sex trafficking. Creating a third gender for these people to conform to is not freeing: in fact, it is enslaving.  

 

Sincerely,

Philip Berntson