This is your classic love story, a marriage made in modern heaven and consummated in Ecuador. Boy (Fernando Machado) who used to be a girl meets a girl (Diane Rodriguez) who used to be a boy.
According to English grammar, ‘used to be’ implies they no longer are. Mr/Miss Machado is no longer a girl, and Miss/Mr Rodriguez is no longer a boy.
Fair enough. All of us progressive people are proud about modern advances in medicine, and we’re no longer surprised at transsex operations. Routine stuff, that.
The man has something cut off and is shot full of oestrogen. The woman has something sown on and is shot full of testosterone. That’s basically it, although I’m well aware that the whole procedure is infinitely more subtle and complex than my untutored mind can fathom.
However, unless medical science has progressed even more than has been reported, a newly converted man can’t impregnate a newly converted woman – for all sorts of technical reasons that needn’t detain us here.
Hence the newspaper story announcing that the happy couple have produced a child presents a puzzle that beats any Sudoku I’ve ever seen. The title above points at the difficulty, nay impossibility, of the conundrum.
Such utterly modern, newly normal, couples tend to adopt children, who then grow up happy if slightly confused who’s the Mummy and who’s the Daddy. I’ve also read (and written) about an ex-man acquiring a brand-new uterus and getting impregnated with her/his preserved sperm – the first case of human parthenogenesis, and yet another testimony to both the ingenuity and nature of our progressive modernity.
Yet nothing of the sort has been reported in this case, which it would have been had our scientists struck another such impressive blow for progress. All right, I give up. Another clue, please.
Here are a couple, which are quotes from the newspaper report. “Mr Machado soon made the discovery he was expecting.” “When he discovered he was pregnant, he ‘started crying with happiness, fear and dread.’ ”
Neither sentence would have been stylistically possible just a few years ago, so it isn’t just medical science that has made giant forward strides but also the English language.
Lost in guesses, each hitting an impasse, I’ve taken a lazy man’s way out and read the rest of the story. Turns out, Mr/Miss Machado had nothing sewn on, and Miss/Mr Rodriguez had nothing cut off. They changed their sex without losing their original bits.
The bits then mated in the old-fashioned way, and a conventional impregnation ensued. Hence Miss/Mr Rodriguez is perfectly justified to say “We are the same as other families. Even though we might not have the same rights, we’re the same.”
On balance, the happy couple may not be like most other families, not yet at any rate, but I can both see their point and sympathise with their plight.
Free will is an essential part of our founding doctrine, which implies the inalienable right of free choice. I like dark socks, he likes Argyle, they like polka dot – and all of us are free to choose whatever design we fancy.
Similarly, those who still espouse our founding doctrine tend to abhor determinism of any kind. Therefore, in order to enforce our free choice we must be able to choose our sex, regardless of the one determined at birth – or at conception, if you’d rather.
I might have skipped a few intermediate steps in this logical chain, but the final link is indisputable. Someone who was born male has a God-given right to have himself cut into a woman and vice versa.
However, and I’m only trying to be logical here, the cutting part is de rigueur. It’s like a membership fee required to join a club. If you haven’t paid to join, say, the Carlton Club, you aren’t a member, and, if you pass yourself for one, you’re a fraud.
As I was writing this, I realised how hopelessly retrograde that line of thought was. There’s a fine line between logic and pedantry, and I’ve overstepped it by being such a stickler for surgical detail.
“The law before demanded that to be recognised as a woman you had to be castrated,” complained Miss/Mr Rodriguez, who obviously shares my joy over the long overdue legal change.
All that gory stuff is no longer necessary. A simple declaration of the new sex identity suffices – a person is what he/she/it says he/she/it is. That’s all there is to it.
Hence I’m proud of Mr/Miss Machado and Miss/Mr Rodriguez for having made the sentence in the title possible. I’m also proud of the Ecuadorian authorities who kept pace with progress by conferring a legal status on the happy couple.
Just to think that some sticks-in-the-mud still refer to countries like Ecuador as the Third World. There’s no such thing. We’re all one happy, globalised, uniform world united in our commitment to progress.