“Shoes,” replies a literal sort of person.
“How dare you ask such a question?” snaps a prude.
“Let the child decide,” instructs the Scottish government.
Under its sage guidance, tots as young as four will be able to change their sex at primary school, and they won’t even have to ask Mummy’s and Daddy’s permission.
Since, according to the SNP government, “recognition and development of gender identity can occur at a young age”, a child should be able to announce a sex switch, assume a new name and insist on being addressed with a new set of pronouns.
This welcome innovation also means that teachers and administrators in primary and secondary schools will have to change their ossified ways – and none too soon.
To begin with, they’ll be obliged to accept a child’s decision without demurring or even questioning. If they dare ask even something as innocuous as “Are you sure that you want to become Isla, Angus?”, that’s all their job is worth. And if they go so far as to say “No, Freya, you can’t become Finlay”, they can kiss their whole career good-bye.
Then teachers will have to put books featuring transsexuals on the curriculum. This reminds me of my experience teaching English and American literature in the Soviet Union.
There an ironclad requirement existed that any curriculum had to feature, and give much prominence to, the oeuvre of communist writers. I recall that the same number of hours was to be allocated to Theodore Dreiser (who joined the CPUSA in the last year of his life) as to William Shakespeare, who somehow neglected to establish such an affiliation.
The task was difficult, but not insurmountable. Scraping the bottom of the English barrel, for example, one could dredge up someone like James Aldridge, a great (meaning communist) English writer, who was only unknown to most Englishmen because of the capitalists’ perfidy. And Alan Sillitoe, though not formally a communist, described the “plight of the oppressed British worker” vividly enough to pass muster.
Yet the task facing Scottish teachers is more formidable. For, scraping that proverbial bottom or even knocking it out altogether, I can’t for the life of me recall a single example of a transsexual among literary protagonists. So best of luck to those teachers – they’ll need it.
Then children will have to be allowed to use whichever lavatory or changing room they wish. Again, I can foresee problems there.
If yesterday’s four-year-old Angus walks into the girls’ changing room as Isla, something tells me the girls who have been Islas, Avas and Freyas from birth just may scream bloody murder and possibly hyperventilate. Especially if Isla’s wee-wee is still intact.
There’s no easy way out of this conundrum that I can see, but then I’m not a member of the Scottish government. If I were, I’d think of something.
Perhaps all changing rooms could be open to both boys and girls. The earlier they start to observe and explore one another’s genitals, the sooner they’ll become modern, well-adjusted grownups. Yes, they could go bonkers, but that’s fine too: the earlier people go crazy, the more time will psychiatrists have to treat them.
The last requirement, that schools should introduce gender-neutral uniforms, is unlikely to cause undue hardship. This gets us back to kilts, which can function as both boys’ and girls’ garments.
Thus an Angus wouldn’t even have to cross-dress to establish his credentials as an Isla. However, not to make the transition too abrupt, perhaps he/she/they/ze should consider wearing some gender-masking underwear…
No, scratch that. If yesterday’s Angus chooses to abide by the custom of wearing nothing under the kilt, he/she/they/ze has a right to be considered a girl even in the presence of physical evidence to the contrary.
And anyway, troglodytes like me shouldn’t be allowed to pronounce on such delicate matters. Let the Scottish government speak instead: “Some young people are exploring their gender identity in primary school settings. Primary schools need to be able to meet the needs of these young people to ensure they have a safe, inclusive and respectful environment in which to learn.”
To learn what exactly? How to function as patients in a loony bin? I’m sure such establishments are “safe, inclusive and respectful” enough to satisfy modern sensibilities.
The upshot of all this is that I’m beginning to reassess my staunch opposition to Scottish separatism. A few more such initiatives, and I may consider sending the SNP a modest contribution.