I’m not sure exactly who the five people you meet in heaven are, but if Mitch Albom has anything to do with it their genitals better be in the right order, or else! I guess that means Alan Rickman’s character from Dogma isn’t allowed in anymore. But unfortunately for Mr. Rickman, even Hell may not even be far enough to keep Mitch from policing your crotch.
In case you haven’t heard the news, author and sports columnist Mitch Albom is deeply curious about your children’s genitals. He wants you to raise your children the way “Mother nature” intended, that is, with a strictly enforced gender. In his Detroit Free Press article “We have good news! It’s a brand-new baby … something?” Albom gives two parents from Toronto who are raising their new baby genderless (i.e., they are keeping the infant’s biological sex secret and letting the child choose their own gender) a stern talking to. Mitch argues that the parents are “fools” that are screwing everything up by denying the “fact” that the child is either a boy or a girl, a fact that “was evident in the first pee-pee” (apparently grown ass men like Mitch can’t talk about genitals without saying things like “pee-pee” and “poo-poo,” seriously).
Throughout his article Albom seems wholly unable to grasp the difference between a person’s sex (a person’s biology, etc.) and their gender (the behaviors and norms enforced and expected of a person of a particular sex). Hence, he thinks that a person’s gender (e.g., whether one prefers blue or pink, what clothes a person likes, how that person relates to people of the same or opposite sex, etc.) is evident merely by a person’s genitals.
Albom, instead of being a humble person who admits they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about, chooses instead to ramble on judgmentally about the child’s (named Storm, which is entirely badass) parents. While the parents protest that imposing gender norms and expectations on a child is too imposing and denying a child their own choice, Albom thinks different, saying,
It’s called parenting. If the child, later in life, prefers football to lipstick, or boxer shorts to dresses, or one day asks a doctor to mangle its private parts in an effort to be something else, it still will be unable to deny that it was born one way.
Albom not only refers to a human being as an “it,” which is a completely dehumanizing and inappropriate thing for any person, let alone a (mysteriously) popular journalist, to do, but he also refers to sexual reassignment surgery as “mangling” one’s private parts. What the fuck?
Dehumanizing language like referrering to a person (let alone a child) as an “it” and talking about sexual reassignment surgery (a common surgical procedure) as “mangling” oneself legitimizes transphobic assumptions and actions such as violent hate crimes, verbal or other forms of physical abuse, or the (all too common) refusal to hire transgendered people, which has driven a sizable portion of the transgender community to the underground economy to find ways to live.
Mitch Albom’s article has gotten quite a response, starting with this excellent “Open letter to Mitch Albom” posted on Facebook, to several letters to the editor in the Detroit Free Press. You can let him know what you think too at 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org.