Up until last week, when you signed up for a new Facebook account, besides “male” and “female” you had 58 options to choose from to identify your gender. Some of those 58 gender options included androgyne, cis male, gender fluid, two-spirit, neutrois, trans female, and pangender.
I looked up “cis male” in the Urban Dictionary, and the following “clarification” was provided: “A cis male is not necessarily macho, or even of average masculine persona. A cis male might have some or many characteristics that are feminine, effeminate, or female-like, but unless he seeks to project a female persona, he is still a cis male.”
How’s that for a clarification? Clear as mud.
Apparently 58 gender options were not enough, because last week Facebook added a 59th fill-in-the-blank option. The Facebook announcement of the new option stated, “We recognize that some people face challenges sharing their true gender identity with others, and this setting gives people the ability to express themselves in an authentic way.”
Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), responded to the Facebook announcement by stating, “By empowering people to talk about their gender in their own words, Facebook continues to be a leader in its commitment to respecting and protecting LGBT users. Part of being who you are is just being able to describe yourself in a way that feels right to you.”
The same week that Facebook announced its new fill-in-the-blank option, Leonard Nimoy, the man who played Spock, the half-Vulcan, half-human character in Star Trek, died. Nimoy was 83 at the time of his death. Over the course of the past 48 years, several generations of Americans knew Spock as the first officer under Captain James T. Kirk on the starship Enterprise.
Of all the characters in Star Trek, Spock was the most memorable because of his complex nature of half-man and half-Vulcan. He was easily identifiable because of his pointed ears and raised eyebrows. Spock’s thoughts and behavior were primarily governed by his Vulcan nature, which was totally logical and devoid of emotion. On occasion his human side would come out, but he would quickly revert to his Vulcan nature.
Star Trek originally premiered on NBC on September 8, 1966. At that time, I was nine years old.
When I saw the news that Leonard Nimoy had died, I immediately thought of my brother Carl. For some reason, every time a famous athlete or a well-known celebrity from the 1960s or early 1970s dies, I think of Carl. When the former champion and heavyweight boxer Joe Frazier died in November 2011, the first person I thought of was Carl.
Of my eight brothers, Carl is the one who is closest to me in age. The reason I think of him when I have flashbacks of the 1960s and early 1970s is probably because we were fans of the same athletes and television shows. Whenever there was a major sporting event coming up, such as the Olympics or a boxing match, we would look forward to the event with great anticipation.
Although the original Star Trek television show was cancelled after three seasons, the show became wildly popular after it went into syndicated reruns. In 1972, three years after the cancellation of the show, fans of Star Trek organized the “First International Star Trek Convention.” While the organizers expected 500 attendees, more than 3,000 showed up, making it the largest science fiction convention up to that time.
In 1974, 6,000 people showed up for the convention, and 15,000 people attended in 1975. After that, attendance at the annual convention continued to grow. During that time, several thousand fan letters poured into Paramount Pictures every week. In December 1979, Paramount released a full-length movie, Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Since then, 11 additional movies have been released, the last of which was Star Trek Into Darkness, which was released in May 2013. Another movie is scheduled for release in July 2016.
During a 1995 interview, Leonard Nimoy said that the reason his fans identified so well with Spock was because they “recognize in themselves this wish that they could be logical and avoid the pain of anger and confrontation.” He was probably correct in his assessment. For the most part, Spock was always in complete control of his emotions.
Even though Leonard Nimoy successfully appeared in other television shows, such as Dragnet, The Rough Riders, Sea Hunt, Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, and Perry Mason, it was his role as Spock that endured for generations.
Spock knew who he was. He would not have had any need to select from 58 different gender options.
When Star Trek premiered in 1967, I would expect that everyone would have self-identified as either male or female. Back then, there was no such thing as androgyne, cis male, gender fluid, two-spirit, neutrois, trans female, and pangender.
Is it any wonder there is so much confusion in our culture today? If there is a large segment of our society that doesn’t know who they are or where they came from, how can they ever be expected to know where they are going?
One of the shows Carl and I watched on television in the 1960s was The Lone Ranger. If Tonto and the Lone Ranger were living today, I expect that after Tonto found out that there are 58 different choices for gender selection, he would tell the Lone Ranger, “We in heap big trouble, Kemosabe.” If you don’t believe me, you can ask my brother Carl. He can verify that Tonto would probably say that.
We could use some heap big divine intervention right about now.