When I was growing up, a person’s gender and sexuality were so much simpler. A persona was either male or female, gay or straight. Today, people’s gender and sexuality can be almost anything – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual, asexual, genderqueer, aromantic, two-spirit, etc.
Recent research shows that nearly a third of young people view their sexuality as somewhere between 100% heterosexual and 100% homosexual. Facebook, with its one billion users, now offers 60 options for users’ gender. In California, there is a bill that would add a third gender option on all identification documents – like birth certificates and driver’s licenses – listing male, female, and nonbinary.
Celebrities, like Miley Cyrus and Kristen Stewart, have been tabloid examples. Each of them have dated men and women; and each of them have described their sexual preferences as “fluid.” Some surveys have claimed that there are 100-200 shades of sexuality. What a contrast from 25-50 years ago when a male actor would hide his homosexuality, even getting married to a woman, just to save his career.
Today, fortunately, we have become more and more tolerant, especially the younger generations. Young people are finding an increasing sense of empowerment to discover who they are – and to realize they are not alone. They have new choices for gender identity (sense of self), gender socialization (how people are expected to act), and gender expression (how a person dresses or styles their hair or presents themselves). The choices are real, but often they are not easy.
These are good people who are, in many ways, probably more sensitive and more understanding than previous generations. But we still must ask ourselves: What is happening? What is changing? Were people 25-50 years ago just blind to the hidden dimensions of their own sexuality? Were previous generations ignoring their own gender issues? And is this sexual growth a positive development?
Ideally, we would all like to answer in the affirmative. But there is one problem. The rates of depression, and the rates of suicide attempts, appear to be rising with each new generation. As a species, we are moving to a coming point where the number one illness – not just psychiatric, but also medical – will be “depression.” Clearly, with the self-exploration and self-discovery, there are some troubling counterpoints with negative consequences.
For the average American baby, its umbilical cord now contains over 100 new toxic chemicals. Our diet, laden with contaminants, heavy metals, GMOs, and other toxins, is more damaging to our cells and DNA than ever in the past. Are we witnessing a change in parts of our DNA code? A change that might be due to environment exposure, either through air, water, or food? And are those changes impacting our gender and sexuality?
As a species, we now touch the earth less than any other species in history. Yes, we touch the earth less and scorch the earth more. Touching the earth is not walking on concrete or asphalt. Touching the earth is not even walking or jogging in our athletic shoes. For touching the earth, we need skin contact with the grass, the dirt, or a body of water (river, lake or ocean). So, when was the last time that most of us touched the earth? And is that new behavioral pattern causing any other associated changes?
That is an important question because humans are becoming more and more electron deficient. The earth is teeming with electrons. We absorb them through our bare feet or bare hands. Those electrons are important because they absorb free radicals and because they reduce the damage to our cells and our DNA. Once again, we are allowing more cellular and genetic disruption. That cannot be healthy – and our explosion of illnesses reflects that reality.
At the same time, there are other experts who claim that our changing gender identity and sexuality is not related to anything genetic or environment. They attribute the changing gender identity and sexuality to social media. We have greater awareness of life’s choices and many individuals are making an effort to clarify those choices. Some experts, when discussing the upcoming arrival of virtual reality games (where we can select our gender for the games) predict a further blurring of gender identity and sexuality. Some experts predict an endpoint of genderless, all genders, or pangender.
I do not profess to have any answers for these gender identity and sexual changes, but let me pose one perspective. I am a believer that our exterior world reflects our interior world. Today’s global world seems more chaotic than ever. We have constant national conflicts, religious conflicts, ethnic conflicts, and cultural conflicts – with no clear winners or losers in most of these clashes. And today, more than ever before, we seem to be struggling internally against multiple issues.
But I would argue that it’s a positive development. Many experts claim that we live life from the inside out: i.e., if we are to change the exterior world, we must first change our interior world. So, maybe if we can focus on the current gender identity and sexuality issues, we can find some solutions for the exterior chaos? For example, if we can tolerate and accept the changing lines of gender and sexuality, maybe we can begin to tolerate and accept our external conflicts.
So, the key question for gender and sexual identity is NOT “why now?” Maybe the key question is how to best take advantage of this change? What can we do, as a people, to facilitate more personal introspection and more personal growth? Perhaps, with all of the world’s negatives, our current personal exploration and personal change offers the best pathway toward a safer and better world. So, let’s push aside our bias – and all of those little boxes on forms, and start thinking outside of the box.
Let’s make ourselves better people …
Then let’s try to make the world a better place …