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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Share My Delusions Or Else

by Tim Murray

The Friendly Giant

I shall never forget the late afternoon of Tuesday, September 30, 1958. For it was then that my eyes first fell upon the image of Jerome the Giraffe in the inaugural episode of The Friendly Giant.

There were several traumatic events in those times. The news that the Russians had launched Sputnik. Or that Kennedy had ordered the interdiction of missile-carrying Russian ships bound for Cuba. Or that he had been shot dead in Dallas a year later. All shattering events no doubt. But none of them compared to what I saw on TV that Tuesday. That first Friendly Giant episode shook me to the core. My 9/11 was 9/30 in 58’.

The instant that I saw Jerome, I realized that I had been living a lie, and that I had been fighting an unwinnable war. In trying to meet parental expectations and gain the acceptance of other kids, I fought to maintain the appearance of a normal boy. But this futile fight came at a great cost. The internal turmoil was unbearable. There was a Civil War going on in my head, with no resolution in sight. For much of my early life I could neither eat nor sleep, and the fear that I one day might be exposed for who I really was made thoughts of suicide ever more frequent. A sad and appalling state of mind for a seven year old child.

When I saw Jerome I suddenly understood that was ‘cut from his cloth’, as it were. I was---in every way but appearance — one of his kind. I was a giraffe. This was who I really was. And I knew that unless I could boldly and fearlessly express my new found identity I would never emerge from the dark cloud that enveloped me. I knew that if I couldn’t do that, self-inflicted death was my only option. I had to live out my life as me — or end it.

No one of that age — or any age — should have to face a Hobson’s choice of this nature. All children — all people — must be permitted to express their true identity as they perceive it to be.

But this alone will not suffice. It is not enough that I be empowered to self-identify as a giraffe. And it is not enough that you feel compassion for me in my torn state. No. You must share my subjective sense of myself. You must not only address me as Jerome, but agree that I am indeed a giraffe, and concede that me being a giraffe has nothing to do with my DNA or my body. Biology, after all, is just a social construct.

If you don’t do that, if you dare to say that the Emperor has no clothes, then you will be complicit in the bullying and hatred and victimization that may very well ensue. It will be on your head.

Be warned. If you or anyone else stubbornly or defiantly insists that I am not a giraffe and invokes science to prove your case, then you will be guilty of hate speech. As Canada’s Supreme Court infamously ruled, truth is not a defence. Your failure to play along with me is tantamount to assault. To suggest that I am not who I say I am constitutes not only an attack on me but an attack on those like me. By refusing to acknowledge me as a giraffe you are holding up an identifiable group to public contempt, which can, as history shows, lead us down the road to gas chambers and book burning. Your “truth” must not come at the cost of my feelings or comfort.

Besides, as Pontius Pilate said, what is truth? There is no “truth”. Just power. Didn’t your Post-Modernist Professor tell you that? Perhaps another semester of Gender Studies will set you right. I hear that they are offering free courses in the Gulag.

Oh, and one more thing. I may be Jerome at this present moment. But two days or two hours from now I may revert to the Christian name my biological parents assigned me, and for an indeterminate period become a male human being again. But keep your seat belt on. I might switch back at any moment. It depends on my mood, and how I want to express myself at that particular time. So be on your toes.

Actually, my fluctuating and ever evolving self-identifications are no concern of yours. Your job is to play along and move along with these shifts and affect a sincere acceptance of my professed identity as it is expressed in a given moment. Your career depends on it.

I shouldn’t need to remind you that given the pace of our mad rush to increasing awareness and enlightenment, the acceptance and acknowledgement of species fluidity will soon be regarded as fundamental to the concept of ‘inclusivity’. It will be one of those “core values” that Justin Trudeau claims that all Canadians share. I understand there will soon be an app available whereby smart phone users can check for daily updates on the latest core value to be added to the mandatory Code of Politically Correct Canadian Comportment, as well as the most recent letters added to the LGBTQ acronym. The last time I looked it was 65, but that was a half an hour ago.

Jerome/Tim Murray

PS:  Since I can’t afford species re-assignment surgery, I am thinking about joining the Canadian Armed Forces, who may conclude that it is essential to my mental health and pick up the tab. Alternatively, I can hope that Kathleen Wynne will make it one of her election planks. Free, universally accessible trans species surgery for everyone, most especially the jack asses in her caucus.

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