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This columnist has a deeply personal announcement to make. After much consideration, I have decided to remain as a male.
I know modern society pressures us to declare ourselves transgender, transitioning, transsexual, trans-curious, trans-fat and the like, but I have decided to forgo all that trendy stuff and I hope you will support my decision, as my family comes to terms with the hard truth that dad is a man trapped in a man's body.
Have you read the news lately?
A father just gave birth to a baby. This was after a man born a woman married a woman born a man. In each case they changed sex but kept a selection of their original parts. You can do this now: doctors have a menu. "I'll take two of those and one of those."
This switch-over couple's offspring is going to have a tough time explaining this, said reader Aalia Shan, who sent me an AP report about a mixed-up family in Ecuador. "That's my Dad. He's my Mom. This is my Mom. She's my Dad."
"Who wears the trousers in that family," I asked. "This is 2016," Aalia replied. "Everyone wears trousers except the Pope."
I threw this odd-but-true news report into the lunch discussion at the local noodle shop. An unmarried young man was intrigued by the concept of partial sex changes. "I have a very strong aesthetic appreciation of the female bust, but have no access to such. Should I get my own?" The general consensus was that he should consider doing so for experimentation's sake but should be prepared to get no work done for weeks afterwards.
A colleague said there was a recent case in the US of a woman who gave birth to her own grandchild with help from a doctor. Again the child ends up with the tough job of explaining it: "This is Grandma, she's my Mom. And this is Mommy, she's my sister."
A UK reporter said that there had been a huge controversy in his country recently when a woman/man was crowned Miss Transgender UK, but was then disqualified because organizers said he/she was "not transgender enough". Reporters were left with a massive pronoun problem. "If we referred to him/her as either him or her we would be making a judgment, so had to call him/her him/her the whole time," the journalist said. "On the plus side, I get paid by the word."
It reminded me of author Sarah Caudwell's books featuring a unisex main character called Hilary.
WARNING: If you are on the Internet and want to flirt with a Westerner named Kelly or Ashley or Meredith or Shirley or Vivian or Lynn or Kim or Jocelyn, proceed VERY CAREFULLY until you find out where they are from. "In the US, these names signify young women - in the UK, they signify ancient men," he said.
Asia can be tricky too. I know a Sri Lankan man named Sally, a Bangladeshi man named Joy and a Hong Kong girl with possibly the most masculine-sounding name possible in English: He-man.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go set up a support group for people who are only one gender. Slogan: "Are you male or female? You are not alone."
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveller. (IANS)