The suggestion seems to be, on all sides, that an issue as important to identity as gender is taken for granted far too often; but I think the problem is exactly the reverse: Rather, that any issue as unimportant to identity as gender, has been taken for granted not nearly enough.
It is obvious to any sophisticated human being, as opposed to every sophisticated society, that gender doesn’t matter. Gender doesn’t matter in the same way skin-color, or age, or height, or nose-shape doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter in the same way any obvious human thing one may regard everyday in a school, church pew, grocery store, or mirror doesn’t matter. Every good mother and father teaches little Jimmy and Suzie these very obvious and good truths. But for some reason, when it comes to the way we talk about “who Jimmy is” or “who Suzie is,” sophisticated society, that dull and brutal student, draws from the wisest lesson precisely the most foolish conclusion: Since who someone is doesn't matter, everything else about them must. Or to say it positively another way: modern society claims, “When it comes who someone is: anything goes...except who they are.” Oh, but every wise mother and father, like every wise child, definitely believes when it comes to who they are: Who someone is matters. They usually believe it matters more than anything else in all of existence.
The great problem with anything, including gender, is not actually whether it matters or not. The great problem with anything is pretending it matters more than it should. Or pretending it matters a great deal, when it almost doesn’t matter at all. This is especially true when pretending something is the greatest matter to who a person is—that it is their defining characteristic—when it actually matters least to who they are. Like gender. To take one of a thousand other obvious examples:
Death is an inevitable characteristic of who one is. It matters to some degree. But if it matters so much that one becomes defined by it, he is institutionalized as agoraphobic—for an agoraphobic is exactly a person who pretends death matters more than it should; believing more and more he is defined by death rather than undefined, in a sense, by life. It is the one whose fate is indefinite who can remain surprised by it. Death, like all non-returnable birthday gifts such as gender, or skin tone, or flat-footedness, is a thing we, like the agoraphobic, must specifically ignore if we are to live. And we ignore it, not by lying about it, not by wishful thinking or pretending it isn’t there, (that only makes it grow larger, closer, darker, and more dangerous), but by accepting it fully and wholeheartedly and moving on to the life that is there, yet unopened.
Everyone who lies about who they are, will never enjoy the surprise of who they truly were.