Opinion » Bill Cope

Mr. Cope's Cave: We Be All Mixed Up?


"If we can accept that some people legitimately sense that whichever sexual identity they feel themselves to be was somehow incarnated into the physical reality of the opposite gender, then why shouldn't we accept that there might also be wrong-body examples involving racial identity?"

Nah, that sucks. Let's see... hows about... "Now that the reality of transgender confusion has come out of the shadows into the spotlight, might it be time for us to allow the possibility that someone might rightly feel his, or her, essential ethnic psyche has been mistakenly planted in the wrong cultural soil?"

Grrrr... no good. Transgendered people will object to the word "confusion" and the Christians'll be howling that God doesn't make mistakes. OK, OK, let's try this... "Perhaps identity-dislocation is as normal a part of the human condition as any other differences in personalities, physiques or proclivities, and that transgendered people are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to spirit/flesh mismatchings."

Hummmm, better. 'Course, somebody's gonna complain about the word "norm...

Who you talking to, Mr. Cope?

Oh! Junior. I wasn't expecting you.

I was in the neighborhood and thought I'd stop by to see if you figured out how to get off Facebook.

Yeah. Sure. Of course I did. What do you think I am?... an idiot?

Of course not, Mr. Cope. You were just so worried you would hurt some peoples' feelings, so I...

No, no. I figured out what to do about that, too. I just called 'em all up and assured them I meant no offense, but that I'd made a huge mistake getting on Facebook in the first place, and I really didn't want to be friends with anyone. You know... except my friends.

You called them all on the phone?

Well, most of them. I'm still working on finding a few numbers of those people I never heard of before, but I'll get there.

Jeepers, that sounds like a lot of work.

Yeah. But see, I'm doing the calling in the middle of the night, so except for a handful of them who actually pick up the phone, I'm able to leave a message and get off quick.

So what about that handful who picked up the phone?

Uh, let's just say I don't have to worry about them wanting to be my friend anymore. Now, if you don't mind, I'm trying to get a thing done here, so...

OK, I'll leave. But... who were you talking to when I walked in?

Oh, that? No, I was talking to myself, trying out different approaches to a problem I have. See, I want to write something that refers to transgendered people, and I'm trying to do it without offending anyone. Ain't as easy as it sounds, let me tell ya.

Well, why even bring it up if you're so worried? My mom always told me that if you can't say something good about somebody, it's best to not say anything at all.

No, no. You don't understand. I'm not saying anything bad about transgendered people. In fact, I don't even plan on saying anything at all about Bru... er, Caitlyn Jenner. Gender isn't even the main topic of what I'm working on. It's about this woman up in Spokane, see? The one who's been passing for black?

Rachel Dolezal. That's her name.

Yeah. Her. It's sort of this big deal all the sudden, but I figure if she feels like a black person strongly enough to call herself a black person, and do it for years, then there must be something to it. And I only mention transgendered people as an example of sorta the same sorta thing, see? Only we have no trouble believing or accepting transgendered people. At least, not anymore.

I heard you say something about "spirit/flesh mismatchings." Is that what you think this is all about?

Well, you never know, huh? If it can happen one way, who's to say it can't happen in other ways, know what I mean? Like... oh, off the top of my head... why couldn't, say, a Nordic nature be mis-assigned into the physical presence of a South Seas Polynesian? Does that sound so hard to believe? Or a fiery Latin lover in the body of a stuffy English lord? I can even imagine, say... a little Pomeranian who feels he has the soul of a Doberman pinscher. Or a canary with the attitude of a falcon. I mean, this might be so much more pervasive than we could ever dream, huh?

Gosh, Mr. Cope, sometimes it's hard to tell if you're being serious or not.

You don't think I'm being serious?

Wull, gee... I don't know. I can see some of it, but... a Pomeranian who feels he's really a Doberman?

OK, maybe that's a stretch. But haven't you ever felt like what you seem to be to everyone around you is not what you really are?

Oh, all the time. Like, all my friends think I'm this sort of dorky nerd kind of guy, but on the inside, I've always felt like there was a fierce ninja just waiting to burst out and kick some booty.

Yeah. That's what I'm talking about. The flesh reflects one reality while the spirit harkens onto another. Hell, it could be that everyone is, to some degree or another, not what they appear to be.

Mr. Cope, is there anything about you that's not what it appears to be?

Funny you should ask. See, I've always had this overwhelming sense that my true self is an Oregon guy, only I somehow ended up living in the body of an Idahoan.

That would be a relatively easy transition to make. 

Yeah, I should drive over to Ontario for lunch some day and see if I don't feel more comfortable with myself.

I could go with you and chronicle the experience.

Nah. Some things you gotta do on your own, Junior.