The Value of Diversity
What is the value of diversity in the human family? You just asked an anthropologist their favorite question. Trick question. It’s not a value to humanity; it is humanity itself.
Diversity in one world is survival. Evolution is a very simple formula. Adaptation over time to a given environment. So two amoebas or zebras or Australopiths are similar, nearly identical, but just enough different that one fights and feeds and breeds a little more successfully because its subtle difference fits better in the environment than its poor bastard of a buddy's. After a while, you’d wind up with a whole horde of that one dude’s kids mucking about, perfectly adapted to their perfect world and all would seem…perfect in its homogeny, every Sneetch with the same green star. But environments change. So just like high school, the skills of that one apex specimen become obsolete when the temperature rises or the grasses die off or you have to go get real jobs and no one cares that you can smash a beer can on your forehead anymore. And when that happens, when that first guy can’t hack the changes, some other lucky sucker with the right kind of deviation gets their shot at fighting and feeding and fucking better. Without diversity, we’d all go down with the quarterback.
But It’s not just biology that’s dependent on diversity. Our personalities, thought processes, interests, beliefs, fears, skills, and abilities- they all vary. We were build for troupes and tribes, social learners, products of our teachers who then add our own understanding before passing it on again. Imagine if the first ape-brained proto-human to independently produce fire had been exactly like everyone else. No variation, no learning, no adaptation. No fire. But thanks to that kid and a million others between it and now, we’ve gone from sparking rocks to illuminating the entire planet in a blink of the universe’s eye. We have switched our efforts from evolving our bodies to evolving our tools and knowledge and cultures. We’ve built structures that will outlast us all, we’ve sent our voices on a golden record into space, we’ve made masterpieces of art and language and mathematics, we’ve killed and healed each other in staggering numbers. We hold the whole of human history in our pockets, and we use it to watch porn and kitten videos. We’re really frakin cool, as far as species go. And every little creep and twist and dead end and leap in our social evolution is owed to someone was just a touch of different in their thinking than the guy who came before.
So what am I in this? What does it mean to be a single individual in 200,000 years of anatomically modern human individuals? Most specifically, since you asked, what does it mean to be this individual in that 200,000 years? What’s my value to diversity and adaptation and evolution? How am I similar and different than others? Am I equal?
I am a juxtaposition, a changeling, a contradiction in terms. I am variation multiplied by diversity. I’m ambidextrous. I write left-handed sitting down but switch back and forth if I’m standing. I shoot a basketball left-handed but throw a baseball right-handed. I eat and use most tools right-handed but couldn’t brush my teeth or unlock a door right-handed if I tried. All those left-brained, right-brained tests- I’m neither. I’m pansexual, so big big fan of diversity there. I’m a Marxist who’s been known to work for Big Business, I have four different Meyer’s Briggs results, and am both Slytherin and Gryffindor. Though these days I’m leaning Slytherin. I can speak in front of thousands of people and not bat an eye, but I’m terrified to sing in even the car with anyone I’ve known less than 15 years. I have an asymmetric haircut. And I can definitively say I was born this way because I’m both a Cancer and a Leo.
I suppose that brings us to why I’m here. My gender. I am gender-fluid. Gender-real-fluid. Gender-could-not-possibly-be-more-fluid. It’s like the Grand Gender Waterfall on the Island of Liquid Gender, it’s so damn fluid. On a scale of female to male, Barbie to Ken, with Barbie being one and Ken being ten, I’m usually hanging out around a six or a seven. Sometimes I skip on up to an eight or nine, sometimes I check out the view from five. I don’t typically go much lower than that, but I’ve been known to tango with a four. More often, as of late, but it’s still irregular.
So yeah. Diversity. How am I a unique individual and how am I similar to every other Homo sapien sapien? I’m mostly like everyone else. I fight and feed as best as I can. That’s the big picture. In the micro, I’m one hell of a unique snowflake.
I’m typically perceived as a lesbian so I’ve faced the typical familial and societal discriminations that most LGB people face. The issues I face as a person under the trans-spectrum is erasure. No one recognizes my gender identity. I’m not a perceived as a variation, and therefore, get the great privilege of facing the laundry list of inequities heaped on your standard issue woman instead of the double sided list heaped on transwomen and men. I recognize that my erasure affording me privilege, but I’m not really sure how to feel about it. My identity and my understanding of it are, like everything else, evolving.