Understanding Freedom

| Sep 26, 2016
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This is a guest column from Diane Hutchinson’s husband.

Freedom is a word that a lot of people are using these days but, I really am left wondering if they honestly have taken the time to think about what this really means. To me, freedom is one of the foundations, if not the central pillar, of what makes America so amazing as a country. In a society, it is obvious that we can’t just let everyone do what they wish, as some people’s desires to exercise their freedom could impact another’s. So, what are the reasonable minimal limits that should be put in place to prevent that? For this I think we need to look at what real harm could befall a citizen that should reasonably be prevented. We have all heard the classic line that your right to swing your fist through the air ends where another person’s nose begins which was most likely originated by John Finch in 1882. As far as physical harm goes, I think this is a reasonable limit. Preventing someone from causing physical injury to another citizen is a reasonable limit to place on someone’s ability to exercise their own freedom.

Given that we are currently in the 21st century, I think a couple of more areas need to be addressed as well. The first is a citizen’s economic standing. While we do live in a relatively free market economy, doing something to damage another’s personal finances strikes me as something that should have some reasonable restrictions placed upon it given that a citizen’s ability to exercise their freedom is directly tied to their personal wealth. This is a topic that I think our society needs to examine more closely but that could be the subject of an entire article on its own. Finally, the second is an individual’s mental health. Avoiding the concepts of safe spaces and trigger warnings for the moment, any action that causes harm to citizen’s mental health, to the point that a group of trained mental health professionals would uniformly agree that the damaged citizen would need professional mental health intervention, should be limited as well. This is sort of the mental version of the swinging one’s fist through the air argument above.

So, as far as reasonable restrictions on an individual’s personal freedom, we have limitations based upon not causing physical or mental harm to a citizen. In addition, actively working to damage a citizen’s personal finances should be limited as well. If you do not agree with these basic barriers, you should probably stop reading this article now. For the rest of us, we can now get to the second piece of this article which will address the transgender community specifically.

Within the above limitations, I honestly do not see how one can argue that the desire of any individual to physically or otherwise change their gender to whatever they wish can in any way harm another citizen’s freedom. Changing one’s gender clearly has no physical impact on anyone else. Obviously, it has the potential to have this impact on the individual desiring to change but, it is their freedom to do so. Does someone changing their gender cause financial harm to other citizens? Some might argue that it may impact their health insurance rates but this strikes me as an assertion that would need some data to back it up. Furthermore, if the individual undergoing any sort of medical treatment covers the expenses out of their own finances, then the argument is rendered completely mute anyway. Finally, comes the mental health question. Does someone altering their gender or gender presentation cause harm to a citizen to the point that the individual would require professional mental health intervention? In all of my reading I have not personally seen anything to indicate that this is a possibility. So, within the limitations previously defined on a person’s ability to express their freedom an individual’s desire to alter their gender seems to have no impact on other citizen’s freedoms.

If you truly believe in an American citizen being able to exercise their freedom, what argument can be brought to the table that altering one’s gender should not be allowed? It is at this point that religion will likely enter the picture. However, America is a country that does not favor one religion over any other or over the laws governing the behavior of its citizens. As a result, religion cannot be invoked as a valid argument in this case. So, within the above limits to affecting other citizen’s freedom, and without invoking an argument based upon religious doctrine, what case can be made against an individual’s right to decide upon their gender? If there is a case to be made against it within those restrictions, I’m all ears.

Of course, the irony of this whole situation is that the one political party which most regularly and quite vocally invokes the word “freedom” is that very same party that works most vehemently against the rights of an individual to alter their gender. Thus, as I stated initially, this leaves me questioning whether everyone invoking that term truly understands what it means.

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Category: Transgender Opinion, Transgender Politics


About the Author ()

Diane was born and raised in New Jersey. She has two fully grown sons and a husband of thirteen years. Diane runs a two small businesses and in her spare time enjoys strategy board gaming.

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  1. scalesman scalesman says:

    I agree with the writer until the final paragraph. The extrapolations that have been used to demean people do not give a complete picture.
    In my view we are entitled to freedom from government and we are in entitled to the benefit of the fruit of our labor. Every dollar taken out of one’s pocket decreases the freedom that that person has to spend that dollar as he or she chooses. This is true whether you are robbed of that dollar at gunpoint or whether it is taken from you by the government in the form of taxes.
    The government has certain limited powers and duties. To give more power to the government takes away our freedoms one dollar at a time and one right at a time.