New Jersey’s Montclair State University will offer a new class this coming semester. The school’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer Studies Department course will consist of a two-and-a-half hour lecture that will meet once a week. The course is titled: “Queer Identities in a Transforming World: The Trouble With Normal.” The course description states that students will: “explore issues such as gender performance, the third sex, transgender issues, intersex issues, the political underpinnings and the transgressive nature of ‘queer’, the history of queer politics (from AIDS activism to the gay marriage issue), schisms within the LGBTQ political movements, queers and disability, issues of race, class and representation within the queer community, and .” It also notes that participants will “engage in a critical analysis of gender, sexuality, race, class, and ecology, and synthesize methodologies from various disciplines in the humanities to gain a broad intersectional, multicultural and historical understanding of the term queer, and of queer and transgender studies.”
There’s a third sex? I know there are more genders than states in the union, but I was not aware that we’ve identified additional sexes. And what, pray tell, is gender “performance?” Is this a measure of a person’s bedroom capabilities or does it denote, say, a two-spirited person portraying a nanogendered individual on stage at the campus theater? Does anyone really know precisely what “synthesizing methodologies” means? From what I can tell, this is a term so broad, vague and ultimately meaningless that it is only used by those who have no idea what the hell else to say.
Of course, the most preposterous phrase in the course description is “non-human perspectives on queer.” Has the instructor asked a goat its opinion of gay marriage? Has she polled a thousand beavers to see what they think of dental dams? Has she surveyed a herd of ruminating ruminants?
The most telling phrase, however, is in the course title itself: “The Trouble With Normal.”
You see, when what was once considered normal is mocked, marginalized and deemed strange, abnormality becomes normal. And where do we go from there?