Alexander Dolitsky: Conversation with a progressive activist on the matter of gender identity

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By ALEXANDER DOLITSKY

Rebecca, a young American in her late 20s, seemed restless; she anxiously wandered around the room in all directions of the compass. Then, she asked me, “Alexander, do you believe in death?” 

I was somewhat astounded by the question but answered cautiously and without hesitation, “Yes, I do.” 

“Everlasting?” she followed up. 

“Of course, everlasting. Why do you ask such a trivial question? Eventually, we all will biologically vanish, forever,” I responded.

“Well, do you ever think about your legacy?” she continued.

 “Not on a daily basis; but, yes, I do from time-to-time,” I answered.

“Please don’t be offended; take my question in the friendly spirit with which it is intended. I’d like to propose two versions of your hypothetical obituary and ask which one you’d prefer. Is that OK?” she asked sheepishly, looking straight to my eyes. 

“Okay, shoot,” I smiled and answered with an expression of friendliness.

“Thanks. Here is the first version: “Alexander D. was born and raised in such-and-such place, he was educated in such-and-such institutions, he was accomplished in many areas of his life, including achievements in many academic fields. In death, he preceded his ideologically progressive, far-left child who, as an adult, considered themselves to be non-binary and requested to be referred to as ‘they/them.’ This was an identity and ideology that Alexander D. reluctantly accepted.”

Certainly, Rebecca’s first hypothetical version of my legacy/obituary got my attention. “And what is the second version?” I asked, with obvious curiosity.

“The second version is this: “Alexander D. was born and raised in a such-and-such place, he was educated in such-and-such institutions, he was accomplished in many areas of his life, including achievements in many academic fields. In death, he preceded his ideologically progressive, far-left child who, as an adult, considered themselves to be non-binary and requested to be referred to as ‘they/them.’ This was an identity and ideology that Alexander D. sadly rejected.”

I was puzzled by Rebecca’s questions and the direction she was headed. 

“So, what version of your hypothetical legacy/obituary would appeal to you?” Rebecca asked with a smirky smile. 

I looked directly into Rebecca’s smirky eyes, which were radiating signals of distorted compliments, and replied, “Rebecca, I understand your implication of and reference to my child’s decision to begin using plural pronoun “them/they” in reference to themself. You know that this has been a difficult transition for our family. 

“Keep in mind, Rebecca, that social anthropologists define kinship terminology systems as a set of words (e.g., mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, etc.) used in various languages ​​and cultures to describe or label specific relationships between relatives. Societies in different parts of the world use more or less the same terminological patterns of kinship. Indeed, kinship terminology is fundamental for the preservation of the nuclear family.” 

Rebecca objected with an accusatory voice, “But this traditional kinship terminology, both nouns and pronouns, does not adequately describe some peoples’ gender identity.  They are not masculine or feminine; they are something in between. It is a science, you know.” 

“Rebecca, don’t confuse the word science with the practice of scientific inquiries. Science is not a subject like math, physics, astronomy, anthropology, and so on. Science is a method and methodology. It’s a procedure, a process used by scientists for the scientific inquiries of the natural world. Scientists ask logical questions, propose  logical hypotheses, testproposed hypotheses, collect and analyze data, prove or disprove proposed and tested hypotheses, derive to logical conclusions, and, finally, propose explanations based on the evidence derived from their research,”  I said.

“Alexander, it is a proven fact that peoples’ gender identity may evolve and change in the course of their life. A child may be born as a girl (feminine) and gradually evolve into a boy (masculine). My 3-year old niece is convinced that she is a boy. She always yells to my aunt: ‘Mom, mom, I am a boy,’” Rebecca argued. 

“Rebecca,” I countered, “an innocent 3-year old child dressed as an elephant during a Halloween or his/her birthday party will also innocently believe in being an elephant. Don’t you think so?

“More importantly, Rebecca, it is a proven biological fact that peoples’ hormones—the chemical substances that act like messenger molecules in the body—will definitely change in the course of their life. This is evidenced by the changes people experience in metabolism, appetite, growth and development, mood, stress, and body temperatures as they age. 

“Additionally, it is an undeniable biological fact that peoples’ chromosomes (masculine or feminine) will not change in the course of their life. The X and Y chromosomes, also known as the sex chromosomes, determine the biological sex of an individual. Females inherit an X chromosome from the father for a XX genotype, while males inherit a Y chromosome from the father for a XY genotype (mothers only pass on X chromosomes).”

“Well, fine,” Rebecca reacted angrily. “So, what version of your hypothetical legacy would appeal to you, the first or the second?” she asked abruptly.

“Each of us has ownership of our life, identity, and ideologies. We can choose to vehemently disagree with the gender identity decisions that our friends and loved ones make,” I said. “Yet, it’s important to recognize that in spite of genetics or our personal ideologies, each person has the freedom to determine the course of their life and the decisions made there-in. 

“Our freedom, however, can be used for good or ill. Ultimately, we are given freedom that we might freely choose the good—not like robots, but like humans. That is really the only purpose of free will—to choose the good. When it is misused to choose that which is hurtful or harmful or delusional, then it is misappropriated.

“We must certainly make every effort to love and respect every human as children of God, but without fostering or enabling a harmful fantasy that ultimately changes the course of their life.

“My life and my identity belong only to me, and to nobody else. I cannot and will not compromise my life, my beliefs, faith, ideology and factual truth. So, in regard to your question, and from the Judeo-Christian values and perspectives, my legacy ought to be the second version that: 

“Alexander D. was born and raised in a such-and-such place, he was educated in such-and-such institutions, he was accomplished in many areas of his life, including achievements in many academic fields. In death, he preceded his ideologically progressive, far-left child who, as an adult, considered themselves to be non-binary and requested to be referred to as ‘they/them.’ This was an identity and ideology that Alexander D. sadly rejected.”

Alexander B. Dolitsky was born and raised in Kiev in the former Soviet Union. He received an M.A. in history from Kiev Pedagogical Institute, Ukraine, in 1976; an M.A. in anthropology and archaeology from Brown University in 1983; and was enroled in the Ph.D. program in Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College from 1983 to 1985, where he was also a lecturer in the Russian Center. In the U.S.S.R., he was a social studies teacher for three years, and an archaeologist for five years for the Ukranian Academy of Sciences. In 1978, he settled in the United States. Dolitsky visited Alaska for the first time in 1981, while conducting field research for graduate school at Brown. He lived first in Sitka in 1985 and then settled in Juneau in 1986. From 1985 to 1987, he was a U.S. Forest Service archaeologist and social scientist. He was an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Alaska Southeast from 1985 to 1999; Social Studies Instructor at the Alyeska Central School, Alaska Department of Education from 1988 to 2006; and has been the Director of the Alaska-Siberia Research Center (see www.aksrc.homestead.com) from 1990 to present. He has conducted about 30 field studies in various areas of the former Soviet Union (including Siberia), Central Asia, South America, Eastern Europe and the United States (including Alaska). Dolitsky has been a lecturer on the World Discoverer, Spirit of Oceanus, andClipper Odyssey vessels in the Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. He was the Project Manager for the WWII Alaska-Siberia Lend Lease Memorial, which was erected in Fairbanks in 2006. He has published extensively in the fields of anthropology, history, archaeology, and ethnography. His more recent publications include Fairy Tales and Myths of the Bering Strait Chukchi, Ancient Tales of Kamchatka; Tales and Legends of the Yupik Eskimos of Siberia; Old Russia in Modern America: Russian Old Believers in Alaska; Allies in Wartime: The Alaska-Siberia Airway During WWII; Spirit of the Siberian Tiger: Folktales of the Russian Far East; Living Wisdom of the Far North: Tales and Legends from Chukotka and Alaska; Pipeline to Russia; The Alaska-Siberia Air Route in WWII; and Old Russia in Modern America: Living Traditions of the Russian Old Believers; Ancient Tales of Chukotka, and Ancient Tales of Kamchatka.

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21 COMMENTS

  1. So basically she clumsily tried to set a gotcha trap and pouted when you refused to take the bait.

    I run into this constantly in Juneau. Progressives so convinced of their righteousness they fail to build a convincing argument. Then get mad when I pick their positions apart logically.

    This just further cements my opinion most progressives mentally and emotionally never move beyond middle school

    • It’s a problem across all ideologies MA.

      Alexander revealed his opinion early in the conversation when he said he looked into her smirky eyes.

    • MA, “scientifically proven ‘facts'” has become an oxymoron. The denial of genetic reality is mind-boggling. The insistence of the “truth” of their condition and the insistence on public approval and celebration of their deviance is a hallmark of mental illness, not a freeing of inner personhood. Objective truth no longer exists – truth is defined by the influencers who have the loudest mouths and the most money behind them.

  2. Obituaries usually don’t denigrate offspring, this will be Alexander’s last chance to alienate people that are not the same as him

    • No. ‘People that are not the same as him’, as you put it, have pretty much done all the alienation there is to do, long before their relatives have passed.

    • What makes you think Alexander wants to alienate people?
      No one holds any responsibility whatsoever to ensure someone else does not get alienated, upset, or whatever. In this story, Rebecca chose to alienate herself, Alexander did nothing except disagree with her position.
      .
      Unfortunately, this scenario happens way too often. Too many people choose to let their emotional state/feelings/beliefs dictate their behavior to others. Rebecca is trying to use emotion to change another person’s thoughts, and she is doing so against this person’s will. She is choosing to stick her nose into someone else’s private business, and then gets upset when this person does not change.
      .
      In fact, if you use the above column as an example, the person trying to alienate others is Rebecca, not Alexander.

    • you are either profoundly clueless or profoundly obtuse.

      I will allow a mix of both.

      You’re so not good at this the fun is in pointing it out.

    • Frank, obituaries in the vast majority of cases are not written by the deceased but by the family they leave behind. Case in point, this young woman’s self-center attitude dictated the tone. Instead of honoring Mr. Dolitsky’s life, she made it all about herself. She cowardly avoided structuring her hypothetical around her OWN obituary. You can bet in the event of his passing she would place the first version in the paper, as he is no longer there to speak for himself, and she can pretend to have received his approval.

    • The obituary should be about the deceased. But even in death all the attention has to be on you and your political nonsense.

    • Life is filled with offense and alienation of others. If it were compulsory to affirm everyone else’s ideology’s, feelings and wishes, I’d no longer be an autonomous person. That’s what you want and expect but it’s not reality. I’m sure Saul Alinsky would be proud of your denigration of the author for what I consider to be his well thought out position however.

  3. I have always respected Alexander’s writings, but I am sad to see that he would choose to become alienated from his child rather than simply open his heart and enjoy what brief time he has left on earth by being a part of their life, now matter how they choose to live it. Does his rejection make any difference, or does it just make them all sadder and lonelier?
    History should tell us that we do not have veto power over the next generation. It’s not worth losing our connection with them over things that we simply cannot control. Life is too short.

    • So is your solution just to lay down and roll over? What is that teaching the next generation? Holding up a mirror to irrational, solely emotion driven children/young adults is a parents responsibility and loving them as a person, not as their narcissistic ideas, is demonstrated here. In the end it is Rebecca, who isolates herself by making her sexuality the only measure of acceptance. Simply being kind and respectful regardless of your bedroom partner choices would make the world a lot more tolerant and livable.

      • Parents who refuse to acknowledge their children’s life choices and withhold love from them because of their own personal opinions, will spend their final years bitter and alone.

        The biological part of this debate is fairly easy to define, the mental/emotional side is a far different story. If someone has spent their life feeling that they are more female than male (or vice-versa) who are we to deny them the right to live as they choose?

        Many commenters on MRAK constantly raise the alarm that the left is trying to infringe on our freedoms and tell us how to live our lives. When I see the comments on this article, I have to wonder if they are really any different?

        I am in no way saying that we should allow children to be surgically altered, nor that people be allowed to use bathrooms and locker rooms of the opposite physical gender, nor that they should be competing in the wrong sporting events, nor that the government should pay for their altering surgery. I am not saying that anyone should have to make any specific accommodation other than the simple respect for their rights that we all expect from everyone else.

        All I am saying is: live and let live. If you can’t love your child in spite of their life choices, I feel sorry for you.

  4. It’s a perfect example of the lack of knowledge and brains some 20 somethings of today have.
    They are Facebook idiots that follow the fringe, the fads, and they honestly believe you can change your sex.
    All day long, a man is a man, and a woman is a woman.
    Shows how messed up this current world is.. All they think about is themselves and their kinks! Disgusting!

  5. Why would a child’s gender identity even be addressed in a one paragraph summation of someone else’s entire life? Incredible narcissism.

  6. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve been told ‘You need to accept this!’ Sorry, but I do not NEED to accept s*#t. And what’s more, you can’t force acceptance on another, as it’s a voluntary act. You can still be a sibling, parent, or other family member, without accepting that some guy in a dress is a woman.

  7. At some way or another, I a disagree with everyone I know, including relatives. I do not see these varying degrees of disagreement causing alienation. In fact, the discourse arising from disagreements often strengthens relationships. Can you think of anyone who agrees with another on every single thing under the sun?

  8. Great job, Alexander. We can love our children without accepting all of their lifestyle choices. We can love them, even while disapproving of their pot-smoking or their sexual proclivities or the fact that they are a blight to the neighborhood with cars up on blocks all over their property. There is nothing that says we have to accept everything about them as perfect just because they came from us. And for those brat-niks that keep trying to force their parents to refer to them as “they,” this is just disrespectful to their elders, narcissistic, and spoiled. There are more than two ways to write the obituary, Rebecca. And one of the alternate ways might be, “he was the parent of a child who had no idea what he had gone through and who foisted her gender ideology on the family in an aggressive and unnecessary way.” There, fixed it for ya, Rebecca.

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