My former professor, Dr. Mark Mitchell, wrote a great essay at Front Porch Republic a few days back. He examines the controversies over gender in recent years, including the recent push in Sweden to be gender-neutral to the extent of replacing the pronouns "him" and "her" with the proposed neutral "hen."
Dr. Mitchell targets the crux of the issue: The wrongheaded pursuit of equality. Many forms of equality are good and noble goals, but an obsession with equality leads down troubled roads. From the article (click here to read the whole thing):
However, in democratic ages, where equality is the highest social and political priority, even the slightest inequalities will give offense. Thus, the more equal a society becomes, the more glaring even the smallest inequalities will appear. Yet, we must at the same time recall the wise words of Edmund Burke. He understood that perfect equality will simply never be achieved. Inequalities of all kinds seem to be, well, just part of life. If we consider these two insights together, it appears that in our futile attempt to achieve perfect equality, we will find ourselves perpetually offended even as we approach that illusive ideal. A society of perpetual offense does not sound like a pleasant place.
When we attempt to overcome even natural distinctions like gender in pursuit of a hyper-equality, we destroy other good ends. Actual diversity and variety must be thrown out the window in order to make room for this sort of hyper-equality vacuum. A boy can't conform to gender norms if he wants to, because he must first be forced to exist in and recognize a vacuum from which he can then choose whether or not to accept gender norms. So we strip away every part of a child in an attempt to get them to make ten thousand active choices about just who they want to be. It's self-actualization at its most heinous.
And what a lot of pressure to place on a child! Rather than receiving direction, guidance, and a set of norms from their parents and society, children are increasingly expected to decide who they want to be, what they believe, and what they want to do. Except, they are simply incapable of doing this from a young age. Or, at least, they aren't able to choose very well.
As a practical example, if your daughter decides she wants to eat only cookies, do you let her? If not, why then do you let her make all her own moral or social rules? Are we allowed to care for bodies but not for minds? Adults bear a responsibility to teach and guide younger generations. An "equality" which strips the younger generation of all definition and guidance does no one any favors. This kind of "freedom" is a bondage.