Each late-winter and spring my attention to fluidity perks up as small amounts of daily thaw reach the shadow on the north of the house where wet converts to a glassy glacier that creeps expanding along my path outdoors. It’s treacherous. One misstep and you go down like a bowling pin. This time of year is a lesson in fluidity seen in the non-fluid form of plate glass night ice that shines in the morning like multiple suns or in the massive rafts of white ice on the big lake where the wind pushes them along like ten thousand ton bulldozers sent to scour the shore. I dread the break-a-leg slipperiness of my backdoor glacier but have come to welcome the annual reminder that fluidity is itself less than sure or constant in result. Water is water, but there’s a big difference between cautiously traversing an ice field and a quick dash across rain wet paving stone. (Like the earth crust ice is fluid but on a slower time frame than we normally observe.)

Maybe milk is a better way to examine fluidity; at least so far as leaving the relative solidity of the cow out of it. Milk is reliably fluid, but if frozen loses much of its milky integrity. But most ways we use it to drink or in food it’s as reliably fluid as anything that can be poured into a glass or measured by the cup is able to be. Then again it’s easy enough to carry on with milky fluidity into hot chocolate that doesn’t much look milky white unless it’s topped with marshmallows or whipped cream. But you couldn’t say it’s a natural consequence of milk being liquid that turns it into cocoa. Other things are done to make that change; one from which there’s no going back that I’m aware of. Liquid milk can likewise be made into cream, butter, cheese, or ice cream. Do you get drinking milk back by adding water to heavy cream or cheese? You’d get something certainly but it’s not a carbon copy of milk from the carton. But then if we heat cheese up it will get runny though not in the way liquid milk runs. Melted cheese is less a beverage than it is a burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth danger in pizza. I’m not sure what we’d get heating up curds, and I’m not curious enough to give that a try.

A concept as apparently clear and simple as the term fluid depends largely on a moment in time. Fluid water can become ice and then return to being water again, but are we talking about the nature of water and ice as fluids or do we mean the conversion is fluid? I started thinking this over because there’s considerable talk (the sort that pleases some and discomforts others) that gender is fluid. It’s an interesting idea that some approach with deadly seriousness as an absolute and undeniable truth. I think I get the idea behind gender fluidity, but I also find it very daunting to class as fluid an actual application or transfer of gender involving a massive amount of determined dedication along with serious chemical and surgical requirements. I would not call all that concerted and extremely involved effort fluid unless I wanted to trivialize its gravity. It seems to me that fluid is far too flippant a term to apply to gender. JK Rowling might because she has magic wands to work with, but for the actual people needing or considering this area of vital importance to their humanity a claim of gender fluidity is misleadingly simplistic. It’s not like adding cocoa powder and heat to get hot chocolate.

I’m not making light of anyone’s sense of personal identity. How an individual feels and how they see themselves as a person is a very big deal. I happen to have a quite strong bias about the importance of persona or being and frankly don’t think it’s anyone’s place to meddle with what route or path an individual is on as they become or express who they are. The integrity of an individual is extremely important to them and to me. I’d hardly class as fluid my own struggles with the who and what of my makeup. I suspect if identity was fluid and able to be poured with relative ease from one vessel into another it would be of no more consequence to being who we are than selecting the socks to wear for the day.

Let me suggest that gender fluidity is an oversimplification; one I’d further argue asserts an error in thought. I can tell you this. My gender has shown no sign of fluid change. Closest I get is the production of fluids; something that is not at all the same as fluidity of gender. No amount of thinking about it will magic wand one sex into the other. For those who make what I consider the error of asserting gender fluidity let me correct that to behavioral fluidity. Who out there would wager any serious amount that behavior (and or attitude) as by far more fluid than gender or a status as female or male? In all but a very few cases gender is not assigned because it is quite apparent an infant has one set or another. That’s not assignment. That’s biology.

I wonder how many are mad at me now. You’re free to do so as I’m free to raise reasonable issue over important questions that are not foregone conclusions. In any case, I’m equally wonder struck being told that on one hand gender is fluid while on another I hear one gender is violent by nature. If that’s the case, and its one not rarely made, then that position slams the door on there being gender fluidity. Apparently wearing a dress and putting on lipstick will not make me less violent. Comical, yes, but there’s not much gain if while wearing makeup I act abusive. Best I can make of it a gender shift on my part would yield a particularly ugly woman with a poor attitude. Is that what’s needed?