There’s something I need to share with my readers. Even my mother doesn’t know, and I’m sorry she has to find out like this. But it’s time to admit to the world what I have hidden for so long, and finally I can speak out, emboldened by this week’s Time cover, which celebrates a fellow traveller. Yes, it’s true: I am an antelope.
Since I was born I have always known that I was an antelope. When, as a child watching the Discovery Channel, I first caught sight of the elegance of antelopes, I knew it was my destiny to roam the savannah with those graceful beasts as part of the herd–or as close as I could get, anyway.
Therefore I have selected a new name, Mhhhlllhrlhhrrrm, which conforms to the conventions of my new species. I would also ask that from now on you substitute “qu’zhim**†” and “qu’zhis**†” for the pronouns “he” and “his,” which are vestigial remains of entrenched, oppressive orthodoxy.
I request that you refer to me as an antelope from now on. I also demand that you give me a uniquely privileged status in any and all debates on this subject since you, as a cis white middle-class biped cannot possibly have the intelligence, insight or empathy to understand what I am going through.
(My insistence that I ought to have been born bovine renders me the sole authority in biology, regardless of the impact of predicating delusion over reality in language and public policy. So to hell with your common sense.)
I know what you’re thinking and yes, between you and me, we both know that I am not really an antelope. I have stuck on some fake horns and looked up on YouTube how antelopes sound so I can “pass.” (It’s a bit like a dog bark, since you ask.) We also know that society is doing me a great courtesy in allowing me to call myself an antelope, pick my own pronouns and apply for an Animal Kingdom passport.
But I will not allow you under any circumstances to question or discuss this obvious truth. Not calling me by my new name or giving way to me on my preferred pronouns, however cumbersome and absurd they are, is an act of barbaric, ungulate-shaming antelophobia and I will tell all my antelope mates on Twitter to call your employer and have you sacked.
There are of course plenty of freshly-minted antelopes who consider their private lives private, and who simply want to live normal lives. The colossal damage I and my fellow activist antelopes do to them is a pity but it cannot be allowed to stand in the way of my grandstanding and attention-seeking.
Some say it’s not a question of “biological fact” what I call myself. I am inclined to agree. Species is of course a rigid term relating to strictly genetic matters. I prefer “variety,” which, like your human term “gender,” has been redefined as a more fluid concept, better suited to the modern world.
Never mind that the words I am demanding, in the shrillest possible fashion, threatening you with bile and opprobrium should you dare to suggest that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, bear no relation to reality. Never mind that any idiot can surmise I’m just a man in an animal skin.
I shouldn’t have to bow to the oppressive social construct you call “the truth.” After all, these days, if you say something’s true loudly and for long enough, true it becomes. Or, at a bare minimum, the other side is so exasperated and tired they let you win for a quiet life.
From now on, merely referring to me as non-antelope in present or past tense is an act of shameful heteropatriarchal violence designed to bully me, ridicule me, undermine my autonomy and deny me the free expression to which I am entitled.
There will be people who will say: “He–sorry, qu’zhim**†–is little more than a marionette. A figure, a sprite. A pale imitation of antelopehood. He knows nothing of the struggle that real antelopes go through.” These people are sexist, homophobic, transspeciesist pigs. (No offence to my friends on the farmyard.)
I am an antelope. And you will… stop that–no, there’s nothing behind the curtain, just–hey, come back!