6-19-15 – A modest proposal in the spirit of Caitlyn Jenner and Rachel Dolezal

Posted by Rob Roper

Nobody can have missed the recent stories of Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner, a genetic man who self-identifies as a woman, and Rachel Dolezal, a genetic Caucasian who self-identifies as African American – so successfully she rose to head the Spokane chapter of the NAACP!

There are many debates going on around the country regarding how governments and laws should deal with people who self-identify as something other than what their genetic attributes would otherwise indicate. If you have male genitalia and a Y chromosome, for example, something in your psychological make-up can and should trump those physical realities, so goes the thinking, and the law should respect that.

So, in that spirit, here is my modest proposal: if my legal sex or ethnicity should not be bound by physical realities, why should my legal residency? Why not let citizens “self-identify” as to what state and town they are from?

Popping up on Facebook from time to time is a “quiz” that determines what state you’re really identify with. Answer the questions and you find out that at heart you are a Texan or an Alaskan or whatever. Why should I be labeled as being from one place if I really identify as being from somewhere else? Certainly if things as concrete as one’s genes can be legally swept aside, something as arbitrary as a temporary physical presence between man-made municipal boundaries can be overlooked, no?

From now on, I think I would like to self-identify as being from the city of Huntsville, Alabama in the state of New Hampshire despite physically continuing to live in Stowe, Vermont, where I am “trapped” by employment. And, just as a male self-identifying as a female forgoes the men’s locker room for the women’s, I will forgo Stowe and Vermont’s tax laws for those of my self-identified places of “residency.” Alabama has the country’s lowest property taxes and New Hampshire, of course, has no income or sales taxes. I would also vote in, receive benefits from, purchase health insurance, etc. in my self-identified districts. No Vermont Health Connect for me!

Silly? Perhaps…. But with the cyber-world playing a larger and larger part of our real world lives, it’s not entirely inconceivable to imagine a time when we could choose at least some of the laws we live under with the click of a mouse instead of renting a U-Haul. It would certainly be an interesting study to see what the implications would be for policy if people were able to “vote with their feet” without actually having to move them.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute

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