Ralph Northam and the Limits of Forgiveness

Friday, a 35-year-old yearbook photo of Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam exploded across the internet. The picture shows two men, one in blackface and the other wearing a KKK hood, on Northam’s page in the 1984 yearbook of the Eastern Virginia Medical School, where he was a student. Northam apologized for the photo, without saying which of the figures was him. Later, he said neither was, but that he had worn blackface to imitate Michael Jackson in a dance contest around the same time.

Immediately, there were calls for him to resign the governorship he won in 2017. By the weekend, they were coming from all the major Virginia Democrats, including Senators Kaine and Warner. So far, Northam has refused to resign, but he still may.

I admit to being torn about this. My initial reaction wasn’t that this was a resign-immediately offense. But being so out of step with most other Democrats makes me acutely aware of the limitations of my point of view. This is a moment where I am very conscious of being white. The photo wasn’t intended to offend me, so it’s easy for me to say, “It was a long time ago. Let’s accept his apology and move on.”

I’m also conscious of being old. I remember Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who served in the Senate from 1959 until his death in 2010. Byrd was a member of the Democratic leadership in the Senate: majority leader from 1987-1989, and President pro Tempore of the Senate (next in line for the presidency after the Speaker of the House) from 2003-2007. In short, he was not some shameful figure the Democratic Party hid in the attic.

Byrd hadn’t just taken a photo dressed up as KKK (or next to somebody dressed up as KKK). In his youth, he actually was KKK.

In the early 1940s, Byrd recruited 150 of his friends and associates to create a new chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in Sophia, West Virginia.

How was that possible? Well, he changed.

In his last autobiography, Byrd explained that he was a KKK member because he “was sorely afflicted with tunnel vision—a jejune and immature outlook—seeing only what I wanted to see because I thought the Klan could provide an outlet for my talents and ambitions.” Byrd also said in 2005, “I know now I was wrong. Intolerance had no place in America. I apologized a thousand times … and I don’t mind apologizing over and over again. I can’t erase what happened.”

When he died, civil-rights hero Congressman John Lewis wrote a tribute calling Byrd “a true statesman“.

Not so long ago, change of that magnitude could be accepted. Late in his career, even famous segregationist George Wallace changed.

In the late 1970s, Wallace announced that he was a born-again Christian and apologized to black civil rights leaders for his past actions as a segregationist. He said that while he had once sought power and glory, he realized he needed to seek love and forgiveness. In 1979, Wallace said of his stand in the schoolhouse door: “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they ought to be over.” He publicly asked for forgiveness from blacks.

Now, it’s entirely possible that Wallace hadn’t changed at all: Maybe he had been an opportunist as a segregationist, and he was still an opportunist when he asked for forgiveness. The difference may not have been anything that happened in Wallace’s conscience, but the fact that by the late 1970s blacks were voting in large numbers. I don’t think we’ll ever really know.

And perhaps the people who accepted these sorts of conversions were also simply being pragmatic: In the Alabama and West Virginia of the late 20th century, just about every white person had some kind of racist past. A party that was too pure to reclaim them would give up any possibility of being a majority.

Maybe we’re past all that now. Maybe we can throw out all the whites who have any racism in their past, and still hope for a majority. Maybe we can also throw out all the men who have ever done anything sexist, and all the straights who have a history of homophobia. Maybe America has changed so much that a party of people who don’t need any forgiveness can be a majority now.

But I have to confess, I have my doubts about that.

I worry that we’re playing into Trump’s hands when we drum Ralph Northam out of the Democratic Party. As I interpret it, Trump’s message to wavering whites and men and straights goes something like this:

You’re never going to be pure enough to satisfy the liberals. So you might as well wear your MAGA hat and fly your Confederate flag, because no matter what you do, there’s never going to be a place for you on the other side.

I’m open to the idea that Ralph Northam can’t be governor any more. Virginians seem to be saying that, and ultimately it’s their decision. I also like the idea that there’s a clear difference between the parties: Democrats would never let a man become president who brags about his sexual assaults while claiming that his accusers are too unattractive to be worth assaulting.

But as we watch Northam leave the public stage, as I suspect he will, I hope that doesn’t end the discussion. We need to think hard about where the limits of forgiveness are and how one seeks it.

Because I don’t think we’re ever going to find enough pure people to form a majority.

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Comments

  • Barb  On February 4, 2019 at 10:26 am

    YES. You are struggling with exactly what I am struggling with. As a Christian must I not forgive? May I look at the worst thing (at least I hope it is the worst thing) that a person did and cast him out regardless of how he has lived his life? And if one must be perfect to be a leader then how will we ever have leaders? And the “concerned citizen” who brought this to light apparently had his or her own agenda because he or she was upset about the comments made by the governor about late-term abortion, which were WIDELY misreported by the press. I fear that Governor Northam will eventually resign because it is unlikely that he will be able to lead the Commonwealth effectively after this, but I am struggling with why that is true. And then there is that whole judge not lest ye be judged phrase that keeps rolling in my head. Anyway, as is often the case you said what I was thinking, but in much better words.

  • madelonw1011  On February 4, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Thank you for writing this. I too am white, and old, but female. I am a currently a member of my county Democratic Party after adding a party affiliation to my voter registration. For most of my life, I have considered myself independent. I became an official Democrat during the Obama administration so that I could have a voice in the 2016 primary. Like you, I was ready to accept the Northam’s apology and move on. However, after listening to public speakers I respect, I am not in favor of accepting the apology. He should have gotten out in front of this. If he had said “I did this thing” and made his amends before the election, he would not be facing these demands for resignation now. My personal philosophy on a person’s ability to change says that we have ALL done some stupid thing for which we are not proud. However, if we own it and move on to better things, we have demonstrated that we have changed. If we deny the stupid and ignorant things we did when we were young, we haven’t progressed.

  • Kenneth Apple  On February 4, 2019 at 10:43 am

    The quality of the apology counts for a lot. Also, 1989 was not 1949. The quality of his apology was poor, he seems to have little understanding of the line he crossed or willingness to speak about it and put people at ease. Also re: Barb above, I don’t think Christianity calls for you to give up your ability to see a con man for what he is and act accordingly. If we, as a party, are going to hold the Republicans to one standard and ourselves to another, we are them.

    • Barb Mantegani  On February 4, 2019 at 11:56 am

      I have to disagree with your characterization of the governor as a con man. Pretty harsh judgment that does exactly what troubles me, which is that it judges his entire life on his worst moment. Just strikes me a a bit sanctimonious since you are judging him as a con man and giving me that judgment as your reason that my Christian beliefs do not require me to at least consider forgiveness in this case.

      • Gina  On February 4, 2019 at 12:57 pm

        He didn’t judge the man based on his worst moment, in fact his entire comment was making the opposite point. He said he’s not judging based on the incident itself but on the “poor quality of the apology” and his seeming lack of understanding of the line he crossed. This, at least was a second “worst” moment for the governor. And I think you can look at person’s demeanor and take a pretty good guess whether they have a lot of “worst moments” in their life.

  • Steve  On February 4, 2019 at 10:45 am

    As always, thank you so much for your thoughtful consideration of this and so many other issues.

    When media and politicians focus the conversation on whether he stays or goes, is Northam (and all of white America including myself) let off the hook for the work of restorative justice and truth and reconciliation? We have a national habit of ejecting (some) people for bad behavior, but never getting to the underlying systemic problem.

    I wish politicians and media were pushing for the underlying issues instead (or at least in addition) and holding him and the rest of the country accountable for doing that restorative justice and healing work. And, of course, the same is true for misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, etc.

    As a white person, my opinion on this doesn’t matter so much. I would love to know what others think about this.

  • Creigh Gordon  On February 4, 2019 at 11:02 am

    I was also surprised at the response. I would have thought there would be discussion of this incident in the context of 33 more years of context and public record on the part of Northam. I haven’t seen that context, except for some comments that Northam sat on this and should have put this out before the election.On that point I find it plausible that this incident hasn’t crossed his mind in years, if at all.

  • Stephen Morillo  On February 4, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I think the key is that Ralph Northam isn’t being drummed out of the Democratic Party. There’s plenty of room for him. But not as a prominent leader. As Kamala Harris said, leadership demands a higher standard. Yes, it was also a weak and confused apology on Northam’s part, but the key is not that we can’t tolerate leaders with this kind of history IF we really want to have a meaningful difference between Dems and GOPs. I say this as a 60 year old straight white guy . This is our history in miniature: if we don’t push for our ideals, even when they seem a bit uncomfortable, we won’t make progress. See Thurgood Marshall on gradualism.

  • Stephen Morillo  On February 4, 2019 at 11:38 am

    Had an extraneous “not” in my previous reply. Sorry. To restate my position, we CAN form a majority of people who, even if they don’t have pure pasts, are certain that racism, sexism, and homophobia have no place in the US today. But the leaders of that majority should almost certainly not have that stuff (much or at all) in their past.

  • Gina  On February 4, 2019 at 11:41 am

    You are so good at giving me another angle to look at something, even when I thought I was secure and certain about my own ideas. After reading this, I was better able to question my motives in supporting those seeking Northam’s resignation, but in the end I still believe he has to go. At my age 30 years just doesn’t seem like a lifetime ago, and I grew up in one of the most racist areas of the country, yet I can’t imagine anybody in my hometown community who would have dressed in blackface or KKK outfit. And I haven’t seen this mentioned, but who the heck decided that photo should go in a yearbook anyway?! As racist as folks were in small town Oklahoma, they preferred to keep it a little more on the down low than that, and there’s just such an arrogance in it that defies forgiveness.

    • Steve  On February 4, 2019 at 4:37 pm

      Thanks for your point about the yearbook placement. That’s another key piece of this issue: that the social environment of that time didn’t question that photo. That is the pervasiveness of racism in action. That pervasiveness is what we need to name, shed light on and repair.

    • weeklysift  On February 7, 2019 at 7:17 am

      The NYT discussed that a day or two ago. They looked through yearbooks from Northam’s school during the era and talked to students who went there, including black students.

      The impression the article leaves is that, although the med school had black students, the white students had very little interaction with them, and so were oblivious to the offensiveness of much of what they did. That obliviousness is racism too, of course, but of a different sort than racism intended to intimidate.

  • Kat  On February 4, 2019 at 12:18 pm

    The comment I have seen that put Northam specifically in context was that in the (main) election he was the best choice since he was considered *less racist* than his opponent. Having grown up in VA and still having family there, I tend to keep an eye on what is happening in the state. The possibility of the photo being published in the eighties, does not surprise me. It is sometimes astonishing what other people find hiLARiously funny – then and now – without thought of what pain it might cause. Grade school humor that lasts into adulthood.

  • drlori@wildblue.net  On February 4, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    Another perspective (from a Virginian) this really follows the un-had discussion started with Kavanaugh. How past is past? Governor Northam originally owned to his mistake and apologized and was told his apology wasn’t good enough. Now he is going down the Kavanaugh track, deny. I won’t be at all surprised if his next step is to go on the attack. That’s exactly what children (and adults) do. We have so many good studies – many not even euro-centric – showing that punishment doesn’t decrease unwanted behavior but teaches children to become better liars. If Northam leaves office due to this Right wing extortion how many more men will learn the lesson that Brett Kavanaugh had the right idea?

    If a legitimate election is overturned in response to the Alt-Right’s publication who gains? Right now the NAACP and VA Black caucus are in a very strong position. They could accept Northam’s apology and hand him a list of their legislative priorities. What we are seeing is American “Justice” and parenting which is all about punishment and not about finding solutions and making the world a better place.

  • Mark  On February 4, 2019 at 4:31 pm

    One of the problems with Gov. Northem and other Republicans is that they want to go straight from wickedness to redemption and forget contrition and repentance.

    • KJR  On February 4, 2019 at 5:02 pm

      Northam is a Democrat with a good record on CIvil RIghts.

  • SamuraiArtGuy  On February 4, 2019 at 5:08 pm

    As a person of some intermediate color, I have often found myself in the midst of these sort of … conversations. At my age, I do tend to prefer the ones that don’t involve thrown objects or blunt force trauma. That said, I do feel there is room for redemption and grave in the case of Gov Northam. Many of us growup and shed the asholery of our youths.

    But DAYUM, brother just keeps on MAKING IT WORSE. I am reasonanbly convinced he’s not a blatant racist, but in every media apperance he is revealing a uttterly stupefying cluelessness about race relations in America. In every press snnippet I have seen so far, it’s like, “oh god oh god oh god, PLEASE SHIT THE HELL UP you moron! Do you love the taste of your own shoes that much?!?!?”

  • KJR  On February 4, 2019 at 5:09 pm

    I had the same reaction as you did. What interested me is that Civil Rights leader Rev. Barber has critiqued the reaction as well, pointing out the difference between a racist photo years ago and the hundreds of politicians engaged in racist actions today. It is a conundrum, but I would imagine, as you do, that most people wouldn’t stand up to purity tests of lifelong thoughts, speech, and action. Think of LBJ, a terrible man with a long history of supporting segregation who was able to pass both the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. It isn’t simple.

  • Abby  On February 4, 2019 at 9:38 pm

    One important difference is that Byrd and Wallace weren’t “caught” being racist. They were completely open about it, and then were completely open about changing their minds. They never claimed to have not done racist things. Northam does have the problem that he apologized for his yearbook photos only after being caught.

  • Maddie  On February 4, 2019 at 11:37 pm

    I’m with Abby. Northram should have been the one to drag this out of the closet and apologize YEARS AGO, which would have pulled the sting out of it for good. I’m angry he allowed the potential to ever exist for this to be weaponized against him. Secrecy is toxic, and burying faults is no way to go about true repentance when you honestly have regret. I expect a leader to be TRANSPARENT about past faults. Else how can I trust in the present that they will listen to criticism without brushing it off, be honest with themselves and others, and accountable when they fall short, so they can continue to grow? That’s my problem with it. I do not for one second believe that he was ignorant of this photo’s existence, or that he just recently discovered how deeply hurtful and wrong the kind of racism displayed in that photo is. He has allowed it to represent him for 35 years, unopposed, without complaint or contrition.

    YOU CAN’T LIE TO PEOPLE IN ORDER TO GAIN THEIR CONSENT. Justice is not served by allowing anyone to gain from a lie. This is feels more like a man hiding vital information about his past self in order to gain a woman’s hand in marriage, knowing she might otherwise decline, and then once the full truth is known to her, fighting the divorce since that’s not who he is now, feeling entitled to keep the relationship as is. That’s just not how it works. It’s different if they know the truth beforehand and are willing to consent afterwards. If he had been willing to accept accountability, with honest humility, knowing that it might hinder his prospects, but caring more about the *informed* consent of his party and potential voters, then I would absolutely say, yes, let him stay. But there’s a lot more to apologize for now, and apologies are supposed to empower the harmed.

    The TL;DR: The problem is not his past racist acts. The problem is his willingness to deceive and withhold apology for this long, for his own benefit.

    Also Northram isn’t being banned from the party, or forbidden to ever run again. He is simply being denied this specific relationship at this particular time. He may still prove to be an effective leader sometime in the future.

    And MOST IMPORTANTLY, THERE IS A PERFECTLY CAPABLE BLACK MAN who will take Northram’s place if he steps down. Since the seat already belongs to the Democrats, we lose nothing in terms of power, and stand to gain even more in terms of leadership.

  • Anonymous Poster  On February 5, 2019 at 3:25 am

    The problem here is that Northam wants people to accept his non-apology despite leaving a few facts in dispute. Who was in the photograph? How did it end up on his yearbook page, if not by Northam’s request? How did he earn the nickname “Coonman”? How many times has he legitimately donned blackface beyond that Michael Jackson performance? (Corollary: How did he not know back then that blackface was offensive and dehumanizing?) And the most important question of all, at least right now: How can Black Virginians trust a man to govern without prejudice towards them when he willingly admitted to putting on blackface?

    Right now, Northam can declare himself “not racist” all he wants; we are under no obligation to believe him. Similarly, if he apologizes for his past misdeeds, we are under no obligation to “forgive” him. Seeking redemption does not erase his past wrongs, nor does redemption exist without provable repentance. Stepping down from office would be a start – a recognition that his past behaviour makes him unworthy to be a leader (for now). Beyond that, I have no ideas on what he could actually do to repent for his “sins”. It cannot, however, resemble the common idea of “redemption” for White men that looks like “staying away from public life for a significant amount of time before coming back and acting as if nothing really happened”. (Hi, Louis CK.)

    I would not want Ralph Northam driven out of politics for good because of this. I believe he has room to change and grow, and to prove that he can be a leader again in time. But he all but lost his privilege to lead the state of Virginia when he admitted to putting on blackface so he could imitate Michael Jackson, so leaving office would be a good start on that path of growth.

  • ramseyman  On February 5, 2019 at 9:28 am

    Regarding Northam’s blackface. When Northam put on the blackface (along with his unmistakable plaid pants) he actually was a Republican. I’m not aware that he’s ever publicly repudiated the racism that that represents, so I’m not sure how that fits with the partisan angle you’re talking about. The fact is, he is now lying and covering up. More importantly, he is currently trying to help his rich corporate friends stick a methane plant in the middle of a black community in Union Hill, Virginia, to much popular outcry. So he can certainly be racist when he wants to be. I can forgive that if he ever admits to it. We all have our faults. But someone like this should not be trying to represent the citizens of Virginia in government.

    • ramseyman  On February 9, 2019 at 9:54 am

      I am reminded of how much can change in a week. The “plaid pants theory” has now been debunked. Northam’s recent behavior is still extremely troubling to me, one of his local constituents, bu perhaps more useful developmentsz will occur as we sort through this.

  • muckibr  On February 5, 2019 at 1:25 pm

    Republican Andrew Card SAID that he believes in the “presumption of innocence”!

    Damn few others apparently believe in the “PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE” when it comes to Governor Ralph Northam.

    HOWEVER, it does appear that some people, if not MOST DEMOCRATS, believe in the presumption of innocence as it concerns the sexual assault charges against Lt.. Governor Justin Fairfax. There are not a lot of people condemning Fairfax or calling for him to resign. WHY NOT?

    The charges against Northam have NOT been proved. He is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVED GUILTY is he not? The same as Fairfax?

    Or is Northam NOT entitled to the presumption of innocence, but Fairfax is?

    Which is FAIR!

    Which is JUST!

    Either condemn them both or give them both the same chance at due process, But at least be CONSISTENT and not hypocritical!!!

  • amotionaldisturbance  On February 5, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Like you could forget creating that costume. Or wearing a clan robe for that matter.

  • jh  On February 5, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    I think a lot of white people are uncomfortable when it comes to race relations. When Northam was a kid (35 years ago), our society was far more blatantly racist. And he grew up in an even more racist time than that. He was born in 1959. The Civil Rights movement was gearing up and in a few years, the Civil Rights act of 64 would be passed. But he grew up with adults who still thought that those black folks deserved to be mistreated.

    Sure – if Northam were in med school now, I’d be saying something entirely different. But I’m willing to give Northam a pass AS LONG AS HE DOESN’T HAVE A PATTERN OF RACIST NONSENSE.

    I was a die hard social conservative and proud Republican a mere decade ago. Should I be condemned for my past positions on topics such as LGBT rights and abortion rights and other issues? If you were to meet me today, you wouldn’t be able to see that former conservative Republican. I changed. (I voted for McCain and that idiot Palin. That says it all for me.)

    Whites are fragile when it comes to race relations. They get into stress just talking about race. It’s either a “I’m guilty” or a “Why should I be guilty” mode that is inherently a psychologically defensive position. (This is also why conservatives get so upset when they are called racist. For whites, being called “racist” is worse than being a racist. It’s mindboggling but true. I’d even argue that for whites to understand why the n-word and others are so racially offensive is to ask them to consider how they feel when somebody says “You’re a racist”. I think whites would understand an approximation of what a black person feels when they hear that epithet hurled at them by some white loser.)

    It’s because whites are fragile that I’m a little more generous and cut them a bit more slack. At least they apologized. (yeah, it’s a low bar. But I also cut other races and groups slack as well on their weak points.) In our culture, saying “I’m sorry” is a big deal and that’s why so many people have a notapology. We aren’t a humble people. We’re the kind of people who will double down on our nonsense if somebody pisses us off.

    Yeah – Northam could have handled it better. But I understand the impulse to minimize something that one is embarrassed by. At least he’s embarrassed. King of Iowa has been saying racially charged nonsense for decades and he’s definitely not embarrassed. (One does wonder at the republican hypocrisy. I say this – before Democrats go purity cult and throw the virgin at the volcano god, we need to demand that Republicans play that same purity game. Otherwise, republicans are just manipulating us. See – Pelosi or HRC. I still don’t understand why any liberal would accept the conclusions of their political enemies. Of course the political enemies don’t want a strong opponent.

    *I was a supporter of Nancy Pelosi. She’s incredibly competent and was able to ram that Obamacare (Republican healthcare plan) through. She was a good leader. A lot of the bills died in Republican held Senate. I don’t like wasting effective assets just because my enemy doesn’t like them. And look at how ineffective the republican men were and that moron Schumer. Nancy outmanuevered Trump. I doubt the Republicans are going to play that shutdown game again. It backfired on them this time. Let’s see what happens in about 10 days. That will tell us a lot about how Republicans are going to deal with a competent opposition leader.

    As for HRC – the most investigated person as well as highly competent in whatever job she had? Only a moron would want a Trump when they could have had a Hillary. It boils down to this – Either she’s innocent which means “fantastic” or she’s a criminal genius who was so smart that she got away with it. Either one works for me.

  • Valerie Cullers  On February 6, 2019 at 7:43 pm

    The real question is not if Governor Northam appeared in Black Face, the question should be, “Is Ralph Northam a Racist?” The answer to that question is probably no. Democrats are sacrificing people on the basis of Identity Politics and Political Correctness. There is no forgiveness or mercy for past mistakes. If you are going to have a zero tolerance policy for mistakes, you will not be able to find anyone to serve, be it Virginia or anywhere else, because no one is perfect. Everyone has made mistakes in their past.

  • KJR  On February 9, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Over the past couple of weeks this has been in the news, I have been concerned with the way the governor addressed the issue. However, I think about my past and the past of most of my friends and wonder if any of us would survive this kind of public scrutiny. I grew up in a family considered liberal, who gave money to MLK and spoke out for civil rights. In college I became feminist and changed my ideas about homosexuality and supported the nascent gay rights movement. I have been active in these and other liberal issues (sanctuary, peace, immigration reform, etc.), however when asked a few years ago to consider running for office if I had “nothing in my past” I didn’t go ahead. I was in my 20’s in the 70’s and like most liberal young people of that era engaged in some behaviors with sex and drugs that people today don’t approve of. I have friends with questionable medical histories, friends who have changed over the years, all of whom would have issues passing a purity test. Moreover, most men and a lot of women are “too sexist”, all of us are, at best, “evolving” when it comes to race, and so on. I suspect most people don’t agree that sex is a completely subjective category, even though they would want to make life more equitable for those who don’t fit well in current gender categories. I loved Obama, but he was late on gay marriage, not as woke as I would like on women’s issues, appointed foxes to guard the henhouse when it came to economics, didn’t go far enough on prison reform, was the “deporter in chief” etc. He failed to close Guantanamo. Hard to say where the line is. I would tend to judge people on how many good things they have done, competence in governing, general value system, and general motivation to serve, rather than delve into their past sins and failings.

    • Gina  On February 9, 2019 at 7:50 pm

      > I suspect most people don’t agree that sex is a completely subjective category,

      Oh that’s excellent! That means you understand that transgender people do not subjectively decide their gender but rather they must be allowed to be what gender they ARE, which is not subjective at all but is inherent, regardless of the shape of one’s genitals. I’m so glad you understand this, as many people consider the shape of the genitals to be the determining factor for gender. Which it is not.

      If you have an interest in understanding this, I would suggest seeking out studies involving the hormones that are released by a mother’s body during pregnancy, which occur at specific times and trigger specific changes in the fetus. Every embryo/fetus starts out as female, and it is a hormonal trigger that causes certain ones to change. The physical change happens in the first trimester. The brain change occurs in the second trimester. You will understand that males and females have different brains. So if the hormonal change triggers a change in genitals in the first trimester, that fetus is, for a while, a female brain inside the body of a male fetus until the change is completed in the second trimester. If something happens to that second hormonal trigger, then the baby will be born with a female brain inside a male body. You can understand why the person herself considers herself female, since it is her brain that she identifies with, not her penis.

      Anyway, there are a lot of different ways these hormonal changes can go wrong, which is why we also have transgender males and homosexuals. It all has to do with the gender of the brain, which is not a binary state at all.

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