The second episode of Season Two of the X Files, ‘The Host’, is generally regarded as a classic episode, favourably remembered for its iconic monster-of-the-week. Misleadingly, the title doesn’t refer to the creature but its victims. In actual fact, then, there is no single character in the episode to whom the title refers. The host is anyone who falls victim to the bite of the flukeman.
In a sense, then, the question of identity is built into the very fabric of the episode. Almost like gendered pronouns, the title doesn’t really refer accurately enough to that which it is supposed to signify.
It is a question that should be faced more often than it actually is – just how does the system handle such a creature’s prosecution? When it is actually in custody, it isn’t yet known that the creature is of human origin. It is, however, guilty of causing the deaths of two men. Five episodes from now, Mulder will be faced with the same issue. John, the Son in ‘3’ denies murder, claiming that, as a vampire, his taking the life of a human being is akin to a snake eating a fly (Mulder points out it is frogs which eat flies). It is a logical point; if a vampire is not human it cannot be guilty of murder any more than a lion killing a gazelle or a human being killing a cow. In ‘The Host’ the issue isn’t concerned with the morality of killing to eat but the need to procreate resulting in the death of the human victim. Again, however, there is an example from nature. The flatworm may be a particularly cringe-worthy example of nature’s infinite possibilities but it has, objectively speaking, as much right to exist as any other creature. If the host of this obligate endoparasite dies as a consequence there is no way the flatworm can be said to have committed murder.
While the X Files can be enjoyed on a purely visceral level, there is always – as with any good story – a metaphorical level to be considered. Here, it is the question of identity. “This is not a man,” proclaims an irate Mulder, “It’s a monster.” To which Skinner reasonably asks, “Then what do you do with it, Agent Mulder, put it in a zoo?” The identity of flukeman is key to its treatment. Should a transgender person, for instance, if convicted of a crime, be sent to a prison determined by the sex at birth or the sex after realignment?
I will interject here to clarify terminology. The term ‘transgender’ is erroneous and misleading. Gender, as every modern social and psychological theory recognises, is culturally conditioned. A socially conditioned orientation cannot be realigned surgically.
Surgery only works on a biological level, therefore on one’s biological sex. Those who, today, are referred to as ‘transgender’ should, more accurately, be identified as ‘trans-sexual’. Correctly identifying individuals could avoid situations in which biological males who transition to female are mistakenly sent to women’s prisons even though they remain masculine in gender. Not using accurate terminology can have life-threatening consequences. Political correctness never saved anyone’s life; accurately identifying threat does.
No purpose is served by pretending that flukeman is in anyway human, whatever his origins. Human language is plasticine and can be moulded in anyway we like. But irresponsibly gerrymandering the language to fit our ill-informed liberal illusions will result in a self-delusion that risks the lives of those it seeks to serve. Who benefits from bastardising pronouns to suit the self-denying?
A ‘transgendered’ person isn’t ‘transgendered’ any more than a ‘he’ who insists on being referred to as ‘they’ is actually plural. All this really indicates is that the individual has no real sense of their own textuality, is unable to confidently inscribe their own text and so demands justification from others to give their story meaning. Which, in effect, makes any ‘transitioning’ dishonest, if it was undertaken in the belief that it would enable a more real existence. Basically, it’s a lie, a self-deception that requires the participation of everyone in order to work.
The flukeman is no more human than a transgendered person is changed from one gender to another. A masculine male transexual becomes a masculine female because the gender was culturally inscribed and isn’t in any way altered by the surgeon’s knife. If the prosecution of a case is determined by identity it becomes vitally important that we understand what identity really is rather than submitting to the delusion we can make of it what we will.
I am free to author my own text only in so far as I am willing to accept that my material is partially donated by all who have gone before to make of me who I will be. Ignoring my authored nature doesn’t produce a Jane Austen novel so much as a Dan Brown travesty.