I finished both the A Tale of Two Topas and Twice in a Lifetime twice in a row.
First of all, fuck you Seth MacFarlane, you're supposed to be funny; but, I spent the last two and a half hours sobbing.
Still, we've gotta talk about A Tale of Two Topas.
The Orville showed that it was legitimately not a comedy back in episode three of the first season. The episode About a Girl dealt with a crew member from a species known as Moclan, which is a species of all males. The crew member and his partner had a child born female. On the Moclan home world, being female is viewed as a deformity that needs to be corrected at birth. The episode led to a tribunal about whether or not the child would be allowed to remain female. The good guys lose. The infant was forcibly reassigned male.
This child was named "Topa".
Years later, in A Tale of Two Topas, Topa is an adolescent boy. He has been raised as a boy. He expresses his desire to join the union fleet to the first officer. She takes him under her wing, and lets him shadow her.
The thing is, almost the whole cast knows that Topa was born female except Topa. After a short time, Topa confides in the first officer about not feeling right, nor at peace, nor knowing where he fits into the world.
Later, Topa inquires about what death is like to another crew member.
The flags are all there; so, truth is eventually revealed to Topa. Topa decides that she's a female.
More drama ensues. Alright...
This is brilliant storytelling. It's also way too real.
About a Girl was a powerful statement about gender, sex, and acceptance in its own right. A Tale of Two Topas goes further.
The thing is, this isn't all science fiction.
John Money introduced the term "gender role." He was one of the "pioneers" of gender identity. Money is one of the guys that started the idea that gender is primarily learned.
Money got an opportunity to test his theory when Bruce Peter Reimer had a botched circumcision. Money, along with others, recommended that Reimer be reassigned female as an infant, and raised as a girl.
Money saw this as a success and a vindication of his hypothesis.
Only, around the age of nine, Reimer seemed to realize that he wasn't a girl. By the age of fifteen, Reimer was living as a boy. Reimer spent much of the rest of his life opposing the practices that lead to his mutilation. Reimer ultimately committed suicide.
The parallels between the real life story of Reimer and the fictional story of Topa are hard to miss.
Topa was a victim of gender ideology from day one. The difference is, Topa gets to exist in a fictional, futuristic universe in which medical transitions can be entirely undone.
The victims of John Money's experiment didn't have a way out, nor a way back.
I'm sure that there are people on my feed who are, have been, or would be triggered by this episode. I hope so. I hope you'll have the courage to watch it.
The Orville has dealt with the ethics of transition and detransition. It's done-so perfectly.