Select Page

     Trans – Across, beyond, through, completeness of change. –Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.

Shawn Lyons is good with words. He has to be because he spends the first three months of each year talking to legislators as the lobbyist for the South Dakota Retailers Association. As executive director of that organization, his duties are many, but primarily he looks out for the interests of retailers and tries to head off legislation that would be harmful to them, or conversely, supports measures that would help them.

When Lyons was asked last week why sales tax collections were down for fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, he used a word not commonly seen.

“Transversely, the first quarter was not as well, and weather has much to do with that . . . ,” he said.

Transversely?  While some of us would have used “conversely” to describe a contrast between fiscal quarters, transversely, which can mean crosswise or an angle to, is a good choice. The second quarter was much better than the first, but not the opposite of it.

“Trans” in many of its forms has certainly been in the news, of late. You don’t have to be a fan of ‘Entertainment Tonight” to be familiar with “transgender,” now used to describe Bruce Jenner, the Olympic decathlon champion of 1976. He wants to be known as Caitlyn. It is who he, or she, is.

Yes, “trans” has become more and more part of our language. Think of all the times you have read the word “TransCanada” in connection with the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline. You’ll continue to hear about it, too, since environmentalists are transfixed with what they see as threats to water and land. They believe that TransCanada and its supporters are actually the ultimate transgressors. Clearly, a transformation of thought is needed.

Also, the South Dakota High School Activities Association found itself embroiled in a transgender controversy by allowing athletes to choose their sex when competing in events, regardless of what was listed on their birth certificate. The state Legislature failed to pass a bill that would have voided the policy.

The SDHSAA generally performs well, but its transgender policy was an example of an exaggerated sensitivity for individual rights overruling fair treatment for all. Hormone therapy and body modification aside, the DNA remains intact, which would give male-born athletes an advantage against females.

Frankly, all of the attention to “trans” is pushing me toward transcendentalism.

July 29,2015