I know I don’t need to tell you about the success of Casimir Pulaski whose statue was featured in season 3, episode 14 of ‘Gilmore Girls’, but just to catch everyone up: Casimir Pulaski was born on a disputed day in a disputed town in the disputed conglomeration of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and fought for Poland in an uprising against recurrent gelatinous destiny manifestors, The Russians which, like many Polish uprisings, unfortunately failed. On the recommendation of Benjamin Franklin—who was in-between affairs at the time—for Pulaski to join the cause of The United States of Fingers Crossed’s fight for independence. After saving the life of George Washington—thus increasing the connection of Polish heroes with sainted figures named after Beatles members to two—Pulaski worked to create and reform the concept of an effective cavalry for the American militia—a feat which may seem like a pretty straightforward thing for a nobleman with the mustache of an expatriated bohemian artist to do in an 18th century military until you realize that in the American militia at the time that meant shoes for the horses, not for the men. Thus making Casimir Pulaski not only apparently the founder of numerous middle schools across the Midwest, but also the founder of the US Cavalry.
While there is little dispute to his legacy—the only thing about him on solid ground—from beneath that ground has risen a whole new dispute.
Recently, the body of Casimir Pulaski was disinterred—meaning he was extracted from the ground like a coherent plot from a Michael Bay film—from under his monument in Savannah, Georgia. That’s right folks, the Civil War doesn’t have a monopoly on ragged groups of white supremacists aggressively defending their right to rewrite history in the future despite obvious facts in Georgia. The body was removed in order to rebuild and restore the monument dedicated to Pulaski—finally we got around to Infrastructure Week—AND to also attempt to solve a dispute about whether the bones were actually the bones of Casimir Pulaski or, I don’t know, one of the other thousands and thousands of non-Americans who came to provide aid to the American fight for independence despite common perception that the entire war was won by an eagle with a bayonet dream. While confirming the identity of the bones another dispute arose when Georgia Southern University anthropologist Virginia Hutton Estabrook noticed that Pulaski’s bones looked “very, very female.”
And so, of course, because we’ve progressed as a society, articles started popping up with nuanced headlines like Connecticut’s Record-Journal’s “Research showing Pulaski was intersex or female shifts perceptions of Revolutionary War hero” or Savannah’s own ABC affiliate’s, “This war hero died in the Battle of Savannah. But was HE really a SHE? Good question” Is it a good question, Dale? Is it?
Despite local news prat-falling through the complexities of gender and sex like a pet detective in a multi-million dollar franchise, the idea that “very, very female” looking bones must mean a historical chevalier—that’s french for ‘horseman’. Could I have just said horseman? Yes, but then you wouldn’t know how cool I am—must mean a cavalier [wink] is EITHER a medical anomaly of which the average person has the same understanding as a small child or the President understands how tariffs work… OR that those bones mean that the afore-mentioned equestrian [wink with the other eye] was secretly pulling a Twelfth Night—or a She’s the Man if you prefer—in order to… I don’t know, die on a horse in service of a foreign government for no reason? Allegedly apparently so.
People often ask when LGBTQ concerns arise “Why are tons of people suddenly gay/trans/not like me when it’s never existed in history before now”, because LGBTQ people are like fine art—not always instantly recognizable and many people believe is completely made up by coastal elites. However, despite your neighbor Gretchen who you always seem to run into in the baking soda aisle at your local grocery store assuming she has some sort of weird graduate studies degree in “types of people in all of history”, there have been plenty and plenty of LGBTQ historical figures with various levels of documentation from “committed, lifelong roommate” to the King of Prussia writing, “Fortune has it in for me; she is a woman, and I am not that way inclined.”
The issue comes down to prejudicial historical record and confirmation bias. Basically, before… you know… rights, most minorities who could get away with pretending to not be a minority often would and thus would not have on an official record, “Oh, P.S., I’ve been super gay this whole time, thanks for the lulz” and also that white cishet people—that means “normal” for you confused white cishet people—tend to view the world through their own lens. If you’re certain you don’t know any trans people—or so you think [wink on both sides]—then you’re more inclined to view history this way.
This has all been a painfully obvious buildup to the point that claiming trans people serving in the United States military is a new and taxing burden on the effectiveness of that military is like saying fire is a new burden on hot air balloons. It works in tandem with other forces to provide lift and achieve goals while a bunch of hot air takes all of the credit.
Casimir Pulaski, from conjecture, anthropological study, and historical record was—in all likelihood—intersex. And, this is probably news to a lot of you: that’s not the same thing as transgender. However, the fact that when given new information and a complex question many human beings and/or news pundits decided to reduce it to a comfortable, yet still somehow uncomfortable binary, is not JUST not surprising, it’s as American as apple pie—which, unsurprisingly, is also not actually American, but when have we let nuanced facts get in our way?
Erasure isn’t just a great band everyone should talk about more, it’s the systematic culpability in and blindness to the eradication of entire groups of people and cultures in order to serve the status quo—a thing which the majority of Americans claim to be against, meaning that rejecting the status quo IS the status quo. Education leads to understanding, understanding leads to acceptance, acceptance leads to plot holes in the Star Wars Prequels… sorry, I mean progress. Progress isn’t just about moving forward, it’s about better understanding your past. It’s understanding that a rich tapestry of individuals bound together for a common goal only increase the chances for success, cavalries, and fun facial hair. It’s understanding that defining your world through the narrow lens of your own experiences will only get you lining up your soldiers in a heavily wooded area with bright red jackets and some dude playing a fife. It’s the Confederate Traitors NOT understanding that holing yourself up in a port city like Yorktown… or Savannah, will just lead you to the only real binary in this entire matter: fire or the sea.