The other day CTV reported the astonishing statistic that in the whole of Canada there are just 33 sperm donors. That seems awfully low for a nation of 30 million people. Three sperm donors per province plus one per territory? Surely we can do better than that. All hands on deck!
Ah, but it’s not as simple as that. Apparently, the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act makes it illegal to pay donors for sperm. I mean, it wasn’t even the usual Canadian Wheat Board-type racket whereby you’d only be able to sell your seed to the Canadian Sperm Board at a price agreed upon by representatives of the federal-provincial Semen Commissions. Instead, they just nixed the whole deal, and, once Johnny Canuck found out he wasn’t going to be remunerated, virtually the entire supply dried up.
As a result, this once proud Dominion now has to import sperm. According to CTV, 80 per cent of Canadian women who conceive through donor sperm are getting it from the United States, mainly from men in Georgia and northern Florida. Canada’s future is now in American hands.
You know how it is: you wait ages for a good sperm story and then they all come at once. It seems there’s also a shortage of the stuff in Sweden. But, in contrast to Canada, this is caused not by government intervention in supply but by a surge in demand, from Swedish lesbian couples anxious to conceive. Inga and Britta had been trying for a child for ages but nothing seemed to work. Then it occurred to them this might be because they’re both women. So they headed off to the sperm clinic, whereupon the Sapphic demand ran into the problem of male inability to satisfy it. There appear to be higher than usual levels of non-functioning sperm.
Don’t worry, I’m not being Swedophobic in mocking the watery emissions of Nordic manhood. It’s a widespread problem: “Concern As Sperm Count Falls By A Third In UK Men” (the Daily Mail, 2004). Don’t ask me why: I’d blame Tony Blair’s cozying up to Bush were it not for “Sperm Count Drops 25 Per Cent In Younger Men” (the Independent, 1996), so maybe it was John Major pulling out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. Still, even for a demographic doom-monger such as myself, you could hardly ask for a more poignant fin de civilisation image than a stampede of broody lesbians stymied only by defective semen, like some strange dystopian collaboration between Robert Heinlein and Russ Meyer set in a world divided into muff divers and duff donors.
I wouldn’t want to overly extrapolate from two minor news items, and I’d be quite happy to do cheap lesbo-seminal gags to the foot of the page, but the thought does occur that a visitor from the day before yesterday—say, the mid-20th century—would be befuddled by the problems we face in the dawn of the new millennium. The other day the Toronto Star, ever on the cutting edge in the hunt for new bigotries, turned in a fascinating report on the problems of air travel and . . . Go on, take a wild guess. Racial profiling? Ha! You piker! We’re talking about gender profiling—in the sense that most of these squaresville Homeland Security types think there are men and there are women and that’s pretty much it. As a result, many pre-operative transsexuals run into difficulties south of the border or when flying trans Atlantically, and that’s before the introduction of “Whole Body Imaging” scanners where you may show up naked on the security screen packing a few too many extras. “Travelling for transpeople is always fraught with uncertainty,” Ontario lawyer Nicole Nussbaum told the Star. “The current system doesn’t match up with transpeople’s lives.”
Of course, no “system” could. I see that what I quaintly thought of as the Toronto Gay Pride Parade was officially billed this year as a parade to celebrate “the LGBTTIQQ2S communities.”
LGBTTIQQ2S? Oh, come on. Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Transgendered, Intersexual, Queer, Questioning and 2-Spirited. Where ya bin? 2-Spirited doesn’t mean too spirited, as in Anne of Green Gables, but is supposedly some First Nations thing. Anyway, you can see why the “current system” of airport security has a hard time keeping up. Any day now, they’ll introduce Intergendered and Transspirited, and by the time Mayor Miller has stumbled through the acronym in his official proclamation, the parade’ll be over. So, when a Bigendering person shows up at the frontier, don’t be surprised if the border guard comes over all 2-Questioning. Travel, explains the Star’s Julia Steinecke, is “complicated for those who live in the grey area between genders.”
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