Golden Mean

Does the Golden Mean have significance for you? Why do I use it in my novel, Michel-Michelle? The image appears in the dream sequence which runs throughout the novel and comments on gender difference. In the cover illustration, Fiona Zechmeister  combines the open symbol of the Golden Mean with the pink and blue flag used by transgender people. It is a reminder of the underlying patterns of diversity in nature.

The Golden Mean also known as the Golden Ratio was identified by early mathematicians and  links nature, art and architecture. The symbol conveys how a part can be in perfect proportion to the whole. The main character,  Axel, is an architect and is familiar with the concept of Golden Mean. His dreams present the potential of male and female gender to be represented proportionately according to individual human characteristics rather than locked into polarised opposites. 

Individuals exist on a broad spectrum of gender differences. In this century there are many terms used to express relationships between human beings and/or gender identity for example bi-sexual, cis, gay, heterosexual, intergender, intersex, lesbian, queer, transgender and gender fluid. The culture of defining gender differences in terms of biology risks polarisation and ignores the impact of age and development on sexuality.

Emotive expression of bias based on limited personal experience is not helpful to our understanding of gender identity. As Jennifer O’ Connell points out in the Irish Times on 12th June 2020, the result of polarisation is “that most sensible, compassionate people approaching it with an open mind and a genuine desire to understand, take one look and back off”. She adds “affording equal rights to trans people does not erode anyone else’s rights. Human rights are not a zero-sum game.”

The Golden Ratio helps imagine a non-binary approach to gender. In Michel-Michelle, I chose to write about the son of a transgender person as a way of recognising gender diversity in the family and in the hope we can open up space where gender differences can be explored without locking us into a pre-determined biological identity. Socialisation of children based on hierarchies which exclude or bully others  perpetuates negative discrimination. A more open public discussion of trans-gender in the context of human rights including the UN convention of children’s rights could create options which are less polarised and more in tune with the flexibility and fragility of human nature.