Transgender. I know what it is and how it is defined by our modern society. I have tried to educate myself, not just by reading stories of those who are, but by talking to a friend’s family member who is part of this community. I am struggling with the labelling of transgendered people; both the reasons why transgendered people want to assume the opposite gender and the reasons being given by people who are against it. I don’t understand either side.
The idea of Transgender is actually part of my cultural heritage and it’s something I have known about for a very long time. In my world, there are male, female and other. Being one over another is not considered preferable and all were clearly accepted until the bigotry of European Religious influence removed it.
Do some research on Third Genders and see that most indigenous peoples have a third gender as part of their ‘normal’ societies. It’s only been since the 70’s that a movement in North America has happened where a vocal group of Others want to be labelled by the gender the associate with the most.
My belief about transgendered people has been simplistic and based on my understanding and acceptance of trans people as part of my cultural community. People are biologically born with an XX or XY chromosome which determines basic gender. Some people have both physical bodies and mental affiliation to the Biological chromosomes they were born with. Others do not and so they fall into the ‘Other’ category. How they define who they are is not up to me to figure out or to condemn because it is THEIR journey and not mine.
But the biggest issue I see is that the media seems to constantly inflame everything. Perhaps we need to get to a place so we understand Gender Stable as well as Gender Fluid. One of the defining issues people have with Transgender people, seems not to be acceptance of them, but deciding how they are to be labelled. Then there is the bigger question on if it’s necessary for anyone to be labelled and if it matters. Those are massive social questions and slightly above my pay grade. Plus, I am not personally impacted by it, so it fails to be one of the issues high on my priority list.
Pronouns will not matter to me, though confusion can be expected because they are made using secondary sexual characteristics as indicators. Labelling helps others to define you and our social structure relies on being able to compartmentalize things. It’s how humans work. Children don’t care about color, sexual identity or height…they care about ‘fair’ and ensuring everyone’s piece of the pie is the same size. They learn about things like ‘equity’ as they get older and why the 4 year olds piece of pie may be a different size than a 16yr old.
I think this is where many people are having issues with Transgendered people. Equity, not equality. Only the wealthy can afford hormonal replacement to mask the gender your hormones and DNA say you are. Plastic surgery is expensive if people plan on removing offending breasts or a penis to replace them with the body parts they feel represents their mental gender. How is that fair to those who can’t afford it or even to those who simply want to keep what they have? Why would it be fair for your insurance to pay for your nose job and facial restructuring, to make you seem more female or male, and not mine to make me feel more normal or feminine? Isn’t that actually being discriminatory against ugly people?
Changing your pronouns and clothing does not make it easy for other people to identify your gender when it’s at odds to your physical appearance because your secondary sexual characteristics tend to define that gender, unless people are naturally androgynous looking. And whether it’s admitted or not, your gender matters…probably most importantly during puberty when hormones kick in and make biological imperative the most important thing for the few years it takes for everything to stabilize.
The other issue I struggle with, is that if the median age for sexual consent is 16, how can anyone younger than this be allowed to make decisions about their sexual identity which includes hormone replacement or body modifications? You can’t legally have sex but you can legally cut off a penis or breasts? I know Trans people identify themselves internally much younger than this, once they start talking about it. The real issue I see is that we normally don’t talk about Trans people in our society until people are adults.
If gender observation is critical for identification, then why not include exactly what gender is reflected by your DNA, as like your blood type, it is not going to change, no matter how or when someone transitions, if and when they are financially capable of affording it. Obviously, this raises a clear issue for me, as it means we are allowing surgeries to occur for gender reassignment based on finances and not need.
This raises the final issue I struggle greatly with when considering Trans Gendered people; cutting off offending body parts to align yourself with the anatomy you prefer over what you have. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of Psychology might bring what they’ve learned into their ability to understand why Trans people feel a need to do this. You can easily research about body dimorphia and then question why cutting off offending body parts is a psychological condition when it’s anything other than a sexual organ. You have a psychosis when you want to remove a foot or your eyes, but not a penis or breast?
We all have an idea of what we would like our perfect body to be. Many of us struggle to accept what we have over what we wished it would be. Cosmetic surgery is available at a financial cost, provided the psychological stability of the person undergoing the procedure is there. Our society idealizes perfection and it seems we all strive towards that goal. People with the financial means, are able to change their appearance to become more aligned with the perfection that is lauded in our society. This marginalizes people who don’t have the money to alter their appearance. Why would it be acceptable for Insurance to pay for a man to look more feminized because he is Trans and not a woman who feels the same need?
Without surgery and without Hormone replacement therapy, a person can not change their secondary sexual characteristics or physical appearance of their genitals. This makes medical intervention imperative for them to achieve the physical appearance they are seeking. But how is this any different from body dysmorphic individuals who look at themselves as being disfigured by not being disabled?
If we are allowed to take hormone replacement therapy and have cosmetic surgery to change our appearance, then shouldn’t people be allowed to choose how far they want to take those procedures? Yet we have to remember that only the wealthy have this option. How is that ‘fair’? Most people don’t think that this is reasonable. Yet if you say it should be available to all people who want it, regardless of ability to pay for it, then it has to be offered to all people who feel the need for it, regardless of their gender identity. Meaning that a woman who does not feel feminine enough, should be given the same procedures given to a man who is wanting to feminize his features to be a passable woman.
I think that one reason people feel offended at one gender claiming the identity of the opposite one they were born with, is that it marginalizes the struggle of the gender they want to be identified as. When I see a Transgendered man, I envy the fact that he will never have the fat distribution that I have as a naturally born female. I look at the perfectly created breasts that have never been engorged by milk or nipples which have not been bitten and chewed on by a nursing child, and I see what I could buy if I had the money.
I see the lean thighs and toned stomach, unmarked by the stretch marks of pregnancy or weight struggles which resulted from the hormonal changes associated with 30 years of dealing with cramps and menstruation. I see an idealized, sexualized female pre-pubescent form that has not been impacted by the ravages of being a female, yet has all of the perfection that men like to see in a woman.
I have no issue with what they wear or the surgeries they have had. I don’t care what pronouns they use or what they want to change their name to. Personally speaking, my offense is at hearing them claim a label they did not earn by virtue of living the life associated with the gender. I am proud of who I am. God knows I have earned my scars and right to call myself a grown woman and mother.
I believe that people who are transgendered should take the same type of pride in who they are as well. A person is not their genitals; they are the history of their experience which they lived as determined by their hormones which painted their brain in an experience which alters your view of the world. Transgendered people need to claim their identity as “others” and accept that they have their own unique place, with unique pronouns and verbiage. Claiming an identity you were not physically born to, seems to be inauthentic.
Historically, all cultures have accepted that people can be sexually Straight, Gay or Bi; they have also identified as Female, Male or Other. We don’t have to re-invent the wheel when it comes to Sexuality or gender identity. We just have to learn from the past that acceptance of the differences between us, allows us to live in a society where we can be who we are authentically, as long as we are honest about who that is, so that the others you share society with, understand who you are as well.