the third gender

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.

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5 Responses to the third gender

  1. acquiescent72 says:

    Another intriguing perspective on gender…or tramsgender.
    This topic is fascinating, and honestly, I’m not sure what my thoughts and feelings are on the subject. I think on some level, I don’t really “get it”, but on another level I can relate.
    I know I have moments of femininity that poke through my masculinity, but to change my birth-gender is not something I would do.

    • rougedmount says:

      I see Trans people as a 3rd and equal gender with their own identity which means I oppose them taking on the identity of the gender they change to. Not because I don’t think they should change, but because I believe that they are being inauthentic to their own gender as an Other. There is nothing wrong with the 3rd gender. People do not have to be Male OR Female. Exactly the same as people do not have to be Gay or Straight. There is a 3rd category we have been taught to ignore and I think we have to empower people to live their authentic life. A Transgendered person can not be the gender they want to be reassigned to, nor are they the gender they were born to. They are simply Other and should be embraced as that and celebrated as that. We need to teach our kids that gender and sexual preference has room for fluidity and was considered normal and natural until religious doctrine of Europeans, said it wasn’t.

  2. willcrimson says:

    Not sure I’d frame it as “cutting off body parts”. It’s more akin to exchanging body parts, I think. But I do get their reasons for doing so and don’t in any way envy what they go through — before or after.

    The mystery is that preferring ‘one gender over the other’ happens in just about every developed culture — India, China, Africa, etc… European religion, after all, began with a bunch of insular tribes in the middle-east whose writers were themselves influenced by India and China. And China & India began their gender discrimination long before the Vatican was a glimmer in Jesus’s eye.

    • rougedmount says:

      Natives in North America had a 3rd gender which was accepted…I used ‘cutting off’ purposefully..as it must be surgically done…and it doesn’t matter what the part is…when someone needs a piece of their body removed to align with their mental idea of who they are, then the excision is necessary to ensure mental happiness of that person. I don’t understand why is it ok to remove a penis but not a leg to achieve this. You can not exchange a body part for one which needs to be either re-purposed or manufactured. A toe can be exchanged for a thumb, a leg ligament for one in the wrist. You can re-purpose the skin from a testicle into that of a labia and the structure of a penis into one simulating a vaginal cavity. Does breast size matter? Hormonal replacement will develop breast tissue, but not give the large breasts which can be obtained by breast surgery. Why are large breasts necessary to be a successfully trans gendered person? Males develop breasts with weight gain, so why would a transmale want breasts removed to have a more socially acceptable flat male chest? There seems to be such a focus on appearance and idealized secondary sexual characteristics that I struggle with understanding it…and the more I read…the more I learn..the more I am questioning why people are so against looking like themselves and need to push for conforming to what our society sees as being socially acceptable. It’s not okay to be an ugly woman in todays world. Born as a woman or changed to one, the real complaint is if you are ugly. Modify the exterior and suddenly you are more accepted. Natural women feel pressure to beautify and be a certain weight from the time they understand others judge them on it. A Trans woman feels the same pressure unless they can have surgery to alter their appearance. I would highly oppose insurance covering cosmetic procedures for a Trans woman and not a natural woman, if the end result was to simply modify our appearance to conform to what society says we should like like as part of the gender we are presenting to the world. It’s not equitable. I am okay with body modification to enhance your confidence. I am not okay with it being only available to the wealthy if it is considered a necessity to a persons mental happiness. A womans self esteem after childbirth and who wants a tummy tuck after her child bearing years, should be considered as important as adding manufactured breasts for a trans man who believes bigger breasts than the ones he is capable of growing with female hormones, would make him more socially acceptable as the woman he identifies as.
      Honestly…the more I’ve read, the more I see disparities in why surgeries are okay by using insurance to pay for things when it comes to a transgendered person over a person who wants the same surgery for the same reason, who isn’t trans.

      • willcrimson says:

        //Natives in North America had a 3rd gender which was accepted…//

        I love native American culture. I never wanted to be the cowboy, always the “Indian”. I don’t think I have any native American DNA, but my ancestors have been in America since the mid-seventeenth century so it’s possible. The acceptance or non-acceptance of LGBT individuals prior to the Europeans is open to debate. The trouble is that so much native American history has been lost or destroyed. The Mexica of Mexico were, so I’ve read, just as homophobic as the Spaniards (pre-colonization). It’s hard not to think that some of that homophobia wasn’t also present in their cousins to the North — but I don’t know. My impression, however, is that earlier cultures, throughout to world, tended to be more tolerant., probably (and simply) because everyone knew each other. The Anglo-Saxons, for instance, appear to have been very tolerant of homosexuality (or indifferent) and treated women as equals. It was only when Christianity got a foothold that that all changed. So… I don’t mean to disagree; I just find it an interesting subject.

        //I don’t understand why is it ok to remove a penis but not a leg to achieve this.//

        Well, if you take the “Do no harm” injunction at its simplest and most straightforward (which I think is fair to do) then it’s hard to see how removing a leg would accomplish anything other than harm (unless it’s gangrenous). Exchanging a penis for a vagina, on the other hand, may be of tremendous benefit to someone, psychologically, who is (mentally and spiritually) a woman.

        //Why are large breasts necessary to be a successfully trans gendered person? //

        I’d agree that they’re not but we make decisions about our appearance everyday — haircuts, body weight, cosmetics, etc… Maybe this or that trans-gendered person wants large breasts. Why not? Everyday, women are increasing their breast size while others decrease their breasts. It may simply be a matter of personal preference?

        //I am questioning why people are so against looking like themselves and need to push for conforming to what our society sees as being socially acceptable.//

        That’s a hard knot to untie. I think it’s more complicated than simply wanting to be socially accepted. It’s a bit like the nature vs. nurture debate. A common ideal of beauty seems to be in-built. I don’t know if its fair to blame that desire on “society”.

        //Honestly…the more I’ve read, the more I see disparities in why surgeries are okay by using insurance to pay for things when it comes to a transgendered person over a person who wants the same surgery for the same reason, who isn’t trans. //

        That’s a fair point. We shouldn’t be in the business of deciding whose cosmetic surgeries are legitimate.

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