Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Transsexuality

Wisconsin is debating whether or not transgendered inmates should be allowed to take hormones in prison. And I'm wondering why there is still a question about this.

Okay, well, technically I'm not. Men have a very odd, perverse fear of MTF transsexuals, and some women pick up on it, too, from family members or friends or religious leaders. Ignoring the "god made you right" argument for now, Freud had a point-- most men are very attached to their penises and the thought of having that rather beloved organ removed is disturbing to them, even if it's not actually THEIR organ that is being removed. On top of that, there's the threat of mistaking a MTF transsexual for a woman, which, despite how much they may declare "I would always know," is always possible, like after a few beers.

Men are afraid of transsexuals. Women pick up on this fear and combine it with a sense of "biology must be right," thus joining in the anti-transsexual vibe. But honestly, it's just fear. And yes, there are many people who consider themselves transsexual who are actually disturbed, confused, whatever. But at the same time, there are out there some people that genuinely have very little wrong with them except that they feel they are in the wrong body (and thus may be depressed or have difficulty with interaction or whatever, but that's secondary). And then there's the argument, "Transgenderism is the only psychological disorder in which medicine decides that the problem is with the body, not the mind."

Well, no, not really. I have a pathological dislike of moles, particularly one mole that was on my skin and I hated for my entire childhood. I was actually at the point of scratching at it with my nails, thinking that it itched, whatever. It was a regular, benign mole, and my hatred of it was all in my head. Eventually, I talked to my therapist and to my mother and we decided to just get the stupid thing removed. Now I have a two-inch-long scar on my arm, which most people would consider to be worse than a tiny little mole. Me, I consider it SO much better. Healthy tissue, no need for surgery-- but in the end, it was easier and better for me to remove the offending part and get on with my life than to learn to accept it.

Now, obviously a mole is not the same thing as wanting to rearrange your whole body. But at the same time, my point is obvious-- people who do not want to change their minds will not be able to change their minds, and be unable to get the kind of help that might convince them to accept their body as it is. If you can determine that they will not later regret it, then they should have the ability to change any body parts they want. They should be allowed to be accepted as whatever gender they chose to be.

A while back a bill was introduced to Congress that would protect people from being discriminated against on the basis of their sexual orientation. One version included gender identity and would have protected transgender and transsexual individuals. It did not pass, so they rewrote it to just cover homosexuals-- and it got through the House (it's still in the Senate, I think). Meanwhile, abuse of transsexuals is still not a hate crime in many places even if it is only done to the person because they are a transsexual. There is a constant insistence that transsexuals should have to mention their birth sex before even starting a relationship, and yet a non-transgender person does not have to describe the shape and size of their genitalia now and when they were born. I will concede that before it's time to get naked, pre-op transsexuals should mention that they still have male genitalia. But not before a date.

I do wonder what we can do to help the image of transgender people and help protect them from others...

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