Monday, March 23, 2009

Assumption Is The Father Of All Screw Ups

While browsing a site on the treatment of transgender and intersex patients, I noted the following assertion: "Newborns with intersex deformities must early on be assigned to one sex or the other."

WHY?

This is surely the biggest error medical caregivers can make.

Many such assumptions have been made in the past, resulting in the unfortunate situation where the wrong gender is chosen and the individual in later life is left truly stuck in the wrong gender, even seeking reassignment. Such cases have been documented in the past. Truly such a tragedy is indeed avoidable, had the victim of such medical arrogance had the opportunity to assert his/her own gender identity from the beginning. I say medical arrogance because these people claim to know what is best - and yet they simply work on outward evidence - and by now it is plainly obvious even to laymen that external genetalia do not a man or woman make.

Evidence of physical genital defects alone should show medical professionals an already pre-existant inherent incongruity between physical and mental/spiritual gender - and that they cannot simply assume that because the appearance of such genitalia seems "more male" that the infant should be forced into the "male" pigeon-hole without so much as a consultation on the matter.

Even masculine body builders and beauty queens have turned out in the past to be transgender, and because they are born physically male or female and "normal" it is always assumed that they are wholly male or female - and anyone who deviates from this is somehow a "pervert" or "going against nature". In fact,

I suggest that the line between physical Intersex and "mental" Transgender is a lot finer than people today think.

For some reason those who identify as transgender (without any physical signs of genital abnormality) are treated as "mental cases" and have to endure years of therapy to "prove" to the self-appointed gate-keepers that they really are what they have always known themselves to be - yet because somebody is born with ambiguous genitalia, it is obviously a case of physical treatment and not psychological at all. In some ways this assumption seems to excuse the intersex from the public hate and prejudice faced by the transgender - while in some extreme cases, the transgender are attacked even by intersex people for some unfathomable reason too "ashamed" to be associated with them - even if only because the transgender seem to have some kind of "choice" wheras in fact, neither of them have any choice but to be themselves.

Does anybody?

To me as a post operative transgender woman, this transgender/intersex condition is simply two different sides of the same coin. In fact I feel after considerable thought on the matter that intersex and transgender simply fall on opposite ends of the same spectrum of diverse sexuality and gender identity and that the intersex and transgender phenomenon are in fact manifestations of the same diverse spectrum of human sexuality and gender - inborn and entirely natural. It seems this natural fact falls foul of the apparent human obsession exibited by some to neatly categorize every individual into a pigeonhole, regardless of whether they are square pegs or round, or somewhere inbetween.

Society says men should only have relationships with women and makes all sorts of unscientific claims just to justify this irrational assertion - and to condemn all who have a different opinion or dispute this by the simple fact that they exist at all. Society also says you are a man or a woman because of what is between your legs. Well, what does society know anyway? I would say it is time somebody stood up and told society that you are also male or female more because of what is between your ears than between your lower limbs.

Is it fair and just to force a gender or stereotypical gender role on somebody for the sake of convenience?

The individual should always be allowed from the very beginning to express which gender they identify with - and all other future resulting decisions should follow on this. After all, it is the individual who has to live with the consequences of this choice - be it decided by themselves - or society.

In most countries today we as transgender people still personally have to cover ALL costs for essentially lifesaving therapies and surgeries - and then still have to run the gauntlet of social rejection and persecution and mockery; while people considered "normal" undergo breast enhancement or reduction or other truly cosmetic procedures with the full support of medical aids and without running any social gauntlets whatsoever.

What is wrong with the individual directly affected by this situation having a choice in the matter? And for that matter, what is wrong in acknowledging by birth a third physical sex? Is the pressure to conform to a binary society so great that there can be no deviation from it? Funny that considerably less sophisticated societies did that in the distant past (some still do) which resulted in far less social upheaval than you would think - in fact I think it created far more tolerance than we have today. As a final note on this point I would like to point out that this was the de facto standard in eastern culture right up until the intrusion of conservative Christian imperialism which has resulted in prejudice and intolerance against this third sex ever since.

Is it just me, or does this modern lack of tolerance actually suit some elements in society today?

In closing, medicine claims to put the best interests of the patient first - but by making uninformed decisions with far-reaching and potentially tragic consequences on behalf of other people on such basic personal issues can only be described as a human rights violation, no more, no less.

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