This was originally going to be a comment on the Twisty blog, but as it grew and veered off topic, I decided here might be a better place for it.
Twisty’s patience with Newsweek is a limited, and that patience decided not to put up with lame-pseudo-newsiness (my evaluation, not necessarily Twisty’s) typical of Newsweek, which was this time applied to the ‘transgender question’ (I would more likely call this a “the patriarchy-brainwashed don’t get it” question).
So here are my somewhat random reactions to this thread; with any luck I’ll have it somewhat organized and intelligible.
A thought, provoked by wren’s comments:
The term ‘transgender’ exists because there is some strange (to me) concept that because a person has certain bits they are theoretically then programmed to act a certain way, because they’re male/female.
Post-revolution (when we all get to be human beings) we’ll have it figured out that what a person looks like has no bearing on his/her character, actions, feelings or state of being a ‘him’ or ‘her’.
Sound about right?*
*I second wren’s caveat. I haven’t been faced with this ‘choice’ (yet?) ∴ this is an attempt to understand, nothing more.
It is the position of this blog that femininity and masculinity, as well as “woman” and “man,” for that matter, are synthetic constructs imposed by the dominant culture to bolster a class hierarchy that favors dudes.
Okay, so you took me that next step, placing values on the ‘two’ ‘choices’ (or being relegated to one construct or another).
I do get it that there are slight physical differences (the aforementioned bits) but why there’s a value placed on having one type of bits, and getting a lifetime supply of free cookies because YOU were selected to be born with those bits, this does not make sense to me.
Then Madeline quoth:
More important is to eliminate the gender dichotomy all together. Have female sex organs, want to behave any way you please? Great. Just don’t be oppressive. Have a good time! Have male sex organs, want to behave any way you please? Great. Just don’t be oppressive. Have a good time!
Can I live in your world, please? Geez I want that. I’m (technically) female, (generally) attracted to (technically) males, but I don’t really think of myself as a woman. I’m just a human, really. I feel like I was socialized female, but I have never really felt all that feminine. Not particularly masculine, either, mind you. I’ve just felt like me, and then I’ve felt like I’ve had to fit myself into a mold to be ‘right’ with the world; molds which never fit.
(Aside) I once took a “what gender is your brain?” quiz and scored exactly in the middle. Apparently my excellent spatial orientation is a ‘male’ trait. IBTP.
I don’t believe, of course, that even if the gender dichotomy were abolished there wouldn’t still be some people who felt they were wrongly sexed. I don’t see what’s wrong with those people attempting to alter their biological organs. It seems to me that at that stage, altering one’s genitalia and taking hormone therapy would be more of a cosmetic change than anything. It would be like choosing to get breast reductions because you are made uncomfortable by your large breasts, or like choosing to get a tattoo (though obviously more extreme than either). At this point the question wouldn’t be about gender identity; it would be about whether you think drastic elective surgery is okay (I think yes; there’s plenty of reasons people think no; it’s off-topic to argue right now).
Okay, this gets me. I don’t see how altering one’s primary sex organs is “more extreme” than altering one’s secondary sex organs (i.e., breast reduction/augmentation) or, for that matter, stomach stapling and weight-loss surgery.
The difference between a transgender person getting the bits they feel they should have been given in the first place and a person who gets their stomach stapled is that the latter is catering to the patriarchy, and the former isn’t. Stuff that’s fully supported by the patriarchy (breast augmentation, cosmetic/weight loss surgery) is somehow ‘okay’, when a transgender people getting the bits they feel they should have is ‘wrong’ or ‘unnatural’?
Maybe that comparison is a bit extreme. It’s possible to see sexual reassignment surgery as something that improves the quality of life for the person who undergoes it, in the way that organ transplantation improves/extends life.
It is quite different to change your body because a whim to do so strikes you, versus changing your body because society has shamed and intimidated you into doing so.
Either way, for the way things actually work, IBTP.
There are QUITE A FEW people born on this planet whose sexual “identity” has to be “assigned” at birth by, for lack of a better word, authorities.
Which is why I’m leaning more and more towards a home birth/birthing center with a doula/midwife. Even the remotest possiblity of my (not yet created, thank you) pregnancy being treated as a disease is something I want to avoid.
The thought of some doctor deciding what ‘gender’ my child will be (on the off chance there’s some doubt) is just infuriating.
This is right up there with not finding out the ‘gender’ of my child, to stave off, at least for a while, the inevitable influx of blue/pink from the rest of my family.
Speaking of, erin ambrose reports:
all this makes me think of a news story i overheard a few days ago about a great new test they’ve concocted where at 6 wks into a pregnancy you can know the sex of the fetus. Human rights folk are worried that this will cause a rise in the aborting of “girl” babies since most want “boys”…
on a lighter note, they joked that this test will allow parents plenty of time to paint the babies room pink or blue.
holy crap…theres so many problems with this my head starts to spin.
but its a sobering example of the very real dangers of this ridiculous gender binary crap as well as the assumption/dictation that our sex organs predetermine our gender expression.
sad sad humans.
For some reason this reminds me of the assumption of, well, almost everybody, in the movie “Children of Men” that the child who would be born to finally save humanity from terminal infertility would, in fact/of course, be a BOY. Because important = boy. *rolls eyes*
I posted a little more at the Twisty blog, and maybe it’s worth reading. Other people’s comments certainly are. Thanks for stopping by. ^^