Saturday, June 12, 2010

TRANSGENDER PEOPLE ARE NOT "MISTAKES"



I once thought and taught the common belief that a transgender person suffered from a birth defect, as they were one gender trapped in the body of another gender; surgery would be a desirable corrective, just as surgery correcting a cleft palate would be corrective of that birth defect.

I no longer believe that assertion! Rather, I believe that the sex we are anatomically born with determines our sex, though our gender feelings and performances can run the full gamut. In other words, a boy can express his gender as a boy and also as a girl, yet he is sexually still a boy. Expressing his gender as a girl doesn't nullify his sexually being a boy.

Many transgender people, like so many others, have bought into the notion, the myth, that gender expression is binary, whereas such expression can profitably be seen to exist on a continuum just as we see with sexual expression. And one's feelings often associated with such expression can also be seen to exist on a continuum, so that no transgender person is a "mistake."

Just as a male loving another male doesn't change his status as a male, or a female loving another female doesn't change her status as a female, being transgender also doesn't change the status of one's being a male or a female.

Rather, transgender people are still sexually male or female, the determinant of which is seen at birth (save for intersex babies), and one's feelings don't determine or change that fact, nor does any surgery or other accoutrements.

Men can act like the cultural definition of "male" in a society, or act like the cultural definition of "female" in a society, yet they are still sexually males, regardless of whether or not they feel like females. The same phenomenon holds true for women.

Acting and feeling feminine or masculine doesn't mean the person was born in the "right" or "wrong" body. Rather, it shows that there is a very wide range of gender perception and expression, and that range does not in any way infer or determine that one is a biological mistake.

Being transgender is not being abnormal! What is abnormal is the desire for so many people to see human beings as having dichotomous traits and expressions of those traits, many of which are culturally determined in the first place.

So, whether or not one has surgery to bring one's anatomy into line with his/her gender-feelings and gender expression, one's sex is still what one's anatomy at birth dictates.

To put it simply: not all men feel or are macho; not all women feel or are feminine! Some men feel like women and act like women, but if they were born with a penis, they are sexually still men. Some women feel like men, but if they were born with a vagina, they are sexually still women.

By not buying into the fiction that gender perceptions must be dichotomous, and that the body must be brought into line with those perceptions, one can then feel comfortable in knowing that one is feminine even if he has a penis, and one is masculine even if she has a vagina.

Blended gender exists, and when that blended gender exceeds one's comfort zones and/or society's comfort zones, many transgender (and other) people are led to believe that they are one gender trapped in the body of the opposite gender when, in fact, they are not trapped at all, but are created just as they are meant to be by God Who also transcends gender.

Hence, it's up to all of us, transgender or not, to recognize transgenderism as a gift, as transgender people can be seen to more fully represent the nature of God Who also transcends gender!
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28 comments:

Tera said...

You´re erasing people´s identities by saying: "So, whether or not one has surgery to bring one's anatomy into line with his/her gender-feelings and gender expression, one's sex is still what one's anatomy at birth dictates."

I am -NOT- male despite what my "anatomy at birth dictates" what you need to learn is that in our huge spectrum of gender there are men born with vaginas and women born with penises. Time you accepted that is part of the great diversity that exists in humanity.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Tera: What I'm suggesting is that you feel and presumably act like a woman, but you are sexually a male (given your anatomy) which is irrelevant to your feelings and expressions. If you tell me that you feel like a woman, that your identity is that of woman, I don't doubt you. My point is that you are not a mistake! Best wishes, Jerry.

JLJ said...

Thanks for sharing these in sites. It is a great way for me to learn.

Follow me on Twitter http://twitter.com/thinkhybrid

Tera said...

The problem is that while you readily accept that gender identity exists along a spectrum you seem to believe that biological sex is an absolute dichotomy determined by genitalia at birth and presumably the X and Y chromosomes. But biological sex itself isn´t anymore of a dichotomy than our genders are. Firstly many people are born with chromosomal combinations other than XX and XY, secondly many people are born with genitals which are intermediate between a penis and vagina and thirdly our biological sex is determined by a cascade of dozens of genes spread across several chromosomes, including chromosomes other than the X and Y chromosomes. Thus our biological sex exists on a spectrum and it is biologically possible for a person to have female brain dimorphism and male genitals. This creates a situation in which the person feels "trapped in the wrong body" it is a situation which is created by our genetics, by our biological sex not our gender and certainly not "By not buying into the fiction that gender perceptions must be dichotomous, and that the body must be brought into line with those perceptions"

If you want a more detailed explanation of how biological sex is not binary I suggest you read some of Dr. Eric Vilain´s papers as he explores in depth the complexity of biological sex

http://dgsom.healthsciences.ucla.edu/institution/personnel?personnel_id=9435

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks JLJ. Best wishes, Jerry.

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks Tera. And thanks for the website with the bibliography dealing with the nature of biological sex as being on a spectrum.

You write, "Thus our biological sex exists on a spectrum and it is biologically possible for a person to have female brain dimorphism and male genitals." I agree, and we're not as far apart in our thinking as it might appear.

A male may well have a female brain that manifests itself in his gender perception and performance. But he is still sexually a male, though not in her gender perceptions and performance.

How he thinks, perceives, and performs is normal for him, regardless of anatomy, and is not some aberration or "mistake" that has to be fixed or corrected to conform to cultural expectations that he/she has appropriated from society, or that might well be due to his/her brain chemistry.

I believe that a transgender person is already correct and normal in regard to sexuality and gender, regardless of the source of his/her perceived sexual and/or gender discontinuity with his/her anatomy!

Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

I think what you're trying to say here is that biological gender has never been binary, that there is another gender called TRANSGENDER which is a blend of male and female. And you're saying that just as biological gender is not restricted to male and female, gender identity need not be restricted, either.

Transsexual individuals usually identify as male or female, and their gender identity is absolutely valid. Tera is correct: A transwoman is not male, regardless of genitalia. It is wrong, however, to say that a transsexual woman is identical to a biological woman, even after "sex-reassignment" surgery. A transgender woman will always be a transgender woman.

Both blended and binary gender people must broaden their thinking to include THREE, not two gender possibilities! I find that, all too often, people who argue against perceiving gender as binary nonetheless continue to perceive gender in that way! Transgender identity either doesn't truly exist for them, or it exists as an affliction. God is a transgender being, so there's no question that blended gender exists, and it's far from being a malady! This is a very difficult concept to wrap one's mind around, but it's a fact of life. The world must stop denying it!

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Don Charles, for this excellent analysis! Best wishes, Jerry.

Tera said...

I think the most important to get across is that it is deepy offensive to refer to trans women as "he" and to refer to trans men as "she" doing so erases their identity and struggle they are enduring. You should ALWAYS refer to a trans woman with female pronouns and to a trans man with male pronouns as a basic respect to their identities. To do otherwise is roughly the equivalent of refering to someone by a racial slur rather than their name...it is extremely offensive!

Also claiming that hormone therapy and sex re-assignment surgery are not nessesary simply shows your ignorance of the suffering that transsexual persons endure because of their bodies. The social suffering is in addition to that but no level of freedom of gender expression can ease the biological suffering. I suggest not dismissing other person´s suffering as illusory if you desire to be respected by transgender persons and claim to be a voice for them.

We´ve had quite enough of people claiming to speak for us erasing our identities and whitewashing our suffering.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi Tera: Please know that I am not trying to whitewash your suffering or erase your identity. My point here is that if one sees a transgender person as one who is "trapped" in the body of the opposite sex, that perception denotes a transgender person being a "mistake" when, in fact, it is my contention that transgender people are not at all mistakes. And, of course, trans women should be referred to as "she," and trans men should be referred to as "he." Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Hormone therapy and sexual reassignment surgeries are NOT necessary to live true to one's gender identity, and I say this as someone who considers himself transgender (though not transsexual). What did transfolk do before these options became available? True, many must have suffered, but many others found ways to honor their gender identities (Billy Tipton, Katherine Hepburn and Greta Garbo are examples) and live with dignity. Is it the bodies of transsexual human beings that are oppressive? No. It's the society that dictates which gender those bodies must express. I'm convinced that fewer transfolk would seek medical treatment (which, of course, is their right) if society affirmed transsexual identity. This corrupt notion that female or male gender must necessarily correspond to female or male genitalia is patently false! It's the very essence of transphobia, and extremely harmful to the self-esteem of transfolk. It must be challenged, regardless of who advances it.

Jerry Maneker said...

Beautifully put, Don Charles, and far better than I tried to say it. Anatomy is not the issue, but it is gender that is all-important, and that full spectrum of gender can and is expressed regardless of one's anatomy. Therefore, being transgender is not a mistake, not a malady, but is part of the pattern of diversity of God's creation. Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Jerry,

Transgender is the gender of God! How predictable that, when they gaze upon people made precisely in God's image, human beings feel hatred and loathing, just as they felt when they gazed upon the Son of God.

Jerry Maneker said...

Exactly, Don Charles!!!! Best wishes, Jerry.

thegayte-keeper said...

THEY ARE NOT!

Tera said...

Don, transwomen who don´t have access to HRT and SRS, they often seek castration or even go so far as to cut off their own genitals. This crosses all cultures on our planet.

SRS and HRT aren´t nessesary for all transgender persons by they are for transsexuals! (transsexual being a smaller category within transgender)

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Surgery should be an option for all transsexual people. However, I still believe fewer transfolk (whether they identify as transsexual or transgender) would opt for it if society affirmed the transgender body. And, while I acknowledge that many people are convinced they were born into the wrong body, that doesn't make it true. I agree with Jerry that God, my transgender God, doesn't make mistakes.

radicalbitch said...

Frankly, Jerry and Don are idiots.

I'm beyond fed up with gay men and crossdressers pontificating about things they have absolutely no knowledge about..it's same patriarchal bullcrap that arrogant men always engage in.

If you lack all knowledge of actual, transsexed people who are BORN neurologically intersexed and REQIURE maximum body correction to bring mind and body into congruence then STFU.

I was born a hermaphrodite, Pope Ratzie says I was born an abomination, a violation of god's will. Good thing I'm not and never have been a christian and know better. No, was I not born a mistake but rather a special daughter of the Magna Mater. You, on the other hand, can stay the hell out of my identities, my life and cease and desist spreading misinformation and out and out freakin lies about women such as myself.

Crossdressers suffer a mental disorder, people born transsexed have a neurological intersexed condition, a medical condition. The treatment for that condition reaches close to 100% cure and that is surgical and hormonal correction. It is not an option, it is not a choice and the medical condition has absolutely nothing in common with the mental disease of transvestism which is what Don has.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi radicalbitch: Why you resent it when I say that transgender people are not mistakes is a mystery to me. Moreover, you assume that I am gay, which I'm not; you assume that Don is a transvestite, which he's not. You are wrong on these counts, as you are wrong on the other issues you mention, such as I don't doubt that you are a woman. Moreover, being a hermaphrodite is one thing; being transgender is usually quite another, as the latter deals with gender expression regardless of genitalia. Although I'm not a particular fan of Ratzinger, even he doesn't say that you were "born an abomination, a violation of God's will." I do understand your anger, but it seems to me to be misplaced. Best wishes, Jerry.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

Yet another dispatch from the radical fringe! Your observations about this clown are correct, Jerry, but I wouldn't spend much time trying to reason with somebody who identifies as a "hermaphrodite" (a term every bit as ugly and inaccurate as "queer"), goes by the name Radical B*tch, and throws a four-alarm hissy fit when you tell her she's not a freak. To say such a person has issues would be a gross understatement. Take my word for it: Little if any communication is possible when you get phone calls from outer Bizarro World! Tell 'em they've reached the wrong number and hang up the telephone.

Jerry Maneker said...

That's good advice, Don Charles. I guess I hope against hope that my message will get throgh, despite many people's eeming self-loathing and their reveling in victimhood. Best wishes, Jerry

genevieve said...

I'm sorry that radicalbitch feels the way she does. I for one don't victim. I started out as a crossdresser but now consider myslf a transsexual. I'm not going to have the surgey or take hormones but I am a transsexual nevertheless. It isn't how one appears to others that's important but it's how you perceive in your own mind.

Jerry Maneker said...

Hi genevieve: "It isn't how one appears to others that's important but it's how you perceive in your own mind." Amen, genevieve! Best wishes, Jerry.

Anonymous said...

You are confusing the choice/orientation/recreation of transgender with the birth defect of transsexualism. A TS woman is a woman with a birth defect. I know, I have it, and there is no way I can be who I am with the wrong parts. A TG is a man born with male neurology who chooses to defy his gender. Transsexuals are a part of the mainstream, while TGs are a type of LGBT.

A person who is gay or transgendered but not transsexual has no right to speak for transsexuals.

What makes a transsexual male or female is in the brain. They have the CORRECT brain - part of the overall sex which is created by God, despite God allowing the body to become deformed. The brain is just as much the sex as the genitals. If a person is born with an actually feminine brain, they invariably will want the body that matches. Those who don't want a vagina below have a mostly masculine brain. A TG person's "gender feelings" are more superficial to those of a TS, since they come from a different place. For a TG, it is only a part of the will, while for the TS, it is part of the mind, soul, and spirit, and in some cases, parts of the body as well. Even TSs with no visible intersex issues often have health problems more common for women.

So a MtF TS is supposed to have been female at birth, while a "MtF" TG was supposed to be male. While a MtF TS is supposed to have a vagina, an "MtF" TG is supposed to have his penis, even as he dresses as a woman and has sex with other men. When a MtF TS gets surgery, it is to make them whole and complete. When a "MtF" TG gets surgery, it is usually out of self-hate, competition, or fetish.

Anonymous said...

There are other ways to contrast TSs (a subset of the mainstream, and need the gender binary) with TGs (gender variant members of the LGBT).

There are people who flee pain (TSs) and people who run to pleasure (TGs). There are people who use drugs recreationally (like TGs) and those who use medicine for therapeutic use (like the TSs). For every behavior, there is a therapeutic crowd and a recreational crowd. I saw the same in a race-change group. While most had a sexual attraction to the idea, a few actually wanted to make the swap because that was who they felt they were, and they felt cheated being in their body.

Also, consider an adaptation of the classical 3-part formula (sex, gender, orientation). Really, it may make more sense with 4 components. Sex (the body), gender identity (who you really are an more important than the sex), gender role/expression (how you relate your gender identity to the world), and sexual orientation (choice/attraction of sexual partners). I split gender into identity and expression to help explain the logical divide between TSs and feminists, and to clarify the TS v. TG thing. TSs believe their gender identity is destiny, while feminists believe gender role is not destiny. The problem is both used the word gender without qualification for years. TSs focus mainly on fixing the body to match their gender identity (the gender expression goes without saying and is their least concern), while TGs only want to change their gender role, and may only change the body to the extent of making their chosen/preferred gender role easier.

What I define as a true-TS as opposed to a TG of any type is a subset of the mainstream, needs surgical correction for optimum health and fulfillment, thrives in a gender binary, and has mainstream needs and values rather than LGBT needs/values. True-TSs, do not fit under either of Blanchard's categories. They do not transition to facilitate gay sex, nor do they transition for fetish nor attraction to any "woman within." The true-TS doesn't believe in having 2 separate selves. There is no "woman within," to them, they ARE a woman and what makes them one is inborn.

Anonymous said...

I find this blog entry to be nothing but rhetoric and hate speech against true-transsexuals who are not a part of the LGBT and who have traditional views, and it promotes the hateful lie that TSs and TGs are one in the same. TSs are not in the LGBT, only TGs, and true-TSs are opposite from TGs in many ways.

I find it arrogant and distasteful that TGs and gay men think they have a right to speak for mainstreamist TSs who are much closer to members of the mainstream. If you are not actively correcting their physical sex through surgery and hormones, and haven't had such treatment, then you have no right at all to speak for TSs, lead us, or speak on behalf of us.

Jerry Maneker said...

Regarding the three comments made by Anonymous: To make it short and sweet, one can be a man without having a penis; one can be a woman without having a vagina and breasts. Sexual characteristics don't define sexual status for either non-transexuals or for transexuals. One can be a woman with a man's body and one can be a man with a woman's body, and changing those bodies conform to the expectations of the culture, but don't do anything to change the very nature of that person. If one wants to bring his/her body to be in line with what he/she is in order to make him/her fulfilled, that's fine, but my contention is that it is not necessary to do so to be a complete human being for the transexual.

DON CHARLES aka "STUFFED ANIMAL" said...

I concur, Jerry. This commenter (claiming to be an expert on transsexuality but without the guts to identify herself) has swallowed the hetero-normativity gospel hook, line and sinker. She's been brainwashed to think of herself as deformed. Well, if God meant Transwomen to have vaginas, they would have vaginas. If God meant Transmen to have penises, they would have penises! Just because some people's minds are too narrow to perceive the full extent of human diversity, that doesn't give them the right to call transsexuality a "birth defect."

There have always been Transfolk walking this Earth! There always will be, because their genders are as essential to nature as binary male and female. As you know, Jerry, I believe the very first life form was Trans. What the Bible says about Adam prior to Eve's creation supports my view. If the first life form wasn't Trans, where did distinct male and female bodies come from? They had to be originally combined in one body in order to evolve.

I've seen the so-called Trans community interact, and it's not pretty. In fact, it's quite ugly! Snobby Transwomen fancy themselves superior to those they cruelly deride as "crossdressers" and "penis packers." They despise being considered part of the transgender diaspora, but they are, just like Lesbians, Gay men, Bisexual and Transgender folk (Transfolk who are either comfortable with their birth bodies or who haven't yet come to terms with their transsexuality). They are in deep denial, but they're not fooling anybody but themselves! They are not the same as biological women, they are not perceived that way, and they never will be.

I am not intimidated by the health care industry-dependent Transsexual clique that absurdly believes gender can be given or taken away on an operating table. I attack ignorant beliefs wherever I find them. I will continue to speak the inconvenient truth: That Transsexuality isn't an illness, and no one will stop me.

To me, the Lord's mandate to follow the Golden Rule won't allow me to stay silent while Transfolk agonize and bemoan their "unnatural condition" just as LesBiGay folk did years ago. It is possible to be both Transsexual and free from health care industry exploitation. A profound consciousness-raising is long overdue among Transfolk, and I'll do whatever I can to promote an enlightened attitude:

http://ignoranceisplentiful.blogspot.com/2010/10/casting-pearls-before-swine.html