Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Science and Gender (and gender transitioning)

Recently I read an article on how scientists are finding differences in the brain formations of transgendered people. While this type of research is important for scientifically legitimizing the plight of transgendered folks everywhere, it left me a little bit afraid. Why would I fear? This supports what folks have said for years- sometimes a man is simply born into a woman's body, and a woman is born into a man's body. Now there is proof that their brains are actually that of their genetic counterparts. Nothing for me to fear there. And yet... I am afraid. Or at the very least I am wary.

My fear is that this will segregate the transgender community into further and futher categories. Currently someone wishing to transition needs to PROVE to medical professionals that they really do need surgery by living as the other gender for a time, and often they need to be hyper-masculin to become a man, or hyper-feminin to become a female. This trend is beginning to change, and some doctors will do the surgery so long as it is informed consent on the patient's part. This new system allows for gender variants of all types to access surgery to help their body be more comfortable for them (as long as they have the money to pay for the surgery- I will admit my rant is biased regarding class stature). I'm afraid that this swing towards informed consent as opposed to "prove it to me," will move backwards, not forwards.

In the article there is a footnote for "late onset transexuality," and it outlines that only 38% of transgender folks KNOW by age 5 that they are in the wrong body, but just because this article does have the disclaimers that it doesn't 100% solve the problem, that doesn't mean that more bigotry won't happen because you can't prove you're *trans enough* to the doctor. All because of a brain scan.

And people like myself, who live in the grey areas of gender, playing with both masculin and feminin and blending them and knowing myself to be neutrois (hurrah for learning a new word) have little hope of "fitting in" with yet another cleavage line to divide us. This article, and the entire concept of this brain scan, seems to support the notion that there are only the two genders in this world: male and female. I know this to not be the case.

I know gender is real. And I do NOT want to diminish access for those who truly are male or female from access to services to help them match their bodies to their brains. I just hope that a move for them doesn't put everyone else back.

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