Wednesday, February 22, 2012

some thoughts

Good Morning.
  I read this article on Milkboys today, and I'd like to share it with you, and my thoughts, and ask yours in return. 

  Transgender Sterilization Finally Dying

There is no good reason why our passports & IDs should hold any information about our genitals. Gender is a fluid concept and for many it doesn’t have anything to do with having a penis or a vagina, not to mention the fact that some people have both or neither. Alas we live in a world where only two genders are recognised and bureaucracy insists on aligning your gender to your genitals.
This may work for some people but it obviously is problematic for others. In many European countries and U.S. states transgender people, for example, have to undergo sterilization surgery if they want to legally change their gender. Forcing someone to undergo surgery, which always comes with risks, just because they want their ID to reflects their actual gender is just barbaric.

Transgender Rights Protest in Sweden

Sweden was trying to end this practise, that doesn’t really go well with their reputation of being the paragon for gender equality & queer rights, for some time now. But while the oppositional parties (Left, Green & Social Democrats) and the major ruling parties (Moderates, Liberals & Centre Party) agreed on ending transgender sterilization, a very small, hardly relevant party (being at only 3% in the polls) of the ruling coalition, was holding back the indented change.

Luckily, after a nation-wide outcry over their position the leaders of said party, the Christian Democrats, came to their senses. Last week they published a statement in Sweden’s biggest newspaper saying:

We believe that even if there is an argument against allowing people who undergo gender reassignment surgery to become parents in their original sex, these reasons are not enough to justify the continued demand for sterilization. Therefore it is our view that the demand for sterilization on change of sex should be dropped.

Many transsexuals face hatred and fear which goes against the principle that all people are of equal value – the guiding principle for our traditional Christian beliefs, and therefore for the Christian Democrats.

  This article raised some questions for me, and will come with a few admissions.  First and foremost, I must admit to being uncomfortable about transexuals.  And, in all respect, I would imagine they are the more uncomfortable at times.  But, please understand that my lack of comfort is my problem, not theirs.  It is because I have a tendency to like things in nice neat understandable packages, and these are folks who are not so easily packaged and labeled for me.  Nonetheless, again, this is due to my own issues.
  When we ask a person for identifiable information, we take a fair amount on faith.  It would take a genetic scan worthy of Star Trek to determine if my ancestry is other than the French/German I believe it to be.  And, in the end, few really care.  Well, since their has been such a deal of intermingling, it likely is moot.  And though this isn't the best example, perhaps, it is one relevant.  When we ask someone if they are male or female, again we take a fair bit on faith.  I have yet to see someone strip search another in order to determine if the prefix of Sir or Madam should be used.  So, what makes one male, and what makes one female?
  In terms of Chromosomes, it's incredibly near thing.  The reports are that we are all female for a time being in the gestation cycle.  So, biologically, it can be assumed that one is male if a penis swings, and female if it doesn't.  But, that's not so fool proof, is it?  Certain differences in birth can allow one to have both, or none.  So, really gender, as opposed to sex?, can only really be determined by the way one sees oneself.  And, in a fair culture, that does tend to be fluid - as the article states.
  One of the things I truly love about the Naturist or FKK culture is that they are far less concerned with label on the locker room door than many.  I recall at work, being busy and tired, a bit distracted, I walked into the wrong bathroom to wash my hands.  At the time, I recall thinking "wow, it sure is clean in here.  When did the boss repaint?" only to have the proverbial light begin to blink.  Good news, no one was in there and no one saw me leave with a very red face.  And, odd that it is, the toilets are divided and doored, so in any event I would have seen nothing in the "worse case".  So, why should it matter?  Why do we get so caught up in this?  Even little children soon come to realize that girl parts and boy parts are different.  Who cares?  Oddly for me, I'd be more apt to stare in an all male environment - but that's off topic...
  So, back to point; people are who they are.  Outside of some very few examples, we are who we say we are.  And even when forced to provide documentation, it is typically only stating that we are who we said we were previously as well.  Even a birth certificate only says who someone else said we were.  It isn't an identity, it's a tag.
  So, as I come wandering back to a point, discomfort with less than tidy packages does not allow me - or anyone else - to dictate to another how that person should identify them self.  Do we say to a person of African heritage that because I am more comfortable with those of "European" ancestry markings, that he is not worthy?  Is it acceptable to tell a person of Indian characteristics that it is not ok to be them?  Of course not.  And yet we have no problem stigmatizing some for other "characteristics", or I guess what I'd prefer to say is "identifiers" if one were to decide labels are mandatory. 
  No, we are so wrapped up in being nice and comfortable with sorting people into our little ordered world, so focused on stereotyping and labeling, that we simply don't care about the person.  Who they are in their hearts is not relevant to us, only how we can fit them into our comfortable labels.  And that, my friends, shows just how small we can be.