Biological Confusion

| | Comments (3)

Yale Diva has a post about new policies at Brown, Wesleyan, and other schools regarding transgendered students. I understand their desire to try to be more understanding when people are confused about their sexuality. However, it's just dumb to change all the forms at the health center so that they no longer ask whether a patient is male or female but instead have to write out a short answer response to the following essay question: "describe your gender identity history".

Last I checked, gender identity had little to do with medical issues. That's biology, and even the most friendly people to lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues realize that someone is biologically male or female no matter how transgendered ze is. The mistake they've made here is against the very thing courses on this subject emphasize -- gender and sex are not the same thing. One is a socially shaped identity, and the other is a biological fact (genetically determined in all cases, including XO and XXX females and XXY males who might have female or partially female phenotype; even people of XY genotype with a defective Y are genetically male). Medical personnel need to know the biological sex of someone. Only in unusual circumstances is hir gender important.

3 Comments

"Medical personnel need to know the biological sex of someone."

It is a tad more complicated than that...especially in the case (which you duly noted) of XY with a defective Y. This case is, as you note, genetically male. However, ususally early on in life, these people are operated on to give them a female phenotype. Then upon puberty, they are given estrogen and other hormones.

Now imagine this person coming into a medical establishment with simply a "Male" box checked on the chart and a problem that is distincly "feminine" in nature. Bound to cause some confusion.

Hence the new policies. And personally, I think that policies that accomodate intersexuals are a good thing.

"even the most friendly people to lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues realize that someone is biologically male or female no matter how transgendered ze is."

Well, I disagree. Intersexuals, (particularly the ones where genotype and phenotype do no match--or were made not to match shortly after birth) have a valid claim that they are biologically/genetically one sex and at the same time biologically/phenotype the other sex. These dualing physical realities are simply not expressable on a male/female checkbox.

"I understand their desire to try to be more understanding when people are confused about their sexuality."

For the reasons that I gave above, I think that these policies are not so much an effort to help those who are "confused about their sexuality" as much as it is to help intersexuals (who have more than mere "confusion" going on).

My main point is that intersexuals are at best an exception. Transsexuals are not intersexuals, and that's who the article was about, which suggested that they were the reason for the change in the forms. If it's to help intersexuals, that would be different, but that's not how the piece I was discussing made it sound.

Point taken. However, I am still in favor of these policies because they do help the intersexuals who need to have the "either-or male-female system" challenged for their sake.

Leave a comment

Contact

    The Parablemen are: , , and .

Archives

Archives

Books I'm Reading

Fiction I've Finished Recently

Non-Fiction I've Finished Recently

Books I've Been Referring To

I've Been Listening To

Games I've Been Playing

Other Stuff

    jolly_good_blogger

    thinking blogger
    thinking blogger

    Dr. Seuss Pro

    Search or read the Bible


    Example: John 1 or love one another (ESV)





  • Link Policy
Powered by Movable Type 5.04