Gender and Us: An Examination of the Transgender Idea


The author, an “out” transgender woman, treats the subject of transgender issues and people to an examination and review.
This examination is followed by the expression of a possible direction for the future.

Transgender people exist. We are not insane, we are not pedophiles or other sex offenders, we are not “perverts.” At least no more often than any members of the population at large, and I suspect far less so. If deviant sexual behavior is caused by a skewed understanding of gender and sexuality, which in turn causes repression of sexual and/or gender identity, then the conclusions reached by a person so afflicted might direct them to criminal abuses.
It is therefore reasonable to conclude that many or even most of the incidents of criminal sexual offense may be stopped before they start by not only permitting, but encouraging, people to “come out” about their gender identity and/or sexuality.
These variations in human expression are vital to our health and well-being as a species.
To tolerate their limitation or exclusion; indeed, to fail to celebrate them as we do any others considered more typical, is to contribute to the damage of the whole of humanity.
The entire human race can benefit immeasurably in the coming centuries, but we must stop denying ourselves, denying each other and denying our birthright; which ultimately I feel is to sail the stars, end aging and disease and poverty.
But we have some basics to get down, first. One of those basics is an ACCURATE understanding of gender; what it is and what it is not.
Gender is not biological sex.
Gender is an expression.
Sexuality is neither sex nor gender,
And finally; Gender need not “match” biological sex.
I believe the gender of a child should not be considered to be determined until the child is old enough to understand the choice, and that choice should be theirs exclusively.
In a ceremony similar to a Bat or Bar Mitzvah, a child might then choose their gender. But until then, their gender may be expressed as they wish, but not considered legally finalized.
I believe the best result of doing things this way would be a virtual end to child exploitation of all kinds: from people dressing their six-year-olds up in attire considered, “sexy,” when worn by adults, to actual pedophilia as well as several adult-oriented sex crimes.
Every pedophile I’ve interviewed expressed a definite preference for a certain gender, most often boys. It is true that in this country only 100 years ago, young boys and young girls were often dressed alike.
I’m sure we’ve all seen the photograph of a young Franklin Roosevelt in a cute little pink dress and hat with plumy feathers on it.
Could it be the old practice of dressing little boys and little girls the same was to protect the little boys from certain adult men?
“Transgender” is a relatively new concept.
This is the premise most modern media would have us believe; that only thirty years ago, one had the “option” of being considered transsexual if they were males attracted to males, and transvestites if they were males attracted to females.
These labels were chosen based upon the clothing and other outward gender presentation of the individual being labeled, combined with their sexual preference. People were, and in many cases still are, forced to seek out a diagnosis of “gender dysphoria” or something similar in order to be permitted to seek gender confirmation surgery or even simple hormone-based treatments which for many are indispensable in the real world of today so they might avoid violence, ill and petty treatment at the hands of uneducated people in positions of power and even murder.
Hollywood cashed in on the “transgender revolution,” too. Films like, “The Crying Game,” “Dog Day Afternoon.” and “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean,” were some of the more “real” and humane treatments of transgender women by the film industry since the 70’s. But the best thing about all their portrayals was still the individual nature of the trans* characters in them, rather than as any guideline or yardstick to measure the appropriateness of treatment of transgender people.
Unfortunately, the latter is precisely how they were used, whether purposefully or not, simply because they were and for many continue to be the sole sources of relatable, though fictional, experiences of trans* women in particular.

Thankfully, the media has begun to catch up, and in many places transgender people, and trans* women in particular, are slowly being revealed to the general public as real, sane, sensible human beings.
The trope portrayal of the disheveled and depressed, even tortured or mentally disturbed individual is slowly falling into disuse, and three-dimensional human beings are taking her place.
But that’s the good news.
I’m afraid the bad news is a bit depressing in and of itself;
The single largest problem affecting the very vast majority of transgender people, especially transgender women, is employment.
For many reasons, employers are often extremely reluctant to hire trans* people to work for them. Those reasons range from simple ignorant prejudices (a former employer of mine once accused me, on the record in a deposition, of being a prostitute)to very real human resources hurdles which must be overcome sensibly and compassionately.

The second largest problem for trans* people is the medical community. Physicians and psychologists alike, though they are coming around, still have one major problem:
Exclusivity. There is not a single out transgender person in any upper university or other academic position relating to transgender people. Every single major paper on the subject is authored by cisgender people.
This situation is quite frankly intolerable. I can imagine how easy it would be to understand by comparison if all major academic papers on or of cisgender women, a-la, “Women’s Studies,” were authored and/or their courses taught by men.

Which leads me to the third major problem, which is really caused by the first two:

Government recognition of our legal gender status. To this day, a transgender person must still seek an official alteration of a birth document at the direction of a court in order to have their gender status legally recognized, which is a step they can only take once a physician has given them a letter swearing that the trans* person has undergone a surgical procedure to mutilate their genitals, which in turn is only possible once another doctor, this one a psychologist, has diagnosed them with a mental disease called, “gender dysphoria.”
The medical bills alone make this not just a gender issue, but an economic one; In most places, gender confirmation surgery is considered an elective procedure, as is psychotherapy for gender dysphoria. None of that is cheap, and many trans people will go through a life savings or an inheritance to pay for it.

All of these intolerable conditions can be rectified very simply: Academia and Industry must invite transgender people to the table directly. Far too many of the systems in place today which have in the past served to limit the spread of injurious Ideas and concepts in academia have nonetheless been co-opted by the ignorant and used to actively thwart the inevitable emergence of transgender people as the captains of our own academic ship. That means far too many of the traditional mechanisms such as understudy, internship, post-doctoral studies, and even peer review [transgender people HAVE no peers in academia]are virtually inaccessible to transgender people as of today. We need a common-sense standard for fast-tracking issues in academia relating to wide-ranging social problems with potentially disastrous and even fatal consequences for many people.
There was a time when science and academia were totally dominated by white, cisgender straight men. Then, slowly, other races and then finally women and then homosexuals were given seats at the table.
Academia has progressed immeasurably since then, which serves as proof positive that active inclusion is far more productive than anything else.
It’s time trans* people were included, and it’s high time we were permitted to have our own ship. We are fully capable of expressing who and what we are, but first our existence needs to be acknowledged, along with our autonomy and our right of self-determination.
-Katie Donovan
K80theShade – May, 2017– 73110


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