I’m in a sort-of-online debate with someone who sent me a link to an article in “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.”
The article is named “Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus.”
I’ve read about this study, but as I recall this is the first time I’ve seen this article.
The definition of “transgender” has been problematic to nail down, not least since the underlying concepts of “gender” and “sex” are (when carefully pondered) quite complex and the superficial view tends to lead to the sort of problem that would suggest that a better definition is needed. Also, “transgender” is intended to be a sort of “umbrella” concept under which many different types of gender-related conditions are categorized and yet not conditions like “transvestite” or “cross-dresser” or “drag queen” (not that I’m implying anything negative about any of those terms).
The implied definition of “transsexual” as per Wikipedia is “Transsexual people identify as a member of the sex opposite to that assigned at birth, and desire to live and be accepted as such” and for now anyway, that definition works for me.
I’m working through the article. It’s highly scientific (which is great) but it doesn’t make for easy reading. Still, were more people to read this particular article, or even part of it, I think it’d help for there to be a lot more understanding as to the underlying issues, in fact … in hard, proven, scientific fact.
Part of what I find most interesting about this study is (and I’m speaking in broad terms here) that the scientists found a part of the brain that is structurally very different between genetically integrated males and genetically integrated females, and that transsexual male-to-female folks (like me, presumably) were found to have a similar brain structure to genetically integrated females, and that transsexual female-to-male folks were found to have a similar brain structure to genetically integrated males. In other words, the shape of the genitalia didn’t prevail. Transsexual girls had female brain structure similarities with non-transsexual girls (whom I refer to as genetically integrated girls).
Before this study, facts were still facts, in the same sense as the nature of lightning didn’t change thanks to Benjamin Franklin’s work on the subject.
Still, the study’s conclusions of “it’s physiological” make for a different situation that had it been purely psychological. This makes it, to my relief, even more unreasonable a position to ascribe a negative morality to the transsexual condition.
I hasten to add that, even if it were a psychological condition with no known or demonstrable physiological underpinnings, it would still not be any less real and would still not be a proper condition for someone else to persecute or attack. The physiological aspect just adds yet one more layer of realism.
Like the work of Newton, I think that this work will trigger fundamental cultural changes — in this case, how the world deals with transsexual men and women.
As a transgender, transsexual girl I have for decades struggled with feeling like a girl while having a male-shaped private parts. Two years ago, I decided to stop the downwards spiral of despair in my life. I decided to live as the woman I am. This decision was based on making peace with myself at a psychological level.
Later, I read about this study. These facts are highly validating, and I appreciate them as such. If my brain physiologically has a female structure, it would not surprise me, but I have no proof that it does. I didn’t go get an autopsy done; I’m not dead. Based on my own introspective psychological observations, I conclude that I’m female brain-wise and that’s good enough for me. I don’t feel the need for an MRI or a post-mortem to validate my conclusion (emphasis on “my”).
Each person gets to make his or her own lifestyle decisions. Such a decision doesn’t violate others’ rights, and as such is fundamentally 100% OK, i.e., such an individual is totally functioning within his or her own rights regardless of any combination of being openly transgender, transsexual, gay, bi, transvestite, cross-dresser, drag queen, etc. And if that person’s family and friends are unreasonable, that doesn’t change the basic principles.
Even if it is or were 100% a choice, whoever makes that choice doesn’t have to justify it to anyone whose cultural norms happen to clash with that. There is actually always an element of choice. For example, someone who is a transsexual girl can choose to live openly as such or can choose to hide the fact. Whoever expects the latter isn’t being reasonable. It is for others to respect that person’s right to choose how to live his or her life, whether any onlookers like it or not.
If we were to argue the relative merits of lifestyle choices, it would be appropriate to point out that none of these non-mainstream lifestyle choices ended up with innocent people being lynched, or shot, or burned at the stake — nor with a battered wife, a rock-hard liver or clogged arteries. If anything, folks who choose to be open about their non-mainstream transgender etc. lifestyle could stand on relative merit.
We don’t have to go there. Individuals get to make choices and live with the basic consequences. These should not have an extra layer of difficulty added on due to others’ harassment.
As an example, smoking has its own set of benefits and problems. In the sort of society that I advocate, the latter should not include being hassled by those who disapprove of smoking. Ditto for being openly transgender.