November 12th, 2006



tiredofwired recently linked to a New York Times article about New York's decision to allow people to change the sex on their birth certficate. I don't think this is a good idea. While I fully support people realizing their gender, altering permanent records of what is supposed to be biological radiates "Bad Idea." Changing gender is about self-realization. This turns it into delusion, and a publicly supported one at that.

Boys Don't Cry and Beautiful Boxer are both excellent movies. They are very powerful movies and both based on true stories. The former is about a female-to-male transgender man who's greatest aspirations extend to getting drunk with rednecks and hooking up with his ho of a girlfriend. No problem there; for any movement to be successful it must succeed not simply at the high intellectual levels but at the base lvels of our society. However, he is subsequently raped when his friends find out about him. Yet the rape is not the scene that inspires our sympathy but rather the telling of the rape to the local sherriff when she tearfully acknowledges her female genetalia.

The latter movie is about a male-to-female transgender muay thai kickboxer, and if you thought Brokeback Mountain did a good job merging masculinity with homosexuality, let me tell you it has nothing on this film. Beautiful Boxer features some of the best fight scenes I've ever witnessed on film, but again the most memorable moment is not any of the scenes in the ring but rather when the main character is getting ready for her surgery and her father is consulting with the doctor. He's accepted his daughter's gender, even if he doesn't approve, but his talk discussion with the doctor isn't about politics or his daughter being proper or anything one might expect. He wants to know if the surgery is safe. And then he is asked to contrast safety with her happiness.

Both instances remind us of the fact that while transgender is about an inner truth there is a biological truth that New York City is ignoring, and dangerously so. Gender realization, like any realization, must not be about ignoring an unpleasant truth but changing it. That is the purpose of reassignment surgery. That is the purpose of living as another gender before the surgery. But changing a word on a piece of paper from before one's memory is a delusion. It is ignoring that which must be confronted. It is altering public record - and a rather vital one at that - for personal convenience. I support reassignment. Lord knows I have enough transgender friends and I love all of them, but this is not the way.

Part of my taking issue with this is my own ambiguity. Make no mistake - I am a man. I am aware of this, I do not doubt this. Yet as most of my friends will attest I have very strong feminine traits. The result has been confusion on multiple levels. Sex is a big part of it. I do enjoy men aesthetically though despite trying several times I have no sexual desire towards men. This frustrates and confuses me as homosexuality is the cultural explanation for male identity combined with feminine traits. Yet I don't think my traits are so strongly feminine. Indeed, while my cultural interests are feminine - dance, show tunes, chick flicks, etc. - my values of honor, ambition, and agressive pursuit are clearly masculine. I would make a poor woman indeed.

How to resolve this? It's a big question, one to which I have no answers, but it's a question worth pursuing. And that, I suppose, is why I am truly so against the New York ruling. It stops the questions. It is an easy answer but a false path, a way of denying there is anything to question. But if there is no question there is no answer, and if there is no answer there is no cause. Changing birth certificates like this is a dangerous game. It sweeps the issue under the rug with a pat answer, and I cannot believe that if someone needs to change social projection of themself on such a primary trait that that is the only thing "wrong" with them. I cannot believe that changing gender will fix all of a transgender person's problems, or even all of the problems related to gender. Spending thirty years in the wrong body leaves more of an impact. Denying that anything was ever wrong is no more of a solution than waiting for the rapture is guide for long term environmental policy.

Who are you?