If expectation of gender expression is, to some extent, a social construct, what makes some people who don't fit the mold feel certain that they must physically transition into the other sex and why can’t they simply be happy expressing gender with their existing body?
First let me state that I am record on this blog as not being the least bit against the idea of transition but this question begs answering.
Imagine for a moment a world where people could express themselves in a way they desired and could dress and live openly as either male or female? Given this new set of rules would the desire for hormonal and surgical changes still be a desirable option for some? Are some people now opting to physically transition exclusively to enable them to more easily pass as the other gender?
Our inability to find (at least to date) a biological or genetic tracer for the presence of transsexualism is prompting my asking these questions.
I sometimes read stories about transsexuals where the family history is fraught with grief. For some there has been sexual molestation or a dysfunctional same sex parent relationship where the origin for the desire to change sex might possibly lie. I am not saying that every person who desires to transition has any such issues but that some do.
In truth the combination of family history, sexual preference and gender identity is a deeply complex cocktail that would require in-depth analysis to unravel and by the time an individual reaches a therapist with an expressed desire for transition the only way towards contentment is to follow through.
But by how much would the desire for transition be reduced by simply giving the child a freer control over his or her gender expression?
It’s clear that in many modern cases the will of the child is unfaltering and when they are allowed to follow their dream of changing sex they do. There are no regrets and much grief is avoided later in life when the prospect of such a change is far more daunting.
There are cases however, where things are not as black and white and this has led to wrong decisions; perhaps how we intervene or we do not can have dramatic consequences towards a final outcome.
Children certainly do not come with an instruction manual.
What I find positive about this era is that there is a willingness to address gender identity issues early on in the developmental history of the child. There need not be 40 years of suffering to discover a festering wound left untreated. Maybe society is overdosing on transgender awareness these days but at least in the process there are young kids out there feeling more open and positive in expressing their feelings.
The danger of course is that, in that delicate period of sexual and gender development, we don’t push the child towards any one option. Sometimes these questions sort themselves out on their own.
I remember thinking that one of my nephews was going to be gay or transgendered given his early and persistent penchant for wearing princess dresses. He is the same age as my son and looking at him now I would venture to say that it was just a phase. His mother did not panic and he was not overly chided by my brother.
We are indeed a complex species.
|Franklin Roosevelt circa 1884|