My 20th post! Thanks to everyone that’s dropped by for something other than nude pictures of Justin Bieber. My latest entry posits that most basic question: “Why on earth would you change you sex? And um… why choose the weaker sex of the two?” The simplest answer is the easiest to forward. I identity as a transwoman.
Now, everyone, including my worst critics get the “trans” part. What many don’t get is the woman part.
Sadly, we live in a culture inundated with disbelief. “No No”, they say. “You are a man. You are an XY chromosome combination and therefore you are a male. No ifs ands or buts, “buddy“. Ouch! That’ll leave a mark for sure. Fortunately, I have “some” science on my side and a good deal of history. First the history bit; do you know when the XY chromosome was discovered? If you didn’t, that’s ok, neither did I. But thanks to the ever resourceful “Google” search function I came across the following from no less an authority than the Encyclopedia Britannica (online edition). Now for all you undergraduates mentally reciting your prof’s warning: “Encyclopedias are not credible sources” I say, Pffft! This is just a blog entry so relax. 🙂
Anyways, back to said Encyclopedia:
Clarence E. McClung, (born April 6, 1870, Clayton, Calif., U.S.—died Jan. 17, 1946, Swarthmore, Pa.), American zoologist whose study of the mechanisms of heredity led to his 1901 hypothesis that an extra, or accessory, chromosome was the determiner of sex. The discovery of the sex-determining chromosome provided some of the earliest evidence that a given chromosome carries a definable set of hereditary traits. He also studied how the behaviour of chromosomes in the sex cells of different organisms affects their heredity.
So what this means is that anyone living before 1901 could not possibly have used the XY/XX chromosome differential as an arbiter in determining ones’ sex. But we still had males and females prior to 1901. How then could they tell if someone is male or female?
“Oh that’s easy we just look at them naked. Males have their magnificent albeit intimidating outdoor plumbing and females have their complex and sophisticated and oh so mysterious indoor plumbing.“
But it’s not so easy as that. Various conditions can affect normal sexual development so that females develop male characteristics and vise versa. Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) is one such condition and Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasiais (CAH) is another.
See the websites below for some images showing just how unreliable a cursory physical examination of an individual’s anatomy is in determining one’s true sex. I’d include them here but they are pretty graphic.
So basically, prior to 1901, sexual identification would be based simply on appearance since those living at the time lacked any other basis on which to assign one’s gender. In fact, even today that’s what it comes down to. Unless you know an individual’s medical history the woman sitting next to you may in fact be an XY male and vise versa.
But what about people like myself that lack any obvious physical determinant in identifying with the opposite sex. Well, we have some interesting research available on that front. It’s all a bit tedious but basically it comes down to possessing something akin to a “female brain”. A number of studies exist each focusing on some aspect of the brain’s functioning. Those interested can check out the Wikipedia entry on the causes here:
On a much more immediate level being able to live, interact, and function as a female is akin to Goldilocks finding that perfect chair, porridge, or bed. This one is just right (cue contented sigh). I love being female! Sure, I have a male past but even then I had a strong feminine impulse—one I spent a lifetime suppressing. I was like Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. My transition was inevitable it was only a matter of time before I collapsed under the sheer pressure of it all.
The pull towards the feminine has been with me as long as I remember. Fear immobilized me. Fear of my parent’s reaction, that of friends, and to a lesser extent, society all worked to constrain me. Coming out as transgendered and specifically as a transsexual was really a means of releasing all that pressure. I knew who I was. I just decided to let the world in on my secret. The feminine impulse acted much like a boat’s rudder steering me unerringly into female waters.
As to being the weaker sex—well, yes women don’t possess the upper body strength that males do. They also have lighter smaller bones, lack brow bossing and have a greater fat to muscle ratio than males. It’s astounding that so many males have misappropriated that saying by applying it to every aspect of the female gender. How incredibly misogynistic! How utterly foolish! and how fundamentally wrong such an assertion is.
The human story is replete with women who have sacrificed themselves for a higher good; stared death in the face; demonstrated enduring irreproachable faith and have inspired a hurting world to better itself. A woman’s ability to empathize with and comfort others is something to see and anyone fortunate to witness it should be humbled by the experience.
I remember back in “boy world” as I call it, sneaking away at social functions to sit with the women present, and listen happily to them chat away about their lives, the lives of their children, and their interests and concerns. Inevitably, my “buddies” would notice my absence and I’d be called back by the boys to watch the rest of the game or rehash some adolescent adventure we had undertaken. Thankfully, now I get to stay with the girls at these sort of events without fearing a call to join the men (cue contented sigh again).
I am not interested in male-bashing but I decry the way our society has systematically failed to value feminine traits, deeming them inferior to masculine ones. And men, remember, had one change in your XY chromosome pair occurred you’d never have needed those ongoing reminders to lower the toilet seat. 😉
I love my female friends trans and otherwise. Don’t envy the men ladies. Yes, they are exempt from the inconvenience, pain and discomfort of menstruation, hormonal storms, menopause, and the pain of child-birth. However, they cannot rejoice in the sensuousness of the female form—not like we can. Nor can they share the bond a woman has with her children. I love seeing my female friends with their children. There is an invisible but easily detectable energy that flows between them. It impacts me greatly. In other words, I get it.
I am certainly no beauty along the lines of a Jenna Talackova but I am still female and if I may allow myself a moment of self-satisfaction—confess to possessing a beauty of my own. I love people greatly. It brings tears to my eyes—such passion and feeling—never taken for granted and always humbled and thankful—that I am a woman.
THE BEAUTY OF A WOMAN
The beauty of a woman; Is not in the clothes she wears,
The figure that she carries; Or the way she combs her hair.
The beauty of a woman; must be seen from in her eyes, Because that is the doorway to her heart, The place where love resides.
The beauty of a woman; is not in a facial mole, But true beauty in a woman; Is reflected in her soul.
It is the caring that she lovingly gives, The passion that she shows, And the beauty of a woman; With passing years – only grows!