When discussing the subject of gender in today’s social and political climate, individuals have quite a few things to consider. Throughout all human history, humans have been taught of two genders and two sexes. An individual’s gender would dictate their social and cultural roles in society. Their gender would depend on what sex they were given at birth. An individual’s sex is dependent on the biological anatomy of their reproductive system. Society for the most part recognizes two sexes and two genders. Basic science that is taught at the grade school level would have children believe that if you were born XX or XY, then you are either male or female. This is important when discussing gender, as it is basic human biology to be either born as XX or XY. Intersex people or “hermaphrodites” have been present in society throughout human history as well. Intersexuality is when an individual is born biologically possessing both male and female characteristics (Romas et al. 2011). Intersex people might possess both male and female genitalia structures both internally and externally and may possess hormones of both or opposite genders. The three biological statuses are female, male, and intersex.
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Transsexuality and transgenderism aren’t new concepts in modern day society. Cases of individuals being transgender have been recorded throughout history. But with the transgender movement and growing acceptance within society, transgenderism has become more recognized in recent years. Transgenders identify with a different gender than their assigned sex while transsexuals are people who undergo a transition from one gender to another. Simply stated, transgender is more behavioral dependent on the individual should they choose which female or male characteristics they identify with. Transgenders live without having undergone sexual re assignment surgery while transsexuals have undergone surgery. You could categorize transsexuals and transgenders as having gender dysphoria or gender identity disorder. Gender dysphoria is a formal diagnosis given by mental health professionals to people who experience distress because of a significant incongruence between the gender with which they personally identify and the gender with which they were born (Bryant 2016). These concepts are generally understood and accepted in most parts of the United States. With prominent transsexual public figures like Caitlyn Jenner, acceptance of the transgender community has been growing in recent years. There are a few subtleties and nuances to these concepts that aren’t widely known or understood, particularly between the distinctions of transsexual and transgender or the differences between gender and sex. When discussing gender, most people can generally agree on and conclude that there are only two genders and two sexes. This common ground is found by the application of basic biology taught to everyone at some point in their lives. Problems arise when society tries to redefine these terms and ideas without any scientific or factual backing. Allowing people to define themselves as something they biologically are not is to disregard science. The idea that the rest society must adhere to individuals making claims that aren’t scientifically true, is something that needs to be put to question.
A new way of thinking that has emerged in modern society is the idea that gender is non-binary and that gender is interchangeable. Gender being interchangeable meaning a person might feel like a man today but tomorrow might feel like a woman. Their basis for this reasoning is that anatomy shouldn’t decide the destiny of ones gender, individuals have the right to determine their own gender identity, and they can change it as often as they wish (Metcalf 2016). People should be able to choose how to live, choose how they deal with their identity no problem. The non-binary movement seeks to disregard centuries of science and basic human biology. Science would state the existence of two genders, and two sexes and three biological statuses and that this status cannot be altered. This new movement would have people believe that there’s more than two, and that they are interchangeable depending on the feelings of the individual. Behavior shouldn’t take precedent over facts. Facts don’t present us with more than three interchangeable biological statuses. To redefine this concept and have the rest of society redefine what they know as fact is questionable. Should a woman who feels like a man insist on others that she be called a “he”? Biologically, the individual is still a woman, and the distinction is that they merely feel like a man. Some of their features may be altered but they were still born a woman, and still possess XY chromosomes. Can any person of any affiliation reasonably insist you say something that caters to their beliefs? Should everyone be given this societal courtesy well? Acknowledging that these people exist and that their feelings matter is important. When these people try and set a new standard, completely disregarding basic biology, and insist on others to follow these standards is when they enter territory that doesn’t belong to them. An individual may feel like man one day or they may feel like a woman the next, but their feelings shouldn’t rule over basic biology. A man who underwent gender reassignment surgery wearing a dress is still a biological man. Their physical structure may resemble a woman, but their chromosomes will still be XX at the end of the day. How can discussions on gender be held if there can’t even be an agreement on something as basic as human biology? Individuals should be free to live how they want so long as they’re not hurting anyone, identify how they choose and feel whatever it is they may be feeling, but should their feelings go as far and alter legislation, societal standards, human biology, and make it the responsibility of society to conform to any individual because they feel a certain way? When looking at the topic of gender fluidity, one must consider this question. It brings up the idea of how children will be affected by this way of thinking. If a biological girl implements this way of thinking and decides she is a boy, what is to be done about that? Should this young girl have the right to request gender reassignment surgery based on this way of thought? Is it wrong to deny her that right? Factual evidence and truth should be brought and kept at the forefront, what a person chooses to feel after the fact is their business. Implementing and supporting the idea that gender is interchangeable doesn’t send the right message to children. Kids should be able to express themselves however they wish, but to teach them the idea that the three biological statuses are interchangeable at any given time at an early age would raise issues in society where there shouldn’t be any.
An important point of the topic is acknowledging and analyzing the possible mental state of these people. Individuals struggling with gender identity would reasonably be unwilling to classify their condition as “gender dysphoria”. Due to GD being defined as a mental illness it makes sense as to why someone wouldn’t want a negative label surrounding their personality and identity. Mental illness is a scary thing to talk about, and it is generally agreed upon that transgenderism not be labeled as a mental illness due to the negative stigma and implications. While there is a distinction between GD and transgenderism, we know that suicide rates among the transgender community is extremely high, especially among transgender youth. About 30% of trans female teens who identify as female but have birth certificates that label them as male have tried suicide at least once (Rapaport 2018). While all of the exact reasons and possibilities for such high suicide rates among the transgender community is unclear, a majority of these deaths can be attributed to discrimination, unacceptance, and systemic violence. Solutions for these individuals need to be found if these rates are to be lowered. Even if transgenderism isn’t labeled as a mental illness by society for removal of stigma, these individuals still need counseling made available to them and or resources to make their transition. Would redefining our definitions help these individuals in the long run? Is catering to these individuals at the cost of throwing facts out the window the right call? While it is important that these individuals feel accepted, it would prove more practical and yield better results if actual constructive solutions were looked into, instead of implementation of a political correctness standard that removes gender as a variable in a person or that it is interchangeable. Something as simple as gender doesn’t need a complicated explanation, and the issues that emerge from people struggling with their identity would better benefit from a real solution that addresses and solves every aspect of what they are dealing with. The solution isn’t found in the war on language or political correctness.
- Romas, Nicholas A., et al. “Reproductive system disease.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 2 Dec. 2011. academic-eb-com.proxymc.vcccd.edu/levels/collegiate/article/reproductive-system-disease/110814#75995.toc. Accessed 2 Dec. 2018.
- Bryant, Karl. “Gender dysphoria (GD).” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 15 Apr. 2016. academic-eb-com.proxymc.vcccd.edu/levels/collegiate/article/gender-dysphoria/607834. Accessed 2 Dec. 2018.
- Rapaport, Lisa. “Trans Teens Much More Likely to Attempt Suicide.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 12 Sept. 2018, www.reuters.com/article/us-health-transgender-teen-suicide/trans-teens-much-more-likely-to-attempt-suicide-idUSKCN1LS39K. Accessed 2 Dec. 2018
- Metcalf, Allen. “Gender Self-Identification: M or W?” The Chronicle Of Higher Education, chronicle-com.proxymc.vcccd.edu/blogs/linguafranca/2016/08/07/gender-self-identification-m-or-w/. Accessed 2 Dec. 2018
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