by: user-inactivated

comment by
coffeesp00ns
badged comment

As I mentioned to you in my PM, I'll talk with you out here, not because I've got something against private conversation, but because I am a.) unashamed of who I am, because there is nothing "wrong" with me, and b.) willing to be an educator, and If i'm going to be an educator, it might as well be in a classroom, and not in a private session.

The biggest and most important thing I'd like to impress upon you - and really if you get ABSOLUTELY NOTHING out of this conversation other than this fundamental point - is point B. Not the whole thing, just this part:

    willing to be an educator

The key word is willing. Not every person in a minority is willing, interested, or able to be an educator. On top of that, it is not your right to have an educator. That phrase can sound a little B.S., but the basic concept comes down to this - there is a difference between "I'd like to know about this, can you tell me more?" and "I need you to explain this to me. If I don't get it, then it's not a thing."

You've not really said either of these things, but you did say,

    Conversely, if I didn't take the time to post my doubts, you wouldn't have been able to further attempt to educate me on the issue, and by proxy, anyone else feeling confused about the matter. When people stay quiet on a matter that concerns them, they're stifling their own personal growth, because they're isolating themselves from healthy feedback from people who think differently.

and yes, this is true. However, it is not minimum_wage's job to educate you or anyone else, especially when the information is relatively widely available, and no harder to get a hold of than when you were writing a paper in high school.

So seriously, that's like the "sunscreen good, no sunscreen bad" of communicating with people who are part of a minority, or anyone really - young, old, male, female, anyone whose experience in life is different from yours.

But I'm not here to shit on you, nor for you to feel shit on, which is just as bad as actually being shit on. So let's move on, though it might not feel a whole lot like moving on.

I've got another stumbling block that we're going to have to get over - and this one's a doosey for a lot of people, especially because of the questions it raises the further we get into this discussion (a lot of which get answered with "genetics is complicated").

That stumbling block is this: Gender Binary doesn't exist outside of the societal construct we are familiar with.

What we are all taught in school (and which is reinforced by lots of things in our society, such as gendered marketing), that XY is male and XX is female, and never the twain shall change, is a huge simplification of what we know and have observed about humans and how our chromosomes work. Just zip down to the bottom of this wiki article on Kleinfelter's Syndrome and you'll begin to see what I mean. XXY,XXYY, XYY, XO... It's like a bad game of tic tac toe down there. All of these things are genetic disorders which are completely ignored by a gender binary that says "XY male, XX female". Like, what does that make these other people, some of whom present and are raised male, some of whom present and are raised female.

(side note: when I say "present" here, i mean "how they are generally perceived in the world". It's fewer letters that way, and it's sort of part of the "lingo".)

Now, hidden in that list of chromosomal disorders are two that are really interesting for the topic at hand:

XX male syndrome - in which someone looks like a guy, and develops as a guy, but is sterile and may have small testicles.

Kleinfelter Syndrome - as mentioned above. XXY chromosomes, and the most common Chromosomal disorder. Between 1:500 and 1:1000 men have this condition. that means there are approximately 318 000 men in the USA with this condition, as a conservative estimate. from the wiki -

    Often symptoms may be subtle and many people do not realize they are affected. Sometimes symptoms are more prominent and may include weaker muscles, greater height, poor coordination, less body hair, smaller genitals, breast growth, and less interest in sex.

This is leaving Hermaphroditism completely off the table, even though it relates here for similar reasons.

Also of interest is Androgen Insensitivity syndrome - in which an XY karyotype human has difficulties absorbing the proper amount of testosterone. It's also pretty common at 2-5:100,000. It has 3 forms, Mild, Partial and Complete insensitivity, varying in intensity. Someone with a Mild form might have malformed sperm, but also be less hairy than usual and have a higher voice. Partial insensitivity is a wide specturm (there's a scale from 1-7, and it usually includes levels 2-5). with PAIS you could look like anything from a man with a small penis and some breast development (not unlike Kleinfelter's) to a masculine looking woman with a large clitoris.

You already know what complete insensitivity looks like, because I showed you. I lied to you in this paragraph:

    What we are all taught in school (and which is reinforced by lots of things in our society, such as gendered marketing), that XY is male and XX is female,

under XX is a picture of a woman named Eden Atwood. She is a woman with CAIS. She is an XY karyotype human who developed from the womb as a female. While she is not one of them, there are cases of XY women giving birth, and even one case where and XY woman gave birth to another XY woman - That shit's a scholarly journal, not Ripley's Believe it or Not.

I might as well let the cat out of the bag with the other picture, too. I couldn't find any pictures of XX men (it's not a super common syndrome), so I put in a Picture of Buck Angel, famous Trans Man porn star. Buck is born XX, and transitioned in his... 20s i think?

All of this is to say - The human body is INCREDIBLY COMPLICATED. People often ask the question of "How do Trans People exist?" when really, the question should be "With all the other crazy shit our genetics do, why are we surprised that trans people exist?"

So, that was a lot of writing. I hope you got through it with most of your brain intact - It's a lot to take in.

Trans people, for a minority that represents an estimated 1% of the population, are surprisingly well researched (or surprisingly poor researched, depending on your perspective). The TranScience Paperdex is an incomplete list of the studies that a have been done regarding trans people. Some of them are obviously extremely out of date, but it's an interesting body of work.

Trans people are also nothing new. People cite Christine Jorgensen as a famous early modern case, but really she is just the first trans person that modern western media ever got a hold of. There are many examples of "Third Gender" peoples, all the way from the earliest writings we have in Mesopotamia. Third Gender people are mentioned in the writings of Plato, show up in Old Israeli words, and are even in some current cultures, such as Hijra people in India, and kathoeys in Thailand.

So, now that (hopefully) I've convinced you and others that trans people aren't just mentally ill, or a new fad, onward to specific questions from you.

    I don't know if feeling like you're the opposite gender of what you were born is natural or unnatural.

Is feeling like the opposite gender of what you were born "natural"? Yes. It's just not super common.

    I don't know if undergoing hormone therapy and even surgery to correct such a feeling is right or wrong.

First I'll point out how much total bullshit there is to get onto hormones in the first place. like, I've been head on the road towards hormones for more than a year and a half, and only recently got onto step 1, which is not full hormones. It required hours of counselling sessions, and repeating my "story" over and over to various people until I got sick of minutiae and created a "Party line" that I used for everything to keep a consistent story. To get Gender reassignment surgery I will likely be on a wait list for over 2 years.

Nothing about this is fast or easy, nor is it a snap decision.

But packed into this is also some other questions - what happens if you don't like it? Can we fix the feeling another way?

Well, we know that giving trans people more of the hormones of their expected Karyotype gender makes them feel worse (nor is there any evidence that hormone imbalance exists in trans people), and we also know that Hormone Therapy is associated with a greater quality of life in trans people.

We, unfortunately, have some pretty decent case examples of what happens when you give someone cross-gender hormones and they don't want them. David Reimer springs to mind, though his whole story is sad and it's not just about cross-gender hormones). Feminizing hormones were also used in the UK as part of the Labouchere Amendment (also known as Section 11). They were used to punish gay men who got caught, by reducing their libido and making them sterile. It played a factor in Alan Turing's suicide.

Basically, if you don't feel better on hormones, then don't take them. You can stop at any time, and many of the effects will reverse (though not all). Hormones are the best treatment we've got for Gender Identity Disorder. There are risks (including things like kidney damage), but hey, it's better than the alternative.

This isn't a "just because we can, doesn't mean we should" situation. this is a "we finally have a way for these people to stop hating themselves" situation, and a "wow, these people have been hiding in corners for centuries and just want to be treated like human beings" situation.

Anyways, this post is long enough, and I'm sure question will come up, so rather than pre-empt them, I'll just let them happen.

What does it mean to be human? It's complicated.