Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Gender- My Notes
I took oodles of notes while watching NatGeo's Explorer "Sex, Lies, and Gender." If you missed the show, you will get a lot of info from what I'm posting below. I would pause, rewind, and so on to get the info. I tried to be as accurate as possible! *** We want to believe that gender is binary. That's just not true." sex therapist Dr Tiger Devore He says there are millions who don't fit into those categories- gender variant. There are those whose brains overide their bodies. Some posess male and female sex organs. intersex individuals are far more common than commonly thought- perhaps as high as 1 in 250. Many people born intersex aren't even aware. Story of Rudy Alimez. Soldier. After Gulf War, he suffered a back injury and got an MRI. MRI showed ovaries and an underdeveloped womb. Felt unhuman, dead inside, freak of nature. Not a man, not a woman. Believes he was surgically altered. Parents refuse to discuss his birth. He knows he wasn't born in the hospital but was treated in the hospital. Dr. Devore shared guidelines followed for surgical decisions regarding intersex infants. The idea that gender can be assigned and learned came from John Money. he believed children were gender neutral at birth and were then taught to be male or female by parents reinforcing their gender. It's estimated that 5 intersex surgeries are performed in the US every day. Devore strongly disagrees with gender assignment surgeries. Leads to lack of sensation in genitals, depression, lack of sense of self, sense of mistrust, etc. They lesson is materialistic and plastic- plastic surgery to change appearance, to make them "normal." Devore worked closely with Money. Devore is also intersex. At birth, he was hypospatius (penis like phallus but urinary opening at the base, giving a vaginal appearance). The doctors said they needed to make him into a boy- surgically. He had surgeries through out childhood, damaging him physically and emotionally. Infections, surgeries. He has had more than 20 surgeries in his lifetime. In 2006, the Academy of Pediatrics Journal recommended a more cautious approach to surgery. Rudy Alinez feels betrayed by his parents and mistrust toward the medical community. Feels he was butchered. He tries now to move forward with his life but is working to embrace his female gender identity. She has changed her name and is considering sexual reassignment surgery and feels happier than she's been in a long time. Gender goes beyond our physical bodies- our minds can determine gender identity. Josie. Lives as a girl, has a penis. 7 years old. Had fits as a young child when given boy haircuts, wear a boy uniforms, wear boy swim trunks. Insisted she was a girl. They began to let her be a girl- at home. Life became more peaceful when she was allowed to be a girl. Soon, she began to fight being forced to go as a boy to school. The parents had to make decisions about letting her go out as a girl. Family was living on Air Force base in Japan. When the family began to allow her to go to school as a girl, she was tormented, as was the family. Even with the torment and teasing, Josie continued, over and over and over, to go to school, to go out in public, as Josie, as a girl. It is estimated that 1% (3 million people) are transgendered in the US. Some believe this number is higher. Scientists have been studying the brains of deceased transgendered males and then compared them to the brains of typically gendered men and women. Also studied the genetic structure and found less testerone production. Dad talking about the goals and aspirations he had for his son. He had to mourn the loss of his son. By accepting Josie's gender, they are bucking the advice of many experts. A growing number of mental health professionals believe that acceptance is the way to move forward and develop healthy individuals. Preparing for puberty... adam's apple, testosterone, lowering voice, sperm production. Puberty blocking hormones have been developed. A delay in puberty could provide the time needed to mature emotionally and make permanent decisions about gender when they are more emotionally mature. The family hopes for understanding and acceptance. Devore says that the social structure is built on male/female binary model. Biological truth is that there is a broad range of sex identity between male and female and most people want to do whatever they can to eliminate that. India- male, female, third gender called hedra. Born intrasex, some been castrated, some are anatomically female. All hedra are considered a third gender. Recognition doesn't mean acceptance. Hedra are societally shunned in India but find acceptance amongst their own. Nearly impossible to find housing, a job. They beg from shopkeepers- most shopkeepers comply, preferring a hedra blessing to a hedra curse. Hedra also commonly resort to sex trade. The hedra they highlighted had come to America for college, returned to India and was shunned. Progress has been made in terms of accepting those who are transgendered but more frequently, they are still considered "freaks, adnormal, etc." Biologist Joan Roughgarden has shown that gender variation among humans is natural. She points to plant and animal kingdoms. She has documented that we are surrounded by living beings that are beyond male and female. Talking about all of the animal life forms that are hymaphrodytic. Some start male and become male or start female and become male. In addition, there is a long list of animals that might be considered transgendered. How common is gender variation on the entire? From fungi to plants, insects to mammals... approximately half of all species on earth exist outside the binary male/female gender assignments. Gender variance is normal and natural. Sexual difference is to be celebrated, encouraged, understood. Not something to be eliminated and punished.