Wednesday, 28 February 2007

Opinion Shaping in Malta

Well, they replace the word "intersex" with "transgender" throughout, and inserted a typo or two. But Malta Today published a letter to the editor from me, The Truth about Transgender Issues the other day, in response to an opinion piece by Ms Anna Mallia.
I quote from Ms Anna Mallia’s opinion piece last Sunday: “It is true that a transsexual is a person who identifies himself or herself completely with the opposite sex, believing that the wrong sex was assigned at birth. It is also true that transsexuals think and feel emotionally in a way typically considered appropriate to members of the opposite sex, and may undergo surgery to modify external sexual characteristics. But it is also true that a transsexual did not go through menstruation, does not have reproductive organs, and as such cannot fall under the definition of ‘woman’.”
And what exactly is the definition of “woman”?
I experienced monthly bleeding when I was 12, though it was through my urethra as I did not then have a vagina.
“Then there is the uterus, the vagina, the breasts… all these render a person a female by gender. I am not a medical doctor, but I am sure that those who have had a sex change do not satisfy all these conditions, so why are they called ‘females’ in terms of the law?”
I have breasts, a vagina, but no uterus. I also have 46xy (male)
chromosomes. The author of this paper obviously isn’t a medical doctor, or she would realise that many women would not fit her restricted definition. For example, all those women who have various transgender conditions, all those women who have had hysterectomies or mastectomies. On the other hand, a few people who have been biological fathers would fit the bill!
Men are men, women are women, but about 1.7 per cent of people are neither 100 per cent male nor 100 per cent female. Categorising this minority is not an easy task in some cases, and it’s complicated by the rare conditions like 5ARD, in which a person’s apparent sex changes over their lifetime. It’s bad enough for such people to have to go through the psychologically distressing and often biologically dangerous natural changes without bureaucrats, and medically ignorant opinion shapers denying their human rights.
Other people with less spectacular transgender conditions such as Harry Benjamin’s Syndrome (transsexuality) or Mixed Gonadal Dysgenesis (pseudo-hermaphroditism) or any of the hundreds of other medical conditions: Turner Syndrome, Swyer Syndrome, Kleinfelter Syndrome, Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia… any of these people who have the courage to endure hormonal and often surgical intervention to make their bodies as consistently male or female as they can be should not be discriminated against in law.
I wonder if the author has had her genes tested recently? You see, there are many women who are genetically male, yet who have CAIS. There are even a few with other, more rare conditions, who have birth to children yet are genetically male. Many transgender women aren’t aware of their status until they go to a fertility clinic to find out why they can’t get pregnant.
I wonder if Ms Mallia would be happy to renounce her womanhood if she found that she too was an unknowing victim of one of these conditions?

Zoe Brain,
Moving the mountain, one spoonful at a time. And yes, I did have monthly bleeding when I was 12. It's still not certain whether this was from a resolved sinus, or a recurrent infection. 6 months ago, I would have bet on it being an infection, due to the ultrasound results. But from the slight peculiarities found during my surgery, it's now indeterminate. Story of my life really!

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