Why are they so anti-Trans? It's a matter of pardonable ignorance.
In the days when 95% or more of the population was in agriculture, it was impossible not to know that some animals were neither normally male nor normally female. "Intersex" conditions were obviously real, tangible things. Some had ambiguous genitalia, some were hormonally mixed up "freemartins" with cross-gendered behaviour, it was accepted by everyone that while most animals were wholly male or wholly female, some were not.
When we became "civilised", meaning "living in cities" and away from daily contact with livestock, such things were forgotten. And at school, we learnt in Bible classes that men were men, and women were women, as God created them. Later, as science progressed, that 46xy was male, 46xx was female, and that's all there was to it, nice, neat, and simple.
We weren't taught that some animals, and some people, were 47xxy, or 46xx/46xy mosaics, or had any of a number of other Intersex conditions. Such things were embarrassments, to be concealed, "family secrets", and more often as not, either victims of infanticide, or in later days, surgical "correction".
We as a society forgot about Intersex conditions, so we never realised that people and animals could be born with Intersexed brains, the cliched "woman trapped in a man's body" or the reverse.
Now there are a lot of socialogical snake-oil salesman out there, all peddling their different brands of fashionable nonsense. How can people be blamed for seeing "transsexuality" as just another case, more of the same, if they weren't taught about the biology at school?
There's also the element of homophobia, and religious belief that not only is homosexuality (or indeed, any form of sexuality to some) morally wrong, but the reasonable but utterly mistaken belief that all gays really want to be women, and all lesbians really want to be men. So not only were transsexual people really gays, they were dishonestly attempting to circumvent the Good and Proper ordering of society by perpetrating a grand deception on unsuspecting people. Rather than being merely unfortunate Freaks (as one commentator put it), they were Perverts who were undermining the whole of society by their trickery and perversion.
It was ignorance, married with a healthy scepticism of something that went against "common sense", and genuine concern for the good of one's community and the welfare of one's children, that cause transphobia.
And that is why the Nashua Telegraph's stories on the subject are so important. Some, like Mr Winslow, still remain sceptical. Some, like TH, are so uncomfortable with the whole issue that they don't want to think about it - except when it comes to legislation that might give these people some human rights, like the right to marry, or adopt. Then they think about it all right, and oppose any such "nonsense", as it is outside their own experience.
Now a disclaimer: I'm Intersexed, with a Transsexual life history. You see, a few Intersex conditions cause a natural change from looking like one sex, to looking like the other. Usually Female to Male, the reverse is really rare. But such people, if they try to fit in to societal norms, transition at some time in their lives. For some it's a nightmare, the old body shape matched their brains, and they get surgery to stop the natural change. For others, like me, it is a relief from decades of discomfort, a feeling of wrongness, that the whole situation is horribly perverse.
People like TH and Jeffrey Winslow cannot, or will not, comprehend that, and won't believe that something like that could happen. Show them the evidence, that conditions like 5ARD or 17BHDD exist, and they still won't believe it. That's because it would mean shattering their whole world view.
Some people will continue to take refuge in their comfortable ignorance, for this whole thing is embarrassing. Hopefully most will at least listen to the medics, the biologists, the scientists, and not least the stories of those with Transsexuality or other Intersex conditions.
We can but try.
Thursday, 5 June 2008
Over at the Nashua Telegraph. It's on what causes Transphobia.