Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Addendum: Take your medicine
The web seems to have more and more stories from people who consider their being transsexual, or transgender, or that supremely nebulous term "trans," simply as a variant from normal, like being left handed. They embrace their difference. They celebrate their difference. And they generally let others know that they are different and feel fine about it.
If that's how people experience their lives, fine with me. It's not for me to question the validity of their experience or to insist that it must be something other than the way they perceive it. So why do these same people question the validity of those of us who experience being transsexual as a medical condition that needs to be treated, and who leave the condition behind once it has been treated?
Truly, there is nothing pathological about being gender-variant. How we express ourselves, whether it's as society expects or something quite different, is just part the spectrum of being human. Societal expectations can be very restrictive, and there have always been those who break convention.
But that's gender. And gender is not sex. There have also always been those of us who knew we had been born the wrong anatomical sex. Since about the middle of the last century, medical science has been able to help us. We do all that we can to have what should have been ours from birth: the anatomical characteristics of the sex opposite the one we were labeled with when we were born. The principal medical interventions are hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery. Once treated, we live whatever kind of life we want as the sex we always knew we should have been. Our gender expression is whatever feels right to us.
The important thing is that we knew we needed all that was medically available in order to live a normal life. That's why we take hormones. That's why we undergo surgery. We were born with a medical condition, and we have it treated as well as possible. For those for whom the diagnosis was correct, the treatment is remarkably successful.
Without medical intervention, we suffered. We could not embrace our condition. Many if not most of us tried, sometimes very hard. All the effort we made was to no avail. It wasn't weakness on our part. No one pathologized us. We followed no one's agenda. We simply recognized what we needed and had the matter taken care of.
Those who are outside the norm for sex or gender or both and consider themselves to be happy and healthy the way they are, more power to you. Whatever is going on with you, if you don't feel that it's a medical condition that needs treating or fixing, then please just be happy.
There is one question though. If your variance is not pathological, not a medical condition, then why do so many undergo hormone therapy? Seriously, if there's nothing wrong with you, then why are you treating this wellness with a very invasive medical procedure? Changing your sex hormones is not the same as undergoing a surgical procedure, but it's a major change.
You say there's nothing wrong with you. You don't need surgery. But you take hormones. I don't have a problem with that. Your body, your business. But I do have to wonder about the reasoning behind it, and about this claim that your condition is not medical. Something doesn't add up.