It is of concern when historical fact is reinterpreted to support current thinking. Or at least, it is to me. Here’s two reports in the gay press I saw today, coming on the tails of several others over the last few weeks:
My first issue is the emotive header – apparently Swedish trans people have to be sterilised to get identity papers.
Well, that’s factually true, but it covers something up – that people who are trans routinely WANT to have surgery on their genitalia. That’s the whole point.
I know that some cannot because of health reasons, and because it’s either expensive or the results are poor. But this doesn’t alter the fact that historically, trans people wanted to be the opposite sex in every way they could.
And to be honest, if surgical outcomes were good for both sides of the spectrum, those going from female to male and from male to female, then for many, the idea of having their genitalia altered to match their internal gender would not be a major issue.
The real issue is that current law, in Sweden and worldwide is from a worldview of binary gender. You are either male or you are female. You cannot be in-between.
The presence or absence of specific genitalia has been used for thousands of years to determine whether you fall on one side of the fence or the other. So why are we complaining about it now?
Well, because it’s a pain in the arse to have the identity of one gender when you manifestly look and feel the other. In certain situations it’s dangerous too.
So while I agree that things should be handled better by governments around the world, I don’t feel that the ‘sterilisation’ line of reasoning is valid; for example, from article two:
RaÂ l Romeva i Rueda, Green MEP from Spain added: ‘The government’s decision is rather surprising: forcibly sterilising transgender people is recognised as inhumane across the political spectrum. It’s barbaric, outdated and highly unnecessary’”not to mention against Sweden’s human rights commitments.’
People aren’t forcibly sterilised, they undertake surgery voluntarily. The problem isn’t around surgery, it’s around identity being linked explicitly to what’s between your legs. This is, frankly, typical misinterpretation of the needs of trans people by those eager to help. If we banned the ‘sterilisation’ of trans-people, we’d be worse off than before, because then NO surgery could be performed!
But changing such a mindset isn’t an easy thing to get across: that gender is between the ears, it’s not between the legs.
However, I feel that screaming about Trans sterilisation and law in the way activists are at the moment is at best counter-productive, and worst, a strawman argument masking the real issues: that people should be able to determine their gender themselves without the need to justify it to government.
The issue I see here is this: what really does gender identity give you within the law? What is its purpose? What does it matter whether you are identified as a male or a female on an official document?
Well, apparently quite a lot, such as:
– subsidised breast and genital screening
– medical treatment and drugs
– cheaper car insurance
– less pay for the same work
… among others.
But these are inequities, not rights of gender. Far better would be to say ‘if you have breasts, you can get a breast screen for this price’, or ‘if you have a vagina you can get a pap smear for this price’.
My point is that a marker on an identity document shouldn’t be the reason you get benefits. You should get benefits because you’re a human being.
Because that’s the thing we all have in common.