I struggle with the reactions to, and opinions being expressed about, Caitlyn Jenner. I mean, a psychiatrist saying that being transgender is a mental disorder? And saying that a tragedy occurred when Bruce Jenner died and Caitlyn was born? Such harsh words! I realize that being a public person opens her to more criticism and judgement than many. Perhaps she can also be helpful to those fearful to make a change in their own lives.
I believe that Caitlyn–like all of us–deserves the right to be the person whom she feels she was born to be. She deserves the right to live completely and fully, as do all people. It’s not given to all of us, nor is this right guaranteed. But Caitlyn has conquered some of her past and is intending to live without the constraints of being wrongly gender-identified.
As a Sexual Health Educator, and after much consideration, I believe that I’m supposed to write this post because prejudice often comes from fear of the unknown. Here is just a touch on the subject. Hopefully it will help alleviate the condemnation of Caitlyn and others struggling to live as the “wrong” gender.
As I began studying in 2010, I found interesting information regarding how our chromosomes pair and how that affects our sexual and gender identity. Science has definitely progressed in the study of genetics and, contrary to most of our education regarding gender–where it was believed that XX and XY were the only chromosonal pairings possible, it has been discovered that humans have many pairings, as many as 70!!. Our chromosomes affect how we feel about ourselves in regard to our gender, and obviously with as many as 70 different combinations there are quite a few of us who do not follow the “norm” as determined by Americans.
Also, issues may arise while the fetus is developing that influence the genital development. One of those issues, Intersex, is defined as a congenital anomaly of the reproductive and sexual system (where genitalia of both genders is present at birth). This article about gender and genetics from the World Health Organization states:
“The Intersex Initiative, a North-American based organization, estimates that one in 2,000 children, or five children per day in the United States, are born visibly intersex” making it difficult to assign a gender.
So as many as FIVE babies/day in America are possibly assigned the WRONG gender. By the time they can show preference and self-identify (at around 2 years old) they have been firmly entrenched in their gender “conditioning”.
I am a teacher, and I believe in using my own education to help people understand human gender/sexuality and hopefully delete bias from our lives. I truly believe many just do not understand. Perhaps you too could study and help inform people.
Thank you for reading!
Mimi, Passionista Doing My Best
If you would like to know how to speak and write about transgender people, this is a good article.