Friday, December 28, 2007

Crossing over

~from The Wall Street Journal...just a little more insanity to enlighten you
So what is the justification for overturning the millennia-old practice of sorting people into two sexes? Let's start with the science, what little there is. One might think that "gender-identity disorder" is a psychological ailment. But the American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes that "many transgender people do not experience their transgender feelings and traits to be distressing or disabling, which implies that being transgender does not constitute a mental disorder per se." So transgenderism, it is argued, is a physical ailment for which there are medical solutions. In that sense, too, it is different from homosexuality, which is no longer considered an ailment at all, let alone one that requires a cure.

Not all experts agree with the APA. Paul McHugh, a former director of the department of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, notes that the transgendered patients he has come to know were no happier after sex-change surgery than before. He writes in "The Mind Has Mountains": "I concluded that to provide a surgical alteration to the body of these unfortunate people was to collaborate with a mental disorder rather than to treat it."

In certain quarters, the findings of Dr. McHugh and a few like-minded professionals have been met with outrage. To question the narrative of the transgendered--all that is wrong, they say, is our society's "social construct"--is to invite a ferocious response. Michael Bailey, a psychologist at Northwestern University, published a book in 2003 suggesting that some men who want to change genders are living in a kind of fantasy. They are motivated by an erotic idea of themselves as women. He was met with a campaign of harassment--one critic even posted pictures of Mr. Bailey's children on the Internet with sexually explicit captions under them.

Elites have noticed this ferocity and have begun to accommodate it. Atlanta hosted the nation's first transgender career fair in September. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, the expo drew representatives from 20 major corporations. But logistical questions came up. Should applicants list both their male and female names on résumés? What if a potential employer called an old reference who didn't know about an applicant's "change"?

Even elementary schools have had to adjust. An article in the New York Times revealed how parents of children with gender confusion are now being encouraged to dress their children as members of the opposite sex. "At the Park Day School in Oakland [Calif.], teachers . . . are urged to line up students by sneaker color rather than by gender."

When officials in Port Ewen, N.Y., decided to let a school principal stay on even after a sex change, most parents didn't protest. But one resident of a neighboring town told a reporter: "God makes things perfect and people want to screw it all up." It's a passing remark but it raises an interesting question. What does it mean that, once conceived, a person was somehow given the wrong body? Should we hold God responsible? And what bathroom does he want us going into?

2 comments:

Tom in Vegas said...

I agree with Paul McHugh. I think individuals who feel this type of inadequateness should be helped at reaching the source of the issue before being encouraged to undergo the extreme procedure of altering their gender.

Tom

Dust I Am said...

I'm 68 years old. Never i would I have believed that I would someday see this upside down, crazy kind of world of transgenders.