Monday, October 25, 2010

Gender - is it really in the genes?

A recent "Mystery Diagnosis" program which featured a woman who did not mature, female-wise, throws some doubts on the idea of gender being in the genes as is often claimed by trans-gendered folks. A doctor consulted on her lack of female development, recommended surgery, saying her ovaries were non functional and had a high risk of being a factor in cancer later on. She was quickly taken into the hospital and the offending ovaries were removed or at least that's what she was told.

Before her surgery, she had developed looking more male than female with the exception of the bodily hair which she did not have. After surgery, she was given large amounts of estrogen and told she would have to stay on this for life but, as an adult, unsatisfied with the diagnosis, she began to dig and finally asked for her hospital records (which they gave her a hard time about releasing, first claiming she had never had surgery there). When a doctor in California examined her records, he found that she had been lied to. She had never had her ovaries removed because she never developed ovaries. Apparently, her "gonads" were non functional... the gonads secrete what is needed to either develop ovaries and a feminine shape or not. They had removed the gonads (the part about them being a prevalent spot for cancer was true). They probably had not told her because of the fear of throwing her in a position of considering "gender reassignment" but apparently, the reason she had not developed ovaries was because she, unlike females, had a "Y" chromosome!

What was surprising is despite being physically somewhat "masculine", she, after finding out she had a "Y" chromosome did NOT seek gender reassignment. She was attracted to men and found a mate who was crazy about her - they adopted 2 kids and have been married at least 18 years (the oldest kid is 18 and was adopted as a very young kid).

The interesting thing is she's totally happy as a woman and if gender reassignment would be understandable in anyone, it would be someone who is genetically, basically a man and yet, apparently this woman on the show had never even considered that - it seems totally off her radar screen.

One study, touted as the largest study on the issue, stated that one gene had been found which was a bit "longer" in females than males and "might cause" "feminisation" of the brain. This study was only of 112 male to female gender reassignment cases however, and is far from conclusively proving that there is anything genetically involved.

The Discovery Health "Mystery Diagnosis" case throws serious doubt into the need for "gender reassignment" in anyone - something, even knowing several "gender reassigned" folks, I have wondered about for years. None of the "gender reassigned" people I've known were really, truly the gender they claimed to be and in more closely interviewing several of them, it seemed the problem was more "inferiority complex" or bad memories from the past (one gender reassigned male to female had been an officer in Vietnam, ordered to blow up entire villages) or simply feeling that they more "belonged" to the female (or male) gender due to their interests, for example like one artist I knew or their sensitivity. For one transgendered male to female, I matched all her stories of childhood female likes with my boy likes - I was a tom boy, loving guns, using dolls to merely to be hostages in boy games and even not particularly desiring to be female when I grew up. I have to date, always hated make up (feels yucky on the skin so I have never worn it) and dresses (hamper movement and are not as comfortable as pants). I wear my hair very short and find that much more convenient than the alternative. And yet, I loved being a mother and love being a grandmother and am very attracted to males, particularly my good looking husband of 44 years duration.

So often we are basing gender on their likes (like boy toys or girl toys etc) and clothing or makeup or long hair, rather than deeper things, forgetting that in other societies it may be the men who wear dresses or makeup. It may be that gender is much deeper than even what we are genetically, like possibly, in the so called "soul" or "spirit".

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