Regardless of how anyone feels about transsexuality or trangenderism or whatever, everyone seems to be able to laugh together about people claiming to be “trans-racial”- that is, born one race, but thinking you should be another or imitating another in some way. It’s generally accepted that claiming to be of a race that one is objectively not is uh… offensive. Ridiculous!
Or just plain Not Possible if you’re going for tact.
Given that we all (mostly) recognize that race is a physical characteristic that is an essential part of our bodies which cannot be changed, why have we become so much more permissive of the idea that someone can be trans- born as the wrong sex? If we can be born as the wrong sex, why can’t we be born as the wrong race? What makes the two different?
Let’s talk about that. I’ll give you the trans perspective- or at least mine.
Race is determined, at its most basic level, by a person’s skin color. Following that, you have the texture of their hair, the color of their eyes. Skin texture, how much body hair they grow. Race also has an influence on the shape of a person’s facial features, the size and strength of their body. Even a person’s general health is affected by their race. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll ignore the cultural side of things.
Sex, on the other hand, is delineated mainly by what sort of genitals you have. Whether you make eggs or sperm. Whether you produce estrogen or testosterone, which secondary sex characteristics you develop at puberty, whether you will menstruate or not, whether you can become pregnant or impregnate others. Again, we’ll ignore the behavioral differences for this post.
The thing that makes race and sex different is simple:
There are many races. There are also no races. Race is not a spectrum from black to white, with other races somewhere in the middle. Race does not serve a basic biological function. People of different races are not biologically inhibited from having children together.
Conversely, there are only two true sexes. They are clearly defined. Intersex people have a rare medical condition that does not override the two-sex divide. Sex serves a biological purpose and one of each is required to make more humans.
If you are a person who is invested in being permitted to medically transition from one sex to another, you need to be able to justify it, and the way that you do this is actually to emphasize the differences between being male and female. As a FTM, I wanted desperately to be male- not masculine, male. For social stuff, like relationships, and purely body-based reasons alike. I wanted to be able to impregnate (despite not actually wanting to DO so, bafflingly). I wanted to know what having a prostate was like. I wanted to know what it felt like to have something different downstairs. The curiosity became a NEED to know. I think it grew so deep that I came to feel like I was a male who was deformed from birth- a male who developed incorrectly into a female. (Which raises the question: if I had born male, would I have been so desperately curious about being female? I think I would have.).
I still think I have pretty strong empathy for the male body. Is that a thing? Can it be a thing? Is anyone looking into that? Or is that just Extreme Heterosexuality?
Anyway, back to race. If you put it into context of the feelings above, the differences between races seems quite… superficial. So what if you have a lighter skin color than someone else? That doesn’t affect your basic biological functioning. Our bodies are the only thing that ever really belong to us- ideally, they should feel like home. Sure, we all feel envy towards people with features that are seen as desirable, and that might even extend to the aspects that are connected to a person’s race. But I think trans-ID’d people are right to some extent- sex IS different. At the end of the day, if we close our eyes and forget about social pressures and norms and expectation, the differences between races is negligible. Sex, on the other hand, is something that’s with us no matter where we are, who we are with, even if we are alone with ourselves.
“If you were alone with yourself on a desert island, would you still want to be male?”
This is a question I asked myself often when I was a Big Tran(tm), and every time I answered myself with a resounding “hell yes.” This gave me confidence. Made me sure. What would be the point in changing race if it was just you and you alone, without mirrors or culture or anything else? There was still a point to being male.
But I think allowing us to ask ourselves these questions, to try to rationally justify transition IS the fatal flaw in the system. Because it doesn’t matter whether race is more superficial, more socially-defined, than sex. We’re overcomplicating something that, quite frankly, does not need to be so complicated.
The kid gloves need to come off- maybe not around the actively suffering, but in the medical community for sure. Among people who can handle it. The simple, uncomplicated, boring truth of the matter is that humans cannot change sex any more than we can change race. I think there’s something potentially beautiful to unlock if we try to better understand what we call “sex dysphoria”, but we’ll never get there by pretending the body isn’t inseparable from the mind.
We can’t expect the duct tape of transition to hold the leaky pipes together forever.