Conservatives have been screaming about Caitlyn Jenner for the last few days. They have also been making woefully unscientific statements about gender, claiming anyone with gender identity issues must be mentally ill, and screaming about 5th grade biology, as if XX and XY settled all debate in all cases. Let’s explore the reality of gender versus the conservatives’ childish wish list of what they’d prefer it to be.
The position of the American Psychiatric Association is that gender identity issues are not mental health problems. Caitlyn Jenner is not mentally ill.
The position of the American Medical Association is that being transgender is a medical condition that has a specific neurobiological cause, and can be treated via hormone therapy, surgery, and social transition (which is what Caitlyn Jenner is doing).
The position of the American College of Physicians is identical to that of the AMA.
There are now dozens upon dozens of peer reviewed scientific studies that demonstrate the neurobiological basis for why people are born transgender.
These studies also have helped identify when it happens (in utero) and why it happens. The lack of this basic scientific knowledge of this topic by conservatives is yet another failure of right wing politics and evidence of denial of reality.
Further, gender (and sex which are different things) are not predestined via genetics.
1 in 30,000 females at birth is XY, due to AIS. Do you even know what AIS is and how it produces this effect? These women have female genitalia.
1 in 30,000 females at birth is XY, due to Swyer’s. Do you even know what Swyer’s is and how it produces this effect? These women have female genitalia too.
Most XY females are sterile but some are not. If she gets pregnant, carries to term, and gives birth, is she still a man just because she is XY?
1 in 25,000 males at birth, with penis, testicles, scrotum, the works, is XX, due to de la Chapelle syndrome. If an XX dad fathers a child is he female because he is XX? How absurd!
1 in 600 children at birth is XXY (Klinefelters). For years, doctors assumed Klinefelters were all males because it was the males who had reproductive issues. They someone went and actually looked for XXY females and discovered that they exist too, and usually have no reproductive issues. If a Y chromosome is always male, why do some Klinefelter’s babies become male and some become female?
Hint: Science itself abandoned the use of the Y chromosome as the “male marker” clear back in the early 1970s. The IOC and NCAA followed suit in the 1990s. The simplistic childish XX/XY explanation you got in school was simplistic because you needed a simple explanation of the general case but not all cases. Genes are not destiny. Genes are blueprints and nature can and will implement variations on blueprints rather frequently.
And genitals do not define maleness either. If they do, are you going to tell that young soldier who lost his legs, and his genitals to an IED that he is now a female? Really? Don’t be insulting.
Gender is defined in the white matter structures of the brain. There are significant differences between the white matter structures of the average male heterosexual brain and the average female heterosexual brain. These differences cannot be changed once they set between the 8th and 24th weeks of pregnancy.
If there are any variations in hormonal ratios between testosterone and estrogen within the mother’s womb outside the “average” range, the child’s brain will develop along a different path than their body. This is how people become transgender. This is why you can’t pray it away. This is why it is not a mental illness.
We do not know how to alter the white matter structures of the brain without killing the patient. But we do know how to align the external body to the internal brain of the individual with this medical condition.
Just like a cleft palate, club foot, or other birth defect, there are therapies and surgeries to assist in correcting this issue.
Claims that deny the above facts demonstrate gross ignorance of the science, and ugly hateful condemnation of a medical condition that people are simply born with.
Conservatives, claiming the mantle of science, ought to be the very first raising the flag for transgender people, to ensure that they are treated rationally, compassionately, and ethically within modern medical guidelines, and to ensure they are treated equally under the law.
But all I see coming from the right wing is ignorance, hate, irrationality, denial of reality, and, quite frankly, bowing down to the social conservative wing of the GOP, the worst part of the Republican party, the one that is driving more people away from the GOP, and the one that most interferes with rational discussions about budgets, fiscal priorities, energy security, , national defense, and sensible foreign policy.
So what will it be, conservatives? Deny science to bow at the altar of religious bigotry? Or stand on the side of science and the law to tell the religious bigots to shut up? So far conservatives have bowed at the altar of religious bigotry. Will any have the courage to stand tall in the 21st century? Let’s watch and see, but don’t hold your breath.