So, this is a thing… http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7689007.stm
For those who have slow internet connections or cannot bear to be parted from me for more than a few seconds, the gist is that researchers have discovered a link between people who identify as male-to-female transgender, and a gene which regulates our sensitivity to certain hormones, and therefore is a strong candidate as to why a brain can develop a gender identity incongruous with the sex of the body.
The first reaction of course is to wave it in the faces of those who call us fetishists or sexual predators and go ‘Nerrr, it’s genetic you ridiculous twat’, but that would be vulgar. The look on the faces of Germaine Greer, and Julie Burchill would be immensely satisfying, but vulgar nonetheless.
It makes me wonder what it actually means for Trans people in society. Certainly any medical body that continues to classify Transgenderism as a form of mental illness or sickness would undermine itself by refusing to acknowledge the evidence that it is a born trait.
For decades there has been a hunt for a ‘Gay’ gene, with various degrees of success but with nothing conclusive enough for all medical groups to agree. Perhaps being Trans is biologically simpler than being gay or bi or whatever. Something that drives human emotion is always going to be more complicated to pin down than hormones triggering a brain to develop in a more female or male form. I mean, we all start off the same until our genes tell us which us which hormones to obey or ignore. Look at men’s nipples for example; pretty much useless save for a handy spot to attach the crocodile clips and the car battery in torture films.
But will this have any bearing on public perception of Trans people? When there was talk in the 1990s of promising advances in the discovery of the ‘gay gene’, the notoriously anti-abortion Daily Mail ran an article suggesting that genetic screening of the unborn could warn of potential homosexuality of the child, which would therefore be justifiable grounds for termination.
Don’t believe me?
Yes, despite the paper’s usual stance that they believe that foetuses are people, they made it very clear that believe homosexuals are not and, over two decades on, the Daily Mail and other contemporary litter tray linings are just as quick to portray homosexuality as sordid, undesirable and morally repugnant. Their attitudes to transgender people have long been nasty and sensationalist, and will continue to be so long as that angle continues to sell stories.
Perhaps the best place to confront these prejudices are in the classroom before they start, but that just leads to outcries from the press and right wing political parties that learning about diversity, tolerance and understanding is the same thing as sexual grooming, so the cowardly left in this country will either scrap these ideas, or water them down so that they become ultimately worthless.
Now, apparently someone called Bruce Jenner has come out as male-to-female Trans. I am going to be utterly honest here and say that until all these rumours about this individual’s gender identity started doing the rounds, I was unaware of who or what Bruce Jenner was, and I honestly thought a Kardashian was the name of the sinister grey fascist aliens from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This has been drawn out for months to maximise publicity and build up the drama whilst the LA paparazzi followed Jenner around and documented possible surgical procedures as they happened. The shallow end of the audience pool seemed hooked.
And there is the problem. No one of any value to the press gives a flying fig leaf if it is genetic or not, they just want the drama and the mystery. They would rather sensationalise a famous sixty-something’s well funded transition, then push to help Trans youth get the information and support they need. They are so quick to leap on tales of parents letting their children live by the gender identity they feel most comfortable with, and portray them as some kind of ridiculous parody of ‘permissive parenting’.
The religious right will take a long time to accept the genetic argument too. I mean, they knew being born black wasn’t a lifestyle choice but still accepted the idea of slavery for many, many centuries. In the face of overwhelming evidence that being gay is predetermined, they take the ‘lalalalalalala, I can’t hear you’ approach. Even now, in Northern Ireland… very much the Alabama of the United Kingdom… we have the backwards morons of the DUP blocking any equality legislation that they can. I am sure Ian Paisley is very pleased with these results from his vantage point on the receiving end of Satan’s toasting fork.
One can be hopeful that these links get confirmed, the papers start to be positive about their portrayals and schools are allowed to tell children that it is natural to be Transgender and wrong to discriminate and bully people, but I think it’s more likely that it will just be used by the press as another justifiable excuse for abortion, or by the religious right as evidence that we are damned by God.
Still, Bruce Jenner has a made a few bucks out of it, right?