Born This Way

The Dean Spade reading warns of the ease with which we all come to take the “born this way” narrative of transsexual people as truth. Spade is transgender hirself and has endured many of the “necessary” medical interventions beforehand. Sie often enjoyed screwing with peoples preconceived notions of transsexual people ALWAYS knowing that they were different. Spade wants readers to know that transitioning, and all gender at that, is not so easily defined nor medically curable or assignable. Spade cites the symptoms for Gender Identity Disorders (GID) as ambiguous and unclear. Boys have to “particularly” enjoy playing house and girls must display a desire for “rough and tumble” play (Spade pg. 24). Something as simple as seeing the requirements it takes to be a “true transsexual” can help a person see just how inane having medically defined genders can be. There are an unbelievable amount of ways a person can identify and yet our society tries to pigeon hole everyone into a label that fits with our society that feels the need to narrowly define everything.

I found an article by a transsexual, Oliver Leon, in an independent newspaper. It starts out a little slow so if you decide to check it out keep reading. Leon explains if forced to chose an identity he would chose a female to male transsexual but that it is much more complex than that. Both Leon and Spade point out that no one can live up to medicine’s idea of a true transsexual because a person cannot pass at all hours of the day. Society needs to stop seeing only two genders with a few deviants and open up to the idea of a spectrum of possibilities where no one is wrong and no one is right. We are all much more complex than the opportunities we are afforded.


Kathleen Hennessy


No Longer GID

Some of you may have already heard this, but it was news to me.  After the readings this week, I went online and found this pretty relevant article:

In the most recent DSM, the DSM-V, “Gender Identity Disorder” became “Gender Dysphoria,” defined as, “a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender.”

The article states that this is a huge step for the trans community, as they will no longer be stigmatized as disordered.  Rather than doctors pathologizing trans people or, as the Spade piece discusses, determining who is a “true” trans person, “It no longer matters what your body looks like, what you want to do to it, all of that is irrelevant as far as the APA goes,” according to Dana Beyer.  There is hope that the American Psychiatric Association will support the trans community legally as it supported the LGB community after removing the stigma of mental illness from homosexuality.

Would this kind of change help those seeking surgeries in spite of not wanting to fully become a man or woman, like Dean Spade discussed?  Hopefully.

On the one hand, I could maybe see the medical establishment’s pause about just giving gender reassignment surgery to anybody that asks for it, given the seriousness of it and possibility for later regret, but on the other hand, there are obvious problems that we saw represented in the article.  And as stated, the roots of most of those problems were in the binary gender system.

Spade states that the definition for Gender Identity Disorder was, “[a] strong and persistent cross-gender identification.”  The old definition clearly supports this binary gender system, while the new one simply states an incongruence between one’s experienced gender and assigned gender, which leaves much more room for interpretation.

There could, however, be complications with this new definition, as the APA states on their website that payment for health care treatment from insurance or other assistance must be for a specific disorder.

I could speculate, but I can’t be sure what the future will bring.  I do know that this is at least a couple steps in the right direction.  It might also bring complications, but those must be dealt with accordingly.  I’m just glad that it sounds a lot less gatekeepery and brings hope for the future.

-Chrissy Goss