This headline today from BBC News.  I have mixed feelings about scientific studies of gender non-conforming people.  I secretly want them to prove that our gender identities are rooted in genetics.  But I also don’t.  Here’s why.

I would love to be able to justify to insurance companies that there is a legitimate need for treatment in gender non-conforming people who choose to seek treatment.  It would make things less difficult for a large number of people who might be covered but can’t afford the actual treatments themselves.

On the other hand, I’m worried it will lead to a number of not-so-savory medical theories about “what should be done about those people.”  If it’s a genetic problem, can’t we fix it?  (I don’t need to be “fixed.”)

I think people are more inclined to be understanding of medical pathologies than the explanation “this is just the way I feel.”  While I’m not saying it’s not true that that’s the way people feel — that’s just the way I feel — large numbers of people won’t just accept that at face value.  Some responses I’ve gotten — “are you sure it isn’t just a phase?” and “what traumatic events might have led you to think this?”

On the other hand I’m worried science doesn’t want to leave room for gender non-conforming people who aren’t transsexual.  The BBC article does only discuss transsexuals, and only male-to-female transsexuals at that.  The vast majority of the reading public is not going to get that subtlety, let alone understand that just because there are transsexuals there are also many people who choose not to ascribe to one gender or another, and don’t want to change their sex.

I like the fact that these scientists are dealing with the issue non-judgmentally.  They merely want to find out what the cause is.  And that’s great.

How we benefit from science has largely to do with the scientists themselves, especially when it comes to biological matters.  It seems to me, though, that there is a broader question on the minds of people who know people like me — why exist outside of the binary?  Why insist on that?  Maybe that’s not a question Western medicine is prepared to answer at the moment, or even prepared to ask.  It’s kind of good that ground is being broken at all.  What I wonder, though, is how the medical community is going to react to this information.  Will there be studies done to refute it?  At whose cost?

Advertisements