Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, September 21, 2015

Transgender and Delayed Sexual Identification

"I was born at home instead of in a hospital. They didn't know what sex I was. I went to school and I used to wear my skirt."
"I never liked to dress as a girl. When they bought me girls' toys, I never bothered playing with them. All I wanted to do was play with the boys."
"When I changed I was happy with my life."
Johnny, 24, Salinas, Dominican Republic
Johnny, who was seemingly born as a girl but turned into a boy aged sevenJohnny, who was seemingly born as a girl but turned into a boy aged seven The Daily Telegraph

In North America there is a sex-freedom movement that insists it is counter-productive to assume that when babies are born with genitals identifying them as either girl or boy, these babies will grow emotionally into their roles as female and male. The proponents of leaving a child's sex identity gender neutral until he/she grows to maturity and asserts which of the sexes he/she prefers to be, feel that birth certificates should be absent gender identity.

They point out that there is much confusion among children in how they identify emotionally, and that societal streaming and expectation is responsible for creating even greater confusion. That children should be treated in fact as though they are asexual, androgynous, giving them the space they need to make their own determinations. They believe that this is appropriate for all children, not just those whose genitals have not fully developed one way or the other.

That for parents and society to presume to identify their children firmly as boy or girl is tantamount to child abuse.

In a decision -- after much discussion at the board level respecting the claims of transgendered oppression made inroads on the tender consciousness of the socially compassionate which one is forgiven in believing such a transformational decision could only happen in British Columbia -- the Vancouver School Board passed a policy in 2014 that the needs of the transgendered must be officially recognized.

Vancouver pronoun changeCBC News  Vancouver public school student Rowan Reimer spoke at the school board's hearing, explaining how she snuck into bathrooms in fear of other students catching her using the "wrong" one.

From that debate comes gender-neutral bathrooms, and the right of students who reject gender expression they feel does not match their biological sex to be addressed in the language of their choice, and to opt to play the sport that appeals to their emotional sex. Rather than misleading gender-binary descriptives such as "he or she", "him or her", and "his or hers", henceforth it will be "xe, xem and xyr" (pronounced "zee", "zem" and "zare".)

In the Dominican Republic, in a small isolate village, Salinas, there is a phenomenon of men who are born with all indications being that they are female. This is a result of a shared genetic deformity puzzling to science. Though they appear at birth to be girls, these boys are biologically male and the evidence of their true identity appears as they approach puberty when they develop male organs. They are called the "machihembras" ("first a woman then a man").

Johnny is one among the many affected children where in this village instances of little girls becoming boys are by no means rare events. Now 24, Johnny was named Felecita when he was born, and he was raised as a girl. A BBC documentary is on its way, titled Countdown to Life -- The Extraordinary Making Of You. The documentary, produced in two series, is meant to examine just what has occurred in Salinas.

There is a missing enzyme (5-α-reductase) preventing the production of a form of the male sex hormone, dihydro-testosterone, in the womb. In utero, all babies, male or female, have internal glands called gonads, and a small bump between their legs called a tubercle. Male babies carrying the Y chromosome at eight weeks begin to produce dihydro-testosterone which in turn transforms the tubercle into a penis.

Those babies in whom the enzyme is absent so the hormone surge required to turn the tubercle into a penis does not occur, and they appear to be female at birth. And then, at puberty, another large surge of testosterone occurs, when the male reproductive organs emerge, and it is then that the children's voices deepen. In other words, for these children, it takes twelve years for their sexual organs to appear, unlike others with normal enzyme production where the appearance is present at birth.

Johnny's transformation occurred at age seven. The condition is referred to often as the Guevedoces -- translating to "penis at 12", discovered by an endocrinologist, Dr. Julianne Imperato, at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in the 1970s. Roughly one in 90 children in Salinas is affected. Eventually, though these children appear to be sexually normal males subtle differences do follow them into adulthood; less facial hair and smaller prostate glands, as an example.

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