Not the author of confusion is a very sensible article by Fr Robert Hart. I have had occasion to comment on this frightening tendency in society. Some hospitals are now ceasing to perform the “sex-change” operation for valid psychological reasons, and also because a “transgender” does not change sex in spite of appearances and the inner feelings of the person concerned. Perhaps there are signs that the insanity is coming to an end.
I have said it before. There is nothing wrong with men doing some feminine things like sewing and looking after children, or living for the fine things of this world. We don’t all have to be competitive or hyper-masculine or cut our hair short. We remain men in our diversity of personalities, talents, etc. – just as God and nature made us.
By far not the definitive rebuttal, but an interesting idea. If therapy sessions rebuild and train the brain to equate anatomic sex with perception of gender, this is a form anatomical change (though this is through breaking old neurological connections and establishing new ones). Why does the trans-person need to prefer one method of anatomical variation over another (anatomical change to external genitals)?
I do think that if the gender roles that developed in the nineteenth century were less clear cut, people could be more themselves without denying or wanting to change their biological gender. Men are often mocked if they adopt a more “feminine” way of life, but people are respected if they are truly themselves. I have had this experience whilst growing my hair long – if I behave normally and respectfully of other people, not “ramming” my choices “down their throats”, I have no problem wearing my hair long in a society where very short hair on men is the prevailing fashion. Most women I know would not want to identify with the masculine gender, since it is something they generally despise as a necessary evil.
“Sex-change” or “gender reassignment” surgery with the accompanying medical treatment cannot make a man into a women. The “neo-woman” could never become pregnant and have a baby. They can only be caricatures, no longer themselves (except psychologically) nor the woman they sought to become. For this reason, such surgery and hormonal treatment should be declared to be against medical ethics and the law.
I don’t advocate psychiatric treatment or “aversion therapy” or any other kind of torture. I think “androgynous” men should be respected when they choose to live in a feminine way and do the things they like doing. A certain degree of androgyny should be encouraged as being good for the balance of us all and a sound philosophy of life. I once went to a school where “domestic science” was compulsory for both boys and girls – cooking and sewing – I think it is a very good idea, as for girls to do woodwork and metalwork. A balanced approach to these things and issues like competitivity would help to alleviate the desire of some to want to “become” the opposite sex.
One can no more become the opposite sex than become another person.
A few reflections on transsexualism here, if anyone is interested:
This is a well written article, Patrick, and it is certainly your style. I said in my own article that one’s style of life is one’s own choice, but the idea of having surgery and hormone treatment is, using the word you eloquently chose – gruesome. I have long hair, but it isn’t a gender issue for me. Most gentlemen until the end of the Romantic era had long hair. For many long-haired men, it is an expression of our masculinity as well as cultural preference. To be an “old queen”, you need the personality to pull it off and the social context. Quentin Crisp and Hinge & Bracket were professional entertainers and extroverts. I also agree with you about psychiatry. It is as materialistic as most of the medical profession. Is consciousness a function of the brain or independent from physical organs?
Morally, we don’t have the right to persecute “transgendered” people any more than drug addicts, alcoholics or people with AIDS. If the “thing” is done, we have to have compassion and not do more to push that person to suicide. On the other hand, such medical and surgical procedures should be outlawed and forbidden in the medical profession. Some people feel that they were “born in the wrong body”. They are mistaken, but I am sure they can be helped by an approach that lessens the extreme polarisation of gender and hyper-masculinity that is a characteristic of our society.
“Some people feel that they were “born in the wrong body”. They are mistaken.” Precisely. What I am trying to impress upon people is that it is a fantasy. You can indulge it all you want; it is a personal choice to be happy or miserable.
Did you watch the video?
I’ll watch the video entirely later, but I have seen a few bits and pieces. Poor fellow! Our identity is in our soul and spirit, and our bodies are as they are. We can dress with taste, keep ourselves clean and groomed – and in good health, but we are as we are. We all have to go through a process of acquiring self-knowledge and knowledge of God. Sometimes we have to return to childhood in our memories or do something we always wanted to do like spending a week living on a boat or climbing Mount Everest. It doesn’t hurt to do some cooking or sewing, or even shutting the curtains to dress up outrageously or in women’s clothes (if they fit), get it out of our system and return to normal life and our public image!
It takes a long time to work out our identity, and it often takes forgetfulness of self and atruism. Sometimes we are called to be heroic, sometimes just to be little and just a cog in the system. It’s too easy to say that God made a mistake. I often think that life would have been so different had I been born a girl like my two sisters, but I can no more become a woman than become another person. Speculating on how different life would have been is worlds apart from thinking I should become a caricature of a female. We men are so many different kinds of men, and each person is unique.
The man in the film is obviously one who has failed, both physically and spiritually. What for him is the quality of being a man? Ditto for being a woman. I’ll watch the whole video and see if I can find some answers. We need to educate ourselves. There is also self-delusion. Those people are determined, but if the operation was simply not available, then they would have to keep it psychological and leave their body intact. I am unsympathetic to other mutilations, aesthetic surgery and tattooing – except what is genuinely recognised as reconstructive (eg. repairing the face of someone who has suffered from a horrible disease, burns or an accident). I am personally happy to be a man, what I am, but I sympathise with men who like to be androgynous or “camp”. We can all muse about being different, fatter or thinner, more or less body hair, long hair or short hair, bearded or clean shaven, taller or shorter – but that is all limited to the imagination. It’s not entirely a waste of time, if we see the limitations and finally accept ourselves as we are. Then there isn’t only the appearance. Being “someone else” would have its downside. We might be richer or more talented but yet be suffering from cancer or multiple sclerosis, which can happen to any of us remaining ourselves. Can we imagine ourselves having someone else’s personality? That is much more complex.
No, we will be happier if we are ourselves with what is strong and weak. I often muse about being younger or even having my life over again – but it can’t happen in this life or “quantum universe”. It might happen elsewhere, or we might become someone else – though orthodox Christianity denies reincarnation. All so much mind-bending, let alone gender-bending.
Now I’ve got some translating work to finish for tomorrow! Bump! Ouch! Coming back down to earth was painful…
Perhaps you might do a post on it, father. Elaborate on my view that all progress is equally anti-Christian?
I think I have written enough about a subject about which I make no claim to expertise. All progress anti-Christian? I might attempt something but I am likely to give some support to German Idealism. Movement (growth and demise) is a part of our earthly life, and Christianity was introduced on Earth. I don’t see how we can escape it. I’ll give it some thought when I finish my present translating orders.