February 27, 2012 § 2 Comments
I struggled with whether or not to write this–because I have issues with controlling my passions–but I finally gave in. Martha Coventry’s article opened many of our class’ eyes when it comes to gender reconstructive surgery. While the article primarily focused on the issue of whether or not a child should be surgically altered at a young age, there is more to gender reconstructive surgery.
Firstly, I would recommend people view the website http://www.isna.org. It is the Intersex Society of North America. Secondly, I would like people to remember that intersexuality can be traced down to genetics. Some are mutations of genes like in the case of the mutation of 5-alpha reductase that typically only affects genetic-males. Some are chromosomal like in Klinefelter’s syndrome where there is an extra X chromosome. Not all of it comes down to just the ambiguous genitalia.
In class we went beyond intersex though, bringing up practices of things such as circumcision and, in a roundabout way, transgender issues. As I said, I struggled with whether or not to write about this, mostly due to the fact that I have strong emotions considering the topic. But there was something in class that, for some reason, struck me in an unpleasant way.
In 2008, Thomas Beatie, a transgender man, gave birth to his first child. Beatie and his wife, Nancy, wanted children but Nancy is infertile. Thomas Beatie, despite giving birth, is a man. There has even been legal recognition of him being a man.
That being said, people wonder why a transgender man would keep feminine body parts and not get reconstructive surgery. To answer that, it comes back to Conventry’s idea of the surgery as a pain experience that merely tries to re-establish the status quo of genitalia. For the most part, there becomes a lack of sensation. There is little ability to construct something without giving up nerve sensitivity. Another thing, for ftms–female to male–it’s… Just not the same. For those who truly feel they should be male equipped, the cold reality is that, for those of us living right now, it’s impossible. It’s a life that will never feel complete. But Thomas Beatie managed to bring a silver lining to the situation by being able to bring three children into the lives of him and his wife.
Gender reconstructive surgery is a touchy subject. Many people do not see how necessary it can be, many people are ignorant of it’s commonality, and many people struggle with its limitations daily. It should be approached gently; one never knows who can hear one speak.