Tuesday, June 3, 2014

intersex and the transgender tipping point

This week Time Magazine’s cover story is the “Transgender Tipping Point”.  The theme is how the transgender rights movement is making headway.  The timing on this article is exceptional.  The US courts have ruled this week that Medicare must now cover sexual reassignment surgery.  Thus I will write, yet again, about the unusual relationship between the transgender and intersex movements. 

First, as an ally of the transgender community, I must say that I am happy for about the ruling.  Transgender people should have every right to have coverage for their surgeries.  I only object to genital surgeries that are performed on infants who can’t consent.  I am also happy to see the transgender rights movement gaining traction.  They are one of the most abused minority groups in society and have very few legal protections. Any assistance and justice for them is a good thing.

The relationship between transgender and intersex communities is complicated at best.  The mainstream society lumps us together all the time.  This is unfair and inaccurate.  Many, if not most intersex people do not transition from the gender they were raised as.  A few transgender people further blur this issue by claiming that they have the physical brain of the opposite gender thus they are intersex.  Other transgender people have tests done on them looking for intersex conditions.  They are looking for a physical, medical justification for their gender dysphoria.  This I have a problem with.  It is disrespectful to the experiences of the intersex community to use us as an excuse.  Intersex and transgender people struggle against the same ignorance and social conservative attitude about binary gender.  We should be standing side by side, not disrespecting each other’s lived experience.  Because of these similarities, I am a trans ally, and am happy for their victories.  I just hope that the few transgender people who claim to be intersex will rethink this.        

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