When Aliya’s children were born, her son weighed only one and a half pounds and had a very small penis. His urethral opening was near his perineum, not the tip of his phallus.
Multiple doctors told Aliya that she should do surgery immediately. The first time was in the hot, bustling, intensive care unit at the University of Florida where she was uncertain whether or not her son would live. A doctor Aliya didn’t know recommended that she raise her son as a girl. Then, after the baby's condition had stabilized, a surgeon told Aliya that she should allow him to operate to make her son's penis appear more normal, "if you want your child to be a real man.”
By that stage, Aliya had researched some of the risks of the surgery—urethral tissue that is unable to withstand urine and becomes damaged; nerve impairment; scar tissue; loss of sensation. The surgeon acknowledged these complications when Aliya raised them, but she says he didn’t want to discuss them. Fearing her son “might come out of surgery worse off than he went in,” she walked away.
When he was seven, she told him about the operation. “I like my penis just the way it is,” he said, and hasn’t brought it up since.
I’ve heard as an argument to prove how I’m really ‘scientifically’ male the hypothetical situation in which my horrifically disfigured, mutilated, unrecognizable corpse turns up in some abandoned building. A forensic pathologist, in an effort to determine my identity, conducts a DNA test and comes to the conclusion that I was male. Therefore, goes the argument, since the scientist using her scientific tests came to the conclusion that I’m male, that’s what I ‘scientifically’ am. But that’s only one particular inaccurate conclusion, made from the results of one particular test, that one particular type of scientist would make in one particular situation that has been contrived specifically to provide incomplete information. It’s easy to imagine another hypothetical: a doctor is trying to ascertain my identity based solely on a blood sample. He checks the hormone levels and comes to the conclusion that I’m a cisgender (not trans) woman at the mid-point in her cycle with a slightly low testosterone level. By that scientific test I’m ‘scientifically’ female. What makes the one inaccurate conclusion drawn from incomplete information more scientific and correct than the other inaccurate conclusion drawn from incomplete information?
Shuzan held out a short stick and said, "If you call this a short stick, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a short stick, you ignore the fact. Now what do you wish to call this?"
Shouldn't that be "mistransony"? Unless it refers only to transwomen, I guess.
“Men” and “women” are social categories. We have the freedom to decide who counts as a man and who counts as a woman. The criteria change from time to time. In some circles, a “real man” can’t eat quiche. In other circles, people seize on physical traits to define manhood: height, voice, Y chromosome, or penis. Yet these traits don’t always go together: some men are short, others are tenors, some don’t have a Y chromosome, and others don’t have a penis. Still, we may choose to consider all such people as men anyway for purposes like deciding which jobs they can apply for, which clubs they can join, which sports they may play, and whom they may marry.
To a biologist, “male” means making small gametes, and “female” means making large gametes. Period! By definition, the smaller of the two gametes is called a sperm, and the larger an egg.
The key point here is that “male” and “female” are biological categories, whereas “man” and “woman” are social categories. Poetry and art are about men and women, not males and females. Men and women differ in many social dimensions in addition to the biological dimension of gamete size.
If further research reveals that the sperm makers differ in the ratio of sperm sizes they produce, we will have discovered a species with more than two sexes. Such a discovery would not violate any law of nature, but it would be very rare and would certainly make headlines. So, for practical purposes, male and female are universal biological categories defined by a binary distinction between small and large gametes, sperm and egg.
Only two genders occur, corresponding to the two sexes. No, many species have three or more genders, with individuals of each sex occurring in two or more forms.
So it's common for people to assume that we transition to satisfy some sort of fetish (because femininity is all about sex appeal, right?), or as some sort of flamboyant theatrical stunt (because femininity is seen as basically just a costume, as shallow and unserious), or to infiltrate women's spaces (because femininity that doesn't "come naturally" is already seen as a form of deception).
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