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"If you've got ovaries, you're a female. I'm just old fashioned."

May 11, 2001 11:19 PM   Subscribe

"If you've got ovaries, you're a female. I'm just old fashioned."
Acknowledging that there may be more to sex than chromosomes, a Kansas appeals court has overturned a lower court's ruling invalidating the marriage of a transsexual to someone of the (now) opposite sex. Some in the Kansas legislature think this is just some gay radical's way of skirting the same-sex marriage ban. There's an opposing Texas precedent that the Supreme Court refused to hear last year, so this one may go all the way. Sadly, it'll probably fall under the much-maligned equal protection clause. Anyone think this poor woman has a chance?
posted by Gilbert (14 comments total)

 
Do we agree she's a woman, yet?

It's a shame when puberty involves surgery.

Why is it nobody comes to terms with this until they're adults?

And why are people still arguing about it?

Haven't we all agreed to exclude middle America until they catch up?
posted by maxBell at 2:54 AM on May 12, 2001


i've always felt there's a woman inside of me screaming to get out! billybob.
posted by billybob at 3:32 AM on May 12, 2001


I wouldn't be surprised if there's a woman in your basement screaming to get out.
posted by pracowity at 4:13 AM on May 12, 2001


And Dorothy was glad to get back to her home in Kansas...Gosh Toto, you really are a dog?
posted by Postroad at 4:17 AM on May 12, 2001


The guy left a $2.5 million estate. You'd think he could nab the real thing.
posted by kingjeff at 5:16 AM on May 12, 2001


I wouldn't be surprised if there's a woman in your basement screaming to get out.

(chuckle)
posted by lagado at 5:21 AM on May 12, 2001


Haven't we all agreed to exclude middle America until they catch up?

Is that the royal "we", or have you been appointed the moral conscience of all MeFi?

What do you mean by middle America? Anything between San Francisco and New York? In case you hadn't heard, there's a bit more to Flyover Land than Kansas.

What are we going to be excluded from?
posted by MrBaliHai at 5:34 AM on May 12, 2001


''I think Kansas is the first state to declare that you can change your sex for the purposes of marriage,'' he said. ''In my view, this puts Kansas to the left of Vermont.''

I guess this guy forgets that Topeka (Kansas state capitol) is the home of the church of Fred Phelps, Mr. God Hates Fags minister, and that Kansas has voted Republican in every major election (and most of the minor ones, too) since the 1940s. Hell, I'm registered as a Republican just so that I can have some say in who gets elected there.
posted by gramcracker at 6:58 AM on May 12, 2001


The guy left a $2.5 million estate. You'd think he could nab the real thing.

is there no sensitivity at all left on mefi? who ARE you people?!

fire! brimstone!
posted by palegirl at 7:10 AM on May 12, 2001


WoW!
posted by funky_jm at 8:09 AM on May 12, 2001


''We can no longer be permitted to conclude who is male or who is female by the amount of facial hair one has or the size of one's feet,'' Appeals Judge Robert Gernon wrote for the panel.

The size of one's feet? Is that how this guy tells the difference? Well, geez, that's your problem right there! :-)

MrBaliHai: not to defend what is clearly an overgeneralization on the part of maxBell, but I think he (she? let's see your feet, buddy) meant Middle America in the intellectual sense.... I know people born and bred here in Massachusetts who should have been born in Kansas. I'm sure the converse (inverse?) is true.
posted by jpoulos at 1:38 PM on May 12, 2001


Great post, Gilbert.

This story does a perfect job of underlining the absurdity of states not allowing same-sex marriages. These kind of stories make me feel like I'm living in the the middle ages.
posted by ttrendel at 3:30 PM on May 12, 2001


> Do we agree she's a woman, yet?

Short answer: no, you don't even have a consensus on this, let alone universal agreement.

Longer answer: human minds are categorizing engines. Categories like male and female work by taking perfectly clear cases as paradigmatic, and then either 1) leaving intermediate cases out of consideration because they don't fit in with the facts as we would like them, or 2) forcibly assimilating intermediate cases to one of the paradigms, no matter how bad the match may be.

In the case of human gender there are two paradigmatic categories (male = XY chromosomes, has male genitalia, can father children with a functional female; female = XX chromosomes, has female genitalia, can bear children fathered by a functional male) and some intermediate cases that don't fit clearly into either one. Examples: persons with Klinefelter Syndrome (XXY chromosomes;) babies with malformed external genitalia, where the attending physician can't determine the neonates' gender. Such unfortunate persons seem to prefer the unattractive option 2) to the even less attractive 1) and they should be helped insofar as help is possible, which isn't very far.

Having said that much, I expect I come to the point where I part company with a number of MeFiltrons: if you were born into one of the perfectly clear gender categories there's no way to get to the other one. Heliostoma temminckii (for non-biologists, a little Asian fish) can do this; homo sapiens can't. Go have all the surgically created or hormone-therapy-induced changes changes to your secondary sex characteristic that you can afford or persuade Medicare to pay for, it makes no difference (there's a good reason they're called "secondary.") You're still the gender you were before, only now you're wearing a particularly elaborate and expensive form of drag. Heliogabalus ran around in makeup and a dress but that didn't make him a woman -- and surgery wouldn't have done the job either.

I think the core question comes down to whether self-definition should always prevail over evidence. Or, to put that more clearly: if a guy tells us he's really a girl, must we not believe him? The answer to this one is no, we need not believe him, any more than we would have to believe him if he says he's Napoleon, or a sheep.


> I wouldn't be surprised if there's a woman in your
> basement screaming to get out.

Subconscious yearning, prac? Your therapist wants to know...
posted by jfuller at 7:04 AM on May 14, 2001


> Your therapist wants to know...

I have the feeling it's one of these therapists who needs to know something.
posted by pracowity at 8:50 AM on May 14, 2001


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