I was reading the section in “The Sexual Spectrum: Why We’re All Different” by Dr. Johnson (a really good book) about transsexuals. At one point she mentions that some women believe, specifically in this case Germaine Greer, that without a womb you cannot fully understand what it is to be a woman. Basically saying that a transsexual woman (born with male chromosomes) cannot really be a woman. And it made me think, do I agree?
I suppose I should get into it more than that. My first reaction to this is that it implies that what makes a woman a woman, her defining characteristics, are child birth and menstruation. I don’t like this implication. I don’t feel defined as a woman by my period. I feel that my experiences as a woman, of which only a small part have anything to do with vaginal bleeding, are what define me. Beyond that, especially since the basic experiences I have had are not that much different than my male equivalent would, it is how I interpret them. Of course, there is also the issue of the women who cannot give birth, have to have their ovaries or womb removed or have some other sort of medical difficulty, deformity or malfunction. Are they now not women because of this?
Now, I will admit to not knowing a lot about transsexuals, and there is a lack of scientific research in the area (just like there is in most areas in regards to sexuality), but I have my theories. You might be thinking that since these transsexual women were born men then they see the world like men. Their brains are men’s brains. Well, if you read my post on the feminine and masculine brain you might think this is definitely true. I am willing to bet that this is wrong. When hormones are given to men, such as when doctors treat prostate cancer, they start acting more like the average woman. They are more communicative, able to recognize emotions more easily, etc. So, even assuming that pre-treatment transsexuals have the average male brain (which I doubt they do, but I’ll get to that in a moment), they do not after the hormone treatments begin.
As for them having the average male brain, most transsexual individuals report not acting like the rest of the children their sex at their age. The female-to-male transsexuals report enjoying sports and wanting to be friends with the boys more and the opposite goes for the male-to-female transsexuals. This often happens despite the parents’ best efforts to make their child “normal” (hear this dripping with derision). This suggests to me that if you did the same experiments and measurements on these individuals that have been done on the cisgendered (non-transsexual) you would find some common variations. Just like there are common variations in the brains of minority sexualities.
The fact is that the transsexual woman can have breasts, a vagina, labias minor and majora and make a strong appearance as a woman (though the lower voice and broad shoulders she might have gotten during her male puberty are permanent). They get ogled and I am sure get the same treatment as other women do, at least when they are in a situation where no one knows they were born male. I can’t see knocking them for not growing up with the same pressures those of us who were born women had, since they most likely felt even more pressure to conform since their natural inclinations were so far from “normal”. Every woman has to make a personal journey to find out who they are and I have only respect for women who have to cross a gender line to do it.
Side Note: If there are any topics that you guys want me to look into or think that would make a good post please let me know. Any (friendly, supportive and well-meant) suggestions you have would be great.