11.14.2010

Gender, Brain, and Body: the Battle for Scientific Supremacy

I have been following a blog by a man named William Harryman called The Masculine Heart which is about masculinity and the search for the authentic tender heart of men. I am attracted to this site because it is open minded, talks about gender as something beyond the body and avoids reinforcing social stereotypes of men that foster misunderstanding. William seems to be a genuine and kind man and being able to learn about the true hearts of men has been truly inspiring.

Recently there was a post on the site linked to a podcast by Natasha Mitchell of ABC radio national (Australia) discussing the biology of the human brain, the effect of hormones, the fallacy of the premise of scientific study in gender research and the differences between male and female brains. You can listen to it here: Battlelines: science, sex, brains and gender

I listened to this podcast with some interest and then with mounting trepidation. As a transgendered individual I was horrified to hear of the multiple surgeries to "normalize" female patients born with genetically high testosterone levels and masculinized genitals. As is the case with many intersex individuals, decisions made by doctors or other medical "experts" that determine gender based on the presentation of genitals has been proven to be devastating both physically and emotionally.

I worry that inconclusive evidence in the area of gender study be it biological, psychological, sociological,  or medical will blur the real problems of gender being a social construct linked to sex and endocrine biology. I would hate to think that I would be stuck in this girl body because my body's biology trumps my brain and gender identity. If I were and forced to be "trained" or "re-educated" to be a girl like some think they can "re educate" a person to be straight suggesting there is something wrong with us and that to be fixed we need to be normalized ergo heterosexual and cisgendered.

With the help of testosterone and hopefully surgery soon, my body is becoming more masculine. I am getting the broad shoulders and deep voice, my body is getting hairy, and above all I am happier now, in control of my emotions, more comfortable in my own skin. Soon, I will finally have the body that more closely matches my soul.

For science and scientists, educators and researchers: a healthy and friendly relationship between body and brain is what medicine, psychology, sociology, etc. should be striving for (and supporting) with respect to gender and sex. I would hate to think that transgendered, homosexual, or other gender variant individuals could be denied medical care, basic human rights, happiness, or freedom of sovereignty over their body and spirit based on some fishy misinterpreted scientific study: "but you only think your a boy, science says otherwise."

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