In my years of working with the LGBTQ+ community and the general public, I have come across individuals that believe several fallacies concerning transgender individuals. It is my hope to address and, hopefully, clear up some of these fallacies, especially in light of comments made by a member of our city council prior to a recent meeting.
Fallacy No. 1: “An individual’s sex and gender are the same thing.” The terms “sex” and “gender” are absolutely not the same thing, nor are they interchangeable. The term “sex” refers to one’s body and is dependent on that individual’s sexual anatomy, while the term “gender” refers to how an individual sees themself, their own personal identity, and is dependent upon societal/cultural ideology. This being so, then the popular “gender reveal” parties would be more correctly named “sexual anatomy reveal” parties.
Fallacy No. 2: There are only 2 genders, male and female.” Gender is actually a spectrum, consisting of many different identities. If this spectrum was drawn out into a line graph, it would show a line that starts out down low, goes up to a curved peak, back down again into a valley, back up to form another peak, and then continues back down. In addition to male and female, which would be the tops of the peaks, there is a myriad of other identities such as non-binary, gender-fluid, intersex, non-gendered, gender queer, and so on.
Fallacy No. 3: “It is unnatural. There has to be something wrong with this person.” This is a biggie and also one of the most hurtful and damaging fallacies out there. This is the fallacy that is majorly responsible for statistics such as 41% of transgender individuals will attempt suicide at some point in their lives (and I dare to say that 100% will have at least considered it). Transgenderism is completely natural and has its beginnings at the point of conception. We’ve all had the health or biology lesson that shows that the father’s sperm fertilizes the mother’s egg and that sperm contributes either an X chromosome or it contributes a Y chromosome to go along with the X chromosome that is contributed by the egg. Therefore, at the point of conception, you get a fetus that is either XX, which results in a female baby, or XY, which results in a male baby, right? Wrong!!!! The truth is that the father can contribute an X chromosome, a Y chromosome, an XX chromosome, an XXX chromosome, an XY chromosome, or no partnering chromosome at all. Therefore, you can get a fetus that is XX, XY, XXX, XXY, XXXX, or XO.
Six weeks into gestation, the sexual organs begin to form. On the Y chromosome is a gene, known as the SRY gene. This gene’s job is to tell the cells that form the sexual anatomy what they are to become. It does this by producing proteins that communicate with the developing cells’ nuclei. This gene can fully activate, which results in fully formed sexual organs, or it can partially activate, which results in either ambiguous sexual organs, meaning that the doctor cannot visually distinguish them, or both male and female sexual organs can form. This gene can also fail to activate at all, which results in exterior sexual organs that look female. Therefore, you can have an XY (male) individual that is handed to the loving parents by the doctor who says, “Congratulations! You have a beautiful baby girl!!” On, the flip-side of this, the SRY gene can also appear on the mother’s X chromosome. Again, this gene can fully activate, causing male sexual organs to develop in a fetus that is XX. Guess what the doctor says when that baby is born.
Along with the proteins produced by the SRY gene, there are also hormones involved in the sexual cells’ development, testosterone and estrogen. These hormones are dependent on receptors in the cells to communicate with. Again, there can be full communication, partial communication, or no communication at all.
Having said all that, you might be thinking, “Well, you just proved that something is wrong with these people.” On the contrary, nothing about these occurrences is “wrong”, just atypical. Kind of like hazel eyes or left-handedness.
I could go on and on with more fallacies, but space does not allow it. Fallacies such as, “It’s just a fad”, “They’re just mental cases and perverts”, and “They’re just attention seekers”. None of these are true. What is true is that they are simply human beings that are trying to live their lives as who they really are. They have the same right to that as anybody else does.