Friday, April 4, 2008

Diversity growing

It was only a matter of time before something like this happened. Yahoo is my home page, and this is one of the featured articles today. Not only is it carried there, it's in People magazine, and he was on Oprah yesterday.
I'll admit that I don't know much of anything about being transgendered, or sex change operations, although I've been sorta kinda maybe curious as to the mechanics of it all, but not curious enough to do a ton of research.
From what I've read, Thomas Beatie was born a woman, but decided to become a man 10 years ago. He's been married to his wife for 5 years, and this is a decision they made together.
You can read more here.
I'm not sure what all of the ramifications of this are, as far as what it means for other people. What I worry about is how other people are going to treat Mr. Beatie and his wife, and their daughter as she gets older (he's 6 months pregnant, and according to his doctor, it's a normal pregnancy). I didn't see Oprah yesterday (I don't watch her show anymore, haven't for years since she got on the thin-is-in bandwagon) so I don't know what her treatment of this whole situation was. Did she treat it with respect and decency or was it a circus freak show? Or something somewhere in between?
If you had to go public with something like this, who would you trust to handle it with dignity and respect? I'm not so sure I would trust any media outlet to not turn it into a sideshow. And there's no doubt that you would have to go public with it sooner or later, because someone who knows you and knows the situation is going to open their mouth to the wrong person and pretty soon the whole world is going to know and be knocking on your door with a million nosy questions (because the "publik has a right to know").


  1. Ooh, this has been making the rounds of conversation in my network of acquaintances, me qeing queer and all.

    My guess is that Oprah was her usual idiot self and asked some question like: Do you feel like a mutant? Or something really trans-positive, because that's what she does. She likes to have people come on and discuss their genitals in all sorts of details, because apparently, the rest of the world is fascinated with defining MAN and WOMAN by PENIS and VAGINA.

    I don't know what the raminifcations for society will be, and really, I'm not sure that it is society's business. Because bodies are personal. I think in equating it to the FA movement, or feminism, or anything else, everybody gets their collective panties up in a bunch when people go and do something with their bodies that are outside the approved social more. Well, fuck off! Your body, your choice! Right?

    If a person who defines his gender as a MAN happens to have a uterus and wants to use it to bear a child, then so be it. Let men have babies. I happen to define my gender as a WOMAN, and I don't want to have a baby anytime, ever. Let men carry kids for a goddamned while, that's what I say. We women have been doing that hard work since the beginning of history. Time for a paradigm shift!

  2. I agree. What we do with our bodies is our choice and none of society's business. But, that has never stopped anyone from butting in and having a field day with whatever is done. I remember not too long ago, watching a show, on Discovery channel (I think), about people who modify their bodies to have the characteristics of animals (stripes, spots, horns, etc)and how they were looked upon as freaks.
    I identify as a woman also, but I don't have a problem with someone that identifies as man having a baby if he has the body parts to do so and that's what he wants to do. More power to him, I say.

  3. Shakesville has a link to the whole show segment. My read on it was somewhere inbetween. It was overall respectful, but there was a lot of the sensationalism and sex shock that you come to expect with anything relating to the mainstream media. The couple were very open, if somewhat shy - they wanted to come out and tell the story for themselves before someone did it for them. It was really interesting and awesome.

  4. Ailea - thanks for the link to Shakesville, I'll check it out. I kinda figured it was something along the lines of "let it out now ourselves before someone else does". At least that way, they have some sort of control over what's said and done.

  5. I saw it. Oprah looked completely freaked out, and she asked the standard idiot questions, but otherwise it was actually pretty boring.

    The backlash is what I fear.

  6. Colin - I'm wondering how bad the backlash is going to be. Is it going to depend on how many women-to-men transgendered people decide to keep their female parts and have children later on, when they identify as male? Are more WTM trans going to decide that having children is an option they want to pursue? It's a whole can of worms that needs to be discussed and thought about, in depth, before a backlash can occur, IMO.

  7. Oprah looked completely freaked out, and she asked the standard idiot questions, but otherwise it was actually pretty boring

    Agreed. I'm torn between thinking she asked the standard idiot questions because she's an idiot, and thinking she asked because it's her job to represent the idiot audience. Either way, at least all the basics were covered for an audience that's undoubtedly not up to speed on the matter. And Thomas, his wife, and her daughters were all so awesome.

    I'm sure the kid will suffer for having "weird" parents, but every kid suffers for having a weird something, so I don't see that as a reason not to have a kid. I mean, hell, if I have kids with my partner, they'll almost certainly be fat, and unless a LOT changes fast, that pretty much guarantees that at some point they'll be bullied and ostracized. (Not trying to compare fat hatred to trans hatred at all, just saying I would be going into a pregnancy knowing damn well I'm likely to give birth to a child who will struggle socially.) All you can do is hope that having a loving and supportive family will outweigh the damage done by that crap--and this baby certainly seems to be set up well in that regard.

  8. kate - I'm glad that Thomas and his wife and her daughters are so good with this. It will help immensely that their new baby will have a supportive family to turn to when she gets older, if there's teasing and bullying about her parents and how she came into being (and I don't see teasing as being a good thing, teasing can be just as hurtful as bullying).
    I know Oprah's a smart woman (generally, you don't get to a position of power and wealth like she has if you're dumber than a box of rocks), but I think she may have been way out of her depth on this one, so she probably was in the same boat as the people in her audience. She didn't know much about the issues, and so had to ask all the stupid questions that people in the dark ask.


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