Is Transgender A Birth Defect?
It is an often used comment that transgendered people are born that way. I dont dispute the fact for even a heartbeat, the physiological, genetics, and neurological evidence of being born transgender is very strong. The question of whether it is a birth defect is something of debate and worse, point of view.
One has to consider and decide if a "birth defect" is a good or a bad thing and more, what constitutes a defect. For instance is someone born with a high IQ born with a birth defect? How about someone born with a disability. Is it a defect or a disability. Is the high IQ a handicap or a benefit to be exploited?
The answer in my opinion is how it is used. That transgender is an anomaly is unquestionable. It is definitely not of the norm by the standards of society as we know it but in other cultures it was celebrated. To these cultures it was a gift. It becomes a matter of perspective.
I believe that while it has been a gift personally, it has also been a curse socially. Society does not accept my gender variance and as such sees it as any number of things but primarily as a disorder. Of course, my objections to that are well documented both here and elsewhere. I do not consider it a disability but I do consider it a handicap. Society's rules of order dictate that my gender expression is unacceptable and so, conformity to the binary gender model must be maintained. This has created multiple mental issues of anxiety and depression. These are certainly mental issues but not disorders. These have prevented contribution to society in many ways. Without those barriers erected by society, the contributions flow easily.
Being born transgender subjects us to the rules of our parents. These are the rules and roles we learn as children. For the transgender child there is no choice in most cases but to learn these with the expectation of conformity. A child who dares to violate this can be easily "labeled" and as a result, suffer the consequences. However the supportive parent creates an environment for the child to grow. In such a case it can hardly be a defect or handicap.
So the real issue is not whether it is a defect but rather what is societal acceptance of an anomaly from the time of birth. It is correctable through transition and surgical process. The scars of social conditioning are not.
The final question to be asked is where the defect lies; in the anomaly of transgender or in the rules of society. It is impossible to separate them and only one can change. That change is slow at best.
This site was last updated 08/11/10