Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Garth Rattray: That ‘hot chick’ is not a chick

Published:Monday | June 15, 2015 | 6:00 AM

Ever since the person formerly known as Bruce Jenner made his very private life very public as he transitioned to and debuted as Caitlyn Jenner, the feminised version of his former self, a great deal of focus and debate has arisen regarding 'transgenderism'.

In spite of his magazine projection as a 'hot chick', he is, in fact, not a chick. Genetically, he is as male as I am and he will always be a male, no matter how much he alters his outward appearance. His male gender was determined once his dad's sperm fertilised his mom's egg. Hormones can feminise males or masculinise females - even before birth. And, plastic surgery can mimic the process or enhance it.

I strongly believe that people have the right to do whatever they want to do as long as whatever they do causes no harm to anyone else or to themselves, resulting in their incapacitation or death.

It concerns me that we must often depend on the openness and honesty of a 'transgender' individual to reveal his/her true (biological) gender. Thank God that me naah look smaddy because I have seen pictures and videos of males who have been feminised hormonally and surgically altered. To be honest, it's purely a guessing game to identify the real males from the real females.

And, I recall reading a piece that reported an attempt by 'transgender' individuals to alter their birth certificates. I am not in Jenner's shoes, so I won't criticise him. In fact, I hope that he is happy and at peace with himself, but statistics do not support this.

 

Sexual liberation

 

Societies in various parts of the world are desperately trying to cope with all the new expressions of sexuality. Homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender feelings are not new. It is recorded that several renowned conquerors and armies of elite fighters engaged in homosexual behaviour while away on war campaigns. It is said that they viewed women as the softer sex for that kind of 'mothering' and as vessels to bear their progeny. The expression of transgender feelings is new only because modern science facilitates it.

So, here we are, witnesses to the remarkable transformation of former top athlete and Olympic Gold medallist Bruce Jenner. He revealed that he has always identified with being female although he competed as a man, lived as a man, married a woman and fathered children.

Now, in his silver years, he decided to go all the way and transition. Some speculate that his public persona emboldened him and that it may also be tied in to economic gain. However, he said that he would regret not making the change if he died without realising his lifelong dream.

But, will that dream turn into a nightmare one day? In his Wall Street Journal commentary, distinguished service professor, Dr Paul McHugh, former psychiatrist-in-chief of Johns Hopkins Hospital, believes that it will. In his piece titled 'Transgender Surgery Isn't the Solution: A drastic physical change doesn't address underlying psycho-social troubles', he states that 'transgenderism' is a mental disorder that needs treatment and he also states what we already know: that sex change is biologically impossible.

 

Psychological issues

 

He noted studies showing that 70 to 80 per cent of children who expressed transgender feelings "spontaneously lost those feelings". Regarding transgender individuals, he criticised the American government, some large media houses and Hollywood for "treating their confusions as a right in need of defending rather than as a mental disorder that deserves understanding, treatment and prevention".

In essence, the learned professor likened transgender feelings (labelled the psychological disorder of 'assumption') to anorexia nervosa, wherein the patient remains unswervingly convinced that she (sufferers are predominantly female) is grossly overweight even when she is dangerously thin and literally dying from starvation.

Now that Medicare will fund gender reassignment surgeries, with a recent study revealing that transgender individuals have a twentyfold increase in suicides when compared to non-transgender individuals, I wonder if there are contingencies in place for treating chronic suicidal ideations.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.