Sat | Jan 22, 2022

Stop using biology to justify transphobia

Published:Monday | November 22, 2021 | 12:06 AM


I write to express my concerns regarding a letter that was published in The Gleaner on November 15, titled “Sex changes are based on biological impossibility”. From the onset, it was clear that the author’s position in the letter was unequivocally biased and came from a place of ignorance instead of empowerment. Imagine being a member of a society that is enslaved by ignorance. A culture that fails to recognise that as time passes, we gain a greater understanding of the world around us, and that this understanding guides our social norms and ideals. This is the case relating to the perpetual discussion of sex and gender in our society.

For years, the concepts of sex and gender continue to be used interchangeably despite international efforts to address this issue. The term sex is generally used to refer to a binary of being either female or male, as denoted by attributes that comprise biological sex. Gender, on the other hand, is meant to refer to the various socially constructed roles, behaviours, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men and gender-diverse people. The biologically determined sex of a person does not necessarily correlate to his or her gender. As a result, the terms sex and gender cannot be used interchangeably. For instance, a baby boy who is born with male genitalia will be identified as male, however, as he matures, he may identify with the feminine aspects of his culture.

To be considered an individual from the trans community, one doesn’t necessarily need to have undergone any surgical or medical transformation, which several people fail to understand. The problem with society is that we are too quick to see someone as an “other” and in the case of trans-individuals, too much attention is centred on just the biological make up/anatomy of trans people, which, in my estimation, is simply intrusive and dehumanising. Hence, as a result of the expectations and prejudices of society, a lot of trans people face gender dysphoria and often resort to gender affirmation surgery to help alleviate the dysphoria and produce greater gender euphoria.

Gender, like age, ethnicity, colour, social class, and position, is a social construct that society creates and categorises its people. Therefore, categorising trans-people based on their gender is another strategy to manipulate people and perpetuate inequities within society. However, despite the fact that there are clear biological and anthropological distinctions between the sexes, we cannot draw inferences or create stereotypical gender models based on these disparities.

Sex and gender are not the same and its time we stop using biology as a way of fuelling hate towards the trans-community. Saying that trans-men and women are not biologically seen as men and women in society is clear-cut transphobic and warrants serious education and sensitisation to dispel these thoughts and attitudes within people who think like this. The true aim of gender affirmation surgery is not to change one’s sex, but to effectively affirm their perceived gender identity and encourage gender euphoric attitudes and thoughts.


Policy, Advocacy &

Research Officer

TransWave Jamaica