Please welcome new contributing writer Dianne Skoll, who describes herself as “a Canadian transwoman, all-around geek, and founder of Roaring Penguin Software Inc.”
Many times on the Internet (though not so often in real life), transgender people encounter someone who says: “Being transgender is a mental illness. If someone thought he was a cat, would you celebrate that? Would you be OK with that person acting like a cat, getting fur implants and having a tail surgically
Let’s take a closer look at this argument, because at first blush it does seem to have some validity.
First of all, there’s a big difference between being a person (of any sex) and a cat. A person can function well in society, hold down a job and have normal human relationships. A cat? Not so much. So if someone seriously thinks he or she is a cat (not that I’ve ever heard of that happening), then there’s a problem because that person will have severe problems coping in society.
Second, there’s plenty of evidence amassing for a biological origin of transgenderism. It’s well-known that the brain exhibits gender dimorphism; studies of transgender people’s brains have shown that in many ways they resemble the gender with which the person identifies more closely than the genetic sex. These anomalies could be caused by fetal development. Because the genitals develop much earlier than the brain, a change in chemistry during fetal development, or a mutation that makes the brain less susceptible than usual to masculinizing or feminizing hormones, can result in the brain’s development diverging from the rest of the body’s.
Third, there’s no medication you can take that will “felinize” you or turn you into a cat. However, estradiol will certainly feminize transwomen just as testosterone has dramatic masculinizing effects on transmen. This shows that our bodies may be one sex genetically, but that we all have the latent ability to develop in the opposite direction.
If someone confronts you with the trans-species argument, you can make a judgment call. If the person seems to have a glimmer of reasonableness, respond as above. If not, simply say “Meow!” and give the troll a good old clawing.
— Dianne Skoll, LGBT Perspectives columnist
“Let harmlessness be the keynote of your life.” — Alice Bailey