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Is It My Fault The Way I Am?

An Inquiry Into Sex-Gender Identity Crisis

RASHMI FERNANDO Email: ramifdo@gamil.com Visit: ramifdo.blogspot.com

Is It My Fault The Way I Am? An Inquiry into the Crisis of Sex-Gender Identity The humanity is being recognized as male and female forming the norms of a society regarded as normal. But, there is another vast gray circle created by nature, and ignored by society as abnormal. Thus, one may ask the question, WHO AM I? This essay is an attempt to answer two key questions; I. Who are we that we call ourselves as normal and human, and someone else who is different from us as abnormal and less(er) human? II. If I show you my identity, will you take away my dignity/rights? The question WHO AM I? is not a mere spiritual question of a soul searching for perfection, or a psychological inquiry of a selfactualizing mind, but an existential panic of a being searching for his/her identity. This can be very nauseating when ones search for it ends up in despair or falls into the drain of determinism. The question is What is What? Sex or Gender? Which comes First? Chick or Egg? The question WHO AM I? has the potential within it that enables the inquirer to search and achieve what one desires for, for ones self-satisfaction. But there is one thing that the seeker is only capable of searching but not very much changing it to ones full satisfaction which, in fact, changes and creates havoc in the person disoriented with this question. This is the sex-gender identity. Despite the debates that exist in literature regarding the sexrole distinction, the common agreement is such that while sex is a biological construct, gender is a social construct. As a biological construct, sex is determined, and one hardly has any choice in it when born. Moreover, it is needless to say that that what is determined will continue to play a deterministic role just as in the case of death. So is sex, the determined nature of a person. It is determined such that it teaches how a person should dress, walk, talk, sit, play, so and so forth, and relate to people both of same determinism and of opposite in nature. Determined by the sex, or the biological construction of ones genitalia, gender is what distinguishes between a he-goat and a shegoat, between a male-dog and a female-dog. The word male/female and he/she are human constructs and used for human beings, and attributed to non-human species analogously. This, in short, is the gender that determines how a penis or a virgina should behave in society. Thus, it is

the society that determines how it should treats she-goat and a female-dog as opposed to he-goat and a male-dog. If the society is so concerned of the beings inferior to humankind, how much more it should care for the superiors? Thus, while sex is biologically determined, gender is socially determined. Thus, sex-gender identity and associated crisis, each taken separately, is a unity that should be understood as the two sides of the same coin, each having a dualistic function. It is dualistic because, it is a struggle both to maintain ones sex-gender unity as well as to claim ones identity associated with it, both within and between. It is within because, it is a unity or congruence that is sought after within an individual between biological determinism and social determinism; or biological construct and social construct; or biological sex and social gender. It is between when the same dichotic relationship persists between an individual and society. Hence the sex-gender identity crisis, when such relationships go haywire, absurd, blur, ambiguous, or absent. Can a person, deviated from this unity, irrespective of the reason, be it personal preference, or hormonal aberration, or any other, have an independent existence of ones own regardless of the societal demands? If so, then will such a person have an equal share of the dignity and rights enjoyed by all those who succumb to the above conventional unity? As for the question of independent existence, the answer is quite simple. Even though it is the normal convention and the expectation of society that a human being should be born with two hands, two feet, and two eyes, it is still accommodating the ones born with one hand, one leg, totally blind, etc., and they exist on their own, irrespective of societal regards, and often with the help from society, as it is the case with the majority of the cases. If such a societal stance is true for such physical aberrations, then why not it is true for the lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transgenders or hermaphrodites (known as HIJRAS in India) who are considered abnormal as well as a deviation and aberration from the socalled normal and conventional? Thus, the question here is not at all about the existence as such, but how that existence is looked at and interpreted; as a threat, advantage, misery, sinful, impure, and the list will go endless. Thus, who are we that we call ourselves as normal and human, and someone else who is different from us as abnormal and less(er) human? The underlying question here is, who decides what is normal, pure, conventional, and conforming? Is it the majority of the populace who adhere to such stance, or can that be a single lesbian, gay, bisexual, or a transgender out there (or put them together), who pints at the so-called normal majority and say, we are normal, and you are abnormal?, and what if this claim is right, because the history says that there was a single person named Galileo Galilee who, unlike Nicolaus Copernicicus and Johannes Kepler, stopped proposing heliocentricity as a

scientific theory alone, but proclaimed it as a truth, when the conventional elite world and the conforming populace believed otherwise? Mind you, this so-called abnormal single soul was proved to be right later on, and the blissful ignorance of the so-called normal(s) was illumined by that abnormal light that stood alone for its conviction and claimed the same. Will such a light, whether solitary or united, be treated with respect and dignity when its flames are alive and they claim its identity? The Principle 3 of The Yogyakarta Principlesi, on the application of international human rights law in relation to sexual orientation and gender identity, states, "Person of diverse sexual orientation and gender identities shall enjoy legal capacity in all aspects of life. Each person's self-defined sexual orientation and gender identity is integral to their personality, and is one of the most basic aspects of selfdetermination, dignity, and freedom". Moreover, the Principle 18 of it states, "Notwithstanding any classifications to the contrary, a person's sexual orientation and gender identity are not, in and of themselves, a medical condition, and are not to be treated, cured or suppressed." According to these Principles, any gender identity of a transsexual or transgendered person is neither a "disorder" nor a mental illness, thereby making the diagnosis of "gender identity disorder" irrelevant and contradictory. To conclude on a personal note, a certain Mrs. Pereira (The proper name is not mentioned here deliberately), a Male-To- Female (MTF) Hijra herself, didnt want Hijras to be addressed as HE, HIM, or by any other male-depicting salutations. Neither did she want such a person referred to as IT, or any other form of ITs associations, since the word Eunuch is an insult as well as a public barricade that prevents transgenderism entering into the mainstream by labeling it as a symptom, unnatural, abnormal, and forever an impossible fantasy. Thus she asked me, I was born just like you to a heterosexual father and mother. I dreamt of great things, and to become great just like you, and I do dream still. But then, why cant you accept the way I am? Is it my fault the way I am? Is it so difficult for you to integrate me into the mainstream and grant my rights? Shall I ask you to do something easier then? Will you at least stop looking at me the way you used to do, after this interview?ii

In 2006, in response to well-documented patterns of abuse, a distinguished group of international human rights experts met in Yogyakarta, Indonesia to outline a set of international principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity. The result was the Yogyakarta Principles.

From my Field work at Humsafar Trust, Santacruz, Mumbai, in year 2011