|Opening Doors to Transsexual Medical Research|
|Opinion - Thompson & Gaughan|
|Lisa Thompson & Sharon Gaughan|
|Friday, 15 April 2011 08:00|
Fairfax, VA, USA. When we started TS-Si over a decade ago, the transsexual community (men and women born transsexual, medical doctors, therapists, scientists, researchers, and politicians) was divided into numerous dysfunctional activities and organizations.
Long term objectives, when they existed, were held hostage by an uncaring legion of tedious and petty territorial disputes as each group and party pursued their own individual political and social objectives.
Purity of intention and political litmus tests on both the left and right wreaked havoc on good science and rational, achievable objectives. The actual health and care of men and women with a transsexual history was secondary at best and, at worse, ignored in a climate of identity politics and righteous moral proclamations. The residue of the counter-productive squabbling continues down to the present day.
Enter TS-Si, our own modest effort. We decided to ask the fundamental questions and follow the science wherever it may lead us. TS-Si consciously chose to pursue the medical and scientific research that directly addresses the needs of those born transsexual.
"Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less."
Madame Marie CurieBorn of an idea we carefully discussed over hot tea, spring rolls and crispy sesame chicken at the China Café, our TS-Si mission slowly began.
We really had no idea if anyone would listen, or even if there was anyone out there who would care.
Both an organization and a website would be involved, with some public notice, so we made sure things were clear from the beginning:
We were embarking on a journey into unexplored territory. We knew going in we would not be unopposed. We were attempting to redistribute the approved rice bowls and anticipated encountering active and aggressive opposition.
But here we are a decade later, still here, and the world at last is turning toward the inevitable: facts and change.
Elsewhere on TS-Si, we have published a news report on the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Institute of Medicines (IOM) new effort to better understand the health status and medical requirements of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Transgender people. [cf. Note] The effort will identify research gaps and opportunities and outline a search agenda to help NIH focus efforts in this area and their medical and scientific understanding of what it means to be Gay, Lesbian, or Bisexual, a man or woman born Transsexual, or a Transgender person.
To properly understand a problem, however, a researcher must first define the problem. It is fairly easy to clearly define what we mean by gay and lesbian. A person’s sexual orientation is rather basic and straight forward. Assuming, of course, that the person is willing to disclose that they are a lesbian woman, that they are a gay man. For the effort to be successful, the gay community must open wide the closet door.
The definition of bisexuality is somewhat murkier. Bisexuality is not immediately obvious. A monogamous pair bonded bisexual may live decades without any clear demonstration of bisexuality. That closet too will need to be opened for the study to succeed. Paranoia must be put to rest or the effort will fall short of fully meeting its objectives.
Transsexuality as a class is clearly defined: those men and women who are conceived and born with a physical disconnect between their neurobiological sex and the sexual construction and appearance of their flesh and body and who are driven to bring their minds and bodies into congruence with each other. Pre-op transsexuals under medical supervision and moving towards and in transition are fairly obvious and clearly definable as are post-op transsexuals who have recently undergone Sex Reassignment Surgery (SRS).
Women and men with a transsexual history, however, may present a challenge. Unless they choose otherwise, they are invisible in the general population, virtually indistinguishable from any other woman or man. For the most part, without invasive investigation, our history is deep, and we are undetectable until we chose otherwise.
Those men and women with a transsexual history who now have families, spouses and children, and places in the community, may choose not to reveal themselves unless strict and permanent information security and assurance protocols are established. Although unauthorized leaks may occur, both the NIH and the IOM must take steps to guaranteed anonymity and minimize such occurrences.
While the actual transsexual population can be clearly defined for study, a definitive medical and scientific description of the transgender population may prove elusive. Encompassing the truly transgendered, full time crossdressers, weekend partyers, and those individuals who are uncomfortable with the gender role in which society views them, transgender remains a non-specific and non-scientific amorphous generality with little definition other than a socio-political identity.
One that actively resists definition. For any definition would strip the emperor of his clothes and clearly reveal that they are not all the same. Transgender is a null class with no content; or, rather so existent in its claim of social universality as to be useless as an object of scientific study.
But transgender is not transsexual. Nor is a crossdresser necessarily a transvestite; nor a full time transgender who lives 24-7 as the other sex, the same as someone who dresses up on weekend nights.
Before NIH and IOM can study the transgender population, they must define their subject area or any subsequent data will be less than useful to the scientific and medical communities.
A great portion of the transgender population, however, is tightly closeted. Perhaps their spouses know, but seldom their friends and coworkers. Given the current social milieu, we cannot see that closet door being voluntarily opened in the near future. This would not be so big an obstacle if more transgender persons were out and openly visible in the general population, but most, for many reasons, stay within small closed communities if not a firmly shut closet.
At this point, we anticipate the study will find it difficult to obtain much more than anecdotal stories of transgender life and sociopolitical social science declamations of transgender reality. Unless transgender is well defined as a class rather than as a social umbrella term, study results in that area will be suspect. Without the closet door being opened wide, conclusions about the transgendered population will be skewed and slanted by the paucity of data and ready availability of the one world political activists.
But, at last attempting to include the clearly distinguished Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, and Transgender populations, the study will go on. We will have hard data from which to draw conclusions and suggest new lines of research.
Our voyage continues, a new world awaits us. TS-Si will follow the science and go wherever it may takes us. Even if it takes decades to get it right.
NoteInstitute of Medicine LGBT Health Study Call Impacts TS Population. TS-Si News Service. TS-Si.org (02 April 2011). [ link ]
|Last Updated on Saturday, 23 June 2012 10:23|