This would be the first of various writings on human sexuality. I start by reiterating the truth that all human beings deserve equal treatment irrespective of their sexuality or gender identity. In the words of Shannon Tweed, “I have beauty, intelligence, individuality, sensuality and sexuality.”
Now, we differentiate between one’s sex and gender. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research would define sex as set of biological attributes in humans and animals. It is primarily associated with physical and physiological features including chromosomes, gene expression, hormone levels and function, and reproductive/sexual anatomy. Sex is usually categorized as female or male but there is variation in the biological attributes that comprise sex and how those attributes are expressed. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, expressions and identities of girls, women, boys, men, and gender diverse people. Gender is crucial in how people perceive themselves and is therefore not confined to the binary concepts of girl/woman vs boy/man.
Natal sex refers to the sex assigned at birth to a person based on physiological characteristics. These include the present genitalia and chromosome composition. Despite the fact that sex is often represented as binary, it is worthwhile to note that some special cases occur where a person doesn’t strictly fall into either of the binary positions. The spectrum of the concept of sex is fast being studied/expanded.
Now, we explore the terms ‘cisgender’ vs ‘transgender’ . Cisgender simply means that the person identifies with a gender that matches the sex assigned at birth while transgender shows that the current gender identification differs from what was assigned at birth.
Transsexuals would typically be used to refer to those who have had gender-affirming medical procedures in form of surgeries or hormonal shots.
We must acknowledge and respect these variations. It is also important that in acknowledging them we do not wipe out the lived experiences of others. The same way I don’t think that heterosexuals would ever fully understand the lived experiences of homosexuals. Trans people remain trans people with experiences quite peculiar and different from cis people. The essays of J.K. Rowlings and Chimamanda are quite reasonable. We cannot expect one who identified as male yesterday and today identifies as female to be granted access to ‘female only’ spaces. There is a need to acknowledge the peculiarities of trans people without jeopardizing or eradicating the lived experiences of cis men or women.
We also cannot neglect this obvious minority. We cannot extend respect and compassion to people while acting like they do not exist. We see the Church and people claim not to discriminate but they somehow effortlessly remain silent about them. About 1 in every 1000 live human births is a child who is intersex. This is double the frequency of down syndrome children, yet we fail to give a commensurate attention to these special class of individuals who do not conform to traditional sex and gender.
I would like to remind us that we are doing nobody a favour by accepting them. It is not in your position to ‘accept’ or ‘not accept’ a homosexual, a transsexual, a transgender or a non-binary person.
“Our uniqueness, our individuality, and our life experience molds us into fascinating beings. I hope we can embrace that. I pray we may all challenge ourselves to delve into the deepest resources of our hearts to cultivate an atmosphere of understanding, acceptance, tolerance, and compassion. We are all in this life together.”-Linda Thompson