Wash. Examiner Op-Ed Mocks Maryland’s “Transagenda”
April 13, 2011 5:47 pm ET by Carlos Maza
At the moment the bill defines gender identity as “a gender-related identity or appearance of an individual regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”
The key word here is “assigned.”
A curious development over the past 10 years or so is the politically motivated use of the term “assigned” when referring to sex identification on everyone’s birth certificates. (The strict medical use of this term still appears reserved mostly for cases of ambiguity in newborns’ genitalia and/or chromosomes.)
The Maryland bill’s usage of the term “assigned at birth” is meant to apply universally. It assumes – for us all – that our sex was never an inherent trait, but that authorities made an arbitrary selection of either the “M” or “F” box on our birth certificates.
It requires everyone to accept the idea that our sex is a social construct, relative and changeable, and to reject it as a genetic or physical fact.
These short paragraphs reveal both the incredible lack of knowledge Morabito has on transgender issues and the tremendous logical leap one has to make to support her conclusion.
Morabito conflates “sex” and “gender identity.” According to GLAAD’s Transgender Glossary of Terms:
The classification of people as male or female. At birth, infants are assigned a sex based on a combination of bodily characteristics including: chromosomes, hormones, internal reproductive organs, and genitals.
One's internal, personal sense of being a man or a woman (or a boy or girl.) For transgender people, their birth-assigned sex and their own internal sense of gender identity do not match.
In most cases (except cases involving intersex newborns), a person’s sex can be determined at birth by observing a number of physical and biological characteristics.
The word “assign,” by the way, has more than one definition, including “attribute (decide as to where something belongs in a scheme),” which makes sense considering doctors don’t simply flip a coin at birth in order to determine a newborn’s sex. Very rarely is a doctor’s decision to “assign” a newborn’s sex “arbitrary.”
One’s gender identity, however, is not assigned by a doctor at birth, and can often times directly conflict with one’s physical sex, as in the case of transgender people.
Morabito goes on to further misread the bill, creating a straw-man in order to ostracize the very real experience of being born with a biological sex that doesn’t coincide with one’s gender identity:
The “transagenda” though is not really about choosing either male or female. Its reach is illustrated in the media reference of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, which defines gender identity as “self-identification as woman, man, neither or both.”
An example of this push for ambiguity is in the 2007 law adopted in Montgomery County, Maryland which states “Gender identity means an individual’s actual or perceived gender... “
Perceptions, of course, can change from moment to moment.
The “perceived” portion of the bill was included to protect people who are discriminated against for appearing to be transgender, even if they don’t identify themselves as such. It does not demonstrate that one’s actual gender identity changes “from moment to moment.”
Morabito concludes her piece by attempting to compare transgender people to people who imagine themselves to have lived for longer or shorter times than they actually have :
Since we’re liberating ourselves from arbitrary “assignments” and celebrating our perceptions, here is a modest proposal for legislators to consider.
Why not add “age identity” to the list of anti-discrimination categories and accommodate a date of birth different from that “assigned at birth?” There is in fact rampant discrimination against “trans-aged” individuals.
How confining it is for someone who identifies as 17 to be forced to conform to the age of 58. Or what about a 32-year-old who identifies as 73, yet cannot collect Social Security?
And it is indeed an act of cruelty to force a 14-year-old who identifies as 24 into a middle school classroom.
Few things are more despicable than someone who mocks and trivializes the human experience of other people – especially when those people face disproportionately high levels of employment, housing, and health discrimination (typically resulting in poverty and homelessness), commit suicide at tragically high rates, are subjected to unwarranted police brutality, kicked out of their homes by unsupportive parents, and harassed and killed for simply existing.