14 April 2009

Running and lifting - two tales from the gender twilight zone

In Kuala Lumpur recently, I witnessed policemen chasing cross-dressers. Transgenders have big problems in Malaysia. In Thailand, one of them manned a hotel front desk so competently, the guest had problems! Full essay.


Anonymous said...

What happens in Singapore when it is time for a transgendered person to serve National Service, if they are already dressing like a female, for example? Must they still serve? What if they have had an operation? I realize that at that age it may be too young, but in a population as large as Singapore's I expect there may be a few cases like this.

HanSolo said...

"Why do we insist on having only two categories for gender: Male and Female?"

My question to you is, why not?

After all, there is a straight-forward indicator in the X and Y chromosomes that fit 99.99% of the population. There are, of course, the odd genetic anomalies, but I doubt they include your cross-dressers.

You are a gay man, but are you somehow deficient in the Y chromosome? I don't think so.

Your example of race is flawed and misleading because, unlike gender, there is no corresponding genetic marker.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

A person may be XY, but still feel that she is female, and want to become female.

How does the simple chromosomal decider serve this reality?

Anonymous said...


Of course there are genetic markers related to race. A DNA test can easily tell one's race, just as easily as it can tell one's gender. There are probably genetic markers related to being transgender and gay too. Shall we just have everyone take a DNA test and pigeonhole the whole population?

Selwyn said...

Han Solo,

~1% of live births present some kind of intersexed condition, meaning that they are not clear-cut male or female. In a population of 5million (in Singapore), this comes to 50000 persons of ambiguous physical gender. Now that I write "50000", it does not seem like quite a small number, does it?

Did you make up a random statistic of 99.99%?

People like to appeal to genetic, yet without an understanding of genetics, often throw in the argument that XX is XX - female, and XY is XY - male. This cannot be further from the truth. The list of conditions that can cause XX to appear male, and XY to appear female, or either to be of ambiguous sexual characteristics, goes on and on.

For example:

Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (AIS) makes an XY develop naturally, female characteristics, like breasts and vaginas, because (obviously) the body is insensitive to androgens.

Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia (CAH) makes an XX person develop naturally, male characteristics, scrotum-and-penis-like genitalia, facial hair, muscles.

Even people who are XX or XY, and appear quite normally XX or XY to all outwards appearances, are by natural development, not as "male" or "female" as you think.

Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) Syndrome, for example cause women XX to simply not have vaginas.

Even the Olympics Committee have given up using genetic testing of "XX" and "XY" to determine gender because they found out that many male and female atheletes who had thought themselves so for all of their lives without suspicion to the contrary, were genetically the "opposite sex"!

Who around here has had their chormosomes tested, actually?

Flannery said...

Malaysia's stance on transgender persons is unfortunate. In this regard, Singapore (of all places) is actually rather enlightened.

I quote from Professor Leong Wai Kum's book Elements of Family Law in Singapore:-

"The Women's Charter in its current section 12 expressly prescribes that, while a valid marriage must be between two persons of different sexes, the sex of a person for the purposes of this prescription shall be as stated at the time of the marriage in his or her identity card issued under the National Registration Act and, for non-Singaporeans who do not have an identity card, a person who has undergone a sex re-assignment procedure shall be identified as being of the sex to which the person has been re-assigned..."

All Singaporeans can have their identity cards updated to reflect their re-assigned gender, this effectively means a transgendered person here can marry under his/her new sex. The only other Asian country to allow this is South Korea (as far as I know).

Saint Splattergut said...

Always thought gender was unnecessary, always will. :)