the significance of anatomical gender


… if you could kindly point me to those more experienced, and I’m supposing more knowledgeable, people who have reasonably proven that three and four-year-old children commonly raise, and moreover have the ability to raise, “gender identity questions” and, beyond this, “self identify” as other than the anatomical gender to which they were born, I will be very happy to read/listen to such evidence.

There are a lot of things in this world I don’t know much about but unfortunately I don’t think I need to be an expert to comment.  One thing that I’m pretty clear about, is that parents who listen to their children and take them seriously, cannot justly be accused of ‘child abuse’.

I have never been under the impression that anatomical gender is massively significant.  I know it determines our biological input into any potential breeding activity. I know that every culture generalises about the roles that each person of a particular anatomical gender is likely to have. But in terms of the way life is lived, in terms of the way personality is expressed, in terms of the emotional and intellectual characteristics of each individual, there is so much overlap that I couldn’t possible view gender as a black and white issue.

For those of you who are a fan of the strict religious “God created man and woman” line, I’m not sure why the intelligent design included hermaphrodites, who are born with both ovarian and testicular formations. If little ‘errors’ like this can creep into the absolute division of gender, why is it beyond comprehension that some people may feel they got the completely ‘wrong’ body bits?

There is a fantastic diagram, the Genderbread Person (a work in progress), that goes some way to describing the myriad possibilities of gender and sexuality.  Have a look at it and think about where you, and the people you know, lie on each of the handy slidey scales. In terms of gender identity, it’s interesting to note that I would place myself somewhere near the bottom of both slides – I’m in an anatomically female body but I have no sense that I wouldn’t feel equally comfortable in a male body. I suspect that’s why gender has never seemed massively significant to me personally.

But I don’t assume that every other woman on the planet feels the same way. From what I understand, many women feel strongly about being anatomically female. So it’s not an enormous leap of imagination that some males could feel strongly about being anatomically female, or some females could feel strongly about being anatomically male.  We don’t need to rely on my imagination though.  Here’s one post with personal evidence and a link to scientific evidence.

I’m not suggesting that “three and four-year-old children commonly raise … “gender identity questions””.  I suspect the vast majority of them have absolutely no need to.  But in the rare case where a child does specifically ask to be treated as a particular gender for a period of time that would make it more than a ‘pretending to be a cat’ phase, I personally would be more concerned about parents who refused to listen and tried to force their child to be whatever they assume she or he should be. But I won’t even suggest that this would be ‘child abuse’, because that would be slandering and degrading the whole, incredibly complex and serious situation, that any sensible family should evaluate with the help of experts, and with careful consideration to the needs of their individual child.