Friday, June 12, 2009

Chastity Bono Brings Awareness To Transgender Issues



Longtime American activist for LGBT rights, Chastity Chaz Bono, born to Sonny & Cher, is beginning the process of transitioning from female to male. Bono says he will avoid being in the lens of the public eye as surgery and reassignment proceed, but hopes that his journey will educate others.

Having a healthy gender identity means that a person experiences harmony with their sense of self and their own physical sex. However, Transgender people find their sense of self differs from their physical sex. There is anguish about being in the wrong body. Research over many years has shown that there is a strong genetic base that underscores gender issues.

I hope this journey will bring Chaz Bono a sense of peace and help others understand and celebrate the differences in us all.



23 comments:

jenji said...

I have absolutely no problem with Chaz and his transition whatsoever; and if I did, I would hope someone might help me understand the biological implications.

However, I must admit I found myself groaning once I heard about Chaz yesterday b/c all I could think of were the narrow-minded, uneducated, uninformed, ignorant individuals who would go to town with this story and use it as an opportunity to further fuel the hate and intolerance fire. Wait'll O'Reilly gets a hold of this story.

The majority of individuals who I have come into contact with who are opposed or dare I say disgusted by transgender individuals simply will not educate themselves beyond what they think they already know about sexual identity, which is more often than not: what lies below your belt defines who you are and assigns your sexual identity; or, that God assigns your sexual identity for you.

Over Memorial Day weekend I was at a bbq and somehow a discussion came up about a transgender man, and I must say that the majority of individuals had absolutely no insight as to how the brain assigns sex; as to how it maps one's sexual identity. And that's fine, I wouldn't expect many individuals to be informed as to the biological processes of the brain's development or say the Organizational-Activational Hypothesis, however when one is not willing to even consider that there may be a logical, biological explanation for such conditions, well then I can hardly stick around long enough to explain it. And if they pull the God card, then I'm out. My time would be better spent speaking to a catatonic. It's like trying to explain and present the evidence to a racist/neo-nazi that the Holocaust in fact did happen.

And so, at the BBQ I kept it simple: After one individual went on about how men testosterone this, and women estrogen that, and how each should stick to their own hormones, I shut down the know it all by telling this particular close-minded, righteous individual that it is in fact estrogen that masculinizes the brain. Suddenly, all you could hear were crickets. I wish I could have sold tickets, Deb. Now, as this was a quasi-artistic crowd, this particular individual was a bit more open than most when it came to actual evidence and so upon request, I spent the next hour explaining SRY, androgens, Wolffian/Mullerian ducts and the Organizational-Activational Hypothesis et al. I wish more people would be as open to learning the actual science behind the brain as this crowd was.

Anyway, I won't go on about the science or biological variables b/c I'm surely not bringing up anything you and some of your readers are not already aware of. However, I would encourage anyone who doesn't know about the developmental, hormonal processes of the brain and how they apply to our biological development, to look into it before making sweeping judgments based on ignorance and regurgitated rhetoric.

One doesn't have to identify with the plight and struggles of a transgender individual in order to at least consider the biological and genetic variables that are associated with transgenderism, they simple need to expand upon black and white definitions and educate themselves to understand it's not an absolute choice.

Fantastic post and links, Deb.

best,
jenji

PTC said...

Unrelated...I heard the word "kerfuffle" twice in the past 2 days. What the...? I've never heard it until your blog and now twice. Kate Snow said it on GMA yesterday and I read it on someone's blog today. WEIRD!!

~Just me again~ said...

Wow, first off, I hadn't seen a picture of her in eons. Wow does she ever look like her mom.

Great post! As long as she/he's happy in the end, what does it matter?

Dr. Deb said...

Jenji,
I feel the way you do. To have to deal with the spinners and nonbelievers is exhausting and detrimental to the issues.

PTC,
I saw it in print yesterday. How funny. It's like when you suddenly see the kind of car you are interested in buying all over the place!

Miranda,
Love is love is love!!

ellesu said...

I, too, wish Chaz Bono the very best. It takes courage to do that. Speaking only for myself, I imagine his famiy will also be in for some challenges as they change their perception of him. But....a big part of life is challenges. Kudos to him for being true to himself.

PTC said...

That is funny!! So weird. Totally true though!

Dr. Deb said...

Ellesu,
I agree.

srose said...

I admire Chaz for the courage that it takes to come out (again) as transgender. Having a celebrity parent certainly puts the spotlight on him during this transitional phase. However, this spotlight also provides an opportunity to highlight awareness and understanding to the transgender community.

I like what you said Deb..love is love is love!!

CrackerLilo said...

I hope this brings peace to him and makes him feel right in his body. It may help, ultimately, for people to see such a public figure transition. I understand that a sportswriter for the Los Angeles Times initially came out as MTF, but he decided against the surgery at the last minute and has reassumed a male identity.

I do want to tell Chaz Bono that guys can make an effort to look nice, too. At least coordinate prints! I hope when he feels better in his body, the confidence will show in his clothes.

To hell with what the Bill O'Reillys of the world think, anyway.

Finally, I really don't get the fuss. I mean, I really don't. Many people "custom" their bodies just like cars and houses, which makes sense to me because you stay in your body way longer than you do a car or a house. (I say this as someone who'd like a couple procedures done, but has only had a few large moles removed so far.)

Hardly anyone questions it when someone wants, say, Lasik or a smaller nose or bigger breasts. One does not tell a woman who's had all these procedures that she's "really" nearsighted, hook-nosed, and small-breasted after all that effort and expense. She is taken as she presents herself. She may deal with some petty people, but she's mostly allowed to be at peace with her body, as was her intent when she had it modified. Why don't transpeople get that?

S'onnie said...

It takes a lot of courage to do something like this in a public viewing.

I hope the media don't make his life a misery.

Anonymous said...

Brave to do. Braver to talk about.

::jeremy::

traci said...

I hope Chaz finds peace.

Barbara(aka Layla) said...

I wish Chaz the best too. I remember years ago watching a documentary and seeing the agony of these people who were stuck in the wrong sex body. What I don't get is, how does it happen? If there is a God that creates us, why would he do that, and if not then its all science and science it suppose to be fail proof...I guess its the same as asking why anyone was born with any type of problem or disease that made their life miserable.

Grumpy Old Man said...

I don't know the science, but I must confess I find it strange.

It must be a very deeply felt need, though, because reassigning such a fundamental part of one's identity involves a lot of effort, pain, and anguish. Not many people would do it on a whim.

Deb said...

She has to feel comfortable with herself regardless. And the thing is, most people cannot understand that gender changing has nothing to do with sexual orientation...

OHN said...

Seriously, I see no difference in this type of genetic "goof" than a child born with any form of genetic coding that creates any differences between them and what we consider "normal".

My heart breaks for the people that are living a life they don't feel like they belong in. How sad that they can't feel contentment as an everyday feeling. I am glad the world is starting to recognize that it is ok to be true to yourself, even if that means changing your outside to match your inside.

Jade said...

How do you do it Deb. So many times you blog on topics that are current issues in my life. I recently found out through an amazing conversation with my neighbor that she is in the process of starting the steps for a sex change. It was amazing insight into the hardships and battles that the transgender populations has to face.

It's awesome to see affluential advocates for the cause.

Ohh and that's for the reminder for me to update on my own blogs. :-). Thanks for caring

jumpinginpuddles said...

wow we didnt know this full kudos to him

Sandy,PhD said...

Go Chaz. Not an easy journey but there are so many who are watching you blaze this trail.

kath said...

I think Chaz needs to do what is right for Chaz. I agree that a lot of ignorant people have crawled out of the woodwork and posted about this.
I have to wonder why the hostility over something that has zero affect on their lives?

baffling.

OttawaObserver said...

It must be so hard to go through that transition...

pkin said...

I’m a 19-year-old college student who never really thought much about gay and lesbian issues until taking a class dealing with “gender identity” issues. First, it’s kind of surprising that “science” doesn’t seem to help much in the debates about whether a person’s “gender identification" is genetic, is something that is learned, is normal or not normal, is right or wrong, is moral or immoral, etc. One of my course books, Gendered Lives (by Julia Wood), doesn’t really take a position on whether gender is genetically determined, etc, or whether its right or wrong, but instead addresses how the individual him/her-self becomes aware of his or her particular gender/gender role, from the inside by observing his/her own feelings and reactions as they grow and develop, and from the outside by learning from how other people see them, how they catagorize them, what they expect of them, what they think they are.
Chastity Bono comes across in the news stories as kind of a sympathetic figure, i.e., she seems to be dealing with issues that have been difficult for her throughout her life, and she is now after many years making some various decisions on how to live her life.
This seems to be pretty relevant today, since gay marriage, military “don’t ask-don’t tell”, rights in the workplace, workplace benefit entitlement for domestic partnerships seem to be all coming to a head, and it may be that the celebrity of the Bono family may serve to “highlight” these issues to the mainstream who I think don’t probably think much about these issues until the know someone who is personally dealing with these issues.

Awake In Rochester said...

Crap! I had a bit of a crush on Chastity. But if she becomes a man, then we will never get together. lol