Monday, August 01, 2005

Never Enough Natural Gender Deconstruction Department

The Missing Vagina Monologue--part of the Our Bodies Ourselves website--approaches the transgender/intersexed question from a different angle: What if you were a woman, such as author Esther Morris, born without a vagina? For too many people, their concerns focus around whether this woman can be penetrated, not whether she cares. Questions about gender identity may fill her mind, and she may experience terrible cramping, but none of that seems to matter as long as she can have so-called "normal" sexual relations. (Never mind decades of sex research indicating that "normal" isn't quite as straight-forward as the missionary position with the lights off.)

In one sense, this disorder--Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser Syndrome, or MRKH--has parallels with transsexuality, in that women with gender issues are seeking surgery to "correct" their genitalia. In another sense, women with MRKH are 180 degress from transsexual women; while transsexuals often know from an early age that their gender differs from their body, MRKH women are usually unaware of any incongruity until puberty. In some ways, women with MRKH have similarities closer to being intersexed, whether via chromosonal, gonadal, or hormonal means. Any changes in their gender perception come later, when puberty goes differently than expected. Psychological changes follow the physical. In contrast, for transsexuals, physical changes follow the mental. In both cases, however, we find ourselves wrestling with society's expectations of sex, gender, and sexuality.

It's promising that Our Bodies Ourselves now includes a chapter on gender identity and sexuality, but thanks to the imposition of gender based on a crude check of a baby's crotch at birth, it often feels more like damage control instead of progress.


Texas Jaye said...

I have had vaginas on my mind this week. At BlondeSense we were laughing at a strip club called "Vaginas R Us." I also channeled Maude Lebowski from The Big Lebowski discussing that her art work was regarded as strongly vaginal. I think my writing is strongly vaginal. It is supposed to be funny in the movie, but I think it is sort of nice. Today it was female genital mutilation. Which isn't nice, but really pisses me off.

So here it is again. Hmmmm.

Texas Jaye said...

Good Gawd. Penetration isn't everything. Sometimes I wonder if Andrea Dworkin was correct when she talked about sexual intercourse as rape. I know that in a more self destructive time in my life, I was obsessed with it, now I don't care so much. Perhaps with a healthier--read much therapy--penetration isn't the only way I find validation or happiness. I don't have to be penetrated to be noticed.

Maria said...

This post has been included in the premier edition of the Carnival of Bent Attractions. :)