Sindo’s post-pride edition: now with extra transphobia
The Sunday Independent published an “analysis” piece this past weekend entitled, “A scalpel can’t rewrite history, whatever the surgery” which was, predictably enough, an attack on the hard-won victory achieved by Dr Lydia Foy to have her birth certifcate ammended to indicate her actual gender, as opposed to the sex she was assigned at birth.
The author in this case, Eilis O’Hanlon, asserts (between her bewildering stereotypes of women as flighty and indecisive) that the decision was reached because, “nobody wants to lag behind the ayatollahs on liberal issues.” (a reference to the mortifying fact that Iran already allows post-operative transsexuals to have the gender on their birth certificates changed.) She further opines that the victory is an empty one — indicating that the government was fighting a losing battle — not that they were wrong, or that Dr. Foy was right.
Anticipating many may disagree with her thoughtless dismissal of dignity issues affecting trans people everywhere, she pre-empts arguments by name-calling trans allies “melodramatic” and snidely accusing any dissenters of hero-worship.
The language in this “analysis” is so privileged and transphobic it’s hard to know where to start. Ms. O’Hanlon cannot see the forest for the trees in her arguments. She argues that it’s perfectly valid to want accurate historical records of the birth of children. But she doesn’t question whether recording the shape of the genitals on infants is any any way accurate, relevant or of enduring interest, nor is the incredible indignity of having to produce inaccurate documents a concern for Ms. O’Hanlon. She argues that the decision will “unfather” the children of Dr. Foy and her ex-wife. She doesn’t stop to consider how this wouldn’t be an issue if we didn’t have such narrow (and inaccurate) definitions of parenthood.
Ms. O’Hanlon then proceeds to equate transgender people with the mentally ill.
The brain isn’t the most objective judge of its surroundings, after all. The brain sometimes tricks its host into thinking he’s Napoleon; the chromosomes never make him think he’s the Duke of Wellington.
Now, I’m no hero-worshipper. I have never met Dr. Foy. However, I do have a huge amount of respect for trans people. I have that respect because I have seen that path and I know it’s not an easy one, but it is honest. I have had the privilege of witnessing what a person can accomplish in a determined quest for an honest life. It never ceases to amaze me how much effort people like Eilis O’Hanlon can put into putting people down who have no intent to interfere in their lives whatsoever.
Not allowing Dr. Foy and others like her to possess documents that are consistent with their presentation is an affront to basic human dignity. Instead of arguing about changing the gender/sex indicator on official documents, why not do away with state recognition of gender altogether? It serves no legitimate purpose. Let the historians worry about how they’ll segment society from now on. We humans are pretty good at finding ways to divide and exclude.
As a closing thought, “analysis” typically requires some knowledge of the subject at hand and input from both sides of the issue. It says quite a lot about the editorial policy at the Sunday Independent that this un-researched and heavily biased rant was published as anything other than a blooper from the bottom of the letterbag.
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