Monday, August 20, 2007

Transamerica


Here's a light topic, the transgendered. I don't have a lot to say about it and I'm not sure I can ever understand it but after meeting Jennifer Boylan (she spoke at our college some time ago), and hearing her story, I at least have some, very miniscule, but some, understanding of the personal suffering that many who opt for this life endure.
There was an article in the magazine section of the Boston Globe this sunda called "Freeing Up Deborah" about a Dr. Roy Berkowitz-Shelton who after 25 years of marriage, kids, a successful medical practice, decided to live life as a woman. He proceeded to go through a number of medical/surgical procedures and hormones. He also went through many hours of therapy. The story speaks of the transformation, which did not include "gender reassignment" as of yet but. Roy Berkowitz-Shelton is no more; Dr. Deborah Bershell is her new name.
The article goes far more into detail about the life and plight of Bershell, much of what was interesting insight into something that clearly can't make sense to most that haven't gone through that. But there was something that I found very odd and that is that she was really upset that the woman she married when she was a man no longer wanted to remain married. Bershell seemed convinced that the marriage would be able to endure and this is something that can never make sense to me at all.
"Gender identity and sexual attraction are completely different forces," which makes some sense to me. But regardless of genders, when a couple marries, they are marrying a member of a specific gender. In the marriage of Dr. Roy and his wife, she very clearly married a person that she was certain was a man, in every sense of the word. So at such a time that Dr. Roy became (transitioned into) a woman, it is right for her to think that everything could remain the same? The question that does keep coming to mind it whether it is possible for a love, or a bond (such as that in what most would consider in a happy and loving marriage) between two people of a specific gender could be so strong that is could ever endure one of the people changing genders?
This is a major heavy topic and not one everyone can handle; I am not sure I always can. I do know that it will always be important to be accepting of all people and that we all need to try to understand these issues.

7 comments:

Airam said...

Yeah I think it would've been a lot to ask for his wife to want to remain married as well. He shouldn't have been surprised.

Chris said...

Airam - It's such an extreme circumstance but his wife's logic and reasons make total sense.

brookem said...

this is indeed a very complex thing. in college, one of my favorite classes was counseling and multicultural issues. so i did a presentation on counseling gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals and i remember learning so much about the different obstacles (transgender) they face. anyway, it was one of those classes that will always stay with me.

ARM said...

Oooh, Chris. yes indeed this is a heavy topic. One that I have many a waffling opinion on and can rarely put into words. For on one hand...if Mr. ARM were to come to me someday and tell me that he wanted to become a MISSUS ARM, I don't know how I would feel about that in relation to our marriage. For I married a MISTER for a reason...and once a mister becomes a missus...it changes things. But on the other hand, he would still be Mr. ARM, right? Just minus a few important pieces of hardware...but on the inside he'd still be him and isn't that what I fell in love with? But the reason I waffle is because it's more complex, love AND sexual attraction. It's not just gender and it's not just feelings.

Your last sentence though is key.

Chris said...

Brookem and Airam - thanks for contributing to this.

brookem said...

chris! tune into lifetime. there is a gem of a movie on: "a girl like me/ gwen araujo." how timely too. and i meant to reference this is my other comment. anyway, this is one my roommate and my favorite movies. check it out yo!

radioactive girl said...

I always feel like I fell in love with the person, not the gender. I don't know how I would feel if it actually happened to me, but in theory, I love my husband, and chose him because of who he is, not because of what he looks like, so why wouldn't I stay married to him regardless of what gender he is. Of course I am sure if it actually happened, I would have conflicting feelings. I think it would depend on how the transition happened, whether I felt like it came out of nowhere, or if I was eased into it. Such a difficult topic to make any kind of decision about unless you are actually in the situation though.