Unshelved by Bill Barnes and Gene Ambaum
comic strip overdue media

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Things that make you go...hmmmm.

watching: 'Changing Sexes' a two-part documentary showing the challenges of transgendered persons seeking gender reassignation
reading: The Sacred Tradition of Ancient Egypt
feeling: Reflective

If you accept that the divine permeates throughout creation, then can this elusive yet powerful force also be considered as a sort of 'dimension'? In our mechanistic view of the world these days, we tend to divorce spirit and matter totally. It wasn't like that for the ancients or, for that matter, in many cultures today. After all, you might try to describe someone in terms of their physicality (their three-dimensional self, you might say, whether it's by height or hair colour) and perhaps even add a dimension of time (in age), but you really aren't capturing the essence of a person, just as a camera fails to translate the reality of a person, a video may do better, but meeting them in person is the only way to truly experience them--and even that doesn't give you the internal experience of their existence.

If you've ever read the story Flatland (and they really should require it in school), then you've encountered the ideas of a world in two dimensions when faced with a three dimensional object. A sphere looks like a circle, but the two dimensional creatures cannot comprehend the third dimension.

Some people believe that what we might call divine is something that transcends more dimensions than we can comprehend. What if divinity itself were a dimension of existence? That is, what if you could plot out (from a suitable, hypothetical external point) the height, length, depth, place in time-space, and the spiritual component of a person? Because while all of us may have a spark of divinity within us, most are not in touch with that spark. Some religions encourage its development.

I guess it's a night of questioning assumptions. I've been watching a show about male-to-female and female-to-male gender reassignation. I think accepting and dealing with the challenge of an internal/external gender difference is probably the most difficult thing a person may ever face, because it's on such a fundamental level. So much of society is based on being in one of the two boxes, so to speak, and anything that doesn't quite fit tends to bring out confusion, fear, and anger not only in the people dealing with it but with everyone he or she encounters. And most frustrating of all is that you can never 'truly' change your biology to such a degree that you really become the opposite sex in all ways. But treatments today are far better than, say, someone dealing with the same issue hundreds of years ago, and you can change a great deal of the physical aspects and improve things by lessening the chasm between what should be and what is. It really can mean the difference between living life fully and living a shadow life.

I really felt sorry for one man who, in his attempt to live as a woman, suffered a pulmonary embolism that resulted from a blood clot--a risk from female hormones. Because of this, he is not able to take the hormones and therefore could not benefit further from their feminising aspects. This, coupled with a fairly low voice (which can't be physically going through a male puberty, only retrained), gave him extra hurdles. But I admire his resolve to continue.

It's a shame that most people look at this totally from the wrong perspective--they feel threatened, they grieve over the loss of the gender relationship to which they're accustomed, or just see the person as a freak. People could learn so much about the things they take for granted by paying more attention.

It was definitely an interesting show, and I would recommend it for anyone interested in gender issues, sociology, social work, etc. There are two episodes, one showing men becoming women, one with women becoming men. They show a lot of different stages of the process and how it affects family relationships. One transformation was startling because the person was an identical twin, and taking male hormones and going through breast surgery led to a totally different look, of course, from the twin sister, who was not transgendered in any way. One man had been married for years and his wife was there with him in the operating room as he completed the final process of transformation. They're still not sure were the relationship will take them, for now legally they are two women married to each other. Certainly the non-sexual components of their relationship seemed quite solid, but I'm not sure what will happen with the rest. I only know I wish them and the other participants well.

No comments: