Reaching a future consensus.
articles in major magazines
Part 1 of nine parts.
2017-JAN: Working toward a future consensus:
Different beliefs with regard to gender identity and its cause(s) will probably continue to change very slowly in North America until a final near consensus is reached. This will probably take decades to accomplish. This sluggishness is typical of topics related to human sexuality. For example consider the conflict over gay marriage which has lasted for a full generation and is still not fully resolved:
In 1991, three same-sex couples took the first legal action towards marriage equality by launching a lawsuit "Baehr v. Lewin" seeking marriage licenses for themselves from the state of Hawaii.
In 2011,public opinion polls showed that, for the first time, most U.S. adults favored allowing same-sex couples to marry.
By the start of 2017, support for marriage equality is slightly over 60% and has been gradually increasing for over two decades, as opposition has continually fallen.
The lack of consensus on transgender matters has caused a lack of support and an increase in anxiety among transgender persons themselves. This, in turn, has probably contributed to their very high attempted suicide rate. Among adults, it is currently about 45% -- on the order of ten times the national average. Lack of a consensus has also probably contributed to the increasing level of violence and murder of transgender individuals by strangers. Finally, it is a main cause of homelessness among transgender youth.
A consensus could probably be reached much more quickly through sincere dialogue. Unfortunately, as is usual on sexual topics, there is very little communication between the two sides. They have different definitions of "truth." Each is profoundly certain that they are have the only valid understanding of sex, gender, transgender individuals, transsexuals, and the nature of gender identity and gender transitioning.
Effective dialogue is difficult to achieve. A person must be able to suspend the belief that their particular "truth" is correct, and be open to searching for reality even if it differs from their original beliefs. That is not a simple task. Few are willing to undertake it. Many more simply ignore accounts in the media that disagree with their beliefs, and look for other discussions in the media that match their current beliefs.
This web site is one of the few sources of information on transgender individuals and transsexuals in which an effort is being made to objectively compare and contrast all points of view. It is our hope that the essays here will help promote understanding, encourage dialogue, and thereby help reduce:
the agony currently felt by many in the transgender community, and
the physical attacks on, including murder of, transgender people by strangers.
Major articles on gender identity and transition in the popular print media:
Two mass-circulation magazines featured this topic during 2016. Both dealt mainly with transgender children:
The January/February edition of Scientific American published a major article by Francine Russo titled "Debate is growing about how to meet the urgent needs of transgender kids." 3,4
In late December, the print edition of National Geographic magazine for 2017-January was distributed to subscribers. The entire issue dealt with the worldwide "shifting landscape of gender." 5 It was scheduled to be followed up in early 2017-FEB with a two-hour National Geographic TV special on the same topic. The cover of the magazine featured Avery Jackson, 9, who was identified at birth as male, and who started her gender transition process from male-to-female (MTF) at the age of four. The magazine triggered many articles, videos, etc. on the Internet and in other media that supported conservative beliefs about gender and gender identity. Many readers and viewers posted negative comments to these articles. Some expressed the belief that transgender identity has no objective reality. They believe that a person's gender is determined at conception and remains constant throughout life. They believe that a transgender identity is caused after birth by poor parenting, exploitation of children by their parents, and -- above all -- by mental confusion. Patricia Ramirez, writing for Inquisitr.com, commented on Avery Jackson and the rest of her family:
"...the harassment got so extreme that they [sic] family’s personal information was posted online, along with suggestions that Avery be bullied to the point of suicide over the transgender magazine cover (and her sexual identification).
People later commented, 'Yeah, she’s definitely one who needs to be cyberbullied until she commits suicide'. ... The American Family Association, a.k.a. "AFA" is a conservative Christian activist group.. They accused National Geographic of 'exploiting a child to further an agenda'. 6
The AFA stated in part:
"National Geographic is the latest print media company to abandon what it does best to foist a lifestyle in the American public that the medical community identifies as unhealthy. Imagine the pain and psychological trauma gender dysphoria causes children and adults. Rather than abandoning geography to shame Americans into embracing such a lifestyle, we should be helping individuals who struggle with this disorder. That is, helping confused individuals accept their wonderfully crafted and God-given biology." 7
The AFA's web site contains a complaint letter that they recommend visitors to their site send to the editor of National Geographic. It reads:
"I am offended by your choice to place a young child that is struggling with gender dysphoria on the cover of your January edition. Out of all of the 'transgender' adults you could have chosen as your feature, you chose to exploit a young boy. Your entire feature focuses specifically on children, which is exploitation at its worst.
From the beginning of mankind there have been only two sexes: male and female. No child should be used to push an unnatural social agenda. I am asking that you publicly apologize for taking advantage of these children in this manner and commit to avoiding similar actions in the future." 7
The AFA's comment on "two sexes" seems to refer to the widely held belief among conservative Christians that transgender individuals believe that they are a member of a third, fourth, or even other gender beyond female and male. In reality, the vast majority of the transgender community identify their gender as opposite to their birth identified gender. Those identified at birth as male identify later in life as female, and vice-versa. A minority of transgender individuals view themselves as having no gender, or of experiencing both genders. They do not create additional genders.
As of 2017-JAN-11, almost 25,000 visitors to their web site have sent copies of the letter to National Geographic.
Both the Scientific American article and National Geographic's full issue are available online for downloading. 4,5