An increasing number of teens want to change their sex and are taking part in hormone therapy and surgery. More young people feel non-binary even before puberty. There is a growing interest in their motives and experiences. Probably transgender people of all times and cultures (think Ovid transformations or Orlando of Virginia Woolf), as in dressing, but major medical interventions on young men are not. Just like the legal possibility to change the gender in the passport on one’s own initiative. It is unclear whether some young people have been affected by recent media coverage of gender confusion. Since the process takes years, you cannot simply talk about an “infectious” social motive.
Aside from the great numbers and care in Dutch therapy, this trend is important. Debate deepens on the relationship between biological and social determination. Nowadays, we know more and more about how sexual characteristics are determined in a fetus and the genetic factors that play a role. While there is a natural cleavage, a range of properties can exist biologically especially under the influence of testosterone, whose interactions are very sensitive. As Professor Grootegoed mentioned earlier Norwegian Refugee Council Indicated: At the molecular level, the borders are thin.
Not all attention to gender dysphoria can be separated from the focus on the individual. If your gender identity today doesn’t fit with your biology, you can do something about it, at a very young age. This is the final intervention: to physically reconfigure yourself. This individual resilience comes at a time when there is a strong feeling that society is not resilient. In the current gloom, it seems to some that we are slowly heading into the abyss. When you feel powerless against the bigger picture, it’s comforting to be in control of yourself and your body.
For the general public—and not for those who are in transition or want to go—it’s helpful to realize that the debate about gender dysphoria should not lead us into the limitations in which the ancient sexual divide is interpreted too deterministically. After all, you have not only boys and girls, but a whole group. There are boys who are weak, quiet or fashion-conscious and girls who are dominant, tomboys who will not hold back. You have noise ejectors (m/f) and bookworms (m/f). In short, in both groups, boys and girls, there are so many differences in personality, build, interests, and behavior that it is difficult to generalize about them. We should cherish this space.
So a retreat from a strict social dichotomy seems undesirable. It is to enrich that the gradations in being male and female are evident in all their diversity. In exceptional cases, a medical procedure may be the only individual solution. From a social point of view, the fundamental liberation is that owning a female body is no longer equivalent to corsets and disenfranchisement. reread Orlando: The young prince has become a beautiful woman over the centuries, but he has also faced all the limitations that come with it. For thousands of years, being a girl was the beginning of an arduous journey to marriage due to compulsion, despondency, and lack of education. Unfortunately, being a woman is not a license to freedom everywhere, think only of Afghanistan, but also anywhere else where hundreds of millions of women do not have equal rights. The fact that as a boy you can gain your freedom by choosing a female body is a revolutionary history.
A version of this article also appeared in The Sep 19, 2022