When Being a Man Becomes Only Another Social Lable

Published August 19, 2009 by Michael C Leeson

Transsexuals declared male without op | The Courier-Mail

The Western Australian State Administrative Tribunal ruled today in favour of two female-to-male pre-op transsexuals on a matter involving a decision by the WA Gender Reassignment Board refusal to issue them with certificates recognising “the reassignment of their gender”. The board had found against them because they had female reproductive systems, which it said was inconsistent with being male. However, in overturning the board’s decision, the administrative tribunal seemingly premised their decision on the applicants had presented as, and appeared to be, males”.

  • Both applicants had undergone bilateral mastectomies
  • Undergone testosterone treatment as a result of which each had undergone extensive physical changes consistent with being male,”
  • Each applicant intended to continue testosterone treatment for the rest of his life.
  • accepted the medical evidence that each was, and would remain, infertile for as long as he continued testosterone treatment

The tribunal said it noted that a surgical procedure was not a requirement of the state’s Gender Reassignment Act 2000. While it said a female reproductive system was “a fundamental, although not essential, physical characteristic of being female”.

Determining that

“it was not persuaded that the presence of those organs alone, in circumstances in which there was no longer a capacity to bear children … outweighed the other physical characteristics by virtue of which each applicant is now identified as male”.

WA gender decision to become test case

A layperson’s view

There are two points that stand out

  • the weight given to the appellant’s social presentation over biological factors

Therefore, gender is about social perceptions and biological features while relevant seem secondary

Does that mean gender is more about social perception? If you look like a man then you are a man and if you look like a woman then you are a woman.  The conservatives must be spinning on their heads, that a public servants has usurped the ordained order. It may also be an example of a growing view that gender is a social descriptive label, rather than a biological one.

  • Fertility issue

What was the significance around the testosterone treatment if either person chooses to cease this treatment they would more likely be able to reverse their fertility status. While the tribunal  argue the existence of a ‘full female reproductive system was important it was not essential to determining gender. Does that mean any infertile woman could also be defined as a man?

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