Tuesday, July 08, 2008
By William Saletan
July 8, 2008
It's a girl!
Well, it's a girl for now. Thomas Beatie, the "pregnant man," has given birth. Beatie used to be a girl, too. Then he decided to become a man. Which he is now. Sort of.
We like to think there are two sexes: male and female. If you're not one, you're the other. That's what the gay-marriage fight is about: Boys belong with girls, and kids need a mom and dad, or so we tell ourselves. Behavior that confounds these assumptions makes us uncomfortable.But behavior was the easy part. Homosexuality, tomboys, and female impersonation have been around forever. In those cases, you could accuse the gender bender of defying his or her bodily nature. Not anymore. Now the body itself is being bent, not just through old-fashioned castration but through reversible hormone therapy and surgeries that offer a customized mix of male and female genitalia. You don't have to be one or the other. You can be both. . . .Read More
NEW DELHI -- Following the example of India's 18th-century Mughal rulers, who used castrated men or hermaphrodites to guard their harems, the government of the eastern state of Bihar plans to post eunuchs as guards in girls dormitories, colleges and hospitals.
"We are trying to prepare a plan for them so they can be involved in normal economic activity of society," said Vijay Prakash, a principal secretary in the state social welfare department. "They will be trained to work as security guards and for other types of activities which suit their temperament or in which they have developed certain expertise. They will also be involved in promoting activities related to women and child development and AIDS education."
The program will begin as early as this summer, Mr. Prakash said. The department estimates that about 2 per cent of the state's population of 100 million are transgender.
Known as hijras in the Hindi-speaking north, the so-called third sex has a 4,000-year history in India, where they comprise a distinct religio-ethnic group. Most hijras are born as men, but renounce their gender and sexuality to worship the mother goddess Yellamma, also called Renuka. Traditionally, the castration ceremony was performed, at great peril to the recipient, by an elder of the community. Sex reassignment surgery is not available in India, and even today many hijras go to quacks or fly-by-night hospitals to be castrated, which, though it is not compulsory, gives them higher status among their peers. . . .Read More
This month, in honour of the Pope’s imminent arrival, we’re taking a look at religion from a number of different angles. This week psychologist Paul Martin asks us to remember that there are many paths to spiritual fulfillment.
The imminent arrival of the Pope is likely to conjure up a great deal of emotion for most of us in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender communities – and it goes well beyond the fact that his red Papal shoes clash badly with the detail in those high camp robes!
The outdated, black and white, homophobic beliefs that are regularly espoused as ‘God’s words’ have directly led to a great deal of unnecessary human suffering. They’ve contributed to a society where for many of us there is much self-loathing, depression, suicide and other psychological conflicts. These are torturous issues for many gays and lesbians who have been brought up in religious environments. A great deal of the fundamentalist religious propaganda attempts to manipulate people through negative emotions, like shame and guilt. It’s a very effective way of getting people to believe in stuff that is unbelievably stupid.
As you know, I’m a psychologist at a gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender psychological wellbeing centre. In my line of work I, all too often, see the devastation caused by those who have been strongly influenced by these destructive beliefs. The damage from these experiences can be extremely significant and can have long-term negative consequences including depression, anxiety, shame, self-anger and low self-esteem. And then there are those who decide to get married to try and escape these feelings. I have heard too many stories of religious families who have rejected their gay son or daughter, only to find out later that they’ve committed suicide as a result, having drowned in a sea of shame and trauma. . . .Read More
CHENNAI: Young Karpaga, who makes her debut as a heroine in a Tamil film, is understandably nervous. She is busy rehearsing her lines and learning the nuances in the art of make-up, as the offer is not a passport to fame and wealth, but a lifetime opportunity to join the mainstream of the society.
Karpaga, the heroine of ‘Paal', is the first transgender in the country to don the leading role in a mainstream movie. "They have played lead roles in short films and documentaries earlier. But, this is the first time a transgender is featured as a heroine in a commercial film," says D Sivakumar, the film's director.
Barring a few exceptions, transsexuals have always been shown in poor light in Indian films. But the heroine of Paal is an intellectual, director of a short-film who is smitten by the love bug but facing a dilemma in revealing her identity to her lover. . . .Read More