Thursday, August 02, 2007

Oh please. Put your clutched pearls away, Mary.

Maybe I was too much of a modern primitive in my younger days but when I hear people talk about this-and-that being 'mutilation,' my eyeballs just about roll out of their head.

Tattoos are mutilation. Piercings are mutilation. Black women straightening their hair is mutilation. Boob jobs are mutilation.

Or, sex change operations are mutilation.
Wednesday the BBC reported on a recent debate about the validity of sex change surgery organized by BBC Radio and the Royal Society of London. Opposing four experts on transsexuals, Julie Bindel, a British feminist and journalist, argued that sex reassignment surgery is an "unnecessary mutilation" based on unscientific ideas and a reactionary idea of gender. She contended that the very idea of "being trapped in the wrong body" is a homophobic diagnosis invented by psychiatrists in the 1950s and that the "highest number of sex change operations take place in Iran, where homosexuality is punishable by death."
Okay, can I just say upfront that a sex change operation in an oppressive theocratic culture is not going to be the same thing as a sex change operation in the US (well, not yet anyway) or the UK? The two situations wouldn't seem to compare.

The Broadsheet article goes on:
Voicing support for Bindel's controversial position was Claudia MacLean, a transsexual woman who told the audience she should never have had sex change surgery, and that she was recommended for it after a 45-minute consultation. Also interviewed for the story were a couple of other transsexual people who regret their surgery.
Okay, now I wouldn't get *any* major surgery after a mere 45-minute consultation. But this sounds like an extreme case. Anyone out there in the trans community with more information than me on this issue?

Really, though, this all sounds like the same old aghast pearl-clutching cries my punk friends and I used to get walking down the streets of Boston in the 90s. How could you mutilate your face with all those holes! How could you mutilate your skin with all those tattoos!

Hey, it's your body, and as long as you're not being forced into it by someone else, modify it however you want.

(Evil fizz also wrote about this at Feministe.)

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