Sex changes should be recognized

Chris Kok

Ohio is one of only a few states that does not recognize sex changes. This leaves transsexuals in a sort of netherworld, where they are, for all intents and purposes, one sex but still labeled as the other.

To get a better idea of why people would want to have a sex change and what recognition of the sex change would mean to them, I interviewed Michael Trimm, a pre-op female-to-male transsexual.

I asked him why he wanted to have a sex change in the first place. He said he had been pressured to be a female; however, he never felt like a female. He didn’t want to be pressured to be something he was not.

Last April, Trimm decided he wanted to have a sex change, ending a two-year process of considering this life-changing surgery. He had to tell his family. His dad tries to make an effort to understand but doesn’t really acknowledge it. His mom isn’t happy and won’t even let him tell some of his siblings about his decision.

Also, Trimm had to change his name on many forms: birth certificate, social security card, diploma, credit cards and at Kent State. Not only has this process been difficult, but he now needs to carry extra papers to explain his situation.

“I feel like I’m in some sort of camp because I have to carry my papers,” Trimm said.

That is just a quick look at the social situation, let alone the sex-change process itself. Trimm must take hormones and go through counseling for a while before he can get the first surgery. Even then, the surgery will be complicated. At the end of the process, “you do become, in essence, the other sex,” Trimm said.

No discussion about transsexuals can be complete without an analysis of sex and gender. Sex relates to the physical characteristics of people, defining them as male or female. Gender is a mental/social identity. Gender is not real; it is just a social construct. Boys are supposed to play sports, and girls are supposed to play with dolls. Who made that a rule? There is nothing genetic to prove it. Rather, these are socially constructed norms. To anyone who does not fit into these norms, they are oppressive. People should be able to create their own identity without overt pressure from society telling them who to be or not to be.

Is transsexualism a result of a society that enforces gender norms, or would it exist in a society free of the burdens of imposed gender? I don’t know. But what is important to remember is that people have the choice to live as they want as long as they are not denying the freedoms of other people. If a person wants to change his or her sex, it won’t take away anyone else’s freedom. But not recognizing sex changes does impose on a transsexual’s freedom.

A married couple, in which one of them was transsexual, moved to Ohio, and their marriage was not recognized.

By not recognizing sex changes, Ohio is making transsexuals the equivalent of second-class people. A just society would give recognition to these changes.

Chris Kok is a senior political science major and point/counterpoint columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected]