Some people argue that transsexuals wouldn’t exist in a perfect society. The idea behind this is that if we lived in a society where there was complete gender equality and gender didn’t matter, no one would get sex reassignment surgery. In this society, they claim that no one would need to get surgery or alter their body; the transition process would disappear.
This idea is based on the idea that transgender people are just people who want to get genital surgery. It’s based on an incredibly narrow definition of transgender people, only considering those who identify on the gender binary and get sex reassignment surgery. It assumes that transgender people are all conservative in their views of gender expression and only exist due to gender oppression.
But this view ignores many aspects of transgender life and neglects to explain the diversity within the transgender community. The theory is destroyed by the existence of transsexuals who choose not to have sex reassignment surgery, or those who do have sex reassignment surgery but don’t identify along the gender binary of man or woman. It also fails to consider why people have sex reassignment surgery, assuming that they do so only because of societal constraints.
Even if we lived in a society where there was less emphasis on differentiating between male and female bodies, there would still be people who wanted sex reassignment surgery. Let’s hope that we reach this utopia with complete gender equality — but when we do, no one should expect that it will be the end of the transgender community. While some transgender people may choose not to transition in such a society, some transgender people would still identify as transgender and choose to transition in this utopian society.
While those who argue that transgender people only exist because of gender oppression often give the appearance that their viewpoint is liberal and feminist, it’s actually steeped in oppression against transgender people. If people should be able to express their gender however they’d like, why shouldn’t they also be able to alter their bodies and identify how they’d like?
Photo credit: Felipe Venâncio