“Sex Assigned at Birth” – A New Standard in Weirdness

I am an advocate of precise language; this invention moves in the other direction: “Sex Assigned at Birth?”  The Williams Institute published an article, “Transgender Military Service in the United States” by Gary J. Gates and Jody L. Herman May 2014.

I am not fond of the passive voice title.  Usually, politicians and those who wish to avoid responsible attributions use passive voice to make impassioned anonymous distinctions.  Now we have “scientists” (I am not sure what profession-identity the authors of this study feel.)

Right away, I was underwhelmed by a research paper that did not rely on original work; instead the authors added together results from several existing studies.  (I do similar things all the time, I just do not call them “studies,” or “papers.”)

The authors relied on the broad definition of transgender and the data offered by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey: “those whose gender identity or expression differs from those traditionally associated with their assigned sex at birth. This includes, but is not limited to, those who self-identify as transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and cross-dressers.”

As this study focuses on the military community, we are reminded that military medical policies lay out exclusions and medical discharges from military service for what are deemed to be “psychosexual disorders,” including transsexualism, cross-dressing, or a history of gender transition.

A different approach was the use of the “precise estimate.”  This study compiles the responses of 6,546 people to 70 questions in a survey.  900 organizations helped distribute the questionnaires.  The results are a self-labeled “estimate” of 15,500 active, and 134,300 retired “transgender” members of the US military. (Personally, if I were doing an extrapolated estimate, I would have chosen 150,000, a nice round number.  When I was in the Army all I can remember is the lack of discrimination in digging latrines in the field.  Barracks bathrooms were just partition-less rows of toilets, sinks, showers, and urinals)

I guess the serious part of the study floated by my attention when the term “Sex Assigned at Birth” struck me as seriously pompous.  Really?  By whom, or what are we “assigned” our gender?  (God, Angels, demons, spirits, fairies, unicorns, genes?)  Why not use “apparent,” “seeming,” “physical,” “alleged,” or “supposed” sex?

Also, “tsk, tsk, tsk” to the study design, execution, and resulting statistics.  Dozens of attempts to quantify the “LGBT?” population point to 3-4% as the maximum number in the USA.  As to all “others’” and “other’s” sexual persuasions, I wish them love in their relationships.  I have been part of communities that included and accepted all sexual preferences without fanfare.  I attended a few “pre-legal” marriages of men to men in the late eighties, the nineties, and the “ought’s.”  Even growing up in the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s, I never faulted people for their choices of mates.  I find myself in the plain, old-fashioned, “look-down-to-see” grouping.

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