Transgender center launches intersex group

When a baby is born the first question most people ask is “is it a girl or a boy?” The doctor takes a look at the baby’s genitals, if they see a penis the child is declared a boy, if the see a vulva the child is called a girl. But sometimes a child’s anatomy is not that clear cut, and sometimes the genetics, physiology or anatomy of person is more complex than the penis=boy, vulva=girl equation. The umbrella term “intersex” is used to describe people whose physical bodies, hormones or chromosomes lie between the male and female ends of the spectrum.

According to the Intersex Society of North America somewhere between 1 in 1,500 and 1 in 2,000 babies born in this country have genitals that fall between the strict male/female dichotomy. Additionally, several genetic conditions exist where people who may appear strictly male or strictly female have chromosomal combinations other than XX or XY, a combination of XX and XY, or the chromosomes associated with one gender and the body associated with another. With so many intersex people walking around, there is a fairly good chance that you know one.

But according to “Koomah,” the founder of the group, very few spaces exist for intersex people to talk about their lives. “Most of the social and support groups that I’ve encountered are online,” says Koomah. “I’ve encountered a handful of people both in and outside of [Houston's] Transgender Center that are intersex-bodied but didn’t know anyone else who was. When I mentioned I was and spoke with them more in depth about my experience it seemed to be a great relief that their experience isn’t the only one.”

Koomah realised that their was a need for a group that would allow the intersex community to talk about their experiences. This realization led to the founding of the Transgender Centers Intersex group, which will have its first meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 7 pm at the Center (604 Pacific). The group is designed as an informal get-to-gether for those with intersex bodies and their spouses.

Koomah explains that while the transgender and intersex communities share many experiences the terms are not interchangeable. “While some intersex people do identify as transgender and some may choose to transition, sometimes the experience of being intersex is different,” says Kumayama. “Being intersex in childhood is radically different than the experience of other non-intersex folks, explaining your body to doctors can be scary, and making choices on things like transition or relationships are easier when you have people whom you share similar experience to talk with.”

—  admin

More on transgender v. transsexual

CRISTAN WILLIAMS | Cross-posted from Ehipassiko

Since my last post on this issue, I’ve met a few really cool folks in the “transsexual-not-transgender” camp. I was fortunate enough to meet one transsexual named Zoe. We messaged back and forth for quite some time over Facebook, and she really helped me to better understand where she’s coming from. And you know what, I 100 percent support her decision to self-identify herself as transsexual and not as transgender. The thing that seems to separate Zoe from the seeming majority of those in the TS-not-TG camp is that she’s not a hypocrite, she likes facts, and she speaks for herself instead of presuming to speak for all other transsexuals.

TS people don’t identify as TG anymore

A big problem with the idea that TS people no longer identify as TG is that it’s a demonstrably fallacious idea. The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force recently published the largest American trans study ever with more than 6,000 respondents. In this study, they actually asked how we self-identify. Care to guess how many self-identified with the term “transgender”? Ninety percent. Yup; as in almost everyone but a small minority.

Q4 http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf

Double standards are fun

Also, I’ve not yet seen the TS-not-TG group address a double standard I regularly observe:

• Most in the TS-not-TG group will regularly group TS and IS people together when talking about themselves because, they claim, being grouped together with other types of trans folk is offensive to them.

• However, most in the TS-not-TG group seem to have a blind-spot when it comes to acknowledging that in many regions of America, intersex people are offended when they are grouped with transsexuals.

• So, it’s somehow OK to demand that all transsexual people stop being referred to as transgender because the very idea is seemingly too offensive to contemplate, but it doesn’t matter that grouping themselves with IS people is incredibly offensive to some IS people. That double standard is what I think most might view as being hypocritical.

Grouping us together is something new that was done to us

I’ve also noticed that many of the TS-not-TG people feel that they were grouped with other types of trans folk only very recently. Perhaps where they come from, this is absolutely true. However, it’s demonstrably incorrect to make that claim for all transsexuals. In Houston, for example, our community purposefully began working to create one unified community that encompassed all types of trans people in the mid-1970s.

—  admin