In a world of black and white people, grey people are taught to see themselves as abnormal, queer and mysterious. Grey people must choose to become black or white in order to earn acceptance in society. This is the plight of transgender people today.
Barbara Bush, a former US First Lady once told the story of a young pastor who finds himself in charge of some really energetic children. He hits upon the game, “Giants, Wizards, and Dwarfs.” “You have to decide now,” the pastor tells the children, “which you are – a giant, a wizard, or a dwarf?”
At that, a small girl tugging at the leg of the pastor’s trousers, asks, “But where do the mermaids stand?” And the pastor tells her there are no mermaids. And she says, “Oh yes there are — they are. I am a mermaid.”
The recent ban on transgender people joining the US military, and the declaration by a transgender activist that not only women bleed, has generated a furore around the world. Many are wondering what the world is turning into. Others are insisting that people deserve to be treated with dignity, no matter the appearance of their external sex organs.
I will tell you a little story.
Bashiru looked apparently healthy when he reported at the urology department at UNTH, with a history of bleeding through the urethra. He started bleeding from the age of 10, and it was cyclical, just like menses in women. The bleeding usually lasted for 3 days. He also had cyclical lower abdominal pain, which remained unexplained. He menstruated every 3 months.
Bashiru’s right testis was normal but there was a separate soft swelling that could be felt at its lower end. Doctors determined in the lab that he had translocation of X and Y chromosome 45(t X/Y). Ultrasound tests discovered was a distinct mass in the left half of the scrotum. Left testis was not seen. Surprisingly, a uterus (womb) was found to be present and normal in size and position. Fluid collection was noted in the cavity of the uterus. The ovaries were not seen at their usual location.
His male and female hormone levels were in the normal range for a healthy man, except that another hormone, the FSH, was 4 times above the usual value in males.
Bashiru’s semen analysis showed he lacked sperm yet the quantity of semen was normal. He was informed by his doctors that he was a true hermaphrodite. He was also informed that he could get sex reassignment surgery if he wanted. After discussing with his doctors, he decided he preferred to be male. Hence a surgical procedure called *total abdominal hysterectomy with right-sided salpingo-oophorectomy and left salpingectomy* was performed under general anaesthesia. It entailed removal of his womb, ovaries and tubes, in an attempt to make his life more “normal” as a male.
Think about it for a moment. If Bashiru chose not to seek medical care for his urological problems, he would have been a male only by choice, and not because he possessed the right genital equipment fit for men. He might have been ashamed to admit to his friends that he menstruated like a woman; he might have felt sad that he could not impregnate his girlfriend, yet in many other respects, he was a kind and responsible member of his community.
Imagine the world going absolutely nuts, that Bashiru, an individual who publicly identified as male, had been reassigned female sex during that operation. Imagine the humiliation he would suffer every day, for being thought “unsure” of which gender he belonged to. His condition could hardly be called debilitating. In my short practice as a physician, I have seen women getting admitted into the hospital on monthly basis, as a result of serious menstrual problems. An employer that relied on the evidence of such hospital visits to deny a woman a job deserved to have his brain checked. Why then is it okay to mock and victimise people like Bashiru for identifying as Mermaids, rather than as Giants, Wizards and Dwarfs? Again, I ask you to think about it just for a moment.
Article originally published on Fitness Naija by Dr. Charles Uzor.
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