Ever wondered what would have happened to Marlin, father of Nemo, once his beloved wife died, if the story was not conceived by the biased perception of a human mind? He would not have stayed Marlin, but become Marla instead. Marlin and Nemo belong to a strange species called Clown-fish who are sequential hermaphrodites. This means that they have the freedom of changing their sex without the need of costly, far from perfect, surgeries. Once the female dies the largest male undergoes a sex change and takes her position. Marlin's position in turn would be taken up by the non-mating males in the group. Some animals and plants seem to give their species gender flexibility. Human beings, unfortunately, do not enjoy that luxury. To humans, uncomfortable with things that are different, flexibility of gender is considered an abnormality. Our modern culture classifies human beings strictly into two genders – the male and the female. This unnatural classification has no place for those who do not naturally fit into these two pigeon holes, leaving them with a life of shame for no fault of their own.
Our ancestors recognized and respected the entire spectrum of human gender. Each person enjoyed special roles in the society. Genders other than male and female finds place in ancient mythologies of both East (Ardhanarishvara) and West (Aphroditus). ‘Triteeyapakrti’ is mentioned in Hindu texts as old as 2nd century BC. In many places around the world we still find the customs of transexuals like Samoan fa'afafine, Indian Hijra, Kathoeys of Malasia and ‘Two-Spirits’ of Native America. However their status has gone down drastically over the years and now they have to struggle to find a proper job and a proper life. It happed because modern people found it difficult to place them in their strict gender classification scheme making these perfectly natural human beings an anomaly. That so-called ‘anomaly’ might be as high as 10% of world population. We are missing all the productive work they can do make our planet a better place.
|Indian Hijra [http://www.flickr.com/photos/ericparker/2175623092/sizes/m/in/photostream/]|
Some cultures recognize more than six genders, which might seem absurd to the modern mind. But when we look at the realities a strict binary classification seems irrational. Let’s try to look at the spectrum of gender based on biology, psychology and social conditions to appreciate it further (this is not a classification, but just shows the variety in the spectrum).
- Masculine Male: People with male body who prefers females
- Feminine Female: People with female bodies who prefers males
- Lesbian: People with female bodies who prefers females
- Gay: People with male bodies who prefers males
- Bisexual: People who likes both male and female partners
- Transgender: People who consider themselves neither male nor female
- Pure gonadal agenesis: People in whom the testes or ovary never develop.
- Klinefelter’s: The phenotype is male but the sex chromosome pattern is XXY instead of XY.
- Turner’s: The phenotype is female and the chromosome pattern is XO instead of XX.
- Male pseudohermaphroditism: The genetic sex is XY and the gonads are exclusively testes, but, the external genitalia are either ambiguous or completely female.
- Female pseudohermaphroditism: The genetic sex is XX and the gonads are ovaries, but, the external genitalia are either ambiguous or virilized.
- To add to that there are people who are forced by society to behave like a gender that they were nor born in like the Eunuchs and Sworn Virgins.
A strict binary gender classification puts immense stress on persons who cannot place themselves into either of the two categories. Even a third category isn't enough. This results in them trying to force themselves fit into one of the two categories. They are left with no options but to go under the knife and change their sex to something more acceptable to the world. In that process many lose their own identity and spend rest of their life under immense mental trauma. This trauma can become physical as 76 countries around the world still consider homosexuality as illegal, with five of them having death penalties as punishment. In countries where it is legal many still make fun of them and are portrayed as comedians even in movies. Until and unless we find a way to erase this binary classification of gender from our mind these people will remain without justice, left to suffer in silence in the dark corners of our society.