Friday, 8 May 2015

Gender Identity And The Law

The world continues to change at a rapid pace. In some regards the change which is unfolding in front of our eyes is very much frightening, while on the other hand change, in and of itself can be a welcoming concept which bodes well for human sexuality and development. Human sexuality has not been spared these changes and this was clearly reinforced recently in the United States of America where the former Olympian Bruce Jenner who was born male came out in a television interview as transgendered after struggling for many years with his gender identity.  
Gender identity refers to one’s core conviction of being a man, woman, or another gender such as transgender. One’s gender identity is who you feel as if you are on the inside. However, there are many people who are at odds with their biological sex that is the way your body was made. Most people see themselves as either male or female. Indeed some people refer to themselves as transgender or ‘trans’ because they were born biological one sex but emotionally and mentally they see themselves as belonging to the opposite sex. Interestingly, Bruce Jenner was married three times and father six children, despite this he still did not feel he was a man. To a large extent we receive formal and informal messages about our gender identity from a multitude of sources, such as the family, the media, our peers and the wider communities in which we live. These messages can either empower or concrete our gender identity or in some instances the opposite happens and there are those who are limited by messages of gender identity.
Transgendering is an expensive process and in many instances the journey ends with the individual doing sex- reassignment surgery.  The course of action usually takes place over a number of years and involves hormone injections, psychotherapy and extensive plastic surgery. There are some who might argue that those individuals who chose surgical intervention are playing God. However, to feel trapped in the wrong sex is no laughing matter and it is best not to judge since we have no idea what it is like for some in the transgender community claim.    
For some it might be a bit puzzling to fully grasped man to female transition given the dominance and privilege men have in all societies. However, for some transgender identities transcend binary conceptualizations of gender and sex.  
In many developed societies, such as, Canada, Britain and Australia gender neutral laws are have become common place. Disturbingly, the recently tabled DNA Evidence Bill makes the assumption that all suspects will be males. The time has come for policy makers to be more careful with the personal pronouns in drafting our laws. In too many instances the laws of the land are gender specific which ought not to be. As a society we must become more gender sensitive. We must ensure that gender neutrality in language is carefully considered when drafting legislation to protect the people of Jamaica.

We shouldn't have gender roles and gendered products because people ...


Wayne Campbell
waykam@yahoo.com