Saturday, September 15, 2012
Monday, September 10, 2012
supposed to begin by acknowledging that I speak about these issues from a
privileged position. As a white
hetero-normative male my lifestyle jives with historical cultural norms. I have a penis. I like my penis. I want to stick my penis in a lady's shame
Just as God intended.
When I start talking about transgender issues, gay / bi issues, the kneejerk reaction is to claim that I can't *really* understand the issues, or appreciate the struggle of these persons, because I haven't lived it, man. I'm just a normie approaching these issues from normyville, and for some reason that renders my assessments to be skewed or biased.
What's entertaining to me about that critique is the degree to which it is an inversion of the actual situation. I do not have a personal stake in transgender issues, in gay or bi issues. I'm not arguing for or against any position in order to justify my own desires. If I argue that men ought to be allowed to fuck other men in the ass, I do not argue out of a desire to fuck men's assholes. If I argue against this I do not argue out of a desire to quash other men's desires to fuck other men's assholes. I'm just asking questions, and speculating about the nature of humanity, because I like to do that sort of thing.
I don't have a personal stake in the debate, which seems like the sort of thing that would foster objectivity rather than irrelevance.
That's my introduction.
Robert Kosilek was born with a penis. Over time, Robert Kosilek began to experience discomfort with his penis. He felt feminine, uncomfortable with his male body. Eventually, Robert Kosilek began to identify as Michelle Kosilek. (S)he began hormone therapy and sought a surgical procedure to cut off her cock and replace it with a vagina. The acquisition of said surgery was complicated due to Robeter Kosilek's having murdered his wife, and so landing in prison without the possibility of release.
As I posted the other day, a judge ruled that the state has to buy Michelle Kosilek a shiny new vagina, because a bunch of soft scientists decided that cutting off Michelle's wang was the best solution to Michelle's gender consternation.
This situation once again raised the transgender issue, the question of how to deal with persons like Kosilek who feel uncomfortable in their bodies. The judge's ruling reinforced the idea that the best solution is surgery, so acting in accord with the transgender person's desires.
My question is why we do that.
The situation is that Player A is uncomfortable with Player A's body. Player A was born with a penis, but desires a vagina. This situation manifests a great deal of consternation and suffering on the part of Player A. To me, it seems reasonable to alleviate this suffering. However, there seem to be two ways to do this:
1: We cut off Player A's penis, and replace it with a vagina.
2: We remove Player A's desire for a vagina, and manifest acceptance of Player A's bepenised birth body.
Common sentiment seems to privilege 1.
I'm wondering why we don't go with 2.
I should probably admit that these sorts of questions have been used against homosexual persons. Either we permit homosexuals to fuck persons of the same sex/gender, or we remove that desire. The persons who want to permit fucking are praised as upstanding, understanding liberals while those who seek to quash the desire are labeled as Levitican asshats.
But why is that?
In each of these situations, we have an option. We can either privilege the mental or the physical. In the case of homosexuality it gets a bit complicated, given that our interpretations of the "purpose" of a particular physical organ is beholden to historical cultural norms. So, sure, that gay issue gets messy.
With transgender persons, though, we have no such difficulty. The person was born with a particular bodily appendage. The problem is the discomfort one feels with that appendage. The person self-reports a discomfort, and so most people acquiesce to that person's desire and maintain a favorable view for lopping off the person's penis or giving the person a penis, because heaven forfend that we critique the desire, itself.
I'd like to suggest that we critique the desire, itself. Or, I'd like to ask why we don't.
Here's a hypothesis: Perhaps the problem with a transgender person is that their desires are fucked up. Perhaps the actual problem is their mentality, rather than their body. Perhaps their self-conception is skewed, their attitude is skewed, their preferences are skewed, their mind is skewed. Perhaps their true self is their body, rather than their mentality. Wangs evidence masculinity, pussies evidence femininity, and attitudinal desires need to fucking fall in line.
Or, at least, that's what you should be arguing.
As products of the history of Western Metaphysics, we tend to privilege mind over body. Even though most of us have abandoned these metaphysical schemas and embraced non-Cartesian self-conceptions we still maintain the metaphysical baggage of distinguishing mind from body, privileging the incorporeal mental over the physical body. If Robert Kosilek "feels like" a woman, then Robert Kosilek "is" a woman, since Michelle Kosilek's mind is her true self, and the penis is simply an accidental property of his/her physical body.
Let me say that again.
The judicial ruling, and the psychological reports upon which it was based, privilege Michelle Kosilek's mental self-conception over Robert Kosilek's physical body.
Just like Descartes would do.
Just like Augustine would do.
Just like Plotinus would do.
Just like every dead Western Philosopher you argued against in undergrad would do.
Now, to be honest, I'm fine with this. But that's because I'm mostly a Cartesian Dualist who privileges incorporeal mental souls over physical bodies. I discern that one's true self is mentality, and the bodily machine within which the ghost resides is mostly an accidental result of estrangement from our True Nature. Our actual, True selves are those immaterial self-conceptions while this moist fleshy shit within which we're stuck is a prison from which we eventually escape in order to enter the realm of Eternal Truths.
But you don't fucking believe that.
You're in a post-Darwinian mindset wherein you're actually an organism dwelling within an organic eco-system. In your story, you were born an encultured physical entity that constructed the logical fiction of a mental "I". You privilege the body, physicality, and secondarily to that is this mental emotive attitudinal malarkey that can be reduced to bio-physical processes of the brain. In your world view, you, and every other human being, is just a very elaborate moist toaster.
Except for when we start to talk about transgender issues.
My suggestion is that persons adopt a coherent narrative, and embrace their primary assumptions of reality. If you actually consider human beings to be bio-physical organisms that can be reductively explained in terms of chemical processes of the brain, then fucking argue for that, and maintain that Robert Kosilek doesn't need a penis so much as he needs more serotonin injections.
If, however, you maintain that Robert Kosilek needs a vagina in order to manifest coherence between Kosilek's mental and physical selves, then that's fine, too.
Provided that you articulate your position as, "Speaking as a Cartesian Dualist, I must privilege Player A's immaterial mental conception over Player A's physical self. Player A's immaterial soul is female, while Player A's body is male. So, we need to modify the physical body to compliment the immaterial soul."
Because that's your fucking argument.
Sunday, September 9, 2012
We now buy vaginas for inmates.
Robert Kosilek was convicted of murdering his wife in 1990. Kosilek changed his name to Michelle in 1993. Kosilek started hormone therapy in 2003. Throughout his time in prison Kosilek has tried to sue for the ability to have sex reassignment surgery using the following argument:
"Everybody has the right to have their health care needs met, whether they are in prison or out on the streets," Kosilek said. "People in the prisons who have bad hearts, hips or knees have surgery to repair those things. My medical needs are no less important or more important than the person in the cell next to me."
On September 4th, U.S. District Judge Mark Wolf ruled that Kosilek's constitutional rights were violated when Kosilek was denied gender reassignment surgery:
“It is unusual to treat a prisoner suffering severely from a gender identity disorder differently than the numerous inmates suffering from more familiar forms of mental illness. It is not permissible for prison officials to do so just because the fact that a gender identity disorder is a major mental illness not understood by much of the public and the required treatment for it is unpopular.”
Massachusetts must now pay for Kosilek's gender reassignment surgery using taxpayer money.
Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown agree that this is a strange use of taxpayer dollars. I guess the parties can agree on some things.
So, to summarize:
If you're poor, unemployed, and don't have health insurance you can die in a gutter from pneumonia.
If you murder your wife, the state will buy you a shiny new vagina.
Or, said another way: Murders > Poor People