Transgender People-- A Tribute With Love To My Dear Friend Jack, Then Jane, In Graduate School.
-by Melody Siegler
One of my best friends in graduate school was Jack. He was a serious scientist-- an accomplished scientist-- way more accomplished in his field than most graduate students of our cadre in Biology. Also, he was amazingly expert in old music, old 45s. And, who knows what else. He related well to everyone in the Department. And, he was always wonderful company.
Jack had a health problem-- he had been born with various defective heart valves. But, by some miracle, these defects compensated for each other. Not completely though-- whenever we went somewhere that involved going outside, he had to wear a hat and warm clothing, even in California. I could see him turning blue, because his heart didn’t pump enough so that the hemoglobin-oxygen combination (to make blood red) took to circulate through his system, especially if he exerted himself in any way whatsoever.
Jack was maybe 29, the last time I saw him at UCSC. I went off to England for a post-doc. And this was in the days before the “internet” and “email.” So I lost touch with him.
I came back to visit friends in Santa Cruz, maybe two years later. Both were in the Biology Department-- one a professor, and the other a graduate student. Jack had died because of his heart problems.
But, there was a lot more to the story. In my absence, Jack had “realized” or at least declared that he was transgender. I put “realized” in quotes, because I now know that transgender people most often experience “gender dysphoria” from the get-go. Right out of the womb. But, this was not a time where this was known or recognized.
Jack, while I was away, became Jane. He started dressing as a female. Wearing make-up. There were some unisex bathrooms in the Biology Department, so I doubt that he ever committed the terrible sin of using a “F” bathroom. But, she, Jane, was shunned and reviled by members of the Biology Department, including faculty members. This was UCSC. This was Santa Cruz in the ‘70s. Where one faculty member regularly smoked dope while doing his biochemical assays. He went on to become the only Bio faculty member to be appointed to the National Academy of Science, a high honor indeed. pparently he was horrified by Jack’s change to Jane. Yes, rumor, but believable.
I won’t go into all the scientific research I’ve done since about transgender people, and why they are transgender. The present evidence overwhelmingly strong that this is biological (not genetic) conditions at some point in the womb, in utero, that changes their development as to gender identity. And, given that my friend Jack-- then Jane-- was born with multiple heart defects, well… draw your own conclusions.
I now draw your attention to a recent HuffPost piece:
Here’s A Fact-Check On Milo Yiannopoulos’ Incendiary Claims About Trans People
1. Transgender people are not ‘confused’ about their ‘sexual identity’
2. Transgender people do not suffer from a psychiatric disorder
3. Transgender people are not “disproportionately involved” in sex crimes
4. Transgender people are the ones harassed and discriminated against in restrooms
5. Transgender people face shockingly high levels of sexual abuse and assault
6. Trans people using restrooms corresponding with their gender identity doesn’t allow predators to gain access to those venues
7. Transgender people just want to use a bathroom and leave-- just like everyone else.
In closing, the level of ignorance about transgender people makes me weep.
I saw this online as a moderator at FDL during the ENDA debate. (Where the Human Rights Campaign saw fit to NOT support trans people. And, even more recently in messages on a college list-serve I am on.
I makes me weep for my dear friend Jane, and every transgender person.
Yesterday, the Trump Regime signaled what we all feared was coming, that the Trumpists are about to reverse the federal government's progressive policy on transgender rights, an area where Obama had made tremendous strides in recognizing equal rights.
Ever since Ted Cruz burned him badly-- see video up top-- Trump has been obsessed with federal guidance to public schools going back almost a year ago that transgender students be allowed to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. Yesterday the Regime's flack, Sean Spicer, said this is a matter for the states, not for the federal government: "All you have to do is look at what the president's view has been for a long time, that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in, that this is a states' rights issue." He warned that Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos, the two vicious bigots running the Justice Department and Department of Education would be sending out new guidance. It seems likely that one day the enablers of Trumpist policy will face Justice; just add this to the list.