Transgender people serve in US military at a rate double the general population


#1

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#2

It's unfair that some call these people "deviants" just for being born the way they are. We have to change this.


#3

I'd wager that no small part of this is due to people in crisis buying into the old "it'll make a man of you!" image surrounding the military.


#4

Or, perhaps, is it unfair to treat deviations from a norm as deserving censure? Lots of deviants are interesting, moral people.

Long ago people in the USA stopped calling epileptics "spastics" because the term was being used in derision and disapprobation. Nothing got any better for the changing of the name, it just made communication less efficient.

Edit: "spastic" referred to cerebral palsy, not epilepsy. Thanks to Girard for the correction!


#5

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#6

Really? I thought spastic was still okay in the US.

See the time Tiger Woods said he putted like a spaz, to general British disapproval and no criticism in the US.

In the UK the cerebral palsy charity The Spastics Society tried to get away from spaz being used as an offensive term by renaming themselves Scope. I believe that scopies became the alternative insult.


#7

Citation needed.

Not trying to be offensive here, just trying to be a good scientist. We're not talking biologically intersexed people, we're talking transgendered people, and gender is something of an artificial construct. To make an absolute assertion that this kind of behavior is innate seems entirely premature, as, to my knowledge, this topic has not yet been subjected to rigorous scientific inquiry.


#8

The military and the clergy used to both be common places for those who didn't fit the norm to go, in part because through either rules (in the case of clergy) or through distance (in the case of the military) there wasn't the same kind of pressure to be married with children that one in more close-to-home, mainstream occupations would have.

As having a large, standing, peacetime, domestic army is a fairly new phenomenon, that's probably affected this.


#9

I wonder, sometimes, if widespread simple acceptance that some people struggle with gender identity would actually help some of those with that struggle be more comfortable with themselves, and if demonization of the very notion is itself a self-fulfilling process for many people.


#10

Medievalist is wrong on a few counts ('spastic' doesn't refer to epilepsy, rather to cerebral palsy).

The term is inoffensive in the US, largely because it has no relation to disability there and is a gentle pejorative along the same lines as 'nerd' or 'dweeb.' Conversely, in the UK, where spastic still relates to cerebral palsy (major charities still using the term in their name until the 90s or so, like The Spastics Society), 'spaz' is a genuinely offensive, insensitive insult more along the lines of 'retard.'


#11

So. . Eddie Izzard is . . . even MORE brilliant?

"So what could be more surprising . . . than the first battalion transvestite brigade?" - Eddie


#12

It's like the whole Military x Homosexuality thing again. Where do people think the whole "Hey, Sailor!" thing comes from? When gay men had trouble fitting into normal life in decades past, they could always join the Navy. The same is true for anyone who has such difficulties.

We like to think of military organizations as only drawing macho badass elite super warrior types, but they have a very long history of drawing the washouts, the undesireables, and the deviants. It doesn't matter who you like to sleep with or what clothes you like to wear in your free time so long as you're willing to wear a uniform and point a gun at some poor bastard on "the other side" when told to do so.

Hell, look at the French Foreign Legion! An almost legendary military unit known for their daring and skill, historically comprised of criminals and foreigners who were otherwise deemed unfit for citizenship in France. It didn't matter if you were a smuggler or a thief from Greece or Morroco, you could sign on to the Legion, do France's dirty work, and if you survived eventually be made a French citizen. The same is largely true even today.


#13

I maintain that Eddie Izzard has always been more brilliant than anyone has yet managed to realize.


#14

This right here is why my desk has a faceprint in it.

Normally I love the comments here at Boing Boing. I feel it is filled with great thoughtful people. However, something about transgender as a topic seems to bring out a lot of ignorance.

Try googling transgender 101. There is a helluva lot of information out there. Good information. If you want it, you can find it.


#15

The soul is also something of an artificial construct. I can imagine why you'd have a hard time with gender. PS, i don't believe you weren't trying to be offensive.


#16

I would imagine that ignorance is the norm for people discussing gender at this point in history, and I would argue that it should be expected and taken in stride, rather than condescendingly insulted or dismissed.

That said, I'm afraid that I don't understand your implications. You seem to be suggesting I am somehow ignorant of the issue at hand, merely because I cautioned against making sweeping generalizations about the nature of human behavior, biology, and psychology?

I stand by my statements. Gender is a almsot certainly a cultural construct, and I have seen no compelling evidence to suggest that it is in any way innate or intrinsic, or that one can be "born" gendered one way or another. And I can assure you, I have not failed to look for such evidence.

Now, I admit, I am predisposed to be biased against any argumentation for any human quality or behavior being "innate". Too often have I seen such reasoning historically employed for unwholesome or nefarious agendas.

Racism was practically built entirely on the notion of innate human qualities - that certain people were born "better" or "purer" or for different "purposes" than other. Proponents of racism would insist upon how one group of people was "born" to be disenfranchised and exploited by another, which was in turn "born" to rule over the first. Or perhaps that one "race" was "innately" wicked, or stupid, or violent, or what have you.

Sexism also long enjoyed bandying about this line of thinking. Women were believed to be "innately" timid, weak, unintelligent, subservient, emotional, and all the rest. They were "born" to be meek and unempowered, while men were "born" to control every aspect of their lives. Some people today still believe this nonsense.

So when someone tells me that people are "born" homosexuals, or "born" transgenders, or "born" anything at all that isn't a physiological trait that has been proven to be linked to certain genetic encodings, I am inclined to disbelieve them outright.

You may call that ignorance if you wish, and rightly so. I do not know the exact origins of transgendered behavior within individuals, any more than I know the exact origins of the universe. But at the same time, neither does anyone else.

Consequently, when someone tells me that such-and-such deity created the universe in such-and-such way, I remind them that they cannot possibly know that, that they have no evidence other than personal feeling or "faith" to support that statement, and that I find their argument to be irrational and empirically lacking. The same goes for statements about people being "born" transgendered, or "born" communist, or "born" muslim, or "born" with an innate appreciation of baroque architecture.


#17

You are correct - souls are, based entirely on empirical evidence, a fabrication. There is no rational evidence to suggest that they exist. Rather, the concept of souls is entirely the product of feeling and conjecture, shaped by various cultural influences such as Classical understandings of the nature of the universe.

I'm sorry that you don't believe me, but I suppose I have no means to convince you otherwise. You seem to be taking offense to the fact that I am insisting upon rational, evidence based discussion of the topic at hand as opposed to faith-based commentary.


#18

I'd wager that no small part of this is due to people in crisis buying into the old "it'll make a man of you!" image surrounding the military.

More likely it's because transgender people need large amounts of money if they are going to get gender reassignment treatment or surgery, and many of them have few other well-paid career options.

I believe transgender people are also much more likely than the general population to end up as sex workers, for the same reason.


#19

I think the only real issue was in phrasing. .

Totally true, but those terms carry more negative connotations, and there is also 'those who feel they don't fit in typical society and are at least hoping for something that's focused more on what they do then who they are'.

From a logical standpoint, I totally get where you're coming from, but it'd have been easy to read that phrase and interpret it as if you were associating trasngender people with a negative connotation. I would've twinged a bit myself if you also weren't an Eddie Izzard fan!

Text communication sucks sometimes!


#20

Indeed. Maybe I need to use more smileys. stuck_out_tongue