One thing that the brouhaha over the murder of Jeffrey Laude (allegedly by Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton of the United States Marine Corps) revealed is that Filipino transgenders live in legal limbo in the Philippines. No less than the Philippine Supreme Court is reportedly “confused” over how to regard them. The publisher of that report the Inquirer.net, in contrast, refers to Laude as a “she” in the spirit of the Associated Press Stylebook which prescribes the use of the “pronoun preferred by the individuals who have acquired the physical characteristics of the opposite sex or present themselves in a way that does not correspond with their sex at birth.”As can be noted above, political-correctness demands the use of many words to articulate its principles. But it is often the principles that require the least words that are usually the most likely to be sound. And when it comes to gender, you only need two letters that represent DNA strands to settle the issue — X and Y. The elegant simplicity of the way science defines gender has, of course, not stopped human society from adding a layer of unnecessary complexity on top of it.
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This cultural conceptual layer has grown resonant among “progressives” in recent years to the point that male transgenders have gone as far as demanding that they be included as contestants in female beauty contests. In 2012, they had convinced no less than Donald Trump, owner of the Miss Universe Organization (MUO) to consider this proposal. A rule requiring contestants to be “naturally born” human females was originally applied by the MUO. But LGBT activist criticised this as being “an antiquated rule grounded in prejudice, fear and stereotypes”. Some of these activists asserted that the Miss Universe contest is a beauty contest and “not a vagina contest” (transgenders do have a vagina of course, a man-made one perhaps, but a vagina nonetheless).
[NB: Incidentally, this makes for interesting political “debate” when one considers how Philippine Senator Miriam Santiago once insisted that the next president of the Philippines should have a vagina.]
Technically, however, the surgical procedures involved in sex change are cosmetic and highly-intrusive, requiring a lifetime of maintenance. Consider then what transgenders and/or transsexuals have to go through to achieve this feat of anatomical re-engineering.
When changing anatomical sex from male to female, the testicles are removed and the skin of foreskin and penis is usually inverted, as a flap preserving blood and nerve supplies to form a fully sensitive vagina (vaginoplasty). A clitoris fully supplied with nerve endings (innervated) can be formed from part of the glans of the penis. If the patient has been circumcised (removal of the foreskin), or if the surgeon’s technique uses more skin in the formation of the labia minora, the pubic hair follicles are removed from some of the scrotal tissue, which is then incorporated by the surgeon within the vagina. Other scrotal tissue forms the labia majora.
Results may vary. However, in the best cases, when recovery from surgery is complete, it is often very difficult for anyone, including gynecologists, to detect that someone has undergone vaginoplasty. Because the human body treats the new vagina as a wound, however, any current technique of vaginoplasty requires some long-term maintenance of volume (vaginal dilation), by the patient, using medical graduated dilators, dildos, or suitable substitutes, to keep the vagina open. It is very important to note that sexual intercourse is not always an adequate method of performing dilation.
There wouldn’t be much point to the surgical changes performed on sexual organs unless other aspects of the person are modified to resemble the female anatomy — specifically aspects of it that weigh heavily on attracting heterosexual males. Facial feminization surgery (FFS) is a set of reconstructive surgical procedures that alter typically male facial features to bring them closer in shape and size to typical female facial features. FFS can include includes various bony and soft tissue procedures such as brow lift, rhinoplasty, cheek implantation, and lip augmentation. Breast implantations is the enlargement of breasts, which some trans women choose if hormone therapy does not yield satisfactory results. Some individuals may elect to have voice surgery altering the range or pitch of the person’s vocal cords. Tracheal shaves are also sometimes used to reduce the cartilage in the area of the throat to conform to more feminine dimensions, to greatly reduce the appearance of an Adam’s apple. Because male hips and buttocks are generally smaller than those of a female, some MTF individuals will choose to undergo buttock augmentation.
In short, most transgenders males not only want to become a woman, they want to become one that is attractive to heterosexual men.
But what exactly is feminine beauty from the perspective of the average red-blooded straight male? The best way to explore the implications of this question is to understand why the notion of feminine beauty exists to begin with. In other words, why do heterosexual men take certain specific qualities in a woman as bases for determining how “beautiful” she is? Why, for example are men generally attracted to women who sport long thick shiny hair, smooth soft skin, a slender waist, proportionately broad hips, full lips, full breasts, and facial symmetry among others? All of these qualities seem to offer no significant survival advantage in the wild (i.e. a “beautiful” individual is not necessarily more adept at acquiring food or evading predators than an “ugly” individual). So they obviously evolved and survived natural selection because they offered individuals that possessed these features an advantage when it comes to attracting sexual partners (which is a key step to propagating one’s genes).
Many of the “beautiful” qualities highlighted in beauty contests involving females are fitness indicators. Heterosexual human males have evolved a finely-tuned mate selection mechanism that carefully evaluates prospects on the basis of these — and many of these aim to send out one primary message: this specimen is fertile and healthy!! And because youth is a big determinant of female fertility, many of these fitness indicators are reliable gauges of youthfulness. Indeed, it is mainly most of these that tend to degrade most quickly with age — most prominently the luster of hair, the fullness of lips, and the suppleness of skin. So, unsurprisingly, much of the products hawked by the beauty industry centres around these three main features that strongly determine female “beauty” in the eyes of heterosexual men.
In short, beauty is not in the eye of the beholder, but in the survival agenda of our unique individual DNA sequence.
Thus, one cannot deny that beauty pageants are won on the basis of standards set by what human heterosexual males have been programmed by tens of thousands of years of evolution to find “beautiful” in human females. It is for this simple reason that the highlight of the Miss Universe pageant — and most other conventional beauty pageants for that matter — is the swimsuit competition portion of the contest. After all, when else is the executive summary of the mating call (and fertility advertising) of each contestant most evident than when there is not much on to degrade the signals being sent out by the candidates’ fitness indicators?
This reality of the human species has created the multi-billion-dollar beauty and cosmetic surgery industry. Unfortunately it has also created an entire community of individuals who use modern technology to artificially enhance — and even completely alter — their appearance for the purpose of circumventing natural selection.
[NB: Parts of this article were lifted off the Wikipedia.org articles “Sex reassignment surgery (male-to-female)” and “Facial feminization surgery” and used in accordance with that site’s Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License consistent with the same license applied by Get Real Post to its content. Photo courtesy The Guardian UK.]
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.