Discourse

Women have the right to name their bodies

Mentioning women's body parts to the people who have those body parts is considered psychological damaging. This is a far cry from the medical advocacy undertaken by the feminist movement.
Libby Emmons
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY
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The trend in trans gender ideology has moved from the concept that biological men who identify as transgender should be offered the same allowances and protections as biological women to the notion that they are actually biological women. That belief is now echoed across politics, policy, and even medicine.

Transgender activists now push for the definition of "woman" to include "a biological male who identifies as transgender and presents as a woman." We've seen this, and we've been witness to the debate. It appeared at first to be rhetorical, as though the idea was that we should all say that biological males who identify as transgender are women, even though we knew that there were essential, innate differences between males and females. Differences that, even for surgical medicine, were insurmountable.

The idea was that we were supposed to show compassion for these individuals, and should do so in an organized way wherein those individuals have what they need, and biological women also have what they need. Now we are at a point where the very concept of what a woman or man is has been adulterated to include its opposite, and those reproductive realities that belong to women are being said to belong to men.

A Labour MP in the UK, Emily Thornberry, has said outright that "there are men who have cervixes, there are men who are trans, and they're men."

What Thornberry meant was that there are biological women who identify as transgender and still have their reproductive organs, including a cervix. But instead of saying that these persons who have cervixes are women, with all the reproductive organs that come with that definition, she says that "there are men who have cervixes."

Thornberry is just one of many politicians, in the UK, US, Canada, and elsewhere, that have made these claims. The Biden administration has gone so far as to say, in policy, that women are "birthing persons." Though officials then find it hard to define what constitutes a "birthing person."

A cervix is the lower part of the uterus, and is part of the female reproductive system. Cervical cancer is a particularly deadly kind of cancer and is often fatal. That form of cancer has been found to be associated with a sexually transmitted disease called HPV. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms of cervical cancer include "vaginal bleeding after intercourse, between periods, or after menopause; watery, bloody vaginal discharge that may be heavy and have a foul odor; and pelvic pain or pain during intercourse."

For Thornberry, undoubtedly, there must be men with vaginas and periods who could experience these symptoms after vaginal intercourse. According to her logic, these men who have organs that belong to female reproductive systems have male vaginas, male uteruses, male menstrual periods, male menopause, etc.

It would stand to reason, then, that these men who have these female reproductive organs would be attended to by doctors who have an understanding of those reproductive systems, whether those patients who have female bodies and need medical attention identify themselves as male or female.

What happens when a person who has a body that is sexed in a way that is opposite from how they look or feel is confronted with the reality of that body in a doctor's office? According to some doctors, such as Sydney Children's Hospitals Network Dr. Lauren Chong, no one should have to be faced with their biological reality—even when that biology is exactly what is being discussed.

Chong told The New York Times that "There's currently such a huge disconnect between health care providers and trans youth." Chong suggested that to remedy this problem, "In the examination room, doctors and attendants should use gender-neutral terminology and avoid terms like 'ovaries' and 'uterus.'"

"You can just say reproductive organs," Chong said.

What is happening here, whether from the perspective of the activist, such as Emily Gorcenski, who told Twitter followers, "As a transgender woman, I am biologically female," following it up with a threat to those biological women who disagree, or from the view of a Labour MP, or even from a doctor who supposedly has an understanding of the human body, is that women's bodies and their composition are now offensive and dangerous.

Mentioning women's body parts to the people who have those body parts is considered psychological damaging. This is a far cry from the medical advocacy undertaken by the feminist movement.

Philosophically, politically, and physically, women's bodies are now professed to have nothing in common with actually being female, according to these dictates. The question becomes: Does this help women? Does it help biological men who identify as transgender? Does it help biological women who identify as transgender? Is it the right, moral, and just thing to do to encourage a patient, or a constituent, to be mentally separated from a realistic understanding of their bodies?

When I was in my 20s, I had a polyp on my cervix. I know this because I went to my gynecologist, and during a regular exam, it was discovered. There were concerns that this might be a bigger issue, and surgery was scheduled. I could barely say the word cervix, and even now, many years later, I can barely believe I am writing down the word cervix in relation to myself for the purpose of publication.

In the exam room, I could hardly even discuss it with my doctor. The mention of the word cervix made me feel faint. The entire undertaking seemed horrifying to me, embarrassing, strange, unpleasant; I would rather she had said anything other than cervix, covered it over somehow, made it disappear. I didn't want to mention the cervix, I didn't want to know where it was, and I certainly didn't want to talk about it, or the rest of my reproductive reality, with anyone, even with my doctor in a private exam room.

My doctor sensed my hesitancy. She took me by the shoulders and looked at me hard. "This is your body," she said. "You need to know how it works. You need to know what your body parts are called. Your cervix is part of you, just like your arms. There's nothing shameful about it, or you, or your body."

It felt like she had splashed cold water on my face. I remember the feeling distinctly.

I didn't want anything to do with my reproductive system, I didn't want the responsibility for it, or the consequences of it. But it was mine, and I had to own it, for the good of my own health and my own well-being. It was my doctor who made this plain to me. If I hadn't listened to what my doctor was saying about, well, my cervix, my body, my reproductive system, and understood what was at stake, I would have been in medical peril.

For decades, women, specifically women, were separated psychologically from the medical reality of their bodies. When giving birth, there would often be a sheet placed between the lower half of a woman's body and the upper half so that she didn't have to witness birth—even though she was the one giving birth. Women didn't talk about their periods, or menopause, or sexually transmitted diseases, or even sex, leaving many women completely confused as to what was happening to them at the reproductive stages of their lives.

It was a medical revolution, spurred on by feminists, that made it possible for women to discuss these matters openly, and for female reproductive organs to be named without stigma. "Vagina" was once such a taboo term, considered gross, or unmentionable, along with so many other terms for the parts of a woman's reproductive systems. Then, for a glorious moment, feminists grabbed the medical community by the shoulders and said, "These are our bodies and we get to speak about them!"

Now, under dictates of compassion and inclusivity, women's body parts are unmentionable again. When terms are used to reference women's bodies, we hear that these parts of bodies belong to men, or should not be used because there are some women, trans women, who do not have them and therefore feel left out of the conversation about women's bodies. Now we hear that for biological women who identify as transgender, these terms of reproductive system identification are unpalatable and too horrifying to be uttered, because it reminds them that they have these body parts in the first place.

We have the language to speak about our bodies, and we only just got permission to use it. Women's lives depend on not giving up the language we use to identify and describe being female just to make men feel okay about not being women, whether they have cervixes or not.

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