Sally is a girl, same as she was at birth; Harry is a boy; Alex is …. other! There are people who identify with an inner gender identity different from the sex of their body, who feel differently in their inner self than they feel outwardly.
Modern culture is baffled by gender politics, especially poignant with regard to gender confusion in young and adult sexual identity. There is no clarity as to what is gender identity and what is sexual identity. Transgender people manifest cross-gender identity, often arising in childhood, feeling born the wrong sex, at the wrong end of the binary nature of human sexuality.
The vexed issue of sexuality swirls in the unending flux of casual imagery from mass media and literature’s preoccupation with traducing the supreme holding operation of love to base passions and sexualising young people’s lives from an earlier and earlier age.
Gender identity divides opinion into those who believe it is a matter of lifestyle choice or early influence and others who think people are ‘born that way’, that is, as a heterosexual, homosexual, transgender, and so on. There is no convergence between objectivity of science and social rhetorical conventions on the origins of human sexual identity. It is unclear whether the sexual disposition is an innate biological dispensation or acquired in response to convention, is consequent on a personal freedom of decision, and whether beyond being transitional it is a fixed natural disposition that cannot be changed and is predestined. Evolved transformations of social attitudes that strain the constraints of our moral vision still want to hold solace within the perspective of apparent certainties.
[This is the first part of this essay; the next instalment appears in the next issue of Pearl Magazine.]
By Jide Adefope
Society at large rightly concludes that the consistent call of nature for human sexuality is a binary alignment and men and women are naturally disposed to think and act respectively in masculine and feminine ways. The obverse is a gut rejection of same sex alignment or other variants of human sexuality as a plea without a natural narrative to guide society in adjusting.
However measured the social attitude or life made more or less difficult for transgender folks today, compared with the strength of intolerance of old that forced many to deny real feelings of an inner incongruity and retreat into a shadowy double life of confused and suppressed emotions, the social morals and ethics are still challenging to an urge viewed as vying for intensity in the drift of disordered and relativist thinking.
One vision sees the tidal surge of gender confusion as a threat to the nuclear family structure in the atmosphere of relaxed sexual mores. An opposing vision sees a naturalness of transgender identity and more than a matter of freewheeling, narcissistic lifestyle choice, in fact an accident of birth and, like left-handedness, a part of our biology and issuing from the force of circumstances beyond self-control.
The transgender condition is a very present human saga, while the toned-down discomfort of society tussles against intuitive unease. The abhorrence subsists in some people from its theological attribution to sin. Such uneasy conscience would be better salved by an illuminated understanding before passing judgment in a world which often falls far short of the ideal and in which a lot of people live lives of characterless contradictions. The entire essence of personhood can no more be exhausted in the sexual imperative than the clothe can totally define a person. Yet the appeal to caution is not to nail the moral colours to the mast. To court moral indifference or apathy, to chance at the crossroads of moral equivocation or charitable cowardice would be to court peril.
On body and soul
THE MYSTERIES SURROUNDING sexuality arise in the turmoil of profundities of our inner life that touch upon the spiritual core of being. The transgender person is caught in flashpoints in the trajectory of the flak of polemics erupting from fiery passions of surly ignorance and fresh uncertainties thrown up time and again about gender and sexual identity.
To clarify the vexed issue of sexual and gender identity we need to dispense with preconceptions such as that the development of gender in form and identity has all to do with family and social dynamics or biological fixes. Gender cannot be defined one-sidedly within the conventions of a purely mundane social order, especially those which go against the grain of the natural rhythm, but is anchored fundamentally in developments out of the spiritual core of the human being.
The conceptions of male and female, like masculine and feminine identities, actually vibrate to the nature of the predominant activity of the spirit core. The human spirit, the very core of our being, issues from its sphere of origin as an unconscious spark, propelled by its own urge for conscious development. Descending to the lower-lying material spheres and taking on cloaks of the consistency of each plane, the nature of activity to which the spirit spark gravitates, bestirred by assailing influences and impressions, determines its substantive form and gender. This is its first and permanently binding awakening resolve at the start of its wandering. It may choose to strive in a delicately perceptive manner or the more earthily active direction in seeking to develop its ideal potential on the road towards becoming personally conscious.
Male and female human forms pertain to the chosen nature of spiritual activity. In the course of becoming conscious the spirit spark awakening in its cloak, like a flower developing in a bud, is able to take on the familiar human form that is coarsely represented by the body on earth. The human form accords with the nature of the inner activity. The worth or value of a creature in the cosmos hangs on the quality of its activity, the nature of which is one with the gender. Although the human form is a cosmic attribute of consciousness, it does not archetypally originate with the human spirit. [continued]
[The second part of this essay appears in the next issue of Pearl Magazine.]