Sure, because a "Fact" is simply Unquestionable
It is a well known “fact” in American Society that the categories that are woman and man respectively correspond to their feminine and masculine gender categories. But what happens when this so called “fact” is blurred by individuals that do not fit into the sex category they are “born” into? What happens when one is born male, XY chromosomes and all, but develops as a female because the “XY embryo doesn’t respond to the crucial hormones that tell the penis and scrotum to form?” (Sophie Moura 1). How is that person supposed to be seen in terms of gender? Does this well established “fact” suddenly become a lie? Do females who always thought they were feminine, due to their reproductive organs and ability to bear children, suddenly become ambiguous in the eyes of society? The sex/gender binary which is greatly deep-rooted in societies around the world becomes oxymoronic in that it “paradoxically reveals its constructedness, its fragility, its revisability; in short, it’s “fictionality” (Serendip).
It becomes clear, with the uprising of sex and gender “deviants”, that there is a variety of sexes that range far beyond the “normal” man and woman. Throughout history we have seen countless people get ignored and deemed abnormal for the sake of maintaining a structure that states that “science reveals the Truth about Nature” (Ruth Hubbard 157). Truth here, meaning an unquestionable “fact”. As a society we are so engrained in tradition so much that we fail to realize that the “binary concept does not reflect biological reality. Biologist Anne Fausto-Sterling estimates that approximately 1 or 2 percent of children are born with mixed or ambiguous characteristics…” (Hubbard 158). Katie Bratz a woman who was born having androgen insensitivity syndrome, or AIS, is but only one example of people in societies around the world that cannot clearly check off that female box on the application despite the fact that she might think of herself as such. Katie was born male according to her chromosomes and gonads, but “…developed as a girl, with a clitoris and vulva” (Moura 1). Katie spent her childhood and adolescent stages of life trying to get “validation” (Moura 2) for a body she felt “betrayed” (Moura 2) her. This feeling can be seen as having been derived from the culture we so greatly bind ourselves to in order to explain what surrounds us.
“AIS affects one in 20,000 people, but disorders of sex development occur in one in 2,000 babies, so issues like this are more common than you’d think”(Moura 3). In past times, AIS and other so called sex disorders were very common. However, because doctors viewed sex and gender through binary spectacles, they surgically assigned babies with a sex and gender believing that “following that course…would eliminate psychological distress for both the patient and the parents;”… “Through surgery, the physicians were merely completing nature’s intention” (Anne Fausto-Sterling 20). What sex a person became was totally dependent on two things 1) the physicians opinion and 2) whether they thought the child would “be more successful in producing a girl or a boy” in terms of both psyche and body. What doctors failed to realize however, is that their decision depends wholly upon a socially constructed idea. In actuality, babies are not “cured” forever for they still maintain a chance of rejecting the sex and gender imposed on them. “As recently chronicled by John Colapinto, in his book As Nature Made him, Joan—now known to be an adult male named David Reimer— eventually rejected his female assignment. Even without a functioning penis and testes (which had been removed as part of the reassignment) John/Joan sought masculinizing medication, and married a woman with children (whom he adopted)” (Fausto-Sterling21). It is cases like that of Katie and David’s that depict the varying degrees of being male, female, masculine, and feminine and thus distort the “fact” of being a woman or man.
Cases like the ones mentioned depict the disconnection between “fact” and “fiction,” in that they illustrate how it is that what we believe to be “fact” may just be an illusion that we construct in order to categorize the world which surrounds us. I guess in the end, the notion of “fact” is just that, a notion. “Fact” is not something that is there but it is what it is to every individual person. “Fact” is “fiction” and “fiction” is “fact”; they are one in the same; every individual determines what it is for them. As a society we just gather what the majority thinks is not “fact” but rather common, and turn it into an unquestionable straight out fact, or at least we try. According to David Shield’s Reality Hunger: a Manifesto, if facts are constructions, we should “emphasize on their common sources and begin thinking about how to reconceive property as a shared source rather than as an individual creation” (Serendip). In other words instead of thinking as sex and gender as well defined and discrete categories, as belonging to particular individuals, think of these phenomenon as a shared source that any person can maintain from birth. Therefore, instead of declaring that sex and gender are questions of which there could only be one answer, let us declare that sex and gender can be grouped together in different ways without them being manipulated by a social construct.
“The time is ripe for physicians and scientists also to remove their binary spectacles and, rather than explore what it means to be ‘male’ or ‘female,’ look into what it means to be neither as or both…”(Hubbard 164). The times I right for all people to change their perspective on sex and gender. Although some may see sex and gender categories as crucial to the structure, for even I can agree that categories are needed in most cases, such as foods, for people it is not. The limits that are inevitably enabled by categories ignore those that do not fit within the boundaries and consequently negatively affect other structures within societies, such as that of the education structure, by neglecting the children that cannot respond to the teacher because they are not considered girls or boys. When it comes to the human being there is no limit to what or who what we are, thus, the “fact” about sex and gender is that there is none.
Fausto-Sterling, Anne. “The five sexes, revisited”. Sciences; Jul/Aug 2000; 40, 4; Research
Library pg. 18-23.
Hubbark, Ruth. “Gender and Genitals: Constructs of Sex and Gender”. Social Text, NO. 46/47,
Science Wars (Spring-Summer, 1996). pp. 157-165. Duke University Press.
Moura, Sophie. “I’m a woman with Male Chormosomes”. marie claire.
“Towards Day 5: Having Fun @ Home”. Non-Fictional Prose Course. 9/9/2010