Saturday, June 5, 2010

What Biology did not teach me about Human Sexual Make up.

I am sure I am not the first person writing on the curriculum of Biology in secondary schools, but since I have a personal experience growing up in Africa, there are certain things that Biology has taught me that are not true, and many things biology has failed to teach me.

As I grow older, I discover many things in life that I never learnt in class, and those things I was taught, that either never existed, or existed but was taught wrongly. This distorted information helped in shaping my ideology as a young man, and formed many erroneous view I had, it became the standard for my believe and relationship with people and things around me. So to finally discover that almost all the things I spent 6 years of my life learning was either false, or half true and that I have to start unlearning them, was a big task for me.

I am very sure many of you can see yourself in this picture, and have to go back to the classroom of life and social interaction to unlearn many things and start learning many things, most often than not, it is always after making a big mistake or taken a big wrong step.

For instance, on the issue of human sexuality, I was taught in my youth that the world is made of "Man" and "Woman", and that man and woman will meet and have sex and have babies, and that anyone who does not conform to the ideal of man and woman is biological deformed and needs help, and that includes people that self identifies as either Gay, Lesbian, Transgender or Inter-sex.

Another is the issue of "Hermaphrodite" in contrast to "Inter-sex". As a teenager growing up, I was taught that people with both sexes are biologically deformed, needs help and most times they do not live long into old age. Also biology taught me that it is a serious medical condition that needs instant intervention. Biology taught me that the make up of the body of a girl is different from that of a boy, and that is it not possible for a boy to have biological make up of a girl, and for this reason the whole concept of "Trangenderism" is an ideology that violates the order of nature and so should not be encourage.

But as I grow older and discover things for myself, I realise that most of this things is either false or half true, and that this has formed the basis for hatred, violence and discriminations, and not necessarily religion, as many has suggested (mind you I am one of the most antagonist of religious institutions)

On of the issue of Trans, I was fortunate enough to attend the first International congress on Gender Identity and Human rights in Barcelona in June 2010. In as much as it sounded that I was invading other people's safe space, I was exposed to a world I have never been before. I saw things and heard things I would never have seen or heard in my life.

Prior to my trip to Barcelona, I have many friends who are Trans and in the private of my room, I have asked myself questions about Trans people and the desire behind transiting, but I have never been bold enough to call on my friends to explain certain things to me. Not because I do not want to ask, but I was wondering, how can a man want to turn to a woman, why will someone want to go through such pain to do that, or why would a woman wants to transit.

As a gay man, I have enough troubles being gay, black and African, and these further complicate the views I have about Trans people. But being in the audience in Barcelona, listening to Trans people talking, and sharing their journey through life, I felt ashamed of my ignorance, this ignorance was not based on my inability to learn, but on what I was taught in Biology class.

I heard about Hormones, pathology, electric shock, correctional counselling. I heard the story of survival, sex works and the pain of living in a body that is not yours, looking at gentiles that do not represent you, and the burden of having to live your life in falsehood. I started to question biology teachings of man and woman, and specific human make up based on gender at birth, and the actual gender of the person.

There is also the issue gender binary of man and woman, and the exclusion of people who do not self identifies as one, either a man or a woman. There is also the discrimination on the basis that you have to be either LGB, or Straight, and then even within the LGB, the issues affect the T and I are left for the dogs.

I also had the opportunity to attend the session on Inter-sex, where for the first time in my life, I came face to face with people who are inter-sex and listened to their horrible childhood experience. I heard about the killing of inter-sex people in Africa, and the discrimination they faced in the LGB movement, I listen to advocates sharing their journey through life and the pains of denial of full sexual empowerment based on fear and hatred.

The painful thing is, it has taken me 35 years to understand the diversity in Human sexual make up, and finally when I learnt about it, it was a shock that will have to stay with me for a long time. If only when I was young and innocent, Biology has taught me all this, and not only me, but many other young people like me, maybe then, there wont be so much hatred in the world, religion will not have the power to manipulate us, and maybe, just maybe, many people that have committed suicides and gone into drug use as a reprival would have had a different life now.

Maybe there wont have been that debate for a "Gender Neutral Toilet", maybe everyone that wants to transit can do so with enough empowerment, maybe Inter-sex people can have the power to decide what is best for them.

Maybe, just Maybe.............

Today, I challenge the Human Sexual make up as proposed by Biology, I expand my knowledge of Human and Humanity and though I have to break my bank to be able to be in Barcelona, it was a trip worth taking.