The right to gender identity
The 21st century has put a paradoxical spin on the saying, “everything isn’t always black and white.” Adding several layers of nuances, change triggered by a deeper appreciation for human rights and freedoms has allowed many of us to colour far outside the line. Most of these changes encircle sex and the way individuals are allowed to express themselves. Affected by shifting social views, enhanced principles of individuality, and science and technology, some of these changes are embraced while others are viewed as man’s need to play God.
A 2020 report by the World Health Organisation said 200 million girls and women were victims of female genital mutilation. These procedures involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injuries to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Often viewed as a tool of control, female genital mutilation is used to prevent wives from having desires of sex and seek men other than their husbands.
Female genital mutilation is internationally recognised as a violation of the human rights of girls and women. It reflects deep-rooted inequality between the sexes, and constitutes an extreme form of discrimination against women. Although this form of torture isn’t common in the western world there are reported cases in the United Kingdom, Canada and the US. What’s troubling about this torturous act is that it could be happening right under our noses. To tackle this potential ill, section 9 of the Children’s Act Chapter 46:01 makes female genital mutilation an offence for which the penalty is imprisonment for 20 years.
The LGBTQ community is no stranger to the modern world. Locally, the case of Jason Jones caused a significant stir and etched an indelible mark on our legal system. Even though many are willing to turn a blind eye, most are hesitant to accept “the born this way” argument regarding transgender individuals. At birth, we are classed as either male or female based on set scientific standards. Some people, however, feel the sex they were assigned at birth doesn’t match their gender identity.
Transgender individuals express their gender identities in many different ways, ranging from dress to behaviour. Others push the envelope and claim their true identity by taking hormones and undergoing surgical procedures to change their body.
In Argentina, Article 1 of the Gender Identity Law allows individuals the right to gender identity. It states that all persons have the right to recognise their gender identity and are free to develop their person according to their gender identity.
Article 11 deals with an individual’s right to free personal development. It states that anyone older than 18, according to Article 1 and with the aim of ensuring the holistic enjoyment of their health, will be able to access total and partial surgical interventions or comprehensive hormonal treatments to adjust their bodies.
In a landmark vote, India’s Supreme Court granted transgender people and those classified as third-gender the right to self-identify without sex reassignment surgery. Under the ruling transgender people are allowed equal access to education, health care, employment, and protection from discrimination.
In the US transgender laws vary in each state, and the topic causes quite a stir when issues of public restrooms access and rights to healthcare are brought to the forefront. Notably, there is no coherent policy that allows transgender people to change their gender on identity documents, and in many states, it is mandatory to undergo sex-change surgery before you can register your gender.
Advancements in science have allowed us to live healthier, longer lives. While genius in principle, some innovations are rejected by the masses, and gender selection is high on the list. Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis or gender selection is a procedure used to choose your baby’s sex before conception. It is illegal in most parts of the world, except for medical reasons such as sex-linked medical diseases.
The WHO has stated that it opposes sex selection for non-medical reasons, as it “raises serious moral, legal, and social issues.” Legal in the US, Italy and Thailand, this practice has triggered a reproductive tourism trend. Opponents of this practice advocate that it distorts the natural sex ratio leading to a gender imbalance, reinforcing discriminatory and sexist stereotypes towards women by devaluing females.
Controversy is never far away from issues surrounding sex. Whether in medical advancements or laws that afford greater rights to individuals, these principles would continue to change as we do. We must remain cognisant of these changes and evaluate how they affect our society, each of us individually and those most vulnerable.
Courtesy : Newsday