For quite some time, people have argued that the idea of gender identity is a cultural phenomenon. This is especially true in Westernized thinking, in which your gender defines you as an individual and within society.
Gender identity disorder has cast some suspicion on the entire concept of social gender roles. Some individuals have become famous since their stories were made into movies or documentaries. Classic examples include Teena Brandon (Boys Don’t Cry), Robert Eads (Southern Comfort) and Mi Vie En Rose. In these cases, strength, violence and aggression are still defined as masculine and intuition, nurture and and softness as feminine.
And, in all of them, the focus is on an adult who has made the “decision” to change gender identities based on a widespread number of variables.
But now, a family in Orono, Maine has a story that contradicts the adult decisions and the idea that biology does not play a part in gender identity. Wayne and Kelly Maines gave birth 14 years ago to identical twin boys, named Wyatt and Jonas. By the age of four, Wyatt was playing with dolls and asking for skirts, while his brother was playing with Buzz Lightyear and pirate costumes.
At one point, according to the Boston Globe, after playing dress up in his mother’s sequins and heels, Jonas simply told his dad to “face it, he had a son AND a daughter.”
Wyatt has known since she was small that her gender identity is female. She now goes by the name of Nicole and has never questioned her gender identity. Nicole’s parents are another story. Many parents question their children when they “come out” as having a different gender, claiming it as a phase, or an attention-seeking behavior. Indeed, up until recently, many experts did not believe a child could know such a thing.
But now, the Children’s Hospital in Boston has a clinic called the Gender Management Clinic or GeMS. Norman Spack, an endocrinologist specializing in gender disorders, founded it as the first clinic in the Western Hemisphere that treats and evaluates transgender children or pubescents. Nicole Maines and her family are clients.
In the past, many children with a disorder of sexual differentiation (DSD) were seen as medical emergencies and their families were often not consulted in the treatment of the child. This was often due to the lack of sensitivity and societal misunderstandings about gender assignment and the transgendered world. Indeed, the Maines have had to move due to bullying and insensitivity issues. This has led to a lawsuit that Wayne has used as a teaching tool, telling his children “you can’t create change if you don’t get involved.”
Photo credit: k's glimpses