Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Massachusetts at the Cutting Edge?

The following is the text of an e-mail message I sent to Boston Globe columnist Lawrence HArmon, who wrote in his column how he was enrsaged by a court's decision to allow convicted murderer Robert Kosilek, sho is serving a life sentence without possibility of parole for killing her wife, to have GRS at state expense:

Mr. Harmon:

In your September 7, 2012 column, Judge goes too far in sex change ruling which I read at:

http://articles.boston.com/2012-09-07/opinion/33713842_1_reassignment-surgery-gender-identity-disorder-michelle-kosilek ,

you described the judge's decision to mandate that the government provide GRS to imprisoned felon Kosilek as "enraging."

I have to disagree - I think of it as an encouraging sign of the change in the societal perception of trans people that has been taking place in the past decade or so.

What enrages me is the fact that medical insurance, medicare, medicaid, etc. don't all cover trans medical needs in the same way that they treat diabetes, atherosclerosis or any other medical issue. GRS is far from experimental - it is the standard method of treatment for transsexual people.

You describe inadequate treatment as being "more moderate" - it's not "more moderate," it's cruel and unusual. or should be unusual.

It is not that Kosilek should be denied treatment, it's that everyone else who needs it should have it available - whether they are privately insured or on a government medical program.

Societal understanding has been improving over the years. In the 1960's the best medical experts considered trans people to be delusional members of their initiallya ssigned sex, for whom any treatment would be merely "palliative."

Today we know that trans people have brains that develop physiologically along the gendered lines associated with the sex not associated with their genital duct development. Scientists have found at least two kinds of genetic predisposition for embryological development along these lines, where the developing body "zigs" along one path for the developigng brain, and "zags" along the other path for the development of the reproductive system.

At one time, people thought the earth was flat and the sun traveled around the earth. Galileo was condemned by the Inquisition for advancing the Copernican theory - but we now know the earth is round and the earth orbits the sun.

In 1818, a New York court ignored the testimony of the leading natural scientist of the day, in favor of the testimony of sea captains and clergymembers, to hold that whales are fish. But whales are still mammals - and the state legislature recognized that shortly thereafter.

I'd recommend you read a little of Umberto Eco's works on semiotics. What our society is experiencing in connection with the understanding of the trans phenomena is much like the way society has experienced changes in the understanding of other things.

Your column represents the resistance of ignorance - perhaps out of ignorance, but I'd think you, as a journalist, should be educable, or I wouldn;t have bothered with this message to you.

I'd suggest you do some research on your own. Perhaps you might read my occasional blog. (And I think I am going to take this message and post it there . . . at www.trans-cendence.blogspot.com )


Joann Prinzivalli


  1. Hi Joann, Been enjoying your comments on JMG & found my way here. one of the concepts you introduced in Connubium and traced it's root to gender equality (equal responsibilities) to mid 1800's. do you have a post on that? the google has not been as helpful as expected. It's a fascinating angle for me cuz I think LGBT rights have their roots in feminist anti patriarchy thinking in the West & thus sets the stage to difficulty in reconciling our rights in the Middle East. so the connubial concept maybe a better place to start than say the Constitution in formulating an argument. I'll revisit here for info or send may me an email where to look to cosmas at g mail. thx

    1. Hi Abusahan,

      Here are four of my blog essays that mention the concept of connubium - the right to marry:





      The concept has its roots in ancient Roman law - and in the early Roman Republic, there was no connubium between the classes - plebeians and patricians were not permitted to intermarry, much as in the U.S. for many years, many states had laws prohibiting interracial marriage.

      I agree with your analysis in a way - but deeper down, discrimination against LGBT people is rooted in misogyny. As I read the story of the Men of Sodom in the Book of Genesis, I see patriarchal macho men who wish to "use" Lot's visitors in the way that they "use" women - and by forcing penetrative sex on them, essentially treating them as if they are less than women in their eyes, while the Men of Sodom themselves "prove" they are the machos, and no one should mess with them. If only the story were interpreted properly - the Abrahamic religions wouldn't necessarily be stridently condemning LGBT people, they would be condemning the macho patriarchy that puts women down.

  2. thx, I'll check them out. incidentally, that is exactly how I understood the story it's a display of masculinity to penetrate and the more powerful the target the more power a man would gain from the demeaning act of ultimate subjugation. is it not how most see it? do they see the demand for Lot's guests to be only an act of sin (gays wanting fresh meat)? it's a rape. the angels were to be subjugated & their host humiliated not recruited for the Gay Kiwanis (sp)