Galileo's Middle Finger (GMF). Essay Sample

Published: 2023-08-29
Galileo's Middle Finger (GMF). Essay Sample
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Gender Sexes Surgery Human sexuality
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1419 words
12 min read

The first part of the book is the author’s personal experiences in the processes of what occurs in the instance that a patient requires surgery to change their gender. It is a rigorous process which is also an eye-opener since the surgeon is left with the decision to `rip out’ everything that they felt was not part of a girl’s genitalia and craft one from scratch, hence providing the patient with genitalia that they will be using for the rest of their lives. The author uses such depictions to transition into the instance whereby their own experiences and the experiences of others in dealing with the intersex community to conclude that the surgeries to alter one’s gender should be accepted and carried out when the patient is a consenting adult that has been offered a full list of the benefits against the risks that they could experience from the procedure.

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Ethical issues such as the forced normalization of sexuality are some of the intersex children are some ethical issues that should be addressed. The power of decision has been previously left to the surgeons who perform the procedures on the young children who decide on whether they should assign their young patients the male or female genders, giving the doctors the power of the decision of playing god is dangerous since they are humans too, and can make terrible judgments which may end up being life-altering to the people involved. For example, the decisions to assign the male or female gender to a patient may be affected by some issues in the surgery, hence making the patient’s life uncomfortable due to the miscalculations by the practitioners.

An example is given of such a scenario, whereby the doctors decided to assign Brian Sullivan the female gender since they assumed that he had the possibility of growing into a virile, child-bearing woman. However, she grew up to become a gay teenager, who despite being sexually active, could not attain orgasm due to the lack of a clitoris. This being so, the decision by the doctors to perform gender assignment surgery ended up doing more harm than the intended good since Bonnie, the persona Brian grew up to assume, could not enjoy sex, hence ending up with frustration from their lives. It is for the case of Brian Sullivan and other examples that ethicists have concluded that gender normalization and reassignment is indeed more harmful than helpful, due to the physical and mental challenges experienced by the patients throughout their lives. In perspective, the process of gender reassignment can, at a point, be considered invasive and inconsiderate of the opinions of the person on whom it is performed. Therefore, ethicists have called for the need for the reassignment processes to be carried out when the parties are older and ready to make sound decisions that are legally-binding since they will have made their decisions on the genders based on their experiences growing up and having weighed the options in the decision to settle on a particular gender. Deciding for them while they are still young denies them their innate right for having an opportunity to determine their fates in life and bearing the implications of the same, in full acknowledgment and acceptance of the responsibility of the actions that they have decided upon.

Through the book Galileo’s Middle Finger, the idea of gender identity is demystified from being a black and white topic to an issue that covers the matters in and around the decisions to undergo gender reassignment procedures. The common perception held by the society is that the decision by people to undergo gender reassignment procedures in their adulthood is an indicator of the people who have lived in denial of the gender they were born and raised as throughout their lives. After extensive research by interested researchers, the notion that one is born either male or female and may spend their lives in anguish unless they embrace their `true’ selves and identities may be very wrong since the decision on what gender one would like to be is mostly informed by the external environments that the individual exists in.

Culture has an equally active role in the decision to identify as a certain gender as the biological makeup of the person does on the same. Societies and the cultures that they encourage or deny have a role in the determination of the possibility of an individual deciding to reassign their gender or not openly. When people feel accepted and safe to behave and express themselves in the ways that they feel to be right, they are likelier to engage in the behaviors, compared to when they feel like the society they exist in is not supportive of their behaviors and that they are likely to be persecuted, misinterpreted or stigmatized for behaving in certain ways.

The book also addressed another category of people who did not wish to undergo sex reassignment procedures. Still, the idea of being gender reassigned provided with euphoric feelings and sexual excitement. Some people have been found to consider their sexual identities reassigned, not for their identities to be confirmed, or due to the society’s acceptance of their gender, but because of the sexual thrill that comes with the idea. This category is what is considered to be closeted gay people who may even engage in same-sex sexual encounters in secret and even cross-dress in the secrecy. Still, it would not come out publicly to acknowledge their desires, mostly because of the attitudes held by society on the idea.

The idea of autogynephilia, as introduced by the author, was not received well by the heterosexual men and the transgender women, since they felt this notion of being attacking their core existence and questioning their sexuality without giving them the chance to be heard or understood. This decision was worsened by the sexual scandal that the author was involved in, where she was accused of having sexual relations with a transgender woman who was supposed to have been the subject of scientific research and, therefore, should not have had relationships with them. The works of the author and the theories she presented on transgender people were mainly resisted by the transgender community. They felt that their lobbying efforts were being undermined by Bailey’s works, since their efforts to rid the topic of transgender people of the stigma that was associated with it by desexualizing the topic were being affected by the author’s written works. Apart from the transgender community, Bailey also faced a backlash from other members of society who were against the popularization of the genders that they felt were unnatural, and that his works were promoting immoral and unacceptable behaviors in the society.

The allegations of sexual misconduct by Bailey were not confirmed, and therefore he was not charged for any misconduct. He was, however, accused of the practice of clinical psychology without any licensing, and despite challenging the decision, was found guilty of that and the participation in securing several transgender people gender reassignment surgeries that would help them in becoming free in their decided-upon genders instead of those assigned to them by society. However, despite the praise and support that Bailey should have received from the transgender community, they were among the people who were against him and pushed for his prosecution and their works to be stopped since they felt that it was invasive and offensive to them. The activists seemed to have a personal vendetta against Bailey and his research since, despite their failed attempts to have him prosecuted for what they termed to be unethical behavior, they also encouraged the people who had been subjects in Bailey’s research to sue him for purported misconduct. Whenever they failed to have him prosecuted, they would then abandon the complainants, showing that they were not after justice but in stopping the activities of Bailey.

The experiences that Bailey went through go on to show that despite noble intentions for undertaking some activities to help the marginalized, there will be attempts to politicize the efforts and hence bring about less desired results from the people concerned. The author also received a hostile reception in her attempt to expose those who were taking advantage of the Bailey situation to turn attention to them, and her efforts only resulted in her getting equally hostile treatment from the transgender community. This shows that there may be people within a noble organization and movement to reap benefits from these movements and attack anyone who threatens this possibility.

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