‘What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’
Could these famous lines from the play Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare be applicable to Jennifer Laude?
Hardly, really, for while Jennifer may have been medically transformed partly to look like a rose and smell like a rose, she was, however, for all intents and purposes, anything but a rose – he was, and until his death, a man named Jeffrey.
To me the sad case of Laude is not about understanding and acceptance of gay people. For crying out loud, the issue of gays and lesbians has been hammered out for so long all over the world that we have learned to be tolerant of their existence. Even the pope himself expressed openly and praised the “gifts” gays and lesbians have to offer in our Christian society and people have acknowledged this.
But, showing to people how you want to be identified through your movements, feelings and looks is one thing, and it is another being forthright about that which doesn’t make you yet a complete, full-fledged gender identity of your choice.
Since I am talking now about ‘gender identity’, let us try to put the term in the right perspective with help coming from a reliable source/institution.
John Hopkins University (JHU), in their internet page about LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, or Questioning), has this to say about gender identity: Gender identity is the self-image that one has about one’s own gender as masculine, feminine, or otherwise. Often, people assume that gender identity is congruent with biological sex; they believe that a female will identify as feminine, and a male will identify as masculine. However, this is not true for everyone, since some people with male biology feel strongly feminine, and some with female biology feel themselves to be masculine. Others do not consider their gender to be either feminine or masculine, but a blend of both; still others feel that they are neither masculine nor feminine, but some other third gender. It is important to remember that gender is a malleable and variable category.
I purposely had the word Trans above in bold letters because this is how Laude has been described to belong, it being a gender identity.
JHU also had this to say about transgender people: Some transgender people report feeling that they were born in the wrong body. For this reason, some transgender people choose to have surgery to take the physical form of their desired sex. This person is sometimes called a post-operative transsexual. Someone can also be pre-operative, or can choose never to have surgery (in this case, she or he might be known as “non-op”). Hormones are used to promote secondary sex characteristics, such as breast tissue or facial hair. Often, the word “transitioning” is used to describe the period of moving away from one’s assigned sex. Physical transitioning may describe surgical, hormonal, or other changes to one’s body. Socially transitioning may describe legally changing one’s name, asking friends to use a chosen pronoun, and other acts of disclosure.
It is in this context that I postulated above that if a person has not undergone physical surgical procedure for sex exchange, then he must be forthright enough to confess to people whom he wants to enter into relationship with that he still has his original sex identification. For sure female hormones, like in the case of Jennifer Laude, made him grow breasts, but it didn’t change at all Jeffrey Laude’s male organs. If at all, perhaps it simply atrophied it.
Having said that does not mean that I am not enraged at what the American Marine, a member of a military contingent which participated in a recent naval exercise with Filipino forces in Zambales, under the Visiting Forces Agreement between the Philippines and the US, did to Laude and the manner he killed the person he thought was a real, authentic woman.
If only Laude was straightforward and explicit about herself – that there was still a Jeffrey left on her, then events would have turned out differently. The least that the soldier could have done was dumped her and go bar hopping for a real girl.
There are men like Laude’s German boyfriend who loved her and was on the verge of marrying her. It is all within his right to make that choice and be contented with whoever and whatever Laude is or was.
There are also men, like the American Marine, who wants to go to bed with the opposite sex. That is with whom he can derive pleasure of the flesh and that is what he was seeking and expecting to bed.
So why the deception?