A friend brought to my attention the fact that in Sweden, to change one’s gender under the law, a person must submit to sterilization, forever forgoing the possibility of having children.
At first I didn’t see the logic behind such a law; a moment’s reflection, however, made it clear why some people want to force this terrible choice on transgender citizens.
The existence of gay, bisexual, intersex, and transgender people threatens the idea of a simple binary division of humanity into two genders. One can understand why this idea makes some people uncomfortable. People may aspire to be open-minded and not prejudicial; but in reality, people like the comfort of knowing at a glance what to expect from someone. People expect different behavior from men and women, for example. I imagine many women would feel uncomfortable sharing a toilet, shower, or dressing room with a person with fully functional testicles, regardless of the gender with which that person identifies. Testosterone affects attitudes, desires, and behaviors; so this reluctance is understandable. People who don’t fit into society’s predefined categories are scary to many because they challenge long-held and cherished assumptions. To grant rights to another, one must often be willing to give up some of one’s own rights.