Wednesday, February 14, 2007

In the interests of all bigendered folks everywhere...

The four links at the bottom of this post reference a very lovely story I first saw run by the BBC last week. Seems in the process of signing folks up for the upcoming elections, they ran across one Chanda Musalman. Physically male, but considered by herself and the rest of the village to be female, Chanda asked the election team to simply erase the terms 'male' and 'female' on her form. Not only did they oblige, they instead wrote in 'both'.

Wouldn't it be cool to be able to put 'both' on your records where it says 'gender'?

(Okay, for those of us who are, anyway.)

They haven't yet worked out how this will affect Chanda's marriage rights. With luck, they'll decide that 'both' means 'she can marry anyone', not 'she can marry nobody' (or, I suppose, 'she can marry another "both" but that's it').

I note with amusement that the BBC carefully avoided using any pronouns whatsoever when referring to Chanda. I use the female pronoun, of course; that's the way she thinks of herself. Another story, this one in the India Times, makes this clearer than the BBC story -- Chanda 'dressed up as a woman and danced at weddings and other social functions in Nepal's Terai plains' -- though that same story persistently refers to Chanda as 'he' and 'him'. quotes one Sunil Pant, head of Nepal's Blue Diamond Society, as referring to Chanda as a 'metis'. I'd only ever heard the term used in Werewolf: the Apocalypse but like so many other thigns it seems they stole it from elsewhere. In Nepal, apparently, 'metis' is defined as 'a man who dresses and identifies as a woman'. Whether or not it's considered derogatory I don't know, though I doubt Sunil meant it that way. In any case, he was the one who encouraged Chanda to 'demand the citizenship that truly represents themselves, not as a man or a women but as transgender'. This article uses 'she' and 'her' for Chanda, not surprisingly for a site that's likely a bit more open to the concept than the India Times. MSN wins points for being the only mainstream news organization I've run into so far which does as well.

Rather to my surprise I haven't come across anyone denouncing the decision. I'm sure it'll come; in the meantime, I'm just gonna sit back and dream of 'both'ness.

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