Rethinking our concept of gender

clown fish

We are in a changing world that seems to be getting more divisive each day with less tolerance for differences and for change. Sadly, one population of individuals that have been antagonized, bullied, and discriminated against is the transgender community. One of the reasons that is given from those opposing transgender people is, they say, that it is not an act of God and is unnatural. However, when we take an inquisitive look at the animal kingdom, we find there are many diverse and amazing instances of natural acts of sex changes within species. There are three different instances of sex change that I have learned about in the natural world that I would like to discuss; clown fish, chickens, and some wrasse fish.

I learned about clown fish and sex change through our own saltwater aquarium. First I learned that all clown fish are born male and the toughest one in the bunch becomes the female and ends up growing much larger then the males, while the second strongest becomes the breeder male, and rest stay sexually passive until either the female or breeder male die. What I didn’t know is what would happen when the female dies.

We had two coupled clown fish, Nemo (female) and Amo (male). Recently Nemo died, we didn’t want Amo to be left alone and wasn’t sure how to get him a mate. Turns out I didn’t need to worry since nature has a solution; our established male could still become a female. I’m currently watching it play out between our new male clown and Amo to decide which will be the female.

Another instance of species sexuality diversity that surprised me was that of female chicken. Hens are born with one working ovary, as well as, a non-defined gonad. Generally the non-defined gonad is dormant, however, if a problem occurs with the ovary the non-defined gonad begins to develop and may develop into a healthy ovary or even into testes. Most often the hen starts to display male appearance, but not completely, however, there are reports of hens becoming full roosters through this process.

A third group of sex change goes from female to male are wrasse fish. Wrasses are all born males, and the alpha becomes the male. When the male, the alpha female then takes its place as a male.

We can all admit that nature is amazing, and mysterious! The more we learn, the more we realize that life is vast, varied, and fascinating. When we take the attitude of inquisitiveness about differences, we can certainly come to a greater peace within each other and ourselves.

The stories that each individual that has made the huge decision to change gender are varied, but all contain within them the strong knowingness that this is a decision they must do to live from their true authentic self. Those of us that have not undergone this change can not really know the struggle that transgender people go through. What we can do is lend our compassion, support, and advocacy, so that acceptance and compassion can strengthen in our world for all people. It doesn’t matter whether we started with one gender and changed or stayed the same, what matters is that we are all precious beings that support each other in attaining our true individual best and most empowered self.



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