Bible, CAUV, Christian, congenital absence of the uterus and vagina, Intersex Society of North America, Jacqui Beck, Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome, Müllerian agenesis, MRKH, MTF, Mullerian aplasia, Mullerian dysgenesis, Trans woman, Transsexual
He took a hundred pounds of clay And then He said “Hey, listen.” “I’m gonna fix this-a world today” “Because I know what’s missin’ ” Then He rolled his big sleeves up And a brand-new world began He created a woman and-a lots of lovin’ for a man Whoa-oh-oh, yes he did – Gene McDaniels – A Hundred Pounds Of Clay
Ladies, according to the creation story sung by Gene McDaniels in 1961, God is responsible for the first 100 pounds. The rest is on us!
Of course, we want to be careful when we take our theology from a popular song, a hymn, a sermon or a written article. That’s why I do my best to back any significant point with Scripture.
In the actual Scripture account in Genesis 2, it was Adam who was created from the dust of the ground, not Eve. God formed Eve from the rib of Adam, a marvelous symmetry whereby the first woman came from the body of man and all subsequent men came from the body of woman.
But do we find a detailed physical description of a woman anywhere in the Bible? The answer is no. The only verse I can find on the subject is 1Peter 3:7 in which the wife (as representative of women) is described as the weaker vessel (female athletes notwithstanding). After a little over a year on hormones (and a little too much time away from the gym), I can attest to that. Not long ago, I could lift a case of ten reams of copy paper with some effort. Not so the other day when I had a new case delivered. I had to drag it in from where the UPS driver left it at my door.
Indirectly we know that a woman is likely to have a menstrual cycle. But nowhere does it say that all women have this, which of course they don’t, nor do they have it at every season of their life. Part of the miracle of the birth of Isaac to Sarah is that she conceived after “it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women” because of her old age. (Genesis 18:11)
Elsewhere in Scripture, the body is described as a temple. (1Corinthians 3:16) One might say that the Bible is not meant to be an Anatomy textbook. But it is also not meant to be an Architectural textbook, and yet we have elaborate descriptions of the building of Solomon’s temple (chapters 5 & 6 of 1Kings) and even more details on the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness. Even allowing for the modesty with which the writers of those times described certain parts of the human body, they found a way to get their point across.
Some might make the point that the Bible does not need to go into a detailed physical description of a woman because “everyone” knows the physical differences between a man and a woman. But the point of the talk by Alice Dreger and the entire reason for the existence of the Intersex Society of North America is that what “everyone” knows is not always the case. Some people are born with the attributes of both or missing some of the attributes of both.
As an MTF transsexual, I had been focusing on those conditions in which female traits appear in a person who appears to be male. But less than two weeks ago, I came across the story of Jacqui Beck, an attractive British teenager who was assigned the female gender at birth and looks every bit the part. According to the National Institute of Health article describing Jacqui’s condition, women who suffer from it have the normal female XX chromosomal pattern. As I indicated in my recent post where I described the links I placed on my blog site, I praise God for His timing in revealing these things to me about which I had been unaware.
Jacqui Beck suffers from what is commonly known as Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser syndrome. Since that is a mouthful, hereafter I will refer to it as MRKH. It is also known as CAUV (congenital absence of the uterus and vagina), GRES (genital renal ear syndrome), Mullerian aplasia or Mullerian dysgenesis.
Women with this condition are born with either underdeveloped (i.e., non-functioning) or absent vagina, cervix, Fallopian tubes and uterus. (However, ovaries are usually present.) It is generally discovered when a woman tries to have intercourse for the first time and is unable to do so, or when an inquiry is made as to why she has not experienced her first period by an age in which it is the norm to have begun menses. The external appearance of the genital region appears to be normal and provides no clue as to the internal abnormality that is present.
Because uterine transplants have been unsuccessful thus far, an MRKH woman cannot bear children, even after corrective surgery allows her to have intercourse. MRKH women can only have children through surrogacy, using eggs harvested from their ovaries.
Recently, I had taken part in a conversation about the progress being made in being able to grow new body parts from a small sample of cells from one’s own body. The general consensus is that being able to grow a uterus inside of a post-op MTF transsexual would be low priority on the scale of things. But now we can see that there is another group of people who would benefit from the same advance in medical technology, and this group would receive scant backlash for receiving such a procedure.
In fact, this is just one way that those of us who are MTF transsexuals, especially those who are post-op or who desire to have SRS, share a special sisterhood with MRKH women. First of all, both of us have a normal outer appearance of the genital region (for us after surgery). Second, both of us need similar corrective surgery. I am curious as to the history of such surgery.
Who was this surgery performed on first? I suspect that it may have been performed on transsexuals first and that MRKH women owe us a debt of gratitude. After all, the surgery on us would be easier, as we can supply penile skin with which to form the vaginal cavity. But information about the timeline is conjecture on my part.
Another piece of information mentioned in the article on Jacqui Beck, and confirmed by the NIH article, is that within the universe of sexual abnormalities, MRKH is not all that rare. The estimate is that it occurs in 1 out of every 4500 newborn girls. Let’s see if we can make that statistic easier to picture.
Most people are familiar with New York City, my birthplace. A conservative estimate of the population is 8.3 million people. Statistically, it could be expected that about 900 women in New York City have MRKH. (This is where it is handy to have a blogger who can do math! About 50% of the population is female or approximately 4.15 million females. 4.15×106 divided by 4.5×103 is equals 922 or conservatively rounded to 900. Okay, I’m showing off! Forgive me.)
Nine hundred women would nearly fill a decent-sized auditorium. My Chemistry 101 lectures at Cornell took place in an auditorium that seated about a thousand people. Alice Tully Hall and the Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City seat an audience of just under 1100.
So my MTF sisters, the next time someone challenges you, telling you that you can’t be a woman because you weren’t born with a vagina, you now have an answer. You can tell them, “So do about 900 hundred other women in New York City born with an XX chromosome, and one out of every 4500 women around the world.”
For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. – Proverbs 2:6