To the editor:

If you are born with a penis, then you are a man. If you are born with a vagina, then you are a woman. The reality is as simple as that. But is it? In the early 20th century, a Danish man by the name of Einar Wegener felt that he was a woman, even though he had male body parts. He couldn't shake this feeling, so he met with many physicians and psychologists in order to come to terms with his discomfort about his identity. One doctor finally suggested that Einar undergo surgery that would make him into a woman. Einar agreed, and in 1930, the first sex change operation occurred, after which Einar came to be known as Lili Elbe. When the doctors performed the surgery, they discovered ovaries inside of her. This was significant because it indicated that there were legitimate biological reasons for the way Einar felt.

This story is hugely important because it tells us something significant about role of science in changing the way we see the world. For the longest time, people thought that the sun was revolving around the world. Just look in the sky, and you will see the sun moving around the earth. But after the discovery of the telescope, Galileo was able to prove that the earth, rotating on its access, was actually revolving around the sun. It may not feel like it, but science tells us that the earth is spinning about 1000 miles per hour.

On the surface, one's sexual identity should be absolutely clear. You have either a penis or a vagina, and that is enough to tell you exactly what you are. But science enables us to see beneath the surface, and when we do that, "reality" is a lot more complex than what we see with the naked eye. With additional understanding of the reality of the trans experience, there should be more tolerance, acceptance, and kindness. We should be helping trans people rather than dismissing their experience or condemning them.

Michael Lackey,