Let’s try to simplify matters concerning differences between trans-gender identification and trans-sexuality (they are not the same thing), in order to reveal their real complexity.
Biologically, the difference between female and male reduces to genetics – XX and XY – and there is no escaping that. We can change the physiognomy but that doesn’t change the genetics.
There may be genetic factors that we don’t understand as yet, but admitting this, are there genetic factors that lead certain males to want to adopt the cultural signifiers of the (socially determined classification) ‘woman’ (and females with like feeling to be ‘men’)? Such a claim could only be made if we accept primary tenets of Socio-biology/ Evolutionary Psychology; but such tenets include presumption that gender arises from evolutionary needs for sexual selection for procreation, and trans-sexuals are not reproductive.
We can conceive of a re-write of Socio-Biology and Ev-Psych and related genetic inquiries, but at the cost that these would probably read very ‘post-modern’ mythification and mystification of the basic science (and Socio-Biology and Ev-Psych already have some of this problem, anyway, IMO).
Is there really some genetic component to the desire to play with dolls? Do we really want to go down that path?
No one is saying that a person should not pursue his/her desires or beliefs. But to insist on a biological component every time someone gets a bee in their bonnet about wanting to change themselves or the world to bend to those beliefs/desires, is simply fatuous.
Does this have anything to do with sexual preferences as having a possible genetic component? I don’t know. Frankly, I’m not sure it matters. The insistence that sexual preference had genetic components was rhetorically useful at some point, since it was clear (and remains so) that there is little recourse for change in preference, whether genetically originated or no. But I hope we are beyond that, or should be.
This indirectly leads to a question that needs to be raised, even if so touchy, it is rarely (ever?) raised in public discourse on such issues: As posed on the cover of Vanity Fair, ‘post-op’ trans-sexual Caitlyn Jenner’s semiosis promises viewers of the pose, of sexual desirability as a woman. So the question is fair to ask of viewers, defenders and protestors alike – ‘would you have sex with this woman?’ And a fairly correlate question then must also be asked: ‘Would you have had sex with Jenner as a man?’ Finally, let’s extrapolate those questions further – ‘would you consider marriage with Jenner now? Would you have considered marriage with Jenner then?’ These questions, to be meaningful, should be asked of male viewers of the pose; female answers to the questions would be interesting, but have limited value (since Jenner is clearly appealing to male audiences).
Is sexual attraction a matter of gender? Is romantic love?
CAUTION: What we know as (engendered) ‘romantic love’ has a history; it originated in the early Renaissance, not existing in the West previously (although similar cultural phenomena are to be found in India, China, and Japan of the same era).
Murky waters, indeed.