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<p>Ella Rubeli/The Global Mail</p>

Ella Rubeli/The Global Mail

Lives Apart: Katherine Cummings

John Cummings was a married father of three daughters until he turned 52. That year he did something that he had wanted to do his whole life. He became Katherine.

Lives Apart: Katherine Cummings

9 comments on this story
by Alasdair Murrie-West

what a beautiful, courageous and inspiring story - thank you

November 22, 2012 @ 12:27am
by Ruth

A truly remarkable story and delivered in a very sensitive and compact timeframe

November 22, 2012 @ 1:02pm
by Peter

Could somebody please explain to me why the term 'gender reassignment surgery' is coming into vogue, I just don't get it (the use of term that is). I bet Kate wouldn't be offended by the simple term 'sex change'.

November 22, 2012 @ 10:19pm
by Hugh

Peter, the terminology has changed as the usage of 'gender' as opposed to 'sex' has become more prevalent. If you'll pardon my undergraduate sociology, 'gender' is now thought of as a person's natural, innate self, whereas 'sex' is now used to refer to socially-constructed ideas surrounding how the genders are supposed to interact.

So, in Katherine's case, her 'sex' was male — as she was taking part in the socially-proscribed role of men — but her 'gender', her innate, natural self, was female. She was a woman stuck in a man's body.

So Katherine has had gender reassignment surgery (it is also sometimes called gender REALIGNMENT surgery), which has changed her body so that it is in line with how she feels inside — like a woman, not a man.

(I'm sure someone else could explain this more elegantly and clearly than I.)

November 23, 2012 @ 9:37am
by Katherine Cummings

Gender is social, mental, and even grammatical, whereas sex is physical and anatomical. Sex can't be changed (yet). The procedure of gender reassignment, or realignment, or as it is also called 'gender affirmation', surgery starts off by removing the capacity for sex. In relatively recent times there have been people who refused surgical intervention and simply changed their gender role. In America a female-to-male transgender named Thomas Beatty recieved a lot of publicity because he retained his female sex organs and bore a child. There was a lot of fuss about the "pregnant man" but the world has not stopped in its tracks and Beattie has now had a second child with hardly any publicity at all. Recently two female-to-males in Western Australia fought for the right to have legal (documented) reassignment while still retaining their female sex organs. The took the case to the High Court and won.
I wouldn't be offended by the term sex change, but I wouldn't use it, and I would try to explain to anyone who did why it is inappropriate.

November 23, 2012 @ 3:33pm
by Katherine Cummings

A footnote to my comment. I said the "capacity for sex" is removed by gender affirmation surgery. I should have said "procreative sex". Recreational sex is still possible. As for procreation, some transgenders have their ova or sperm frozen beforehand so that if they are ever wanted (or wanted within the time-span of viable revival from freezing) they will be available. I had had a vasectomy (at my wife's request) some years before I transitioned, so that this was not an option for me.

November 23, 2012 @ 4:20pm
Show previous 6 comments
by joanna

As a sufferer of gender disphoria myself, I found this little slice of life both poignant and touching. I was once married myself and now struggle with my identity on a daily basis. Katherine has done what her mind and heart told her to do as hard as it may be for non afflicted people to understand.

March 4, 2013 @ 12:58am
by Tracey

Thank you - I appreciated the gentle, honest insight into an important part of Katherine's life.

July 8, 2013 @ 11:12am
by Charlotte Ashford

You told Katherine's brave story beautifully and artfully, with respect and a light touch.

July 14, 2013 @ 1:16pm
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