DOREEN WACHMANN COLUMN
Why any need to change gender?

A LOT of fuss is being made about the fact Hillary Clinton is the first American female presidential candidate.

However, that is not true. She is merely the first female presidential nominee of a major party.

Way back in 1872, Victoria Woodhull ran for the Equal Rights Party 50 years before American women gained the franchise.

Since then, American women have been the presidential nominees for the Surprise, Communist, Socialist Workers', People's, Right to Life, Citizens, New Alliance, Green and Peace and Freedom parties.

In fact, it's a pretty poor showing for a country which has been at the forefront of feminist movements since the 1840s that it has taken till now for a major American party to have a female presidential nominee.

Since 1960 when Sirimavo Bandaranaike became prime minister of Ceylon, there have been worldwide more than 50 female heads of government.

Nevertheless, despite America being extremely slow off the female presidential nominee mark, a lot has changed for women in the last century-and-a-half.

Last week marked the 150th anniversary of the first petition for women's votes going before Parliament.

Now in ITV's referendum debate, a solitary male - Boris Johnson - was greatly outnumbered by all of five females.

In the Jewish world, there has been much controversy over the seemingly sexist morning blessings, in which a man thanks his Maker for the fact that He did not make him a woman and woman thanks Him because He made her according to His will.

Personally, I took comfort in the fact that, as a woman, I was God's delight - the Hebrew word for "will" also meaning delight.

As I said the blessing this week, I realised just how far women had come in my lifetime and thanked God for it.

But it has not all been for the good. While women are able to use their potential and take top positions in all walks of life and are even having much greater opportunities now in the Jewish world than before in a time when Jewish education for girls was frowned on, in the general world women are now more likely to be more promiscuous and more drunk than ever.

And in the Muslim society, which would seem to have even more stringent attitudes to female physical modesty than those of Jews, women have joined the ranks of suicide bombers.

Women's progress in all walks of life is to be celebrated as long as it is accompanied by moral responsibility which should never be sacrificed to equality.

Also, what beats me is why when women in this day and age have so many opportunities and when male and female roles have become so much more flexible, there is currently such a push for people - even small children - to change gender if they are not totally happy with the sex they have been born into.

The film Yentl showed how in the 19th century, if a woman wanted to study Torah, she had to dress up as a man to go to yeshiva.

Nowadays Orthodox women have a wide variety of sems to choose from to study at whatever level they choose.

And the same in the general world where almost everything is open to both males and females.

So why undergo painful treatment to change one's sex if one is not happy with one's gender?

I am not talking about people who have real physical problems but about those who are merely not happy with their gender.

The BBC recently visited the Tavistock Gender Identity Development Service which helps children change gender and sex.

A 16-year-old girl who transitioned to become a gay boy said: "Gender is between your ears and not between your legs."

So why is he undergoing so much back pain to bind his breasts to make him look flat-chested? I just don't get it.

And for that matter, why do women undergo cosmetic surgery with potentially harmful side effects just to make themselves more feminine, by enhancing their breasts, etc?

Life should be an adjustment to one's circumstances, rather than resorting to the knife unless it is totally necessary.

But back to Hillary's race to the White House, for which I am really rooting and not just because she is a woman.

Barack Obama should have been judged on his fitness for the job and not on becoming the token first black American president.

And so with Hillary. I am rooting for her as the only person who can stop irresponsibly dangerous Donald Trump coming to power.

At least Hillary is a smart cookie who has had vast experience of government and is not a multi-millionaire egotist who fancies one of the most powerful jobs in the world on a whim.

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