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January 15 , 2008

Gender in Transition

A New Frontier


The wish for a child runs deep, as does the desire for parenthood. It is a wish that is essential to the continuance of the human species. It derives its motive power from many interrelated sources: psychobiological, sociological, historical. Yet it is a power that is changing hands. A short decade ago, Louise Brown was born. Prior to this event, human beings had begun biological life deep inside a female body. Louise Brown's birth signaled the beginning of a new era: The door to a new biotechnological world was opened, a world of artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogacy, embryo transplants, amniocentesis, gender preselection-procedures imagined but never before realized, leading perhaps to the injection of new genetic material into frozen embryos. Indeed, what had been, since Eve, an exclusively female power and prerogative has now been invaded by 20th-century biotechnology. The womb has been replaced, and sperm and egg can now be joined without love and romance. Change brings with it new questions: A complex inquiry has been generated by issues that are psychological, ethical, moral, biological, sociological, and legal. Simultaneously, and not incidentally or accidentally, gender psychology is in transi­ tion. As we enter an androgynous zone, cultural heroes shift, new couples emerge. Gender roles are redefined, and renegotiated, not without struggle and apprehen­ sion. We are approaching a new frontier-hopeful, self-conscious, and anxious. The possibilities are endless, as are the problems.
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