Transgendered Americans and actuarial science: The dude looks like a lady

By Steve Savant

Ash Brokerage Corporation


Until future science can rewrite the genetic code, the government, acting on behalf of equality, could legislate and force all insurance carriers to move to unisex rates to avoid the cultural conflict.

​Talk about irony. I was just pulling up in my driveway listening to Aerosmith’s “Dude Looks Like A Lady.” I got out of my car, entered my family room and turned on the TV in the middle of the evening news. It was an entertainment piece featuring transgendered beauty contestant Jenna Talackova in a bikini at the Miss Universe Canada competition. The dude did
look like a lady!

The first verse of the song has a few lines I lifted for this article. Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler wrote, “So never judge a book by its cover.” Well, I’ll never do that again.

“Love put me wise to her love in disguise.” No kidding. I’m going to start watching reruns of Nip/Tuck on Netflix.

“She had the body of Venus. Lord, imagine my surprise…” And she did, I mean he did!

And when Jenna sashayed down the runway, I thought of another Aerosmith classic, “Walk This Way.”

Jenna didn’t make the cut to the evening gown modeling segment, which seemed strange since she got as far as the bikini segment. Jenna almost didn’t make the cut at all. Some rogue blogger blew the whistle and reported that Jenna had competed in a transsexual beauty contest in Asia.

When the blogged surfaced, Jenna was disqualified from the Canadian competition because she was not naturally born a female, but surgically altered to look like a female. Jenna’s transformation started as a young teenager with hormone therapy and sexual-reassignment surgery before she turned 20.

Jenna protested the decision with a discrimination charge against the pageant. And in a stunning reversal, the Miss Universe Organization (owned by Donald Trump) reinstated her and altered its rules to accommodate transgendered women.

Now the competition is really going to get fierce, so I’m assuming that all contestants will be allowed to undergo cosmetic surgery for body and face sculpturing. The nip and tuck, lipo suck surgery will be a high-end requirement just to place in the contest. Remember, Jenna made it through the bikini test, eliminating other naturally “born that way” women with apparent natural flaws. The pageant’s line of thinking concluded that if your country legally recognizes you as a woman, then the pageant will as well.

The pageant’s decision was shocking to me. Not because of the implications of social re-engineering, but because the state could recognize the surgically altered transgendered over immutable genetics.
So, when Jenna applies for life or medical insurance, will the state set aside mortality and morbidity tables in favor of minority inclusion? Will social re-engineering trump (no pun intended) actuarial science and risk management?

Sexual reassignment is cosmetic surgery. Cosmetic surgery can alter someone’s appearance; clothes and makeup do the rest. The term sex change operation is completely inaccurate. Even with hormone therapy, the original genetic code remains unchanged — predispositions still exist, including the original sexual assignment. The so called sex chromosome, number 23 in females, are identical, XX. But the 23rd pair in males have an X Y chromosome.

The mapping of the human genome is an extraordinary achievement, but there more than 100 million body cells, a daunting number. Even with all the advancements in stem cell research, it's still primitive in light of genetic sexual alteration. Sex change, at its most fundamental level, is out of reach, perhaps for centuries.

Today, Jenna should be underwritten as a male, and cosmetic surgery shouldn't change that. But the government could. Until future science can rewrite the genetic code, the government, acting on behalf of equality, could legislate and force all insurance carriers to move to unisex rates to avoid the cultural conflict.

Gertrude Stein wrote the famous line, “A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose” in her poem, "Sacred Emily." People quote it all the time as an expression of “it is what it is," i.e. the law of identity. But Miss Stein seems to view her line like a Darwinistic label of categorization.

Now, nobody wants to be labeled. Nobody wants to be categorized. People reinvent themselves all the time, with new fashion, hair dos, material possessions and, yes, cosmetic surgery.

Most changes aren’t as revolutionary as gender reassignment surgery. But in the 21st century, a man born as a man is a man is a man. The dude may look like a lady, but he’s still a dude.