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Polly: Story

[This was written in response to an pro-binary blog entry, What Do I Know about Gender by Exodus.]
 
    You make some very interesting points.

"You don’t need a new body, and you don’t need to invent a new gender for yourself because God really doesn’t make mistakes."

    I have often wondered something similar, but from a non-Christian perspective. A secular way of saying the saying the same thing might be something like "transsexualism is a normal variation in nature". "There is great diversity within the male and female genders, but the truth is that you don’t need to go outside them to find you"
    But I wonder whether that is enough? For me, the 'problem' is not usually within the transsexual or homosexual person, it lies with western society which typically adopts a binary gender system, whiich is fine, so long as it also accepts the diversity within that system. But, typically, it seems not to and instead it adopts a polarised binary gender system. One is either male or female, no other answers are permitted. If you ain't a man, then you must be a woman, and vice versa...it is at this point that I think western society fails transsexuals and other variations from the polarised norm.
    I am transsexual and,like Mike, I seemed to struggle more with my own identity than my peers during my formative years. And, again like Mike, my solution (this is back in the 1970's) my chosen path was to learn how to be male. But, looking back, I now find myself asking the question: "Why did I feel the need to act more masculine? Why could not society simply accept me as I am?"
    This triggered in me what now seems to be reason behind my Gender Dysphoria. It was not that I was intrinsically unhappy with who and what was, it was that Society rejected me.
    People looked at me and saw a man. They had a stereotypical image of how a man should appear and, when I did not fit that image, this made people uncomfortable around me...this was especially (but not universally) true of men rather than women. I felt a pyschological need to 'belong' and consequently changed behaviour. This worked pretty well for many years and I finally convinced myself that I was OK as a man. But I wasn't and in my late 30's I started to have breakdowns (I had three) until I was finally honest with myself...inside, I am much more female than I am male. Even then, I did not chase gender reassignment surgery, believing it to be unnecessary for me, personally. I was wrong about that too. I have gone from being a broken human being who had twice tried to take (then) his own life, to being an integrated woman (maybe with a slight masculine aspect, but which no one ever seems to notice), who has reinvested in life. I am back in work, I have a wider social (non-transsexual) network, and I am working towards fulfilling my potential.
    For me, surgery was a 'need' and this came as a surprise to me.
    Society's need to stereotype is a survival trait. We have seen lions kill people, therefore lions are dangerous and are to be avoided or killed. This saves the lives of men and women and is therefore sensible and reasonable. But not all lions are dangerous to all people (see Clarence the Crosseyed Lion from Daktari and Elsa the lioness from Born Free), so it would not be accurate to say that the stereotypical view of lions is true of all lions...nevertheless, where safety is concerned, I think few of us would take the chance that the lion in front is a 'safe' one!!
    Similarly, society has a stereotypical view of how a man (or woman) should look and behave and will rarely look through the stereotyped image to see the actual person standing in front of them...anything outside the conventional boundaries is frequently labelled as deformed, perverted, an abomination, DANGEROUS! To be avoided.
    What I usually find, now, is that my natural predispositions more nearly fit the stereotypical image of a woman and I am accepted as a 'normal' woman (whereas before, I was accepted or rejected as a 'strange' man). Having accepted me, and as they begin to learn more about me and the issues of my past, people seem to see through the stereotype and to see me (including my masculine traits) and accept me as I really am, without me having to wear any masks. Mike is in his mid 20's? When I was in my mid 20's, I was in a similar kind of place to where he is now. It was not until my mid 40's that I realised I could not keep up the pretence any longer. I have no reason to suppose that Mike's future path will mirror my own, but at his age, I was as certain as he seems to be now.However, few people know themselves as well as they believe (and this includes me, of course) and who truly knows what the future holds for me and for Mike in our separate paths?
     Perhaps the main difference between me and Mike is that he seems confident of who and what he is, whereas  am still enjoying a voyage of discovery...where will I be in another 20 years time?

    Kindest regards
    Polly
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