Wednesday, 4 January 2006

The Male View

A first for this blog - a guest article, this one from "Mr X". It's a follow-up to a previous post, trying to explain what Gender really means when it comes to people who are born transsexual. So, without further ado, here's The Male View.

When Zoe asked me to write this, I said, "Sure. It's my Honour. But it may take me a couple of days. Work's pretty busy you know." I sat and looked at the first couple of paragraphs for a while, then the exercise became cathartic and work just had to wait....

Where Zoe has used analogy to explain, I've tried to describe a journey. For those that prefer analogies see here and here.

"I have never met you, Zoe, but every time I read your comments, I tend to think of you as Alan - sorry, but I just cannot help it."

A few months ago, I received an email from a friend. It wasn't the only similar email I received last year, but this friend was a particularly close one.

"X, Don't know how to say this. You can run away screaming if you want, I won't blame you. You see, I'm a girl."

My immediate thought was *Hug*. My next thought, was, well I'm not going to push... but I wonder if she's picked a name yet (I soon found out that she'd had it picked since she was 10), I can't very well go calling her by a guy's name.

For me the switch was that easy. I trust someone's mind more than their body. I know how the body can say one thing, while the mind screams the opposite - even if no-one can hear. But then again, I'm finally in the process of changing my body to match my head. Oh, running away screaming wasn't an option. I've seen people do that and it's SCARY.

Imagine yourself as a small child. Your body, apart from those bits normally concealed by your undies is sexually ambiguous. And the hidden bits don't do anything anyway - they don't really bug you. But you know what Dad looks like - that thick, hanging thing. In your dreams, you have one too, but it's always gone when you wake up. You get used to it.

You start growing up. You hit puberty, your breasts start to grow and are extremely painful. One morning you wake up and your bottom sheet (normally blue) is bright red and your legs and hands and face are blood smeared. You knew this would happen eventually, but you thought that your head would change at the same time - that you'd no longer feel like a boy. Instead you're more a boy and kinda scared. But you know that if you act like a boy, you'll get a talking-to from your parents. You sit and bear all the reminders (more frequent now that you bleed and have things on your chest) to act like a lady, wondering when you'll feel like a lady and when someone will tell you how to act like a lady. It's hard work looking at everyone and cataloging their actions, working out how women are meant to behave. And it feels so wrong when you do that stuff.

Around about the same time, you realise, rather suddenly, that when what's happening to you finishes, IT LOOKS REALLY GOOD! Not to put too fine a point on it, you Like Girls. Well that explains everything then. You're a Lesbian. You guess all lesbians feel like they're really boys in disguise - that's why they like other girls right? Because they're only sort-of girls? It's normal for a lesbian to hate wearing a bra - because it makes her chest shape all wrong. It's normal for a lesbian to feel embarrassed and hate her body below the waist. And above.

Then the real test comes: You've never really had any romantic attachment before. For some reason it has always felt wrong and you've avoided it. Sure sometimes you take special care, go out wearing a shirt and tie, bind the chest and uh. something in the trousers. It feels good but as soon as you start talking to someone, your voice gives you away as a pretender, a wannabe.

But someone comes along, someone that you could talk to forever, hold forever. She's a beautiful woman and God, you Want her. She's keen on you too and before you know wht's happening, you're lying, naked, warm and relaxed in a mutual embrace. But even in ecstasy (and that's hard enough), you can't fully suppress the screaming in your head. Your body is wrong.

Is there any way to fix it? Whose idea is this anyway? Making you walk around for your entire life with the wrong shaped body. Why do people look at you and say "Yeah, right" when you say that you're a guy?

You find out that there is hormones and surgery. In the first, you're lucky: In a hormone fight, Testosterone wins. In the second, not so good, they can fix your chest such that it's flat, they can remove the parts that make you bleed (though that'll stop anyway with T), but you'll never have the penis that you can feel.

Once you consent to going through puberty again, you're on your way to becoming the guy you've always been - and it's only a few years too late. But there's a problem. People you love, people you work with, people you socialise with. They were all dependent on having a daughter, a sister, a female colleague, a female friend. I mean you had a female name right? Even though you never acted like a daughter, a sister, a girl, a woman. Somehow the fact that you were badged, when you were barely self aware is meant to define you forever. They reject you. They know your body will never be complete enough to reproduce and so they condemn you to be a girl forever. They'll never accept you as anything but.

There is hope though, some people, even if they don't really understand what it's like for the head to say something different to the genitals, care. And you'll go on in life and meet people that never knew you as a wannabe girl. They'll just see, and work with and share with the man you are. You'll care a bit more about women too - people you work and live with - because once, you faced the same challenges as they do. For you it was harder - you weren't wired for it, most of them are. They always could bear to look in the mirror, they always felt right when someone they loved loved them, they always woke up with all the right bits attached, all the right clothes in the wardrobe. Now, so do you.

The same journey, just opposite directions. Guys reading this blog might now understand a bit better, when I said
The more people understand this strange phenomenon, the more they'll accept transsexuals as people of their actual gender, not their formerly apparent one.

Because imagine if you had found yourself in this position? You could have done. Lots of other guys do.

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