Saturday, February 27, 2010

OK, Time To Raise Some Hackles

"I am a woman, trapped in the body of a man". How many times have we heard this cliche? How many times have we repeated it, ourselves? Frankly, every time I hear it, it makes me cringe. I would really like to be taken seriously, and I don't think that simpistic cliche has helped. In fact I've heard it referenced more in tranny jokes, than in serious discussions of transsexualism.

First of all, let me say for the record that I am transsexual. I have always identified with females. I have always been envious of females, and have wanted to express myself in the same ways they do. I have always known that I was not like other boys, but until I first heard the word transsexual, I didn't know what I was. I just thought I was weird. Once I learned about transsexualism, I knew what I was. That self diagnosis was confirmed in the early mid eighties, by a psychiatrist I visited.

Now, I have heard many transsexuals say they always knew they were women trapped in the bodies of men, but I have never bought it. Is that truly how they felt, or were they simply grasping for a relevant description, and mimicking the projections of others, who were mimicking the projections of others before them? The reason that I say this, is because what constitutes a woman, is so subjective, and that cliche has been around for so long. The first time I heard it, was way back in the sixties.

I have never once in my entire life, honestly thought that I was a woman trapped in the body of a man. To be honest, what I have always been, is a very desperate, lonely male, who has longed to be what he thought was a girl, for as long as he has lived, and please, no disgusting references to the scientifically dubious diagnosis of autogynophilia. God that term makes me grate my teeth! No, to be a woman trapped in the body of a man, I would have to be genetically female, with male genitalia. In other words, inter-sexed.

Does all of this make me any less female than genetically born females, or even even post-op transsexual women. Considering that it is my brain that makes me identify with females, I am essentially female where I live, inside my head, and in my heart. I don't know for sure, but I think the major difference between my sister and me, is that I have a more pronounced male side than she does. I think every one has both a male and female side. My emotional side is 100% female, Maybe that explains why I tear up at the drop of a hat. My intellectual side however, feels more although not entirely male. I think that is because my intellectual side stems from my father rather than my mother, and I used his personality as a model to fabricate the male persona, that I needed to survive in our gender binary world.

Does any of this make any sense to any of you, or do you think I'm, way out in left field? I know that as transsexuals we want validation, and validation starts with our own self image, but do we have to become intellectually dishonest, and make illogical claims to others, in an attempt to gain validation from them? Wouldn't it be more intellectually honest to simply admit, that although we were born as males, our brains were feminized in the womb, and consequently we would rather live lives femininely expressed?

OK. I've said it. I'm now ready to be lead off to the stocks. Please, just make sure that the fruit and vegetables aren't too rotten. Rotten vegetables on the face, always makes me gag.

Melissa XX


Jenny said...

Extremely well put. Rotten veg? No, how about I throw a bunch of roses! (thorns removed, naturally.)

Stace said...

Interesting post.

Whilst the phrase *is* cliche and makes sets my teeth on edge as well, I have to say that yes I do feel trapped in the wrong body. Nothing about it is correct, from the bone structure (slight as it is for a man - it's still wrong), the way that muscles develop when exercising - even though I only do stamina training and not an-aerobic training, down to what's down there.

Back when I was a young child with no knowledge about the subject (4 or 5 I guess) I wanted nothing more than to wake up one morning and find myself the girl I knew I was.

To be honest I wouldn't know how to describe myself in a way that doesn't make me cringe.


As for the fruit and veg, whilst rotten fruit may make you want to chuck, surely it's softer than non rotten fruit...

Leslie Ann said...

You get no argument from me. I dislike that terminology as much as you. It's like chewing on tin foil.

I've felt trapped by my situation, but never my body.

Lucy Melford said...

Melissa, I think I'd say much the same as you have, not quite word for word, but nearly all of it. So I'll join you on the stocks.

When young I wanted to be a girl and was appalled as maleness tightened its grip during my teens and altered me forever (or so it seemed). I thrust the anguish and despair into a mental box - as I did with everything that was unbearable - and then for years at a time pretended that I had no problem. In fact for more than forty years I did a very good job at convincing myself and everyone else that I was perfectly happy with my life. So much so that nobody can now believe what was really going on.

Occasionally the box would pop open. It did when I first saw the film 'Tootsie' in the early 1980s: I was in a right old state after seeing that. It did when in 1991, living on my own for the first time in years, I weakened and indulged in an orgy of crossdressing.

But like you I didn't ever consciously feel like 'a woman trapped in a man's body'. Rather, I felt like neither a man nor a woman, but some deformed hybrid creature with a secret to keep safe. I always had a lot of secrets. This was just one of them, a biggie, but not the only thing I couldn't admit to the world.


Melissa said...

@ Jenny

I'm glad you said, "thorns removed, naturally", I could just picture one of those pointy things headed straight for my eye! ;-)

@ Stace

Re: I wanted nothing more than to wake up one morning and find myself the girl I knew I was.

I always longed to be a girl, and I would pray and wish upon stars, that I when I woke up, I too would be a girl. Not because I knew I was a girl, but precisely because I knew I wasn't. I hated having to be a boy, and missing out on the way girls were treated. I hated that all of the wonderful girly things they got to do, were forbidden to me.

I think so much of what we say about ourselves today, is influenced by what we have been hearing others say. Many transsexuals are afraid that they won't be taken seriously, unless they proclaim that they hate their bodies. I have never hated my body. There are things about it that I would like to have different, but I actually like much of it. I wish I was six or seven inches shorter, and that I had no body or facial hair, or male pattern baldness, but I like my face, and I like the shape of my arms and legs, and hands and feet. I have never hated my genitalia, but unlike most males, who take pride in theirs, I've always felt rather embarrassed about mine.

@ Leslie Ann

You are a creature of logic. Me too! Hmmm......maybe we're Vulcan. :-)

@ Lucy

Re: "Rather, I felt like neither a man nor a woman, but some deformed hybrid creature with a secret to keep safe."

Very succinctly put, Lucy. I think that sums up the way I have felt too.

Melissa X

Anonymous said...

Melissa, I love this post!

"I always longed to be a girl, and I would pray and wish upon stars, that when I woke up, I too would be a girl. Not because I knew I was a girl, but precisely because I knew I wasn't."

"I have never hated my genitalia, but unlike most males, who take pride in theirs, I've always felt rather embarrassed about mine."

It's like you're inside my head!

But don't let the lemmings get to you. Some of us might say anything to get what we want. Who knows? I might find myself repeating those words to a doctor just for the prescription slip. Actually, I tend to believe that's how the phrase became widespread. It's the doctors we have to say these things to, because they don't take us seriously. At least, that's what I think, but then again, I've never liked doctors. :P

Stace said...

OK - I've been thinking about this for a while now. See if I can actually put down what I am trying to say.

Yesterday was a poor choice of words I think. Instead of 'I knew I was' it should have been 'knew I should have been'. I *think* that is closer to what is in my head.

I've always felt rather embarrassed about mine

As for the genitalia - yes I think that also fits. But I do not like it *because* I am embarassed about it.

But I have always had, and suspect always will have, terrible self body image. Whether this is connected, or a seperate issue I do not know. What I do know is that after working out hard and actually managing to buy a shirt size 'S' on Saturday I put it on this morning and still thought I looked overweight. Stupid, illgical, wish I didn't - but I do.

As to how I feel as an adult. After thinking about it all weekend trapped is still the way I would describe it. I do not feel like a man, but I can never know if I feel like a woman - as I do not know what that feels like.

It's confusing to me - so appologies if the comment makes no sense to you - and over the course of this year as I start speaking to the therapists at the hospital maybe it will become clearer in my head... We'll see.

Great post, and response.


Calie said...

I also hate that phrase, Melissa. I have yet to meet a TS who would say that.

Like Leslie, the feeling of being trapped has hit me more than once, but not being trapped in the wrong body.

Calie xxx

Anonymous said...

Melissa I have been away a little and so I am enjoying reading the posts I have missed.

I think I would say my own description was one of total confusion for years. I knew I wasn't totally right as a male but also knew I wasn't a female. I am so grateful to the internet. Without it I have no idea how I would have come to this place of peace amd relative acceptance of myself. I feel trapped in many ways and sometimes my body can feel lke it prevents me from being who I want to be and although I spent years in confusion I can say in agreement with you that I never felt I was a man trapped in a female body. It is a 'cliche' and I can see how it got to be so adopted but it isn't accurate and not a helpful or even true claim.

Nothing has helped me understand myself more, than people's personal stories rather than books and people like yourself who I am so grateful for.

Helen xx

GirlWhoShould (Lucy) said...

So true.
That phrase has become such a tabloid cliche it should be avoided at all costs.
I think there's an element of peer pressure to conform to the perfect transsexual narrative and the feeling that your diagnosis is invalidated if it isn't.
Lucy x