Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Whoooo Are You?

What defines who you are? Is it your mind, or your body – or some combination of them both? Or is it society – how the people around you perceive you to be? How do you know? Is it inside you, or do you look to an outside authority, like science, or psychology, or the Bible, or your friends and the clerk at the grocery store?

The Bible says, "God created man in his image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them." What does that mean? Is god male and female both, like a transperson? Are humans all created as both men and women, some combination so that there is no such thing as "all man" or "all woman," but each human a unique mixture of both? Or that everyone is split into two discrete identities of sex, and the matching gender to go with it?

We've all got at least one X chromosome.

Are you defined by society? Do the people on the street see the real you? What if one person thinks you're beautiful, another thinks you're ugly. What if everyone thinks you're ugly. Does it make you so?

I don't think so. Society sees only the physical presence. It knows nothing of the real person behind the body's mask.

My friend B__ thinks mind and body can't be separated. "Mind and body are one and the same." By that logic, am I not defined as both man and woman? Nobody can see it, but I know with absolute conviction that my mind is female. I am female. My body? It's obvious to everyone that my body is more or less male, and certainly my genetic makeup is male.

But my body is changing. I'm growing breasts, losing body hair, my skin is growing softer, fat is moving from my stomach to my butt and thighs, and, I suppose, the back of my arms. Does who I am change when my body changes? When my testicles are cut off and my penis inverted? When hormones and surgery change my body so irrevocably that even my gynecologist can't tell whether I was born male or female?

How then can I – the core I, my own deepest identity and truth – be both male and female?

Having lived over 40 years fighting a dichotomy of sex and gender, I cannot agree with B__. My self, my soul, my being, resides in something that cannot be seen. It is that part of me that is alive, and so is completely immaterial, ephemeral, and probably immortal. When I die, my body will remain, unchanged except for the lack of action within it. Yet it will not be me; I will be gone.

My body does not define who I am; it plays little or no part in that definition.

It does, however, define a great deal of my experience, and it defines how others see me.

That is the crux of the transperson's dilemma. It is telling, and it is tragic. Because B__ is not alone. People – especially men – see me, and they see male. They do not see me, and so they do not respond to me as they would if they saw my soul. Men want me because I'm male – or they don't want me because I'm male. Those who would rape a woman's body would kill mine. But who wants to take me tenderly for the woman I am?

Because, no matter what my genetic makeup, no matter what my body morphology – I am a woman.

1 comment:

hal2008 said...

"I don't know what to do with my self" :)

Listen Seda, everyone feels out of sorts from time to time. I've read at that I, Jaguar (mayan sun sign for 12/10/75) have feminine energy. I eat that up! My mom called me a deer/dear (also identified with through the Mayan calender) or Hal-ie, my dad...honey boy, sweet boy but what I felt was hurt. It doesn't help that as I became a man, with divorced parents, I grew into a neutered version because abandonment issues kept me too close to my family.

But now full beard and comfort with my Jaguar growl, sometimes I hiss and bitch.

It's seems oxy-moronic ? but sometimes I still think, and laugh...I don't know what to do with my self.

I found that what you do defines you. We are given the choices and all we have is our decisions.

Y is sometimes negligible ;)

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our