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two persons one body??

On page 139 of Harry Benjamin's book the Transsexual Phenomenon there is the life story of someone referred to as Ralph; a MtF transsexual (at the time age 67 and operated upon at age 58). In one portion Benjamin states:

"Many transsexuals have, in a sense, two identities, male and female, but this should not be confused with those cases of dual or multiple personality described in the psychiatric literature. Rather, the two identities are a practical, if strange, way of dealing with a real problem: the male identity which the individual is often obliged to assume in his contacts with others, and the female identity which he believes to be his true one, and which he assumes in private or when dressed as a woman.

In Ralph's case, the problem was formulated by him as Ralph = male = body; Clara = female = mind. Between these two, a dialogue would often be conducted, again as is not uncommon among transsexuals. Today, Clara remarks that "Ralph is now (since the operation) dead. Poor Ralph, he tried so hard to make a go of it." Ralph had "tried to be a man, but was always a woman." Clara, in those days, "was a woman, but was deformed by being trapped in the body of a man." Whenever Ralph would put on women's clothing, Clara would "take over completely" and Ralph would "cease to exist." Yet, Clara was always aware of Ralph's existence and dreaded the moment when she would have to yield to Ralph again - that is, have to go back to pretending to be a man and perform a man's functions in the world. Ralph always lived only for the moment when Clara could again take over and the painful pretense could end, at least for a time. When the transsexual is operated upon, this dichotomy and dialogue is finally ended, so that it may be said that an integration has been achieved."


I can identify with this passage quite well as in a sense there appears to be an almost schizophrenic situation at play here. There are'nt two people residing in the same body but yet two distinct personalities need to exist; one that needs to exist and work in the world and the other the true person wanting to be free.

As someone who is able to still go back to a male persona but relishes the time I can spend as a female, this passage does touch me in a very personal way and I can relate to it.

But what I have been finding is that as I have incorporated Joanna into my life in a more serene way, it has not taken away my desire to present as a male. In other words, I can put Joanna's things away and not feel the strong pangs of regret by going back into male mode.

In Ralph's (now Clara) case this was not a workable option but she still managed to make a go of it for 57 years presenting as a male which is quite remarkable.

Comments

  1. I findl one of the best aspects of being bi-gendered is the ability to move my mind from male to female mode and to match my dress to my mindset. I sense that I am more male than female but I cherish my time away from my macho side when I can let down my maleness and just dwell in a kinder, gentler, personna.
    Pat

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  2. I think that is only part of it for me Pat. Its actually part of what I feel as my core identity but I have decided not to throw away one side to favor the other. For some its not even a question to make that change and they would trade their male life in a heartbeat to be who they truly feel they are inside.

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  3. The root of my dysphoria was trying to maintain 2 personae and the main issue was my male side trying to suppress my female side. Only by recognizing that I really only had one personae and that I could only really be happy just being myself was I able minimize it. I think most people really care about what other people think of them and it's a huge hurdle to overcome, but it's necessary to overcome if we (or at least I) are going to find happiness.

    Lindsay

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  4. the more I have succeeded in melding both sides, the more I have started to feel whole. Joanna is not an appendage but simply part my personhood. For some this is not possible because the female is the one true and overwhelming identity such as in types V and VI.

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  5. it is interesting in that i have had this discussion with my neighbor who is a psychotherapist.
    and when a few years ago i mentioned the schizophrenic type situation he said " no it isn't the same as you know who you are even when out as your female self. vs a schizophrenic who looses that knowledge of who they are while they are one of their other personality"

    in my case i really like both selves (sort of twin souled) even though my diana side keeps nudging a bit more as time goes on. i thought we had an understanding that if she takes over entirely she will have killed off her male host. but she still persists in nudging for more. *sigh*

    accepting and coming out to most around me (even though i am not planning upon transitioning although i do have a TS cousin that did transition in her late 50's whom i have only recently come to know) has actually been a great help as now i no longer have to hide in the shadows

    ReplyDelete
  6. Diana I think that coming out and not hiding is key. The other aspect is to try and blend both "halves" (if you will) as much as you can so that the dressing is'nt dressing but just being who you are. I know that's helped me enourmously.

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  7. So are you a different person as Joanna?

    ReplyDelete

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