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my pipe dream...

The human brain is a fascinating organ.

Through it, we express our intellect, emotions and our gender identity and do so, for the most part, independently of biological plumbing. This is why we see variations, combinations and permutations of both sexual and gender identity. We see butch women, effeminate men, transmen, transwomen, transsexuals, pansexuals, bisexual, gay, straight, asexual and you can freely mix and match amongst the aforementioned categories.

Every person is a combination of both genders with the dominant normally aligning itself with our birth sex; however this is not always the case. We sometimes see masculinity and femininity being almost reversed in an individual while they remain comfortable with their birth sex.

Most people in fact retain a solid footing within one of the gender binaries but the transgendered brain seems to combine both in an unusual way with no obvious winner in sight. There is often a tug of war to establish dominance between a clearly male or female identity. For some, this struggle can endure a lifetime, for others it can mean a peaceful existence between both genders and for others a definite reversal of sexual and gender identity has taken place which requires correction.

None of this is predictable through biology but we know these variations have been taking place since humankind has existed.

With the advent of gender theory and the work of Magnus Hirschfield and then Harry Benjamin we began to see the first serious scientific study into gender variance and how it manifested itself in different people. With those early attempts at categorization came the inevitable comparisons between types and the all too human need to discriminate and discredit. None of this was found in the original work but showed up later in the personal writings of others who sought to legitimize their own situation through disparaging of others.

Later the work of Ray Blanchard would seek to build theories around only one group of individuals; namely male to female transsexuals seeking gender reassignment at his Alberta clinic. Not only was the size of the sample very small but female to male gender variant people were entirely excluded making the work completely unscientific and devoid of legitimacy. For Ray Blanchard you were either a fetishist male in love with the idea of feminizing your body or a homosexual male seeking to increase your choices of partners while reducing the stigma and discrimination that being gay in society entails.

Somehow Ray Blanchard was allowed to contribute to the DSM on issues pertaining to gender variance and transition.

The reality of what is actually going on is far more complex than the picture painted by Blanchard and what we instead have is a spectrum of human behaviour that illustrates the diversity of what it means to be human.

Because we are intrinsically complex creatures with tremendous biological variations, it makes sense that these same variations would also show up in the area of sexual and gender identity and they do; they always have.

The attempts at categorization and definitions have of course brought along an inevitable component – politicization. This is why see infighting and divisiveness in an attempt, by some, to establish more credibility for themselves.

What has not helped is that those who see themselves as mildly gender variant have been hesitant to step forth and be recognized. A heterosexual married crossdresser, for example, has no need or desire for notoriety and therefore shuns the spotlight but he would do well to be more visible because he is part of that spectrum as well. He could help legitimize the desires of those who want to be recognized as women due to their desire to live full time as such.

No one wants to be shunned or be seen as abnormal but we all are in some way.

Fully transitioned women may want to live in stealth and reject the transgender community while others embrace their origins and try to help as much as they can while being open about their surgery.

Times continue to change and society adapts to new realities (albeit very slowly).

I am not sure that we even need a biological tracer any longer. Just as there is no “gay gene” on record we do not require a “trans gene” to point the way forward. All we need is the will to recognize that there are people in this world who are by nature uncomfortable to subscribing to a binary system that does not adequately fit them. What each of them does to be true to their inside should be permitted if not celebrated because mentally healthy individuals is what we are after.

It has been shown that in cultures where gender variance is tolerated or even venerated that these people are comfortable in their own skin and are simply seen to be part of the fabric of that society. Every era has had communities like these and today we can point to places like Samoa, Thailand and India as examples of cultures where there is far less stigma around this issue.

Our conservative Judeo- Christian background in North America has made it difficult for gender nonconforming people to live openly as themselves but this is changing ever so slowly and as painful as the change might be for some, it needs to happen.

The fact is that gender variant people are never going to go away and sweeping them under the carpet or marginalizing them will not work.

The next decades should see a rewriting of the DSM and revision to public policies which respect the rights of decent and lawful individuals to live out their lives as they desire.

Transition will also be more of an option than a necessity for those who might see living their lives as a third gender to be more palatable than having to choose a side. If you want to that’s fine but it should not be because you feel obligated to. There should not be rules here and indeed we are seeing many examples of transgender people choosing to live out their lives as the opposite gender without opting for GRS.

The response to your situation should be consummate to the degree of your dysphoria; nothing more and nothing less.

Maybe it’s a pipe dream but it’s the way things need to be.


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  2. I couldn't agree more about going slow and only doing what is necessary, the only difficulty I have with this and others who are similar to me might feel that going slow just simply does not get them close enough to where they need to be to feel comfortable. How much pain must one endure to be sure of something? That might be the answer. One could say that it might relate directly to ones life span, but since we never know how long we will live that is impossible to contemplate.

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