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beyond the prime directive

If we remove the respective procreation functions of men and women from the equation what does sex and gender mean and how does our internal sense of where we belong on the spectrum develop?

It appears that it may be innate and, as Harry Benjamin pointed out, after the age of four that gender identification cannot be altered. The unfortunate case of David Reimer helped us understand this and his forced gender reassignment advocated by John Money did not work because, in spite of being reared as a girl, his internal sense of gender was always male.

This is one way we have come to know that male to female transsexualism is real and why the identification of these children is unwavering and cannot be impacted via psychotherapy. Only the individual's own refusal of self acceptance and intensity of dysphoria will help determine an outcome.

Conversion therapy on strongly dysphoric children doesn’t work and the now retired CAMH practitioner Kenneth Zucker may or may not have had success with children who were borderline. Perhaps some were simply future homosexuals who would come to outgrow their temporary practices. Others who would not demonstrate overtly effeminate traits would not even have been brought to him and simply hid much longer.

So with an early biological component in place we are left to wonder how much socialization can impact this early imprinting. It should be intuitive to state that if the child grows up in a non-accepting environment, the journey should be that much more difficult. It is clear that in the Reimer case, where dysphoria was not present, no amount of socialization could affect his core gender identity.

Afterwards, puberty adds another layer of complexity with two possible roads for these children who will either become woman-loving or man-loving. But even here things are not clear cut since sexual orientation has been known to shift after hormone replacement therapy.

But viewing gender outside of the biological imperative to reproduce should make it easier to accept transsexualism and that its sufferers who transition are women. After all what is the difference between a transitioned woman and a biological one who cannot conceive if neither has ever identified as a male from the outset?

This condition may be an anomaly but it is one that nature created hence detractors cannot blame the patient. This is why I am always astonished at the stupidity of social conservatives who use DNA and chromosomes in their arguments as if somehow this knowledge would cure transsexuals. Regardless, it appears that the condition is independent of genetic architecture and likely originates in a brain which, in every other respect, is in perfect working order.


  1. I'm afraid that I share the "stupidity of social conservatives" in that I think the biological argument does give one reason to think and rethink the validity of the path I am on. This path is not only the one less traveled, but it is littered with illogical debris. Is it any wonder that one can feel very confused? A simple glance in the mirror can upturn whatever thought I might conceive. One can tuck and bind and cover and mask and dress and apply till you are blue in the face, but fundamentally nothing has changed.

    I'm sorry to be a naysayer. To deny the struggle simply isn't in me at the moment.

    1. You don't need to apologize Katie as this is a very difficult question to grapple with. My point is that there is more than meets the eye here and just looking at DNA is not sufficient. Gender dysphoria is sourced elsewhere...

    2. yes there is confusion and debris and you and I both are dealing with this but the reality is that we are not going to be cured of our dysphoria so you have two choices in that you transition or you don't and if you don't you must find a way to grapple with it because it will not be ignored. Hence whatever path you are on is the only option you have as long as it is an honest one in your mind.

  2. I suppose the question that keeps inserting itself is the matter of what really is real. Biology can easily be observed. I don't need a microscope or DNA testing to discover real things about myself. Getting inside one's head is another matter completely. Most people dream dreams that are completely divorced from reality. Most are harmless, but sometimes these delusional thoughts are more potent and thus are potentially more influential. I find it difficult to dismiss the notion that at some point in time and for unknown reason(s), or at least for reasons that I can't explain, a tiny spark was ignited which eventually led me to embrace a delusion that is simply at odds with observable reality. I don't spend lots of time scanning the sky for flying pigs , but I do wear a bra when it is perfectly obvious that I don't have enough breast tissue to justify wearing even an A A bra. One could argue (and I often do with myself) that I am simply not being honest with myself, that I have constructed a "new reality" when in reality it is a fantasy and occasionally a self-destructive one at that. The argument that one wouldn't choose such a difficult path and therefore it must be real doesn't hold much water for me. People choose all manner of self-destructive paths all the time.

    Thank you for your patience with me. I am sorry that I am such a difficult contributor to your blog. If I cross the line or wear out your patience, I hope you will say so and I will go back to merely being a reader.

    1. to which I would I would answer: do you think you are deluding yourself or does what you are experiencing feel real to you? I am a grounded person in every way so why would I not be grounded when it comes to this topic as well? I am afraid that the difficult path argument does hold water for me because I am too pragmatic a person to fall into folly hence my feelings around being transgender also aren't since I wished with all my heart for years to have it taken away. I now have a choice to pretend its not there but then that would make me suffer uselessly.

      Oh and please post all you like as I don't mind answering you in the least!


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