Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Changing your mind...

"When the facts change I change my mind Sir.  What do you do?"  
- John Maynard Keynes

Thinking and acting in a different gender is hard.  And it isn't because one has to make stuff up ("Let's see, what would a woman do here?") although there is a little bit of that in the beginning.  No what is hard is getting rid of the stuff I came with prior to transition, that is, the layers and layers of thought that I imposed on myself to convince myself that I had a male's brain (more of that in a great article from the WSJ here.)  The one scientific fact about being a transsexual (which is a cool word in a way, far better than transgender or trans, as far as I am concerned) that seems to be certain, based on over 200 different neuroanatomy studies (see here) is that a female transsexual’s brain is more like a woman's than a man's.  So I never really had a male brain, and that makes sense in so many ways looking back on how I tried to fit in, with a male body but a female brain.

And attempts to cope with that situation led to my cognitive layers.  We all have them, layers and layers of rules, rationalizations, and other cognitive phenomena, especially as we get older.  They influence our behavior and thoughts, and I think that those layers are one of the things Christ told us to get rid of: "Unless you be as a child..."  And sometimes we can and do, and move ahead happy with our simpler ways of thinking.  But not often and it has always amazed me how many layers there are; and how we may never really get rid of them.  For example, someone who is constantly late may have any number of reasons for doing so, some of them a reaction to authority ("I'm not going to live by their clock!") and of course others.

What happened in my life was like that.  I had to get rid of layers of aggression, imposed on myself because the world constantly frustrated me, because I was reacting the “Wrong” way, as a chick trying to be a guy, but I don’t know that, just that I couldn’t get what I wanted, what others seemed to have.  So I resorted to aggression; beating people up to get what I wanted.  I became a football player, and then a lawyer, skilled in meeting the battle.  

But the problem was when I realized who I was (more on that in a previous post here), I couldn’t use any of that, any of those layers I had built up over almost 50 years.  And those layers weren’t only bad.  They sustained me and allowed me to live, because even though I covered up my true nature, I needed some coping mechanism, and that is what these layers were: helping me cope with a condition that I may have dimly known I had.  So I had to, as well, try to learn new skills to replace the old; if the old would have me yelling at people to get my way, the new had me not knowing what to do to get my way.   

And slowly, very slowly, the answer has come and it is a surprising one because, as I said at the beginning, it isn’t making stuff up but simply reacting to what has been there all along, the small voice inside of me, the one that I remember now was constantly present as a child, before the layers and layers were created, the one that let me act and be, before the wrongness of my condition became apparent to those around me, and I learned to cover it up, and build the layers.

That voice is back, because I am a different gender, but the one I knew I was.  It tells me to always be nice and act in love, and be gracious and kind.  And I act that way and think that way now, all too poorly, but I try.  And sometimes the layers do come back, and I have to look at what I am doing, using old ways, and interfering with who I am, confusing people too, becuase I almost become a strangley differnt person.  But those are slowly becoming less and less, because I know it is all coping crap coming back, and I don't need that stuff now.

So this is a happy story too.  I’ve finally coordinated mind with body, changed my mind to accommodate new facts.  And it feels so…integrated, so secure, so damn right. 


  1. So is the brain a matter of biological "gender" or psychological "gender"? One is immutable and the other is pliable, right? On the one hand, the biological seems fixed -- and gender is really no factor. On the other hand, gender is a social construct. But, at the bottom, the biology is the reality, but the psychology is the illusion. You see, as an outsider with little understanding of your issues, I think the paradox is the unsolvable problem. Right? Then how does a person sensibly go about resolving the paradox? I argue that there can be no resolution -- no matter how much you would wish to impose a resolution. Right? After all, reality is reality, and an illusion is an illusion. Right? I hope my thinking and questioning is not offensive. But I remain convinced that reality cannot be altered. Illusions, on the other hand, are another matter.

  2. HI RT! I don't know how much biology you know but surely brain development is part of biology, or "reality." And if the hormones in the womb don't affect the Central Nervous System in development as they would if I was male, yet the hormones in the womb in charge of body development read "male" then you have the dichotomy that is a female transsexual... one is mind biology one is body -- but both are biology -- they just create, what
    might be to you and others, two absolutly different systems -- one male and one female in the same body. (which is exactly btw how Genesis describes humanity made in God's image -- "Male AND female" not "Male OR female." IF I understand your comment "reality" to you is the body only; to me it is the mind and soul too...but you have to understand that both mind AND body are biologically based, both are biological reality.