Born This Way

“Don’t be a drag, just be a queen
Whether you’re broke or evergreen
You’re black, white, beige, chola descent
You’re Lebanese, you’re orient
Whether life’s disabilities
Left you outcast, bullied, or teased
Rejoice and love yourself today
’cause baby you were born this way

No matter gay, straight, or bi,
Lesbian, transgendered life,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to survive.
No matter black, white or beige
Chola or orient made,
I’m on the right track baby,
I was born to be brave.” – Lady Gaga

I was born transgender.  I was born a transgender baby.  A boy with female sex organs.  Unfortunately in 1962 and still today not much is known about being transgender.  What we do know is that it is not something that you can catch or become at a later time.  It’s something one is born with.  The prevailing theory today is that it has to do with hormonal fluctuations while we’re developing in the womb that result in a mismatch between brain sex and physical sex.  I’m not a scientist or a doctor so I don’t understand it completely but I understand enough to know that this is not something I can change and it isn’t my fault.  It’s not a moral issue or a question of right and wrong.  It’s similar to being born with any other abnormality like deafness, blindness, or Down syndrome.  Most birth defects are easily detectable and, once detected can be corrected if possible or at least learned to live with.  It affects the child for the rest of their lives if a cure doesn’t come around.  Outsiders and family don’t judge the parents or the child for being born this way.  They accept it and deal with it.  But for a transgender child it isn’t so obvious and most often they are shamed and ridiculed for speaking up about how they feel wrong in their body.  In 1962 it was not even a notion in anyone’s head that there could actually be a scientific reason for why I was so miserable being raised as a girl.  I was simply labeled a “Tomboy” or told I was being a bad kid for fighting about wearing dresses and playing with dolls.  I grew up rebellious, angry and confused.

But suppose for a minute that I was born in 2015 with the knowledge we have today of what it is to be transgender and I started acting the way I did in the early ’60s around my gender.  Today it is possible that someone might consider my behavior a symptom of a bigger problem than just being rebellious or a Tomboy.  It’s possible that I could have realized myself at a much younger age that I was transgender instead of mis-diagnosing myself for 30+ years as a lesbian.

It’s confusing, I know.  Sex and gender are closely related.  Sexuality and gender presentation are related.  Who we’re attracted to sexually is related to gender expression in many ways.  It’s a rare person who is gender blind or gender fluid.  For so many years I thought I understood myself but I didn’t.  The knowledge just wasn’t in my head yet to figure it all out.  But now the knowledge and understanding is there, not just in my mind but in the world’s mind if they’ll only listen.

The truth is that transgenderism is a medical condition.  It’s not something to be ashamed of or shunned because of.  Religion has no right to judge it.  No one has a right to judge it any more than they would judge a deaf child or a child with Down syndrome.  The child didn’t choose to be born that way but there is a responsibility for society to help that child live and develop into the best person they can be.  It’s no different for trans kids.  Society has a responsibility to give them every possible option to live a full and happy life as their true authentic selves.  This is not a question of morality or religious values.

The usual treatment plan for transgenderism includes allowing the child (or adult) to live as the gender that is right for them, hormone therapy, and correction of any physical attributes that cause them dysphoria or get in the way of them living as their true gender.  If science suddenly came up for a cure for Down’s Syndrome don’t you think that most people would jump at the chance to get the medicine?  It’s possible I’m speaking about something I shouldn’t here and if I am then I apologize but I chose Down’s as an example because the symptoms of it are both external and internal.  In my hypothetical example the medicine would cure the internal aspect of the syndrome and surgeries may or may not be elected, determined by the patient, to change the physical symptoms.  Being trans is similar in that there are both internal and external problems to solve.  Hormones help with the internal part and surgeries align the physical body to the mind’s eye as much as possible.  This is the only known cure at this time.  Some people decide to live with it instead of going through the arduous task of changing their lives and bodies.  That’s their choice to make and it doesn’t make them any less transgender.  Even with the hormones and surgeries that I may opt to have I will always be transgender.  There isn’t really a ‘cure’ that will make it go away but there certainly are viable options to make living with it a whole lot easier and nearly a non topic in one’s life unless i choose to address it regularly.

We need more education about what it is to be transgender and debunk the myths of this being a choice or a mental illness or a bizarre sexual fetish.  Society is still in the dark to a huge degree and still misunderstand what it really is.  Being transgender is not a reason to be shamed or ridiculed or shunned.  It is not a reason to be beaten or raped or murdered and it is not a reason to end your life.  There is so much to be hopeful about but also so much more work to be done.  Every one of us who lives our lives and educates friends, family, co-workers and medical professionals is doing a part in paving the way for a brighter future for the young trans children of tomorrow.

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20 thoughts on “Born This Way

  1. I have mixed feelings about “diagnosing” being transgender – and whether you could tell if a fetus is transgender – the way that some people screen for birth defects early in pregnancy.
    I can all too easily imagine a society that would abort us without blinking twice.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree completely. It’s similar to the ‘gay gene’ that they supposedly found. I had the same thought when that came out. I’m strictly speaking of a diagnosis once the child is developed enough to start communicating their desires and needs in a consistent, persistent and insistent way and I would never advocate for anyone to force another human being into something they don’t wish so it has to be a collaboration between the child, the parents and the medical community.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Such a good point Jamie. To riff on this post, now that many people screen for Down’s during pregnancy, something like 90% of pregnancies where Down’s is indicated are aborted. This would certainly be the case for trans folks too.

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  2. I find myself struggling with the words abnormality and problem when describing us trans people. Society and medicines sense of normal/deviant and abnormal are limiting. I consider us to be not deviants but nature made realities. We are here and have the right to be here as any minority. Now moving into problem… Again there is a negative conotation put onto me with this. Am I or any trans person the problem? Or is societies limited perception of what is natural or not the problem? I believe it is the latter. I agree it is a medical condition requiring treatment. But I don’t see it as a disease. We are who we are. We exist in large enough numbers to not be deviant disease ridden problem. Which I know is essentially the message you are sending. To be proud not ashamed of who we are. This I totally agree with. Semantics.
    Regardless thank you for the oust and the positive life affirming message within!!

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    • Semantics are so tough! It wasn’t my intention to make anyone feel like they’re diseased or abnormal in a negative way. Quite the opposite and I think you got that from me. This was tricky to write and I tried to pick my words with care. I just feel strongly that if everyone could see that it’s not a moral issue or a choice it might foster more understanding and less prejudice. We deserve the same respect and care as any other person on the planet.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yes I did get the intended message and do appreciate it. It isn’t a moral issue or choice. We need to be proud and stand tall. And I agree semantics are difficult as one word can hold charge for some and none for others.

        It is interesting as I hear the MichFest will do its final festival this year and understanding the creators intent some 40 yrs ago. Maybe the trans community needs to do something similar. And in the unity and community find strength. The Trans Conventions just don’t quite feel the same.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. You’re absolutely right. Being trans is not a choice or a moral issue, it’s part of naturally occurring human variation.

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  4. Well written! As a person with a hearing disability as well as being trans, I have first hand experience that society does not care to try and understand ANY kind of deviance from the ‘norm.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Kris! The closest experience I have to experiencing life with a disability is when I’ve broken bones and had to be in a cast and crutches. Generally I felt like people were compassionate and helpful but that was only a temporary situation. I do think as the situation wore on people got tired of having to help me out and started asking me when I was getting the cast off. I wish the world was a more open and loving place for all people. I know it can be.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Like Kris, I am a disabled trans person, and sadly have to agree with him on how society as a whole sees and treats us. People don’t want to be bothered. They don’t want to take the time to understand anything that deviates from their perception of “normal”.
    Also, people can be so condescending. Helping you when you never asked for any help to begin with – and the smug look on their faces says it all. That’s when I have to restrain myself to not get out of my wheelchair (yes, I can totally do that) and punch their noses.
    As for my trans-ness (is that even a word?): most don’t even see it. :/

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liam I’m really sorry people treat you like this. It makes me wonder if I’m guilty of that at all. I don’t see that many people in wheel chairs but if I have the opportunity to open a door for them or something I always try to do it and also smile and say hi. I don’t do this to make myself feel better but because I think it’s the right thing to do and I want to be nice. Like I said to Kris, we have a long way to go as a society on a lot of fronts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Now, opening doors for people in wheelchairs is a nice thing to do. Doors can be so hard to open when you’re in a wheelchair. It’s things like people taking things from my shopping basket (without even asking whether I want or need any help) and putting them on the checkout counter for me. I do, however, appreciate when people ask if I want any help. That way, I can choose to either accept or decline. In the end, I guess, it’s all about choice and people respecting your right to choose what’s right for you.
        Which brings us neatly back to what I take as one of the main points you’re making in this blog post: Though at birth we were not given the choice to be either trans or cis, we should definitely have the right to choose what’s right for us now, with no one judging us for the choices we make – whether they be to transition or learn to live with it (part time, stealth, whatever…).

        Liked by 3 people

  6. I think you did a really good job discussing a really tough subject. I can relate to your struggle to find the correct words to get your point across. When I have tried to write about my experience with my son, I’ve encountered the same challenge.

    I think that the bottom line in all of this is that you did not choose this. Just like a person that chooses medication or procedures in order to live without the discomfort brought on by “whatever”, transgender people deserve the same. And their decisions about what they need to do this should be respected, just like anyone else.

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    • Thank you Kat. Yes, that is what I was trying to get at. It’s just another human condition that people have and it shouldn’t be demonized or shamed. It’s not a moral issue. It’s a medical issue. It’s not a “lifestyle”. It’s not a choice. It deserves respect and empathy like any other condition and it shouldn’t be so darned hard!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hello. I had dysphoria and didn’t know what to call it till I read your blog(s). A month ago I came out to myself and a couple of people as trans. Born this Way spoke to me and I feel good things, as well as sucky things, are ahead of me now. I feel elated and scared at the same time. I will have to stay female because I am disabled with a limited income. Just knowing there is a community and possibilities gives me hope. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Jan! I’m glad you found my blog and thanks for sharing a bit of your story with me. I’m always glad to hear that what I write speaks to folks out there in the world. There is a community here and I’ve always found it to be supportive and helpful so I hope it can help you too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have great hope. My partner of 16 yrs. has always referred to me as ‘her man’ and, as we talk, is extremely supportive. Mentioning her biggest fear being what may transpire once I begin to transition ~ as she put it ~ above the neck. Her concern is hormones might cause me grief. Reminded her I JUST came out, hormones far in the distance, and we both laughed. We have agreed to pursue a therapist sensitive to trans issues. Do they exist, I wonder? For now, am following yours and Jamie Ray’s blogs and am attending the Trans Health Conference in Philly on Friday. Feel on the right track, so to speak. Thanks for your support!

        Liked by 1 person

  8. It’s a huge gift that your partner is supportive. So many of us struggle with that part. Yes, there are therapists that specialize in gender in most cities. The Philly Trans Health Conference will be a great way to get a lot of your questions answered. It does sound like you’re on the right track! Good luck and thanks again for the follow. Feel free to ask me anything, not that I’m an expert or anything, but I’m always willing to help if I can and share my experiences.

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