Thursday, May 10, 2007

the third option

A good friend of mine in Texas is struggling to define his identity. Born male, he is transgendered and believes he would be happier as a female.

I watch this mess unfold, and honestly, I think we're going about this all the wrong way. Maybe it's not meant to be an either/or choice, a mutually exclusive pair of options. Maybe Sisyphus really did have to struggle and sweat and contend with that damn boulder for all eternity in order to receive the reprieve of the Elysian Fields that the gods had promised him, once he got it to the top of the hill; but maybe there was another option, some other way to get it up there, but he never stopped to consider it because he got it stuck in his head that the only way to get the damn thing to the top of the hill was to fight and struggle against its determination to stay at the bottom of the hill.

I'm not saying that transitioning into life as a woman is necessarily the right thing to do, because it is, I think, silly to believe that the inner gendered self is truer or more important than the outward physical self; if God created the one, then surely he created the other. And perhaps the evangelicals and the fundamentalists would be right to say that gender dysphoria is simply part of the sinful nature and you need to nail it to the Cross every day, along with every other question about sexual identity ... but maybe there's an asset to it that we haven't discovered because we've been taught to see it strictly as a right-or-wrong moral issue.

I don't know what I think, honestly. I have to say that Christ is someone who brings life and freedom from shame, while the Church often delights in putting people under the yoke of expectation. Christianist sharia is such a bitch to live under.

That's not a license to disregard our obligations or to revel in self-indulgence, but surely feeling dead all the time isn't what Christ intends for us, is it? I don't see the freedom and life that Christ brings in choosing to be miserable all our lives, any more than I see it in the choice to destroy our lives in the name of self-expression.

1 comment:

Liadan said...

I'm thinking it's equally as silly to think that one's outer shell is more important or a better indicator of one's "true sex" than one's own mind and heart. Particularly considering that the body can be remarkably fuzzy about its definitions when one considers things like androgen insensitivity syndrome and chromosomal abnormalities.

For my part, I had a college acquaintance who was a female-to-male transsexual. He was miserable as a girl-- he hated having a female body, and he hated being perceived and treated as female by other people. I wasn't close to him, but my friend M was his roommate, and she would tell me about him surreptitiously cutting, getting depressed around his period, getting depressed in general, etc. Identifying and being treated as a man made a world of difference to him-- I could see it whenever I did something as simple as referring to him as "he," or poking fun at him for being "such a man" about something. It's not just a matter of "being happy;" for him, it was as much a matter of functional sanity as acknowledging and being honest about my gayness was to me.

For my part, I would be royally annoyed to be perceived and treated as a "man," and it pissed me off to no end when my mom accused me of wanting to be a man, because I'm a woman and simply *not a man,* and I would feel the same way (having thought the matter through at some length) whether I had a penis or a vagina. And it doesn't seem right to me, not having to take up the burden of having my outer self conflict with the inner, to tell those that do what they can or should do about it. (Which I don't think is your intention, btw-- that's just my response.)