The issue of gender transmission or reassignment is very difficult for me to comprehend and accept. I fully understand that many people today consider the transgender individual to be only someone who has made a necessary adjustment, and because they believe on the deepest levels that their physical bodies did not reflect their true gender. The man feels that he is in the “wrong” body because everything he perceives and feels informs him that he is a woman, just as women are similarly motivated to change gender. I also understand that this is very removed from homosexuality; it is a far more visceral case of birth gender as incorrect, and modern medical science is capable of reassigning the biological gender. Today, the transgender situation in developed nations is such that the community is identified within the LGBT population, and increasingly seen as ordinary.
At the same time, I am uncomfortable with gender transmission, and I realize that a great deal of this is due to my own cultural background. In plain terms, I was raised in a culture that cannot accept any such changes to gender identity. Religion and tradition combine in my background to create the sense that this is wrong, as I believe this is true of many native cultures. I struggle with this feeling and try to isolate just how strongly it influences my views. I do try in my daily life to assess people only as individuals, and see gender, race, orientation, and religion as only parts of the individual’s being. The transgender person, however, presents a major challenge even to this, and because I cannot help but perceive them as having done something extreme and, in some way, wrong. To ignore this feeling would be as useless and incorrect, I think, as insisting that my cultural influences are completely wrong. The problem then lies in balance, and in using this awareness to better examine how I myself genuinely think about the subject, and to minimize the influence as much as possible.
The more I consider the transgender subject, however, the more I believe there are reasons to seriously question this radical transformation of a person’s being. Ironically, these reasons arise from culture itself. As I see it, the ways in which we actually define gender, or what a man and woman truly are, is very much dictated by culture. We think of men and women appearing and behaving in certain ways, and each culture and era attaches different meanings to gender and gender roles. Put another way, there is no such thing as an “absolute” male or female being; they exist as we expect them to exist. This being the case, I must wonder at the validity of the feeling in the individual who believes their gender is wrong. I ask myself: would a man who feels he is a woman in the wrong body feel the same way if he lived in a culture where there were no parameters on gender behavior, or where males were expected to take on roles traditionally female in most cultures? I am inclined to think he would not, and this then goes to the radical nature of gender transmission itself. It may well be, as I see it, that the gender is correct, and that it is only the environment that is creating the deep sense that it is wrong. If this is true, or is true in even a number of transgender situations, there is then something truly wrong in so drastically altering the biological being.
I am committed to working on my understanding of this subject, and because I believe that is the responsibility of any thinking human being. At the same time, I refuse to allow modern trends in thinking or new social norms influence me to the extent of ignoring my questions. If I am concerned about how my background leads me to think in certain ways, I cannot allow another external force to have the same power. The reality for me today is then that I do not fully accept gender transmission, not because I believe it is morally wrong, but because I feel that this most extreme step in a person’s life may well be prompted by only social and cultural forces. I have difficulty in accepting that even such important forces are sufficient to justify the actual changing of gender. This in turn goes to the very real possibility that the transgender individual is mistaking external influences for the internal and psychological truth of who they are, and I believe all of this demands investigation by the society so interested in promoting individual development and fulfillment.