Trapped meme, of prisons and language barriers.

Ok let’s get to opening this particular can o worms, the I am trapped in the wrong body meme has become a problem. This explanation was intended originally for one reason, to explain the unimaginable to people who could never ever in a billion years understand it, because they have no context from which to empathise, without the vital personal context trans realities are incredibly difficult, if not impossible to comprehend fully.

Explaining becomes somewhat like trying to describe a duck billed platypus to somebody who had never heard of a duck, or a beaver, or an otter.

The reality is my body is not a prison, not a cell, it is mine from head to toe, but here’s where it gets hard to explain. The issue lies in how a person percieves themselves, nobody had to tell most people they were male or female, they look at their bodies and compare to others and just know. From the day our bodies are born we have an awareness of who we are, an internal blueprint if you will. Observe a child some time in early infancy and you will see they may be a tad clumsy but even if the child cannot see or hear they are aware of their body.

They know where their feet are, their nose is, where every part of their body is that awareness is constant, even prior to social conditioning. If they suddenly grew extra parts they would no doubt be upset, why? because even as a child a brain knows what shape the body is, to suddenly alter that leads to extreme and distressing cognitive dissonance.

Now it gets tricky, the plainest evidence I can produce is the unusual phenomenon known as phantom limb. If a human being loses a limb it is a recorded phenomenon that 60 to 80 percent of cases the individual may retain sensations of movement and awareness of the presence of said limb or organ despite its loss.

This phenomenon is due to the fact the body is neurologically mapped by the brain, as evidenced by experiments showing that holding a mirror between missing and attached limb make it physically possible to stop the phantom limb itching by scratching the existing arm. Remove the mirror and the same results cannot be achieved.

In cases of transsexualism the same issue arises, the blueprints our brains are following do not seem to match to the current form of our bodies, talking therapies have of course been tested, however in all cases the experiments failed. In my life I have heard of every kind of reparative therapy you could care to imagine used in an attempt to “cure” us, from talking therapy, ammonia therapy, and exorcism, right through to electro convulsion therapy altered for use as an aversion therapy.

For proof of how ineffective said treatments are look to the barbaric case often heralded as the proof that all of a persons identity is socially defined the tragic case of  David Reimer (August 22, 1965 – May 5, 2004) was a Canadian man who was born as a healthy male, but was sexually reassigned and raised as female after his penis was accidentally destroyed during circumcision Psychologist john money oversaw the case and reported the reassignment as successful, and as evidence that gender identity is primarily learned. Academic sexologist Milton Diamond later reported that Reimer failed to identify as female since the age of 9 to 11, and that he began living as male at age 15. Reimer later went public with his story to discourage similar medical practices. He later committed suicide, owing to suffering years of severe depression, financial instability and a troubled marriage.

This is the crux of the issue, when a person states that gender is entirely social construction. I agree with that entirely gender as we currently experience it is entirely social, HOWEVER I firmly believe that transsexuality is something outside the issue of gender, something currently lacking a word as gender was never our word to use. We merely borrowed it due to absence of appropriate language to explain fully our condition. Gender is a word for the social roles a person experiences daily, we need a word that better fits the lived realities of people rather than just more words of convenience. If we ever wish to gain full agency of our full bodies, if we are ever to break the stereotypes and attain the medical care we need to transition without judgement it’s time we took our bodies back. Found our own words, and showed the world we are human beings worthy of respect not an abstract theory of some quack, and sure as hell not something to be controlled.


  1. A friend. ^_^ said,

    February 6, 2013 at 12:12 pm

    If we look at the science, we technically should say “I was born with the wrong brain”, because genderdysphoria is neurological, not physical.
    Of course this is oversimplified too: we weren’t born with the wrong brain, the part in the brain that determines our perception and attributes of male/femaleness was developed in the opposite way.
    By not getting access to the hormones and enzymes that make it male or by accidentally having those hormones and enzymes released and taken in that makes it male.
    Our brains start out as female (the body too btw: it’s why males have nipples), they only change into male when exposed to those hormones and enzymes.
    We can’t change the brain (yet), so we have to change the body in order to achieve at least some correction of the problem.

    People only say “I was born in the wrong body” because we associate identity with the mind, not the body, there are no words to say “my body is mine and correct, but the rest of me is wrong”.
    Also: saying “the problem is in our brains” makes it easy for people to dismiss it as a mental illness, as us being crazy and insane.
    We are not crazy or insane, we only have male/female brains matched with a female/male body: like a half full or half empty glass, it’s just a way to look at things.

    The information about genderdysphoria being a neurological disorder comes from Dr. Dick Swaab (author of “We are our brains”).

    • February 21, 2013 at 10:19 am

      that wrong brain perspective can be problematic too, the brain isn’t wrong , it is ours, there are just a few differences with how it perceives things, much like with my faceblindness, in faceblindness the part of our brain that interprets how we see and perceive faces is different, the result everybody seems faceless, blurred into nothingness, or a human picasso piece. This changes how the world is viewed too, but is part of who I am, it is not because of this wrong , merely different. That does not mean the difference is not there, or that I didn’t need to develop coping strategies to deal with it. Just ;like the perception difference in trans people will always require help of varying levels to cope. As talking therapies have been shown repeatedly not to work for transsexuality surgical intervention became preferable than the distressing physical harm many of us end up committing on ourselves out of sheer desperation to get help or die to escape the results. This is a needed treatment as it allows us to cope, and go through life as normally as possible, this is why I oppose all w2ho would deny us transition regardless but also oppose wrong brain wrong body arguements.

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