Is a person born wanting to be a different sex, or does it just happen? Does someone wake up one day and say, “I think I want to change my sex”? Some people believe that it just happens, that one day a person just does not want to be the sex that they were born. Others say that a person is born with those feelings and that they just develop over time. Some say that they don’t act on those feelings during adolescence because of the stigma attached to being transgender, and the fact that kids are cruel. The fact that they don’t act on the feelings until later in their lives is the reason why some say that wanting to be a different sex just happens. Personally, I believe that a person is born knowing that they were born the wrong sex and that they keep these feelings hidden until they are comfortable enough to act on them.
A person knows what sex they were born. A person knows if they were born the right sex or not. I believe that a three-year-old boy knows that he was born a boy physically, but feels inside that he should have been born a girl. Will the little boy act on these feelings at his young age? He might by playing dress-up with other girls. Of course, his mother is going to think that he is going through a phase. She is not going to think that her son wants to be a girl. As the little boy gets older, he still knows that he wants to be a girl and he might not act on those feelings as much, since he doesn’t want to get made fun of. To his mother, this proves that it was “just a phase”. In his late teens, he might start to act like a girl and dress like a girl. His mother would think that this just came out of the blue, like he just decided one day to be a girl. However, that is not the case. He knew since he was three-years-old that he should have been born a girl.
When asked the question “Do you think that a person is born wanting to be a different sex and has had those feelings for a long time and never acted on them until they felt comfortable to do so? Or do you think that it just happens one day?” there are a vast array of answers. Upon interviewing two people, the answers were basically the same. While interviewing my mother, her answer was “I think nature determines what sex we will become. I think society also shapes us to be “normal” and true to the sex we are born. People probably have those feelings in-vitro, where something changed during their creation.” (Patricia interview). While interviewing my friend, Eleni, her answer was “They are born like this, children know their parts and they know their sex and they know that something is wrong. They had those feelings for a long time.” (Eleni interview). I completely agree with their statements. I agree because I truly believe that from birth, a person knows if they were born the correct sex or not.
Some people say that there is a biological reason why someone feels that they were born the wrong sex. “Some people are born with XY chromosomes, but are unable to respond to testosterone and therefore develop bodies with a vagina and breasts, rather than a penis and testes.” (“FAQ About Transgender People” 1 ). However, some people say that there is a medical reason why someone feels that they were born the wrong sex. “Some speculate that fluctuations or imbalances in hormones or the use of certain medications during pregnancy may cause intersex or transgender conditions.” (“FAQ About Transgender People” 1). Others say that there are psychological factors as to why someone feels that they were born the wrong sex. There really is no one reason that causes people to feel like they were born the wrong sex.
I honestly believe that a person is born knowing if they were born the right sex or not. An example of that would be the Lifetime movie A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story, directed by Agnieszka Holland in 2006. It is a heart wrenching true story about a boy who believes that he was born the wrong sex. He was born Edward Araujo Jr, but he liked to be called Gwen. When he was a young boy, he would wear makeup to school. Teachers would send him to the principal’s office and call his mother. When he was a teenager, he would wear makeup to school as well, and the same things happened. Also, other kids would make fun of him. He bought himself “chicken cutlets” to make it seem like he had breasts. When his younger brother ruined them and called him a freak, he ran crying into his room. His mother chased after him and told him about water-proof mascara and she told him she’d buy him new ones. She supported him and he knew since he was a little boy that he wasn’t born the right sex. (A Girl Like Me).
The main reason why people think that people just choose one day to want to be a different sex is because they don’t seem to feel that way when they are younger. It is obvious that people feel that way when they are young kids, but they just don’t act on the feelings. Why? They are afraid of being ridiculed. In the movie, kids would make fun of him for dressing and acting like a girl. He meets a group of people and starts to like one of the guys. That guy found out about “her” male genitalia, and then Gwen was murdered. (A Girl Like Me). This is why they don’t act on their feelings when they are younger, because they are afraid. Our society is, however, very harsh on gender-variant people. Some transgender people have lost their families, their jobs, their homes and their support. Transgender children may be subject to abuse at home, at school or in their communities.
A lifetime of this can be very challenging and can sometimes cause anxiety disorders, depression and other psychological illnesses. (“FAQ About Transgender People” 2 ). It is a shame that in our society if you don’t conform to certain “acceptable standards”, you are ostracized and criticized. People naturally stare at “different people”, whether they have a disability or if they dress “non-conformingly”. Just because you aren’t saying anything doesn’t mean that they don’t know they are being judged. A man walking around in heels and a skirt is going to get stared at.
People might not say anything, since they don’t want to be “rude”. But staring is just as rude. It’s silent judging and that is worse that people saying things to them. You never know what they are saying when they are silently judging you. They are making the man self-conscious about who he really is. They are making him feel like an outcast, just because he feels differently than they do. That is sad and unacceptable, but no one in society will stand up for these people and say “Hey, that’s not right. They are still human beings and should be treated with kindness and respect.”
Some people feel that wanting to be a different sex is a mental disorder. People feel the same way about being homosexual. They feel like it is an illness that can be cured. However, it is not a mental illness. Schizophrenia is mental illness. Feeling like you are the wrong sex is not a mental illness. Schizophrenia can be cured with medication. Feeling like the wrong sex cannot be cured with medication. I had asked my mother if she thought that it was a mental disorder, and her response was “No, I think people follow their gut, which is usually correct. Society judges us, which is why people feel inclined to hide their true calling”. (Patricia interview). I agree. People are labeled with a “mental disorder” because they don’t follow the “rules of society”.
Most people think that if a man wants to be a woman, that makes him gay, and if a woman wants to be a man, that makes her a lesbian. That is utterly untrue. A man can want to be a woman and still be sexually attracted to woman. The same goes for women who want to be men. I understand that a man wants to be a woman, goes through the changes and is still attracted to women might make him seem like a lesbian now, because he is a woman. That is not the case. I watched a show about transgender people and there was this man who wanted to be a woman.
He had a wife and even though he wanted to be a woman, he was still sexually attracted to his wife. “Gender identity refers to the way you understand yourself and your gender. It is about the internal sense of masculinity or femininity that a person feels.” (“FAQ About Transgender People” 6). Just because a woman wants to be a man doesn’t mean that she is now going to be sexually attracted to women. She is still going to be sexually attracted to men, but she will now look like a man. “It isn’t about sex; it’s about the total being and satisfying your inner desire.” (Patricia interview) said my mother on the subject. You want to feel comfortable in your own skin, and that is the most important thing.
Everyone has different opinions on the subject of transgender people. Everyone wants to put in their two cents. Everyone has to comment on the lives of those who wish to be a different sex. Some comments are kind, yet most of them aren’t. Most of the comments are rude and derogatory. They want to try and change these people’s lives. But, honestly, it’s none of your damn business what they do with their lives. Some people think that you wake up one day and just wish to be a different sex. On the other hand, some people think that you are born feeling like that. As Lady GaGa says, “You were born this way baby”. (Born This Way). You just don’t wake up and say “I would like to be male now.”
You’ve known that all along. And just because you want to be male now, doesn’t mean that you still won’t be attracted to the sex you’ve always been attracted to. You shouldn’t hide the way you feel just because society doesn’t see it as “acceptable”. Be who you are, no matter what other people think. “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.” (Born This Way). You were born to be brave and there is nothing wrong with you. You don’t have some mental disorder or disease that can be cured. “…left you outcast, bullied, or teased, rejoice and love yourself today ‘cause baby you were born this way.” (Born This Way).
You should still love yourself, even if people are saying some cruel things just because you “aren’t right” in their eyes. You can’t help it, you were born this way. Everyone has a comment, its human nature. “Done looking for the critics ‘cause they’re everywhere, they don’t like my jeans, they don’t get my hair.” (Fuckin’ Perfect). They comment because they don’t understand what it feels like to feel different and not accepted. “Pretty, pretty please, don’t you ever, ever feel like you’re less than fucking perfect. Pretty, pretty please, if you ever, ever feel like you’re nothing, you’re fucking perfect to me.” (Fuckin’ Perfect). Just because you’re different, doesn’t mean that you’re still not perfect.
A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story. Dir. Agnieszka Holland. Perf. Mercedes Ruehl and JD Pardo. Lifetime Movie Network, 2006.
National Center for Trangender Equality. Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender People. Washington, DC: National Center for Trangender Equality, 2009. Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender People. National Center for Trangender Equality, May 2009. Web. 2012.
Patricia A., and Eleni. Personal interview. 29 Nov. 2012.
GaGa, Lady. “Born This Way.” Lady GaGa. 2011. MP3.
P!nk. “Fuckin’ Perfect.” Rec. 2010. Fuckin’ Perfect. P!nk. Max Martin and
Shellback, 2010. MP3.
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