Easter Essay

Hi there!

I am a transsexual girl. I was born with male plumbing but a female brain structure, as this essay will explain.

I’m just one more individual in the female section of the transsexual population. As far as I know, there are millions of us. Many of us remain hidden.  Anyway, hidden or not, we exist. And, the other section of the transsexual population is made up of guys who are transsexual men.

And then there are also many people who are transgender and yet not transsexual. As I understand things, fundamentally male brain structures and fundamentally female brain structures aren’t absolutely the only combinations found in nature.

As to chromosomes, if you’ve always worked on the premise that humans have either XY chromosomes or XX chromosomes, you should meet my friend who has Klinefelters, a genetic mutation by which a person is born with XXY chromosomes. And no, not in a science fiction movie — right here, on earth.

Anyway, back to my focus on transsexual girls. I’m not a mental health professional, and I don’t speak for anyone else, just for myself. But if you are a transsexual girl, about to come out openly as such, then perhaps this essay can help you come out and live openly and safely as who you are — so that you, as one more of Nature’s magnificent beings, may experience the joy that’s enabled by living with integrity — integration with who you are, who you say you are, and how you live.

I wrote this essay in a generic way in the hope that if it describes you, you could just print it and hand it to whomever you’re coming out to, and say “I have something to announce.”

And, please be safety-conscious. Violence against transsexual girls is wrong, but it happens often. It’s often the people who are closest to us who hurt us the most — emotionally and even physically.  So, if you come out, yay — but be careful. Coming out can be dangerous in general and the actual event in which you announce it can be the most dangerous. If that means it’s prudent to come out in a public place such as a busy park in broad daylight, or a busy restaurant, or you need to call 911 to prevent yourself from being beat up, or (sadly) if it’s already happened, then do so.

Happy Easter, and best of success!

~Tanya

* * *

I’ve gradually come to grips with the fact that I’m a girl. As to my brain, anyway. And that doesn’t mean in my imagination!! That’s NOT what I mean. I mean, what if I told you that I have come to grips being the tooth fairy? Should you respect that?

I mean that my brain wiring is basically female. And no, this isn’t from drinking too much soy milk. I’ve read a lot on the subject but I’ve seen nothing that shows a person’s brain can be gender-rewired after birth. Conclusion: I was born this way. To be precise: the fetus that would become “me” developed that way, inside my mother.

Most philosophers seem even more confused than the average person, but I found an old lecture by an unusually precise professional philosopher in which he explained “certainty” and “possibility” and “probability” and so on, and at which point something can properly be called “possible” and when it can properly be called “certain.” I found that to be relevant and helpful. Anyway, more on that later. Let’s start with the science.

Scientists have proved that the brains of most people born with male-shaped plumbing are structurally different than the brains of people born with female-shaped plumbing. As in, significantly different neuron densities in key areas, confirmed by a statistically significant number of autopsies. So, okay, we are now certain there is a basic and significant structural difference between male brains and female brains. No wonder males and females think so differently. It’s not just a cultural difference.

And, yet, a few somewhat-rare but not-that-rare exceptions have been observed: people born with male-shaped plumbing whose brains, autopsies have showed, have a female brain structure. Interestingly: while alive, these people felt, reacted, thought and in some cases even lived …. as females.

So, these autopsies showed that, in some cases, people are born with male-shaped plumbing and a female-structure brain. It’s not common. So, it’s a genetic anomaly. and people with this genetic anomaly have been given a category name: transsexual girls.

Scientific-minded people classified such individuals as basically female, i.e., girls born with male plumbing rather than males born with female brains. They chose that classification on the premise that a person’s brain makes a person who he or she is more than, most visibly, an inch or so of extra flesh that either was or wasn’t there at birth. Practically, this makes sense too. You’re much more likely to interact with a person based on that person’s brain than based on the person’s plumbing. Even if you have sex with the person, even anonymous and impersonal sex, then even if they’re only minimally conscious then you’re still going to have interaction with the person’s brain too.

Not everyone agrees with this classification approach, of course. Many disagree vehemently. Some cultures and sub-cultures, most often those pre-occupied with the superficial, or with sexuality, or by being prone to xenophobia, choose to classify such people as males with a mental problem. In so doing, they’re choosing to classify a genetic anomaly as a mental problem. That’s not very sound reasoning, but that doesn’t seem to deter the non-scientific mindset any more than the problems with the flat-earth premise did.

Often, that line of argument doesn’t even stop there. It gets worse: it also extends the alleged mental problem to an alleged moral problem and thus considers the transsexual girl to be morally degenerate.  It passes such moral judgement enthusiastically if that person lives in a way consistent with that person’s brain wiring, but in some highly irrational cultures, sometimes the transsexual girl is morally condemned regardless of whether or not she lives as such. Just coming out is enough. Sometimes, just being accused or suspected is enough.

As a broad generalization, the more rational a culture or a sub-culture, the more likely it is to classify gender based on brain structure, and to judge the moral status of a transsexual girl based on, as MLK would say, the content of her character, not on her genetics at birth, and (to be precise) before birth.

I’ve felt female all my life even though, yeah, I was born with male plumbing. My plumbing didn’t much bother me but its implications did, when at puberty my body started changing more and more into a male shape, and it even started sounding male — like someone whose brain structure I don’t have. I hated that. If I could undo one thing, the effects of puberty would be it.

I hasten to say that there’s nothing wrong with looking and sounding like a male if a person IS male, brain-structure-wise. But for me, with my female brain structure, it was very disconcerting.

Sometimes, when I’ve confided my situation to some open-minded people, they tried to downplay it by saying “there are some female traits in pretty much all males, and vice versa. Why, even my husband likes his pink shirt.” And yes, that’s true, but that’s not what I mean. I mean something fundamental, something so far on the other side of the fence that it’s not like someone who’s straying slightly over the line. I mean my situation is where I’m way, way, WAY over there, in the female camp, brain-wise.

Growing up, I used to think I was nuts. Nowadays I know better. I’m not crazy, I’m just a genetic anomaly: a transsexual girl. Thinking and feeling like a girl is totally consistent with how my brain wiring is. It is because my brain structure is female that I want to live, dress, walk etc. like a female. And that makes 100% sense now that I understand the underlying issue. So it’s OK. It’s more than OK. It’s perfectly logical.

I’ve often wondered how this sort of thing is even possible. So I read a lot on the subject. I read that, early on, all human fetuses develop as female and then at a certain point in time, the fetuses with XY chromosomes switch to a male development agenda, with two major aspects being plumbing and brain structure. In the case of fetuses that will become babies born as transsexual girls, the switchover happened as to plumbing but not as to brain structure.

Here’s a silly analogy: It’s sort of like being on the all-female-development freeway and then missing the second of two freeway interchanges, the one where the brain structure changes to male development. So, basically, as a fetus, a transsexual girl missed the freeway exit to become male as to brain structure. Maybe it’s because while driving she was talking on her cell phone, or texting. Some of us girls do that. 🙂

Seriously, though: it all started making sense to me. It became a perfectly logical, scientifically solid explanation for my situation. Transsexual girls exist. It’s a scientifically proven fact of which we can now be certain.

Many parents didn’t get the memo on that. Perhaps they’ve never thought about it much, and when the subject came up they dismissed such people disdainfully as nuts. Perhaps that’s why, early on, when I felt female, I thought I was nuts. I didn’t veer towards that conclusion after reasoning it out. I just bought the cultural package-deal that was prevalent in my parents’ household and in the general sub-culture as I was growing up. Of course, mainstream folks in that culture didn’t specifically have disdain for just transsexual girls. They also had the same sort of dismissive disdain for gays and anyone who didn’t fit the typical mold.

Ironically, the household in which I grew up was vastly more open-minded than the norm and even so, it was pretty clear what the prevailing household opinion was on that general subject. And no, it was not positive. Mostly this was driven by my stepfather’s notions on the subject. His opinions tended to be dominant in the household, officially anyway.

It feels good to know, now, that I’m not nuts. What makes me different is a genetic mutation, not a mental health problem. Until recently, the general cultural mindset, such as the one in which I grew up, drove much of the professional psychologist agenda too.

The DSM, the official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that is, as a figure of speech, the Bible of professional psychologists, also classified transsexual girls as, well, nuts — up to and including its version IV.  But rationality finally prevailed and so version V no longer recognizes the condition previously called “gender identity disorder.” That’s good because it’s not a psychological disorder. It’s a genetic anomaly.  Good for the people who wrote version V of the DSM!

To their credit, these smart people also recognized that this genetic anomaly, in much of today’s culture, tends to bear the brunt of much external negativity, and so transsexual girls tend to have a difficult life even above and beyond their lack of enthusiasm for the shape into which their bodies, faces and voice boxes changed during puberty. Their mental state, if deeply unhappy as such, would properly be named “dysphoria” as in the opposite of “euphoria” — but that’s more of a reflection on the social pressures on the transsexual girl and how she responds to that.

This is where great precision should be exercised. Misery about gender issues is common to transsexual girls, but it’s not a defining characteristic. If you were born with male plumbing and a female brain structure, you’re a transsexual girl. You don’t absolutely have to be miserable about it, to qualify to be transsexual girl.  So, gender dysphoria is common but not essential. If you’re a happy transsexual girl than yay for you! You’re not disqualified from being transsexual girl; in fact you’re the sort of transsexual girl that, I hope, we’ll be seeing more and more of in the future, if general culture can become more accepting on the subject.

Anyway, back to the DSM V. So, “gender dysphoria” is a recognized problem but as I understand it, body self-image issues aside, it’s in some ways the same sort of problem as someone who says “I have a mental problem, because my husband beats me up.” Whatever problems an abused wife has, they’re not fundamentally a mental disorder. The wife is on the receiving end of negativity. To be precise, if anyone has a mental problem or a character flaw worthy of moral condemnation then it’s the abusive husband, not the abused wife. And yes, ideally the wife should exit the abusive situation but that’s a lot easier said than done.

Many transsexual girls know this only too well. Their own households were abusive.

A friend of mine is a transsexual girl. Her father learned of this when she was 15 or 16. He promptly beat her up — severely. I don’t recall the details any more. The phrase he used might have been to “beat some sense into her.”  Sadly, that sort of violence happens often.

Many transsexual girls are wary of this sort of thing, and are careful to avoid detection. If they dress as who they are, they do so away from home and they hide their clothes, shoes and make-up.

I’ve done a lot of reading on the Internet and I’ve learned that a great many transsexual girls try to hide their true nature by living as macho a life as possible, to hide that they have a female brain structure. Some of us become truck drivers, or join the police forces, or the military, or become mechanics. Even for sports we choose macho things like rugby or ice hockey. That’s the opposite of what we’d normally choose and that’s intentional – we’re actively striving to hide who we are, brain-structure wise.

Fortunately for that unfortunate agenda, by adulthood, the male hormones have so misshapen our faces and bodies that we look and sound totally male. We often walk and act with exaggerated masculinity and we embrace macho cultural things, anything and everything that helps us hide who we are.

The reasons are complex. Many of us aren’t aware that it’s a brain structure issue and we think that we might be able to overcome the situation and have some hope of normality for ourselves and our loved ones if we can take out secret all the way to the grave.

Some of us know that it’s hopeless for ourselves but we try to enable some sort of normality for our loved ones even though this dooms us to personal misery, sort of like the drowning spouse or parent who pushes herself down deeper into the dark, cold depths while pushing up her spouse or children so that they might live a life of warmth and safety. This sort of intentional disintegration tends to be an impossible task and typically cannot be sustained life-long.

In the process of trying to figure all this out, we’ve come to learn that some guys (not transsexual girls, I mean people with a male brain structure) get sexually aroused by dressing up in female clothing. The existence of such guys is, to us, a godsend. At worst, if someone caught us dressed up as a girl, they’d assume it’s a particular sexual kink that we have, so our deep and dark secret, that we’re actually brain-wise a female, would remain safe.

Certainly, when a transsexual girl wants to hide that she’s a transsexual girl, she hides it well. It’s only when she can’t bear to do it any more, and consciously or subconsciously begins to stop hiding it, or to start showing it, then others get to see. Typically they see only the tip of the iceberg.  A better analogy might be to say they see only a few ice cubes and really there’s an entire Antarctica that’s hidden.

So, let’s re-cap: Transsexual girls exist. The brain scientists say so, the reason-based psychologists say so, even their official book says so. Great!

But, does that mean that I, personally, am one such transsexual girl?

Perhaps one day some scientist will put my brain on a marble slab during my autopsy and analyze it and say “yep, that’s a female brain structure, all right.” But right now, my quest for certainty isn’t so high that I wanna die to prove to the world that, indeed, I was a transsexual girl.

This is where sound philosophical reasoning becomes helpful.

If a person has male plumbing and felt like a girl all her life, is that enough to allow her to reasonably conclude that she is a transsexual girl — or should she give also give equal odds to this maybe being a super-rare exception, a person who really does have a male brain structure and just an overly vivid preoccupation with thinking he’s a girl when really he’s not?

When I put it that way, I’d be personally inclined to say, “even if that’s the case, then leave him alone and let him live however he wants to, he’s totally within his rights even if he might truly be mistaken.” At some point, we each have to decide and proceed based on the best available conclusions. No doubt some of us who are transsexual girls will guess incorrectly that we are not, and no doubt some people who are not transsexual girls will guess incorrectly that they are. And that’s fine too. Nobody rights are being violated as a result, so society gets to butt out.

And as to the decision itself: there’s no litmus test.  Good thing — otherwise in Nazi-like cultures the transsexual girls would all be outed and locked up or killed off. So, maybe the less-than-100% certainty situation is good. Still, as humans, we tend to like certainty. And, fortunately, we can get there. How? We use Occam’s Razor.

If you know that horses exist and are fairly common in a particular area, and you see an animal that looks like a horse, smells like a horse, sounds like a horse and behaves like a horse, then maybe it really is a horse, or maybe it’s a zebra that someone cleverly snuck in from a zoo or from Africa, and painted brown and released in an area where horses are normally found. Could happen, I guess.

If I were to embrace that sort of universal skepticism, then perhaps any particular person I meet isn’t really that person but an evil imposter using a face mask and voice-altering technology such as dramatized in a Mission Impossible movie, or maybe a face transplant like in the Face Off movie, or maybe a shape-shifter like in the X-men, or a hologram like in the Total Recall movies. Could happen, I guess.

But, there’s no reason to be universally cynical.

I’ve read of a helpful philosophical construct called “Occam’s Razor” that addresses this sort of dilemma and says that “given multiple possible explanations, the simplest one tends to the correct one.”

Someone else summed it up as “when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras.”

Taken & submitted by Paul Maritz (Paulmaz Modified by Pharaoh Hound, Fir0002 - An edit of File:Zebra Botswana.jpg (originally File:Zebra Botswana.jpg on English Wikipedia). Plains Zebras (Equus quagga), more specifically the Damara subspecies (Equus quagga antiquorum) in Okavango, Botswana in 2002. Licensing: CC BY 2.5

Taken & submitted by Paul Maritz (Paulmaz Modified by Pharaoh Hound, Fir0002 – An edit of File:Zebra Botswana.jpg (originally File:Zebra Botswana.jpg on English Wikipedia).
Plains Zebras (Equus quagga), more specifically the Damara subspecies (Equus quagga antiquorum) in Okavango, Botswana in 2002. Licensing: CC BY 2.5

So, let’s apply that here. Transsexual girls exist as a type of genetic mutation — a fairly common type of genetic mutation, maybe as common as black panthers, for example.

If a particular person was born with male plumbing and yet from an early age she’s always felt, thought, reacted etc. like a girl, then the most logical conclusion is not that she’s nuts but that she’s simply one more transsexual girl.

And by that logic, I am a transsexual girl.

Culturally, transsexual girls get a lot of pressure, ridicule, abuse, violence even from, sometimes especially from, those closest to them. As a consequence, they typically exhibit the same reactions, defense mechanisms and subsequent problems that other humans typically exhibit in such situations. Some get depressed, some commit suicide, some drink, some do drugs, some use their sexuality as a form of rebellion and to reaffirm who they are, some become embittered.

I know that some of these things describe me too. But they’re icing on the cake. The core of it, the cake is:

I am a transsexual girl.