About a month or two ago, I was in a support group meeting and an individual sat down next to me. I glanced at the person, and had a negative emotional reaction because of the way he-she was presenting him-her-self. The purse he-she set down between us looked feminine. The shoes looked masculine, but the red painted toenails visible through loosely woven fabric on the tops of the shoes looked feminine. The body build, in general, with the large rib cage, wide shoulders, muscular arms, thick neck, balding hair, looked masculine, but the bosom looked feminine, the blouse, pants and earrings looked feminine. When he-she spoke, the voice sounded masculine. I knew I didn’t have the right to be offended simply because this individual did not fit neatly into one gender category or the other, but I felt powerless over the pity, disgust and judgmentalness that was welling up within me.
Later in meditations, many sessions, instead of developing compassion, I continued to feel judgmental. I realized reading more about transgender people might be helpful, so I read, Becoming Nicole, the Transformation of an American Family, by Amy Ellis Nutt.
Nichole, a boy at birth (as far as anyone could tell), was named Wyatt. His farther was uncomfortable about the way Wyatt liked to dance and look at his reflection, as a two-year-old, while wearing a tutu a friend of Wyatt’s had given him. When I read that, at the very beginning of the book, I thought that possibly the reaction of the parents, while Wyatt was exploring his feminine side, had pushed him over the line into identifying as female. Then as I read farther, I learned that there are developments in the brain, early in gestation, that seem to determine gender identity. Usually they match physical gender, but apparently, not always. So I came up with a new theory: perhaps the teenager who gave birth to Wyatt and his identical twin brother, Jonas (whose gender identity matches his physical gender (male)), before handing them over to the adoptive parents, did not have adequate nutrition to meet the specialized needs of two developing fetuses, in order to make enough of whatever hormone was required at the specific time it was needed. Apparently, I needed to find a way to avoid blaming God for what seems to me such a tragedy. I want to blame poor nutrition before and during pregnancy, possibly combined with drug and/or alcohol use.
The book I read described a time when a transgender program overseen by a doctor was underway for Wyatt-Nicole, and the transition was going fairly well with acceptance by both staff and students at her school. Then suddenly her peaceful world was shattered when the Christian “right” grandfather of one of the students started making a scene about a “boy” being allowed to use the girl’s bathroom. It was a trying time for the family. They moved and the children were not allowed to tell anyone about Nicole’s trans status. This proved very difficult for both of them. They couldn’t get close to any of their acquaintances without being candid, which they knew better than to do.
I’m 75% through the book and haven’t learned all the details of the operation Nicole will have when she reaches the age of 18. Apparently, they turn the penis inside out and insert it into the body cavity to form something like a vagina. Of course, once the testes are removed, Nicole will never be able to father a child, nor will she be able to mother one either, except by adoption. Nicole started puberty blocking drugs at the first sign of puberty. She will not develop post-pubescent male characteristics since she was enabled to start her trans program in childhood.
I never had a particular strong gender identity, never was a girlie girl. I don’t like makeup, particularly when it is overdone. I can’t stand the smell of fingernail polish or perm. I hate women’s shoes, and shop for my shoes in the boys’ section. I rarely wear dresses or skirts, but sometimes I do for comfort mostly, when it is hot. I am very content with the unisex look in clothing, something that would be appropriate for either sex, like thongs, jeans and t-shirts or woven shirts that are not particularly feminine, other than the side they button on. I have had my hair professionally done only a few times in my life. Keeping it combed, clean and trimming it myself from time to time is all I want. So it is a little hard for me to understand what all the fuss about gender is about. I know that is me. Others may want to make more of a fashion statement pertaining to their gender.
I am beginning to feel compassion for trans people, but it is still something close to pity. My attempts to put myself in their place results in my assertion that I could be content with either gender role. Deal the cards, I’ll play my hand without asking for a new shuffle. Maybe that is not true, but there is no opportunity (or desire) to prove it. I’m happy to be a woman since that happens to be what I am, but I probably could have been a good man, if that had been my outcome in the cosmic roll of dice.
Thank you, trans people, for helping me grow my compassion!