- Gender and Relationships
Just Because You Have Boobs, Doesn't Make You a Woman
The Back Story
- My Father, The Transsexual
My parents were married 18 years. Several of those years my mom was a diehard housewife to the core, even when it meant accepting my father's crossdressing. I was young enough to think it was just a game when my dad played dress-up...
Sex change changes everything
One of my first hubs, over two years ago, was about my experience with my dad when he got a sex change. I wrote from my heart. I wrote, not caring about whom I pissed off or who thought I was weird or ignorant. That original piece garnered more than 500 comments. This is all very personal for me, but it was daring transparency that began my journey writing on hubpages. I'm tearing up old roots, digging deep, and finally giving this story an update. I’m dusting the cobwebs off and even losing some psychological baggage here.
The back story is basically about 10 years ago my dad dropped a bomb on me that he got a sex change- everything done, new name, breast implants, different personality, etc. I was shocked and thought him to be careless about not even giving me a warning. I grieved my dad and tried to welcome a new woman into my life. Let’s just say our relationship has been turbulent, and not just because of my dad's change.
It is a psychological disorder
Gender identity disorder (GID) or gender dysphoria is the formal diagnosis used by psychologists and physicians to describe people who experience significant (discontent) with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth. Evidence suggests that people who identify with a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth may do so not just due to psychological or behavioral causes, but also biological ones related to their genetics, the makeup of their brains, or prenatal exposure to hormones.
Acceptance has it's downfalls
Many years ago when I first laid eyes on my dad as a "woman", frankly I saw him/her as a clown. I didn't see a woman at all. That was my first mistake- I was looking for a woman. The first visits, I would search hopelessly for my long lost dad, then later visits I gave up that endeavor and accepted seeing my dad as a person, not really one gender or the other. This helped quite a bit.
I think it's commendable that's today's society is becoming "progressive" in acceptance and tolerance- or the grey area in humanity, but this has some downfalls as well. I am my dad's daughter and I was raised to question things- not just accept. I really hope humanity does not lose this ability in search for ultimate tolerance. If we lose this ability we lose the ability to help. Often times we learn of someone being homosexual or transsexual and the progressive self says, "good for them!" yet my background in psychology always triggers something that says, "is there more to this?"
Of course this questioning is looked down upon if I am to be a good progressive citizen, but honestly we look down upon and create a stigma around mental illness that sometimes these grey areas coincide with something that needs to be addressed other than accepted.
My dad explained only a few things about his sex change and one was that he always remembered "being in the wrong body", not feeling right with the male anatomy. But this clashed with my thoughts of who a woman was. My dad was raised as a boy and didn't go through the typical life events of a girl to woman. My dad was nothing like a woman and when he/she acted like it, it was purely an act. Seeing my dad as a woman was like watching a Saturday Night Live skit about a man dressed up pretending to be a woman. It seemed more unnatural.
A reoccurring thought in my head all these years is what does it mean to be a woman? Can anyone just "feel like a woman" with the slash of a knife or the growth of a luxurious mane? Why do male to female transsexuals think they need to look like a woman on the outside to feel like a woman on the inside? So my dad gets a few surgeries and suddenly he's a woman? Hold the phone...shut the front door!!!! Folks, it ain't that easy! I've been a woman for quite a while and I'm telling you...it ain't that easy.
Over the years, my dad has morphed into someone I still do not recognize as a woman. The closest resemblance to a woman is probably the awkwardness in my dad's body language that screams teenage girl all over it. Flaunting and then hiding scared- the constant dance between uncertainty and excitement, but definitely someone who will never be a woman.
The biggest component of this last visit was my realization that looks do not make a woman. We like to think so, it's easiest to classify women from what we see on the outside. You could give a giraffe stripes but that doesn't make them a tiger. The woman that many transsexuals think they are is a creation between society's superficial standards (clothes, makeup) and the medical community's insistence upon matching the inside with the outside and getting surgery- they honestly just fear the tendency for suicide rather than really treat someone for Gender Identity Disorder.
The medical community is just as guilty as the one-sided groups of people in society- those that get accused of condemning others for not being like them. The medical community insists that if a man doesn't want to be a man, then they must be a woman and a sex change is the only way they will be happy. What happened to an option in between, perhaps both happily coexisting in the same body?
The problem when a man gets the sex change he's been waiting for, probably for a long time (my dad waited until he was 55), the man they once were and perhaps detested, is still inside them. It doesn't go away. Rather than accepting that man, they shun him and believe he disappears once the sex reassignment surgeries are complete. The identification with both male and female is still present on the inside yet on the outside it is made to be one or the other. The inconsistencies and cognitive dissonance this person experiences is what often the family members see and why it can create feelings of disbelief, judgement, selfishness, and non-acceptance among everyone involved.
I saw that my dad tried to change who he was as a person, the personality and everything to go with the outside. Yet with transgender people I thought they always grew up wanting to match their inside to their outside and somehow, once my dad has his sex change, he was striving to match the inside to his outside.
On becoming a woman...
As a girl, I identified with my dad and at that time he was a strong male figure; accomplished in career, assertive in personal dealings, intelligent. But if you've read my back story on this, you'd also know my dad was a transvestite when I was little, meaning he would spend an evening or two a week dressed up in frilly stuff around the house. My thoughts on this weren't clear as a young child. When people believe it has nothing to do with mental illness, I think they need to live it because a child has no idea what to do with dad dressed up nor should a mentally sound adult expose them to it.
I disassociated with the frilliness of this female side for years, well into my teens, I shied away from frilly girly items. That girliness didn't settle well with me and I never figured out why until this last visit with my dad- it just came to me.
I think I had that epiphany because since my dad is technically a "woman", I realize I am truly all woman. Now don't laugh because you all can say, 'Of course you are. Who would have doubted the obvious?' But it took me time to realize the outside doesn't make a woman- I don't have to be dressed up and frilly. For years my dad made me feel that frilly equated woman and since I wasn't frilly I thought less about myself as a woman.
It was sometime after my teen years that I knew I don't have to try to be a woman or try to dress like one. I just am. And I am a mother too, which really has completed my personal transition into womanhood. The instinctual nurturing and selflessness I have toward my child is who my mom was, not my dad. I look back and I was confused, my mom was my role model.
What is interesting about my mom and dad- married for 18 years and divorced now for more than that- is my dad picked on my mom for her traits that were distinctively female. This could have been jealousy all those years because he desired so badly to be a woman. But now that my dad has been a "woman" for at least 10 years, he picks at those traits in me. It used to irritate me and something this last visit changed- it made me proud to be a woman. Those traits including being emotional, worrying about my child, changing my mind, soft and sappy- yep, I'm a woman.
My best friend
My best friend is a man who wants to be a woman. No, it's not my dad, sadly. However, I met a wonderful human being on my original article here. We have gotten to know each other now for years and talk on a daily basis. He says "I saved his life!" I'm seriously humbled by this, but I won't take the credit. He read my articles about my dad and at the time wanted to transition from male to female, but after reading what I'd written, he changed his mind.
What makes him a beautiful friend in my eyes is this comment, "what woman leaves her child?" If he transited, he would be taking away the father his kids always knew. A woman doesn't do that and while he still feels a strong connection to both his male and female side, he doesn't believe surgery is the answer, nor do I. He is thought of as strange when he visits his transgender group- he is a trans who doesn't need to change so dramatically.
The lesson: if we truly are who we are, we don't have to match the outside really. Burn victims don't change who they truly are if their outside appearance has changed. The compulsion for transgender to transition fully and have surgery comes from an impulse, which stems from an obsession that manifests from mental miswiring. Nobody likes anything to do with mental illness which perpetuates the stigma in our society. Mental illness or even some miswiring isn't "bad", it just needs some assistance which we neglect to do as a people, a government, and society.
Being around my dad is a heavy burden- one I don't choose often. I see someone who believed in a sex reassignment miracle and only seems more confused than ever. The woman in me pities the man and girl in him/her. He/she will likely be lost forever; nobody understanding him and even him/her not understanding herself. My dad still believes he has a switch between being a woman and a man and turn one or the other on and off at will.
I do believe one person can be both, a little of both always present. I do believe a man can strongly identify with women and still be a man on the outside without a sex change. I don't think our society has gotten that far yet- many are still programmed to be one or the other. And the public doesn't want to guess, they want one or the other as well.
Androgyny- "Androgyny is the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. Sexual ambiguity may be found in fashion, gender identity, sexual identity, or sexual lifestyle."
I wish we'd hear about this more often, but we still haven't progressed to the notion that people can be a little or a lot of both. We still live in a world where we group people into male or female. I believe once we make it to this destination and accept some people are BOTH then we will have troubled transgenders who insist they must have sex reassignment surgery upon the basis of what the medical community and society tell them. In other words, they won't be happy without the surgery, which is sad.
What are you?
Psychological test for male/female/androgynous traits.
- Misunderstanding Gender
Many transsexuals live as the opposite sex in which they were born and even get sex reassignment surgery. My dad has done all this, but now lives as I would describe non-gender specific. What does that mean? Beats me! Since I see the way people obse
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