I have been reflecting on Gender following a reread of Conundrum by Jan Morris. The book that caused my light bulb moment of understanding that I was transgender and not just a weird freak…well maybe that too but not in respect of my gender dysphoria which I at last began to understand.
In Conundrum Jan Morris writes:- Transexualism … is not a sexual mode or preference. It is not an act of sex at all. It is a passionate, lifelong, ineradicable conviction, and no true transsexual has ever been disabused of it… I equate it with the idea of soul, or self, and I think of it not just as a sexual enigma, but as a quest for unity. For me every aspect of my life is relevant to that quest — not only the sexual impulses, but all the sights, sounds, and smells of memory, the influences of buildings, landscapes, comradeships, the power of love and of sorrow, the satisfactions of the senses as of the body. In my mind it is a subject far wider than sex: I recognize no pruriency in it, and I see it above all as a dilemma neither of the body nor of the brain, but of the spirit.
This is in line with my own thoughts that although I want to align my physical body with my perceived concept of myself, a woman, the whole concept goes far deeper than the simple physical body. It is the core of me and touches my psyche.
Later she wonders whether the gender line and the need for strict binary identity is a result of “the dogmatism of the last century when men were men and women were ladies and if in the next century people will be free to live in the gender role they prefer”.
Strangely prescient of the gender fluid culture which has developed in this century and where the young are far less phased by transgender. My own granddaughter when her mother talked about my transition responded with “oh I know all about that we are taught about it a school”. It is something that happens in life, not the end of the world. I find that difficult in a way as it had been my secret for so many decades, but then now is now and it was not the same when I was young. It was still considered to be and classified as a mental illness.
Equally, re-reading Virginia Woolf, an author I could not get to grips with at school, probably because it was a set book and I did not choose to read it ( a small act of rebellion ) Virginia Woolf writing several decades before modern psychology accepted that psychological androgyny forms an essential part of creativity. She writes:-
“In each of us two powers preside, one male, one female…….“The androgynous mind is resonant and porous… naturally creative, incandescent and undivided,”
However, even if the mind thrives on such fluidity our bodies are born into a biological binary. So what happens to the person when there is a disconnect between the spirit and the psyche, where your soul does not identify with its physical body. For me feel the need to align my body with my psyche and am content and at ease with that. I wonder if I had been born in a different era whether the concept of gender fluidity would have held any attraction.