Deconstructing the Monolith of “Transition”

It’s become undeniable that I need to take some significant steps toward breaking down the psychological fortress I’ve established around my cross-gender identification somehow.  I’m starting to cross-dress with a queer look most of the time now.  And I’m working with an Internal Family Systems (IFS) therapist to unburden my exiled gender-variant inner child.  These steps are helping, but as Rimonim insightfully commented on a previous post about role models, I need to give myself permission to transition medically in addition to socially before I can actually answer the question of whether or not that’s what I want to do.

Writing my last post about whether the hair loss drug Propecia is a transsexual phenomenon has helped me begin to deconstruct the monolithic question “do I want to undertake the medical treatment for transsexualism?” into smaller questions like “do the benefits of taking a systemic medication to prevent hair loss outweigh the risks?”  Propecia (finasteride), one of the common drugs taken by MTF transsexuals, is essentially an anti-androgen, despite being taken by many “men” to prevent and reverse hair loss.  Thinking that way has a paradoxical effect.  While it makes transsexuality seem less extreme, and less frightening to contemplate, it also makes the usual treatment of it seem sort of silly and the need to make a decision about it less dire.

Using a regret minimization framework, I’ve been thinking it might make sense to take finasteride while I figure this trans shit out.  If I end up transitioning, but not for a while because of fear and indecision, I’ll certainly be glad I had taken the finasteride and preserved my hair.  If I don’t end up transitioning and I’d taken finasteride for a while, there’s only a small risk of permanent side effects.  So there’s not a lot of chance for regret there.  Likewise, if I don’t take the finasteride and don’t end up transitioning, there’s not much of a chance for regret.  However, if I don’t take the finasteride and do end up transitioning after a long period of reconciliation, I sure might regret being bald.

Furthermore, taking finasteride would allow me to test the waters about how I feel about hormonal adjustment therapy.  If I take finasteride and have a sense of confirmation that I am on the right track, then that might indicate that doing more would be good.  If I take finasteride and have a sense that I don’t like the path I’m on, that might indicate that I should turn back.

Different aspects of transition fare differently when considered using a regret minimization framework.  Am I likely to regret showing up at my child’s school wearing tasteful, appropriate “women’s” clothes?  Slightly, but I’m more likely to regret not penetrating the veil of secrecy and shame I will live under if I don’t.  (I’ve already done this, actually.)

Am I likely to regret taking spiro and estrogen?  I am scared of losing sexual function, but I’m not super functional already anyway.  I’m a bit afraid of sex, and often have erectile dysfunction or anorgasmia with basically everyone except fat girls anyway.  Go figure.  And now that I’ve quit porn I usually need anal penetration to cum when I’m masturbating.  Maybe estrogen is exactly what I need for good sex after all.

Am I likely to regret telling everyone “I’m a woman” and dealing with the effects this will have on my child’s development?  Certainly.  But I’m also very likely to regret not doing it, so I don’t have a decision there yet.

In the meantime, my hair loss is accelerating and the finasteride is looking pretty attractive…

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A Full-Haired Person Trapped in A Bald-Haired Body

Nearly everyone agrees humans can be divided into two distinct sexes: full-haired and bald-haired.  Sure, there’s a loony fringe which challenges this concept.  They say that other sexual characteristics such as chromosomes, reproductive organs, and hormones don’t always correspond with people’s hairlines.  They challenge the widely-held belief that the inter-haired (people who have ambiguous hairlines) are defective and grotesque, and argue for the acceptance of a wide array of sexual diversity.  Some even say that the essential sexual categories can be better delineated according to the genitalia.  Imagine the fate at the onset of phaliarche of a poor baldie who’d been raised for several decades as a fullie just because nothing was dangling between nir legs at birth!  But I digress, these viewpoints are really too outlandish to address here.

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Crossdressing and The Untransy Valley

The “uncanny valley” or bukimi no tani  (不気味の谷) is a concept in the field of human aesthetics first articulated by Japanese robotics professor Masahiro Mori in 1970 that explains the relationship between a human’s subjective response to a rendering of something corporeal and the degree to which the rendering imitates the original.  As a pioneer in robotics developing nir craft, Mori attempted to make nir creations look more and more human over time.  Initially, people responded more and more favorably to this effort, but eventually Mori found that if a robot came too close to appearing human, people felt disturbed and repulsed by it instead.

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Genderqueer Role Models

In trying to guide myself through my transition, I find role models to be indispensable. Learning about success stories keeps me going when I get discouraged and think what I want to achieve is impossible. Unfortunately, I can count the number of genderqueer persons with a male history who can serve as a role model on one hand. Kate Bornstein, Riki Wilchins, and the anonymous author of ThirdWayTrans are inspiring, but I’d ideally like to find and connect with people who were able to end up with an integrated transgender identity without taking the transsexual path.  Here are a few of my role models.

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Multisexualism: Reconciliation of Social Constructionism and Biological Essentialism

My last post “Perceptual Narrowing and Culturally Mandated Emotional Crippling of Children” described how our society stunts our development and domesticates us into docile, obedient subjects by flooding our senses with gender. One of the outcomes of this process is that we can only see two sexes—male and female—when the truth is that we are simply blinded to the broad spectrum of human sexual diversity.

People with XXY chromosomes, androgen insensitivity, ambiguous genitalia, and other visible, physical manifestations of both male and female characteristics demonstrate that humans are not a completely sexually dimoprhic species. These “intersex” people are often treated by the medical community as defective, and frequently subjected to genital mutilation (a.k.a. “surgery”), but there is no evidence that they are not just healthy members of the human tribe. It is only the perceptual narrowing of gender that limits our understanding of them to being between the two “real” sexes. The truth is that they are just one of many sexes which are miserably crushed into obscurity by the collapsing of human sexual diversity into an oppressive binary hierarchy.

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