Don’t you love statements that start with, “There are two kinds of [insert person type]”? It manages to reduce even the most complex personality characteristics into a neat little Cartesian dualism. No, no, I’m not talking about some jackass named Cartes who fought a dual, but the narrowing of options down to A or B, zero or one, black or white. I’ve heard rumblings of that kind of talk regarding the transsexual population. “There are two kinds of trans. The kind who get GRS and the kind who don’t”. Let’s talk about that for a minute.
I’m going to forewarn you, I am going to speak to my own personal understanding of my condition (or reality, or whatever we chose to call it), so this may come off biased. A little bias is unavoidable, but my point is definitely not to create an A vs. B argument here. Before we get to that, some more disclaimers, cause you know, what the hell, right? I use ‘trans’ for convenience and with the full understanding that the full umbrella includes transsexuals, cross-dressers, drag queens, genderqueer, etc. Sorry if I lumped you in ‘etc’, but the list is pretty freaking long. For the sake of this conversation, I’m using ‘trans’ to talk about transsexuals – we who feel very strongly that our operating system (brain, soul or whatever) does not match our hardware, and are compelled to make the change as a life continuing measure.
I’m going to anticipate the first objection up front. “But Michelle, there are so, so many who would kill to get GRS (SRS) but can’t! They can’t afford it, or they are not medically able to due to other reasons, or deathly afraid of surgery! How can you be so insensitive?” Ugh, tough crowd today. No, I’m excepting them from the discussion as that is a whole different topic all together. I’m specifically talking about why some trans who are able in every respect to get GRS do, and some are happy to leave things as they are. By the way, my sister Becky kind of addressed some of this already, and probably much better in her post.
In one of my meetings with my gender specialist, he asked if I was “a purist” or not in terms of wishing to go all the way with my transition, which he explained in his opinion is GRS. At the time, and this was a while ago, I didn’t realize anyone felt otherwise. Why on earth wouldn’t I want to? The question didn’t really make sense to me in that moment. My current, ahem, configuration sure doesn’t match my gender identity by a long shot, so why the hell would I want to keep things the same? While I didn’t suffer from the same hatred and revulsion about my anatomy as some do, I also have no attachment that will prevent me from making the exchange at the earliest opportunity. So what’s with the trans people who say, “nah, I’m good”?
Now, there are those among you I have heard speculate that those who have no compelling reason to seek GRS must not be “real trans” after all. It’s very tempting to think like that, because those of us who can’t imagine not doing it tend to find such thought processes somewhat shocking. “Really, you are going to keep it? Really? Why? What is wrong with you anyway? Poser.” This made sense to me at first. I thought about it though, and came to the conclusion that I was looking at it through “trannier than thou” spectacles. That isn’t right. If I’m trans and she’s trans though, shouldn’t we be marching to the same goal line?
I think the real answer fits in nicely with the truth about our gender identities. Our identity is what it is, whatever body we are in, or even if by some wacky mishap we end up as disembodied brains in jars. I hope the latter never happens, but if it does, rest assured that floating grey blob is decidedly female. From there it comes down to what we need to do to get comfortable in the body we have. Instead of it being a yes or no type question, it’s more a matter of scale as to what measures are required to live a comfortable life. If we were able to go forward doing nothing and making no changes, yet comfortable in our identity, then by all means we should do so. For those of us so horribly uncomfortable that every measure must be taken to move forward, it’s really nothing more than being on the suckier end of the scale.
The final answer is that there are not two kinds of trans, or even two-hundred. By fate, luck, or circumstance, we each land in our own little pocket of the roulette wheel and act accordingly. To those who can but don’t choose GRS, I don’t understand you. Not because I think you are wrong, but simply because I don’t have that. I think, however, that you fell on the lucky side of things, all things considered.