Let me start by saying that every trans person’s experience is not like mine. Everyone is different and many trans women live quite happily with the genitalia they were dealt at birth. Taking them to movies or for ice cream, or whatever it is people who don’t despise their junk do. Naked Sky Diving?? No… No… That’s probably not it.
But the point is, your body dysphoria or lack thereof doesn’t make your gender identity more or less valid. Everyone is different and everyone is special just like Bob the Tomato always said.
Some people, we’ll call them “Lucky Motherfuckers” for brevity, don’t experience genital dysphoria. These are Cis people and some Trans people. I am not one of those, so I am going to attempt to explain what it feels like with probably the worst metaphor you will experience this week. I apologize in advance.
I’m very open with my children, I have 3 kids in a wide age range and we are a sex positive household so I try to be as factual and transparent as possible even on uncomfortable subjects. We have discussed a very wide range of subjects but I will admit I was still uneasy when my 13-year-old asked me about my relationship with my lady bits. It was, however, a thoughtful question framed much better than “hey mom how ya feel bout your downstairs for realz?!?” since my daughter doesn’t talk like that at all.
From that awkward question stemmed: The Chicken Example. I told my daughter having the wrong parts is a bit like having a live chicken sewn to you and for a few different reasons.
Reason 1: The chicken doesn’t feel like it is part of you. This is one of the things people just don’t seem to get. It is not that I disliked the part in general (I’m bisexual and boy howdy that is not the case), rather I disliked it on me. There were other reasons but a huge part of it was I never felt like it belonged there.
There’s a function of the brain called proprioception. Essentially it is your brain keeping track of your body, it maps where all your body parts are. While there is still a lot of studying to be done a few studies have linked this function of the “brain map” to both the phantom limbs of amputees and the rare desire of people who want to have a limb amputated. In so many words if your brain map is certain something should be there it can make you feel it is there even if it isn’t, and if your brain map is certain something shouldn’t be there it makes you feel desperately that it is correct. While there have been no studies on Trans people in this regard and this is all conjecture, what isn’t conjecture is that since I was old enough to understand my body I knew that I had a part of it that didn’t belong. This might be hard to imagine, so let’s go back to the original idea, imagine you woke up one day to find a live chicken sewn to you? How long would it take you to finally feel like this chicken was a part of you, and would you feel satisfied with leaving it there?
Reason 2: The chicken moves in mysterious ways. I’m not trying to shock anyone, but chickens wake up with the dawn. They cock their doodle doo in the morning and there not much you can do about it. They sleep, sure, but they also move around a lot trying to peck things during the day. It’s distracting and profoundly distressing if you want to forget the chicken exists. Luckily hormones usually kill the cock……errrr… chicken and then it’s quite a bit easier to manage. If you didn’t like having a live bird sewn to you a dead bird is usually a vast improvement, but you still have a dead, or at bare minimum heavily sedated, bird sewn to you.
Reason 3: People treat you different when you have a chicken sewn to you. Be honest with yourself, unless you knew quite a few people with chickens sewn to them you would probably have a lot of questions and misconceptions about those people. And unfortunately, while that is only natural it’s still pretty awful. People treat us differently if they know about our issue.
Now Imagine how much you would hate the bird if your whole life was at one point dictated by people’s insistence that people with chickens sewn on have to behave and even dress a certain way, then when you finally throw off those expectations, your bird is all people want to talk about. It’s easy to see why getting rid of the damn thing would be a top priority.
Reason 4: Three’s a crowd. So you are finally in a relationship. A loving successful relationship with a person who lets you steal half their dessert without stabbing you in the throat like you would them. This person is a keeper. When you kiss them it’s butterflies and when you pull away you make that hissing sound like the raptors in the kitchen scene from Jurassic Park. True AF Love. And a chicken. You and your love, and a chicken. You and your love on a sweet romantic date (also the chicken). You and hot steamy grown-up time….and a god damn chicken. You see where I’m going with this? How do you think you would feel undressing for the first time with a chicken sewn to you? Second time? Third? Would you ever be truly comfortable with it there?
So now that I have explained all that in quite possibly the worst way imaginable; I hope if you ever run across an article focusing on a transgender woman’s parts and not her as an individual, you will understand why we are probably going to be more than a little annoyed. I hope you understand why surgery is such a big deal and such a big help for those who need it. I hope you gained a little empathy and a little understanding and I hope you take some time to think about what it must be like to live with a body incongruent with who you are. At least I hope so.
And now because I’m 10 years old and my restraint is at its limits I’m going to end this by listing a bunch of terribly euphemistic chicken breed names that I didn’t use in this article but desperately wanted to.
- Rhode Island Red
- Naked Neck
- La Flèche
- Jersey Giant
- Plymouth Rock
Penises. They sound like humorous names for penises. That’s why it’s funny. You’re Welcome.