choose your own adventure (excerpt)
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Youâ€™re 6â€™6â€; male by birth, â€˜Jesterâ€™ by trade. Youâ€™ve never felt comfortable in your body. You know in yourself youâ€™re female, but your outer shell hides that, confusing yourself and those around you. You want to be true to the woman you really are, but are aware it may have detrimental effects on your family; it may result in ridicule, constant unwanted attention from passersbyâ€¦
If you decide to remain cloistered in an ill-fitting persona, turn to page 2.
If you decide to be true to yourself and live as a woman, turn to page 12.
Gender identity is innate, therefore to say itâ€™s a choice is to trivialise the situation. Still, it would be easier if defining gender were like selecting pages in a Choose Your Own Adventure book. For most, gender is clear-cut. Stand naked before a mirror and itâ€™s laid out in front of youâ€”it comes down to equipment.
For others it isnâ€™t so easily defined: their internal identity is grossly at odds with the reflection gazing back at them. The traditional conceptâ€”there are only two genders, male and female ends of the spectrumâ€”is no longer universally accepted.
Around the age of 4, Feih became aware she identified more with a girl across the street with whom she played, than with boys at her school. â€˜Dress-upsâ€™ meant frocking-up, and it seemed all that was needed to transform Fabian from boy to girl was the right dress and a touch of make-up.
However, as Feih grew up, she found life wasnâ€™t that simple. Even parents who love their children dearly find it hard to adjust to their son becoming their daughter.
Feihâ€™s first attempt to follow her feminine instinct, at 18, was cut short by knowledge her mother wasnâ€™t coping with the situation. Not wanting to cause her unhappiness, Feih stifled her true self and played at being a son till she left New Zealand for Australia.
In the past 3 years, Feih has lived predominantly as a woman. Her work hours are the main exception, as employers arenâ€™t always as tolerant as many would hope.
A more serious consideration is gender reassignment, though the process is lengthy and expensive. Feih feels it necessary, at each stage, to reassess how far she needs to go to complete the picture. She identifies as a woman and is a realist: â€˜This flesh and bone, no matter what I do with it, itâ€™s still going to be a male body.â€™
Feihâ€™s mother has come to terms with the situation to a large extent, though her father still finds it hard to accept. Feih doesnâ€™t blame him, though. â€˜Iâ€™ve had 30-odd years to come to terms with it, and it took me nearly 30 years to actually accept it enough myselfâ€™.
Like all humankind, those who identify as transgender are diverse. TransGender Victoria defines it as â€˜an umbrella term used to describe all those whose gender identity is at odds with their biological sexâ€™. Those who identify as transgender are often highly misunderstood and discriminated against.
Thereâ€™s no one page to turn to for the answers, those pages are still being written.
-The Sex Mook
Also by Bronwen Hyde
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