choose your own adventure (excerpt)

Submitted to Gender Roles
Uploaded 16 Jun 2009 — 3 favorites
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© Bronwen Hyde
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

You’re 6’6”; male by birth, ‘Jester’ by trade. You’ve never felt comfortable in your body. You know in yourself you’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 passersby…

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 it’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 it’s laid out in front of you—it comes down to equipment.

For others it isn’t so easily defined: their internal identity is grossly at odds with the reflection gazing back at them. The traditional concept—there are only two genders, male and female ends of the spectrum—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. ‘Dress-ups’ 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 wasn’t that simple. Even parents who love their children dearly find it hard to adjust to their son becoming their daughter.

Feih’s first attempt to follow her feminine instinct, at 18, was cut short by knowledge her mother wasn’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 aren’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: ‘This flesh and bone, no matter what I do with it, it’s still going to be a male body.’
Feih’s mother has come to terms with the situation to a large extent, though her father still finds it hard to accept. Feih doesn’t blame him, though. ‘I’ve had 30-odd years to come to terms with it, and it took me nearly 30 years to actually accept it enough myself’.

Like all humankind, those who identify as transgender are diverse. TransGender Victoria defines it as ‘an umbrella term used to describe all those whose gender identity is at odds with their biological sex’. Those who identify as transgender are often highly misunderstood and discriminated against.

There’s no one page to turn to for the answers, those pages are still being written.

-The Sex Mook

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