This is a question mostly for my transsexual readers, but all you non-trans people are free to follow along.
Suppose that there was a cure for being transsexual. I don’t mean the current treatment, which involves things like hormones and surgery. We’re looking for something else here.
In this case I mean you take a pill. One day you’re a gender dysphoric guy or girl who can barely stand another day as your birth sex. The next day you take a pill and you’re better. You suddenly just “fit” that body that used to feel so wrong. No more gender dysphoria. You’re healed.
To the non-trans world the answer would seem obvious. Of course you’d take such a pill. You’d keep your job, family, and friends intact. You’d finally be able to find happiness without resorting to drastic, expensive, and frankly embarrassing measures. What’s the down side?
The down side is that any such “cure” gets to central issues of identity. And that’s a bigger deal than most people realize.
If a trans person took a pill and was suddenly okay with their birth sex, non-trans people assume they would be the same person. That’s simply not true. Change someone’s inner gender identity and you fundamentally change who they are.
Don’t believe me? Then why is it so difficult for society at large to accept gender transition? Same person, right? You simply have to recognize that they now have a different gender identity from what you thought before. What’s the problem with that?
The problem is bigger than anything immediately apparent. People base a lot of their concept about who people are around what gender they are. I’ve stopped counting the number of people who tell me they have “lost” someone due to my gender transition. I’m still here. But without the old gender identity they see me as a fundamentally different person, and I can’t convince them otherwise. Why should it be any different when this perception of gender identity is focused upon oneself, rather than someone else?
Which brings me back to our “cure.”
Would you take a pill which would completely reverse your inner sense of gender identity? If so, what would that mean?
I know one thing it would NOT have meant in my own case. It would not have been a simple matter of remaining the same person, only more happy and well adjusted to life.
None of the people who knew me in my male days can quite appreciate this, but my gender expression as a male back then was a conscious act. But it was an act. A facade. It was the projection of how I thought other people expected a “guy” like me to act, as filtered through the lens of someone who could barely stand to keep it up but dared not stop.
Had I been “cured” I have no idea what I would have been like, but certainly not like that person. It’s unlikely that a well-adjusted male “me” would have made the same friends, or been interested in the same things. I would probably have pursued a different career, and had different values. I simply can’t imagine what life would be like as that person.
But the person I am now, who never took any magic pill to “cure” my gender dysphoria, is finally finding happiness, peace, and a life that feels right. I didn’t have to obliterate my inner identity to achieve it. Instead I needed to be true to that identity, and follow that through to its logical end.
So I suppose the real question is: Which option sounds like it really deserves to be called a cure?