It is ridiculous to call homosexuality or transsexualism “unnatural”- these things are just what people do. What would I call “unnatural”?
Honour killings. What overrides the “natural” love for relatives? The perpetrators will be even considered as a hero within the community because he is the one defending the family and community’s honour and reputation. Social pressures and beliefs about right and wrong override what I would like to hope was “natural”.
After nine years in England, a Polish woman did not know the word “and”. In an English speaking part of Wales, I picked up the Welsh word “a” quite quickly. She has managed to get by living mostly in the Polish community here. S seemed to disapprove- she has Polish roots and made her career among English speakers. F was “not making an effort”. I can see that being able to speak English is necessary to get a better job, here, but people choose their own priorities. Fiona Campbell, with Ukrainian roots, told me indignantly that her family had always spoken English over dinner. We were discussing the widespread use of Urdu, Bangla and Gujerati.
While the social pressure on trans people is strongly to present in the assigned gender, for those of us who cannot bear it there is an escape route: transition. It is not highly regarded: Colin/Fiona, my transvestite friend, told me of his acquaintance, a chartered accountant, who had transitioned and gone to college to retrain as a hairdresser. S/he had reverted after nine months. Colin saw my desire to transition as ridiculous, taking a transvestite fantasy too seriously.
Yet I understood the concept of transsexuality. Some people said clearly that transvestites were perverts, but transsexuals (we were happy, then, with the word as a noun) had a medical condition. We were protected against discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act, as interpreted by courts and tribunals, and were soon to gain the Gender Recognition Act.
After more than a year transitioned, I was pretty sure I would not want to revert, and began to plan the operation.
Of course it is possible that I had the operation because of social pressures. I might have felt the need to prove myself more intensely because Graeme McGrath wrote to my GP, “Mr Languish is not transsexual”.
I could express myself as this feminine, and be accepted in society, if I was transsexual. I needed to be accepted in society in order to survive, and I needed to express myself as this feminine: the masculine mask was crushing me.
I saw that person on the bus again. Man’s shoes, woman’s woolly hat, presenting as a very feminine male. I am pretty sure they has testicles, though I have not asked. If I had that bravery…
We subvert gender, and reinforce it. We go along with the lie that being this feminine means being a woman; yet we anger the conservatives, by not even trying to be Real Men. Most of us have tried, but given up. Note that I do not assert, plainly that I am a woman as so many of us do: how could I know? This does not mean that the others are wrong.
I am clear that loss of genitals is a price worth paying. I needed that escape route from the cultural concept of Manhood. As other escape routes become available, perhaps the one I took will be less necessary; and only then will we learn if we are castrated because of social pressure: because the taboo against castration is very strong.