Penny's Story

A cute little drummer living her dream.

Just fix the brain…

I was engaged in a fairly thoughtful discussion online with someone in response to an article about a transsexual woman’s story. This person suggested that SRS is a primitive way to deal with transsexualism, and that someday doctors will be able to “fix” the problem in the brain.

I guess what they meant by that was that the real problem was that my brain was somehow damaged and my body (irrespective of my far from perfect pre-surgical body) was fine.

I suppose that’s one way to look at it, though it sure doesn’t feel that way from my perspective. I believe I have a perfectly normal female brain. What was broken was my body. What was broken was the fact that I was trapped living a life that wasn’t truly my own.

That’s better now. I am me.

So I responded that I believe the technology that needs to get better is the quality of the surgical options available to trans patients. Someday they won’t try to fix a transsexual’s brain, they’ll be able to offer completely functional genitals (sigh, I’m too early for the uterine transplant). Indeed, the technology for trans folk has moved in the direction of better surgeries. Up until fairly recently, the only real surgery that women had available to them was an orchiectomy. I said that if my choices had been a “fix” for my brain to make me a “normal” man, or no surgery and to have to live with the stress and discomfort of the wrong body, I would have opted for the latter.

Whatever ~I~ there is has always been female. There would have been no way to “fix” my brain to be a “normal male” without having altered a fundamental core element of who I am. Not to get too metaphysical, but my soul is female. No matter what the state of my body is or was, my being is and was female. That’s not a changeable thing. The only fix, for me, was correcting my body.

I related this story to the Darling Boyfriend, and he again proved how amazing he is, and how much he completely understands this. I told him that someone suggested “fixing” my brain would have been a better cure, and he said, “That would have been sort of like killing you. Kind of like Talia Winters.” (He’s such a geek – and so am I, because I instantly understood the reference.)

And yea, that’s what I think it would have been like. Whoever I am would have been gone if my brain had been “fixed,” and I don’t want to be gone. There is nothing wrong with my brain, and there never was.


  Corrvin wrote @

Les Paul the guitar designer (and musician) was in a car accident and his arm was crushed. Once he was aware that he would never again have mobility in his arm, he persuaded doctors to set it in a position where he could use it to hold a guitar and continue to play.

And he did continue to play for the rest of his life, through arthritis and a stroke and various other medical problems.

So, what in the world is wrong with us as a society, that we can’t grant perfectly sane people the privilege of saying “This is wrong, it’s all wrong, and even if it isn’t pretty or what another person would choose, this is how I need it taken care of, so that I can live my life doing what I want, how I want to do it”?

Doesn’t everyone deserve the chance to play?

  Véronique wrote @

Your reasoning is sound. I hope your correspondent understood it. If it were possible to “fix” my brain, I would no longer be me. I realize that people think what we have done to our bodies is drastic, but they should understand that our personalities are aspects of our brains, not our bodies, at least mostly.

  pickypenelope wrote @

I don’t think my correspondent got it; they’re still insisting it’s a brain disorder. Oh well. It was worth a shot.

  miss kitten wrote @

in some ways, miss penny, your journey boggles me. i know who i am in MY soul, and in MY body (fat, wrinkled, stretch marked and in pain) i am content.

i could imagine that having a brain.soul that disagreed with what faced you in the mirror would be a soul-ache. i wish that it wasnt “cure the brain” on people’s minds but “cure the soul by making the body and soul match finally”.

i am very glad for you. 🙂

  Emily wrote @

My first ‘gatekeeper shrink’ (part of the wonders of the French system for transsexual people) spent a whole 2h session banging on about ‘what if there was a magic pill to make your brain male?’

I know he was testing me; it was in the early days of my transition, before he had given me the green light for hormones. Annoying as his insistence was, it was a useful discussion because it made it even more deeply clear that the ‘me’ is in my brain/soul and that is female. The idea of changing that is horrifying, it’s the most basic part of my personality and if we start thinking of changing that, where does it stop?

Could you imagine suggesting that one changes the brains of people to make them religious or to make them atheists? Can you imagine changing the brains of people to make them more patriotic? Those things are tiny in comparison to changing the brain’s gender and ones identity is much less involved in those two ideas yet the mere idea would result in an outcry. Why, then, is it even acceptable to think of changing the brains of trans people???

It sounds like it’s just another example of privilege dictating the ‘norm’ and those with the privilege enforcing it.

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