This post is part of a series on Debunking the 10 (+1) Lies About Trans People.
Myth #6: Transgender people hate their bodies
Here’s what is TRUE: many many many transgender folk have problems with self-esteem and body image. For many, their transgenderism produces gender dysphoria, and their gender dysphoria produces a conflict with their bodies.
Here’s what is FALSE: the idea that transgenderism is by nature the hating of one’s own body and a rejection of one’s physical reality. It isn’t.
The key is this: it’s complicated. Transgenderism comes first, then the body image problems. Every trans person deals with their own gender variance in different ways. Transgenderism is first and foremost a fact of internal identity. Struggles with self-hatred are an unfortunate side effect because of social pressure.
There are some common ways in which this myth can come true in the lives of transgender people. For one thing, there is often a very real physical side to having gender dysphoria. Some transgender people have feelings of being out-of-body or disconnected from their own genitalia. Others feel like their hormones are literally warring with their brain. These experiences can be very real, but they do not automatically amount to body hatred. A trans person can have these experiences and still choose to love their body.
The most common form of self-hatred among transsexuals is hatred of one’s own masculine/feminine characteristics. A transwoman, for example, having a male biological sex and a female mental gender, will often hate the things that make people identify her as male: her big hands, thick neck, broad shoulders, etc. However, it seems that most trans people aren’t trans because they hate their bodies; they hate their bodies because they feel different from how other people see them. They feel that their bodies are preventing them from living the sort of authentic life they want, or that they’re blocking people from seeing and loving the person within.
Perhaps the saddest way many trans people fall into self-hatred is the hatred of their own souls. Many trans people hate their own feelings, emotions, thoughts, and inner life because they feel like freaks. They feel that there must be something wrong with them and that the world cannot love them as they are. This kind of self-hatred is – in my opinion – mostly produced by society’s rigid standards. No trans person should feel obligated to despise their own heart because of what the world tells them!
These are some of the ways in which trans people might succumb to self-hatred. Self image problems are very real for trans people, but they are only a terrible side effect of the challenges of being transgender in modern Western society. Many brave trans people find various ways to fight back or cope.
The point is this: while self-hatred is a real struggle for transgender people, it’s not the core of the issue, and many rise above it. Some people choose to transition to another gender out of love for their bodies and souls, not hatred. Some take cross-sex hormones out of healthy self-love, like taking vitamins. Some are comfortable with their bodies even though their physical form doesn’t match their self image. Many choose to rejoice in the fact that God made them different. It is true that some transsexuals transition out of (justified) desperation, but many also do so from a profound sense of freedom.
There are 1000 different ways a trans person can approach the problem, many of which are positive and affirming.
- Myth #1: Transgender people live crazy lives.
- Myth #2: Transgender people are confused.
- Myth #3: Transgender people are mentally disturbed.
- Myth #4: Transgender people are gay.
- Myth #5: Transgender people are radical liberals with crazy ideas.
- Myth #6: Transgender people hate their bodies.
- Myth #7: Transgender people perform in drag shows.
- Myth #8: You can tell someone is transgender just by looking at them.
- Myth #9: Transgender people aren’t “real” men or women.
- Myth #10: Transgender people are weird.
- Myth #11: Sex and gender are straightforward.