Debunking Myth #6: Transgender people hate their bodies

This post is part of a series on Debunking the 10 (+1) Lies About Trans People

Myth #6:  Transgender people hate their bodies

url-2Of all the myths, this one sadly has the most foundation in truth.

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.

Back to Debunking the 10 (+1) Lies About Trans People.

15 thoughts on “Debunking Myth #6: Transgender people hate their bodies

  1. This was a truly awesome post. As a FtM Catholic who is still pretty terrified of being myself (I’m a catechist and would probably lose my job), my feelings on my body fluctuate constantly. Sometimes I hate having breasts that are hard to bind down and my dainty face and curves I can’t hide. As I’m involved with a wonderful cisgendered man, though, I rejoice in the fact that by all outward appearance, he and I will have an “acceptable” relationship, and that perhaps the reason why God put me in this body is so that he and I could be together without fearing judgement from others. It’s a battle. Thank you for being so brave in running this blog and illustrating that one can be both trans and Catholic. You give me courage.

    • Well I’m so glad you found some courage through this blog. It’s all God’s grace.

      I can totally relate even though my dysphoria is opposite and I feel discomfort from my thick neck, hairy arms, etc. I don’t know why God made us the way He did, but there has to be a reason, and I’m sure it’s a good one. Hang in there! 🙂

      I keep a list of people (mostly trans and genderqueer) that I try to pray for every night. I’ll add you to the list ❤

  2. This made me cry because I’m having self hate issues. I may not follow any religion, I believe in love. My grandparents are super supportive of me, they are Catholic. Thank you.

  3. I think by definition all people who seek to amputate body parts for cosmetic reasons are self hating.

    It’s truly sad that the medical community encourages such behavior. Living in the closet is not a good way to live. Accepting yourself as more feminine/masculine than normal for a person of your sex is the much better option.

    • Genital dysphoria is not simply a body image issue, and transgender surgery is hardly primarily cosmetic. From what we can tell, brains contain neurological maps of the rest of the body, as seen in amputees who often experience “phantom limb syndrome” since their brains are still wired as if the amputated limb is intact. What is interesting is that a study showed male-to-female transsexuals do NOT experience phantom genital syndrome after the surgery, whereas many female-to-male transsexuals reported lifelong phantom penis sensations even though they never had male genitalia. This suggests that the brain of transsexuals is actually physically encoded with the body map of the sex they feel like. Living without surgery is like living with an amputated limb.

      Also, “amputation” is hardly a nuanced enough term for what transgender surgery entails. Castration is amputation, but transgender surgery is pretty much the same as intersex surgery, which retains the living tissue, but uses it to reconstruct a genital morphology consistent with the person’s whole sexed identity.

      • “many female-to-male transsexuals reported lifelong phantom penis sensations even though they never had male genitalia … Living without surgery is like living with an amputated limb”
        Very interesting, that, and does present a curiosity. Of reported female-to-male who did experience phantom-penis prior to reassignment surgery, did the study go on to ascertain were there any who continue to experience phantom-penis afterwards??
        In example, the feeling of an erection while physically flaccid??
        Enjoy Peace

  4. I could say much more but I don’t want to upset anyone. I feel for all of you struggling with these feelings. Coming from a religious background I know how much…the enemy hates gender and reproduction.

  5. Pingback: 5 Incredibly Important Things To Know About Trans Issues | Is this why I'm still single?

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