The Thinking Man sculpture at Musée Rodin in Paris

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It’s been a while since I wrote a reflective post, and I came to realize that perhaps why some may seem to miss who I am in all of it had something to do with what I have posted in the past.  I think I have finally gotten to a point were I can realize that since I transitioned that I was internally growing more so than anything else (though bodily changes also occurred).  Growing I have undergone, and growth I am yet to undergo have and will have a hand in transforming my point of view.  In that sense I have transformed at such a rate that comments, thoughts and blogs from as little as 2 years ago (perhaps as little as 6 months ago) are no longer pertinent to how I think now.  Obviously some core values are the same, but there are things I didn’t understand then that I have come to understand.  But on the outside, there is still a certain degree of assumption, probably more than many other demographics because well, lets face it…  I am a transsexual woman after-all.

The perceptual disconnect –

That in and of itself is enough to cause a disconnect in the minds of others, or a disjointing of facts with rumors and opinions, some true some false.  I think where most people drop the ball in that regards revolves around what I’ll refer to as “gender biased motivations“.  When it comes to being a transwoman, many of those assertions of motive revolve around the misconceptions of male motivation in our culture.  In that, what I am saying is that people may often assert my behaviors have a culturally known masculine (or male-related sexual or otherwise) motivation.  What happens afterwards when people make an assertion about my motivations, is they make a judgement about actions that regards that motivation on the premises they decided on.  This is really a bad way to understand another person, especially having no first hand experience of a person’s demeanor, actions, character or otherwise.  Words can also fail to convey character at times, though popular convention tends to lean the other way.  But the essential of the disconnect is an inability or an unwillingness to listen to what another person has to say over personal bias, obstinance or self-righteousness.

So what are the most basic assertions you can make about things people say in the profiles, essays, blogs, or statements.  Assuming the words were used proper to their meaning you can derive that from it with reasonable certainty.  You can also derive intent, though sometimes intent isn’t inherently clear.  You can most certainly assert how someone feels about a specific topic as a cross-section, but what you can’t do is draw a consistently, accurate conclusion about the type of person they are form small samples.  This also counts against accuracy when you are dealing with a person whose concept, thoughts, personality or life are in a state of dynamic flux.  To some degree that is true of everyone, so you must concede a level of uncertainty with regards to any indirect observation of someone’s character, to a degree direct observations as well especially when short in duration.  However, long term follow-up, and observation tends to reveal more consistent and accurate results.  But why?  Well because a position is an assertion based on personal convictions, rationale, and/or the evidence they have that lead to said assertion which can also change over time and with newer evidence.  Assertions can be very profound, and insightful but false depending on the evidence that persons’ logic is based on.  You can’t know intuitively all that another person knows to find the reason they conclude A or B, so certain aspects of character are invisible to you through the lens of internal analysis.  So at a glance you can’t know someone fully or completely assess the nature of their character.

English: Vitruvian Man, Gallerie dell'Accademi...

DaVinci's Depiction of Man - Image via Wikipedia

As a human being, you can’t assert with certainty the reason another person feels a certain way, or holds a specific view, and you especially can’t assert that they “know what you know” when you compare their assertions to the way you understand the issue.  It’s all a matter of perspective.  Because experience is the moderator of perspective there is always going to be piece of evidence that leads to positions and assertions that you are going to be unable to obtain in a manner of fact.  So does this mean there can’t be a consensus if you can’t find that specific “pertinent evidence” without having X or Y experience?  No.  This is where communication can come in and fill those gaps…  What you have to do is listen to the other person’s position in-depth, and grant or deny the premises of those things which are outside of your sphere of experience, or possible experience.  Communication is key to understanding.  You can’t ask a person to be understanding when you haven’t shared the evidence you have for your position, nor can you expect them to.  Sharing your evidence doesn’t mean they’ll agree with you because people can come to different conclusions with the same evidence, or be unconvinced by available evidence.

The same applies in reverse, you can’t understand another persons position unless you open yourself up to their position, evidence and experiences that are clear to them because of the experiences.  Each person in that sense has “Unique Knowledge/Experience” that is outside of the scope of another person’s perspective.  As such, there are many things we can’t assert about another person without asking them and granting many of their internal premises.  The process of granting premises, evidence from experience, and other such positions in interpersonal communication is the make or break point in understanding.  Another persons premises may completely contradict something you’d already come to understand, or know, or they may seem to be too subjective, objective, abstract, or concrete for the way you rationalize details.  Sometimes a person’s position can be driven by neurotic obsession, or other times by a painful personal experience that can collude a person’s ability to grant that premise or position.

A description of communication.

A depiction of communication - Image via Wikipedia

However, without communication there is no way to resolve this.  Communication in and of itself does not guarantee understanding, but understand is strongly affected by empathy, compassion, and other instinctual emotional reactions that tend to govern morality in humans.  A person in a state of cognitive dissonance is going to frequently if not always be unable to understand your position if the subject of that position is the cause of said cognitive dissonance.  Cognitive Dissonance arises when trying to process two statements as both true or both false when those two concepts exist in contradiction to each other.  This happens quite often with religion and issues with accepting and protecting GLBT people.  A person can experience cognitive dissonance with realizing the valid positions and real needs of GLBT people coupled with the religiously accepted position against homosexuality, et cetera.  Sometimes those positions can even come from GLBT people of religious inclination.

Situational reasoning may dictate that they take a different position on homosexuality, but they can still exist in a state of cognitive dissonance when dealing with bisexuality, pansexuality, polyamory (though I am not polyamorous), or transsexuality.  So the statement that transsexuality is a real thing that is as immutable as homosexuality is in contradiction with the opinion that transsexuality is a “social construct of gender” issue or “a form of bodily mutilation” prohibited in many religions.  However those assertions that transsexuality is a myth or delusion exists in contradiction to scientific evidence, the personal experiences of gender from transgender people, and as a result can be a point of misunderstanding for many.  For a person to accept both premises would create a state of dissonance.  However, as can reasonably asserted in that situation, both can not be true at the same time.  One position is valid, while the other one is not.  Sometimes people of a differing opinion might state that, “I see both sides, and I have my own opinions” or “I am neutral and taking no sides”.

How this applies to Gender/Transsexuality –

A TransGender-Symbol Plain1

Conversationally speaking though, the previous could be considered something of a cop-out in interpersonal relationships.  Seeing multiple sides of an opposing view-point does not mean they are all valid given circumstance, especially when it comes to an issue as complex as gender identity.  Consider the following positions as examples (under the understanding that the standard method of treatment in Gender Identity Disorder is transition therapy when appropriate determined and managed which is factual policy guidance and established procedure):

Position A states as follows:  (The Assertion of Gender Identity is not a real thing. Therefore any assertions that someone made external changes on its basis is invalid, though the disordered state does show a need for some form of “intervention” the now accepted methods seem to miss the central issue, or treatment acknowledging and not challenging “Gender Identity Based Motivation” as a falsehoods seem to be shortsighted. [This assertion accepts that Gender Identity Disorder is a problem, but rejects the premise of Gender Identity.])  Position A would be supported by statements that Gender Identity is a myth, that people who transition are delusional, gender confused, or just need really stringent therapy.  It would also be supported in a statements that quote that a persons’ individual basis for gender identity as wrong and changeable.

Position B states as follows:  (The Assertion of Gender Identity is real, and is an immutable characteristic.  Therefore any assertion that someone made external changes on its basis is valid, and the prescribed methods of treatment which address the primary issue (Gender Identity), and affirming “Gender Identity Based Motivation” as true seem to be proper. [This assertion accepts that Gender Identity Disorder is a problem, and accepts the premise of Gender Identity as immutable]) Position B would be supported by statements that Gender Identity is part of one’s biological state regarding sex, that transition is a necessary treatment of that incongruity. It would also be supported in statements that quote a persons’ individual basis for gender identity as valid and intrinsic.

Position C states as follows: (The Assertion of Gender Identity is real, but is a mutable characteristic.  Therefore the standardized treatment method seems too superficial, and seems to be a preference issue that is hardly and “pressing matter” that needs drastic measures to resolve.  The obvious solution seems to be to conform or adapt one’s internalized perceptions to allow them to accept their birth assignment, and fore-go the hazardous and superficial changes to body and anatomy.  [This assertion rejects that Gender Identity Disorder is a problem, and accepts the premise of Gender Identity as mutable.])  Position C would be supported by statements that Gender Identity is real, but is ultimately a superficial characteristic that really isn’t of any real importance.  It would also be supported by statements that quote a persons’ individual basis for gender identity as valid but changeable.

Swot analysis

Analysis is the process of breaking a complex topic or substance into smaller parts to gain a better understanding of it. The technique has been applied in the study of mathematics and logic since before Aristotle (384–322 B.C.), though analysis as a formal concept is a relatively recent development.

Now that I have set up three examples of simple and common positions when it relates to transsexuality I will talk about their relationship in more intimate detail.  Some of the following may be inconvenient to hardliners of either of those three positions, so brace yourself.  As a general rule depending on circumstances all three positions can be valid, just not at the same time as they contradict each other.  What I am saying is that some people come to assertions about gender identity on invalid premises, for some those gender identity assertions are superficial, and for others that gender identity assertion is very real.  The positions reflect the a reasonable course given the individual premises.  But this is back to where communication plays a role because it affects the validity of the arguments at hand.

Evidence, observations, follow-up, and the scientific method can be applied to make a reasonable conclusions about which position is valid for a given situation.  However, where this process breaks down comes when people refuse to see the evidence, refuse to follow-up, and refuse to use sound methodology to come up with their conclusions.  In these cases, some people will tend to default to a specific position which they will either refuse to change, or be unable to draw evidence that would lead them to the correct conclusion.  Positions in an absence of evidence are opinions, and opinions can lead to in certain circumstances of extreme and biased perceptions to bigotry and discrimination.  The above arguments could have Gender Identity, and transition substituted with Homosexuality, and Homosexual relationships with proper criteria and language and have the same meaning though the statements are going to be proportionally different about when they are valid and when they are not.  Not all arguments are valid at the same time.

However, once a position is determined to align with evidence, you must accept that position as true (which can be harder said than done).

English: Symbols for heterosexuality (middle),...

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Example swap from above for Position B:  (The assertion of Homosexuality is valid, and an immutable characteristic.  Therefore the assertion that someone engages in homosexual relationships in accordance with that is valid, natural, and a very necessary part of that persons “Affirmed Homosexuality” and those actions are proper for the situation.)

I’d argue that in most situations whether the argument was made about homosexuality or transsexuality that Position B would most often be a true statement; however, it’s impossible to presuppose that it is always true without testing it in each situation.  It is possible for position B to be false given the right situation.  The statistical probability does not declare any one position or statement as an absolutely true/false value on its own, you still have to ensure each assertion is tested against the situation and compared with the evidence.  For transsexuality I’d say that Position B is going to hypothetically be true 85% of the time (myself included), but position A could still be valid 5%, and position C 10% of the time.    The human mind, perception and psychology aren’t analogous, concrete things though, but they aren’t totally fluid or malleable either.  They are very complex and as a result the analysis is subject to some variations.  As long as the criteria is standardized either Position A, B or C is likely to be true more often than the others, especially in things that display consistency, and intensity over time.  Obviously it is possible to make as few as 2 positions, or as many a million depending on your variables in the argument but inevitably the process is the same.

That considering, this is only really applicable on the grounds of what we know about human behavior.  It is possible for one or many conclusions to be false given the properties of the subject of study.  However, in this situation I am applying specifically for the purposes of understanding transsexuality.  Perhaps I have just gone on a long tangent and missed or messed up some central point, but if so communication can give me the missing pieces by which to refine my hypothesis.  “Every-time you fail to share you mind when your inner voice is calling you to, you miss an opportunity to give someone the reason they need to change their position” – Reneta Scian.  It’s also best not to assume that someone will ask you for that key piece of information either, if you feel it would be helpful for person A to understand X if you shared detail Q, then volunteer that information in the spirit of understanding.  It is through the communion of ideas that we can find an understanding.

Conclusion –

English: A model of the scientific research pr...While its best when trying to find the cause, or understand the nature of something to approach it without a position and analyze it from a purely neutral stance, however, it would seem that people don’t often think that way.  These positions in the analysis can act as a hypothesis of sorts to be proven or disproven.  Positions will either be valid or invalid based on the evidence and that is what the root of what this essay is about.  It’s about people using their analytical abilities to test their positions, intuitions and hypotheses rather that using broad, oversimplified generalizations to predict others behavior, judge their character, or interact with them.  You’ll never learn anything about the people in the world around you if you assume you know them before you actually interact with them.  It is a cultural phenomenon for sure, but it is based mostly within people’s untested personal perceptions.  The accepted norms, the stereotypes, and misinformation all act to help a state of chaos were understanding is concerned.

There is nothing I dislike more than the broad generalizations, stereotypes, and over-simplifications people apply to my body, my personality, my nature, my behavior, or my personality.  I’d argue that most people don’t like it, though even that is variable.  While I am admittedly very much less rational when I am upset, or emotional, I will eventually come to a point where I can logically understand afterward given I have evidence.  To err is human, but it doesn’t become a mistake until you refuse to fix it.  Or at least that is what I like to think.  Our ability to understand each other is based on the communication, and acceptance between different perspectives.  All perspectives can be valid depending on the situation, but this does not need that they are in fact true.  A true perspective is something that as science would dictate can be reasonably replicated with the same results under the same conditions and is supported by evidence, and conclusive findings.

However, I am human too, and subject to the same errors as everyone else.  I can make the same missteps even knowing what I have come to learn.  But I strive to overcome those false or baseless assertions about others so that I may understand better, but communication is a must.  Understanding and Acceptance in society should be a process of finding the best possible answer with the available materials, data and evidence, and should not stand on tradition alone.  To me traditions should be challenged especially in situations where there appears to be a conflict.

Update Add-on (24 February 2012)

There are other things I have learned though… The short…  I learned that clothes don’t make the woman, but they certainly make an impression.  I learned that being a woman isn’t about fitting what other people think about you.  Being a woman isn’t about being so in a way that conforms to labels.  That it doesn’t matter if others see you as a woman when they know what you are, I am still me and people will perceive me how they perceive me.  I learned to not be ashamed of being trans, though it is quite scary.  I learned that it’s best not to hide it.  I learned to love myself for who I am, not what I wish I was, what others want me to be, or what society thinks I am.  I learned how to define myself for myself.  I learned that most of people’s internal experience of gender is hormonally driven, well after puberty that is.  I learned that most people don’t even understand their own gender all that well.  I have learned that human beings are diverse and wonderful works of nature, of marvelous complexity and beauty.  But, most of all… the most important thing I learned was this…  There is no jewel, no gold, no precious thing in the world more valuable than being able to, and learning how to accept yourself.  “If you don’t accept yourself, no one else will” – Reneta Scian