During graduate school I wrote my thesis on what was then called Transsexuality. Throughout my entire life I have been fixated on people who are different. As a little girl I read about the Kennedy children because their life was so public and their father had been killed. I felt so sad for them and could not imagine life without my father in it. I pored over every Helen Keller book I could find, fascinated by her abilities as a blind and deaf person. I, too, had suffered from Scarlet Fever, and I realized that I could have been blinded and deafened too if Penicillin had not been discovered before my case broke out. I worked with blind/deaf adults during my teen years, volunteering with them on evenings. I would take them shopping and watch, amazed, as they selected toothpaste, shampoo, food, and even clothing for themselves.
I could write about this forever. My list included:
Asians (their eyes were different than mine),
Thalidomide children (how horrifying that they had been born with such awful side effects because their mother’s had taken medication to appease nausea during birth),
People with Down’s Syndrome,
and on and on and on.
You get the idea. Basically, I was fascinated by everyone and everything that I saw. I guess most curious children are like this, but I took it to an extreme, wanting to know these people and their innermost thoughts, wanting to understand what it would feel like to be inside their skin.
And you wonder why I got a degree in psychology?
I read about Renee Richards with amazement. This well known tennis player had been born a boy but had always felt that he was a girl. He was girl trapped in a boy’s body. How horrifying, I thought. I read avidly, marveling at the way he strapped his genitals and dressed up (encouraged by his mother no less) as a girl. When “he” finally became “she” I was so glad. The nightmare had finally ended, and she was able to look and be looked at as a woman, matching what she had always felt herself to be.
Now we call it Gender Dysphoria. Everything seems to have a new name since I finished college and graduate school. We hear about it more and more, but still it is not common. As a society we are much more accepting now about things like this, but this mistaken gender identity is not widely condoned or accepted. Even Chaz Bono’s mother, the infamous Cher, could not deal with her son’s gender dysphoria. She would not speak to him or see him for over a year when he told her that he wanted to undergo treatment and surgery to become a man physically.
Chaz did not feel this way all of his life, which seems to deviate from the norm with this affliction. He thought he was a gay woman for a long time, a tomboy. It is almost surprising that he was permitted to undergo the transformation since he had not grappled for the majority of his life by feeling that he was a man trapped in a woman’s body. However, it happened, and he seems to be happier than he has ever been before. He is sharing his story publicly which is very brave and supportive to other people who have the same issues.
Cher is back in his life.
His girlfriend has stayed by his side throughout the transformation.
Chastity is now officially Chaz.
The funniest part of all is that he no longer likes idle chitchat. Taking male hormones erased that almost immediately, along with his depression. I guess and women really are from different planets after all.