March 30, 2024 Brianna Nicole Austin no responses

Born That Way

Some believe that transgender people are born that way, that it is a biological trait as some purport to be the case — like having blue eyes or blond hair.  Does that relieve us of this heavy load?

What if it came to light that you weren’t a woman in spirit? That none of this transgender life is about “being” a woman in a man’s body, but rather just thinking you were? And what if that thought (of being and feeling female) was biologically “hard-wired” into your brain? How would that make you feel?  Are you happy that this can no longer be considered an action of choice, or does it make you sad knowing that “being wired biologically” is likely something you will never be able to change?

Most of us have spent our entire lives wondering, “What’s wrong with me?” And then after decades of purge and repeat behavior, mixing shame, guilt — and the need to search our soul for the truth of these internal feelings of self-identity –, some of us have slowly learned to accept in ourselves that which society often mocks, or worse, condemns. If being transgender is a biological trait, like having blue eyes or blond hair, does that relieve us of this heavy load?

Transsexuals, before GRS, have often described themselves as a woman trapped in the body of a man. Although I feel the same way — and used that explanation as the best analogy to explain what being transgender felt like — I still could never reconcile what that meant beyond theory in my mind. When we say, “I am a woman,” are we referring to the current essence of our soul? Or perhaps we have the memories from a previous female life existence?  Or is our (society’s) notion of life and existence simply wrong, and gender expression merely another form of experience as I suggest in “And They Burned Witches Too!

Abstract thoughts like these fascinate me, and I actively participate in “what if” scenarios. But beyond the rhetoric of the conversation, what does any of it mean in the practical sense? 

I have friends who have transitioned and currently live the full-time lives of the women they have become.  But were they women all along? Some say yes, while others say no. Transsexuals (often thought of as those who have graduated from transgender camp) are split in two on the issue and have drawn a line in the sand. Two common positions have been recited to me repeatedly:

1)   Some say that they were a transgender woman when they were women living in a man’s body, but post-op they no longer are, suggesting that now they are simply women, no different than any other biological woman, and therefore, no longer trans.

2)   Others identify as women but recognize that the mere fact that they were born into a male body, and — in many cases — lived a male life for some time — makes them different from a biologically born female.

For this article let’s refer to them both by the acronym “WODO” (Woman of a different origin).  

A biological female has lived her whole life female. Beginning from early childhood she evolved through adolescence into adulthood. Many WODOs on the other hand “become” women midstream. Does this make a difference? Some WODOs will argue that they have been women since birth, just trapped in a male body due to a cosmic mistake. Did being predominately male (even if they were pretending and playing the part) have an impact on the woman they are to become? 

Another position by some WODOs is that they can never really be 100% woman (even though they have an almost replica of a female body to accompany their female mind and spirit) because they didn’t have the life experience of a woman. They certainly are no longer male and therefore, by default, are transsexual women. 

It has been theorized for some time that being transgender and/or homosexual, is something you are born with, not something you learn, or acquire a taste for (no pun intended.) Recently, scientific reports have emerged that support these theories, linking transsexualism to biological conditions that occur during the “hormone spray,” in the womb.  In 1995 Dutch researchers discovered that a structural difference existed within the brains of men and (M>F) transsexuals. A small cluster of cells in the brain — the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BST) – is smaller in transsexuals (as it is in women) than in men. 

Researchers also announced links between certain genes and sexual orientation, which it says is also hard-wired into the brain.

Perhaps with the advances in medical sciences, we will eventually know the baseline reason for our actions soon enough. So that in the future when people say, “How come you are transgender, we can simply say, “Because I was just born that way.”

View Lady GaGa’s singing Born That Way live at the GRAMMY Awards


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Brianna Nicole Austin is an author, writer, columnist and journalist and editor of from New York City, now living abroad.

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