Conundrum

Nobody really knows why some children, boys and girls, discover in themselves the inexpungable belief that, despite all the physical evidence, they are really of the opposite sex. It happens at a very early age. Often there are signs of it when the child is still a baby, and it is generally profoundly ingrained, as it was with me, by the fourth or fifth year. Some theorists suppose the child to be born with it: perhaps there are undiscovered consitutional or genetic factors, or perhaps, as American scientists have lately suggested, the foetus has been affected by misdirected hormones during pregnancy. Many more believe it to be solely the result of early environment: too close an identification with one or the other parent, a dominant mother or father, an infancy too effeminate or too tomboyish. Others again think the cause to be partly constitutional, partly environmental – nobody is born entirely male or entirely female, and some children may be more susceprible than others to what the psychologists call the ‘imprint’ of circumstance.
Whatever the cause, there are thousands of people, perhaps hundreds of thousands, suffering from the condition today. It has recently been given the name trans-sexualism, and in its classic form is as distinct from transvestitism as it is from homosexuality. Both transvestites and homosexuals sometimes suppose they would be happier if they could change their sex, but they are generally mistaken. The transvestite gains his gratification specifically from wearing the clothes of the opposite sex, and would sacrifice his pleasures by joining that sex: the homosexual, by definition, prefers to make love with others of his own sort, and would only alienate himself and them by changing. Trans-sexualism is something different in kind. It is not a sexual mode or preference. It is not an act of sex at all. It is a passionate, lifelong, ineradicable conviction, and no one true trans-sexual has ever been disabused of it.

Da: Jan Morris, Conundrum, faber and faber, London 1974. 148 pagine.

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