In my last post I noted that we can divide people with transgender feelings into five groups. Some will commit suicide if they don’t transition, and some will be miserable. A third group will commit suicide if they *do* transition, and a fourth group will be miserable.
The fifth group, in which I count myself, has the ability to live in either gender without being miserable or suicidal. Or else they would be miserable or suicidal in any gender lifestyle, so transition would not make a difference.
A reader told me that she had heard of a study indicating that our “transition optional” group is the largest of these five. I’d like to see that study, but I’m skeptical that it actually shows that. As I’ve said before, we don’t have any kind of transgender population census, so any prevalence figures are likely to be completely inaccurate.
I do have a theory that predicts that the “transition optional” group is large, though. It comes from Harvard psychologist Dan Gilbert, who has done research on happiness. I strongly recommend reading his book, Stumbling on Happiness, which is an easy read. You can get the short version from Gilbert’s engaging TED talk.
There were two big things I took away from Gilbert’s work. The first is that we humans are capable of making the best of all kinds of situations. When the subjects thought they were stuck with their third-choice painting, they learned to appreciate it more; when they thought they were not going to have their second-choice painting, they lost interest in it.
This suggests to me that the “transition optional” group is bigger than we think. I personally can think of a few things that might have been better in my life if I had transitioned, like shaving, but since I know those things aren’t going to change I try to make the best of them and focus on the good things, like strength. I’d imagine that if I had decided to transition back in 1995, I’d be trying to make the best of hormones or whatever, and focusing on the positive aspects of post-transition life.
I’ll talk about the second big thing later.