Articles / Feelings

Some thoughts about feelings

Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then, I contradict myself.
I am large, I contain multitudes.
-Walt Whitman

When I posted my transgender feelings in January, there were some interesting reactions. I want to clarify some of what I said and elaborate a bit.

Feelings and beliefs

A number of people interpreted my reports of trans feelings as evidence for “interiority” – claims that I’m really a woman inside. These interpretations are understandable given how often other trans people offer their own feelings – or simply the word “trans” – as part of such arguments. They’re inaccurate, though: as I wrote in a subsequent post, I find it hard to believe in anything as ineffable as a gender identity or an inner woman, and I don’t ask anyone else to.

Feelings are irrational

Some people were bothered by how little sense my feelings made, and how to some extent they rested on idealizations, fantasies and media images. I think it’s because when they talk about their own feelings, they expect them to make sense. I’m sorry, but I’ve long ago given up on expecting my feelings or anyone else’s to make sense. I thought I made that clear in the post. Maybe my feelings are more irrational than other people’s, but I don’t think so.

It’s normal for feelings to conflict with each other

I feel both a desire to be a woman and a desire to be a man. Some people take that as evidence that a person is “not really trans,” that they’re bigender or something. I take it as evidence that they’re human. I find it hard to believe there’s a person on this planet who hasn’t felt both of these desires. I find it harder to believe that there’s a trans person who doesn’t feel some desire for their assigned gender, or some discomfort with their target gender.

Moving toward and away from genders

When I posted about my trans feelings, I included both a desire to be a woman and a desire to not be a man. I think those feelings coexist, but they’re not the same thing, and it’s useful to be able to distinguish them. Similarly, sometimes I feel a desire to be a man, and a desire to not be a woman, which are also distinct feelings.

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1 Comment

  1. I just want to say I’m so happy to have found your blog. I have been surfing the web for trans stuff for a year or so but haven’t found anything this reasonable. Even if I knew something was wrong, it is difficult to me to have the confidence to really think for myself, or to put that thinking into action. Thus I almost gave in to a unreasonable but socially-enforced story that is not quite up to date IMO. I’ve still made some thinking and found affirmation of my own thoughts in your writing. I’m surprised no one has come to ‘invalidate’ your ideas more than this.

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