All my life, I’ve struggled to find out where exactly I fit in. I try to read as much as I can to figure this out, but only get frustrated when I read things like this:
“When it comes to sexuality in the human person, our sex (or as some incorrectly call it, gender, (gender is a grammatical term that refers to the classification of nouns and pronouns)) is not just a coin toss. Our soul is either male or female and our body reflects that fact. My soul is male; my spirit is male; hence, my body is male.”
My personal experience seems to contradict this. When I was born, I appeared to be a (mostly) healthy male. Because my male organs were underdeveloped, the doctors ordered a karyotype which showed 70% of my cells were male XY cells and 30% were XO cells. The doctors think that I started as an XY cell, but as the cells multiplied, a mutation made some of the cells XO.
My parents were told that because I would struggle to reach 5 feet and because vaginal construction would be easier than penile reconstruction, that it would be better for me to be raised as a girl- but the decision was left up to them. Despite my male appearance and the fact that the majority of my cells are male, my parents agreed that raising me as a girl would be best. The remarkable thing is I believe that they could have decided to raise me as a male, and I would have just as much ease as assimilating into that gender as I have into the female gender. I have never felt at home in either gender and have strong reasons to indentify with both male and female genders.
My body appears to be feminine. Anyone who sees me or hears my voice wouldn’t give a second thought to what sex I am. But my feminine appearance is solely due to the feminizing hormones I’ve taken for most of my life. Had I taken testosterone, I would appear just as male as I appear female now.
But, my soul doesn’t seem to be particularly feminine. I am predominately sexually attracted to females (Though there are also a few males I’ve been attracted to, the vast majority of them are female. I’ve only ever fallen in love with females, never a male). Growing up, I always preferred playing outside with the boys than staying inside playing with dolls with the girls. I spent Saturdays helping my Dad fix things around the house or doing yard work. I had no desire to sew, cook, or clean the house with my mom. I looked to my Dad as a model of who I wanted to become and didn’t see many things in my mom I wanted to emulate. I was most comfortable in jeans and a t shirt and only wore dresses when my parents forced me to for special occasions. Now that I’m in my 30’s, my interests still lie more on the masculine side than the feminine side- my love of sports, my natural ability to fix things around the house and in my car, and my clothing preference. Of course, I’ve met many females who have these qualities, too- but females who have as many strong “male” interests as I do are very rare.
Despite all this, I’ve never told myself “I feel like a boy” or “I am a boy”. Since I can remember, I’ve had a deep sense that I am different from all the girls, but the idea of being a different gender was out of the question. I had been told all my life I was a girl- why wouldn’t I be? I wasn’t told the truth about my brith until I was 18, and until then,I had never suspected I was born a different sex.
So, reading things such as this really confuse me: “Receiving hormones of the opposite sex and removing genitalia are not sufficient to change one’s sex. Sexual identity is not reducible to hormonal levels or genitalia but is an objective fact rooted in the specific nature of the person.”
Then what exactly determines gender? In my case, it seems that receiving hormones and removing genitalia is exactly what changed my sex.
"The body (of the person) is a fundamental indication of what sex we belong to. It is a physical, empirically verifiable reality that does not change simply because our beliefs or desires do.”
What to make of this when there are times the body does lie? There are other conditions similar to mine, such as Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome, where the cells are fully male, but the body converts testosterone into estrogen. This results in a person who looks fully female, but who is chromosomally fully male. These people usually feel fully female. But is that because they are a female soul in a body that is male? Is it because the hormones feminized not only their body, but their soul? What gender are they really, and how is this any different than people who are transgender? Sometimes it seems that the decision to be a certain gender is arbitrary and really is up to a coin toss.
What exactly determines gender? It doesn’t seem like the body or the mind are always reliable ways to determine this. Any insight that can be given would be appreciated- I’ve spent much of my life trying to make sense of all this, and I only seem to be farther from understanding.