Thursday, 15 January 2015

Would I have turned out like this, anyway?

It's an interesting thought. Supposing I had been born in 1952 with a bog-standard girl's body, had of course been passed as 'girl' in the highly scientific 'glance-between-the-legs' test, and had subsequently been brought up conventionally as a girl. Would I now be more-or-less the same as hormones and surgery have made me?

One or the more seductive of the 'why-are-there-trans-people' theories is that something goes wrong with the development of the foetus in the womb. An extra (or mistimed) squish of testosterone, maybe. So that the little baby girl ends up with a girl's brain but a boy's body. How nice if were proved!

But suppose this was indeed the mechanism. And suppose that my development wasn't compromised. Then I would have popped out wearing pink socks; and my Mum would have showed off a darling little daughter.

But I would still have been me. The same brain. Despite the little girl appearance, I'd have had the same character and potential. The major differences would have been in my self-perception (no mismatch between the inner and outer self) and how I'd socialise (I'd be doing it as a girl).

And of course the upbringing - the nurture - would have been different.

It's not hard to imagine the typical pressures a little girl would face in the repressive 1950s. She'd be trained up to think herself cute, a pretty little madam, and yet a potential Little Mother and Capable Housewife. Standard ambitions would be drummed into her, until her will to do her own thing was quelled.

A little older, in the 1960s, she'd be served up for teenage boys to grope and lust after, assuming she could ever escape Dad's over-protective eye. She'd be conditioned to accept close parental supervision, an early engagement, an early marriage, and babies, all without much independent thought, or no thought at all, because that was the simple, no-questions-need-be-asked way it always had been for well-brought-up girls.

Would that have been my lot? Some of it would certainly have been. But knowing my stubborn streak, knowing my lifelong secret happiness at being thought 'different' or 'individual' and 'something of a secret rebel', I fancy that I would not end up wedded and pregnant at twenty-three. I would have abhorred giving in, and doing the humdrum conventional thing. I would have employed delaying tactics, remained uncommitted, done anything to keep clear of the kitchen sink and a life full of nappies.

I'd formulate a strategy well in advance. I would be a swot at school. I would get four A-levels, not just three, my Latin O-level too, and I'd have gone off to a really good university. And lingered there for a doctorate. Not because I wanted the academic life, not because I had any particular ambition, but because it would make me appear 'donnish' and 'superior', and lift me away from the reach of local boys. It would be a strategy for making myself untouchable - and therefore free.

Or perhaps I would do as I actually did. Rebellious, perhaps even more rebellious than I actually was, rebellious in the way of wilful teenage girls - I would deliberately scorn a place at uni, and instead place myself on the career ladder at the Inland Revenue. Dad would see to it. As a woman, I'd face promotion handicaps in the early years. But unhampered by inner self-doubt, I'd do my job with greater self-confidence and conviction. So I'd end up in the same grade.

And as actually happened, I'd get married at thirty - an age at which children are not so obligatory. I can't see that I would have been one of those thirtysomething women who yearn for children. Oh, no doubt my woman's body would have cried out to 'make children', but I think I would have resisted. I would have rationalised it: I'd tell myself that I just wasn't the 'right type' to be a selfless parent. So I'd have said no to my husband, firmly, and if need be, stubbornly. In due course the marriage would fail, as mine did. After a short gap, I'd have found a more suitable partner - as I actually did - but at an age when kids were hardly an option any more. In due course, after many years, that relationship would also shipwreck. Of course it would - you can't escape your character and its effects! And thus I would end up, at the age of sixty-two, retired and living in a Sussex village. Fully used to running my own life, adequately placed to do so, and determined to keep things that way.

You see the convergence going on.

I really think that the way I am made - meaning my unchangeable, underlying character and personality, inevitably the same whatever physical version of me had been born - would bring me willy-nilly to my present position, whether I had been born with a girl's body or not.

And, you know, I believe I would even look much the same. There would naturally be a basic family resemblance - what a sister would have looked like. So visualise the same 'me' as I now am, but with slightly finer features and a slimmer build. A bit different, yes - but only in the detail, not the general impression.

I'm strangely consoled by the thought that the theoretical little girl would have lived a largely similar life, and - as she aged - would end up just like me. Unavoidably.

Well, we've converged. What next?


  1. I agree, Lucy. I can't see my inner being as being anything other than what it is now whether I'd been born female or not.

    Interesting thoughts and featured on T-Central.

    Calie xxx

  2. I feel the way we are treated/conditioned/shaped whatever, because of our gender makes us what we are today. Because I was treated as a "pretty" woman for most of my life, sadly that has definitely shaped who I am as a man. I feel if I'd been born male I would be a very, different person today. In every way. Physically and mentally.

    Interesting post.


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