Excerpt from the last chapter, Chapter 7 – Love Is a Many Gendered Thing:
Too often, Iâ€™ve tried to predict the future. Iâ€™ve tried to understand â€œtranssexualismâ€ as if it were a monolithic thing, but itâ€™s very subjective, and itâ€™s described by good writers who happen to be transsexual in very different ways. Jenny Boylan calls it â€œa knife woundâ€; Dallas Denny describes it as a pebble in her shoe. Another friend once remarked glibly that for her it was just like wearing the wrong shoes, so she got new ones. So which is it? I canâ€™t figure out how all of these can be true, or which is most accurate in describing Bettyâ€™s feelings about her own transness. Clearly, different people experience transness differently and the same person may experience it in different ways at different times in his or her life. The standard notion of a â€œman trapped in a womanâ€™s body/woman trapped in a manâ€™s bodyâ€ strikes me as the most simplistic explanation ever. That shorthand might be useful for people who need to know only a little, just in case their good manners fail them and they decide to treat a trans person they work with like a nonentity. People who donâ€™t have a personal relationship with someone trans donâ€™t need to know much more than â€œyou knew her as Laura, and now you can call him Larryâ€ and move on. But people have all sorts of moral indignations and crazy beliefs that what they think about something gives them the right to treat other people like crap. But in a world where it seems more important to self-righteous types that foster children go without homes than to let gay people rear them, I really shouldnâ€™t be that surprised.
Still, people do think they need to know what causes transsexualismâ€”what it is, whether thereâ€™s a genetic determination or a hormonal one, whether trans people are just messed up. Iâ€™ve always been partial to Dr. Harry Benjaminâ€™s take on it; he didnâ€™t know the cause, but he figured out that the brain and the body didnâ€™t always match, even if he didnâ€™t know why. Looking a little into the way trans people had already been treated by previous psychiatrists, he realized that the only way to ease their suffering was to change their bodies, since decades of trying to change their brains hadnâ€™t worked. That was all. There is something practical-minded and humanitarian in his thinking that people could learn a lot from, and not just medical professionals who deal with trans people.