If it's possible to be a "woman in a man's body and mind", it would suggest that there is a distinction between "self" and "mind", or that "self" is a multi-layered construct. Am I my mind? Or is my mind simply an expression of my conscious self, with my subconscious self sitting at a different level independent of my mind? And is my mind purely binary with respect to being male or female? Or can it have splotches of male and splotches of female? What if the male parts dominate areas relating to personal identity but are heavily tempered and contrasted by female parts?
Here are some of the unexplored reasons I have, at least up until recently, always believed myself to have a "normal" male mind:
- I never had the thought "I feel like I am a girl in the wrong body" growing up
- I have an attraction to women and not to men. I can remember having always wanted a girlfriend.
- I am competitive and driven to win, to succeed, to achieve, which tends towards being a male trait
- I sometimes feel what I can only assume is a masculine aggression at thoughts like winning a fight, defending my family and friends, and so forth
- As a child, riding my bike and playing with robots and guns and blowing up toy cars was more interesting to me than playing with dolls and dress-ups
- Clothes and fashion never really interested me hugely
- I tend towards avoiding social activity rather than indulging in hours upon hours of arbitrary conversation, which women tend to enjoy. I'm not a complete recluse, but a small social circle and only periodic contact with them seems to be enough for me. Lack of social contact does drive me to depression though. Apart from the sole exceptions of my Mum and sister and my current partner, I've never been any good at holding down long phone conversations.
- I love highly logical, analytical activities and write software and web applications professionally.
Now with all that said, it has occurred to me that I can deconstruct and debunk (to some extent) most of these beliefs:
- Even though I never felt that I was a girl in the wrong body, I always felt a deep, unshakeable longing to be female, sometimes so strong that it would almost bring me to tears.
- My attraction to women and my disinterest in men is in the context of being male, but has never involved a desire to have sex. At no point have I ever looked at a woman and had a sexual response to the thought of having sex with her. For some reason it never even occurred to me that this missing piece of the puzzle was significant until a couple of years ago when I first entertained the notion that maybe I have some form of gender-related issue and went online looking to see if any other men also had fantasies about being female. I've tried fantasizing about having sex but it really does nothing for me at all. My desire for a girlfriend, I think, always related to the need for acceptance and companionship. When I am really in the midst of fantasy, imagining myself as female, my interest in women decreases, though not completely, and my sexual desires and fantasies take on that of a heterosexual woman, including all of the "normal" acts that would occur in the bedroom. Missionary, oral, etc. I can even move past the "facelessness" that is common with the idea of man-as-a-validation-prop, and start to fantasize about being pregnant, breast feeding, getting married, meeting a nice man while out one night and later on making out and so forth. It is extremely important to remember though, that in this male body, none of that is a fantasy for me and repulses me even. I can't imagine trying to explain this to someone who has a limited worldview of these topics, because all they would extrapolate from that is that I have suppressed gay tendencies- and this couldn't be further from the truth. None of those desires and fantasies work unless I am genuinely female as part of them.
- Upon further consideration, it occurs to me that though it may be not be the trend, many women are also very driven to succeed. I know more than one who are extremely competitive and hate to lose, either in games or in life in general.
- I'm not actually sure the aggression I have felt in my life is exactly the same as what a lot of other men feel. I've never wanted to punch the wall or break things when I was angry (that seemed stupid as then stuff would be broken!) and it usually took a lot to truly make me angry. Strong emotions tend to push me very quickly towards tears rather than to anger and aggression, so I have always done my best to avoid strong emotions as I didn't want to look weak or feminine. My girlfriend has rolled her eyes at me more than once when, during an argument, I've been unable to say anything back to her due to trying to hold back tears rather than yelling or screaming at her. I can also remember as a child, throughout school, being quite timid and preferred to run from a fight than participate, let alone start one. The thought of using muscle to kick a bully down a notch would have never even occurred to me.
- I have met girls who fall into the category of what some might call "tomboys" and were more interested in playing outside, building forts and playing with cars and didn't have much interest in dolls and pretty things. They never seemed to have a problem with the idea that they were female.
- I've met seemingly-well-adjusted girls who aren't really interested in makeup or fashion either. That said, when I imagine myself getting to truly experience being female, the thought of choosing between different shoes to buy, seeing a cute dress in a catalog or shop window and trying it on and checking myself out wearing it, mixing and matching my clothes to come up with nice outfits that make me look more attractive and so forth actually causes me to feel a level of excitement that I don't feel when dressing myself as a male. I don't get any of this desire when imagining dressing my male body in female clothes though, as would happen if I had an interest in cross dressing. On top of that, I can really imagine myself getting a lot of joy out of trying out different looks with makeup and getting really good at doing so with practice, but again, not in this body. I need to be imagining myself as female to feel any of that and the thought of my male body being in the way is a serious obstruction to getting any pleasure from that.
- I was socially "slow" growing up. A bit of a dork, I got picked on from an early age by other boys and frequently excluded from their games and sports, though I never knew why. I'm thinking maybe this exacerbated my slow social development and resultant introversion which caused me to develop the tendency to avoid social contact later in life. Girls' social groups tend to work differently and encourage social development, which leads me to wonder how I would have developed if I had been "me" but born female. It was only in my mid-20's after making friends with a bunch of other guys who were actively developing their skills at meeting and attracting women, that I started to really develop a solid male personality and belief set and started to figure out what I needed to do get anywhere with women. I think if not for this period of my life, I would still be a virgin with no self confidence and probably living alone and depressed, possibly suicidal.
- Granted, women in roles such as software development and other analytical pursuits are extremely uncommon, though they do exist. I am a weird hybrid of programmer though, in that I have (if I do say so myself) pretty decent design skills as well, which is a somewhat uncommon match with programming skills. I can't say whether this has any relevance to my condition though.
So what do I have? A purely male brain with a messed up switch somewhere in the region controlling sexual attraction? A male brain "scaled-back-towards-female"? Or a brain with certain male traits which support a basic male self-identity, but female traits elsewhere creating internal confusion? Am I just a wimp behind the mask who wants to be a girl for no reason he can figure out? Or is something else the case entirely?
The one thing that would really help us figure all of this out to is to get an understanding of what drives the desire to be female. What is it in my head that makes me want to be female? Is it because part of me, under the hood, thinks it's supposed to be female despite being masked by a male self identity? Why do some men out there who fantasize about being female not actually want to be female but just recognise it as a frustrating fantasy, yet I can't help but think of the massive exhilaration, happiness and liberation I know I would feel if my wish finally came true, allowing me to live out a full life as a woman? Why would I willingly give up my career and being able to ever again see my girlfriend, my family and my friends if I found a way to become an genetic woman?
Why do I so desperately want to be a girl?