It Isn’t a Choice: Being Who You Really Are
Good Morning Britain recently featured an interview with Kellie Maloney, the one-time boxing promoter who, prior to her transgender operation, used to be known as Frank Maloney.
Kellie’s experiences put me in mind of a (seemingly) self-evident point about gay, lesbian or transgender people, which rumbles on as an argument across the world.
Being transgender, or being gay or lesbian, is not a “lifestyle choice”, and I cannot understand those people who believe that someone can be free to “choose” to whom they are attracted or what their gender identity is.
Before continuing, I need state two things.
Firstly, I’m not gay and I’ve never experienced gender dysphoria (the feeling of being born the wrong gender). My opinions are drawn from my introspective nature, empathy and from my own experiences with emotional struggle and how the mind can become its own worst enemy.
Secondly, transgenderism and homosexuality are not linked. Gender dysphoria – the feeling of being born the wrong gender – relates to gender identity, i.e. the inborn sense that you’re either male or female. Homosexuality relates to sexual orientation; the gender to which you’re sexually attracted.
What links them is the intolerance towards those who detract from what is considered “the norm” and therefore, the risk involved in “coming out”.
OK. Back to those who think that being gay or transgender is a choice. I have one simple question for them:
Why would any sane individual go through the discomfort/pain/ridicule of coming out, or of undergoing multiple lengthy and potentially risky/painful/expensive surgeries, if they could merely choose not to be gay or transgender?
(Though some may believe martyrdom is an admirable characteristic, it seems unlikely that anyone would risk stigma and rejection simply to make a point.)
It astounds me that the naysayers never seem to ask themselves this simple question.
Or why, since it’s just a matter of making a decision, they don’t “try being gay or transgender” for a day, just to experience what it’s like to make the “choice” so they can then, at least, present their intolerance from an informed perspective.
After all, if you could do that, you would also be able to “choose” to turn your preferences back once your experiment was done, wouldn’t you?
Psychologists often have to help their clients resolve the dissonance they suffer when feelings are not in harmony with their thoughts, because feelings cannot be (directly) controlled as you might control a car or change the channel on a TV.
But irrespective of their level of skill and experience, psychologists cannot “help” someone who is homosexual or transgender to change their sexuality or their gender identity – even though some claim they can. And the charlatans who do make such claims have either been discredited repeatedly or are not actually psychologists at all.
Upworthy shared this an amusing take on the question of choosing to be gay…
Ivan Lewis-Coker suffered a brain injury in a road traffic accident in 2000. Prior to this he was a successful software developer, but could not return to this work following the accident. Ivan is still on the search for various parts of his new identity. He is also a valued volunteer at the Outsiders’ Network.