Does being fat feel at all like being transsexual?
Traditionally, untreated transsexuality has been described as feeling as if your body is wrong; that your true self doesn’t match your body. (I say “traditionally” because it’s unclear how often that’s been a genuine description of some transsexuals’ experience, and how often that’s been what doctors have pressured transsexuals to say). That’s what being fat feels like, to me. I’m supposed to be thin, aren’t I? Not thin-thin, you know, just – normal-thin. But I don’t feel normal. I feel constantly abnormal.
I feel like someone who, somehow, wound up in the wrong body.
Of course, there’s a huge difference between what I feel and what pre-transition transsexuals feel. Transsexuals feel “wrong” in their bodies despite enourmous social pressure to accept the sex and gender they were born and assigned. I, on the other hand, feel wrong in my fat body because there’s been enourmous, nonstop social pressure teaching me to hate myself and my body for most of my life.
Transsexuals are pressured – brainwashed, even – to want the sex they were born into. (All of us face that pressure, actually – it’s just that most of us give in with so little resistance that we don’t even notice). The fact that in the face of so much pressure some transsexuals still want to transition is an indication, in my opinion, to me, that their need to transition is genuine. In contrast, I’ve been pressured – brainwashed, even – to want to change. And despite all I know, all I’ve learned, and my genuine passion for fat acceptance, I still sometimes see my reflection in a store window and think – geez, I’m so fat! Can that really be me?
But that’s the brainwash talking. Research has shown that most transsexuals who transition experience relief and feel the quality of their life has improved. That’s because their need for change was genuine, not brainwashing. If I were thin, I would face less social prejudice, and some things – like sitting in an airplane – would become more convenient. Many people I don’t care about would treat me better. But I wouldn’t be happier.
(Of course you’d be happier! My brainwashing replies. Thin is happiness, you fool!)
There’s another comparison between transsexuals and fat people – both groups are told that there’s a surgical cure. Increasingly, transsexuals are rejecting this message; more and more transsexuals are transitioning without surgery, or with plastic surgery but without genital reconstruction. I think that’s a good trend; there’s nothing wrong with transsexuals getting reconstructive surgery, but there’s also no reason that should be the one-size-fits-all solution for gender identity disorder.
But as transsexual surgery is on the decline, weight loss surgery is on the ascent. And although people think of it as a less major operation, in many ways having one’s stomach banded is a more radical – and more dangerious – surgery, with a higher deathrate.
I’m not trying to say that being fat is worse than being transsexual; on the contrary, it seems to me that anti-transsexual and transgender bigotry is far worse than anti-fat bigotry. Nor do I have a conclusion at this time, which is a shame, since conclusions at the end of blog posts lend a nice feeling of closure.