Rights Answers to the Wrong Body Question


Folks who want to be on our side sometimes parrot conventional wisdom and say, “transsexuals are born in the wrong body.”

Over the last many years, I realize I’ve come to deal with this particularly large piece of baggage in a variety of ways:

I believed it.

I rejected it.

I’ve turned it back on the speaker. (“Oh? Why do you say that?”)

I’ve reframed it. (See cartoon above.)

I’ve simply said nothing.

I’ve simply thought nothing more about it. Until I think about it….again.

So how do you all address this big piece of baggage? If you aren’t born in the wrong body, what story or stories do you tell about your body. (I feel another contest coming on……..)


  1. Interesting question. I don’t feel like my body was the wrong one. For me, it’s all intertwined with my spiritual beliefs which say that we’re here for some reason, some thing we have the opportunity to learn. For me, being transsexual was just part of that journey, part of that lesson. So, my body could not have been wrong. It was right for the life I am living.

    But, in the context that you pose the question — someone else laying that line on me — I react according to circumstance. First, I don’t think I ever internalize it (it’s their belief and not mine). Second, I will correct them (give them my theory) if the circumstances warrant. Otherwise, I generally view it as benign and ignore it. Having said that, I’m not shy about sharing my view, in an effort to dispel this myth that was developed because of the psychiatric model history of transsexuality.

  2. it’s that language thing again. the words simply don’t exist. so phrases are used in hopes of explaining us, which really end up doing more harm than good.

    i don’t believe i was born in the wrong body either. i just wanted to have a few adjustments. for some reason, when one or two of those parts are seen as “sex organs”, people in general seem to get all bent out of shape.

    assuming the situation will allow such an explanation, i’ll provide it. otherwise, i’ll respond with “something like that” or similar.

  3. I’ve used it strategically to get the medical interventions I wanted, even though I don’t believe it at all for myself. I never told the story myself, just let medical professionals tell it to one another so they could soothe their own consciences.

    I’ve let other people think that it was my story, rather than telling a more complicated story about genderqueerness, feminism, and breaking down binary gender assumptions. Some days that battle is just too hard for me to fight.

  4. I wouldn’t really say that “born in the wrong body” is how I see myself, but I would say that it’s really one of the best or easiest ways to say it through available language.

    I would like to be able to explain it by saying that I was born with only the wrong genitals, and those genitals and the societally accepted gender role that went with them previously prevented me from expressing myself completely. But the word genitals makes most people very uncomfortable and most people also don’t really fully understand the concept of gender roles.

    I really do believe transgendered people see gender in a way that most people simply cannot. Similar to how colorblind people can’t differentiate blue and purple most people in the world can not and will never be able to fully separate physical gender, mental gender, and society’s choke hold on gender expression.

  5. So what, then, would the right body look like? I am fascinated by these people, who think they have a direct pipeline to some higher truth than the rest of us. Well, maybe irritated is a better word…

  6. A friend of mine asked me if I wished I’d been born male. (I’m assuming she meant born with the kind of body that would make the midwife shout, “It’s a boy!”) I just looked at my daughter and wondered how she could ever ask such a question.

  7. The body I was born with was the only one available to me at that instant, so I took it. I don’t think it’s the wrong body at all, but I also don’t think it’s quite what it should be. So, I’m making some modifications to it.

    As to what I tell folks who attempt to play the “born in the wrong body” card in my game, I just politely tell them that my body is the right one for me this time around, but it just needs a little work to be perfect. No one (who isn’t trans, anyway) has ever pushed beyond that. I guess I should also state that I normally start any explanation I might give about being transgendered by establishing a foundation of differentiating between genitals, gender and sexual preference.

  8. “Some days the battles is just too hard for me to fight.”

    Indeed. I think I cartoon for precisely this reason. It’s like letting my inner bitchy queen out so I can push back hard against people who just don’t get it.

    And gender immigrant, I agree that we often conceptualize of gender in ways that others cannot.

    Over the years I’ve come to understand that folks who believe I’ve been born in the “wrong body” need to tell themselves that story to feel okay about _their_ bodies and gender. This includes the therapists who gave me the necessary he’s-not-a-whack-job-tranny release letter.

    The force of gender is far greater than any of us as individuals. I have had people tell me I’m not transsexual. “I know what a transsexual looks like…”


  9. i really like the term “gender immigrant”. i don’t think i’ve seen that before 🙂

    and i definately agree that many of us, myself included, use “stories” we hear from the “community” and our therapists during those periods of our transition when we need some kind of explanation, either for ourselves or the world at large, to help us make sense of it all.

    i suppose at some later point, we reassess those stories, and decide whether or not they really do make sense. i know in my own case, many of them do not.

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