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  • Posted on February 3, 2012 at 6:23 pm

They are as old as entertainment, perhaps as old as the camp-fire. A riddle is a mental puzzle starting with several usually contradictory statements, ending: ‘what am I?’

And by golly being transgender is confusing to people! What am I?

‘You used to be a …’ is perfectly understandable and so completely wrong! No, I never was! How can I explain that feeling of looking around at other men and thinking: ‘well, I know I’m not one of those!’? It follows that it is just as hard to understand, when what I say is that I am a transgender person. Not a man, not a woman; a transgender person.

‘No, no, no! you have to be one or the other!’

I do know how it is for those who have a strong binary view of gender, and feel they have the wrong body and want the other kind. I can understand that. Reassignment or corrective surgery and hormone treatment changes their physical attributes and takes away the pain of inhabiting a body with the wrong parts. I just know that this is not quite me.

I am transgender. I always shall be. I am most comfortable when dressed as a woman and at peace with myself. It says nothing about my sexual orientation (and that is my business anyway, so it isn’t your right to ask – the answer is confusing too, probably.) You, dear observer, may be uncomfortable with this. Why am I wearing women’s clothes? I am not a transvestite: the layer between my soul and my clothes just happens to look different to how I feel about myself. So please listen carefully to this: my body was shaped by hormones from before I was born; my mind was not, and possibly not the physiology of my brain. So when I put on shirt and trousers, I am transgender – but dressed as a man. So today I am transgender and dressed as a woman.

I am not my clothes, and I am not my body, but I am a person – and I am not the problem either. The real riddle is that we ever managed to believe gender was as simple as male and female. That’s just how babies are made.

How I am challenges you though, doesn’t it? I confuse. I become a riddle for which you don’t have an answer, and when I give it, it still makes no sense. Well, all that means is that we all have a lot to learn. All I ask is that you appreciate that the riddle will only make sense when you understand what I am not.

Ah! yes! I get it now. I am a man, she is a woman and you are transgender.

What do we like about riddles? I think it’s that we feel really bright when we get the answer first, but don’t feel totally stupid when we don’t, because suddenly we realise something new. Discovering life riddles should add to the fun and variety, not be a source of ridicule, fear and hatred. So please, try to appreciate this riddle and accept. I am transgender.