Madeline H. Wyndzen, Ph. D., a transgendered professor of psychology, discusses her personal experiences with gender dysphoria and critiques the mental illness model of "gender identity disorder".
Citation: Wyndzen, M. H. (1998). All mixed up: A transgendered psychology professor's perspective on life, the psychology of gender, & "gender identity disorder". (Rev. 2008). Available: http://www.GenderPsychology.org/
It feels like everything should have been so obvious when I look back. But everything was so confusing as I grew up. It's like, one day I was absent and everybody else was taught the crucial aspects of being a boy or girl. I would lie in bed at night practicing and rehearsing how to be a boy. One day in middle school, after being pushed around again, a principal tried to teach me to "stop crying" and "be a man." Bullies, teachers, and others taught me the same thing: there was something terribly wrong with my feelings. I tried so hard to purge from myself every expression of emotion. Really I only needed to be taught one lesson; we do not need to learn to be ourselves, we just are ourselves. Or maybe what it means to be a person is that we invent ourselves. In 1998 I transitioned; I no longer practiced being a boy, I just became a girl. Today I have wonderful friends and the most perfect partner. Even after transitioning, my life has continued to be rocky and I hope to revise my autobiography in the next year to reflect the way I now understand myself as bi-gendered (someone who goes beyond androgyny to embrace different gender roles in different situations). I am sorry that updating the site takes me awhile because I recently completed my Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology and I am now a new professor. I designed this site to share with others what I have learned from being educated in psychology and growing up with gender dysphoria.
Academic psychological perspectives on the psychology of transsexuality are represented by peer-reviewed journals such as the "Archives of Sexual Behavior" and are codified in the mental illness models of the DSM-IV-TR as Gender Identity Disorder (GID) and Transvestic Fetishism (TF). This psychopathology treats transsexuality, cross-dressing, and other mixed-up genders and sexualities (e.g., BDSM) as inherently bad things about us. They're not. Gender bending, gender queering, and transgenderism in society can expand our understanding of gender, sexuality, and other categories our cultures create. Can sexologists refrain from placing value judgements upon those with gender dysphoria and instead refine the way we understand the psychology of gender, atypical gender development, and gender role socialization? I hope that by bringing a personal and non-judgemental scientific approach to understanding transgenderism, I can help transsexuals, cross-dressers, and mental health professions grow and develop as persons.
Some of my essays introduce transgenderism with general resources. Other essays address practical and inspiration aspects of transgendered lives. Writing personal essays means re-living emotional experiences. Writing scholarly essays means remaining acutely aware of value judgments imposed on us. It takes a lot out of me. But I keep trying to write because occasionally I get an single heart-felt e-mail from somebody who feels his or her life was touched by something I said. Those heart-felt messages make me feel so happy and yet they are so puzzling. Isn't everything I'm saying really obvious? And then I think back about how confusing things were for me. It's weird, I guess some things are clear once we choose our own paths rather than following the paths other choose for us? There still is a lot that confuses me. Maybe someday, as I travel further down life's path, those issues will become clearer too? It's like each of us is an unfinished jig-saw puzzle, with everything there, even if it's all mixed up. I hope my personal and academic exploration of the psychology of gender identity and transgenderism can help you with your life and studies. Thank you for visiting!
Introductory, Historical, & General Resources:
Questions to Help Thinking about Your Gender Identity.
What Does it Mean to be a Transsexual?
Help for the Significant Others Friends & Family.
Psychology & Psychopathology of Transgenderism:
The BSTc Region of Transsexuals' Brains
Does the Mental Illness Label Bias Research about Transsexuality?
Autogynephilia: a critique of the perspective of J. Michael Bailey, Anne Lawrence, & Ray Blanchard
Gender Identity Disorder (GID) Case Study: an Autobiography of a Transsexual Psychology Graduate Student
Letter to parents addressing their question, "Am I Happy"
Inspiration for Living Life & Practical Applications of Psychology:
Reproductive Options for Transsexuals
Scared to Cross-Dress or Do Cross-Gender Things?
Cultures & Sub-Cultures (e.g., Transgender, GLBTA, Feminist):
Why are Transsexuals so Mean to Each Other?
Gender Slumming: A Second Wave Feminist Perspective on Transsexuality Reconsidered
Transgendered Web-Sites (This & Others):