PEARL

BODY IN QUESTION

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but having new eyes.
Marcel Proust

Sally is a 16-year-old girl, which is the same sex as she was assigned at birth; Harry is a 12-year-old boy; Alex, a 13-year-old, is …. well, different! Assigned male at birth, Alex is not certain he is a boy and transitions socially to being a girl in order to be as he has always felt, chooses the name Phoebe, dresses as a girl and uses female pronouns! Adolescence is a phase fraught with identity exploration, during which a hitherto closed vault of personality traits streams into the consciousness of the young person. In the approach to puberty, in the course of and after coming out of adolescence, there are some gender-exploring children and therefore also adults who do not clearly identify with the sex and gender they were assigned at birth, both identities being usually based on evident biological traits. These people identify with an inner self identity or gender which is disconnected from the assigned sex, the mind and body out of sync, and so feel differently on the inside than they feel outwardly, thus trapped in the wrong body. Expressed in other words, their internal gender identity exists in a deep-seated mismatch with the body, and they often feel violated and vulnerable by awkward scrutiny in social situations.

This is an era of gender-identity awareness, made especially poignant with regard to gender confusion in young and adult sexual identity. Children and adolescents most often identify with the sex they were assigned at birth. For others of same peers, there is the conflict between gender identity and biology: the boy who does not feel at home in his body but rather identifies as a girl in a boy’s body. This has given rise to the concept of the term transgender to describe the mismatch between the internal gender identity and the physical sex assigned at birth.

Ignorance shrouds the cause of experiencing a profound sense of disconnection from one’s assigned sex in myths and misconceptions about trans and gender-nonconforming individuals, who want to be neither man or woman. There is no clarity as to what is gender or what is gender identity and what sexual identity is. Transgender people manifest cross-gender identity, often arising in childhood, whereby they feel uncomfortable in their body and sense that they were born as the wrong sex. While some such children do adjust comfortably over time to their body, others transition socially to the other sex, and some adolescents and young adults may seek physical transition with a change of sex in order to feel more connected with their body or may accept gender

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