Being Transgender : A philosophical analogy  

A common concept in Indian Philosophy is that of ‘Liberation’. It is known by different names such as moksha, nirvana, renunciation, etc by the different schools of Indian Philosophy. This concept is also found in various other religions of the world with certain differences here and there. The basic concept is that the person’s soul realises the truth either through one’s actions or by meditation and reflection and henceforth, the cycle of rebirth is broken and the person is said to have been liberated. However, there are as many variations in this theory as there are religions and philosophies that propose this theory.

Here I would like to explain this theory as proposed by the Advaita Vedanta School of Indian Philosophy and later take it as an analogy to understand how a person realises that they are transgender.
The Advaita Vedanta School of Indian Philosophy denies duality, and believes that there is only one ultimate reality known as ‘Brahman’. This empirical world which we believe to be real is actually an illusion. However, this illusion can be understood only when you realise the ultimate reality.
Now some knowledgeable person, i.e. a guru, might tell you “Thou art that” i.e. your soul (atman) is not different from the highest reality- Brahman. However, moksha is attained only when you gain this self- knowledge for yourself – “I am that”- when you realise this truth, then you are able to understand all the illusions and the reality of everything.

I think this process can be taken as an analogy for an individual realising that they are transgender.
1) A child is not necessarily aware of their gender identity, or even the gender constructs of the society at a young age. Initially, they know only what they see and are told by the people around them, and slowly they grasp the concept of gender. This is similar to simply living under the illusion of empirical life.
2) Now a person might intrinsically identify with the opposite gender rather than the one mentioned on their birth certificate. So in the process of finding their true self, they might get to find about people who have gone through the same situation as themselves and thereby finding the term transgender. And from their resources, they find out that this term means that it is possible for someone to born in a female body and yet identify as male and vice versa.
This step can be contrasted with the Guru telling a person that he/she is not different from Brahman.
3) This is the step whereby an individual realises that they are indeed transgender and accepting it for themselves, they move on to expressing themselves as their true self.
This can be contrasted with the realisation of the true knowledge and attainment of moksha.

However, it is important to note that the second step may not necessarily happen in every case. Many transgender people may accept and express themselves as the gender they “identify” with without finding a label to define themselves or meeting people like themselves. They just intrinsically do what seems right to them. Even the word ‘transgender’ is fairly new. It is pretty believable that transgender people existed throughout the human history and lived their lives on their own terms expressing themselves as the gender they identified as. At the end of the day, it is important to understand that every individual’s journey is unique to them even though there may be certain similarities with other people as well. What matters is to realise and accept your own truth.


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