Steph's Place

26th January - Bodies

by Freda Wallace


It is common in trans circles to hear the phrase 'I feel like l was born in the wrong body'.

While l wouldn't challenge that feeling if that is the way someone wishes to express it, it always makes me return to a thought I've always harboured about the phrase.

We are all born into the wrong body.

That is to say, all our bodies are flawed and if we are lucky, functional and perform the tasks we require until old age. Obviously, the trans relationship to the body is complicated and I'm certainly no authority on dysphoria or dysmorphia.

There are people out there who want to deny me, as a trans woman the legitimacy of my own bodily experience, often implying I'm delusional or in denial of my own physical reality. I know what l have but it means very little in how l define myself. Women are not an assemblage of body parts that add up to womanhood.

As human beings, our bodies are always in a conspiracy against us, especially women, when you consider the continual hormonal shifts defined by the reproductive system throughout life some don't elect to experience. Anxieties about our physicality never leave us. We are never free from the weight of our own bones, the pain of our muscles or the itch of our skin, and that is just if everything is working correctly.

Our escape from our mortal coil is expressed through art.

Transcended by dance and gymnastics. All a fight with the weight and mass of our factual selves. People hurl themselves off high rocks into the sea for that simulated flight just to be free, if only for one moment, of the absolute certainty of the water below. All human endeavour is a fight against gravity.

Some turn to substances to relieve that gravitational pressure and pain we all feel, to feel high and float is the inviting hand of addiction. It feels so good that we might forget the pain will return, and for the drug dependant, the pain comes back tenfold. First, it gets you high, then it makes you numb then finally it is the only pain killer.

Often bodies are associated with shame. Little wonder we want to escape them. Age upon age, through religious dogmas by groups happy to believe bread is the body of Christ rather than let people have a right to their own bodies.

I saw a photo once of the human nervous system and the brain and spinal cord. A stark reminder that that is really us. The rest just ergonomics and motor function.

You are your body but you don’t have to be defined by it. It will get you in the end.

Every morning we awaken in the wreckage of our flesh. We animate it, dress it, position it in the world and reboot our nervous system.

We are more than the sum of our meat, aren’t we?

Please tell me that is so.

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