Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Transgender and Reincarnation

People suffer in different ways because of something about their identity.  The pain may be self inflicted or it may be inflicted by others. The transgender person has an unusual but clear problem with his or her identity.  Imagine for a moment that you are a person that feels like a woman, with desires to dress, think, and behave like a woman; inwardly, you identify yourself as a woman; but the fact is that you have the body of a man.  Oops!  You have a problem. 


The psychiatrists speak of gender dysphoria, confusion about your identity.  You can conceal and keep your dysphoria to yourself or you may embark on transitioning toward coming out to your real self. That of course may not be an easy process, in fact, it might be horrific, depending on the people and culture around you.  In some backward parts of America today, assisting transgendered people with their needs is being criminalized. 


As far as I can make out from a cursory investigation, nobody seems to have a credible explanation of why so many otherwise normal people report feeling, thinking and behaving as if they were in the wrong body.   How on earth could it be that anyone should persistently feel so estranged from his or her own body? 


There is one possible explanation we should consider.  One of my interests is collecting stories that seem to imply some form of life after death.  The surprising fact is that there’s a real variety show of phenomena that point to the continuity of our consciousness after our body conks out—ghosts, mediumship, hauntings, apparitions, and out-of-body excursions.  There are also cases of reincarnation, a belief more common in cultures of the far East.  We not only survive but come back for another round of life.


If you read Dr. Ian Stevenson’s Children Who Remember Previous Lives, you can see there are cases where young people have memories, habits, skills and even physical marks that imply the reincarnation of a deceased person in a new body.


Now to the main point. Stevenson describes cases of persons who remember their past life as a female but find themselves strangely ensconced in the body of a male.  Or else a male’s life is remembered but in a female’s body. It is easy to see how difficult and wearing such a state of affairs could be.  Stevenson states that people  could feel they’re in the wrong body but not have clear memories of a previous life. Still, they suffer from dysphoria, a feeling that something is not right, confusion about their gender.


Given that so many people seem to have these feelings of alienation from their own  body, and given there’s no obvious explanation of the phenomenon, reincarnation may be the most natural explanation.  No blame is due for having these disjointed feelings.  In a way, gender dysphoria is symbolic of the mixed, conflicted, self-questioning nature of the self.  It also suggests a latent androgeny of deep consciousness.  The evolutionary thinker, Edward Carpenter, thought that the next upward step of humanity would be the evolution of an intermediate  sex, a new type of human being, the male and female principle in one body, perfectly blended and powerfully integrated.  For all we know the future holds some queer surprises for our species. Today’s dysphoria may evolve into tomorrow’s euphoria. Perhaps there’s a long-term message to all this.  Farewell fragmented humanity!

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