It’s a Wonderful Life in Gattaca, Or is It?

Last week, Matt Kailey discussed a new experimental procedure to prevent female babies form being born with “behavioral masculinization,” in otherwords, reduce the “risks” of intersex, lesbian, bisexual, and tomboy children being born. The sad thing is, he quotes that last bit from an actual article on the topic. He also raises the fear that looking into the cause for something such as homosexuality or transgender can lead society to want to “cure” it. I commented on his post, referencing the movie Gattaca as an example of what this kind of thing can lead to, in the same vein as he was discussing.

For those unfamiliar with it, Gattaca is a 1997 science fiction/cyberpunk movie about a world where genetic engineering has flourished, to the point that most people are genetically engineered before birth, and that those who are not (the faith births or invalids) become the new lowest class of society. Identification is taken via DNA samples, and at birth they can predict the likely cause of your death and when. The main character is one such faith birth, a man named Vincent, who has taken the identity of one of the genetically engineered elite in order to pursue his dream of going into space. Meanwhile, a murder at his workplace has the police (including his younger, genetically engineered brother as the lead detective) looking into everyone’s affairs, increasing the risk of him being discovered shortly before his mission. It’s one of my favorite movies of all time, and it really works as a metaphor for living in the closet, but I want to examine it a bit further, not for the movie, but for the implications.

A lot of trans people have moments where we’re battered down by society and wishing we’d just been born cis, but in those moments, we generally wish we were born cis as the gender we identify as, not the sex we were assigned at birth. For example, in such a moment, I would wish to have been born a cis female, not a cis male. And this got me thinking about what my life would have turned out like if I had been born a cis woman. So today, I encourage all of you who have felt that way to take a brief “It’s a Wonderful Life” moment (I’m full of movie references today) and take a look at your life and ask what would be different if you were born cis. And for my cis readers, flip it around and imagine if you’d been born trans instead.

First, the positives, the things that make us want to be such. If I’d been born a cis female, I would have only gone through puberty once, and it would have been the right puberty. I would be able to have that kind of identity exploration at a time when it’s expected. I wouldn’t have to worry about the transphobia I deal with now. I might even not be an asexual, as I wouldn’t have dysphoria with my body and thus enjoy sexual activities. I wouldn’t have as hard of a time finding clothing that fits. Sounds good, right?

Well, let’s look at the negatives. For once, not being trans (and possibly not being asexual), I wouldn’t have met a lot of the people I consider friends. In addition, I would have been more at risk to sexual assault during my formative years, and would have been less likely to have been adopted into an 18+ martial arts school at the age of 15 (11 if you include all the self-defense classes). I would thus be less likely to defend myself against said assailants. If I were to be straight instead of bi, lesbian, or asexual, I would also miss out on many of my GLB friends. I would not have gone through many of the hardships I have, and thus would not have grown from them. Simply put, I would not be the woman I am today, nor would I know most of the people I know.

To me, that makes the hardships of being trans worth it. Do I want things to improve for future generations? Yes. Do I want the social, medical, and legal inequality to come to an end. Very much so. But looking back at what I’ve gained from being trans, I wouldn’t trade it for a second. And hopefully, such an exercise will help others think in such a way. Help them avoid the depression and suicidal tendencies many of us face.

Do any of you have any empowering stories of your growth as a trans person you care to share?

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One response to “It’s a Wonderful Life in Gattaca, Or is It?

  1. This is another thing that bothers me…no one EVER asks people who are intersex, gay, lesbian, plain gender non conforming what they want…NOPE it is all about what the status quo is comfortable with! Honestly I would be PISSED at my parents if I found out that they screwed with me in the womb.

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