How We Were Conditioned…

  • Creator
  • #83289
    DeeAnn Hopings

    Regardless of how we identify, now or early on, the vast majority of us were raised with the expectation that we were male (inside and outside). Even if you “knew” that were not a boy, society likely ignored that. So, what we were taught and the behaviors expected all matched our external selves. One of the most hurtful things is the notion that “big boys don’t cry”. In other words, we were told to ignore (suppress, in effect) the natural feelings that we all have as humans.

    We are taught to “man up” and only allow our feelings to show under certain circumstances, such as grief or maybe when your daughter gets married. However, the reality is that we have feelings ALL of the time, but we are not behaving correctly if we let that show.

    What I know is that there are some things that have a profound effect on me and it used to be difficult to restrain my emotions. One such event comes from the movie “Red Tails”, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen during WWII. Before a mission, the pilots gather just before they are to take off and repeat a chant:

    Nothing’s difficult,
    everything’s a challenge,
    through adversity,
    to the stars,
    from the last plane,
    to the last bullet,
    to the last minute,
    to the last man,

    I believe there is a video on YouTube to get a sense of what it sounds like, but the point is that there is something about it that just grabs me every time I hear it or read it.

    For disclosure, I identify as transgender, non-binary. I am not on hormones and have no plans to transition physically. However, my social transition is essentially complete. But, what I’ve learned is that feeling my emotions and allowing them to be seen is OK. I’ve given myself permission to do that if something touches me deeply. To me, it would seem that if we are to embrace the femininity that we claim, we need to allow ourselves to feel whatever emotions come up.

    So, the question is:

    How are we dealing with whatever emotions come up? Are we feeling them or are we still trying to suppress them? What’s happening for us?

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  • Author
    • #84899
      Carly Holloway


      Thank you for the article, DeeAnn.  The conditioning is a horrible thing for many of us, but also a very real occurence.  It may be that times are changing significantly regarding social conditioning, but for many, done is done.  Overcoming the conditioning is extremely difficult.  Having occurred at the very beginning phases of life, those social pattern indoctinations become “hardwired” into our brains, and overcoming that “wiring” is time consuming and gruelling.  But it can be done.

      There are stronger and stronger medical indications that gender identity begins to develop in utero.  For many of us, we have known that we were in the wrong body for all our lives.  I am one of those.  It is not something we just wished for one day.  It is not something that any of us would choose to endure.  It is a condition that were were given unasked and unaware.  So, when the identify issues suddenly comes in to your awareness unbidden, it is confusing at best, and debilitating at worst.   And none of us had any choice in the matter.

      And we had very little, if any, help in sorting out our confusion.  How could we?   For me, the awareness was upon me before I could even articulate the situation.  I just “knew”, and maybe even assumed it was something that was wrong with me as a whole person.  Add to that the social conditioning common in our society, and the entire situation becomes a taboo.  No body every told us, “don’t ever think that you are girl.” out of the clear blue.  But we get that indoctrination very young by everyday interactions with the best intentioned people in the world, parents and family.  They do their best to see us happy and healthy and normal, trouble free.  And we do our best to be the happy, healthy trouble free child we can be.

      The results are social stereotypes of what it means to be male or female, masculine or feminine, and that there is absolutely no gray area between the roles.  As this is imbedded way before we are capable of analyzing this for validity, we are stuck in our ways of thinking about the world and our place in it.  When our ways of thinking don’t match our internal “knowing”, we experience multiple conflicts within ourselves, the gender dysphoria, so to speak.  Sadly, it is only within the last couple of years that this has been recognized as not being a psychiatric “disorder”, but a biological mix-up well beyond choice.

      Today, there are helping agents available to us to assist us in our journey.  Therapists, medical professionals, support groups, and TGH.  To be sure, there remains a significant social pressure to conform to the stereotype, even if it is becoming less pronounced.  Those helping agents are critical to our ability to retrain ourselves and overcome the effects of early life indoctination (shame, guilt, self-recrimination, self-rejection, anxiety, depression, self-harm, addiction, etc).

      I am glad to have found TGH those few months ago.  I have had so much help, understanding, compassion, support, friendship, even rebuke, while coping with the acceptance of Carly as my primary self.   I may not say thank you, but thanks are well deserved.

      Love yall here.  Best wishes on our journeys

    • #84269


      Since my recent coming out and admission that I almost certainly exist somewhere on the trans spectrum I’ve read quite a bit about this. Juno Dawson’s Gender Games and Grayson Perry’s The Descent of Man are both recommended. I’ve also realised that I’ve been so well conditioned that it’s taken nearly 50 years to understand who/what I am. That and telling my wife that I REALLY like dressing as a girl 👧 👗

      Stay safe

      Seraphina xx

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