Transgender. A transit. To travel between genders. To move across the gender spectrum.
Can a man become a woman, or a woman a man? Either physically or spiritually. Would such a transition be good or bad?
We can imagine a gender spectrum. At one end extreme femininity, at the other, extreme masculinity. In the middle alchemical androgyny. By birth and biology we're all placed somewhere on this spectrum, but can we transmute to a different place upon it?
The answer is probably yes ..but with limits.
We can imagine a man. He's on the male side of the spectrum, but let's say he isn't the most manly man in the world. His voice isn't the deepest. He isn't the most muscly. He perhaps has a tendency towards the effeminate. Maybe on this hypothetical male side of the spectrum he's a three or four out of ten. A male yes, but not quite the stereotypical image of manhood.
Now let's picture that he wants to change this; he wants to be more manly, and wants females to see him as more masculine, and therefore more attractive.
Can he do this?
Well, he can change his lifestyle and behaviour patterns. He can maybe workout more at the gym to build his muscles. He could even utilise steroids and other medication. Or have medical procedures to change his body. He could probably make himself a bit more manly by doing these things. Maybe move himself up to a five out of ten, instead of a four. However, as he was born around the four mark it's unlikely he'll ever be a ten out of ten for masculinity, and to some extent he'll always be the person he was born to be.
If females view the hulking, hairy males that were naturally born out on the extreme edge of masculinity as more manly than him he'll just have to accept this fact. Frustrating though it may be. It's fine for him to try to enhance his own masculinity, likewise it's fine for him to view himself in such a way, but he can't impose this perception onto other people. Nor should he want to. As it would simply result in people giving him false platitudes that deep down they wouldn't really subscribe to.
Contrastingly we can also imagine this situation in the opposite direction. Let's envision that he wants to make himself more feminine. Or to fully become a woman. Again, to some degree he'll be limited by his natural position on the spectrum. He can do things that may move him further towards the feminine aspect, but he'll never be as womanly as a woman that was naturally born as such. With only people born around the androgynous middle of this spectrum; intersex, hermaphrodite, and so forth (let's say a zero or one on the spectrum for argument's sake), being truly able to move across the boundary. Even here though, to some extent those born androgynous will always be androgynous. Or at least closer to this androgynous middle than those born towards the extremes.
As a side note it's worth mentioning that as technology progresses it may be that these limits dissolve somewhat, and even greater fluidity becomes possible. However, even with total fluidity and control over your own body it should never grant you the right to control the perceptions of another.
Your fake breasts may be as seamlessly real and organic as any born of a womb, but you can't force another person to view them as natural if they don't think of them as such.
You can't control what others think of you ..and again, why would you want to?
You could even argue that offence taken at not being viewed as specifically male or female itself stems from a form of prejudice. A prejudice against the androgynous. Which sees androgyny as inherently negative, when in fact there are positives and negatives. (Once again, we have another dichotomy.)
Distinct male or female is the norm in society, with androgyny, in its extreme sense, being very rare. However, when viewing things through a more spectral lens we can see it's not quite so clear.
At the extreme ends of the gender spectrum we have alpha males and females. What we would call in meme-speak Chads and Stacys, or to use more common stereotypes: jocks and bimbos.
Though stereotypes are often crude and unfair they nevertheless often contain an essence of observable truth. Albeit in a very generalised way. The stereotype of the alpha is that they're attractive, successful with the opposite sex, physically fit (the males athletic, the females fertile) and socially confident. Added to these positive traits though there is also the negative stereotype that they're dumb. Hence the classic ditzy blonde bimbo, or the dunce-like high school jock.
Conversely, if we move further away from these gender extremes we often find the opposite to be the case. The geek or nerd isn't the most athletic or socially outgoing, but he can ace the maths test and program a computer. Again, we're talking in stereotypes here, but generally speaking scientists and academics tend not to be hulking musclebound alpha males, nor dollish wide-hipped females. Likewise in the creative arts people tend to be closer on the spectrum to the androgynous middle. Think people like David Bowie or Lady Gaga.
So we seem to have this trade off. With people that are more androgynous having a harder time socially, especially when it comes to sexual relations, yet being rewarded with a richer intellectual or creative ability. Perhaps in part due to the fact that their personalities aren't as skewered by this pull of sexual dimorphism. Giving rise to a better balance between the female and male traits, and therefore a more nuanced mental capacity.
For the majority of people the balance between such things is no doubt something close to the median for their particular sex. However, for those that are born on or close to the borderline between the sexes the negative aspects are obviously going to be especially impactful, and it's little wonder people would not want to find themselves in this position. Having to navigate a love life and a social life from this undefined vantage point.
Still though, it's not always negative, and the asexual nature of the androgynous gives rise to a creative spirit that transcends the constraints of sex. Allowing the mind to gaze towards higher things. Art, innovation and perversion blossoming from this detour.
Sex is base. The spirit is greater than the flesh. So to be unbound from sex frees the human soul and allows transcendency. Yet, at the same time, without sex there would be no continuation of life. Nor the elation and heartbreak that comes with pair bonding; or the divine inspiration that is driven by unrequited love.
Therefore we yet again find ourselves with another duality, where each side is necessary - and once again, we see this divide reflected in the political split of left versus right. The highly masculine and feminine people, who find it natural and easy to settle down and have children, tending towards the conservative - family, simple living, traditional values. The androgynous; a revolutionary force - bringing change, complexity and innovation in their wake. Yearning to tailor a natural world that feels so unnatural to them.
This is why I italicised perversion a few paragraphs back. The word perversion generally carries with it a pejorative sense that the thing being described is negative, but in fact it can be either good or bad; and it's often just a case of perspective. The laptop I'm currently typing on is a perversion of nature. Innovation being a transgression from the normal, natural way of doing things.
This is no doubt why Lucifer, or the devil, is often depicted in art and esoteric lore as looking androgynous. Androgyny being a transcendent force, transforming and challenging the established order of things. Of course, sex and gender are much more complex in reality than my simple diagram, so androgyny doesn't always correlate with sexless spirit. Also at times giving rise to what are seen as perverse sexual practices by more traditional society. Hence the evil connotations.
Again though, evil is the cause of suffering. Or a desire to cause suffering. Not simply a divergence from the norm. So perversion from normality can be good or bad. Be it sexually or otherwise. Just as preserving tradition can have good and bad consequences. The twin forces of conservatism and innovation being a brake and an accelerator on society's capacity to change.