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Dear Doctor,
I am aged 23 and about to be a graduate. My major problem is that my behaviour is feminine. My body language is a bit different from what a man naturally is supposed to have. I have constantly been subject to mockery since my childhood. Now, I am losing my confidence.

I am not much of an extrovert, either. I try not to be worried about this but whenever I have tried interacting with new people, I have been insulted to the point that I am now scared to be away from home.

I have become paranoid and continuously think about what others are thinking of me. And I have stayed awake many nights due to depression from all this. I am very much embarrassed.

My life has already become a living hell. Many times I have thought of committing suicide. I am about to start a career and within a few years will get married. I have tried to change myself, but whenever I see people still passing comments about it, I realise I haven't been successful.

Only you can lend me a helping hand.
- A Trapped Man

Dear Reader,
The picture you have portrayed here is profoundly sad but brutally true in our social context. It also reveals how cruel and insensitive people are towards vulnerable others. Some people do it out of ignorance, superstition or internal fear (homophobia, transphobia etc.). Unfortunately some are deliberately mean and hurtful to the vulnerable and these people are a shame for any civilized society.

Your major concern is people picking on your girlish body language, which is a social perception. Gender roles are assigned by the society and are imposed on each member of that culture and society. Different cultures impose different expectations upon the men and women who live in that culture. The emotional, sexual and psychological stereotyping by the society starts as soon as a baby is born and gender is declared.

The colours we choose, the clothes we pick, the toys we buy are according to those stereotypes. It is further reinforced along the socialisation process by attributing behaviours and attitudes as feminine or masculine. People who don't fit well in that traditional gender role eventually become a victim of this stereotyping.

Egalitarian societies have gone through a lot of upheavals over the last few decades and have redefined these gender roles to be more accommodative to its variants. Our society is still very backward and stringent in that respect. Your situation is an appeal to the conscience of this society that has turned a blind eye to people like you.

Your self-identification as a “trapped man” is raising some questions in my mind. Do you feel that you are trapped in a wrong body? It would be wise to eliminate gender identity disorder and sexual orientation disorder by a proper assessment done by a professional who is well informed and educated in this matter.

You have mentioned that you have tried to change yourself without much success. Actually something that is very natural and inert (e.g. race, colour, left hand writing, gender identity, sexual orientation etc.) of who you are makes you a unique person and any attempt to change it is not even worth trying. A serenity prayer pretty popular among recovery communities of substance abusers is as follows-

“God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things
I can....
And the wisdom to know
The difference between the two.”

It would be much nicer and easier if people could change their attitude towards you!

Gender identity is a continuum with males at one end and females at the other. There are people who don't belong to any of these poles and are somewhat in the middle.

Every society has their share of people who don't belong to any particular gender. Gender refers to an individual's “psychological type” which is acquired through experience of growing up and may not be aligned with biologically and genetically assigned sex (e.g. a person with male genitals and XY chromosomes may still feel like a woman inside and vice versa).

Psychological sufferings you have described (embarrassment, sadness, fear, apprehension etc.) are likely to be the outcome of internal unresolved ego conflicts. Therapy sessions can help you to restore your sense of self and reintegrate ego to take charge of life.

I'm concerned that you had suicidal thoughts. If this symptom comes back, ask for professional help without delay.

There are evidences that people who are ambiguous in their gender identity tend to do better in life if they can come to full acceptance of who they are. I personally know many people who have gender identity problem and sexual orientation issues. They have learned to empower themselves by embracing their identity, many are functioning as good citizens, productive members of the society and living lives no less fulfilling than any other straight men or women.

Not every man is a macho, nor every woman according to social stereotype. The “macho” who calls you a “sissy” is probably doing it to hide his own repressed feelings of homosexuality (a defence mechanism called “reaction formation”). He or she is a coward and is projecting his or her own fear on to you.

From a spiritual point of view, our Creator is funny and loves to experiment with things when He is bored I guess! People who are a product of His innovativeness should try to uphold their love for Him by loving themselves more. People who have a problem with Creator's choice of variation, it is time for them to back off and find their own place (not on this planet!).


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