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Mental Relativity is a new theory of psychology developed by my good friend and associate Chris and myself over several years. Its impact is far ranging, offering insight in areas of justification, problem solving, and decision making.
Because it is a RELATIVITY, the theory offers no absolutes. Rather, it defines the relationship between the processes of the mind in such a way that one can objectively see what things subjectively look like from any point in the process.
From time to time, this column will explore one of those points of view. We begin with an update of an article from an earlier edition of The Subversive:
For most of us on the Exploration trail, trying to determine if we are Transvestite or Transsexual is of paramount importance. We wonder if we just happen to enjoy wearing women's clothes or if perhaps there is something more innate: perhaps we really ARE women in man skin. Naturally, the answer to this question is central to our choices for the rest of our lives. And yet, we cannot seem to get a grip on it. This is because it is an issue of feelings, not logic. But how are we to know if the way we "feel" is male or female? After all, we have nothing to compare with.
This issue troubled me throughout my life. I read what I could (always secretly), watched television programs, scoured the pulp magazines, and more than once suffered the depressions brought on by ripping my psyche up in search of the Truth. Even when I began living full-time I had not achieved any certainty, and had to settle for saying, "Yes, I want to change my sex, but I don't know if I am really a woman inside." All my time with my therapist, all my meetings in a support group brought me no closer to satisfaction.
Then, about six months into full-time, a friend I had known for 13 years asked me to breakfast. He reminded me of the theory of story structure we had toyed with while at the USC School of Film. In the past 10 years, he had (with his partner) built a million dollar a year business creating software for the entertainment industry. He asked me if I would like to work with him developing the theory into a software program for his company. I agreed, little knowing that I would spend the next three years developing a new psychology that would ultimately explain the REAL differences between men and women.
We began by hypothesizing that stories were not just about a bunch of different characters reacting like real people, but that each and every story was an analogy of a SINGLE MIND dealing with a problem. That meant that every character, plot point, thematic progression, Act break, scene structure, EVERYTHING IN A STORY, was part of the analogy of the mind: the STORY MIND.
The Story Mind was not intentionally created by authors but was a by-product of their effort to build successful story arguments by anticipating all the ways an audience might consider the story's problem. Only by pre-including the audience in the story could the author be certain not to leave a "plot hole" of faulty logic or untrue feeling. Over generations, quite unaware of its significance, authors had created conventions of story structure and dynamics that actually represented the functioning of the human mind.
This concept has now been developed into a program at a cost of over a quarter of a million dollars in development expenses, and will be released along with a book on the Theory of Story around the middle of this year. Certainly big rewards are to be had. But the REAL reward for me, is that in order to create the program, we had to map and understand the psychology of the Story Mind, which is an analogy to our own psychologies. In so doing, we developed the concept of Mental Relativity, that explicitly defines the manner in which the processes of the Mind relate, one to another. And the best part of all was that Mental Relativity not only explained, but REQUIRED there to be differences in the thought structures of men and women in order to work.
What does this mean? Simply that the minds of men and women work differently at a STRUCTURAL level. That is to say that the way data is received, stored, retrieved and processed is DIFFERENT between men and women at a BIOLOGIC level. This is not just a BIOCHEMICAL level, but in the Brain Operating System (or B.O.S.) that is hardwired before birth.
As we know, ALL fetuses start out in female form and then alter to the male blueprint if the child is destined to be a man. Different parts of the body's development are triggered at different points in the pregnancy. Recent medical theories of transsexualism have it that at the 12th to 14th week of pregnancy, a developing male fetus must receive a flush of testosterone over the brain in order to trigger it to hardwire in the male pattern of data processing. If that hormonal flush does not happen, the body will develop male, but the brain will be irrevocably cast in a female pattern.
Such a child would be assumed to be male. But that is only the physical body. INSIDE, the child thinks as a female. And yet, even though this is an internal/external type of hermaphroditism, the inside cannot be seen, and the child has no other way of thinking to compare to. So, the child learns to think LIKE a man, even though it always thinks AS a woman. The Subconscious mind operates according to the FEMALE hardwiring, but the Conscious mind operates by training and choice.
If you look at the Mind, there are four parts: The Conscious, The Memory, The Subconscious, and the Pre-Conscious. "Pre-Conscious" is a term we coined in Mental Relativity to define the area of mental and physical response that occurs as a result of observation before the Conscious mind is even aware of stimuli: like pulling your hand away from a hot pot. Subconscious, in contrast, is biased by the biochemical stew (which includes, but is not limited to, the effects of hormones). The Subconscious fosters our predilections to one thing or another. Memory is structured by the cumulative impact of experience, and Conscious is the arbitrator that shifts the balance of credence between experience, observation, and predilection.
In essence, both Conscious and Memory are open to manipulation, by choice and experience respectively, as to the structural way in which they operate. Then, that structure is filled with data from observation and internal considerations. But the Subconscious and Pre-Conscious are not subject to direct manipulation of STRUCTURE. Rather, the Subconscious must defer to the biochemistry, and the Pre-Conscious is subservient to the hardwiring set before birth that determines the B.O.S. Male Hardwiring freezes Space to measure things through Time (causing a linear logic base to the Sub and Pre Consciouses. Female Hardwiring freezes Time to measure things in space (causing a non-linear logic based on proximity rather than order). Mental Relativity calls these two hardwired thinking patterns, Mental Sex.
These last, in concept, are not exclusive to Mental Relativity. For example, the January 20, 1992 issue of Time magazine ran a cover story on the differences of men and women in which eight pages were devoted to recent research about the hardwired differences between the sexes. In fact, they even report the 12th to 14th week hormone theory as the point at which the hardwiring sets in. Also, a new book, Brain Sex (which has also been produced as a three part television series) describes the biologic differences between male and female minds.
So is Mental Sex the answer to the gender question? No, it is only one fourth of the answer. The other three parts are Anatomical Sex, Sexual Preference, and Gender Identity. Let's look at each one, and then how they work together.
Anatomical sex is simply that: male or female. Certainly everyone has some physical traits that are more associated with one sex or the other, but in the end all of us (except hermaphrodites) are clearly male or female.
Sexual Preference can be straight, gay, bi, or none. And this is true of men as well as women. So, just being a male or a female does not dictate one's Sexual Preference. Already we can see the number of variations are possible just between Anatomical Sex and Sexual Preference.
Gender Identity is a SPECTRUM running from completely masculine to completely feminine and covering all the ground in between. Some straight men are very feminine, and some straight women are very masculine. So, once again, Gender Identity is not attached directly to either Sexual Preference or Anatomical Sex. Certainly, even an individual slides around a range on the Gender scale depending upon mood, present company, and task at hand.
Finally, we return to Mental Sex - the hardwiring of the brain. And this also is not absolutely tied to any of the other three. When you combine Gender outlook with Mental Sex Hardwiring, influenced by cultural pressures of role based on Anatomical Sex and Sexual Preference, THEN you end up with all the variations of human beings that we see in real life.
Now, I was a completely masculine man as Dave, but I could not relate to men on the most basic of levels because my data processing was not operating with the same system. Its kind of like trying to run MAC and IBM programs on each others machines without translation or some kind of shell. Well, that "shell" was the pseudo personality I developed as a child, based on rejecting my own operating system and adopting a functional but non-intrinsic system that ran other programs: thinking LIKE a man, even while thinking AS a woman.
Yet this does not make me any more "authorized" to be transsexual than anyone, regardless of hardwired Mental Sex. In fact, someone with a strong feminine Gender Identity, is equally justified in seeking surgery to allow for a SOCIAL role more compatible with their MANNER of approaching life.
None of these four aspects of Sexual Identity is more important than the others. It is the combination and interplay between them that determines the sort of sexual/gender animal you are. But knowing that there ARE four, and WHAT they are, has aided me in understanding why I have felt and feel as I do, and has made me comfortable in accepting that my personal decision to have surgery was not only right for me, but also the most efficient way to resolve many of the inequities in my life in one bold stroke.
The moment any of us realizes we have questions about our Gender selves, we have begun a journey of exploration. And we must see it as such. Answers are not obtained by snap decisions, but by gathering information and learning every step of the way. Just because we have made the decision to explore, does not mean we are obligated to go further than we really want, nor are we forbidden from realizing we have gone too far, and that our answers lie far closer to us than surgery.
So what is the difference between a Transvestite and a Transsexual? Ultimately the Transvestite is the person who enjoys a feminine side but really does not wish to have surgery, and the Transsexual is a person who has it. Trite? Not really. Happiness is an ethereal thing: hard to grasp and harder to define. But that is the real goal - to be happy, whether by accepting our desire to adopt the female role from time to time, or to embrace it permanently. If you do not have surgery and you are happy, you are a transvestite. If you have it and are happy, you are a transsexual - regardless of your hardwiring, upbringing, affectations or anything else.
So Mental Relativity holds some answers that may even ultimately determine absolutely the hardwiring of any individual. Yet, even if we knew for sure, in the end, each of us must find our own path to self-acceptance. Still it is better to search for our way in the bright light of knowledge than in the moonless night of ignorance. Shine a light and take a step.
(Copyright 1993 Melanie)
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