A Lifetime of Anomalies Explained by a New Transgender Paradigm

01/19/2016 11:48 am ET Updated Jan 18, 2017

Nothing makes me chuckle more than someone who wants me to "prove" I'm transgender - and by "chuckle" I mean "ignore with unspoken derision." When they can prove to me they're a certain religion or that their ethnic heritage is concrete and bound undeniably to their soul I'll get back to them. This is ridiculous, of course; neither of us have anything to prove to the other.

What I have to prove to myself, however, that's another matter.

By training and natural disposition I am a journalist. "If your mother says she's loves you, check it out," is just about the oldest axiom in journalism. (Actually it dates from the early 20th century at Chicago's City News Bureau. I checked it out.) It's pretty much how I treat everything and everyone. When I used to fight with my ex-wife I'd ask her to provide data to backup her claims.

(My transition isn't the only reason she opted to become my ex.)

These days, working on a Ph.D. at the University of Oregon in Mass Media studies, I'm interested in a different kind of proof. A social scientist-in-training, I need things to conform to some kind of theory that's followed up with evidence. Even if it's a new theory, give me some kind of data to back it up.

So when I started pondering whether or not I might be transgendered it was pretty simple for me to say I wasn't. I'd read how Laverne Cox had an unhappy childhood that led to a suicide attempt. I'd heard Caitlyn Jenner talk widely about being feeling "trapped" in a man's body.

That wasn't me. I've been happy - usually outrageously so - my entire life. For the most part the only time I ever felt trapped in my own body was when that body was trapped in a pair of jeans that were too damned tight. Cox and Caitlyn? Their evidence wasn't mine, end of theory.
That's why I find it ironic that I firmly established my feminine soul while science was seemingly trying to suck it out of me in the form of a book.

The name of the book is The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn. This is a book so dry it could produce its own dust. A book so needlessly ponderous that I'm convinced Kuhn was paid by the word, with a bonus for every word longer than four syllables. Proof? Where a normal person would write, "Don't believe your eyes," Kuhn syllabates, "Let us henceforth neglect retinal impressions."

Jackass.

So imagine my surprise when Kuhn provided the evidence I needed to know I was transgender. Did not see that coming.

The whole point of Kuhn's book - once he gets there - is that science is built upon theories, theories that every once in awhile we have to toss out the window. We do this because the evidence we continue to collect stops conforming to the theory. Sure, we can ignore a few "anomalies" as he calls them. But when the anomalies start to grow in both number and magnitude it's a crisis - and time for a new theory.

Let's take the solar system, for example. For a long time, starting in about 350 B.C., Aristotle and his ilk thought the Earth was at the center of pretty much everything. About 500 years later, however, people started to notice that Mars didn't look like it was actually going around the Earth like it was supposed to. In fact, at times it looked like it was going backwards. Quite the anomaly, that Mars.

Well, along comes Ptolemy who explained it all with "retrograde motion," which was really quite complicated, needlessly so. But, since it allowed everyone to stick with a geo-centric view of the universe, people went along with it. This worked just fine - until Nicolaus Copernicus came along and screwed it all up.

Copernicus found numerous anomalies that science really couldn't explain: retrograde motion, the fact that the sun wasn't really rising, (it just looked that way) and why no one ever bothered to give either Aristotle or Ptolemy a first last name. Copernicus had what Kuhn would call just over 400 years later a crisis. (It would have been 400 even, but Kuhn couldn't define crisis without attaching several hundred more pages.)

What Copernicus had found, however, threatened the religious status quo and the primacy of the Church, something that would have threatened him had he not died right as he finished his theory: On the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres. That honor fell to Galileo Galilea who came to the same conclusions as Copernicus. Galileo was fortunately healthy enough at the time that the Catholic Church threatened to kill him if he didn't recant.

The damage to the geocentric theory of the universe, however, was done. Too many anomalies begat one big crisis, and - BOOM! - the heliocentric view of the solar system became the dominant paradigm by which people now understood the cosmos.

The same thing happened to me. All of my life there had been anomalies I couldn't explain: A biological baby clock ticking since I was five. A lifetime realization that I understood women far better than I did men. Being a drag queen that only wanted to put on my dress and blend in. A belief that Thelma and Louise might be the greatest film ever made. All of these things, some of them small, some of them huge, were anomalies.

All of them building to a crisis, to a point where one day I simply had to step back, look at my own universe and ask one simple question: "What if I were a woman?" So I did, and it all made sense, my crisis resolved by my own personal revolution. A paradigm shift that explained it all. (The Catholic Church is still not amused.)

Now, I know that all might seem a little too cliche'. But it should be noted that it was Kuhn who coined the term "paradigm shift" in the first place. All that blathering and it seems he was right all along.

About a lot of things.