I came across a comic strip called “Explaining the Transgender Experience.”
It starts off with: “Let’s say that on the day you were born, someone put you in a dog costume and everyone believed you were a dog.”
The illustrations in the comic depict the person-in-dogsuit being reprimanded for not acting the way dogs are supposed to act. The “owner” scolds the dog for walking on two legs, eating potato chips; other dogs freak out when the person-in-dogsuit is nice to a cat. The tearful person-in-dogsuit is upset and runs away, goes to a mirror and realizes that they weren’t just bad at being a dog – they were a person the whole time!
What was completely absent from this comic explaining the transgender experience was any sense of bodily dysphoria, anything about perceptions of having a mismatched brain and body, anything having to do with an internal hormonal imbalance. The only cause of stress and upset coming from this comic strip was others’ ridicule of their role-violating behavior. As far as can be inferred from the comic, if the people had gone “Cool! A talking dog!” or “Aww, look at the dog eating potato chips,” there would be no tearful fleeing and a big reveal.
This comic strip wasn’t about an internal conflict; it was about a person failing to live up to the roles and expectations that everybody had for them. The comic ends not with the character rising up and challenging peoples’ previous conceptions about what dogs can do, but in concluding that they were the opposite of what society thought they were.
Imagine that this were a children’s book.
What would be the lesson?
If you don’t act like how society expects dogs to act, you’re probably not a dog.
If you like things society expects only humans to like, you’re probably a human.
If you don’t act like how society expects men to act, you’re probably not a man.
If you like things society expects only women to like, you’re probably a woman.