The Comparison of BIID and GID


A few days ago, Christina Stephens, a friend and partner of JT Eberhard posted a fantastic and fascinating piece on Body Identity Integrity Disorder over at Eberhard’s blog, WWJTD.

BIID, while one of those things that is widely “known of” (in the pub quiz night “ever heard of those people who voluntarily choose to have their limbs amputated” kind of way) is certainly not widely understood. Christina’s article was a wonderfully non-judgmental and well-researched look at the phenomenon. It basically stems from an incongruity between one’s internal “body map”, or the way that the mind or self “expects” the body to be, and the body’s actual physical configuration. This can create a profound sense of alienation, disquiet or disgust associated with a given limb, extremity, sensory ability or virtually any aspect of the body.

As is fairly common to these discussion, Christina referenced comparisons between BIID and GID, Gender Identity Disorder, the underlying condition that drives transsexuality. GID is also a disconnect between internal “body map” and the actual configuration of the physical body, in this case along the lines of gender. It creates a similar sense of alienation, disgust and so on. Specifically, Christina noted a similarity between the types of argument used against an individual with BIID’s right to elect for surgery to ease the incongruity between body and internal self, and noted how many of the same ethical justifications we’ve ultimately formulated for gender transition are applicable to “voluntary’ amputations or other procedures available to individuals with BIID.

These comparisons, however, have a tendency to put me very much on guard. In the comments, I expressed my discomfort with the comparison, with which I have a long and troubled history. I may, however, have jumped the gun a bit and reacted emotionally before giving it full consideration.

Basically, I have an immediate and strongly negative reaction to the comparison of BIID to GID. This is largely based, as said, on a troubled history. Part of that is the degree to which I’ve seen the comparison based on a conception of transition and genital surgery for transsexuals (SRS), particularly male-to-female, as being an essentially reductive procedure, the “amputation” and loss of the genitals (rather than a reconfiguring), the idea that transition is a de-sexing of the body (rather than re-sexing), that we are mutilating ourselves, sacrificing something, becoming lesser beings, destroying our bodies, etc. Basically everything that goes along with the framing of transition and SRS in terms of “cutting off your dick”.

An additional element is the frequency with which I’ve seen the comparison trotted out as a means of discrediting transition, or an individual’s right to choose transition, and also a means of justifying various “gatekeeping” models in which very strict requirements are established that one must meet before being “permitted” to transition or receive hormones or surgery or whatever. The argument typically goes: “well what about those crazies who want to cut off their arms and stuff? Should they just be allowed to go ahead and do that?” My initial internal response is “Well, yes. They should. It’s their bodies”, but I am well aware of where that would lead the conversation. For one, they’d immediately dismiss my position as indefensible, they would proceed to provide increasingly exaggerated examples of why an individual should not be permitted to in all instances make decisions regarding their health (suicide being an inevitable example), they would assume that it’s patently absurd of me to think this is okay, and most importantly, it would allow them to frame the discussion around the implicit concept that transition and SRS are indeed a reduction of the body, mutilation, self-inflicted harm and a sacrifice of health or functionality. And no… they aren’t. So instead, my reaction is to focus on why that comparison is inadequate and damaging, and reflects a profound misunderstanding of the nature of transition (and typically also a misogynist assumption of femaleness as being a “lesser” or “inferior” state to maleness).

So when I see the comparisons made, even in an understandable way, such as Christina’s article where it was being used in a more or less perfectly reasonable manner as a touchstone on the bio-ethics of issues of body map, self-conception and related treatments or surgery, I nonetheless have a knee-jerk negative reaction, my tranny sense tingling, my warning klaxons blaring, and every fiber of my being screaming no no no, they’re DIFFERENT!!!

But the thing is, they’re not totally different. And sometimes comparisons between the experiences of different particular groups is perfectly valid, and a useful means of articulating nuanced aspects of the issues surrounding them. Isn’t it a bit selfish of me to insist that just because some people who understand neither BIID nor GID have used the comparison as a means of invalidating the latter that people who are seeking to help build awareness about BIID be not permitted to use the similarities as a means of articulating things like the bio-ethical considerations?

Yes, I hate the negative ends to which this comparison has been applied. But hopefully I would be able to muster the compassion and generosity to not throw a fit when the comparison is applied towards positive ends.

But on the other hand… would it be a lack of compassion to simply ask that care be taken when using this comparison, to do so carefully, with awareness of the negative conclusions that can (and will) be drawn, and take care to articulate the differences that exist between the two conditions?

What I see as the primary difference is precisely that concept of reduction or loss. Alhough concepts of health or optimal human ability are, to a degree, subjective and culturally mediated, I think it’s both valid and possible to posit models of general basic human physical health / ability, and mental health / ability. Relative to such models, the overall psychological benefit of transition in comparison to the physiological harm is much more clear and less ambiguous than in the case of procedures for BIID. There is virtually no actual loss of health or function in the case of transition… the only real example of such we can point to is fertility. All other potential losses are purely socio-cultural. In the case of BIID, however, there is almost by definition a majour loss of function or ability (which is weighed against the possible benefit to mental health). The individual pursuing the treatment may not personally regard it as a loss,  but relative to an overall model of optimal human health and ability? I’m afraid it wouldn’t be unreasonable to regard it as such.

I’ve heard statements before to the effect that if we lived in a society where everyone is blind, blindness would not be a disability. Or if we lived in a society where everyone can fly, our current level of mobility would be regarded as a disability. We don’t, however. We live in a sighted, grounded society, and relative to those standards and conditions we have certain things that are regarded as disability and that create difficulties in the lives of those who have them.

However, it’s entirely possible that my own biases, my own negative preconceptions, and a general feeling of squeemishness regarding BIID is playing into the degree to which I dislike the comparison. I’ve been doing advocacy work for too long to be able to just toss aside the possibility of my own privilege and able-ism impacting how I view things.

In the comment thread, it was suggested that my desire to distance myself from BIID was simply do to negative feelings about it, and about disability in general. I don’t feel that was my sole motivation, but I completely can’t rule it out as a factor, either. I reminded myself of how many LGB individuals will sometimes express a desire to distance themselves from the trans community, using arguments such as “they make us look bad” or “what am I supposed to have in common with some freak who wants to cut his dick off?” (motif noted).  And furthermore, there is the pattern even within the trans community itself of some transsexuals opposing the “transgender umbrella”, and specifically wanting to distance themselves as much as possible from drag queens, cross-dressers, genderqueer people, etc. Even further, amongst transsexuals you will find straight, femme, androphillic, post-op women wishing to distance themselves from trans lesbians, butch trans women and tomboys, non-ops and so forth. An endless matryoshka nesting doll set of hierarchies and prejudices.

Is that what I was doing? Simply trying to distance myself on the basis of “it will make us look bad!” and not wanting to be associated with a “lesser” class of identity? If I had written a post in which I used a comparison of the treatment of gay men and women to trans men and women as a touchstone in articulating persecution on the basis of deviation from prescribed sexual and gender roles, how would I react to a gay man objecting that I shouldn’t make that comparison? That it is dangerous, and if I do make it, I should only do so while carefully articulating the differences? I think I wouldn’t react very positively, and would likely regard his distaste for the comparison to be motivated by transphobia.

So it seems that I, like everyone, do have some cultural baggage that needs a bit of unpacking, and I should probably do a bit of thinking about my preconceptions of disability. However, this doesn’t for a moment change the fact that comparisons between BIID and GID have been used as a means of discrediting my identity. Nor does it change the firm belief I have that education, clarity and understanding, and the stamping out of misinformation, is of extreme and paramount importance in moving forward towards acceptance of both trans people and other maligned groups, such as those with BIID.

I’m not really sure what exactly to think about all this at the moment. Only that it has me thinking, and questioning my positions. And that’s always a good thing. So thank you, Christina.


Featured image is the Motor Homonculus, a visual representation of the amount of mental space devoted to controlling the movements of different parts of the body. This particular image is from

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  1. Good article, Natalie. I’m glad to see that you’re re-considering your perspective on disability. I think it’s an area that many people don’t look very deeply at, which is unfortunate. I pointed out an ableist quote in a text we were reading in a course last semester, and people literally laughed at me. I said, “Well, I know it’s not as sexy as racism or homophobia, but it’s a real problem.” People didn’t think that was very funny.

    Anyway, I do agree that when we make comparisons (whether with BIID to GID or other comparisons of social groups) we should be very careful, very clear, and be ready to accept criticism if people from the groups don’t like it. Your apprehensions about this particular comparison are quite understandable, but you make great points about the possibility of useful dialogue arising out of these comparisons when done properly.

  2. on loss of function: I think loss of fertility is a big issue, especially in relation to young people transitioning. In UK for example it is very rare for a cis person to be supported to have voluntary sterilisation under 25yrs of age. Whilst in other areas people are considered ‘Gillick competent’ at whatever age they can understand a medical procedure or treatment [usually 13-15 yrs].
    Do you think more should be done to support trans* people’s future fertility [like saving ova or sperm – as someone would before cancer treatments etc.] or cautioning against remodelling that reduces fertility until later adulthood?

    ps I work in maternity services and I’m queer and non-trans. Many queer people for example don’t consider parenthood till thier late 30s perhaps due to a lack of social encouragement and persisting heterosexist prohibitions against having kids. I’m concerned that trans* people are facing similar but more eugenic barriers.

    sorry if this is a little off topic

    • I think it all depends on the individual, really. Choosing to bank sperm or ova is probably a good idea in many cases. In my own case, I chose not to, because I’m straight. Since I’m unlikely to end up with a woman as a partner, traditional models of parenthood weren’t ever really “in the cards” for me anyway, so I felt that banking wasn’t particularly worth the expense or trouble. However, I think that lesbian or bi trans woman, as well as most trans men, should probably strongly consider banking, since it’s difficult to predict how your feelings about parenthood may change over time.

      I also have a friend who is a non-op lesbian who recently managed to naturally conceive a child with her partner after many years of HRT. It was pretty astounding, as I’d been led to believe that fertility was typically permanently lost after about nine months of hormones. She did need to temporarily go off her HRT in order to be able to conceive the child, though.

      The baby is really, really cute!

  3. Natalie, while I think you probably went a little too far over at WWJTD, I don’t think your central premise is out of line at all. BIID and GID are both rooted in a mismatch of form and body image, and that’s where the similarities basically end.

    Context matters, and BIID exists in the context of a world where virtually everyone agrees that the optimal configuration for a human being is four functioning limbs and five functioning senses. GID does not exist in a similar context, but many bigots would like to pretend that it does, particularly in MtFs (as you say, they clearly think that being female is akin to being diminished.) It isn’t unfair to ask people not to empower that line of thinking.

    BIID also exists in the context of a world where limbs and senses are not commonly considered a part of one’s identity (whereas, I know very few people who don’t consider their gender critical to their identity.) Frankly, that’s what strikes me as the most peculiar element of BIID, and I’m surprised that it isn’t the focus of more discussion. I mean, I can easily imagine a brain-body mismatch causing someone to feel their foot or sense of hearing is out of place, but I would have never guessed that someone could see that as so fundamental to their identity that they suffer distress from the very existence of the offending limb or sense.

    The closest comparison I can recall is the case of some families with hereditary hearing loss, who resist cochlear implants on the grounds that deafness and ASL are part of their identity. Even there, however, this sense of identity appears to be entirely cultural. BIID is the only condition I’m aware of where the connection between limb/sense and identity appears to be innate (dudes who name their wieners notwithstanding.)

    To me, that’s what’s really offensive about the GID:BIID comparison. By comparing BIID to boring old GID, you’re missing the most unusual and interesting facet of the condition.

    • Hmm, I disagree with you somewhat. I think that our bodies are integral parts of our identities, it’s just that people don’t think about it in the same way. So, losing your legs when you live in a society that is built for able-bodied people will disable you, and that will change your identity. You have an identity as an able-bodied person, even if this identity is only expressed in relation to dis-abled bodies.

      People often express identity in bodily terms (e.g., “I’m right-handed.”; “I am a red head.”). And the values that we assign to different body parts is not universal–it’s culturally mediated.

      I think your example with Deaf people is odd, and perhaps I am misunderstanding the relevance. Deaf people do not have BIID, and I fail to see how an identity is completely innate and not mediated by culture. It seems to me that any aspect of identity is culturally mediated–we are cultural beings. Expressing BIID is a cultural act–you use language to do it, and the experiences of people expressing this will be met with varying degrees of acceptance or rejection.

      Perhaps this stems from different use of the term “identity”? I’m unsure.

      • You’re absolutely right about culture being the lens through which these things are viewed. What I should have said in regard to cochlear implants is that many deaf people argue that their culture is under threat of extinction due to the implants. As opposed to arguing that their personal health and well being was specifically threatened by being able to hear (as is the argument in BIID.)

        And, while I take your point about all of these elements being a part of one’s identity, I also don’t think it’s controversial to say that there’s a hierarchy to said elements. Ask someone, “What factors make you you?”, or “What couldn’t you change without being a different person?” and they’ll probably start by listing core elements such as their personality and memories, and maybe end on more arbitrary characteristics such as their nationality. Maybe I’m just projecting here, but I think gender would be on most people’s lists, while I’d be shocked if one in a hundred listed their feet or their ability to hear.

        Contrast that with one of the quotes from the article:

        When I amputated my toes, it felt like I removed the part of me that was causing all of my anger, frustration and anxiety. It’s not that I felt my toes were not part of me, but that I was making my body the shape and feeling that is supposed to be for me. Before I did my foot I would often stop in my tracks, no matter what I was doing, and feel a rush of feelings that kept me from focusing. I knew that I had to make my body the way I see it. Not as a disabled person with an amputation, but as an individual. It’s like I gained a part of me that I should have always had. Losing my toes made me feel whole and complete.

        I mean, maybe the people I know who’ve lost digits are just unusually phlegmatic, but they sure didn’t go through that. That’s a highly unusual amount of self and well-being to pour into your piggly wigglies (or lack thereof.)

        • Thanks for clarification on that. I get where you’re coming from now. 😉

          I agree that there are hierarchies of emphasis that people place on different aspects of their identity. Many people might begin by talking about things like personality and history and whatnot. Other people or may not. Sumo wrestlers? Other Athletes? Rick Genest? Other models? Still, others may not even have ego-centric (not intended in a negative way) concepts of identity. This is evident in a lot of ethnographic evidence (see Martin Sökefeld’s 1999 article “Debating Self, Identity, and Culture in Anthropology” for a good discussion about this). Many people in other societies focus on group attributes as the core of their identity before individual attributes.

          So, I think it’s fair to say that there is not one hierarchy that all or even most people classify their identity by. Certainly people value certain attributes more than others, but this, again, is culturally mediated. And these hierarchies are not static, they shift and change depending on various factors.

          I guess ultimately I just don’t agree that people’s bodies are not important parts of their identities. People may not express limbs or senses as part of their identity when those things are taken for granted, but once they are changed significantly or gone completely, that will affect a person’s identity. It just does not seem like that big of a leap for me to say that that means those things are important parts of their identities if the loss of them changes their identity. If they were unimportant in the first place, they would not change their identities when gone.

          • On reflection, I think you’re right that I’m overstating the matter. It’s one of those “I don’t know anyone who voted for Nixon” things, except this is more along the lines of, “I don’t know anyone who would have an existential crisis if they were accidentally turned into a robot. (Clang, clang, woops, too late.)”

  4. I registered specifically to say that I had already thought you were awesome, I was somewhat sad at your comments on that biid blog, and now that I read this your awesomeness has increased a lot beyond my initial estimates. So yes, thank you.

    I’m trans and do not have biid, but I have been curious about if the neurological underpinnings are at all related — not to mention the intriguing to me question of how exactly self and body image etc constructed.

    But I haven’t been bludgeoned over the head before with biid as a way to dismiss or ickify my gid, so you and I come at this from different perspectives. Being able to read yours and understand better where you’re coming from on this has also been interesting to me.So again, I thank you for your words and time and honesty.

    Keep it up, I have high hopes for this site. I was really excited when I saw it announced on skepchick.

    • Sadly, as of today, I’m no longer going to be writing for this site or Skepchick.

      Hopefully I’ll be picked up by another network at some point relatively soon, or otherwise find a new platform.

      You can follow my twitter feed, mentioned in my bio, for updates.

  5. I appreciate you thoughts on this topic and think you added valuable insight on the issue.

    Whether BIID and BID have any common causal factors would not make by association the other an illness as well. Mental illness is any condition that causes the individual distress and prevents them fro functioning in their daily life. This easily rules out many transgendered people from being consider ill. Because of this I am not bother by the comparison especially because the author intentions is to understand and explain behavior rather than stigmatize, judge, or demonize.

    Your initial reaction is understandable. It’s difficult not be to personally affected by these types of topics because of just how personal the subject matter is for many. Not only that, but mental health issues are heavily stigmatized, misrepresented, and misunderstood.

  6. Yeah, so the fact that you all are apparently pro (or at least non-negative) on the encouragement of amputation really disappoints me.

    I regard encouraging amputation as morally reprehensible.

    • (A) Not sure who here is “encouraging” amputation.
      (B) You should probably re-phrase your statement as it’s vague enough that it could be taken to mean that you believe all amputation is morally reprehensible (as in, even in order to save someone’s life)
      (C) You have not provided any reason that people should also find amputation “morally reprehensible” other than your own feelings. Can you provide specific reasons for why it is an immoral act to voluntarily amputate a part of one’s own body? You seem to define it as “self-harm” in your comment on the other post about Natalie’s departure. How is it “self-harm” if it increases the person’s self-worth and improves the quality of their life?

      I think you’re having a very visceral reaction to this and have not at all attempted to set aside your preconceived notions to examine the issue. I say this because you provide no evidence that you’ve thought about this *at all*.

      • (A) I take back the “all” in my original reply. But:
        “The argument typically goes: “well what about those crazies who want to cut off their arms and stuff? Should they just be allowed to go ahead and do that?” My initial internal response is “Well, yes. They should. It’s their bodies””

        (B)Yes, yes, yes. In context you know what I mean though. Let me clarify to “Amputation in the case of BIID”.

        (C) “How is it “self-harm” if it increases the person’s self-worth and improves the quality of their life?”

        If someone they cut themselves to make them feel better, is this good? Should I encourage them? Stand on the sidelines? No, I try to help, by trying to get them to stop hurting themselves. Not by saying: “It’s your body, do what you like!”. Such a stance would be horrific.

        People who want to harm themselves need help, not others enabling their destructive behavior.

        • (A) I guess I can see how that is encouragement, though I did not read it that way.

          (B) Clarity is important. If you’re going to make accusations about “moral reprehensibility” then you should be specific.

          (C) I don’t think cutting and amputation for BIID is a fair comparison. Cutting may make a person feel better in the short-term, but it is not a long-term solution and does not improve their overall sense of well-being. Amputation is shown to have positive effects for many people with BIID as it brings their internal body map in line with their physical body.

          You are making the assertion that the amputation of a body part by someone with BIID is harm, while I say that it may or may not be. It could be helpful to them.

          So, what about transsexual people? Many people make the same arguments you are making towards them. How do you decide where to draw the line? How is that not “morally reprehensible” to you?

          And, you have not answered my question about *how* amputation is immoral.

          • I’m not sure why you don’t consider the comparison fair.

            Amputation is a long term solution for BIID? Well yes and no.
            1. Yes, it may stop the feelings about the particular limb, but it is a permanent solution leading to long term disability. It is a solution in the same way that suicide is a solution to suicidal feelings.
            2. No, it may be that the feelings will then transfer to another limb.

            Positive effects? You are swapping a possibly* mental illness for a permanent disability.

            Helpful to them? Unless they are getting cyborg limbs in return, the loss of a limb is a disability, in that everyday tasks become more or much more difficult.

            Where do I draw the line? Well I don’t. I think there is a spectrum. I would not call cosmetic surgery wrong, though I would caution anyone I know who wants it. It is a surgical procedure with all attendant risks. But since it does not change anyone’s abilities, I can’t say that it should be banned. I think transexualism is more cosmetic, but it is more a borderline issue.

            You misunderstand my position. Amputating your limb for a non-medical, non-emergency reason is symptom of mental illness, or suprememely stupid. Encouraging, enabling, or even condoning such an action is immoral.

            I have friends who suffer from depression. I do not say that they are bad people. But I would call someone a bad person if they tried to encourage depression as somehow positive. Telling mentally ill people to listen to their illness is immoral.

            *I admit there is insufficient evidence for whether it is curable or not.

          • Ah, so we get to the crux of the matter–your revulsion at disabled bodies. It is “morally reprehensible” because it creates non-normative bodies, which may be disabled.

            The fact that you think transsexualism is “borderline cosmetic” demonstrates that you need to go do some reading and educate yourself on these issues.

            Your analogies to cutting and depression do not work. Respecting a person’s bodily autonomy is not the same thing as encouraging mental illness. If the amputation resolves the mental illness, why is that bad? You’ve not given me any reason other than you think its icky because DISABILITY.

            And you keep saying things are “immoral,” but you refuse to say *how* they are immoral.

            It’s pretty clear to me based on your responses that you have some serious ableism going on, and I do not appreciate your attempts to stigmatize people with emotionally and socially loaded words.

          • “Ah, so we get to the crux of the matter–your revulsion at disabled bodies”


            “It is “morally reprehensible” because it creates non-normative bodies, which may be disabled.”

            Er, no.

            “The fact that you think transsexualism is “borderline cosmetic” demonstrates that you need to go do some reading and educate yourself on these issues.”

            Are you deliberately trying to interpret what I say in the worst way possible?

            “If the amputation resolves the mental illness, why is that bad? You’ve not given me any reason other than you think its icky because DISABILITY.”

            No. Just no.

            “And you keep saying things are “immoral,” but you refuse to say *how* they are immoral.”

            Now you’re contradicting your own bizarre interpretations.

            “It’s pretty clear to me based on your responses that you have some serious ableism going on, and I do not appreciate your attempts to stigmatize people with emotionally and socially loaded words.”

            You have no idea what my views on disability are. YOu have not asked and you seem comfortable to assume what you know. Do you want to know, or would you rather continue to assume the worst?

  7. Thanks for this post Natalie.

    First – I take on board your comment that it would be useful to note the differences between GID and BIID as well as the similarities.

    Second – I must apologise, it didn’t occur to me that people could use BIID as an argument against GID. Now that I’ve seen it, I can only say “doh!”. Of course, that would be a major incentive to dislike the comparison.

    Finally – I was going to write about the concepts of social models of disabilities and elaborate on that, but… This is not the place, and there’s not enough space 🙂 So I’ll just shut up now and thank you for this post.

    • Oh, is this Christina?

      Well, thank YOU for the original post. It really was a great piece, seriously. My own history with the “GID is stupid and awful because BIID is stupid and awful!” nastiness certainly doesn’t invalidate what you were getting at, and it wasn’t something you could have predicted. Also, GID is indeed a useful touchstone for articulating the ethics of BIID. As we can see in 4charactersonly’s responses, it seems that people who abjectly condemn BIID also seem to not understand GID and SRS very well, either.

      I’m glad you understand my point about why caution, care and sensitivity is required while making these comparisons, but I’m also glad I got the opportunity to understand a bit more about my own somewhat ableist preconceptions and interrogate my negative reactions a bit, learn a bit more about those parts of my understanding of identity that may still need some work, and what bits of my privilege may still need some unpacking. So thank you!

      I look forward to reading more of your posts in the future!

      And seriously, I can’t shake the feeling that you look pretty much exactly like I’d look if I were cis. 😉

  8. What would Judith Butler write about this?
    I don´t know. But in my opinion both is wrong: The concept of “GID” and the concept of “BIID”.

    There is less evidence that gender and sex is a question of a development. Gender and sex is an idea not more and GID is used to bring it in the right direction. A transsexuell person is a human beeing as a man or a woman we can say. And this person is asking how should I live. Some transsexuell people are interested in a so called sex change. But Transsexuality is not a word for what will follow after a “sex” change. I think if we understand Judith Butler in this way, my thesis could be valid but not right.

    In the case of “BIID” seeing a wish for an amputation as an illnes that´s a way to take disciplinary actions (Foucault) and vice versa normalisation.

    Of course never medcine will amputate a healthy limb with the argumentation “BID”. The wish for an amputation has nothing to do with the question if a doctor would amputate a healthy limb because a mental illness. Its a question for taking disciplinary actions.

    So I guess “BIID” will never become an illness. But be shure that doctors amputate healthy limbs. I think we should be happy that official no doctor nevee would do this and we should happy that doctors do it sometimes from reasons for helping people.

    “GID”, Transsexality ask for Gender, Sex, Gender politics. So “BIID” has nothing to do with this.

    If you love John Money than be happy, because he developed “BIID” under a different name. But most people today think Money is not a hero, Money is a case for criminal investigations.

  9. I know the author of this article is no longer posting on the site, and that the article is pretty old, but I feel the need to comment.

    The comparison between BIID and GID is a useful one for those of us who fall under the non-binary and genderqueer umbrellas and who desire surgery as part of our transition. At what point is the line drawn between disability and non-disabling excising of an otherwise healthy body part anyways? In none of the BIID definitions I’ve seen has there been a clause referring to a resultant disability. The hysterectomy that I not just want, but psychologically desire, isn’t just a hysterectomy. But it’s also not SRS. It -is-, however, the excision of a healthy organ that, according to most people, would lower my quality of life in some way.

    The fact of the matter is, my identity as a genderless person necessitates sterilization. And, if the procedure were available to me, heavy modification of my vagina and external genitalia. Is that mental illness, or body dysphoria? That’s a rhetorical question, but for my nonbinary siblings who, day in and day out, desire a genital surgery that does not yet exist and would result, in binary terms, in voluntary genital mutilation, the conversation and comparison between BIID and GID is an important one and one that we could learn from, I believe. The bodies we want are sometimes difficult to imagine, and oftentimes impossible to achieve at any stage in life. Our desires are often written off as the delusions of the mentally ill or those seeking attention. What opening up this dialogue would do, in my opinion, is to help break down medical barriers currently standing in the way of non-binary people getting the bodies and genitals that we want. Binary trans* people have this option available to them; we need to start talking about how to make it a reality for us.

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