A big congrats to Caitlyn Jenner on her big reveal and lovely Vanity Fair cover!

Now to the reason I'm writing: I am having a crisis of conscience. On one hand, I absolutely support a person's right to be whoever the heck they want to be. If you feel like you want to wear "women's" clothing and makeup and hair? You look fabulous! You want to carry a pillow person around and be "married" to said pillow? Congrats on your nuptials! You want to buy dolls that look creepily real and walk them around in $300 strollers? GREAT!

But I'm confused where we draw the line. When a thin person believes themselves to be "fat" and then dangerously restricts their food intake, we can have that person committed. Most reputable doctors won't amputate your arm simply because you feel you were meant to be an amputee. Making the decision to end your own life in the absence of unbearable suffering is illegal. But when a man decides that he should be a woman (or vice versa), we will surgically remove healthy body parts to suit that particular desire.

Of course we modify/enhance/surgically alter other body parts all the time. I don't know, I guess I'm confused. Could you shine some light on this for me? I want to be less conflicted about sex-reassignment surgery.

No Surgery For Me

Probably not a question I should answer in a rush to get on an airplane. But here goes...

Gender identity, unlike marrying a pillow or pushing "realistic dolls" around in prams, is not an affectation or an eccentricity or plain ol' batshittery. Gender identity goes to the core of who we are and how we wish to be—or how we fundamentally need to be—perceived by others. Take it away, Human Rights Campaign:

The term "gender identity," distinct from the term "sexual orientation," refers to a person's innate, deeply felt psychological identification as a man, woman, or some other gender, which may or may not correspond to the sex assigned to them at birth (e.g., the sex listed on their birth certificate)... Transitioning is the process some transgender people go through to begin living as the gender with which they identify, rather than the sex assigned to them at birth. This may or may not include hormone therapy, sex-reassignment surgery, and other medical procedures.

Unlike amputating healthy limbs (which some doctors will do, if only to prevent "transabled" people who may have "body integrity identity disorder" from amputating their own limbs) or thin people starving themselves to death because they think they're fat, transgender people who embrace their true gender identity and take steps toward transitioning are happier and healthier. That said, transitioning is not a panacea.

You seem pretty concerned about the surgical removal of healthy body parts. To which I would say...

Other people's bodies—and other people's body parts—are theirs, not yours. And if someone needs to change or even remove some part(s) of their body to be who they are and to be happy and to be healthy, they should have that right. That said, NSFM, not all trans people get surgery, top or bottom, and many trans people change everything else (they take hormones, they get top surgery) but opt to stick with the genitals they were born with. (The ones they were born with tend to work better than the ones that can currently be constructed for them.) But unless you're trans yourself, currently sleeping with a trans person, or about to sleep with a trans person, NSFM, it's none of your business what any individual trans person elects to do with their genitals.

For me it boils down to letting people be who they are and do what they want. Sometimes people do things for what can seem like silly and/or mystifying reasons (marry pillows, vote Republican, grow beards), while sometimes people—sometimes even the same people—do things for very serious reasons (come out of the closet, alter their bodies to bring them into alignment with their gender identities). Unless the choices being made by other people impact you in some immediate or material way—unless someone wants to marry your pillow or wants to sleep with you or wants to persecute you politically or economically—there's no conflict for you to resolve. All you gotta do is strike the right balance between minding your own business and embracing/celebrating the infinite diversity of the human experience.