I've been thinking about something for a long time, and only after lots of analysis and trepidation on my part, I've decided that I need to at least... share my thoughts.
I want to start this journal off with a big, fat disclaimer, which I usually don't do, but due to the sensitive nature of this subject, I feel it's necessary: I do not hate, discriminate against, feel prejudice for, or otherwise denigrate transsexual people in any way, shape or form. Please keep this in mind while you read the rest of what I have to say.
Transsexuality has always been something close to my life. When I was a young teenager, I believed that I myself was a MtF transsexual, and generally portrayed myself as female whenever possible. It took a long time, but I eventually pieced together that I didn't actually feel this way about myself; it was just my general distaste toward all male role models I'd had up to that point manifesting in a subconscious desire to identify with the same gender that had shown me the positives of the human experience, rather than every single negative. When I slid off that shell, I became able to identify as male without trepidation or disgust. At no point, however, did I take this as some sort of discrediting of transsexualism in general; I just assumed that I was an impostor among a crowd of people who had much better, genuine reasons to be in that place in life.
I still generally feel that way, especially in the sense of relative position to myself. But as I've seen some trans friends grow up and contemplate their lot in life, some of them committing to surgery, others just to hormones, still others to neither... I've noticed that more often than not, they've found less than they were looking for in the pursuit. As a result, I've begun to wonder if transsexualism isn't a symptom of a problem that isn't the fault of individuals, but our whole weird social system. Please allow me to explain.
For someone to feel bad about their sex, they have to feel that their own personality, tendencies, and general makeup as a person conflicts with the sex they were born to appear as. However, in order for that to happen, we have to accept, even in a passive "This is the way the world works" sense, that those gender associations and stereotypes are positively true. Otherwise (unless I'm missing some big invisible thing that I've just never ever seen before), if we posited those associative rules and stereotypes were false, there would be no reason to believe that one's sex (and perceived gender) had to be something they were uncomfortable with.
To give another example, if a woman has breast implants, ultimately she can have all the agency in the world, and be as self-confident as possible... but the fact that she chose to get them was in at least some way a result of the assumption that large breasts are superior. And unless she had a super-specific fetish for breast implants, that assumption would have to come from society at large.
So does this mean that I feel like transsexuals and women who get breast implants (or men who try to enlarge their penis, for another example) are fools? That they're just stupid or weak for buying into these preconstructed ideas of gender identity and beauty?
Not even a little. Because like it or not, logical or not, these assumptions are woven into the fabric of society whole cloth. They are ancient, they are repeated like a deafening echo chamber, they are the next best thing to truth: what we as a whole believe is the truth. If everyone believes the Earth is flat, then it doesn't matter that it isn't; society will function as if it is, and there is very little you can do to alter it within the scope of your own generation. These people are just working within the rules that govern our world, whether they even agree with them or not. I can't fault anybody for doing that.
Why even bring this up? Well, it's because somebody asked me something that basically brought up the unspoken question if there were transsexual people in Partners. And I had to ultimately answer "no." Not because if you were a transsexual person you wouldn't be allowed or acknowledged; they just wouldn't understand why you felt the need to be one gender or another in specific to begin with, because they don't have those assumptions. There's no such thing as "girly" or "manly." You can be "pretty" or "handsome" with any set of genitals. You can comport yourself how you like and dress in whatever suits your fancy without setting off any imaginary boundaries of propriety, because they just don't have them. There are no verboten hobbies or interests or personal tics. But I guess I just didn't want to come off as ignorant or hateful, and thus, this overly long explanation to a question that ultimately nobody ever explicitly asked.