Dualism: Or, My Gender Therapist Said This Would Happen

Regarding dualism. Though I don’t often think positively back on my time spent reading Leibniz or Spinoza, I suppose at my core I’m more of a monist than a dualist. I never felt right about placing the mind and body at odds with each other. They are so often such, but that’s our own faults. And, I’m expending tremendous energy to reverse this separation and fuse myself back into a whole. However, I’m currently very much a dualist of a different kind (sometimes I wish I was a duellist with regards to certain people).

At home and largely to my peer group I’m a trans female. With my partner, I’m perceived as a lesbian. Perhaps she has the least dual perspective of me. However, work forces me to change this monopolar identity. I am not the kind of person who would tolerate this state easily, but Korea is once again a unique context to be trans in.

As an international school teacher, I’m in an even more isolated space and the reality of such is that I live around the school and therefore many colleagues and students. This makes me closeted in a situation where I’m out to almost everyone in my life. At first, when I wasn’t out to most people, it was easier. I had a dual life and therefore being perceived as a cis, if not always hetero, male was less taxing to my psyche.

Now, I feel a little laceration every time I’m called “Mr” or someone addresses me by my male given name; it’s even worse when it comes from people who would otherwise call me Mina. It feels inauthentic and undermines my sense of institutional integration. I am becoming more maladjusted. I assume to the administration and Koreans, who are more image conscious on average, that I appear disheveled and unkempt looking: my longer hair, my refusal to tuck my shirt in, I won’t wear a tie, and my very utilitarian approach to maintaining my male professional wardrobe. Antisartorialism. This is somewhat ironic as, outside of work, I take great care of my appearance.

This split, not of mind and body, but of mind and identity is becoming a drag, it’s probably why I’m writing this at 3 am. 


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