Changing Genders, Changing Buddhists

It strikes me that one of the goals of practice is recognition of the illusory nature of personality. This recognition will not, however, get one fair treatment from a society where not adhering to a norm is cause for abuse. One may, I hope, accomplish the former while advocating for the vulnerable of the latter, including oneself.


Sad ?.., did you say ?.., but that was what the Sutta said, right ?. But this Sutta implies that, the gender changes due to the determination of the mind from the previous life are indeed possible to happen, in fact…, whether people believe it or not, but many issues about internal conflicts within a person ( a conflict between the mental behaviour with the physical conditions, such as transgender people ) might be strongly has a root from their previous lives…

:slight_smile: yes, sad to me, for desiring
the status of a man or a god is not something i think as conducive to liberation; and it is sad that the persona had to become a god AND male to be listened to; and also … what Self persists through rebirrh that way? … i find the story sad. but i understand that not everyone would.

There are people who aspire to rebirth in specific circumstances. It is not an aspiration in this life at this time. :slight_smile: No uploading to a digital existence; no Pure Lands; no coming back as a chameleon or dolphin or jazz musician or anything else, please.

In that story, there are a few who were mendicants who failed to attain in human lives, and they were all failing in heavenly rebirth; some, after hearing the no longer female no longer human, seemed to achieve something. (Not as humans, either; that too is odd, isn’t it?) I think part of that story may be politically useful myth from another source than the Buddha or Dhamma… and not harmless.

:slight_smile: May all have peace, happiness, and liberation in this very life. May diligence in all be supported and encouraged.

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In that story, there are a few who were mendicants who failed to attain in human lives, and they were all failing in heavenly rebirth; some, after hearing the no longer female no longer human, seemed to achieve something. (Not as humans, either; that too is odd, isn’t it?) I think part of that story may be politically useful myth from another source than the Buddha or Dhamma… and not harmless.

I think…, being a Buddhist, we don’t have to follow the way of other religious believers who, forgive me…, overly ‘idolizing’ the sacred texts. There might be a factor of error or myth in those texts, which are even regarded as sacred texts. But we can try to find some of the lesson elements which are still relevant to the facts of today. Thank You…


@Kerta According to Venerable Sujato in Some inauthentic passages in the Early Buddhist Texts, the discourse that you quoted, DN 21, is late (I believe this applies to its parallels as well).

That being said, it’s certainly possible for virtuous people to choose what kind of rebirth they want according to MN 41 and SA 1042.

@ERose There’s nothing wrong with choosing where one wants to be reborn, it’s perfectly in line with the Buddha’s teachings that are given to lay people, especially those who aspire for stream-entry or once-return. Since they still have to be reborn, it makes sense for them to choose where they want to be. The Buddha has given many options to practise according to one’s faculty; it’s only natural for those who want to realise awakening yet still enjoy sensual pleasures to choose options that are available to them.

I personally don’t see anything wrong with people of different genders practising the Buddha’s teachings. The early discourses that are extant in a few ancient languages also don’t support the belief that one’s gender is an obstacle for one’s spiritual progress, or one’s gender is a result of some kind of bad deeds. Being a man, a woman, or an LGBT person is just a part of nature.

As long as people are virtuous, endowed with right view, and practise according to the Buddha’s teachings, then being a man, a woman, or an LGBT person makes absolutely no difference. It’s one’s view and conduct that count.


@thenoble, thanks for your notification, I really appreciate it. :slight_smile:

I agree with your that, gender is not an obstacle for one’s spiritual progress, that being a man, a woman, or an LGBT person makes absolutely no difference.

As far as I know, Buddhism doesn’t see the LGBT people negatively, but some other religions are very hostile to this group. I just want to emphasize that, there is an invisible karmic mechanism ( which involves some unfinished problems in one’s past lives ), which might be contributes to the emergence of this ‘physical-psychic’ internal conflict in LGBT issue.

… i think it might be better to avoid getting stuck in the details.

I’d rather get out this cycle. But if i don’t, all i want is the best (or a very good) opportunity to do it as soon as is convenient. - i don’t want to explain what i mean by “convenient”. It will be simple when it’s simple, i think.

Hi @kerta, I’m sure you don’t mean any disrespect, but in this post thread I think it’s very important to listen to and prioritise LGBTQI voices and experiences.

Being lesbian, gay, bi, trans etc is not the results of

It is not a problem in this life either, except that some other people and societies make it so.

LGBTQI people are NORMAL. Maybe not as common as people who identify only as straight, but just as normal.
Straight people don’t get told that they are straight because of unresolved problems in their past lives!

Whilst Buddhism might not be as discriminatory as other religions, often ‘kamma’ is used in the same way to marginalise or ‘other’ LGBTQI people. Kamma has also been used to explain why women are born in a supposedly ‘lower’ status.

The Buddha condemned the caste system, which imposed rigid social roles on people under the guise of kamma. Similarly, the reason trans and gay people experience conflict is not because of something innate, but because of the rigid roles society has placed around gender and sexuality.


@ERose It’s not about getting stuck in details though, it’s about available options. They are right there in the early discourses and their parallels.

@Kerta Deeds (Kamma) are actually a complex thing. Unless someone actually possesses the power to recollect past lives, it’s really not possible to tell what a person did before in their previous lives. Therefore, it’s not possible to say about “unfinished problems in one’s past lives”. Besides, things that happen in our lives aren’t caused by deeds alone. There are other things that can cause something to happen to us as well.

As far as I know, from both the Chinese Agamas and Pali Nikayas, there isn’t any discouse that supports the notion that LGBT people come to be because of “unfinished problems in one’s past lives”.

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@Akaliko and @thenoble, I accept your correction. Forgive my mistakes. I just want to say that, ‘Past’ certainly have an effect to the ‘Present time’, but how does it work, the Buddha said it’s ‘Acintya’ ( unthinkable or inconceivable ). Thank you for your correction…


Thanks to all of those who have contributed to my enlightenment. As a Transwoman born in 1951- not the most enlightened period for a Trans woman-I did indeed have some unusual psychic awareness of being born into the "wrong’ form based on what I saw in the mirror. I would stand in front of the mirror and wonder to my inner self "Oh my, how I get in here. This is wrong. This is a huge mistake!"It was much like have a dissociative, out of body experience which persisted throughout much of my childhood.

Now having become a Buddhist, I have come to think of my gendered experience as a lesson in the ways that both genders suffer differently. Is it possible that we choose different incarnations to experience a specific kind of suffering?


That makes perfect sense. Thank you.


I think this is the journey that we all have to navigate.

And it’s not always about gender identity - it can be whatever we take to be ourselves; whatever has become, for whatever reason, really important for us to put our focus on. For me, gender identity wasn’t a major focal point. Important to a point but not something that stressed me out or shaped my journey. But there have been other things that have shaped who and what I take myself to be.

And it’s always - so it seems to me - a case of accepting how we are, how we feel and how we can sing in this world with grace…I mean, how we can express ourselves in this world. Because to exist is to express ourselves - whether we want to or not. But sometimes it feels like we actively choose and set a particular direction and other times it feels like we are in the flow of a stream that can feel stronger than ourselves.

For me it is about finding that place where I acknowledge what I am and have love viewed through the Dhamma. But it’s also about allowing this to disappear and recognising that it can and does - sometimes when I deliberately focus on something else, and other times - in it’s own sweet time.

I think, I don’t know, after a while…we stop caring about what we take ourselves to be. Because we realise, eventually and over time too perhaps, that these things pass… They are as unreliable as the wind. Only, for me, the things I still identify with, no matter how much I might tell myself on an intellectual level that they are “not-self”, don’t feel like the wind…they feel like the earth when heavy machinery has driven over it - unyielding and compacted!

I think what you’ve described is a normal part of the journey. Resolution comes…but I think only in bits and pieces and gradually and one day completely…I hope! But in the mean time, I’m trying to encourage myself to relax about it because it’s just a normal part of the journey…and if anatta is true…then it means all I can do (as all the wonderful teachers say) is put the causes in - make the wholesome kamma - and the results will come at a time when the kamma ripens. And not because of “me”, not because of some (mis)perceived atta.

I guess the thing with the process of dependent origination - as far as my limited intellectual understanding goes - is that it is essentially a process that demonstrates the nitty gritty of how craving works from life to life. The Ignorance of not completely understanding (in a visceral, experiential, deeply, widely, clear, clear, clear way) the 4 Noble Truths etc. mean we continue to crave and create sankharas, make kamma and experience/feel (contact/vedana) the results.

Perhaps this also means that craving can be used as a servant of the 8 Fold Path. For craving is intrinsic to what we are. We can’t get rid of it until the end or close to the end. So we may as well use the thing; we may as well use what we are, or rather that aspect of ourselves that is so elementally essential to us - at least until we see through it.

For me, these days, this is what Right Intention is about. Setting your intention within the parameters of the 3 facets of Right Intention (or Right Thought as Bhante Sujato translates it) is very powerful. And it ties in with the Buddha’s teachings on the 4 Iddipadas; chanda , the first iddipada, is about giving your consent to cultivate your mind in a particular direction - that’s how I have heard it translated by Ajahn Brahm many years ago - I think…it was a while ago now!!

Anyway, I think it’s about setting your intention. Interestingly, to put your “chanda”, in Singhalese, means to cast your vote - to give your vote to the direction you want a particular election to go. (Though I like Bhante Sujato’s translation of “enthusiasm” too. If you’re enthusiastic, you kind of head in a particular direction…sort of naturally… I dunno, for me, it makes sense for it to link in with setting one’s intention clearly, using the craving we’re all teeming with anyway (!!) for the purpose of cultivation of the wholesomeness of the 8 Fold Path.)

So for me, when it comes to accepting or letting go of identity. It’s best not to ask myself what I should do. Rather, if I’m approaching the matter from within Right Intention - and it leads me to feel more peace and love towards myself and others…then that’s the way to go. And I think being present is really important - that way you take each situation as it comes and only focus on it if there’s a real need to. I mean, if I’m peacefully going along, I’m not going to drag my identity issues into focus because, well, I figure suffering/trouble will find me anyway, I ain’t gonna go looking for it!!! Not deliberately/intentionally anyways!

Sorry…so rambly!! But thanks Rosie for sharing your very real, honest, heartfelt concerns about your Practise. :anjal: I hope my response/sharing is helpful and if not - please do just leave it aside.

With metta


Dear Kay, I LOVE your rambling. Thank you so much. Please don’t ever stop rambling.

I sometimes wonder how different the character of suffering is for people who are born normally gendered. I am certain that being a man or a woman does contain its own unique brand of difficulties.
This Trans life is like having a limited view into the suffering of both genders, and another kind that involves being outside the normal paradigm.

What an apt description: And gender definitely feels compacted for most people. But for me part of the problem was that I realized early in life that gender was conditioned, but the rest of the world took it pretty seriously.

I guess I need to do my learning about DO because I thought that it referred to a relational development of all cause and effect…the concept that nothing exists autonomously, and that all causes are the effects which become the cause. I admit to being rather ignorant of so many things as a BN
[ Buddhist Newbie] that I welcome correction, and will do more research.

Very well said. I try to do this also.

I know that you are referring to your own perspective. I just wanted to say that my gender, as ambiguous as it was, was not a problem for me. But apparently the rest of the world had a huge problem with it, and in many cultures still do. It is the continuuing expectations of a world mired in illusion which demands duality…polarity that causes temporary suffering in so many non-conforming people.

Most helpful, and appreciated. Thank you, with Love!


Beautifully put. :slight_smile:

It’s one of those topics I need to read about or hear about again and again… I think I’ve sort of got some kind of an intellectual handle on it…but honestly, that’s all it is!

I can only imagine and use my own experiences in attempting to interact with the world to try and understand what it must have been like…

I imagine you as being like a member of the French Resistance!! :slight_smile: Or perhaps sometimes being someone wanting to feel a sense of belonging…

It must have been painful… I’m sorry you or anyone else would have to suffer through the lack of something that could so easily have been offered to you: community, belonging and acceptance.

Thank you so much!! :hibiscus:

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Hello again, and I don’t know where you are or what time it is there, but I sure do appreciate you being here with me. And I want to say something that I may not have made clear before. My continuing emphasis on gender as a primary condition and cause for suffering is not meant to describe only my suffering regarding gender roles. My attention to this is to increase awareness regarding the violence still applied to those people who are still very vulnerable to the forces of hate which still exist in so many places.

Thank you my friend, and PEACE.


Hi :slight_smile: I’m in Australia and it’s pretty late! So I’m off to bed soon…

French Resistance :wink: And good on you :slight_smile: :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

And to you too Rosie :heartpulse:


Yes, many things are right there.
"Furthermore, take a mendicant who has faith, ethics, learning, generosity, and wisdom. They think: ‘If only I might realize the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life, and live having realized it with my own insight due to the ending of defilements.’ They realize the undefiled freedom of heart and freedom by wisdom in this very life. And they live having realized it with their own insight due to the ending of defilements. And, mendicants, that mendicant is not reborn anywhere.”

That is what the Buddha said. Satisfied, the mendicants were happy with what the Buddha said. "

Craving for rebirth in any circumstance seems to be… craving. Cultivating craving seems to be the path to suffering.

edit: links adjusted to conform to SCd&d interface.

@ERose “Cultivating craving seems to be the path to suffering.” is only half correct. I will PM you instead since this is off-topic.

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