Changing Genders, Changing Buddhists


The immortal one has two sexes, in the embryonic symbolic state, like the statues built by the Greeks, a small penis and a vulva cut.
The fetus of a human child has both sexes together on the 10th day of gestation, in the mother’s tummy.
How can I say this is a man and this is a woman?
How can I make sex differences?
How can I criticize taste and tendencies?
Do things with love, and then you can do everything well and in Good.
I do not make categories, I do not divide, I reabsorb in me every thing and person. So as I think I create it and then I take it back in my chest.
Nobody overhangs me, nobody teaches me. Yet I transcend everything and everyone.
So it is the Just, who thinks but not with the mind, so it is just because it is beyond the dualism of good and evil, good and evil, beautiful and ugly, beyond any category and criticism, any over division between this and that.
Why? Because this and that are identical and only person, One Person… True Person.


I just want to say thank you to all the queer people participating in this thread and discussing a really important issue. The binary Vinaya is one of my own impediments for wanting to ordain (I have others because I have samsaric attachments, but I digress).

I actually didn’t list my gender in my profile on here, because I was afraid of my identity as non-binary could become an obstacle to being allowed to ordain down the road if I was out in a buddhist forum like this one. To see monastics open to the idea is also why I am coming out on this forum as non-binary. And I do use they/them pronouns in English. Though I do lazily go by “il” and “ele” in France and Brazil because it is more difficult to escape the binary language in romance languages.

I have no idea if I would be more comfortable ordaining in a Bhikkhuni or Bhikkhu monastery if I ever cross that bridge. I personally would love to see a bhikkhun non-binary ordination lineage. But, the traditionalist in me feels awkward just inventing a Vinaya. I do think being in an all cis-male environment would be more difficult due to my sexual attraction towards men and because I honestly feel more comfortable around women and queers than cis-men. But I also feel awkward intruding on safe spaces for women. And, well, I also do identtify with both genders…

Anyway, just want to say thank you for bringing up this topic of conversation and making me feel safe to be out on this forum. And thanks to all the other LGBTQI folks on here for doing some of the hard emotional labor in responding to the questions by some of the cis-straight people on here.


:pray: Sadhu!
Thank you so much for your lovely post. Never be afraid to be who you are.


Greetings, and thank you for raising this topic again. As many people here know, I am a post op Trans…Two Spirits woman who struggles with

And I don’t recall having been asked questions regarding my gender or sexual preference by anyone here. But that could be because I write a volume or two at a moment’s notice regarding my Trans World experience. If you search my name on this site you will find numerous examples of my exhaustive descriptions of my attempts to try to integrate what seems to be a very binary Buddhism into a very non-binary life. I am so happy to hear from you, and applaud your brave inquiry into this subject. I do and will support you in anyway I can.
With Metta


Oh darn I accidentally deleted my post and can’t get it back. Help?


It’s been put back. :slight_smile:


Dear Kay…I miss you and your wisdom. May you be liberated wherever you are now. Love, Rosie


Hi, I tried to resist but I gotta jump back in to say that this statement is not accurate. While it is a popular position of many on the 'liberal, progressive side", my experience tells me different. In order for this to be accurate, we would have to be able to separate nature from nurture and of course that is impossible.

This statement, which refers to another persons study, seems to present a duality of vague and unproven assertions. Gender and birth , based on my introspective exploration, seem inextricably intertwined. From my personal experience as a person born in between those to fields of assignation, I am very interested in the formula used to make that declaration.

This most definitely was a persistent dream throughout my childhood.

This is why I love Buddhism, and the consciousness of those who practice it. There is no other world religion whose view supports the human being without judgement, or hierarchical power…even though sexism still technically continues to dominate within actual Buddhist institution.

Much gratitude to Vimala for the compassion required to reference and write this liberating perspective. I really appreciate that.



Please permit me to ask: What is it about your experience of gender that tells you that the experiences of others are wrong? Why in your view can it not be the case that different people have different but still legitimate experiences of gender? What about this is “of course” impossible? This claim to me sounds much like a blind person declaring that “of course” sight is impossible. I personally would not be so quick to say a thing like this.


Well, thanks for asking. I do not intend for any of this to be interpreted as arrogant, or condescending. Nor did I characterize this as being “wrong.” I do however stand on my assertion that the theory must remain theory as it has not, nor can it be proven as a reality. But the answer to your question is that the following quote

is theoretical, and my position or argument is based on my early experience as a young trans person born in 1951 before there was any theory at all. Is that good enough, or would you argue that both the the theoretical and the experiential hold equal value?

Furthermore I remain open to any argument that would prove my stance incorrect.


I suppose I am uncertain quite what your stance is, then. The only thing I had intended to suggest to you was that all individuals’ self-reports regarding how they experience gender belong to a similar category: they are all phenomena that are experienced directly by exactly one person, and no more. As such, no one’s experience can invalidate anyone else’s. This even includes, for example, data showing general tendencies or constellations of traits. The fact that one person experiences such a constellation as real (for them), or as “self,” says nothing about what others experience.

To get right to the point: It’s common to experience and to think of gender as a duality, but not everyone has this experience or this idea.


As I read the exchange, the statement that was being disputed was not a statement of one individual’s experience, but was a generalization about the experience of gender - a claim about everyone’s experience. The disputation of a generalization is not the disputation of any individual’s experience.

In my own experience, biology, especially the experience of bearing children, has certainly been a factor in my gender identity. So I agree that it goes too far to say that biology has no role, for anyone, in gender.


Do you believe that transwomen should be welcome in women’s spaces? If you believe that transwoman ought to be welcome in women’s spaces, and reject T.E.R.F. (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) dogma, then you should also believe that gender is a social construction.

Otherwise, transwomen do not belong in women’s spaces, as gender is not merely a social construction, but is biologically determined.


Exactly. To say that gender is socially constructed is merely to say that the material world has for humans the meanings that are attached to it. What is a pig? To people who maintain halal or kosher dietary practices a pig is not food. To other people a pig is a source of food. What is food? Food includes material objects that can be digested by the human body that are also socially constructed as food. For any one human being, eating is a personal experience. From a single human being’s perspective food is a material fact. That material fact, however, is socially constructed by groups of humans who deem it either as food or as non-food.

What is gender? For any one human being, gender is a personal experience. From a single human being’s perspective gender is a biological fact. That biological fact, however, is socially constructed by groups of humans who deem it as a variety of gendered identities.


After rereading some of these intelligent responses to my ‘slight return’, I have come to the conclusion that I too am uncertain of my stance which I believe is the only point I was trying to make. Again, because of the time and space into which I was born I can only refer to my experience which I will not belabor as I have done so in other related posts. So my comment was meant only to say that theoretically all identities including gender are constructed, but the degree to which is not and can not be known. If I am wrong, and proof does exist, I would love to know about it.

One thing that I believe can be said with certainty is that no one, including those who comfortably, and often radically espouse this theory of conditioned gender identity has ever been successful in DE-constructing their own gendered identity. So all of this remains theoretical.

This is an ‘either-or’ question which I cannot validate. Regarding the T.E.R.F. I know little and care less about their specific dogma as the politics of gender are mostly about power sharing . To accept their version of reality would be to validate a political position based on no proof.

Good point, but I don’t and never have thought of myself as a woman, nor does much of society, in general, view trans lives as valid. I have not been conditioned as an inferior or weaker sex. In fact one of the unfortunate aspects of having my penis voluntarily removed and replaced with a vagina, is not viewed as a validation of womanhood, but merely a denigration of my status as a former male. I never had a period, was never dominated by a man in a hetero relationship, never will give birth, and am generally not trusted to work in close proximity to children-based on some general suspicion about my motives, never objectified as a sex object etc. So my point is that I identify more with indigenous categories of ‘Two-Spirits’ or a third gender which defies the binary. I don’t need to adhere to the binary. I claim my own space in the social hierarchy. In fact, I think of my own identity as resting in that sublime place between Yin and Yang.

My point again is that I know as well as can be known-based on my experience- that the politicization of gender is an over-simplification of the unique confluence of pre-natal events that cause us to become the gendered beings we present.

I can say this unequivocally: sex hormones influence the expression and perception of gender identity in subtle ways that few people understand like trans people as the only group to have experience this drastic hormonal swing in real life. . But we still don’t know to what degree, or how much effect all of this has on gender-based personality.

There is a famous case from the Fifties involving the father of the ‘conditioned gender identity’ Dr. John Money, whose work eventually became a book by John Colapinto:

Briefly, this book documents the life of David Reimer, whose penis was ‘accidentally’ cauterized into a stub during circumcision. Dr. Money, who was revealed to be more of a pervert than an authentic researcher, decided to prove this theory that gender is merely a matter of social conditioning. So Reimer was given female hormones and raised as a girl…but never really became one, and despite the fact that it was kept a secret from him never felt like a girl…or even looked like a girl. When the experiment failed and Money was discredited, Reimer found out, and tried to create a life for his ‘felt’ gender, but failed and eventually killed himself.

So does this prove anything , or further muddy the water of gender identity. This sad case would seem to indicate that there is more to our gender than conditioning. To what degree these biological and social conditions interact, and influence who we become can not be determined. No evidence exists to prove that gender is solely a matter of conditioning.

What I have learned as a Buddhist is that all of this division and categorization leads to a greater sense of separation from the whole, and thus perpetuates our suffering. Far from liberating, identity is the concept that we all must discharge before finding liberation. In that respect we are all mired in ignorance, clinging and craving. Furthermore, I wish for the liberation of all humans regardless of identity. Thanks W/Metta.


The term T.E.R.F. was created around 2008 to be a derogatory slur. So, “their” dogma was created by opponents to transphobia prejudice, to characterize (?some?) separatist radical feminists.

Its originator finds the term’s usage “disconcerting. The Terf acronym has long since left that particular discussion (and me) behind, and been weaponised at times by both those who advocate trans-inclusion in feminist/female spaces, and those who push for trans-exclusion from female-only spaces. I have no control over how others use a word (as it has now become) that came about simply to save typing a longer phrase out over and over again - a shorthand to describe one cohort of feminists who self-identify as radical and are unwilling to recognise trans women as sisters, unlike those of us who do.”

It is a term originally designed to be offensive and repugnant, and happily adopted by anti-feminists as a useful weapon against feminism in general. A very loaded term. A strawman, with severely limited usefulness except for conflict.


Thank you for the education. And I sincerely hope that my comments were construed to be the antithesis of this destructive sort of politic of weaponizing memes and the divisive destructive effects they have on the consciousness of those who author or are swayed by them to engage in such arrogance and ignorance so harmful to those of us living non binary lives.

May we all escape our prison of identity, and realize the interconnectedness of all things. And Happy New Year to everyone! W/Metta!


Yes, this was clear to me.

To be clear - imo transphobia exists; is a problem for anyone wanting to eradicate defilements, or wanting peace and happiness for all. But fighting that doesn’t need that strawman imo.

"May we all escape our prison of identity, and realize the interconnectedness of all things. And Happy New Year to everyone! W/Metta! "

Yes! :slight_smile:


I took some time to read the entire thread and soak in the various opinions shared here. (Thank you to all!)

I know someone who is currently struggling with the desire to ordain but being non-binary presents an issue: should they become a monk or a nun? Interestingly enough they practice at a center that has both a monastery and a nunnery, and the sangha allowed them to try living in each area. As far as I know, the monastics mean well, but the issue at hand is neither space quite fits. What are they do?

I wonder if any monastics like @Akaliko or @Vimala have any thoughts on this? I don’t want to speak for them either, so I wonder if there are any resources that I could offer, too?


Congratulations for reading the entire thread! :trophy: This is the 100th post! :speech_balloon::speech_balloon::speech_balloon:

It’s really great to hear that you are thinking of your friends’ needs and being supportive.

I think Ven @Vimala is quite busy with teaching a retreat in NY at the moment but the Venerable is probably a good person for your friend to connect with on these issues.

It’s very reassuring to hear that your friend was able to stay with both monks and nuns - shows a progressive side of a usually conservative tradition. But still, we are faced with a binary Sangha which must be quite hellish for a non binary person, and this would become more apparent in a single sex environment, so maybe a mixed community would be good.

Institutional stuff aside, the most important thing for your friend is to have good companions in the spiritual life, people around them who listen and understand, who let them be who they are without judgement. With good friends, maybe a lot of the institutional stuff can be more endurable.

And they shouldn’t be afraid to try. Once they take the first step things may open up for them, and other opportunities or options might appear, so knowing that things change might take the pressure off finding a “forever home”, as a perfect place doesn’t really exist…

If they want to reach out to someone friendly, I’m not non-binary myself, but I am an ally and always happy to offer support in whatever way I can. :grinning: