Body Integrity Identity Disorder Helps Me Understand My Transgender Partner (Mental Stress Of Having Unwanted Limb)

Transgender brains are a hot topic nowadays, but I never thought that researching concerning this topic would lead me to an issue of body integrity identity disorder which kind of come as awful to me, questioning how these people think.

Due to social norms and constraints, folx from queer and trans communities are typically compelled to examine their gender and sexual/romantic identities far more often than people who identify as straight or cisgender. — Kate Stewart, PhD



At first, I find it hard to understand how my marriage fell apart after my husband admitted to me that he has a gender identity crisis since childhood.  It never came to me that the man who I looked up to as very compassionate and full of wisdom was struggling inside in our ten years of marriage.  Until one day, at the height of the LGBT issue, he came to me and revealed who he really is.  It was so hard to accept that fact, but I wanted him to be happy as always.


Curious if it is true that transgender feels like being trapped in a body that is not meant for them, I googled it, and I came across this disorder that caught my interest, the apotemnophilia.


What Is Body Integrity Identity Syndrome?

First came to the surface in 1977 in an article by Gregg Furth, a psychologist, and Dr. John Money, an expert on sexuality.   They first considered it to be sexually oriented but later described to be quite like that of a condition called “acromotophile” or merely sexual arousal due to a partner’s amputation.


Apotemnophilia or body integrity identity syndrome left me in quite a shock because of a person’s bizarre and extremely extraordinary mental condition where he would want to cut his limb despite being in a perfectly healthy state.


Professors of psychiatry had encounters with individuals who did this to themselves, and even they find this action as something that is beyond what is typically accepted by society.  Experts may have given it different names, but one fact remains, it is the person’s rejection of his own body and desperation to have it removed.

One thing that can be somewhat misconstrued is that sexuality is at the top of how identity and personality are constructed. While sexuality is undoubtedly important in shaping who we are, there are other things that we might not even realize that impacts who we are more. — Konata Stallings, PysD

Alien Limb Feeling – Brain Connection

DSM-V is still not considering BIID as an official disorder, but some people have shown signs of desiring to have their healthy limbs amputated as they feel strange having that limb in their bodies.  It is of significance to note that these individuals are perfectly fit with perfectly healthy body parts.


These individuals claimed to have this odd feeling since childhood, but are said to have passed neuropsychological testing and neurological status examination.




Further reading, I found an article on a  study that was performed in 13 individuals with the use of MRI, focusing on the parietal lobe.  The brain of controlled subjects reacted when the limb was tapped, and the response was registered in the parietal lobe showing a normal parietal lobe activation when the skin was touched.  But with the individual with BIID, there is no reaction.  Because there was no response in the right parietal lobe, the experts suggested that it could be a brain malfunction as the patient’s neurological body map is incomplete, which means that the patient’s brain is telling him that his affected limb is not there.  The result of the study may be entirely convincing but is not yet conclusive.


David Openshaw Felt Better After Losing His Leg

There were documentaries regarding this, a short film Bodies in Irreversible Detriment released in February 2014, and I even watched a YouTube video about a man from Sidney, Australia.

David Openshaw, a computer technician and a father of four, felt like his leg does not belong to him.  He is perfectly healthy mentally and physically, except that law not allowing him to have his limb amputated caused him to feel a bit depressed.   He wanted to have his unwanted leg below the knee amputated since his childhood and even tried to have it infected, but it recovered.  He finally succeeded when he froze his unwanted limb into a bucket of chemical which he called ice at a temperature below 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  His partner rushed him to the hospital upon seeing what he did.  The doctors were hopeful he would recover, but he did not, leaving the doctors no choice but to amputate the legs.

The once functional leg had become a lethal limb that his physicians removed.  But after the amputation, Dave confirmed that he never felt this complete and happy.  Even his psychiatrist who was worried about him saw him having no regrets amputating his legs and also looks much happier, no longer feel like a misfit.

We used to classify people as men and women, or boys and girls. In today’s world, though, how sex and gender plays out in individuals’ lives is much more complicated than it once was. — Amanda Rose Ph.D.

BIID is said to be equally similar to gender identity disorder, which is now widely accepted.  Researching more on this body integrity identity disorder made me recognize the reality of gender identity disorder and urged me to understand my husband’s condition to heart.  It is not something he wanted to do intentionally, but something that is with him since his birth.  He tried to fight it off but going against what he feels left him depressed, and that’s not how I wanted to see in him.   I wanted him to be happy and live his life to the fullest which he rightfully deserved being a good man himself.

It may be shocking and feels odd to me at first, but deep learning and studying allowed me to embrace the reality in the case of my transgender husband and the people who are suffering from people’s judgment.   Understanding and acceptance are what these individuals with such condition needs, not pity nor rejection.