A 34 year-old woman dreamed:
I dreamt I died, but really I was still alive, only I had a man’s body. When I looked in the mirror I saw my body, but everyone else saw a man’s body. I was no longer the person I was. I was extremely sad for I would no longer be a woman to people anymore. The men I’d been dating wouldn’t date me anymore. I was in a room getting dressed and trying on different clothes. I put on women’s clothes because to me I still looked like a woman. I went to my friend’s house. She said I looked cute but that I couldn’t dress like that anymore because now I was a man. She drove me to another woman’s house. That woman asked me to kill some bugs she was afraid of. One of the bugs looked like a tiny little woman. I pretended to kill it but actually let it go. They both saw me as a man and seemed to have more respect for me. They saw me as a leader.
The dream had a profound impact upon the dreamer. She described it as “horrible and exciting at the same time…I felt tremendous sadness about dying. I missed me and still wanted to be me on the outside…But towards the end of the dream I started to think, I can do this; this is actually what I wanted. This is what I wanted my whole life. I’ve always wanted to be a man and not have to worry about woman things…I’ve always wanted to be equal to a man…I don’t have to hide my body behind makeup anymore, because I can’t. I can cut my hair off which would save me so much time. I don’t have to worry about getting breast implants. I’ll feel more like I’m in control.”
The dream might lead some people to believe that this woman was born in the wrong anatomical body. You might assume that the dreamer should pursue sexual reassignment surgery. Such was not the case.
The dream was triggered by the fact that the dreamer was too attached to a feminine persona that was very constricting. A self-described tomboy when young, she adopted an extreme, one-sided, and oppressive view of what it means to be an attractive woman during her teenage years. This view was strongly influenced by the dictates of society expressed through advertising, glamor magazines, and her peers. For the next twenty years of her life a battle waged within her between her compulsive obedience to societal prescripts and her deeper self which wanted to throw off the chains of distorting and oppressive expectations.
This young woman needed to embrace the supportive masculine side of her personality that saw beauty in her just being herself, and which could give her the courage to be more assertive and respecting of her own individuality. The vicarious, dream-generated experience of being a man allowed her to expand her identity and explore behaviors and attitudes that had previously been off limits. Through the dream an opportunity was given for her to become a more complete and whole individual.
Had she viewed her dream or her impulse to “be a man” literally, had she pursued sexual reassignment surgery, she would likely have subverted the very process her psyche was trying to achieve, which was the rounding out of her personality through the conscious integration and development of her masculine potentials and perspectives. Such integration would, ironically, have added depth and strength to her femininity for she would be freed from a one-sided, socially groomed caricature of a woman.