Exploring Trans-Haumai

Exploring Transhaumai -The Trans Movement and the Quest for Identity

ਆਪਣੈ ਅਹੰਕਾਰਿ ਜਗਤੁ ਜਲਿਆ ਮਤ ਤੂੰ ਆਪਣਾ ਆਪੁ ਗਵਾਵਹੇ ॥
Āpṇai ahaʼnkār jagaṯ jali▫ā maṯ ṯūʼn āpṇā āp gavāvhe.
The world is consumed by ego and self-identity; see this, lest you lose your own self as well. Guru Amar Das


In recent years, the transgender movement has gained significant attention and sparked intense debates. While some argue that it is a legitimate expression of identity, there are others who view it as a mental disorder or an artificially constructed concept. This essay aims to critically analyze the trans movement from the perspective of Gurmat, which asserts that conditioned egoic-complex (haumai) and identity (ahankaar) are chronic diseases that cause human suffering. By drawing on Gurbani quotes, we will explore how the trans movement can be perceived as a manifestation of haumai.

Gurmat's Perspective on Haumai:

ਹਉ ਰੋਗੁ ਬਿਆਪੈ ਚੁਕੈ ਨ ਭੰਗਾ ॥
Ha▫o rog bi▫āpai cẖukai na bẖangā.
They are afflicted with the disease of egotism, and their faults are not covered up.

ਕਾਮ ਕ੍ਰੋਧ ਅਤਿ ਤ੍ਰਿਸਨ ਜਰੰਗਾ ॥
Kām kroḏẖ aṯ ṯarisan jarangā.
They burn in the fire of sexual frustration, unresolved anger and compulsive desire. (Guru Arjun Dev )

Gurmat teaches that haumai, (self-referening, a amplified  sense of separateness) is a disease deeply rooted within the mind, distinct from one's essential essence or consciousness. Guru Amar Das states, "Without the Guru (Cultivating Awareness), the disease is not cured, and the pain of egotism is not removed" (Guru Amar Das). This quote suggests that only by transcending egoic-complex and its constant driven desires can one find liberation from suffering.

The Disease of Ego and Trans Identity:

ਮਨ ਅੰਤਰਿ ਹਉਮੈ ਰੋਗੁ ਹੈ ਭ੍ਰਮਿ ਭੂਲੇ ਮਨਮੁਖ ਦੁਰਜਨਾ ॥
Man anṯar ha▫umai rog hai bẖaram bẖūle manmukẖ ḏurjanā.
Deep within the mind is the disease of ego; the self-willed manmukhs, the evil beings, are deluded by doubt.Guru Ram Das

Transgender individuals assert their identity by identifying themselves as a gender different from their assigned sex at birth. From the perspective of Gurmat, such identification can be seen as a manifestation of haumai because it involves attaching importance to one's physical form rather than self-inquiry or spiritual growth.

Guru Ram Das states, "Deep within the mind is the disease of ego; the self-willed manmukhs, the evil beings, are deluded by doubt" (Guru Ram Das). This quote points out that ego can delude individuals into believing they are someone other than who they truly are. Transgender identification, influenced by societal constructs of gender, may reinforce this attachment to the physical self, thereby preventing spiritual progress.

Moreover, Guru Amar Das describes ego as a "great disease" (Guru Amar Das), emphasizing its detrimental effects. It is essential to recognize that labeling the transgender identity as a mental disorder is not meant to stigmatize or invalidate individuals' experiences. Rather, it is an exploration of how Gurmat views this particular manifestation of haumai.

Challenges with Trans Identity and Haumai:

ਅੰਤਰਿ ਕ੍ਰੋਧੁ ਅਹੰਕਾਰੁ ਹੈ ਅਨਦਿਨੁ ਜਲੈ ਸਦਾ ਦੁਖੁ ਪਾਇ ॥
Anṯar kroḏẖ ahaʼnkār hai an▫ḏin jalai saḏā ḏukẖ pā▫e.
Anger and egotism are within him night and day; he burns, and suffers constant pain. Guru Amar Das

Identifying with a gender other than one's assigned sex can lead to various challenges. In Gurmat, haumai is considered a chronic disease, which implies that it is not easily overcome. Guru Angad Dev confirms this, stating, "Ego is a chronic disease, but it contains its own cure as well" (Guru Angad Dev). While there is acknowledgment that haumai can be recognised and transcended, it requires self-inquiry, conscious effort and disciplined practice.

Applying this perspective to the trans movement, one may argue that aligning oneself with a different gender does not address the core problem of haumai; rather, it may perpetuate a cycle of identifying with various external forms. Just as a physical ailment requires appropriate treatment, the spiritual ailment of haumai requires a conscious focus on inner transformation. This can be achieved by transcending gender identification (egoic complex) and cultivate awareness .

The trans movement has sparked significant debates worldwide, and discussions around its nature continue to evolve. By examining the movement through the lens of Gurmat, we have explored the notion of haumai and its relevance to the transgender identity. Gurmat teaches that haumai is a chronic disease that hinders self-realisation or spiritual growth.

While recognizing the complexities and challenges faced by transgender individuals, it is crucial to comprehend how Gurmat perceives the trans movement as another manifestation of ego attachment. This essay does not seek to undermine the experiences or struggles of transgender individuals, but rather offers a critical perspective rooted in Gurmat teachings.

The ultimate goal in Gurmat is to transcend ego and establish a connection with the divine presence within. By recognizing the trans movement as a manifestation of haumai, individuals can engage in a deeper dialogue that promotes self-reflection and encourages spiritual growth encompassing all identities.

Remembering Guru Amar Das's words, "Consulting the True Guru, he practices Truth and self-restraint, and he is rid of the disease of ego" (Guru Amar Das), we find guidance on how to navigate our journey toward liberation and healing from the disease of amplified self-referencing and self-absorbtion or the trans-haumai.