What does body identity mean today?

When I was at university I wrote this feature article about Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID), described by me as “a medical condition whereby sufferers believe that their anatomical identity is not representative of the way they think they should look”. Although Wikipedia will give you this more direct definition.


I  came to this conclusion: elective amputation is not socially or medically accepted because disabled and non-disabled people are not considered equal.

Consider these two points:

  1. BIID is comparable to Gender Identity Disorder (GID). In both cases a person may want a different body that they consider more representative of who they are. Gender identity, fluidity and neutrality are becoming increasingly mainstream
  2. As a society we have no problem letting doctors tamper with our bodies if it means bigger breasts or a smoother face. We’ve also at times normalised drinking, smoking, obesity and lethargy – all of which are proven to be bad for your health

So why is changing your body or risking your health with an amputation such a shocker?

This is just one of the questions I’ll be exploring when I talk at How The Light Gets In Festival. Find me on stage at the Ring at 2pm on Thursday 2nd June.


*A note on this post: I’m not arguing for or against elective amputation. I’m a neutral observer who finds this a fascinating topic worthy of exploration.