I’ve written elsewhere about finally feeling whole, and I think being whole has a lot to do with integrity, not just in some sort of metaphoric way, but in a literal and linguistic way. When engineers talk about structural integrity, they mean that all the parts work as they should and no parts have been compromised through damage or wear. Being whole in this way means the object is sound and strong, or is at least operating as well as it can.

Integrity is related to mathematics so that we can talk about integers, or whole numbers that are not divided.

Applied to our personalities, integrity means being a whole person, sound in judgment, honest, and trustworthy. If you have integrity, you don’t sneak around and say one thing to one party and something different to another party. You are whole and consistent, just as the machine in the first paragraph.

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished: to preserve the integrity of the empire.
3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition: the integrity of a ship’s hull.
c.1450, “wholeness, perfect condition,” from O.Fr. integrité, from L. integritatem (nom. integritas) “soundness, wholeness,” from integer “whole” (see integer). Sense of “uncorrupted virtue” is from 1548.

Integrate (the verb), then, is the action of bringing together disparate parts so that they function as a whole, and I feel integrated in two very important ways, self-integration and social-integration.

When I began my transsexual transition, I felt that my actions might harm me and others, but that I needed to do it to maintain my integrity, or my wholeness with myself. I felt extremely fragmented at the time, and by lying to myself and to others, certainly could not have been said to have integrity. What I have learned is that not only do I feel as if I have personally re-integrated my disparate selves, but that I have also become a more whole member of my community. No longer do I feel as if I’m standing apart of life’s rich feast, but am an integral part of my society.