It just happens

Paul McHugh of John Hopkins argues that the gender treatment of young trans kids will come back to haunt their therapists in the years to come. He states that these young people, who presumably transition down the line thanks to misguided help, will eventually realize they have made a mistake thus proving that gender reassignment is the wrong approach to take. Ironically he uses the example of David Reimer who was reassigned as female without his consent and not told he was born a boy until much later.

If anything the flawed work of John Money proves that there is indeed such a thing as a gendered brain and whether we have a penis or not our brains know very well what gender we are very early on. Had David Reimer not suffered a botched circumcision, he would have been raised as the normal boy that he always felt he was.

But if the brain is gendered at birth then what about those kids who believe their identity is somehow in opposition to their birth sex?

The reference to McHugh’s essay was contained in a May 29th article in the Weekly Standard by Charlotte Allen who takes the same route as McHugh. Not surprisingly the Standard is a conservative (right wing) publication which panders to a type of audience who is more susceptible to believe that gender variance is a form of mental illness and Ms Allen does not disappoint as she serves up the same old suspects. Blanchard, Bailey, Lawrence, Alice/Richard Novic, Alice Dreger, Andrea James and Lynn Conway are all trotted out in the article as she does her best scribe the reader’s digest version of the history of gender variance and the transgender community’s plot to discredit those who see their plight as mental illness. She clearly leans in that direction herself.

It is no secret that Michael Bailey’s use of offensive and derogatory language is his 2003 book “The Man who would be Queen” raised the ire of Andrea James and others who saw it as an affront to their plight and an attempt to discredit and marginalize an entire community.

All of this only reinforces what I have seen my entire life: people being people and defending their interests. Some are likeable and some are not and all have a stake in this issue and defend their point of view with the type of passion that extensive experience brings. The problem of course is that this issue is like picking up a pile of sand and watching it bleed between your fingers; there is simply a pile of inconclusive dead ends to deal with.

I always prefer to give more weight to the person who has actually experienced gender dysphoria for themselves, so while Andrea James, Lynn Conway, Anne Lawrence and Alice Novic may not all be on the same page nor on the same place in the transgender spectrum, at least they have first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to desire to be the sex you were not born as.

The transgender umbrella concept may have confused the public a little because what we used to call “classic transsexualism” has been included alongside different types of gender variance and non conformity and even fetishism. Some of this is the fault of Blanchard who insisted on a sexual motivation for his two types of transsexualism.

But times and definitions change and so do the people who suffer from gender dysphoria. For example, we are now seeing gynephilic transsexuals transitioning younger than they used to as the public intolerance for gender non conformity is relaxing and the education on the subject increases. You will find some of these transitions chronicled on YouTube.

Regardless of whether the transgender condition is rooted in mental illness or not, it must be reckoned with and there are plenty of examples of happily adjusted transgender women out there to prove that transition works for many if not all. What hurts the activists most is that in entrenching and formalizing this as an accepted theory is that it stigmatizes and indirectly lays blame at the doorstep of the transgender person. It’s the same type of thinking that plagued the gay and lesbian community when it was still seen as a lifestyle choice: “it’s all in your head and you can change” was the underlying message.

One thing is for certain: no one wakes up one day and says “I’m going to be transgender”. It just happens.

The article can be read here.


Comments

  1. No one, it doesn't JUST happen! Well said! My hat is off to you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. A well written post...as usual.
    Pat

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