Connotation

I read an article recently called “The raging battle over transgender kids.” Trigger warning if it wasn’t obvious. 

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/globe-debate/the-raging-battle-over-transgender-kids/article24333224/

In it there is a quote that states “The trans lobby has got us on the run,” 

Why does there have to be running? This is indicative of my problem with the article as a whole, not only are we represented as being hostile, essentially every argument it makes presumes being transgender is inherently negative, that heteronormative is the preferred. Take for example this fairly overt contradiction,

“They never tried to force my son into something he wasn’t,” one mother told me. Her son had been a hyper-anxious child since birth. In kindergarten he became obsessed with dressing like a girl. The CAMH therapists determined that anxiety, not gender, was the key issue, and advised the parents to discourage their son’s obsession with girls’ clothing. 

So not forced, but merely discouraged. The article goes on to describe the subject as now being a “well-adjusted young adult with a girlfriend and no interest in women’s clothes.”

Sigh. This speaks to my personal experience all too closely. I never had the nerve to stand up in the first place. When I was a child I found negative opinions towards gender non conformity to be palpable. No one had to discourage me from wearing women’s cloths, I discouraged myself. Given the reaction from my family when I came out it seems I did a pretty good job of presenting myself as a so called ‘well adjusted young adult.’ As if having a girlfriend and no interest in women’s clothing was the goal. 

Anyway enough politics, let’s move on to more interesting things. That is of course if you consider the trivialities of my day to day life to be interesting, which I personally do. I am perhaps becoming a little vain.

Monday evening I had tea with my mother, we had a lovely conversation and I really feel like she’s growing a lot more comfortable with my transition. Tuesday night I had had nice long talk with my cousin over the phone. She’s had her own challenges growing up and has become an incredible woman. Her support means the world to me. 

Wednesday I had a meeting with my counselor. They were glad to see that I was staying socially active. Working from home has certainly made transition a lot easier but it also runs a serious risk of isolation. Another significant aspect of working from home is that I rarely come face to face with the people I work with. Rarely.

Yesterday I went into the office for a day of training. My previous training session was a small class consisting entirely of people on my team, which I’ve come out to via email. Thursday’s training was more general, which meant a large class of people I work with, but none of whom knew I was trans, this included our teacher. 

I was presenting full female, and looking pretty good if I do say so myself. Actually a lot of people said so, including the teacher. So yes it seems I am somewhat vain. Anyway when I first arrived the teacher had no idea, then it came time to write our names down. On big pieces of paper that are taped to the back of our monitors. 

I’ve been with the company for seven years, and this teacher was the one who oversaw my initial training. I was actually a member of the first class they taught for the company. So they remember me, and there was a moment of absolute confusion when they looked at my name, then up at me, then back at the name and proceeded to stare at it for several seconds. I smiled sheepishly and said hi.

On break they approached me and admitted to not recognizing me, which I took as a compliment 🙂 They used the word beautiful, I may have blushed. Definitely vain. As I’ve said in the past I work for a pretty great company, and very much appreciate how lucky I am. 

Last night I had dinner with my aunt and things went wonderfully. I feel she was very receptive of what I had to say about being trans. The food was good and the conversation was deep and cathartic. We parted with great big hug, and since then I’ve felt the best I have in a long time 🙂

I’m more than a little surprised at how smoothly things seem to be going for me. Easy is not a word I would use but my recent experience goes to show that a supportive community makes a world of difference. I’m going to pull another quote from the above article, 

‘But Dr. Bradley cautions that transition is a radical step – involving surgery and a lifetime regime of hormone therapy – and that the road, under the best of circumstances, is rocky. “The child is going to find himself in a really difficult situation,” she points out. “You can argue that it’s society that should change. But despite all the in-betweens that are emerging, we are a two-gender society.”

The problems faced by the LGBTQIA(etc…) community are entirely systemic, when people are accepting and kind there doesn’t seem to be any problem at all. 

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8 thoughts on “Connotation

  1. I’m happy your company is so nice to you! I’ve always imagined working from home as well, and my interests might even allow me to, but it’s a bit of a far-fecthed idea from reality, given my family quandry.

    I’m just happy for how things are going so well for you, given the general expectation of rockiness.

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  2. I don’t feel that your critique of the article is quite fair.

    “Why does there have to be running?”

    According to the article, they feel “on the run” because the transgender lobby is pressuring them to restrict the kinds of treatment they may offer.

    “not only are we represented as being hostile”

    You’re being represented as hostile because you’ve been acting in a manner which the clinic perceives as hostile to the way it conducts itself, which it believes is legitimate and valid.

    “So not forced, but merely discouraged.”

    If you read the quote in context, it’s not the wearing of girl’s clothing that was to be discouraged, but the “obsession” with wearing girl’s clothing: “The CAMH therapists determined that anxiety, not gender, was the key issue, and advised the parents to discourage their son’s obsession with girls’ clothing.”

    “The article goes on to describe the subject as now being a ‘well-adjusted young adult with a girlfriend and no interest in women’s clothes.’ Sigh.”

    But isn’t it possible that he really is now a well-adjusted young adult with no interest in women’s clothes? If the diagnosis was correct, that his initial issue was anxiety and not gender, and his anxiety was dealt with, and now he’s fine, why assume that the real issue was gender all along?

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    1. So, conversion therapy is a hot button issue. First let’s establish what conversion therapy is, as much of the debate is semantic. Basically conversion therapy is therapy that is biased, in that it sees heteronormativity as the ideal outcome. The clinic feels their technique has been wrongly equated with conversion therapy, that they, “All work with the family and the kids to find the most positive outcome for the child.” I’m saying that’s a crock.

      Yes there’s pressure to change their practice but it’s for some very valid reasons, such as the increased risk of suicide and self harm, and those reasons aren’t mentioned at all. Struggling with identity can be very confusing at the best of times. Every argument the article makes is based around the presumption that heteronormativity is preferred without overtly stating as much. They attempt to disguise their negative opinion through verbiage.

      For example the distinction between “force” and “discourage”. The goal of each is the same, but when it comes to changing someones mind, discourage is considerably more effective than force. You say they didn’t have a problem with women’s clothes, only the obsession, to me that’s just word play. Any way you look at it this family does not want to see their child in women’s clothes.

      It’s possible this individual is now in fact a well adjusted young adult, it’s also possible they’re not. That’s the problem. I sincerely hope the kid is doing fine, but they’re just one patient, there are others and I can all but guarantee that some of them are only presenting as heteronormative because they feel that’s what’s expected of them. Sure the clinic states that their goal is to find the most positive outcome for the child, but they imply a positive outcome is having a girlfriend and no interest in girls clothes.

      Also the article is thoroughly laced with emotional triggers but that’s just click bait 101.

      I want to be clear that I support unbiased psychiatric care, it’s when the outcome is coerced that I see a problem.

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      1. Is it possible that you’re viewing the article from the perspective of an opposite bias?

        Here is the whole paragraph about the girlfriend and no interest in girl’s clothes:

        “‘They never tried to force my son into something he wasn’t,’ one mother told me. Her son had been a hyper-anxious child since birth. In kindergarten he became obsessed with dressing like a girl. The CAMH therapists determined that anxiety, not gender, was the key issue, and advised the parents to discourage their son’s obsession with girls’ clothing. Today, he is a well-adjusted young adult with a girlfriend and no interest in women’s clothes. The mother, who describes herself as ‘quite liberal’ says she would have supported gender change if that had been the right thing to do.”

        First, note that they say the kid had been “hyper-anxious” since he was born. Presumably at the time he was born he didn’t exhibit any preference for either boys’ or girls’ clothes — but he did exhibit high levels of anxiety right from the start.

        Then it says that in kindergarten he became “obsessed” with dressing like a girl. They don’t go into detail about what made them characterize it as an “obsession”. However, if we’re to read the article from an unbiased perspective, we need to take their statements at face value, until we have contradictory information. Taken at face value, he was obsessed, and being obsessed with something, whatever it may be, is generally not considered healthy. So the parents, deeming him to be acting obsessively, took him to the clinic. The clinic’s therapists determined that the “key issue” with his obsession was anxiety — again, something he had suffered from since birth.

        Now, how are obsessions treated generally? Here is an article from Psychology Today on “Taming Obsessive Thoughts” [https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/two-minute-shrink/201006/taming-obsessive-thoughts]. The author describes a patient who was obsessed with the thought that “she was being destroyed by a plague of locusts”. How did he treat her obsession? One thing he did was that he “applied the practice of thought stopping. Thought stopping is a method in which the patient induces the thought that is so distressful and is then taught how to stop it.” Or to put it another way, he tried to come up with a method (or methods) of “discouraging” the obsessive thought.

        Now if the young boy was experiencing a genuine obsession, then it seems to me that trying to discourage the obsession using various methods and techniques is a valid pscyhological treatment. The treatment can only be considered wrong if you know that their diagnosis was incorrect. But you weren’t there. How could you know that?

        You write, “Sure the clinic states that their goal is to find the most positive outcome for the child, but they imply a positive outcome is having a girlfriend and no interest in girls clothes.”

        I don’t see any such implication. Taken at face value, the statement that he no longer has an interest in women’s clothes is simply a way of saying that his earlier obsession with women’s clothing had ended. It turned out to be a treatable condition, and was treated successfully. Now if you could find this guy and interview him, and discover that he still does harbor a desire to dress like a woman, but that he has been suppressing it for the past 15 years, to the point of feeling suicidal, etc., then you might have evidence that they treated him incorrectly. But as it is, you’re reading your preconceived bias against treating transgenderism into the story, and drawing conclusions that aren’t justified by the information provided.

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      2. I pointed out the contradictory information. I pointed out very clear signs of bias. I pointed out that this was one patient and even if they’re fine there’s reason to believe others aren’t. You talk about anxiety being the source of the problem, that’s a question of the chicken or the egg. Did they establish the source of the anxiety? It wasn’t mentioned in the article. My anxiety is down considerably since accepting myself, furthermore these things aren’t mutually exclusive, it’s possible for someone to have severe anxiety and also be transgender.

        As for my own bias, sure I’m personally biased due to circumstance but I’m not advocating transition. I’m saying is that the outcome should not be coerced, it’s something that simply is or isn’t, and currently none but the individual can determine this. Try to look past your own bias and think about what’s actually being said. The article is overtly against the idea of transition, whereas I’m saying a person shouldn’t be pressured, discouraged or otherwise persuaded one way or the other. Transitioning is an extreme step and should never be taken lightly, no one is saying otherwise. What we’re asking for is acceptance and understanding while we figure it out.

        You talk about thought blocking, I’m kind of an expert if I do say so myself. Helpful in some circumstances, not something you want to engage in 24/7. It is very stressful to mentally check every thought, word and action, something I did chronically for the better part of three decades. Do you know what stresses me the most these days? Having my identity questioned constantly by people who simply refuse to even consider the possibility that this is a real thing, who assume that we’re all crazy or lying, while totally disregarding the established facts. And if you don’t feel there are established facts regarding transgenderism then kindly go and do some homework. Check out my post titled Rhetoric if you like, it includes a number of helpful links.

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      3. “The article is overtly against the idea of transition…”

        My whole point is that I don’t think it is. We disagree.

        “I’m saying a person shouldn’t be pressured, discouraged or otherwise persuaded one way or the other”

        I think that is the real point of the article.

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