So maybe I’m spending too much time on the internet. I’m all for lively discussion but there comes a point in most conversations where everything there is to say has been said. There are some arguments that get thrown out again and again, despite being laughably uninformed. Here is my attempt to address some of the most common nonsense I see over and over again, trigger warning of course, as in this is bascially a list of my personal triggers.
I came across a really great article recently, it’s fairly long and quite up-lifting. That is unless one is foolish enough to read the comments. I should know by now never read the comments. But the comments do illustrate a problem, in that the article is a bit one sided. It focuses on a number of case studies but doesn’t mention a single one where the child went on to experience regret. Why is that important you might ask, well here is an exchange from the comments, it’s drivel and I’ve only included the bits I want to focus on, though out of respect though I’ve included the full quote at the bottom of my post.
“[…] I’m sure when research is done properly, it will be discovered that certain pressures in their upbringing has caused this. There is an interesting article on the net where a man felt he was really female and had it turned out that his grandmother had dressed him in girls clothes […]”
This is no doubt a reference to Walt Heyer. He is one of the more vocal detractors of transitional care. This commenter seems to think proper research hasn’t happened. The truth is this subject has been researched extensively from every angle imaginable. We are just now getting to the point where that body of research is large enough to hold serious weight. Still there is an awful (awful) lot of nonsense out that that persists, despite being thoroughly debunked. Since we’re on the subject let’s start with the writings of mr Heyer.
In short Walt Heyer was abused as a child, then later in life he decided he was transgender, and after transitioning he decided he wasn’t. He sees his personal experience as proof that transgenderism isn’t a thing, and that those who provide care and facilitation are in it for the money. Honestly this scares me, as I think it should. I’m still at a point in my transition where I could turn around, and I worry about crossing the threshold to where I can’t. Even so, the fact that not everyone who transitions is actually transgender doesn’t disprove the existence of trans people. If anything it reinforces the notion that gender really is innate and immutable. Sure some people are gender fluid, but that is a whole other conversation, the fact that gender identity cannot be changed is one thing that pretty much all parties agree on.
Oh and this brings me to my next point,
It’s impossible to change who you are
This is correct, and no one is saying otherwise. Moving on.
To quote Bender Bending Rodriguez, “The Bible says a lot of things, and not very clearly.” Another quote, and forgive me I can’t find the source, is that the Bible is not a moral cookbook. I would hope that everyone is familiar with the Dear Dr. Laura letter, which as I see it really should be the final word against using the bible to promote any kind of bigotry.
There is also a book titled ‘The Year of Living Biblically.’ An entertaining read that basically shows there are a lot of rules in the bible that most of us don’t even know exist. Another bit I really like is when George Takei points out that an anti-gay protesters is wearing a cotton and leather hoodie. One might argue that most of those laws were repealed by the church, i.e. a bunch of political leaders getting together and ditching the ones that simply didn’t make sense for the age. So yes that is a thing that happens, but it’s certainly not a new thing.
As I see it, if you’re going to be referencing the almighty you should also consider Matthew 7:2, basically if you’re going to use the bible as a reason to condemn someone, be aware that it’s your own head on the chopping block.
The concept of inappropriate comparisons is common practice among our detractors. I’ve seen all kinds of creative analogies, from superman to dinosaurs, one person I encountered mockingly claimed to be a semi-colon. I can see the appeal of this line of reasoning, it’s an opportunity to inject some humor into a… well frankly hateful line of reasoning. What people who use it don’t want to acknowledge that there is a biological basis for transgenderism.
This is not psychology, this is not opinion, this is well established and observable fact, rooted in physical evidence. We are all the same species, we are built from the same parts, if this wasn’t true then hormones wouldn’t affect us the way they do. Consider androgen insensitivity syndrome. No this is not the same thing as transgenderism, but it shows that hormone balance, not chromosomes, are what establish gender. Granted there is still a lot we don’t know, but in modern science the idea that chromosomes = gender is conclusively false. Suggesting that hormone levels in utero can affect our developmental path is not the same as suggesting a person can become a dog by thinking hard enough.
This point is entirely semantic, that is to say it centers on the interpretation of certain words, but holds no actual merit as an argument, regardless of how you choose to interpret those words. The word disorder was chosen because really what else were they going to call it? It was a clinical term, coined for the sole purpose of discussing the the condition well before it was fully understood. It was never intended to be pejorative, and when ignorant people began using it as such the term was changed. The only information relayed when you call transgenderism a mental disorder is that you are obnoxious.
Ugh. I hate the word. I hate the concept, and the implications, and the stupid jerk faces that suggest it. More than anything I hate the fact that on some level there’s at least a little truth to it. The thing is though, as an argument that’s ostensibly anti-trans, if it is true it does nothing but support the idea. Dysphoria is a feeling, that is to say it is the brain trying to communicate something. I think a lot of people have some misconceptions about the brain, notably that the conscious mind is their brain. No, it is only a part of the brain, and it is not in charge.
A person cannot stop their heartbeat by thinking about it. When injured we cannot stop the pain, we can distract ourselves, disassociate from our bodies (speaking as an expert), but we cannot remove it completely. If we stay up too late we will become tired, go all day without eating and we cannot help but feel hungry. If the brain wants something it makes sure we know it. It talks to us, and has all kinds of ways of doing so, arousal is just one of it’s many languages.
I am what some might call a late bloomer, in fact I’m still blooming, that is to say I’m not yet fully comfortable with my own sexuality. I mean I figured out pretty early that I like women, but I hated myself. I don’t know that I can explain that statement, this is something that never made sense to me, I just didn’t like my body, I didn’t like picturing myself in an intimate setting. As an awkward confession I used to practice suppressing erections, I didn’t understand why I did it at the time, I just didn’t like having them, especially when there were people around. What I learned recently is that I do enjoy my body as long as I am picturing myself as female, and this weirds the heck out of me.
Oh and here is the full quote from earlier. It’s pretty vapid but since I’ve quoted them I think it’s only fair to include the full statement.
“Having known a man who had gender reassignment surgery to become a “woman”, who used to say after being married and having 3 children, that he always felt like a woman inside, I ask the question “how do you know what a woman feels like inside?”
How does anyone know what the opposite sex feels like inside?? It is surely a very subjective thing and I’m sure when research is done properly, it will be discovered that certain pressures in their upbringing has caused this.
There is an interesting article on the net where a man felt he was really female and had it turned out that his grandmother had dressed him in girls clothes every time he went there unbeknown to his parents! He remembered asking her one day, “grandma, would you still love me if I was a boy?” Hmmm.”
The 11th Commandment
There are the ten famous rules. But in those rules there is a tacit eleventh. A proto-rule as it were. That is of course to know and follow the commandments. It seems obvious but to me it’s an important one to understand. It’s the one that unifies pretty much every religion in existence. Most religions, cultures and practices form their legal foundation on the basis of rules justified by their respective theologies.
Another unifying factor is that every single religion has rules that don’t make immediate sense but that we are required to follow nonetheless. Even if you’re among those who consider politics a religion. Especially so in fact, or you not know the story of George Washington? It’s a cool story actually. I was told it in detail while on a Sea Cadet exchange with an American Sea Cadet camp, good times, not related to where I’m going with this 🙂
My point is it’s very important to have rules that everyone knows and follows in order to foster a strong community. It’s just as important to remember those rules exist for the sake of the community, not the other way around. Part of the problem is that each individual interprets these rules differntly. I came across a quote recently, that goes as follows. Oh yea trigger warning btw :
“The truth is that God has created us male and female, and has made us with a soul and body that are inextricably linked to one another, their union forms a single nature. The body is not merely a shell encompassing my spirit […] The body is indeed, the physical manifestation of my personhood. It is truly me, along with my soul, and my identity as male or female is integral to who I am as a human person (Catechism of the Catholic Church 362-68, according to the person who wrote it to me)”
The irony is that I know exactly what this is attempting to communicate, this is coming from a position which implies transgenderism is wrong, by a person who is totally oblivious to the fact that the above quote in fact supports transition.
I do believe in a divine being. Let me state I am not here to proselytize, but rather clarify where I am coming from on this. I believe God is reality itself. Every spec of matter and energy and whatever else in all of creation, unified as a single entity, self aware and benevolent. There is no difference between soul and machine. The machine is the soul. Hmm even as I write that I recognize it sounds a bit out there, but I’m pretty sure it’s in line with biblical texts.
I have heard some purport the transgender community advocates an ‘anything goes’ attitude towards life and gender. I mean yes and no, this is more a semantical debate than anything. One can use the exact same set of words in the exact same order and still interpret it in different ways. To me an anything goes attitude means self regulating, but not interfering with others as long as there’s no harm being done. On the other hand I don’t literally believe ‘anything goes’ in all contexts. Going back to what I said about harm, some behaviors are problematic. Basically if something doesn’t cause problems, don’t worry about it. Actually stay calm in any case, worrying isn’t all that helpful.
And these days I have some fair experience with that. I’ve been going in for regular blood work these last two weeks. My potassium levels were high so I was told to google a list of foods to cut back on. The last I heard from my doctor my levels were good and I was ok to increase my dosage of spironolactone to 150 mg, then after two weeks of that I just yesterday went up to 6mg of estradiol. Emotions are good, though mood swings are increasing. The mood swings may be due to other factors, personal stuff.
As for physical changes my hair is growing nicely, it now sticks out visibly from my neck in the mirror, there is hair beneath my ears 😀 otherwise few visible changes, but my chest is recently achy and sensitive, which I understand is a positive sign.
On the social front I attended a Wednesday night session at my church on the book of psalms, which was open to anyone. It was quite nice. Everyone there is incredibly open and supportive, and I truly believe God has brought me to this place. It was clear the host had done their homework on appropriate verbiage. It’s rare and refreshing to have people not fumble over their words around me these days.
I was at a party recently, and the subject turned to orange is the new black. One person in the conversation found themselves unintentionally quoting Lorna Morello (Yael Stone) in trying to say that they liked Sophia Burset (Lavern Cox), without knowing the name, and could apparently only rember the phrase, “Lady man.” It was awkward, but oddly sweet.
The event a birthday party for two longtime friends of mine, one was a former room-mate. There was a BBQ at one of their houses, then the girls took a limo to the strip club, and yes I was invited 😀 Speaking of worry I was rife with it for the weeks leading up. Oh and let me back up a little more, prior to that BBQ was a work BBQ. In a park, on a very warm summer day, 35 C. Then out of absolute nowhere it starts to hail. Let me back up a little more, this was the first time many of my work acquaintances saw me in full makeup and a dress. So back to the hail, unpleasant.
Soaked and trembling from cold and stress, I arrive at a party populated by everyone from long time friends to total strangers. I brought some wine which I was later told was very nice, the clerk at the liquor store ID’d me, and was totally casual about it. When it came time to take the limo I was asked if I would be attending, and was genuinely giddy. The group of us got to the club and an attendant was there to greet the birthday girls. Once again the person IDing me was absolutely chill 🙂 The club istelf though was like, all of the dysphoria triggers, every one of them. I stayed for all of about ten minutes.
Recently I went out for a Karaoke night with Matron, and once again had a blast. I mentioned in an earlier post that the first time I went they were renovating and practically empty, so the manager who showed us around. Well in early June I went to Vancouver to visit my cousin. One night we went out on the town and eventually came to a place called 1108 where they were hosting a drag show.
I was very not-sober at this point, and I saw this guy through the crowd who looked exactly like the manager at the bar in Calgary. As in I was almost certain it was the same guy. Almost, and I was more than a little drunk, also the lighting was terrible, also also I am very, very very very socially awkward at times. Though getting better.
Anyway I kept trying to glance at him, trying to decide if it was him or not, while also trying not to appear as if I was hitting on him. So now Karaoke adventure with Matron and sure enough there is the manager working the bar. I ask him “Hey, were you in Vancouver in early June?”
And he stops a moment, and says, no.. no wait yes, And that was you, at 1108! We were giving each other the weirdest glances all night.”
😀 … anyway.
So in my last entry I talked about wanting to hear the opinion of people who had transitioned, realized they were not actually trans, but decided to stay. Just the other day I came across such an perspective, trigger warning to be sure. Another note is that the article itself is published by the Advocate and very clearly biased against the individuals in question.
The primary subject of the article is a self described ex-trans, AFAB. The article uses male pronouns to describe them. This person expresses a great deal of ire towards doctors and mental health professionals who encourage or otherwise support transition, and claims they are financially motivated. I must admit I feel genuine sympathy for this individual, though their anger is misplaced. They do raise a very valid concern when it comes to transgender children.
As a person who felt from a very young age that I was female I fully believe it is possible for a child to know their own identity. I also know that not everyone who believes they are trans actually are. It’s a complex thing, and I think the best way to deal with it is to simply let a person figure it out for themselves without any kind of coercion one way or the other. For much of human history the stigma was so intense that the only people who transitioned were those that felt incredibly certain about their true identity.
The reality is there are at least a few people who transition at a young age go on to realize it was a mistake later in life. It happens now, and as people become more comfortable with transition it’s going to happen more often. Personally I feel that puberty blockers represent the least harmful solution to this dilemma. When to start actual HRT is a question beyond me, 14-16 maybe, depending on the individual. Surgery really should be an over 18 thing, painful as that may seem, and again every individual is different. If a person really wants surgery at a younger age well… yet again the question is beyond me, but I would advise against it.
So I’ve been pretty lax in my writing these days. A lot of my time has been spent disconnecting. The rest of my time has been spent connecting, or at least attempting to. I have started a number of blog posts that I never got around to publishing. Bits and pieces that never quite felt like complete thoughts, or that seemed to echo what others were saying elsewhere. Here then are some of the random thoughts I’ve been putting to paper over the last few weeks
So the decision wasn’t anything like a specific moment in time. I remember thinking I had to come to a decision, I remember the rationale I went through. Basically there were two or three schools of thought depending on how you looked at things.
First is the fact that pretty much every trans person I’ve ever come across has said it wasn’t a choice for them. I have actually been looking for a trans person who claims otherwise, I would like to hear their opinion. What I’m saying is I’m sure this person exists somewhere but they’re a long way from the majority.
Then there are the people who suggest that being trans is the result of some experience or another, and that with enough disassociation the feelings will eventually fade. They prescribe complete annexation of the offending gender. This has led me to the point where my single biggest dysphoria trigger is cis women. I’m aware that sounds a bit hyperbolic, I wish it were.
Another viewpoint I encountered fairly at a young age is this idea that it really is a choice some people make, and that this is an obvious well established fact. To be clear, I have not once read about or otherwise heard of someone who actually claims to have deliberately altered their gender identity. I think some people confuse gender identity with gender expression. Like when we tell people we’re choosing to transition, they fail to appreciate that all we’re talking about is the way we express ourselves, we are not changing who we are.
Anyway with these three perspectives in mind I considered my options and the decision was obvious. Three possible scenarios. 1, It’s not a choice and nothing I do will change things. 2, It’s the result of certain experiences, and all I need to do is control my experiences. 3, it is a choice some people make, and if this is the case the choice seemed very, very obvious. If I could be a boy, I should be a boy. If it was 1, my actions wouldn’t change things in any case. If it was 2 or 3 then there was no sane reason to present myself as female, or indulge in female things.
These days it bothers me when I hear non trans people present ideas 2 and 3, with no clue of the fairly intensive research and suffering that has gone into understanding the matter. Attempts to alter gender identity have been made, several studies over many decades by multiple parties. Pretty much every plan to alter a persons identity has gone poorly. Sure there are people who de(or re)-transition, but each of them ends up saying they were never trans to begin with. No doubt there are people who have transitioned, realized they weren’t trans, and decided to stay, but again I’ve yet to hear of them.
A tiger in the park
One of the things that continues to frustrate me are the people who reject the notion of gender identity out of hand. All evidence is significant, whether it be scientific or anecdotal. A person is welcome to believe what they like, what they cannot do with any amount of intellectual integrity is state that transgenderism is impossible.
There’s an analogy I first heard from a high school science teacher, which he called the tiger in the park. It applies to concepts such as interstellar travel and gravity manipulation, things that aren’t currently possible, but might be. The question is how much merit should these ideas be given. It can be argued that anything is possible, but that doesn’t mean everything needs to be taken seriously. So how to decide what ideas are worth considering, and which ones can be ignored.
The rule of thumb is that for something to be taken seriously you need at least one viable theory. Imagine a child tells you they have seen a tiger in the park, assuming you live in an area to which tigers are not native you can laugh and send the kid on their way. Kids have wild imaginations, they like to play games and make up stories, realistically there’s no way their statement is accurate.
But then imagine you come across a news report saying a tiger has escaped from the local zoo. At this point you should probably call someone. This doesn’t prove there is a tiger in the park, the kid could be lying, maybe they saw the same report. Even if there is a tiger in the park it’s not necessarily the same one that escaped from the zoo, unlikely as that may be. Whatever the case, the fact that there is a viable theory means that the statement has merit.
This is why the science behind gender identity is so important. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the science, it doesn’t matter if the science pans out. The researceh is signifigant because it means a person who states that it’s impossible to have a gender identity at odds with the reproductive bits is flat out wrong.
The LGBT Agenda
Something I see a lot from pundits is this idea that the LGBT community is pushing some kind of agenda. That we have formed a coalition of some sort dedicated to unspecified yet no doubt nefarious goals. Well let’s be up front about things, we do in fact have an agenda. That agenda is to have people treat us as if we’re not LGBT. That’s it, the whole purpose of everything every LGBT activist has put their time and effort into.
The ancillary issues, anti-discrimination and marriage, bathroom bills and acceptable verbiage etc… these are all areas where people feel it’s ok to treat us differently. And oh my goodness all the absurd and convoluted ways people manage to make it sound as if what we’re asking for is unreasonable. Most of us would be perfectly happy being invisible, except that so far invisibility hasn’t worked out so well for us. Historically the non conforming have operated mostly under the radar. A few standouts made their way to prominence, rare individuals who were tolerated at best but who could expect their lives to be taken from them if they shone too brightly.
The Stonewall riots seem to be the generally agreed upon tipping point, the moment when invisibly was no longer an option. Invisibility is what allowed those who would abuse us to get away with it. We need to be visible, we need to be overt and aggressive, otherwise we will never be left alone. And believe me I am not a person who enjoys being visible or aggressive.
When I first began my transition I read absolutely everything I could find, but having read the same uninformed opinions repeated over and over my interest has wained. The whole Rachel Dolezal thing gives me a headache. In short it’s really inappropriate to compare one minority to another. Racial identity and gender identity have nothing to do with one another. One is affected by environmental factors, the other isn’t.
I guess that’s the problem with increased visibility, everyone now wants to add their two cents but many don’t bother to educate themselves on the basics first. It’s one thing to suffer such opinions when they can be considered patently absurd, I never thought the brain-dead anti trans rhetoric about being transracial would actually get a real world example. There’s a lot more I could say on the matter but as stated it gives me a headache.
Emotionally investing in inanimate objects
Some might use this as evidence that I am crazy pants, of course I’ve never denied this. When I was young I recall finding a rock in my shoe and throwing it away, only to feel a pang of guilt, as if the rock might feel bad for being rejected. This happens with old shoes and toothbrushes, all kinds of things really. I mean I don’t actually hold on to these things, I’m able to recognize that my old toothbrush does not have feelings and that it needs to go in the garbage, but I still feel bad when I put it there.
I suspect this might be connected with my tendency to disassociate, I’m the kind of person who would rather get hurt than watch someone else get hurt. Of course I’d much prefer a solution where no one gets hurt at all. The point is I think these feelings stem from a lack of self worth. How this relates to my gender identity is something chicken/egg paradox. Is my self loathing the cause or result of my dysphoria?
Fear of violence
I remember the movie Boys Don’t Cry. I’ve never seen it and I really don’t want to, the idea terrifies me. I’m constantly afraid of being attacked, one of the reasons I stayed in the closet as long as I did. Whenever I’m out in public en femme I can’t help but worry that some random fist is going to come flying at my head out of nowhere. I’m well aware of the privilege I enjoy, and there are many who have things much worse that I do. For me this fear is a tad irrational, for others it is a regular occurrence.
Acceptance of my femininity
This is still a hurdle for me. How exactly does one ‘feel’ like a woman? It’s a bit like trying to describe any other feeling I suppose. I’ve spent a very long time trying to convince myself that this feeling was something other than what it is. Part of the problem is that transition feels like a Sisyphean task, I wake up each morning to see that guy in the mirror, so much effort goes into presenting myself as something more palatable, then bedtime rolls around and once more a great deal of effort to revert back to where I started. I hate having to wear a wig and padded bra, to regularly shave my face and apply makeup. But it sure is nice to banish that mirror guy for a few hours.