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Politically incorrect but thoughtful quote of the day – On the subject of Transsexuality and Transphobia

January 13, 2013

International Transsexual Symbol

I was inspired to write on the subject of Transsexuality and gender dysphoria because of something that was said on another blog, which can be found HERE, and is also quoted below.  The subject of Transsexualism and gender dysphoria is one where I am starting to question the activist-driven view of Transsexualism and other gender dysphoric conditions. I’ve had many Transsexual and Transgender friends over the years and because of this contact, I’ve started to consider why so many Trans people often have serious, ongoing mental health issues, both before and more importantly after gender transition.

Quite a few of the Trans people of my acquaintance have had mental problems that are not cured or allieviated by gender reassignment. This has made me wonder whether or not gender dysphoria is the true underlying problem that they may have had, and to which gender reassignment has been suggested as a cure. This makes me ask the question “Are people being surgically mutilated unnecessarily, to cure a symptom of mental illness, rather than the underlying mental illness itself?” Surely the serious depression that I’ve seen, too often in some of my Trans friends after transition, cannot all be down to coming to terms with a new life after the gender reassignment?

What if the underlying cause of gender dysphoric conditions is a serious long-standing mental health problem like Bipolar, or endemic depression or some other condition, and what if the gender issues are a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself? To give an analogy: An addiction problem whether it be to drugs, gambling or alcohol, may not be the ailment that needs treating per se, but could be an indication of an underlying mental illness.

Unnecessary surgical procedures on those where the root of their psychological illness lies eleswhere and not with gender identity issues is unethical in my view. It may be no better a treatment for their underlying conditions, than chaining the depressed to the walls of Bedlam Lunatic Asylum was a cure for their problems.

Because there is a vociferous lobby for medical-surgical treatment for people presenting with alleged gender dysphoria, this course of action could be being recommended to people who may not be suitable for this kind of treatment.

I do believe that there are those who suffer from gender dysphoric conditions, and some may be helped psychologically by gender reassignment, but the number of these individuals may be considerably lower than many of the Trans organisations say that there are.

The field of gender identity is medically complex and physical apparent gender may not be matched by hormonal or other biochemical markers. There appear to be many factors involved in whether a person is born male or female, but because of this complexity the field of gender medicine contains a lot of psycho-medical charlatans eager to exploit the vulnerable, and those with a political and financial axe to grind.

I am developing some sympathy for those both within and ouside the feminist current of thinking who say that being female is a lot more than possessing the correct gender identifiying sexual characteristics, because such a viewpoint dismisses gender differences in upbringing. In many societies how a girl is brought up is often different to how a boy is brought up, and therefore a biological man who has undergone gender reassignment surgery does not possess the internal knowledge mentally to become fully female. The same I would say applies to those who transition from female to male, they have not had to learn much of the stuff that boys learn when growing up. Because of this lack of socialisation in the gender that they see themselves to be, many trans people are sometimes simulacra of the gender that is outwardly displayed.

This quote from Adrian Morgan on a thread about Transphobia, on Harry’s Place, sums up a lot of my own concerns and then some. Like Adrian Morgan, I don’t want to see Trans people treated badly, but asking questions about the ethical and moral probity of the current treatments for gender dysphoria should not be considered as Transphobia or a hatred of those who say they have gender dysphoria.

Here’s Adrian Morgan’s comment on the Harry’s Place thread regarding criticisms of the Transgender Industry by Julie Burchill and Suzanne Moore in recent press articles.

I have no anger against Julie Burchill – and she has a point.

I do not want to see persecution of trans people, but there is something odd about male to female trans people lecturing women about how they should campaign on “women’s issues.” Without surgery, many trans people would be viewed by their associates as full-time drag queens. Now, surgery is available on the NHS, and combined with a campaigning lobby, there are demands for transgendered people to have birth certificates changed to assign their birth gender as their assigned gender. Is this realistic, or is it demanding reification in political terms of an emotional feeling that was only turned from a subjective situation to a quasi-reality by surgery?

I have a feeling – and I expect to be excoriated for this – that now society is being bullied to pander to the demands of people who only got the right to free NHS gender reassignment surgery because of threats of suicide.

I look nowadays in bemusement at the way the so-called LGBT lobby is getting recognition in the media as one seamless homogenous entity, when it was never as such in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.

There was once huge resentment of bisexuals in the “gay male” community as they could flit from “society-acceptable” patterns of behaviour to “queer” patterns of behaviour at will, and could not be trusted by gay men to be anything other than a quick shag – the chances of a meaningful one-on-one relationship with someone who wanted to be in two worlds were regarded as slim, and I used to hear the term “busdriver” being muttered by gay males in a Hackney café when someone passed them, before I realised it was a slightly contemptuous term for a bisexual.

Though some lesbians were totally politically supportive of gay men when they started to get AIDS, even though gay women did not have the same likelihood of contracting the disease, there were some lesbian factions who still clung to the Spare Rib notion of “all men are phallocrats,” and that sweeping condemnation included gay men too.

And there was never much love from either group for transgendered people because they seemed to be in denial or even traitors to gay or lesbian causes, who would rather change their genders entirely than be feminine men or masculine women.

Nowadays I hear so many people bringing out the term LGBT term – it was creeping in during the end of the 1990s – as if it has always been the “correct” designation, when often they are often really discussing specifically gay issues.

And the bizarrest twist of all comes from Iran, where young teenage homosexuals are hanged publicly from cranes, and where six years ago the charity Noman claimed that more than 4,000 gay males had been executed for homosexuality, And yet in this harsh and heartless system, it is legally acceptable to be a transgendered person, and surgery is provided by the state. But rather than allow transgendered male-to-female people to be truly accepted as normal citizens, they are barred from jobs, and are encouraged to make their livings by prostitution. They engage in mut’ah marriages (sighe in Farsi) which are temporary contracts, where they are married for a brief period to a male punter, who pays them a fee, like a dowry, and when the time period (an hour or a few hours) is over, they are free to “marry” again. And male punters can “marry” them even if they have wives at home, in a society where adultery leads to hanging or stoning, and women are the most frequent victims.

I don’t want to attack trans people, but this grouping of LGBT is a little unrealistic in practical terms.

And I am sorry Sarah, but you are posting here as if Julie Burchill has committed some great crime. She writes:

To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.

Well, it may offend your politically correct ideals, but it is a true statement. I only know Julie through Facebook, sadly, but she is a fantastic feisty woman who is fiercely protective of her friends. And she is here defending her friend Suzanne Moore who was unfairly attacked by male-to-female trans people.

Julie is a complex figure, but her fierce protectiveness of those she loves (and that includes Israel) makes her a person I would readily support and defend.

Trans people should be urging others to accept them as whole people, not appropriating the surgical superficialities of another gender and then using overtly masculine belligerent bullying tactics to oppress women.

How can I say such a politically incorrect thing? Well, perhaps it is down to personal experience. In the late 1980s I was threatened to be punched through a window by a trans called Helen, a former dockworker from Liverpool who was trying to seduce my neighbour in Hackney (a woman). I had merely pointed out to her that her open contempt for black people sounded racist. For all her demands that she be treated as a woman, when challenged, her snap reaction was to revert to her previous Liverpool docker “persona” and threaten violence. Helen had surgery, but in her predatory pursuit of the women she fancied and in her aggression, she was still very much exhibiting the very worst type of male behaviour.

So really Sarah, please leave Julie alone on this. She has expressed her opinion, and she is entitled to her opinion. There is no need to act as the Thought Police on this, as if she has committed some sort of heinous thought crime. I cannot ignore that she has stuck up for me and I think Julie is great.

Transphobia? Is this not just another label to demonise and exclude people who do not sing from the all-inclusive let’s-all-pretend-we-live-in-a-Benetton-advert song sheet? Get over yourself, please.”

I’ll end by saying to Adrian Morgan that I agree that Trans and other gender issues should not be lumped in with issues that pertain to sexuality. Sexuality and gender are to a large extent two completely separate things. I will also say ‘well said’ for stating your point, and standing up for Julie Burchill, a writer who I also admire.  Prepare yourself for an organised internet assault by those gender activists who are happy to question all views about the subject of gender, except their own.

Link to HP article that inspired this piece

  1. hen bradshaw permalink

    I think I agree with your thoughts on transgender. I have a couple of close friends, both pre-op, both have difficulty getting to see the specialist team to be referred, because neither have underlying mental health problems.

    • Fahrenheit211 permalink

      The point I’m trying to make is that there may well be people who are being persuaded that Gender reassignment is the way to go but gender issues may not be the root cause of their problems. Gender identity issues have, in my experience, deep roots in how people are treated in childhood. Whether that be an environment that for example, valued girls rather than boys or vice versa, surely it is better to treat, without surgery, that deep seated problem, rather than the outward, and let us not beat about the bush, currently trendy, manifestations of gender troubles.

      We look back at how mentally ill people were treated in the past with sometimes justifiable horror. The routine ECT and insulin coma therapy, that was used in the past, now look like violent and inappropriate sledgehammers cracking nuts. Will future generations view the voluntary (and some times not so voluntary) partial dismemberment and mutilation of troubled individuals in a similar way?

      I’ve seen the ‘bullying by suicide threats’ that Adrian Morgan mentions. During a work diversity talk by a Trans activist, she mentioned that 50% of her workplace trans group had killed themselves in the space of a year. The implication being, that if the organisation question didn’t accept their view, without challenge, then people would die. No sensible, self confident person would put up with such suicide blackmail in a relationship, so why should society as a whole submit to such moral blackmail?

  2. Miss Chips permalink

    Gender identity issues have, in my experience, deep roots in how people are treated in childhood

    As the parent of a transgender child, I have spent many long hours asking myself whether my actions or behaviour had anything to do with it.

    My child ‘came out’ as transgender at the age of 17 but had been convinced from the age of about 7 or 8 that nature had got things wrong.

    Although it came as a real shock, and one that caused seismic upheaval in the extended family, my child tells me that gender ‘didn’t seem to be an issue at home’ and it was only with the opportunity of making a fresh start at university that the decision to come out was made.

    Friends, it appears, had a very different story. Parental expectations often forced the issue much earlier with confrontations and arguments; many of those who experienced this have since cut all links with their families because of the turbulence of their teenage years.

    These, says my child, are the cases where rebellion and a sense of rejection can lead to precipitate action and premature decisions about surgery from behind battle lines laid down before puberty. A clear indicator is the denial of the real past in favour of a construct excluding the family completely.

    I’m glad to say my child is in regular contact and we are still close. For us, the images and memories of childhood are not taboo; this is something I find deeply reassuring in terms of my child’s adjustment – there is no attempt to escape the past or rewrite history.

    One of the most worrying aspects of the situation is the way parents are completely excluded from the process once the child reaches 18 – this, in my opinion, makes it far less likely that those with underlying problems will be detected and prevented from making decisions they will later regret.

    We have been very fortunate that things have progressed as smoothly as they have – our biggest problem now is how to break the news to casual acquaintances and work colleagues in a very conservative environment (well, that and being in pronoun hell)- but in the midst of all the furore, very little ink has been spilled over the effect on the rest of the family of such a momentous decision.

    Perhaps it’s because, after long examination, I’m fairly happy I did nothing to contribute to it that I’ve been able to accept the situation and provided the support my child needs. It’s a sad fact that, in the sort of cases you describe, rebellion against the family is quite possibly one of the most significant factors involved.

    Apologies for the non-committal gender description; I hope you’ll understand that it’s the result of a desire for online privacy rather than deliberate obfuscation or confusion.

    • Fahrenheit211 permalink

      Miss Chips thank you for the thoughtful reply and welcome to Fahrenheit211. I completely understand the desire for online privacy with regards this. Because this blog is primarily a political/anti Jihad blog, safety and security is a concern for all of us working in this field.

      As you say there are some Transpeople who do have issues with their early life and there are some who do not. I’ve never denied that there are some people who are helped by surgery but I do worry,as you appear to do, about the subject of peer pressure on those for whom gender transition may not be the answer.

      I completely agree with this:

      “One of the most worrying aspects of the situation is the way parents are completely excluded from the process once the child reaches 18 – this, in my opinion, makes it far less likely that those with underlying problems will be detected and prevented from making decisions they will later regret.”

      When a young person goes to university, they may be experimenting with things like sexuality and stuff and that may bring them into contact with Trans activists who to be quite frank are sometimes loud, driven and quite persuasive. My worry is that these activist groups may encourage people to have gender treatment/surgery even though it is something that the person will regret later.

      I think, and I know I’m going to get howls of protest from members of the Trans lobby for this, but 18 is in my opinion far too young to be making such a decision about which there is no return. I say this because I think back to my own self at 18 and think ‘did I really do that, did I really think that? After all, although now I consider myself a political conservative, at 18 I was hanging around with a Socialist Workers Party/Communist crowd. A change of political views is reversible, a phallectomy is not. Despite pressure from some Trans activists to for a start to gender dysphoria treatment in under 16s I* would be in favour of a)raising the minimum age to start treatment or counselling for gender dysphoria to 21 and b) making it a legal requirement that independent inquiries are made into the family background of the potential patient, instead of just relying on what the patient says about their background. The lack of family involvement for those over 18 who are approaching gender reassignment is wrong in my opinion.

      I’m glad that you and your child are still close, and you appear to have managed the situation well and your child is emotionally and mentally stable enough to know all the aspects of transition. I’ave also come across those who have been persuaded to rewrite their life history and it is sad to see this happen.

      A young person leaving home for this first time may encounter activists from the Trans*/Genderqueer scene and to be quite frank for someone rebelling against parental authority this scene looks attractive because it’s transgressive and glamourous and loud. I do worry that someone who is trying to rebel against their family may find themselves identifiying as Trans in order to fit in with friends, activist colleagues or lovers.

      Because my work brought me into contact with trans activists, I began to assume that these activists were also experts even when then were not, and sadly bought into the lie that only those who are subject to a particular condition, whether that be gender, sexuality race or religion can legitimately comment on them. I now have a much more mature attitude and no longer believe that the trans activists should dominate discussions of gender and the treatment of gender problems, there is room for alternative and dissenting opinions on this matter including the views of parents and others with an interest in this subject.

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