The relentless tide of sex stereotypes

Originally posted at Purple Sage

Another day, another article about a child who is being taught that she is the opposite sex because she likes the wrong things. May 18th’s victim of gender roles is Shanice/Shane, who is a girl who likes “boys’ things,” and is therefore being transitioned to a boy. The 1950s-style sexism in this article is enough to make me vomit. I swear, somebody somewhere is being paid to churn out these articles daily and they’re required to include as many sex stereotypes as possible. It’s all part of the public relations campaign for traditional gender roles and expensive surgeries.

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Trans Kids On The Today Programme

Originally posted at Transgender Trend

In the following report, we don’t judge either of the children featured (who were both charming and very likeable), we use their interviews only to question the level of rigour in the reporting of these cases, as well as the ideology which underpins the assumptions made about appropriate ‘treatments’ for such children.

What’s striking about the coverage of this issue on the Today programme is the lack of incisive questioning of the kind you would expect for a serious news item; John Humphreys tried, but came across as out of his depth on an issue which demands serious challenge. Children’s bodies are being medically altered into a biologically intersex condition to fit a psychological identity: the ideology behind this practice is not one which needs to be treated with polite deference.

The adoption of the new language – “assigned the wrong gender at birth” for example – obfuscates the issue from the start, and subsequent inaccuracies in language further confuse things.

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Social work professor speaks out on behalf of her FtM autistic daughter

Originally posted at 4th Wave Now

My daughter, who is on the autism spectrum, as am I, is now 19 years old. She had felt (and told others) that she was a lesbian most of her life. When she was 16, she began watching a TV show called “Degrassi,” which featured an FtoM character. After a few weeks, she announced that she was not actually a butch lesbian, as she had previously said, but was in fact trans. She started attending a local PFLAG meeting, where she met many trans people, including a number of FtoM trans teenagers who were raving about a certain “gender therapist.” Although the APA recommends a minimum of one year of “gender counseling” before surgery, this gender therapist (whom I consented to, before really understanding what I was doing) gave my daughter the go-ahead to have a bilateral mastectomy after only two sessions. This gender specialist never reviewed any of the Special Ed records or spoke to my daughter’s previous therapist, who had known her for a decade. And, crucially, she never asked my daughter, “Might you be a lesbian?”

The gender therapist (whom I believe has an unholy financial alliance with the surgeon) gave my daughter (then 18 and one day) the go-ahead for the $30,000 surgery (covered for all university employees and their families where I work). My daughter is now on testosterone (which she clearly is unable to evaluate the risks and consequences of).

To give you some sense of my daughter’s level of understanding of what it means to transition, she told me recently that she believes that the testosterone “will grow her a penis.”

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Awakening clinician: What do we think we are talking about?

Originally posted on Youth Trans Critical Professionals

Why are so many children and young people suddenly identifying or being identified as transgender?

Why are gender and sexuality being confused? Why are we not asking questions about including and valuing everyone in a gender neutral way? Why are many professionals – including myself – suppressing our own questions in public and professional forums?

When we talk about transgender – what do we think we are talking about? 

How do we support people with indeterminate sex (different from indeterminate gender) to feel safe alongside every other individual?

How is medical intervention for children of indeterminate sex a different issue from medical intervening for children articulating gender confusion?

Can we clarify the terminology? ‘Male to Female’ and ‘Female to Male’ seems too binary and incomplete. The issue is ‘Male to Trans’ and ‘Female to Trans’ and using this terminology we begin to encompass a broader, more accurate, notion of the shared experiences and identities of men, women and Trans people.

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Shrinking to survive: A former trans man reports on life inside queer youth culture

Originally posted at 4th Wave Now

There is power in naming. It’s how we find each other, how we connect to our histories, how we connect to our futures. Driving us apart from each other is the easiest way to keep us from learning to recognize attempts to redefine our realities.

I didn’t know this then. I subscribed to an incredibly misogynistic set of beliefs for years. “DFAB privilege” was a common phrase in our community – “designated female at birth privilege.” It was accepted fact that being born female gave you a lifelong advantage over a male who transitioned. This included men who used transition only to mean using different pronouns on Tumblr and having an anime girl as their avatar. We believed that, as “dfabs,” we needed to shut up about our petty problems. We could never have it as hard as any “dmab women or non-binary people.” Everyone in the trans community agreed that it was our responsibility to uplift “dmab voices.” None of this seemed outrageous or strange to me; it felt pretty intuitive. Growing up under male domination is a grooming process that leaves many girls and women extremely vulnerable to manipulation.

The first experience that did make me start to feel suspicious of male transition was when I was 18 and a genderqueer-identifying man who had never pursued any kind of transition raped my best friend, a woman unacquainted with insular trans community politics.

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In praise of gatekeepers: An interview with a former teen client of TransActive Gender Center

Originally posted at 4th Wave Now

I also had an experience there which I believe to be directly negligent on the part of the therapist. During the course of my therapy, before I received a referral for hormones, I began to have trauma flashbacks, which I hadn’t previously remembered. I brought these up to my therapist, and her only response was to devote one or two sessions to it, and then continue with the transition therapy process. This process seemed to be primarily about validating pretty much whatever I said about my gender/planning and mapping out a timeline for my transition, and it was not brought up at any point that prior trauma might have anything to do with dysphoria. The implication that was always present, in therapy or in the other trans-related discussions I was part of, inside and outside of TransActive, was that if I was trans (and my therapist never gave me the impression that I might not be), my options were “transition now, transition later, or live your life unhappy/commit suicide.” To a teenager who is struggling with mental health issues, this is a very attractive proposal: “This is The Cure for all of the emotional pain you’re feeling”.

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When is a support group not a support group? The troubling story of a UK trans support group

Originally posted on Youth Trans Critical Professionals

Should a TV programme be the basis for irreversible medical intervention? (What would we feel if a troubled teen had instead watched an ISIS recruiting video and announced to her family that she was off to Syria to find a husband?)  Might not a teenager be made to feel uncomfortable about an emerging lesbian identity within the context of a private London single sex school?  Was the chance discovery of a leaflet for Gendered Intelligence really a sign from God? And how free was the child to pass through what might have been a transient phase once enrolled in a group where her newly formed identity would be reinforced by adults?

In the world of ‘Gendered Intelligence’, the thought ‘Am I the other sex?’ is not a thought that can be challenged but is taken as a revelation of an essential truth. The role of the adult and of the parent is to support and affirm this identity. At the monthly parents’ group, we were encouraged to speak freely and not to feel that we had to be ‘politically correct’. But there was an underlying narrative: feelings were our own but the facts were in the possession of the convenor, and those facts were the ‘trans narrative’.  Our children could only be happy if we supported them through transition. We would find it difficult, we might grieve for the child we might feel we had lost but this was merely part of a journey familiar to our experienced convenor, herself the parent of a trans man (who transitioned from female to male I think at age 21). The presence of this convenor necessarily makes it hard to question the trans narrative. ‘Where are you on the journey?’ asked the parent convenor, when I introduced myself.  My answer, ‘Which journey?’ did not go down well.

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The infallibility of the oppressed: Story of one influential trans activist

Originally posted at 4th Wave Now

I predict that unless something drastically changes, we will be seeing many more youth like ours caught up in this trend: Kids who have been educated that being transgender is a normal variation of the human condition; that it is possible to change sex; that society needs to accommodate them; and that transitioning will solve all of their problems. These messages are especially attractive to children who have difficulty navigating the turbulent adolescent years.

Initially, the goal of trans activists may have been to make it more acceptable for boys to wear dresses and play with dolls and girls to be on soccer teams and play with trucks (which I think is a noble aim), but the activism has gotten out of hand. Now there are many confused children that are convinced that altering their bodies is the only option for happiness. And it has literally become a nightmare for many families.

I wonder at what point, if any, trans activists and their allies will start to question their crusade. I hope for the sake of our children that more of them, like the social justice warrior quoted at the beginning of this piece, wake up to the harms that their campaign is causing.

And, I hope that more people will start challenging the premises of trans activism. We need more people to realize that members of an oppressed group are not infallible. Being transgender doesn’t mean they know best. They are human like everyone else and their views should be assessed as such–not as all-knowing experts.

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What’s at Stake?

Originally posted at Transcendence: Youth Trans Critical Professionals

Social acceptance of gender-nonconforming people is something we as professionals can generally support and feel good about.

But what about body modification?

In an upbeat, breezy tone, the author treats “body modification,” “surgery,” and “hormones” casually. Like, it’s no big deal to take a “low dose of testosterone” for decade upon decade. In fact, cross-sex hormones given to gender dysphoric young people are being used off label. Very little is known about the long-term effects of these drugs, and we are unlikely to know more for quite awhile.  Meanwhile, some of the potential effects of taking testosterone as a natal female, for example, are permanent or serious including: an increased risk for breast and uterine cancer; deepened voice; possible baldness; liver problems; and growth of facial hair. Surgery in this case refers to removal or modification of healthy tissue. There can be serious complications with such surgeries, and of course they are irreversible, often resulting in sterility, depending on the procedure.

How is it ethical that we as professionals support and encourage young people in undergoing such treatments for the sake of “gender expression?” I would personally favor legislation making it very difficult for young people to access these treatments until they are in their late 20’s. I understand this would mean asking some people to live in a way that felt inauthentic or painful, but it would spare the pain that many might feel in the future when they wake up to realize they have permanently mutilated themselves.

We must be more critical of the assumption that medical intervention is the best option, that is it no big deal, that it is a choice to be celebrated for its “bravery.”

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