Birth wars: the politics of childbirth

Originally published by Glosswitch at the New Statesman

To be of woman born is a universal experience, yet women themselves remain a diffuse, fractured group. “What is a woman, anyway?” is still considered a deep, meaningful question to ask. The polite answer is, of course, “whatever anyone wants it to be”. More than that would close off the vessel, seal the hole, glue back together the broken shell. There’s a sense in which women are simply not meant to be whole. We need to be in pieces so that men can survive intact.

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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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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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“Gender identity refers to a person’s sense of fitting into social categories”: Wisdom for the Youth of Today from GIRES (Gender Identity Research and Education Society)

Originally posted at GenderTrender

The following gems are excerpted from GIRES’ submission to the proposed new NHS Service Specification (“treatment guidelines” to you and me) for the UK Gender Identity Development Service for Children and Adolescents (GIDS). The ‘fitting-youth-into-social-sex-categories-development-service’ in question operates out of the Tavistock and Portman facility and is run by Dr. Polly Carmichael.

The clinic, which attempts to treat children who are disturbed by sex-based social roles with pharmaceuticals, has quietly posted two items on their website for public feedback without notifying the press or public. The deadline for replies is April 20.

The first item is a ‘Policy Proposal’ which quite sensibly rejects lowering the age for cross-sex hormones below the age of sixteen in the UK. This is a response to transgender industry and activist lobbying to allow permanent irreversible changes to be performed on children below the age of legal consent.

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The right way for women to disappear

Originally posted at Glosswatch

For a long time I have felt a parallel can be made between eating disorders and gender confirmation surgery as forms of self-harming body modification. It’s not a comparison I make lightly, just for the hell of it. Indeed, every time I’ve made it, I’ve had to put up with the ritual public Shaming of the TERF, alongside the trivialisation of a condition which led to several long-term hospitalisations against the “realness” of true gender dysphoria. It’s been suggested to me that anorexia is an attempt to “express your feels” as opposed to the real suffering of “having a skin that metaphorically itches all the time” (as if anyone who’s ever had anorexia would not understand that!). A piece I wrote about the inappropriateness of positioning female body hatred within the context of “cis-ness” got me to Level 2 on the Blockbot. According to the official narrative, anorexia is at best mental illness, at worst vanity; transness, on the other hand, is politically radical, unquestionably authentic and quite incomprehensible to “the cis”.

A woman who starves puberty into remission is sick, so sick you can section her, decree her officially incapable of knowing what her own body needs.  One who drugs puberty into remission is not sick; she is, on the contrary, a mystic emissary from Planet Gender. Her – his, their – word is law. A woman who, like me, tries to kill herself because no amount of starvation will make her breasts fully disappear is considered mad. One who merely threatens to kill herself should no surgeon be willing to slice off her breasts for her – well, that person is merely a victim of medical gatekeeping.

Why is this?

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Woman’s Hour On Teenage Girls At Tavistock Clinic

Originally posted at Transgender Trend

1,398 children and adolescents have been referred to the Tavistock Clinic this year (compared to 697 last year) and of that number almost 1,000 are girls. Girls have been over-represented at the clinic for the past five years, with the disparity between boys and girls increasing year on year.

Throughout their interview, both Polly Carmichael and Bernadette Wren from the Tavistock clinic referenced the “social revolution” and the rapidly changing context within which teenage girls are making the decision to transition. Various points were made, such as the fact that people are much more accepting now and we live in a world where people surgically alter their bodies, a possibility which did not previously exist. Dr Wren’s view: “I don’t think we should necessarily take a negative view of this” was echoed in her neutral stance on the “phenomenal unexpected increase” in the number of girls referred to the Tavistock this year: “it’s not for us to approve or disapprove.”

Although it was reassuring to hear that the clinicians see their job in terms of “holding” these girls, enabling them to “get on with their lives without necessarily jumping into the physical interventions,” we feel there does need to be an ethical debate about whether this is a positive or negative development, given that we are talking about medically unnecessary invasive interference with healthy bodies, with some irreversible effects and a lack of research on the long-term health effects. This is not something about which we can afford to be neutral. Use of terms like “social revolution” make it very clear that the recent transgender phenomenon is sold as a social justice cause rather than a medical one, but those adolescents caught up in it will nevertheless be medical patients for life as long as they identify as transgender.

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