Change Your World-NOT your Body

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Is the Gay and Lesbian Community Partly to Blame for Trans Trending?

Has the gay and lesbian community made the trans disorder grow by legitimizing it when we attached it to the gay and lesbian movement? Are we also doing a huge disservice to trans individuals by enabling their disorder when we acknowledge them as their chosen sex?

dirt
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22 comments:

  1. I think about this sometimes
    I remember in the early to mid 90's when my gay and lesbian friends started calling themselves 'queer'
    (it was pretty much just a reclaiming of an insult-word for homosexual) and then younger non-gays began describing themselves as queer as well, once the same-sex connotations were removed somewhat from the label and it took back much of its original meaning as just 'unusual' plus a little extra kinkiness
    This is when gay suddenly started meaning 'all inclusive' and ordinary homosexuals became old fashioned

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  2. Yes, the gay and lesbian community is partially to blame for trans trending, because we have a tendency to be accepting of just about anything. I remember the hanky code where different colors of handkerchiefs symbolized different preferences, and the orange hanky meant "Anything goes". Well, that's our whole community in a nutshell today. Anything goes, no matter how crazy, no matter whether it makes any sense or not.

    Originally the T stood for Transgender, which used to be an umbrella term for drag queens, drag kings, crossdressers, & gender benders, in addition to the rare transsexuals. This was back when Leslie Feinberg wrote the book "Transgender Warriors" and Kate Bornstein wrote "Gender Outlaw". They were talking about things like gender identity, gender fluidity, genderqueer, etc. Kate Bornstein even had the MTF surgery and then even questioned whether it had been really necessary, since people can express themselves however they want to, and that shouldn't depend on your body or your genitals.

    It used to be that actual transsexualism was very rare. It was limited to extremely dysphoric people who had felt that they were the other sex from earliest memory, and they felt this was their only option outside of suicide. They went to psychotherapy for years and then lived as their target gender for long periods of time before any doctor would consider hormones or surgery. Now you have teenage girls who suddenly decide they are boys because they didn't like playing with Barbie, or because they want to emulate male characters in the Japanese Yaoi manga stories that are popular with the kids. It has become a fad that has reached the point of absurdity. It has now gotten to the point where even some of the older transpeople are starting to become concerned with the fad/trend aspect of the whole phenomenon.

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  3. Why would a community be to blame?

    Everyone wants answers as to who? what? when? where and why?

    How doth the little crocodile,
    improve it's shining tale?
    And pour the waters of the Nile,
    on every golden scale
    How cheerfully he seems to grin
    How neatly spread his claws
    And welcomes little fishes in
    With gently smiling jaws


    swim fishes , swim from the crocodile.

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  4. Katie said. . .

    On one hand it seemed to make sense. A rigid heterosexist code was part of what has hurt Lesbians and Gays for a very long time. The idea that the more allies you had, the more votes you had for more political power, etc.

    It turned out that there is a lot more to the story. For one thing, there are various psychological disorders that may appear as trans, such as fetishism, body dysmorphic disorders and multiple personalities. Certainly some of the more public trans online appear to have some of these disorders. However, it is also possible that there are trans who live quietly and don't have these disorders. There is no way to know. The problem is that some of the most vocal and most troubled trans people are the visible face of the trans movement, and especially that they seem to want followers, to justify their lifestyle.

    Add in the fact that understanding who one is, defining one's identity, in a heterosexist society is extremely difficult. This is true even for heterosexuals, and more so for lesbians, gays, and bisexuals. Sex in a misogynist society is fraught with difficulty.

    Here I'm especially talking about normal developmental phases, beginning around puberty, where the key task of that developmental stage is to find out who one is. This age rightly includes a lot of experimentation, hence a lot of body piercing, different hairstyles, etc. Every generation goes through this. It's a difficult and confusing stage in a misogynist/heterosexist culture. It is also a time of emotional highs and lows and depression can be a problem.

    It's actually healthy to experiment with identity, and so for instance, hair color and cut may be temporary so a good experiment, and body piercings and tatoos may be permanent and as a 70-year-old a person may regret them aesthetically but not a huge regret, and who knows if all your 70-year-old cohort have them it might be "back in the day" stuff, like the Beatles for the boomers.

    But the elephant in the room is that these young people, who are in the perfectly normal stage of trying to sort out identity who are SUPPOSED TO BE UNCLEAR at this stage are being unduely influenced by a trans culture. They are making some permanent decisions by taking hormones and having body modifications that will impair their future health and foreclose their choices.

    For those of us old enough, and those who have worked in the education system with these age groups this is alarming. If a person transitions at age 30 or 40, it may really be a choice. They may make a mistake, but it is a legitimate choice.

    For younger people, it is a tragedy.

    Long post, but I've been sorting out the pieces and they came together a bit more tonight.

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  5. Katie says. . .

    P.S. I don't know if I'd assign blame as much as to say that the Gay and Lesbian community did not understand what what we were getting ourselves into by being supportive of something that seemed to make sense.

    The important question rather than assigning blame is "what should we do now?" You are taking responsiblity for what to do now. Others are speaking out about what they see as harmful about trans trending.

    What needs to happen to build strong healthy communities is another question as well. As a lesbian who is a radical feminist it's something that appears important, too. Giving young lesbians a strong community could help a lot.

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  6. "these young people, who are in the perfectly normal stage of trying to sort out identity who are SUPPOSED TO BE UNCLEAR at this stage are being unduely influenced by a trans culture."

    Why is it such a tragedy? Why is the influence an unduly one? I've yet to see hoards of young transitioners come forward to talk about regret and why they may have been led astray by the influence of transitioning. I think I've seen more who thought they were gay but ended up in straight relationships later. If transitioning were presented by mainstream culture as something other than tragic, I think that gay people would be more likely to understand. The thing is, gayness was always understood as a tragic raw-deal by mainstream culture. Incurring sympathy allowed some kind of understanding, albeit patronizing. Now we know that there is nothing wrong or tragic about being gay. I'm waiting for the same understanding to be applied to transness. I'm sick of people willingly pitting us against each other.

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  7. KatieS said. . .

    "Why is it such a tragedy? Why is the influence an unduly one?"

    Tragedy because they are making irreversible changes, ones that will impair their physical health and foreclose other choices. If they want to dress up in order to present as a particular gender, that is not tragic. It might be healthy exploration, including a way to understand cultural binary gender roles. I might or might not like it (just as I might or might not like purple hair), but that is an experiment, and generally a healthy way to learn about identity. Experimenting with sex may be a way to explore one's sexuality. It disapproved of, but it is an experiment and not permanently harmful. If one gets AIDS, it is tragic.

    Educators are trained in developmental theory about this stage. It is called identity development and usually is dominant in teens and early to mid-20's. A cardinal rule of development is that experimentation is good, but anything likely to have lifelong impact is not good. It's called "foreclosure" and it means foreclosing options that may be available. Foreclosing options may include something like early pregancy and the girl deciding to keep a child and raise it when she is still in her mid teens. Or it may be studying a field to please one parents and having a career that doesn't suit you for most of your life. It is not psychologically healthy. These things are about identity development and what helps or thwarts it.

    Undue influence at this age is very common. It is usually peer influence, especially trends. The influence of a community outside the home that includes, peers, older mentors and role models could be a healthy part of this stage. However, undue influence is not healthy. It means that someone who has more power to influence (such as a mentor, someone with medical credentials, or rebellious peers advocating a particular trend) hinders development by advocating choices that are not in the best interest of the developing person.

    Eventually people can learn to make wise decisions, including ones that are difficult to make. I did not say that I was against older people choosing to use hormones or get sex reassignment surgery. I loudly say that I am against this for young people who are still exploring their identity. I loudly say that I am against those who would unduly influence a young person to make such a change.

    I do think having a healthy Lesbian and Gay community to support young people who are exploring their identity, to have that healthy community to support them in non-harmful, non-permanent ways would be a benefit. I think part of dirt's motivation is to provide this and I appreciate that she does this.

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  8. Hello dirt,

    I totally respect that you chose to voice your feelings about this.

    I am FTM myself but I am all for freedom of speech and exchanging ideas.

    I'd love to hear your take on this study "Transsexual Gene Link Identified" conducted on a large scale DNA analysis in Australia.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7689007.stm

    and another study entitled "Transsexual differences caught on brain scan"

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-transsexual-differences-caught-on-brain-scan.html

    The thing is, I've stumbled upon your blog tonight and went through it. I see a lot of mention of the word "hate" and "misogyny".

    I'll be speaking here based on my own personal experience and in no way am I trying to generalize.

    Throughout my life, I have never really hated being a woman or felt "trapped" as many FTMs feel, as living as a butch, I was free to express myself freely away from social pressures and norms. Moreover, I come from a culture where women are considered a holy part of society, and as a result, I have learnt to appreciate the female body as it is a true miracle with its beauty and functions.

    However, I always felt like an artist admiring the female body. An observer that would love to take advantage of such a body but really can't.

    The truth of the matter is, you do not need to be on hormones to feel more comfortable in your body.

    Through bodybuilding, lowering my body fat, and using natural ingredients, I was able to feel more comfortable in my body and express myself freely as a male.

    As for those on hormone therapy, it is their own prerogative and personal choice.

    You've cited the side effects and lack of research on testosterone injections and self mutilation. This is a legitimate point, but self mutilation is quite subjective, as some people consider tattoos and male circumcision as mutilation, while others deem them as a given.

    You've also cited the risk for PCOS and cancer in a previous post. Which is also legit, but the current concern is actually for the lesbian community as a whole, as you can see from this link:

    http://pcos.insulitelabs.com/PCOS-and-Lesbians.php

    Lesbians suffering from PCOS are increasing exponentially without any hormone injection due to increased obesity and other lifestyle factors.

    I apologize for the long post, and I look forward to hear your feedback on the points put forward.

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  9. How does one 'take advantage' of having a female body?
    And what does 'expressing oneself freely as a male' entail?

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  10. "http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7689007.stm"

    Strange. Why just 112 volunteers? Also There is no statement about if the volunteers have taken hormones before or not.


    "http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-transsexual-differences-caught-on-brain-scan.htm"

    Here it's the same. There are only 18 mtf. And in the 2010 study there were only 121 volunteers.

    In this studie it's said that the 18 mtfs had no treatment and a more "female" brain structure. What's really strange about it is that:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/jun/16/neuroscience.psychology

    So it's likely that these mtfs are gay men. I wonder why the scientists didn't mention the similarity between the brains of gay men and heterosexual women.

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  11. Hello Anna. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my message.

    "http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/7689007.stm"

    As we all know, scientific studies are usually done through a grant. The scale of the study (whether it's small scale up to 30 individuals, medium-scale up to 100 individuals and large scale up to 100++ individuals) depends on many factors such as grant amount, geographical location and methodology of locating volunteers – as some studies are able to recruit more volunteers with more effective marketing.

    Many of the studies conducted in early stages of finding the "gay" gene recruited as little as 30-90 participants per study. This of course, does not nullify the initial findings.

    You can access the full study here:
    http://ts-si.org/files/doi101016jbiopsych200808033.pdf

    Subject-control analysis included 112 male-to-female transsexuals and 258 non-transsexual males.

    Associations and interactions were investigated between CAG repeat length in the AR gene, CA repeat length in the ER gene, and TTTA repeat length in the CYP19 gene and male-to-female transsexualism.

    You posed a very valid point, were the subjects on hormones? I have directly contacted the researchers via email to inquire further and get a definite answer.

    "http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn20032-transsexual-differences-caught-on-brain-scan.htm"

    Quoting Anna:

    "In this studie it's said that the 18 mtfs had no treatment and a more "female" brain structure. What's really strange about it is that:

    So it's likely that these mtfs are gay men. I wonder why the scientists didn't mention the similarity between the brains of gay men and heterosexual women."

    Again this is a valid point. I am familiar with the study you are citing, but the link you provided is not redirecting correctly. Are you referring to this study?

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2008/jun/16/neuroscience.psychology

    There are many factors involved in this process. There is the similarity between the brain size, activity and there are also genes.
    As you know, a simple mutation of one gene can cause a lot of difference such as diseases, chronic illnesses and physical, emotional and cognitive changes.

    While the brains of gay men, heterosexual women and possibly MTFs are similar, there was no conclusive study examining their gene mutations (if any).

    Furthermore, the study about the brain size/link to sexual orientation is by no means conclusive unless conducted on a nationwide scale.

    As an example, my friend is a dyke who was in a loving relationship for over 10 years with her partner had a motorcycle accident. She suffered from severe head trauma and required a CAT scan/MRI.

    As we looked at the results, we noticed that both her right and left sides were symmetrical, which of course would suggest that she is a heterosexual woman. Is this really the case? She has been identifying as a lesbian for the past 30 years and was never attracted to a man.

    The argument to whether being gay is genetic is still being debated by scientists through a number of studies.

    Similarly, the argument of whether being transgender is genetic is being researched.

    If we were to say that being gay is a genetic, but being transgender is a lifestyle choice. We'd be really ignoring the science being done in the background.

    What do you think Anna? I'd love to hear your take on the response above.

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  12. @CJ Here is what I think of the "study"
    http://dirtywhiteboi67.blogspot.com/2011/07/gid-and-blind-faith-in-male-medical.html

    Also, transism is a disorder steeped in misogyny, not a "lifestyle".

    dirt

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  13. @CJ add this article too:

    "That question has been central to Ioannidis’s career. He’s what’s known as a meta-researcher, and he’s become one of the world’s foremost experts on the credibility of medical research. He and his team have shown, again and again, and in many different ways, that much of what biomedical researchers conclude in published studies—conclusions that doctors keep in mind when they prescribe antibiotics or blood-pressure medication, or when they advise us to consume more fiber or less meat, or when they recommend surgery for heart disease or back pain—is misleading, exaggerated, and often flat-out wrong. He charges that as much as 90 percent of the published medical information that doctors rely on is flawed. His work has been widely accepted by the medical community; it has been published in the field’s top journals, where it is heavily cited; and he is a big draw at conferences. Given this exposure, and the fact that his work broadly targets everyone else’s work in medicine, as well as everything that physicians do and all the health advice we get, Ioannidis may be one of the most influential scientists alive. Yet for all his influence, he worries that the field of medical research is so pervasively flawed, and so riddled with conflicts of interest, that it might be chronically resistant to change—or even to publicly admitting that there’s a problem."

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/lies-damned-lies-and-medical-science/8269/

    dirt

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  14. Katie said. . .

    CJ, even if there were a genetic link to people who wish to transition, this would not demonstrate evidence that they should.

    First and foremost, the genetic marker is likely rare. If rare, how many who actually have that marker transition as opposed to those who transition because of misogyny. Misogyny results in women who wish to escape it, particularly butch lesbians who get a huge wallop of misogyny. Misogyny for men also includes fetishization of women and for that reason many will label themselves as trans (while not undergoing SRS). I'd like to see the percentage of females who have "top surgery" in the trans process compared to the proportion of any trans males who have their penises removed. My guess is that many more females do this than males, proportionally speaking.

    Setting aside the question of misogyny, and assuming for a moment that there is gene that has been discovered, this leads to the question as to whether there is a "genetic" marker for just males, just females, or both. Is it the same gene? It gets pretty confusing here, I'd say.

    There may be a genetic marker for people who are prone to depression during the developmental stage called "identity development." This depression gene could easily be mistaken for a "trans" gene, but in fact is a gene that influences depression, of which there are likely a large number, since depression has many differing presentations, including GID.

    For any scientific finding to be considered robust, you need a lot of evidence, far more than the small studies you cite. These may point the way to more research, such as research on depression genes, for instance.

    And I'm leaving aside the more blatant questions of resarch here, like whether the persons were on hormone therapy already, which have been raised and I also find compelling.

    My take is this:

    1. Science reporters generally report a lot of junk science. They don't understand science in the way that scientists do.
    2. Doctors do not understand science research, either, unfortunately. It's not a big part of their training. They learn applied science. If you talk to an M.D. who is also a Ph.D. in a hard science area, they will readily admit this.
    3. There is the logic error referred to as "confirmation bias." This means that an individual finds evidence that confirms their hypothesis, but ignores disconfirming evidence. Regular scientists do this at times, but armchair scientists like science reporters and even M.D.s do it far more frequently.
    4. In science research it is actually impossible to prove that something does not exist because there can always be an exception. So, it is not possible to prove that trans does not exist in genes. But citing very weak research is no evidence that it does.

    5. It is nearly always possible to do research that purports to "prove" any particular case. But if the evidence is weak, unwarranted confirmation based on popular opinions, or opinions that particularly attention-getting and become trends is a very big danger.

    My very real concern is not with people having hormones/surgery when they are mature adults, but with trends for young people, sometimes even children having it.

    Putting a scientific veneer on something that is very weak research (at best) can do considerable harm. I think that is happening now. There is much less harm in waiting for children and young adults to develop their full identities and then let them decide.

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  15. I absolutely think the popularity of accepting gender identity disorder is due to it being attached to the Gay and Lesbian community. I can't say who is the blame. I can see that clearly the fact that it has this attachment removes it from being seen as just another body disorder/mental disorder like body identity disorder or anorexia etc...to this piggy-backing off gay, lesbian, and --sex rights. If it weren't for that connection then it would probably be treated just like "Pro-Ana" groups or other Body Disorder groups. I understand transgender. I also understand transsexuality. But I hear those two terms way more than GID which makes me start to wonder if this is more to do with making it more accepted by all the piggy-backing which results in blindly supporting people. With young gay and lesbians its pretty acceptable to be trans (from my circles) so I'm sure as the same time its more accepted more people will come out and more people will use it as a trendy way to express themselves. It's not about people should be shameful but people certainly do need to take responsibility for this. So who should it be the gays and lesbians or top trans leaders who started this in the first place? Cuz I too notice that some of them have been backtracking and realizing that what they have said/done in the past isn't exactly working or needed.




    To add, there have been multiple people posting articles supporting biology and transness. I used to read them myself. I even believed in them. Then I got to thinking...it usually is about not finding enough gender variance. I'd like a study where we have butches, andros, bio men, AGs, then FTMs, etc. Take apart varying degrees of "masculinity" (if thats what you wish to call it) with females and males. Now take all that and do a long term study.

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  16. even if any studies show any similarities in the brains or genes or whatever in people calling themselves 'trans,' i see no reason to jump to the conclusion that transitioning is any kind of 'cure' for these people

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  17. "i see no reason to jump to the conclusion that transitioning is any kind of 'cure' for these people"

    There was even a study which says that it is not effective.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2004/jul/30/health.mentalhealth

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  18. & why do they need to even be 'cured?'
    & all the while saying their condition is a natural variation...

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  19. I don't think 20 year olds should be covered in tattoos either, without the life experience to back them up... (another body mod 'fashion')

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  20. Another way to look at those studies would be that it would prove that females and males have similar brain characteristics. Instead of preferring to look at the data as saying "male brain in a female." Why not remove the sex connotations that restrict the female in the first place? Why not just admit that it is debunking the controversial notion of brain sex?

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  21. @C.J

    I think it's good that science its done in the background. If scientists really find an evidence that it is genetic then perhaps it's possible to tell the difference between people who are really transsexual and people who just jump the trans bandwagon. This would solve many problems for example the problem that perverts or fetishists are forcing entrance to womens spaces by just saying they "feel like a woman" and then assault women and children or it would help preventing regrets. But I don't think that brain scans are helpful if the person has taken hormones already.

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  22. Sorry I meant: science is being done. English isn't my first language.

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