Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from October, 2015

the oldest taboo

If you look at the world around you there are a myriad of variations and permutations. At every level of nature we see exceptions to the norm because nature is not perfect nor is it uniform.

Intuitively we should be able to arrive at the conclusion that gender identity should be no exception and why should it? That would make it the only area of biology that was uniformly predictable.

This anomaly however, has not been easily accepted since it strikes at the roots of our cultural norms.

Our societies are built on the premise that man and woman are clearly defined concepts and form the nucleus of a family unit which guarantees the survival of our species. Transgender people, no matter how small in number, challenge that model and turn society’s expectation on its head.

Parents would attempt convert their transgender children into models that would fit the expectation of the society they were to live in for the rest of their lives in. This is understandable given the amount of suffering…

Its not about the plumbing

Germaine Greer's comment about "removing your penis does not make you a woman" got me thinking about the case of David Reimer. David was not transgender but he didn't have a penis (it was severed in a botched circumcision) and was raised a girl from day one at the urging of John Money. David didn't know about this error until he was well into his teens and his parents were assured by Dr. Money that he would grow up to be a normal and well adjusted girl.

In the end, no amount of convincing or cajoling could turn David into a normal girl because his brain gender was that of a male. As soon as he discovered what happened to him he began living his life according to his true gender identity. He unfortunately ended his own life at the tender age of 38.

David's gender identity resided in his brain and not in his genitals.

Why then is it so hard for some to believe that for people who are transgender, this identity might be fully or partially misaligned with birth s…

polarization

People who lean to the right either politically, religiously or both seem to be declaring war on what they term the transgender agenda. Periodicals like the Federalist are featuring stories which denounce the delusion of this group of mental defectives who want to destroy our family values and invite strange perverted men into women’s spaces.

To quote a recent article:

"We have officially stepped off the precipice of reality and are in a postmodern sexual identity politics free-fall. More postmodern indoctrination into imagining a male sexual fetish is really “just like civil rights,” People says. Has anyone ever seen a 68-year-old woman discuss “dating” in a national magazine? No. So why do people buy into this?

The sexual identity crowd is doing what they called in the 1960s a mind game. According to the transgender lobby, sex and gender are way different—completely different. And in the new world order, the more confused you stay, the better for media-generated propaganda campa…

Germaine Greer speaks

Now it’s Germaine Greer’s turn to speak out.

Of Caitlyn Jenner she says:

“I think misogyny plays a really big part in all of this, that a man who goes to these lengths to become a woman will be a better woman than someone who is just born a woman. It seems to me that what was going on there was that he/she wanted the limelight that the other, female, members of the family were enjoying and has conquered it. I’m not saying people shouldn’t be allowed to go through that procedure, what I’m saying is that doesn’t make them a woman. It happens to be an opinion not a prohibition.”

I may not be Caitlyn Jenner’s biggest fan (or the Kardashian clan for that matter) but even if Greer were to be technically correct, what is the point of her remarks and how does it help the dialogue in a world where transgender women are routinely discriminated against?

Even as they now move about the world with more transparency than ever before, the majority of them do not have easy lives. Not everyone is beaut…

our biological programming

The combination of gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation is actually far more complex than a visual inspection of society would have you believe; it’s just that many people don’t present themselves as they might like to.

Societal pressure is an enormously powerful weapon that, when combined with early conditioning, form a formidable force in arresting the non-conformance of people who are inclined to be different.

If tomorrow we were to relax all norms pertaining to gender behavior in our children, we would start to see some of them naturally gravitate towards their own blend of masculine and feminine. The question we must then ask ourselves is: what is inherently wrong with that?

In the past, these children were made to conform and thus were exposed to the psychological stress that comes with such adherence. But what if we softened the gender rules instead of forcing the child to choose from a predetermined model?

Our psychologists carry their own bias with them. …

self indulgence

One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome was the notion that by treating my gender dysphoria through cross gender expression I was somehow being self indulgent. When I think back now it makes little sense but at the time I truly did feel this way.

Imagine needing to eat or sleep. Is it somehow self indulgence when we do either? And yet there I was stuck in this loop of guilt about doing something that was a natural part of my psyche. Needless to say not everyone is going to like it but they are not you and have no intrinsic understanding of what it's like to be transgender.

Removing that obstacle is the only way out.

Perhaps you believe that you caused your own dysphoria in which case nothing I say here will dissuade you from your mindset. It took me the longest time to accept that I was not responsible for the way I was.

The fly in the ointment of course is the fact that most of us never announced this difference of ours when we entered into relationships. I was one of thos…

the imitation game

The most explosive social issues seem to always involve people on the outside dictating to those who are most intimately involved. This is the nature of the world I am afraid.

If you don’t conform or fit in you will be made to or you will be punished. This usually takes the form of ostracizing, insulting and/or actual physical violence.

I had already seen “The Imitation Game” in the theatre shortly after its release but watching it again with my son recently brought this subject flooding back into my mind. This film, by the way, was both N’s and my choice for best picture of 2014. It was beat out by “Birdman” which was a more unconventional and esoteric film.

If you haven’t seen the movie you should because it features the life story of Alan Turing, a brilliant man who had a great impact on the world. In the end he was reduced to being punished for being a homosexual during a time when acting upon it was considered indecent behaviour.

Those of us who are transgender can relate.

The p…

your personal journey of transition

I feel that creating a definition of what transition means for you is important. Transition is not a destination but instead a process. The first step comes with accepting that you are a transgender individual and you were born that way. What you do after that is up to you to decide.

This blog is on the record many times as being neither for nor against a complete gender role transition. Instead I advocate the idea that you should be of sober mind when you embark on such a journey and that you understand that it’s not going to necessarily be a picnic.

I have come to think of transition as the journey towards a place where you are comfortable managing your gender dysphoria.

There are many positive stories of transition but also of some that are less convincing and some that are downright tragic. The fact is that some people will reject you and this will include family members. Jobs and marriages may be lost and perhaps relationships with children jeopardized. It’s not about wanting to …

pagentry

Womanless pageants seem to involve two distinct types of participants. One is the archetype of the macho male who is a good sport and clearly does not want to try too hard while the other is the almost feminine and convincing type who could almost pass with just a little more effort.

Both are representative of what is found in the male population. After all just like women are not all girly and feminine not all men are overtly masculine either. To some degree we all play a game so that we can be seen to fit within the confines of expectation.

The macho type will wear flip-flops and won’t bother shaving their legs while the feminine ones do shave plus wear the latest fashionable heels. It’s interesting also to note that within a given pageant you rarely see both extremes; in other words some regions, causes and/or age groups put on different types of pageants which either make a comic mockery of femininity or at the other extreme almost celebrate it.

Some men clearly feel ashamed and a…

why psychology is not science

Here is some well explained reasoning as to why the field of psychology is not actual science and if you are basing a theory on it, you are on very tenuous footing indeed. It was published in the LA Times on July 13th, 2012 and written by Alex B. Berezow as a retort to a previously written Op-Ed piece:

“Psychologist Timothy D. Wilson, a professor at the University of Virginia, expressed resentment in his Times Op-Ed article on Thursday over the fact that most scientists don't consider his field a real science. He casts scientists as condescending bullies:

"Once, during a meeting at my university, a biologist mentioned that he was the only faculty member present from a science department. When I corrected him, noting that I was from the Department of Psychology, he waved his hand dismissively, as if I were a Little Leaguer telling a member of the New York Yankees that I too played baseball.

There has long been snobbery in the sciences, with the 'hard' ones (physics, chem…

Fixing society

There seems to be more than enough hate to go around.

Another transgender woman named Ashley Hallstrom walked into traffic because she despaired about how she was being treated by society. The unfortunate truth is that there is plenty of reason to despair. She grew up in Utah so you can imagine that it was not an easy childhood.

Quite a number of posts ago, I featured the toxic website called GenderTrender written by an extremely irritated (and equally irritating) militant feminist who seems to post incessantly on the transgender scourge overtaking women’s rights. It’s a hodgepodge that mixes bizarre commentary on trans kids with (you guessed it) adulation for the work of Blanchard and Bailey from which the site mostly bottom feeds. While the 99% of the male population commits all of the heinous acts against women, this blogger chooses to pick on the 1% who thinks they were born on the wrong team. Either this person is dim or I missed a memo.

Hatred trumps logic every time.

I have al…

the challenge for the faithful

I had a very religious upbringing which made my journey that much more difficult regarding the acceptance of my gender dysphoria.

Right now, religious conservatives are being cross-circuited. The challenge of Christianity is to love all of mankind and accept people as they are. They are to love the sinner but hate the sin but then is transgenderism sinning? I would argue that it is at most a morally neutral issue.

If one is modifying their body to correct something that is arguably an error of nature is that any different than the surgery people have to correct other abnormalities that we are now able to address with modern surgical techniques? What about those who only opt for hormone therapy or only transition socially with no alterations to speak of?

We have entered into a realm where these literalists must try and navigate the waters between empathy and their dogmatic belief that there is man and there is woman and nothing in between.

Some churches may still want transgender peopl…

indignant

Over dinner last night, N told me that she thought I might be talking to issues that few people actually care about. I think she might be right.

Most transgender people are not directly impacted by the faulty science I point to in my blog. The people who are making the day to day decisions that affect the rights of transgender people do so with empathy and sensitivity.

So why do I insist on focusing on these issues?

I guess its because all of that strife I went through, which then submerged me into gender theory, had me finding such flagrant gaps of logic that I became indignant.

She is right of course. Things are improving every day for people with gender dysphoria and the treatment options are more varied than ever.

That is what counts most.

story of acceptance

I know I have been giving organized religion some slaps on the back of the hand lately. But here is a story of an Edmonton, Alberta transgender woman's acceptance from her faith community and her bishop.


It can be found at this link.

heal thyself

I remember when I was first getting online looking for a cure for crossdressing and discovering sites of people who were really struggling. Here I was only dressing a few times a year and I thought that I needed healing. Of course this was many years before I truly began to research and attempt to understand this complex subject.

One of the things that in retrospect strikes me the most was that the people on these sites felt truly responsible for this terrible indulgence and considered it a vice to be eliminated at all costs. I must admit that at that time, I also shared that opinion. I also read numerous articles which basically stated that (much to my chagrin) there was no known cure for this affliction.

Notice that all of this has everything to do with the notion that this is entirely your own making and perhaps here is where the fallacy begins. It didn’t even occur to me that this could be something which was essentially prewired and that I was behaving in a way that was normal fo…

an epic fail

This will be my last post from my recent series dealing with Autogynephila.

You see, Blanchard proposes that it is erotic arousal that drives gynephilic men to transition. But then here is the rub: once they have received cross-sex hormones why do they not recant and simply revert to being men? After all the HRT treatment destroys the male sex drive which is supposed to feed this desire in the first place.

The fact that this does not happen is further proof that you cannot reduce gender dysphoria to a simple model about a misdirected sex drive. No there is much more here than meets the eye.

Anne Lawrence tries to come to the rescue of her mentor in one of her essays by saying that the erotic drive of a younger man becomes replaced with affection and love in an older person. Referring to late life transitions, she employs the analogy of what happens in a traditional marriage where the initial sparks of pheromone-driven passion wane in favour of a deeper love borne of shared experience …

good grief

Some people just refuse to get it.

Here is Kay Brown on her blog criticizing Anne Vitale for not acknowledging Autogynephilia as observable phenomena. But wait….we already had a name for what gender dysphorics (and other people on the planet) do when they sexually fantasize: it’s called masturbating.

News flash for Kay Brown: renaming an observable phenomena that has existed since humans have been on this planet by a scientific sounding name does not make it science.

Here is the sleight of hand that Brown and other Blanchardians use and it’s so simple:

By calling the erotic fantasizing of dysphorics Autogynephilia ,they can then use that term to say that this “condition” drives these people to transition. Except they forgot one thing: the proof that it is this invented condition that is doing the driving.

You see absence of proof is not proof. I learnt that a long time ago when I was a science student. Just because we have not yet found the biological processes which might play into t…

a unified theory of gender

If you haven’t read Felix Conrad’s very well thought analysis of the transgender condition you should. He uses very logical step by step philosophical reasoning that is hard to ignore and basically involves accepting the notion that (for some people) there is such a thing as possessing a gender core that diverges from your biological birth sex.

It’s a fascinating read and you need to read all 4 parts!

Felix believes in a unified gender theory as I do. Nature does not always produce an individual whose core gender identity is aligned with their birth sex and these children are often conditioned to fit in by well-meaning parents and teachers. In the end, however, they are who they are inside. Some rebel early and some try to conform but their gender core does not budge one iota.

Transgender people therefore need to do to what they must to respect and celebrate their own sense of internal gender which can include but not necessarily lead to transition.

The link to Felix’s well written es…

Anne Vitale responds

Before I get to my correspondence with Anne Vitale, some of you may be wondering why this blog focuses so heavily on the science (or lack thereof) on the subject of transgenderism. The answer is simple:

• I have a natural curiosity and a rational mind
• I suffered tremendously as a child and then as an adult at the hands of an ignorant and stupid society

As a result I have little patience for insufferable windbags, people elevating their own agendas at the expense of others and pseudo-scientific bullshit.

My recent posts have focused a lot on AGP which is one of the biggest shams I have ever read up extensively on. Only in a practice like psychology could it so possible to be so intellectually lazy and allow people like Blanchard to get away with what he was doing for so long.

On a practical level it changes nothing because his quackery is being circumvented through the introduction of public policies that help transgender people lead better lives. A large number of them probably don’…

more AGP critique

Kelley Winters, Ph.D. is a writer on issues of transgender medical policy, founder of GID Reform Advocates and an Advisory Board Member for the Matthew Shepard Foundation and TransYouth Family Advocates. She has presented papers on the psychiatric classification of gender diversity at the annual conventions of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Counseling Association and the Association of Women in Psychology.

Back in 2008 in her GID Reform weblog, she wrote a piece critical of Autogynephilia that bears reading and to which I will add a link at the end of this post.

In the comments section after her article, someone posed the following statement and what follows is Ms. Winters’s reply. I add my own commentary after the italic portion:

Q: "As a gender variant male without GID. I would like to stress that Autogynephilia is much less stigmatizing than Transvestic Fetishism, because it recognizes that we are Gender Variant. The definition totally describes me

“Adult m…

conondrum

I have always believed that a transgender person has to make a compromise in suppressing a part of who they were in order to be in a relationship and I still think this applies in the great majority of cases. I am of course more specifically referring to the woman-loving male to female variety.

Some rare couples buck the trend and what I surmise is that the woman was able to get past the external wrapping and look at the person underneath. To be frank I don’t think I could do it myself so I am in awe of those who can do this. It must take a huge adjustment and I am certain it’s not like flipping a switch in the brain.

Some of you are in the throes of this sensitive adjustment period right now while others don’t even dare to broach the subject with their spouse for fear of outright rejection. I don’t presume to advise anyone here.

What I do know is that suppression for you as a dysphoric does not lead to a good outcome. I mentioned recently that the ageing process tends to liberate you…

Please don't be fooled

Here is a post from Alice Dreger’s blog dated June 15, 2015 and how she addresses a question she is asked about Autogynephilia:

Q: “To what degree do you think that the trans experience can be divided into the two categories suggested by Blanchard: i.e., are transgender individuals either gay or autogynephilic?”

A: First, it’s important to point out for those new to this that Blanchard and Bailey were only looking at male-to-female transgender individuals, so we are only talking about transgender women. I also need to explain for novices that Blanchard suggested (and Bailey agreed) that there are two types of male-to-female transgender individuals, the one being autogynephilic and the other what Blanchard called “homosexual transsexuals.” These are natal males who are androphilic, i.e., attracted to males.

As I say in the book, I find Blanchard’s term “homosexual transsexual” confusing, because after transition, these individuals are women having sex with men. Calling them “gay” is eve…

the trauma argument

Some gender dysphorics try to explain the way they are by adopting the narrative that they experienced emasculation trauma at an early age. That occurrence so marked them that it helped produce some sort of fetish.

I've reflected on this argument many times but have always come to dismiss it as an origin for the transgender condition. First you must buy into the idea that a very young child can be sexualized many years before puberty and secondly you then need to accept that whatever happened to them was so traumatic that they are permanently stuck this way.

This type of narrative is not very prevalent in the countless ones I have read from other gender dysphorics. It seems that many had pretty normal childhood experiences save for the fact that they needed to hide this early self discovery that they were different. But I don't discount certain people's narratives and how they helped shape their psyche.

People who favour this argument may find solace in that since they enj…

Felix Conrad makes me belly laugh

Not only does Felix eviscerate the utterly stupid theory of Autogynephilia (which was the subject of yesterday's post) but he does so in a way that actually made me belly laugh. Felix you have a way of exposing these crazies in a far more stylish way than I can. I wonder if Julia watches his videos!

Felix keep doing what you do!

Now the rest of you please do yourself a favour and watch.....



Blanchard and his posse....

Consider how stupid the Blanchard school must think the public is that they stand steadfast in their attempts to label his work as being actual science. The last time I checked, science was based on theories supported by verifiable evidence.

Psychiatry, if not a pure science, at least employs scientific methods to treat known conditions with a combination of counseling and pharmacology. Examples would be things like schizophrenia or clinical depression.

Contrast this with the invented condition known as Autogynephilia which is supposedly diagnosed through an extensive interview process which looks for evidence based on a preconceived notion by the researcher. Any claims by the patient that don't fit the theory (such as any prepubescent history of gender confusion) are simply dismissed as lying.

To illustrate my point, let's use the example of polling which isn't about science per se but which uses scientific rigor to make sure the process is unbiased and consistent. A poll…

I don't get it

I don't understand gun culture.

I was born in Europe and raised in Canada where the idea of owning a gun is the last thing on people's minds. This is most especially true in urban areas.

The right to bear arms is engrained in the American constitution so gun advocates use that phrase to justify arming themselves to the teeth. Never mind that the constitution was drafted in 1776 and was meant to serve a new fledgling country with expansive spaces and the need for hunting. Your local law enforcement officer was probably also hours if not days away.

Pretending that the same rules should apply in the 21st century is beyond ludicrous.

In many States, if someone breaks into your house you can shoot them no questions asked. Sometimes before some people get to test that weapon on an intruder their own child inadvertently uses it on themselves or on a sibling.

No America doesn't necessarily have crazier people than other places. What they do have is easy access to weaponry. So o…

An interview with Anne Vitale

The following is an interview conducted by Lin Fraser (herself a trained therapist), with her longtime friend and associate Anne Vitale, PhD. The interview took place by phone on Aug 27, 2010 in San Francisco and Pt. Reyes Station California.

Anne M. Vitale PhD is a senior clinician and charter member of HBIGDA, now WPATH. She is a founding member of BAGA (Bay Area Gender Associates, the longest ongoing peer consultation group devoted to transgender issues started in 1989 in San Francisco) and web visionary of http://www.avitale.com/. Anne also published the book. (2010), “The Gendered Self: Further Commentary on the Transsexual Phenomenon”, which is a compendium of her 30+ years experience working with the transgender community.

Needless to say I am a huge fan of her work and have quoted her in my blog often:

Lin Fraser (LF)- Tell us a little bit about your background.

Anne Vitale (AV)- I’m a shoe worker’s daughter from back east who ended up with a doctorate in Psychology after art s…