This is a response to Natasha’s response to the Dreger article covered in my earlier post ‘Leave the Kids Alone‘.
So, Dreger is a transphobe, because she says the sort of things that a transphobe would say (that is people who are themselves deemed transphobic because they say things that transsexuals don’t agree with and consider makes people transphobic). Her conclusions are based on the work of researchers who are also considered transphobic, because their conclusions do not conform with transsexual beliefs. Hmmm, here we go round the mulberry bush again…
These researchers are refuted by positing there is a significant number of proto-trans kids who never reveal themselves as children, or are not brought to the attention of researchers (while it is only kids who are not who do, apparently…). Really? Is this like all the adults who were really happy with genital surgery as kids, but never actually come forward to confirm this? Or, maybe they just found evidence for something that a lot of people who aren’t transsexual seem to be well aware of – that most kids who go through this kind of thing do not end up transsexual. But because of who they are, and because we don’t like their conclusions, we are going to put them all in the transphobic bucket and ignore them – and call anybody who dares cite any of their findings a tranbsphobe too. Wow! Neat system dude*.
Then there’s all this stuff about locomotives – I love locomotives, but can’t say I ever imagined I was one, or wanted to grow up to be one; not even a train driver. “let me be clear that I don’t think being a transgender adult is like being a child who imagines he is a locomotive. There’s no analogue to the engine-wish among adult humans. Meanwhile, most adult humans do seem to have gender identities, and we know that some people grow up with genders that don’t match their body types.” OK, now I see where you got your criticism of what Dreger said, you repeated what Dreger said herself – sneaky. You see, another writer might say “Dreger makes clear that the analogy is weak, because people cannot be trains, and do grow up transgender, and do have gender identities” – but you don’t do that, you say Dreger is transphobic, because people cannot be trains, and do grow up transgender, and do have gender identities – so she is transphobic for saying what you said, except that she said it first. Excuse me while I pull my head out of my backside, and put it back between my shoulders again.
As for the fa’fafine, sure, historically roles for gender variant people in stone-age cultures, where they are acknowledged, have tended to be more limited than for males; in context, roles for women have been limited also, and the role of the gender variant does not tend to correlate precisely to males or female. Hey, you think the fa’fafine have it bad, you wanna look at the Xanith – buggered morning, noon and night, to put it bluntly. But, Samoa is a modern independent Pacific nation emerging from colonialism, and its traditions have migrated with its people to other areas in the Pacific, and in the process, modern ideas become absorbed into the culture and return back to the homeland. So, as with the way two-spirit first nation people became active and identified within the LGBT context in the USA, fa’fafine are (or will become) involved with the LGBT movement too – it happens already in NZ, I believe. And just as the UK has women MP’s now, which was unthinkable (for men, at least) a century ago, so too in Samoa, what were once rigidly defined gender roles will no doubt ease over time – for gender diverse people as well as for women. To try to literalise what Dreger is getting at about the fa’fafine here is both duplicitous and ridiculous. What she is saying is not that we implement a social space in the same way it was implemented in a stone-age sea-faring culture – she is saying we should implement a safe space in our culture. Not rocket science, and I tend to agree.
She considers an outcome that involves surgery is not the best possible outcome – hey, guess what, so do I, and so do a lot of people. Especially those of us who had it as kids! Having an aversion to cosmetic genital surgery is not transphobic, it is about having an aversion to surgery, particularly cosmetic and genital surgeries. It does not mean I would want to stop adults having these cosmetic surgeries, or that I cannot support people who choose them, but I can still think they are not the best possible solution to a problem such as gender dysphoria – while acknowledging that for some people there appears to be no alternative. That is not transphobic, that is not seeking to deny treatment to adult transsexuals. Saying there are people who do not have to have transsexual sex reassignment surgery in order to deal with gender dysphoria is not transphobic. It is not saying one is better than the other, or any of that stuff. It is saying that people are different – diversity, remember? And that non-surgery is preferable to surgery, if at all possible – because surgery is surgery, it involves putting people under anesthetic and cutting them up, as opposed to leaving them alone. It is like thinking that liposuction is not the best approach to losing weight, but that does not mean I’m ‘fattist’, far from it.
I actually despair at the whole process transsexuals have to go through – the discrimination, the amount of money people have to find in most countries to pay for the lifestyles of cosmetic surgeons, electrologists, speech therapists, and the coterie of people who survive off the backs of trans people. I despair at the way people who do not come from privileged white middle class backgrounds have to go to extraordinary and at times incredibly demeaning and sometimes dangerous lengths to gain access to the funds they need – and admire the fact that they come through all that and survive. From what I have seen, surgery is often not the one-off-fix, the magic bullet, it is made out to be – but attention to various cosmetic details becomes necessary time and time again for those who can afford it. None of that makes me transphobic – the fear and aversion I have is nothing to do with transsexuals, it is about the surgeons, what they do, and those who prepare the way for them – and I make no bones about that, because my experience has shown me it is not irrational – and so not even a phobia. Go to a WPATH symposium if you want to see what the transsexual industry is really about.
At no point does she imply these surgeries are being forced on children against their will. So, it seems it is you who is being disingenuous. But, I am sure that some people will grab on to what you say in this respect, rather than what Dreger actually says, and trans-activists can whip their followers up into yet another frenzy because somebody else doesn’t agree with some part of sacred doctrine. She is quite clearly talking about prematurely medicalising children in a way that involves them in a series of escalating interventions that are designed to prepare the body for surgery. Children, she argues, and I agree with her, would be better accepted and accommodated rather than medicalised. This was something we argued when I was part of OII, that unless a child had actual physical health issues, it would be better not to make them a medical problem. I argued that whatever rights can be gained for intersex should not be ‘special’ to them – they should be open to everybody. So, freedom for adults from having to choose between one of two mutually exclusive genders on official documentation – open to all people including intersex. Freedom from having non-consensual genital surgery in childhood – all people including intersex (including males and females ‘circumcised’ for cultural reasons). Freedom from having sex, gender &/or genitals medicalised in childhood – all people, including intersex, and transsexuals.
The argument is that otherwise healthy kids will be given hormone blockers and eventually sex-steroids, which they will be dependent upon for most of their life. The course of their physical, sexual and psychological development will be interrupted in a way that prevents them going through the sexual development normally associated with their birth sex. Some of the children like this turn out to be lesbian or gay, but identifying as lesbian or gay is an awareness usually associated with puberty and later. So, by blocking puberty, these children are denied the opportunity of developing in a way that can involve them becoming lesbian or gay (or straight), forestalling that option in favour of one that prevents their development of a sexual identity until they are young teenage adults, by which time they will be able to have surgery. The reason this is done, is because it is felt that by avoiding the ‘wrong’ puberty, transsexuals will be better able to ‘pass’ as adults, and better adjusted to the gender they have been reassigned to.
You then stick her in the ‘worst’ bucket of transphobes – she’s as bad as those blinking radical feminists – because you feel she seems to think like they do. So, now this guilt-by-association is not even any actual real association – but an association of thought. So, what Dreger is guilty of here is “thought crime”. To think differently about transsexual issues than the ways in which transsexual activists want people to think about transsexuality is a crime, and it is a crime that is given the name ‘transphobia’. For ‘transphobia’, read ‘heretic’. In the pursuit of heretics, anything goes it seems.
I am completely sympathetic to the plight of children with gender dysphoria, and would prefer to see them left alone rather than as a problem that has to be medicalised. That is what I see Dreger as saying too. And then, bizarrely, you agree too – “her conclusion, to leave gender variant children lone (sic) and allow them to freely express their gender-variant nature is the correct one”. But because it is Dreger who has said this, you cannot bear it, leave it there and say, “I’m with you on this one Alice”, you still have to read into what she says as being about all you, when it isn’t, it’s about the kids. Just to be clear, I’ll say it again, it isn’t about you, it’s about the kids. It’s about the kids, not you. OK?
Now, you also say that it is not transsexual activists who seek the treatment of gender dysphoric kids in this way. The only people I hear arguing they should be medicalised and given endocrine disrupting drugs in preparation for a delayed puberty which will be induced using sex steroids in alignment with SRS, are some transsexual adults & activists, some physicians, and some parents. I do not hear many cis-gendered people demanding kids be treated – normalised – this way. I hear what you say about bullying, and how that was responded to – but it should have been the bullying that was addressed, rather than the child’s identification. You do know that arguing from the particular to the general is a logical fallacy, don’t you?
It is time you started listening to people like Dreger, and dealing with what they actually say, when they have something reasonable to say – instead of just demonising them as transphobic and hoping that will get you off the hook of having to actually deal with what they are saying. People are starting to find the whole hysterical ‘transphobe’ denunciation thing a little bit tedious now. It is a bit like the little boy who cried wolf – and I did try to point out to people some time ago that there was a risk of this – after a while, people go “yeah, a transphobe, really, another one? where?” – then when you get the mother of all transphobes turn up, it’s too late, you used up all your transphobe cards, dude*.
* please note that ‘dude’ is used here in an ungendered way, in a similar to how women in the UK, NZ & Australia will say to a group of women friends ‘hi guys’, or refer to a woman friend as a ‘mate’ – not in an antagonistic way, it is intended to convey a kind of laid-back, Kiwi, laconic attitude similar to that associated with surfing and beach culture.
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