I don’t think I can be bothered with much more of this kind of thing, but here we go, a long off-the-cuff response to Natacha.
My comment about my response as being intended to be read as a kind of laid back sarcastic drawl was missed, instead, Natasha decided she would misrepresent my arguments, and impute things to me that I have never supported, always opposed during my time as OII board member, and generally try to be patronising. So, I have gone through her response in detail, without altering or summarising, and dealing with every point she raises.
> Mish seems to engage in what many people do when they can’t win an argument; putting words into their opponents’ mouths.
No, actually, that is what you have done by arguing with Dreger’s motives and character, rather than dealing with her argument, and as I will explain, with me. This is not an argument I am seeking to win, it is expressing my views, which I am free to do. they are not the same views as yours, but am at liberty to maintain them.
> This is similar to Dreger’s manufacturing of a mythical group of trans people who are apparently trying to force children to become transsexual against their will.
No, the allegation that I put words in your mouth is completely different from Dreger’s alleged manufacture of a mythical group.
> Mish also appears to deliberately obscure issues;
“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?”
> …and in doing so appears deliberately and highly disingenuously to confuse trans children with intersex children.
You missed the point, let me spell it out for you. This is what we are told about intersex adults who had surgery and had no problems about that, it is an example of a mythical group of people who are said to exist, yet nobody actually knows anybody that falls within this group (people who were happy with their treatment). Howard Devore and others note that in 15 years of activism, there has not any response from people saying they were really happy about their treatment, and supportive of it – but it is still said that most people had no problem with it. What I am asking is this: is this significant number of proto-trans kids you describe a similar type of phenomena? A group of people that are assumed to exist, even though there is no way we get to hear from them. I assume it must be, because their existence is ‘posited’ you say, which I guess means that as they do not come to the attention of researchers, and do not reveal themselves, are a hypothetical group, but a group nobody actually knows anyone who is actually a part of. So, I guess what you mean is that there might be kids nobody knows about. I will come to your evidence that this group exists later, but so far – your word – they are ‘posited’.
> She also fails to mention that the other reason I have suggested that this “research” is questionable in its validity.
Yeah, we all know what Zucker is, and what his chums are. Unfortunately, he is one of the few people that has done any substantial research in this area. I am pissed that he presented research in 2003 that showed that 6-7% of intersex kids are dissatisfied with and/or reject their sex assignment (or develop mental health issues, some committing suicide because of their distress about that assignment), but has never published this, and has no intention of publishing it (I know, because I asked him when he intended to publish it). At the same time, as I made copious notes at that talk, I do have the details and results of that research, but am unable to cite it directly. But, at least I can state that as fact – based on his work – with confidence, because I know the only person who could refute it is him, and he can’t… So, maybe he has cherry-picked his subjects and data in reaching his conclusions about gender nonconforming children and only a few of them ending up trans, and maybe his role as a clinical psychologist has corrupted his data – because he may try to avert kids from a transsexual outcome. I don’t know, and it may be that he has evidence that he has not published for some reason or other in that area too – I don’t know. Even though Gavi is a good friend of mine, I do not have access to his paper – I will have to ask him for a copy. The thing is, Zucker’s work is one of the things we do have – and like Green’s notorious Sissy Boy study, which itself was flawed (according to a paper I heard given by one his subjects), it is what we have. Being of questionable validity means the findings are challenged – yes, that is the case for lots of academic work, people challenge people’s findings, and eventually they are disproved. That is how the scientific disciplines operate, according to people like Kuhn. It doesn’t mean we can ignore them, usually their significance hangs around until, like John Money and Verne Bullough, they die.
> She continues in the same vein;
“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 transphobe too. Wow! Neat system dude”
…providing no evidence whatsoever that the implications of my empirical research are not true.
This did wake me up, I must have missed something – my apologies, I missed the link in there. Very interesting, but not empirical evidence, surely? I tried to access this data in my own research by using the internet to question adults back in 2003 – but couldn’t find any way of establishing the veracity of participants, or the validity of results gained from anonymous respondents to an internet survey. Which is why I rejected that approach, and undertook qualitative research into people’s experiences instead. Out of interest, how did you validate this? From what I could figure out, when I looked at this, what I would have ended up with was not empirical evidence about trans/intersex children, but statistical evidence based on information about the recollections of trans/intersex adults gained through an internet survey – it is evidence about what adults say now about what happened in childhood, but not about what happens in childhood itself. Slightly pedantic, I know, but not insignificant, as the two are different types of evidence, and one is not empirical evidence of the other.
> I suspect she intends to suggest from this that I am accusing the researchers, which Dreger doesn’t actually quote, of being transphobes.
If I was – and now it is you assigning me with intentions, if not yourself putting words in my mouth – I would have to apologise again; maybe I thought you were, as just about everybody else in the community has accused certain researchers about this – picketing the Royal College of Psychiatry and so on. I didn’t appreciate you weren’t associated with all that. I think you think I thought more deeply about this piece than I did – it was knocked off in about 20 minutes, and I didn’t have enough time to develop a more Machiavellian approach than stems naturally from my inner misanthrope.
> This is another example of her putting words into my mouth, as I have said, a classic strategy for people who are unable to make a coherent argument to support their case.
Yes, you said it, not me. No, as you were throwing the word about so much, I must admit I might have thought you were.
> I have suggested, as have many others, that these “researchers” use psychological torture in the form of “reparative” therapy on trans children, and that they have a pecuniary interest in the outcome of their research, which, in my view, significantly undermines the validity of their findings.
God, sounds like Guantanamo Bay – that’s gotta be transphobic then, surely, trying to avert kids from becoming transsexuals? Don’t a lot of researchers in medicine, science and psychology have some financial interest in the outcome of their research?
> In fact Shannon Minter (1999) carried out a detailed study of the “research” carried out by the psychiatrists comprising the Invisible College and demonstrated that their research findings contradict both each other and themselves.
A group of people who’s research findings contradict each other. That sounds like a lot of academics I know. I bet they all all subscribed to Bailey’s Sexology list-serve. Bailey wouldn’t let me join the list-serve for some reason. I guess I didn’t know the secret handshake. I cannot figure out the paper you are referring to, sorry. I am with Thomas Szasz & the GLF on psychiatry.
> Their data has never, to my knowedge, been made available to any kind of external audit; indeed there is quite a wide variation in the percentages they claim as if they are grabbing numbers out of thin air. As such Dreger’s claims are based on unvalidated data from people whose research has been shown to be muddled and who may benefit financially from demonstrating that most trans children become non-trans adults. That is the point I made. Others have also questioned the validity of this data, suggesting that these trans children may well have not been “cured” but have simply decided to pretend that they have to avoid more “treatment”. To suggest that I accused these researchers of transphobia, however, is a lie.
Are many researcher’s datas subject to external audit in the way you describe? Was yours? Was any provision made within your proposal for such an audit? Did any examiner ever ask to see your primary data? I find the whole idea of ‘curing’ trans children reprehensible, but that is because I don’t think they should be seen as problematic – not because of whether some research some people I happen to disagree with was valid or not.
“you repeated what Dreger said herself – sneaky.”
> So, quoting someone else is “sneaky”. I guess the whole output of pretty much every academic and journalist over the last few centuries must be “sneaky” in that case. Once again these are the tactics of someone whose argument fails to stand up.
No, that is not what I was getting at. Dreger explains the flaws in her illustration, and then you use her explanation of those flaws in order to point out those flaws. Usually, in academic writing, you attribute what people say to them. So, to cite Dreger accurately, you would need to explain that she critiques her own argument, and you agree with her critique – not take Dreger’s critique and present it as your own critique as if she had never made it herself. That would be plagiarism. However, I had not approached what you were writing as if was intended as an academic piece of writing – because of the level of polemic, I had approached it as a piece of activist rhetoric. I expect it was all the talk of transphobia, and arguing against Dreger as a bad person rather than dealing with what she was saying, that made me think that. Had I thought it was a piece of academic writing, I would have deconstructed it much more thoroughly and surgically – instead of using the bold strokes of sarcasm that I did.
“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.”
> Again my mouth is full of Mish’s words. I did not say that Dreger is transphobic because, after she wrote about the boy wanting to believe he is a train, she said that this was a false analogy. I am saying she is a transphobe because she included the story about the train.
You didn’t read what I wrote, did you? Read it again then you will see it is not my words in your mouth. I did not say that you said that Dreger is transphobic because she said it was a false analogy (see, you did what you said I did again – you put words in my mouth). I said that she said it was false analogy, and then you copied her, pointing out it is a false analogy, but in using the false analogy that she did, in the way she did, she was being transphobic. (I didn’t put words in your mouth – you have just confirmed what I said in the previous paragraph in your own words – thank you).
> If the story of the boy who wants to be a train is not relevant why did she include it?
It was illustrative, not literal, it is what authors do in queer theory sometimes, especially when addressing non-academic audiences. They use anecdotes and stuff to illustrate something in a simple way, often with an intention of lightening the tone in what is a serious issue.
> However, and this is important, and I am glad Mish brought this up; she has missed a crucial difference between what I said and what Dreger said about this analogy. This is what Dreger said;
“let me be clear that I don’t think being a transgender adult is like being a child who imagines he is a locomotive.”
> Read it carefully, Dreger is NOT saying that a child who wants to be a locomotive is different from a child who says he or she is a different gender. She is saying that the child who wants to be a train is different from an ADULT trans person. In other words she is not comparing like with like. IMO this is significant and represents a deliberate attempt to avoid being labeled transphobic whilst being transphobic. The only way this can be read is that she is therefore equating a child assigned female at birth but who says he is a boy with a child who says he is a locomotive. I am saying that Dreger is a transphobe because the only inference that can be made from this section is that she equates train-boy’s desires with those of trans children. She may be attempting to disguise it with carefully-chosen words but this woman has a PhD, and people with PhD’s are used to being very careful with words.
I read her as saying there will be children for whom saying they are a different gender is similar to a child saying they are a locomotive. But unlike children who say they are a different gender and who also grow up to become adults who say they are a different gender, those children for whom saying they are a different gender is similar to those children who say they are locomotive do not grow up as adults who say they are a different gender, in much the same way adults do not usually grow up saying they are locomotives.
> Incidentally Mish later accuses me of generalizing from the particular to the general (which I don’t, read it carefully), whereas Dreger is clearly doing just that by using this anecdote.
And yet what you said was…
“In Marlow’s case no trans person was forcing him into the gender binary, the cisgender children and teachers in his school were.”
“So Dreger has produced no evidence that trans people are forcing gender variant children into a transsexual gender binary position, yet I have produced evidence to demonstrate that cisgender people do.”
… In one instance.
Can you not see that the evidence you cite in relation to this statement is a single example, so to jump from there is arguing from the particular to the general? I have no doubt there may be evidence that would confirm this, but you did not bring that to bear, you used a single case, and drew a conclusion about cisgender people in general.
Not that it is particularly relevant, but Dreger is not really arguing from the particular to the general, she is using something illustratively. Which is what you could have done in the example I showed above, except that you went on to say this is evidence of what cis-people do. Dreger seems quite clear that there is one boy who wanted to be a train, but also that it is illustrative, and then uses that to construct certain hypothetical scenarios, which never seem to amount to more than that. You didn’t, although you could have, you said this is what cis-gender do, you were quite clear about that. I talked about what trans activists seem to want to happen, and I am not sure anybody is arguing they don’t want certain interventions in childhood (although you now seem to be making a distinction between children and adolescents, even though adolescence is part of childhood up to 16 in most countries).
> In fact Dreger quite obviously uses the analogy to suggest that trans children’s desires are the same as the fantasies of the train-boy, only she chooses to do that in a particularly underhand way.
Well, I read her as saying that for some kids it may be like that, but I don’t see how you get to that from what she says about kids who grow up to be transsexual adults. Of course, she could be being disengeuous, or even lying, but what I have to go on is what she says. So, you think she does this for underhanded reasons, but at the end of the day, it is just what you think her motives are. I don’t know what they are.
> Predictably for someone who appears not to have read the article or my response to it very closely, Mish also lectures me about listening;
So, now you seem to know whether I have read the article, and your response to it, or not. If I hadn’t read it, or your response to it, I’m not sure I would be able to write about this at all. Because I wouldn’t know of any of the contents of either, or if they even related to each other. So, I’ll just move on because that is simply a rhetorical device, intended to undermine and ridicule rather than deal with what I am saying.
“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.”
> I have engaged closely with what Dreger is saying, and my accusation of transphobia is not made lightly. I have explained exactly why I think she is transphobic above and also because of the way she considers transsexual surgery to be the worst possible outcome, whilst any other outcome is OK. This is remarkably similar to the thinking of Raymond/Jeffries.
Which ignores my point, which is that you have not listened to what she is saying – only read her words.
> Here Mish contradicts herself;
“She considers an outcome that involves surgery is not the best possible outcome – hey, guess what, so do I.”
“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.”
No, you need to spell this out for me. In what way is this self contradictory? I go to the dentist with a sore tooth, he says I can either have surgery to deal with the pain, or I can try using Sensodyne – if the Sensodyne does the job, because it doesn’t involve surgery, that is – for me – a better outcome. If it doesn’t do the job, well surgery may still be necessary. I think this applies to any surgery – although I know many surgeons wouldn’t agree. And as the quote you gave is clear I was talking about surgery in general, not any specific type of surgery. Period. What I am deliberately not saying is that people who do not have sex reassignment surgery are in some way better than people who do (or vice versa). What works for one person is not ‘better’ than what works for somebody else. It isn’t very complicated, I said it quite clearly… I thought.
> She also comes out with this;
“It is saying that people are different – diversity, remember?”
> … whilst at the same time suggesting, in a kind of sweeping generalization that;
“non-surgery is preferable to surgery, if at all possible.”
Yes, I see no problem here. People are all different, and when it is possible to avoid surgery, people usually do, if there is some other way of dealing with things. Sometimes it isn’t. Like when I fractured my tibial plateau – there was no other way of re-setting the bone without surgery and pinning. If there had been an alternative, I would have gone for it. When I was diagnosed with Crohn’s, I could have pursued surgery, but on consultation with the specialist, we used drug therapy and diet, which bought the situation under control. I don’t see how this detracts from diversity at all.
In the case of trans people, the point I made was that there is diversity – some people feel they can only deal with their dysphoria with the help of surgery, while others don’t feel they need this.
> Again there are plenty of trans people who would disagree with this. I know one who is awaiting surgery right now and is desperate to have GRS so that she can get on with her life. How much longer, under whatever Mish system she would like to see created, would she have to wait before assorted shrinks have a go at making her change her mind? One “therapist”, Az Hakeem, recently suggested that “years” of psychiatric therapy could “cure” transsexuals. I fail to see how years of messing with someone else’s mind is better than a relatively short time in an operating theatre. If I was given the choice I would rather people do things to my body than to my mind any day.
Yes, this has absolutely nothing to do with anything I said. This is about some argument you have with somebody else, and I am not interested in it. This is not what I am talking about, and completely misses the point.
> Mish again;
“– because surgery is surgery, it involves putting people under anesthetic and cutting them up, as opposed to leaving them alone.”
> A disingenuous assertion. The alternative to surgery is usually years of psychiatric treatment, not “leaving them alone.” She goes on…
No, I am talking about surgery generally, in the context of a discussion about kids who experience gender dysphoria. Your response here has nothing to do with what I have been talking about at all, and relates to a completely different discussion. You are focusing on this issue as if it only applies to transsexual people. I was following Dreger’s article, which is focused on the needs of genderqueer, gender nonconforming and gender-dysphoric kids – and adults – you are talking about transsexuals only. That is why I reminded you about diversity. These matters are not restricted to transsexuals and children who grow up to become transsexual, they affect all of us.
“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.”
> Words fail me; gender reassignment surgery is equated with liposuction.
Disingenuous, to borrow a word you like. It is an illustration of a point about surgery, generally, not saying that liposuction and SRS are the same. They also both happen to be forms of cosmetic surgery, so the similarity is more relevant in some ways than my other examples.
> Mish adds the following;
“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.”
> Dreger’s article however says this;
“I am also sick and tired of trans-rights advocates acting like a certain current-day endocrinologist is ever-so-progressive because he essentially starts prepping genderqueer kids for surgery the moment they are presented by their distraught parents.”
Sure, she does not say they are being forced to have surgery, she says they are being prepared for surgery. Which they are, the whole point of treating them, including the use of hormone blockers, is in preparation for an eventual reassignment. That is how the argument goes, doesn’t it? They are socialised in the gender they maintain, then they have the blockers, which postpones puberty, then they can have sex steorids and surgery to bring about their reassignment. Each step is in preparation for reassignment. If I prepare a student for an exam, I am not forcing them to sit it. Saying somebody is preparing somebody for surgery at a future date is not the same as saying they are forcing them.
> On this subject Mish has this to say;
“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”
> A desperate argument. Why should anyone who is not involved in trans activism, a physician dealing with trans children, or the parent of a trans child, be arguing for this treatment?
I think you missed the point. These are not “trans children”, activists may have decided to label them as such, but that is just what you call them. They are gender-queer, gender-non-conforming, gender-dysphoric children, Dreger seems pretty clear about that from the start. Some of these kids may well grow up to become transsexual. But not all of them. And some of us who were like that as kids, yet who are not transsexual in the traditional sense of the word, are arguing that these kids should not be medicalised.
Has the penny dropped yet?
I hope so, because I wouldn’t want you to make the mistake of calling somebody transphobic who is looking to defend the rights of kids like this not to be patholigised early in life by a medical profession that for the past 50 years or more has been pathologising these sorts of people- and in the process spectacularly letting down – kids like we were.
> However I particularly find problematic the way she uses the word “normalized” here. This seems to be done in the same way that pathologizing psychiatrists did as they positioned trans children in particular, and trans people in general, as passive objects with no preferences, agency or desires of their own. The inference being that trans people are passive objects being subject to and manipulated by others. Something Sandy Stone demonstrated as long ago as 1992 to be the fiction of certain “radical” feminist transphobe. This really does show how much further trans people have to go, before the rest of society considers us people rather than objects.
No, I am not using the word in the way they did, I am using the way we used it when I was in OII: trying to make kids who are different fit into what most people regard as ‘normal’. This is why we described OII as a non-normalisation zone. I am describing this approach to treatment in the same way as I describe theirs – normalisation. I am saying that this seems to be about doing something very similar to what they were doing, only the other way round. Another side of the same coin. Just as we were subjected to normalising practices, my concern is that so too will these kids be, only a different type of normalising practice. I would prefer the other use of normalisation to be applied – which was popular in social work in the 1980’s – so kids who are different are treated as being normal just like all the other kids, and that is all.
> What my research, as well as that of Shannon Wyss, Surya Monro and the writing of Cris Beam, does is show that trans children are active agents who make decisions about their own lives, usually in very difficult situations, they are human beings with agency, their own minds, and their own feelings.
I’m not denying that, although I would question labelling them trans children. I am quite happy for them to have this agency, but not medical interventions that may be unnecessary.
> But the most dishonest aspect of both Dreger’s article and the response to it is the elephant in the room, which she finally can’t resist mentioning; hormone blockers. That is the difference between my position and that of Dreger. When she says “let the children alone” she isn’t just talking about 5 or 6 year olds, which might appear to be the case from the story of the locomotive-boy with which she starts the article. No , what I suspect she really means, and the article makes no sense otherwise, is; “Don’t give trans adolescents hormone blockers.” I am particularly glad Mish made this connection; it brings everything out into the open.
Well, that is how I read her, but I see intervention beginning earlier, with identifying the child as warranting some sort of special attention which involves people such as psychologists. The parents may well need help and support, but it would be better if they could leave the kids alone to get on with life.
> Teenagers and toddlers are very different. One of the particularly misleading things opponents of hormone blockers tend to infer is that they somehow have an inevitability about them. They do not. Hormone blockers are entirely reversible, and are given to trans adolescents, after the start of puberty, in order to give them the breathing space they need. This can save transboys from suffering the trauma (and physical discomfort) of developing breasts, and having periods, and transgirls from having to deal with unwanted erections, wet dreams, a deepening voice and facial hair. If trans teenagers change their minds they simply stop taking them and puberty in the gender they were originally assigned at birth commences.
Except it is not as simple as that, as I and others have gone into in some detail, but you prefer to ignore. They stop hormones, which stops development. There are a number of consequences of this, physical, emotional, psychological and sexual. A child who is gender dysphoric and would go on to become attracted to people of their own birth-sex will not have the opportunity of developing in a way that allows them to have that attraction – because they will not develop sexually until after they have reached an age when the hormone blockers can be stopped, and they have been reassigned. A case could be made that were a child treated in this way, who would otherwise have adjusted to being gay or lesbian, is itself homophobic. Also, as somebody who was diagnosed with osteoporosis in my 40’s, I can tell you that the risks of adolescent development with hormonal insufficiency are very real. What is being proposed is to disrupt development at a crucial stage in a person’s life, and the consequences of doing so can potentially affect their physical well-being as well as their sexual identity, not just their gender identity.
> Mish’s suggestion that they are given hormone blockers to help them pass better as adults is, of course only a small part of the story, but I am sure readers are getting used to this sort of distortion by now. In fact, other than saving young trans people from the trauma of puberty in a body with which they do not identify, hormone blockers are also prescribed because they can result in transsexuals having less surgery (something one would have expected Mish, from what she has said, to support). Transmen may not require double mastectomies, transwomen will not need extensive hair removal and are much less likely to need any facial feminization surgery or treatment to prevent scalp hair loss.
I accept that this is a potential benefit – both in passing – yet you misrepresent it as distortion, even though this is what people have told me, and you yourself agree it is an aspect of this. I can accept what you say about its role in dealing with the dismorphia that can develop as the body matures, and potentially reduce the amount of surgery needed in adulthood.
The counter-side to all this is that it also risks mistakes. Without interventions like these, what happens is the development that the body undergoes ‘naturally’, which may well be experienced tragically, but which are not ‘wrong’ or a ‘mistake’ (although may be perceived that way), and are not in themselves a medical problem. The primary and secondary sexual characteristics of these children are not in some way ‘disordered’, or ‘dysfunctional’, and yet they are to be treated as if they are, and as such their development needs to be avoided, as if their developing breasts or facial hair etc. is in some way ‘abnormal’, and to be prevented. If it were possible to accomplish this without affecting their sexual development, and with it the formation of their sexual identity, as well as their long-term physical development, as well as their emotional and psychological development, I might be more sympathetic to the approach you advocate. But, I would also want to see some pretty clear and quite rigid guidelines that incorporated tests that could determine exactly which of these kids is gender-dysphoric in a way that leads to a transsexual outcome, which is gender-dysphoric but in a way that does not, such as a non-transsexual transgender outcome, which is gender-queer, which is going to turn out a lesbian, which is going to end up gay, and any that are simply going to become heterosexual cross-dressers. But, as you know, such a test is unlikely in the foreseeable future. I would think that harm caused through making the wrong intervention is probably less desirable than harm that just happens without intervention – one is passive, and one is active, and the passive route is one that is down to something that just happens, rather than one that is activated through human intervention.
> However the assumptions she makes in the statement “The argument is that otherwise healthy kids will be given hormone blockers” represents everything which appalls me about her arguments.
Why? Maybe I needed to qualify this for you, otherwise physically healthy kids…
> This statement effectively dismisses the feelings of trans children. Children who are tormented or traumatised by being born in the wrong body may appear physically well but are unlikely to be having a good time mentally. A sound physical body does not necessarily make a healthy child.
Nope, you got my point. I don’t think people can be born into the wrong body, that doesn’t make sense to me, children are born with a body. You are talking as if there is an entity, and it through birth it occupies a body, and it can occupy the wrong one. I don’t understand that. Children are born as a body, and as they grow up, some come to feel there was a mistake and they got the wrong one. The body is fine. I agree that they may not be healthy, psychologically, if they feel they got the wrong body, I understand that. I had a terrible time coping with mine, and felt there had been a big mistake. But that was only what I felt – the reality was I had the body I had.
> This effectively represents an erasure of trans children’s lived experience.
No it doesn’t, I am fully aware of how difficult it is. I experienced this myself, although not as a trans child, because that label did not exist then. I very much doubt that I would be such today were I in that situation. I would be a gender-variant child.
> Trans people are usually born with bodies that have nothing physically wrong with them; trans people manifest no physiological signs that they are trans, that is the problem. Convincing adults that they are trans represents their only option.
Why would they want to convince them they are trans? I thought the way this worked was that kids who are born as boys are really girls, and girls are really boys. In the wrong body, as you put it. So, what they would be convinced about is that, and that is what they would be trying to convince adults about. How would kids know they are trans? How would they know what trans is? Why would they be trying to convince adults they are trans, and not boys or girls rather than girls or boys.
> If the adults around them are constantly equating their self-perceptions with much younger children who think they are trains their problems multiply.
That is not what I have done – and neither has Dreger, she used this as an illustration of a point.
> The way these children’s feelings are dismissed in this way is something I find particularly unacceptable.
back to the rhetoric again. How do you know what their feelings are? I know what my feelings are, and I have some memory of what they were, but I do not know what theirs are, and neither can you. I think you are talking about your feelings, past and present, and the reported remembrance of feelings of other adults who had similar experiences, and are then projecting this onto children/adolescents as if they are you.
No, my view is quite the opposite to what you claim is my view (see, it is you putting words in my mouth, always amuses me the way people often tend to accuse others of what they do themselves).
What I support is allowing the child to express ‘gender’ (whatever that is…) in the way they are comfortable with, without pressure from the adults in their lives. Not to have it be a medical problem, but a normal part of their human development. To allow them to choose the gender roles they wish, to mix them up as they wish; to identify the way they want, to mix that identity up as much as they want; to wear the clothes they like – even if that means wearing a TuTu with combat pants and a Barbie tiara (especially if that means wearing a TuTu with combat pants and a Barbie tiara!). And if they want to be Thomas the Tank Engine, I’d support them doing that too. Right up to puberty.
Why? Because I want every child who, as he grows up, finds this stupid gender system (which so many transsexual, cis-gendered, straight, lesbian and gay people find so precious) incomprehensible, to be able to grow up as free from the damage people invested in the binary gender system inflict upon them as possible. And I certainly don’t want somebody diagnosing them with some childhood illness and treating them as if they are a kid who will grow up to become a transsexual. I don’t want that for kids who might grow up gay, or lesbian, or straight either. Even if you could know which is which, I’m not even sure that treating a kid who is going to grow up transsexual as a kid with a childhood illness is necessarily going to do them a lot of good. What people have done so far in this respect doesn’t seem to have done them a lot of good by all accounts, and I’m not sure there is enough evidence to say doing the opposite will prove any better, or outweigh the risks involved in doing so (which I have clearly stated, so please do not do a copy and paste job that avoids that); and significantly, I really don’t like the idea of having a whole generation of gender non-conforming kids experimented on in this way. There was enough of that kind of crap going on with intersex kids when I was growing up. I don’t like that, and I am not particularly keen on people who advocate such experiments on kids – as un-keen as I am on the people who over the past 25 years or so have been experimenting on such kids to try and make them averse to becoming transsexual.
So, if you are going to critique me, at least do me the courtesy of getting my arguments right, rather than transpose somebody else’s arguments onto me, as if they were mine. And don’t ask for evidence, I have tried playing the evidence game; I am only interested in experience. People are only ever interested in evidence if they think it supports some pet theory, and they will use that theory to try to undermine people’s experience. Experience produces iron in the soul, not evidence, not theory.
This started out with these two responses to Dreger’s critics:
Joelle Ruby Ryan
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.