On the Science of Changing Sex

COVID-19 Deja Vu

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on March 13, 2020

Kay BrownI’m feeling a sense of deja vu these days.  It feels a tiny bit like the early ’80s as HIV/AIDS was spreading in the gay male (and androphilic only) trans communities.  Then, it was a mix of dread and denial.  For me, as it became clear who was most at risk and why, I was in deep dread that I might already have a ticking time bomb lurking in my body.  I had been sexually active with men as an obligate bottom during the ’70s and early ’80s before my SRS.

Until the HIV/AIDS epidemic, I had had completely unprotected sex.  I had never even seen a condom until I attended a “safe sex” education party held at one of my Stanford classmate’s house.  I mean, why should I have?  It wasn’t like there was ever any chance of pregnancy, right?  Seriously, that’s the only reason we knew for using a condom back then.  If one got an STD, one took a course of antibiotics, no muss, no fuss.  How wrong we were.

When testing became available, there was an option to have it done anonymously.  I didn’t want to do it even then, dreading the possible result.  But my friends, Joy Shaffer, M.D. (a gynephilic transwoman) and her lover, Patricia quite literally shanghaied me to take me to the clinic.  They also got tested, but c’mon… it was only done as a show of emotional support for me, so that it wouldn’t be so obvious that I was the only one who was actually at risk.  Fortunately, the test result was negative.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic grew and we learned about it being an STD and a nearly universal death sentence, some of us dramatically changed our behavior.  I know I certainly did.  I dramatically reduced my sexual activity and kept condoms with me at all times.  I had quite the “dry spell” for while, unwilling to risk even protected sex unless I knew that the man I was with was a very low risk.  (The fact that I dated almost exclusively straight men helped reduce that risk… but even then… better safe sex right?)

But some gay men and HSTS continued to contract HIV because of denial and ignorance.  And President Reagan refused to even acknowledge that we have a serious epidemic killing us.

So, here we are today, with a global pandemic illness and a President in denial, failing to respond appropriately, and some people in total denial as though it won’t affect them.  Deja vu.

Yes, it can.

So, please, stop going clubbing or to concerts.  Work from home if you can.  Wash your hands often.  Listen to health authorities and ignore bad advice on social media.

Survive.

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Oppressive Rituals of Ceremoniously Announcing One’s Gender Pronouns

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on April 8, 2019

Kay BrownBefore I jump into the deeper topic of this essay, I need to share an anecdote in the hopes that reading it will help any non-trans person reading this to understand it.  (Note: I normally avoid the use of the term “cis” as it is deeply problematic, but that is an issue for another essay.)

About a decade ago, I accompanied a young protégé, a 20-something transwoman to Trinidad, Colorado so that she wouldn’t be all alone as she underwent SRS and the painful first days afterwards.  I stayed at a B&B owned by a lesbian.  It was billed as a very trans friendly place where transfolk and their families / friends could stay during and after their hospitalization.  Perfect, I thought.

Well… not so perfect as it turned out.  The first few days went well as I got along well with the relatives of the transfolk, who except for exactly one 17-year-old, were all classic autogynephilic transwomen.  The non-transfolk, all female, staying at the B&B were clearly self-congratulating themselves for how supportive they were of their transgender relative.  The owner of the B&B was friendly, and tried to get me to partake in smoking grass and staying up late to get more than tipsy on hard liquor with her lesbian friends.  As I never drink more than a few sips of wine with dinner, never use pot, and am habitually an early to bed, early to rise type, she was very disappointed in me.

But, after being there several days, as my young protégé lay in the hospital bed recovering, there was some rather animated discussions among the family members of the transfolk at the B&B, it became clear to me that they all thought I was my young protégé’s mother.  Further, it became clear that even though all of these people had transfolk as relatives, spouses, or lovers, they didn’t really have a clue as to certain aspects of trans-life, history, or medical etiology.  I said something that could only be properly understood if one knew that I was trans… Oopsie!

The owner of the B&B suddenly turned to me and said, “But YOU aren’t transgender!”.

“Yes, I am.  I had SRS in this very same place twenty-eight years ago.”

“But you are so womanly!”

Yes, that is a verbatim quote, which tells volumes of her perception of and attitude toward the many transwomen that she had met over the years of operating her B&B.

It took several more minutes of question and answers before they actually believed me.

But this was a very bad move on my part, outing myself… even to this ostensibly trans friendly environment.  Where before I had been simply a woman to them… suddenly, I was no longer in that social category.  I was the “other”.

Oh, they never misgendered me or stupidly asked me to divulge my “real name”.  And they still used feminine pronouns.  But, it had a different accent, a different emphasis, when they used it.  Further, I wasn’t to be involved in the same conversations, or invited to the same activities.  I was the “other”.

I spoke with my husband on the phone every evening and told him how icky it all felt.  How I felt deeply unhappy, lonely, even weepy at times.  He spotted it.  He got it even before I did, “You are the &^%$#@! again!”

“Yes, that’s exactly it.  I’m the lowly &^%$#@! to them.”  I feel that same awful icky, sick to my stomach, sinking feeling that I had as a child and teenager before I socially transitioned and lived mostly stealth.  Back when even my own siblings derisively called me, “It”.

Non-transfolk, often without realizing it, have a condescending attitude toward transfolk.  We are “those people”… the “other”.  And even when they are socially liberal and think of themselves as oh so hip, so “woke” to use modern cant, transfolk are never normal people to them.  We are “those unfortunate people”… and of course as privileged “cis” folk, they must be nice to us by using the correct pronouns.

About Those Pronoun Reveal Rituals

apa_pronoun_stickersSo now I turn to the heart of this essay.  There has been growing for several years, a practice that when I first encountered it made me feel that same icky feeling.  I was in a room with other, mostly LGB and non-trans straight allies.  I was the only trans person in the room.  Because I was there as a representative of the transcommunity, everyone in the room KNEW that I was the only &^%$#@! trans person in the room.  Yet, as is often done, they went around the room in a circle to “check in”.  I’m very used to the traditional check-in, one introduces oneself and says how they are feeling or some other appropriate to the meeting statement.  Cool.  But this time, a very NOT cool addition had been made.  It was socially expected… you know how that works… expected that one would announce one’s ‘pronouns’.  When it got to me, I did the socially unexpected thing and after announcing my name, said “Pass.”  (As in the card game Bridge, one says “pass” instead of making a “bid”.)

I had hoped that they would get the hint.  No… because at a later meeting, they did the same thing.  Once again, I was very obviously the only trans person there.  Once again, I simply said, “Pass”.  After this… it seemed that they got the hint and this ritual stopped.

But, a year later, we have a new addition to the organization, a middle-aged, but recently transitioned, gay identified FTM transman.  And, we have a non-transwoman organization building professional consultant coming in to lead the group through a long and much-needed planning meeting.  She, knowing that there are transfolk in the group, does the now socially obligatory “check-in” with the same oppressive pronoun announcements.  Given that part of the check-in was to say how we are feeling, I spoke up and said how irritated, angry, sick to my stomach, and condescended to, that this ritual of having to announce our “pronouns” made me feel.  This was NOT a welcome statement as everyone but the other trans person got defensive, really defensive.

Here’s the thing.  Would any group of non-trans-folk be performing this ritual if they knew, KNEW, that there weren’t any transfolk in the room?  Then why the ^%$#@! are they doing it when they know that there is?  Why the &^%$#@! do it when they already KNOW what the gender presentation of that trans person means for their pronouns?

Here’s the other thing.  Having to tell everyone their pronouns is superfluous to non-transfolk, a ritual that they perform to virtue signal to each other and mistakenly believe that they are signaling “welcome” to those who are trans.

One of the rationales I’ve heard for this ritual, “But how are we to know what pronoun to use?”  To many transfolk that feels like, “If I have to tell you what my pronouns are, my transition has failed.  Please don’t make me feel like that.”

Another rationale I’ve heard is that it is helpful for those just starting transition, especially young people.  Interestingly, a young transwoman, S. Alejandra Velasquez, wrote about this very issue 15 years ago in her essay on recommendations regarding therapy for transkids,

“Transkids who have not transitioned socially are unlikely to put a great deal of importance on what pronoun you use for them or what name they’re called. This is not a sign of having ambivalence to their gender or feeling conflicted about which gender they want to be; given that their gender is already at issue they may simply not care how a health care provider addresses them. Showing ‘sensitivity’ by trying to respect their ‘gender identity’, or worse insisting that they declare their ‘gender identity’, will only make them feel embarrassed. Transkids are practical about identity issues so don’t make a bigger deal about it than they do.”

blerp-d9aa89fd_pronoun_stickers

If someone wants you to use a pronoun that doesn’t match their appearance and obvious intended gender presentation, they can simply inform you of it privately.  No muss, no fuss.

Can we please just let transfolk be folk?  Can we please stop this shallow virtue signaling that makes non-transfolk feel that they are cool and welcoming while in truth, they are telling us that we are “the other”?  Don’t expect us to participate by wearing label stickers.  Don’t expect us to participate by putting / announcing pronouns on our social media pages.  And don’t post your own, it doesn’t help us, it hurts us.  Get to know us as human beings.

Addendum 7/12/2019:

I recently saw a posting that was widely shared calling people who don’t need nor want to participate in this ritual of announcing one’s gender pronouns, or posting them on their social media, “transphobic”.  Given that a fair number of transsexuals have been refusing to participate, this is non-transgender people calling transsexuals, “transphobic”.

Further Reading:

The Silent Transsexual

Further External Reading:

Treatment Recommendations For HSTS Transkids by S. Alejandra Velasquez

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Folklore Gender Tests

Posted in Autobiographical, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on September 17, 2018

Kay BrownGender “tests” found in fiction and folklore… Or… Nailed It !!

When I was in middle school, one of my classmates, a friendly acquaintance and I were standing in an interminably long slow line for some reason I’ve long ago forgotten.  Bored and reaching for something to amuse herself she challenged me to a “gender test” to see if I was a “boy or a girl”.  It consisted of three items.

The first item was to light a match.  From a book of matches I pulled one out, turned it so that the wider edge aligned with the striker strip so that when I pushed it along away from me it wouldn’t bend in my fingers.  “Oops!” my friend says… I “failed”.  According to this test, women light their matches in this fashion while men pull the flat of the match head along the striker toward their body.  The theory is that women are more careful to keep the flame away from their fingers and body than men.

The second was to ask the testee to look at her/his shoe soles, the bottoms of their feet, while standing.  I no longer remember if I “passed” or “failed” this item of the test.  But I remember that men are supposed to turn their legs and ankle in front, looking straight down.  Women are supposed to bend their knee so that their foot rises up behind them and look over their shoulder.  It may be because of the difference in dress standards for men and women (boys and girls) in that age?  Men are wearing trousers while women are wearing skirts.  It may look unseemly for women wearing knee-length skirts to bend forward, but lifting their leg backward with such skirts is not?

Fashion does impose limits on movement or convenience.  In Huckleberry Finn, our hero runs away and hides by impersonating a girl.  An old woman tests and catches him out by tossing a ball of yarn while his hands are full holding a skein.  He instinctively pulls his knees together to form a larger catching surface.  Gotcha!  A girl, used to long full skirts fashionable in the mid-19th Century would have spread her legs instead to let the skirt catch the ball.  But, consider asking a woman in that era to look at the bottom of her feet encumbered by such a skirt.  She isn’t as likely to bend her leg up behind her, only to catch on her long skirt.  More likely, she would have lifted her skirt slightly and bent her leg, hidden behind the skirt (and much like a curtsy), and turned the ankle to look straight down.

The third and final item was to “look at your nails”.  I naturally held my hands out in front of me, my fingers straight.  “Oops!” my friend says, “you failed the test!  You do things like a girl.  You need to be more careful.”  She looked at me as though to tell me more but I cut her off, changing the subject.

When men look at their nails, they near universally bend their fingers toward their palms.  Women are far more likely to hold their fingers straight, bending their wrists slightly backwards.  Although this may be reinforced by the fashion of long nails, in fact, this “hyperflexion” as its called is very common in girls and feminine boys from an early age, even when not looking at their nails.

Later, in high school, as I was in the early process of coming out and socially transitioning, I sat having a friendly chat with one of my female friends who suddenly grabbed by hands exclaiming that she would teach me how to groom my nails.  She explained in a happy rush that boys didn’t groom their cuticles or trim their nails properly, etc.  “You need to learn how to gently push back your cuticles like this…” then stopped dead as she actually saw, really looked, at my nails for the first time… and saw that my cuticles were perfectly groomed.  “I groom them in the bath, push them back after they soften in the water.”  Up to that moment, I honestly had never given it much thought.  Of course I kept my nails clean, neat, and very slightly longer than most boys but not to the point where it would set my mother off on one of her ugly transphobic harangues.  I had been doing so for years.  My nails looked much like my friend’s!  My friend had made the erroneous assumption that I didn’t have a clue about feminine grooming skills.

Within weeks of that conversation, the narrative was flipped.  I was doing her make-up, as well as several others of my friends, anytime they had “big dates”.  There is a very telling inside joke told in the trans community about transwomen.  “How can you tell the difference between an early transitioner (HSTS) and a late transitioner (AGP)?”…   “An early transitioner is happy to do her female friend’s make up for them as she does it better… while a late transitioner needs her wife do her make-up for her.”

Speaking of nails and autogynephiles.  On a social media forum, I was corresponding with several women who were discussing transgender issues.  Some were welcoming my explanations of autogynephilic behavior and motivations and the obvious differences between HSTS and AGP transwomen while one clearly transphobic woman hatefully rejected the two type taxonomy declaring we were all “deluded perverts”… and deliberately tried to push me off the forum insultingly telling me to “Go do your nails!”.  Sigh…

I flashed back to the memory of my friend from high school… and several others.

It reminded me of an anecdote in Amy Bloom’s essay “Conservative Men In Conservative Dresses” in which a woman related how she was expected to clean up the dishes after dinner while her husband applied polish to his nails to allow him to express his “inner femininity”.  That image says volumes.

That in turn lead to another memory…

I’m on a blind date with a man who knew he would be meeting a post-op transwoman and was open to the experience.  I was told that he was a trust-fund baby, etc., so I had dressed nice to meet him at a trendy cafe.  One look told me that I had been lied to.  This man was clearly NOCD (“not our class, Dear”) as the saying goes.  He was slovenly dressed.  He was poorly educated and boorish.  His family may have left him some money but he clearly was an unemployed bum, an unemployable LOSER.  I tried to find a polite way of ducking out early but he seemed to be unable to take a hint.  Further, he was absolutely fascinated by me and kept asking questions.  I wanted to avoid making a scene so was being as polite and hushed voiced as I could.  I was trying to avoid making eye contact as a way of discouraging him so focused on his hands resting on the table as he leaned toward me.  There was something odd about his hands.  Not only were they not really clean, his nails were a tad bit too long, They were rough surfaced, the ridges clearly visible, the cuticles ragged, poorly groomed… but wait… was that clear nail polish on them?!  Oh My God!  This man was a secret cross-dresser, an autogynephile!  As this realization was sinking in…  suddenly something I had said in answering his questions about myself set him off.  He became quite excited, his voice raised a bit as he asked several more questions, which concerned me lest others overhear.  Then in answering a question about my childhood he burst out very loudly, “You’re a TRUE TRANSSEXUAL!”.  People at other tables clearly heard and turned to look at me.  I was mortified and no longer felt the need to be polite so looked him in the eye and told him to lower his voice and that I was leaving.  He tried to apologize but I ducked out.

Whew!  Good riddance… only it wasn’t.  He found out where I lived, what my number was… and stalked me for months, sending me gifts, notes, calling me.  My roommates had to shield me.  I finally told him that if he didn’t stop, I would turn to the law… and told him that he needed to get therapy to deal with his obsession.  I also made it very clear that I would never date a cross-dresser which finally got through to him that I would never be his girlfriend.

External Further Reading:

Amy Bloom, “Conservative Men In Conservative Dresses”

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Misplaced Moralizing

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on August 28, 2018

Kay BrownOr…  #MeToo & #WhyIDidntReport

The other day, a non-transwoman on a “gender critical” (which usually means “transgender belittle”) forum hatefully misinterpreted a passing remark in one of my essays about maintaining safety and privacy when dating as a teenaged MTF transkid.  She very nastily described stealth, passing, transwomen not telling their dates that they are trans as “rapey”.

No, “rapey” is…

a man inviting a 20-year-old transwoman who had just moved into the low rent flat a couple doors down to watch some TV during a quiet summer saturday afternoon.  In the middle of a program, without saying a word, he unzips his pants, pulls out his penis and proceeds to masturbate.  Without saying a word, she leaves the room to return to her own room and locks the door.

“Rapey” is…

a tall, above 6′, very strong-looking man in his early 30s following a 5’7″, 140lb, 19-year-old transwoman, in a mid-thigh length dress and light sweater, off the bus at night, on her way home from her job as a secretary, following her only a few paces behind her duplicating each turn down deserted streets toward her suburban apartment obviously looking for a dark corner.  That young transwoman, steeling her nerves, turns to confront the man hoping that a brave face will deter the attack she knows must be coming, saying “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”

“Whose going to stop me?” he says haughtily, tilting his head up to show his disdain.  The transwoman, having confirmation that this man does indeed intend to rape her and seeing her opportunity for surprise, folds the fingers of her hand to form a sharp edge of her knuckles and strikes him in the throat, turns and flees as fast as she can for the final few yards for her apartment door, her hands shaking so badly that she drops her keys before finally getting the door open, slips into the apartment, slams, locks, and bolts the door!

“Rapey” is…

a coworker grabbing a 21 year old transwoman in the hallway at work as she comes out of the women’s room, dragging her kicking and screaming to the men’s room while repeating over and over “It will be alright,” in a sick twisted “calming” voice.  In the doorway to the men’s room he pulls up her calf-length skirt, pulls down her panties and grabs her… oops… pre-op genitalia which he hadn’t expected.  At that moment she shakes loose, bolts down the hallway, enters a room and locks the door behind her.  She waits for an hour before peeking out the door then runs full tilt for the parking lot and drives home still shaking.

Rape Culture…

is telling management about the attack, where upon, she is taken to a dimly lit room with only one chair to be interrogated by two men looming over her.  Her request that she speak to a woman is denied.  After scoffing at her account she is fired a few days later.

Rape is….

…having fallen asleep on the couch at a stranger’s apartment because your date doesn’t want to go home yet.  Rape is when the occupant of that apartment, now that she is alone there, her date leaving her still sleeping, wakes that 20 year old transwoman by forcefully ripping her clothes off, dragging & throwing her on his bed naked, and forcing his penis into her anus… all the while she is screaming at the top of her lungs for help which never comes as he keeps talking like he is making love to her.  She kicks and tries to bite him but he is far too big, strong, and holds her two wrists in one large and very strong hand.  She is sobbing when he is done… only he isn’t.  Still holding her wrists above her head, drags her to the shower where using soap washes her off, removing the ‘evidence’ of his crime.  He follows this by fondling and attempting to masturbate her pre-op genitalia with soap lathered hands.  She sobs, horrified and shamed all over again as he does so.  The soap gets onto her wrists which allows her to slip his grip and push away from him.  She runs to her clothes, dodging the man by jumping over his couch, and runs out the door in a state of mostly undress, and keeps running several blocks before stopping to dress herself.  She makes her way home on foot in the menacing dark, puts on her least attractive sleepwear, and stares unseeing at the wall huddled protectively to herself until dawn.

Rape Culture is…

knowing that she can’t go to the police to press charges because she knows what happens to women… how they get revictimized and retraumatized though the whole process… how their sexual history gets dragged out in court to make her look like a slut.  Take that public slut shaming defense tactic and imagine what the press coverage of the “alleged rape” of a 20 year old “boy” who looks and acts like an attractive girl would be like in 1977.

That’s “rapey”.

Rape is…

… a 21 year old transwoman feels the knife at her throat wielded by a stranger who forces her to perform oral sex on him… while hoping against hope that she will still be alive when he is finished… and hopes that he doesn’t find out that she is trans… ’cause that’s how transwomen end up as the headline reads “Man Found Dead In Dress”.

Yes, that’s definitely “rapey”.

That transwoman in each of these incidents was me!

So don’t you DARE presume to some higher moral ground to tell ME that accepting an invitation to share dinner, or go to the park, to bike riding, or to the beach… without outing oneself as trans to him is “rapey” !  Oh that poor man…he had a pleasant time with a woman he never knew was a transwoman.  How horrible!  He doesn’t know how very traumatized he isn’t!

Rape is immoral because it is traumatizing, degrading, and demeaning.  By conflating transwomen maintaining their privacy for either safety or self-esteem reasons until they are certain that they wish to share that medical history with a prospective romantic partner with rape they are not expressing valid moral reasoning but simple trans and homophobia.   It relies on the notion that for a straight man to be romantically involved with an androphilic transwoman, no matter how physically and behaviorially feminine, no matter how desirable a personality or moral character, he is demeaned by the experience.  He becomes less of a man, either homosexual, clueless, or both, a figure of ridicule, while the transwoman is to be despised as a liar and a cheat, as well as an effeminate (misogyny) homosexual (homophobia).  The meme disparages both parties, increasing the discrimination that androphilic tranwomen experience and the likelihood of being severely beaten and murdered by transphobic straight men who find themselves attracted to such transwomen (whether or not they knew beforehand).  This meme is deadly to androphilic transwomen (no hyperbole).

Further Reading:

Essay on how androphilic transwomen are at high risk of transphobic violence from straight men.

Essay on transphobic jokes and memes that falsely portray androphilic transwomen as sexual predators

Essay on gynandromorphophilic transsexual attempting to coerce androphilic transwomen to have sex, including this author.

Further External Reading:

What is ‘second rape’ and what can we do about it?

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Pose: A Look at Transgender Realities

Posted in Autobiographical, Film Review by Kay Brown on June 30, 2018

Kay BrownMy husband and I have been watching a great new drama show on FX, POSE.  I don’t normally watch shows with a transgender theme.  They usually either misrepresent us, make fun of us, or we are the designated tragic losers.  But Pose is different.  As Janet Mock, one of the writers for the show and an important voice in how the show was developed and what issues it covers, said, the show “centers transwomen of color”.  Yes, it does that, and a whole lot more.  It also, by the simple statistical reality that transwomen of color in the US are far more likely to be exclusively androphilic early transitioners, the show centers “homosexual transsexuals” (HSTS).  I love the mix of black, puerto rican, and white transwomen in the show.  This being set in New York, that fits the local demographics.  (Here on the west coast, our mix also includes meso-american hispanic, Filipino, and chinese.)

I haven’t seen a single “late transitioner” being portrayed.  Even better, they don’t make the oft mistake of conflating the two types.  No, we see only one type, as they really are.

This essay is less a review than an educational exposition.  Because the show focuses on HSTS in a realistic way, in a way that I have never seen a TV show actually do before, it offers me an opportunity to connect the science, sociology, psychology, history, to a show that you can watch and connect the dots.

Not all of those dots are flattering.  In the very first episode we see Electra Abundance, a house mother of a collection of trans & gay youth, lead her crew on a caper to steal 18th Century court dress from a museum just so that they could outshine their competition at a Ball.  At least one of the crew, Angel, is a sex worker on the street.  In a later episode, we see a bisexual young man, one of House of Evangelista is a street drug dealer.  Yes, it was like real life, but it still hurts to see stereotypes of street kids, gay and trans alike, as petty criminals.  Electra and Angel have sugar daddies that help get them off the street.  On the other hand, we see Blanca, the mother of the House of Evangelista working a real job at a nail salon.  This too is very realistic.  Very few transwomen who end up on the margins of society when young ever climb very far on their own.

Speaking of throwaways, the show opens with heart wrenching scene of a gay teen being thrown out of his family by homophobic parents.  Blanca and Angel both relate ugly stories of being rejected by their families as kids.  (Been there, done that!)  The show gives us a glimpse of how transwomen form houses and in essence are the social workers that provide group homes for throw away queer kids.  They have been doing this for a very long time.

As the show is set in the late ’80s, there is an ever-present pall hanging over the characters, “the plague”, HIV/AIDS.  At the time, being HIV+ was literally a death sentence.  There is a powerful reminder that though thousands of people were dying, then President Reagan couldn’t even bring himself to mention it.  Homophobes literally saw it as ‘God’s Punishment’ on queer folk.  In the opening scene of the first episode, we meet Blanca as she learns that she is HIV+.  She is a strong woman and decides that knowing that she may get sick and die soon, she is determined to make the world a better place by creating her own house built on love and encouragement for her charges.  She hides that she is HIV+, but works to educate others on safer sex practices.  In another episode, we see AIDS patients in the hospital being treated as pariahs; in one case hospital staff refused to enter the room to deliver their meal.  In another vignette an older gay man cajoles three younger men to get tested at a clinic.  We see three of them joyful that they tested negative, but the older man is first devastated, then puts on a brave face to lie about his own HIV+ status.

Allow me to switch to a few personal anecdotes.  I’m 61 years old now… I lived through all of this.  We first began to suspect something was wrong with the first hints were a rash of young men getting a rare cancer.  I vividly reading a cartoon in the gay press, must have been 1980 (?) that read, “I’m glad I’m middle-aged… too young to get old man’s Karposi’s carcinoma and too old to get young man’s Karposi’s.”  I remember standing in line to see a movie at the Castro Theatre and recognizing Karposi’s lesions on a man’s face.  Then, gay men and HSTS transwomen started dying of lots of illnesses that shouldn’t have been killing them.  I remember talking to one of my childhood friends trying to explain all of this, including the various theories, some of them incredibly homophobic such as the notion that gay men were dying because of too much partying, drugs, and of course, sex.  But then it became more obvious that this was an infectious agent that was sexually transmitted.  The fear was palpable.

My own sex life took a very steep nose-dive.  I was then recently post-op, but I had been having unprotected sex with men as an exclusive bottom for years before that.  I had never even seen a condom.  Why should I?  It wasn’t like I was going to get pregnant, more’s the pity.  Sure, there were STDs… but antibiotics could take care if it.  I learned about and how to use a condom at a safer sex house party hosted by members of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance at Stanford.  Like the men in the show, I was too afraid to learn my HIV status when testing became available; but my good friend and sister transactivist, Joy Shaffer, M.D. then a medical resident working with HIV/AIDS patients in the hospital when many others refused, insisted.  Joy and her girlfriend Patricia went with me to the clinic.  They were obviously not in a high risk group, but got tested alongside me to offer encouragement.  I was negative.  I felt relief… but the fear was still there.  My sex life remained much more restrained for a good many years later, until I got married.

Public Service Advertisement:

Practice Safer Sex!  Keep and use condoms.  EVERY TIME!!  Learn about and take PrEP medications to reduce your chances of becoming HIV+.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled show.

Because this show has writers that are themselves early transitioners, we see some intimate details that aren’t usually portrayed.  For instance, we see in one episode that not only are HSTS obligate bottoms, but that they are also “avoidant”.  That is, that they would prefer not to have their pre-op genitalia touched during sex.  Just to make sure the audience understands that this is universal, both Electra and Angel have discussions with their sugar daddy boyfriends about it.  As Electra’s boyfriend puts it, “What?! You didn’t think I noticed you grimace when I touch you there?”  This detail, of course, is almost never discussed or portrayed elsewhere because most of those shows wish to portray young transwomen as sex toys for “chasers”.  In this same show, we learn that Electra’s and Angel’s boyfriends are both chasers, gynandromorphophilic.  That is, they both prefer pre-op transwomen and want to touch their lover’s pre-op genitalia.  Electra is faced with the prospect of losing her man if she has SRS, but decides to go ahead, for her own sake.  Angel, upon learning that her man is a chaser, is repulsed and loudly orders him to leave.

The writers seem to know their history.  In one of the episodes, we see Blanca angered by the blatant transphobia from the ‘straight looking – straight acting’ gay male crowd at a local bar.  She attempts to use civil rights style counter sit-in tactics to force the bar to accept her presence and to serve her.  But that bar uses bouncers and even the police to enforce their ‘no queens’ policy, deliberately insulting and misgendering her.  The gay men at the bar cheer as Blanca is arrested for no real reason.  I see this as a metaphor for the way that much of the larger gay and lesbian community mistreated the transcommunity from the early ’70s through the late ’90s.

The show is singularly refreshing and I look forward to viewing the rest of the season.

Further Reading:

Essay on correlation between non-white ethnicity and HSTS

Essay on HSTS being ‘avoidant’

Essay on gynandromorphophilia

Essay on historic transphobia in the gay and lesbian communities

External Further Reading

‘We’re More Than Capable’: Pose Stars Push Back on Cis Actors Playing Trans Roles by Maiysha Kai

Pose Writer Janet Mock on Making History with Trans Story Telling by Janet Mock

“When Are Trans Actors Allowed to Act?” by Hannah Giorgis in the Atlantic
The FX drama Pose is the rare example of a show that actually gives trans actors top billing—an effort made all the more urgent by a recent controversy that saw Scarlett Johansson cast as a transgender man.

“POSE” IS A TESTAMENT TO THE SELFLESSNESS OF TRANS WOMEN by Dr. Jon Paul

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Detransitioners Are NOT The Enemy

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on June 21, 2018

Kay BrownTransgender folks should not fear or loath detransitioners.

When I was 18 years old, on my own, effectively disowned by my family.  (I say effectively, as I was given a meagre allowance with the stipulation that I was NOT to come home or be seen by any of the family’s connections.  That is to say, that I was treated as a “remittance man” for a while.)  I was fully socially transitioned and was just beginning HRT.  I had found a room to rent with kitchen and bathroom privileges.  The owner, a young divorced mom with a young daughter and her twenty something brother lived downstairs.  Two other women rented rooms upstairs.  Oh… and they often had boyfriends spend the night… so this wasn’t some female only space by any means.  In fact, I even had a date with the brother, went to a Jr. College dance together.  I couldn’t really afford the rent, so I did babysitting of the daughter in exchange to lower it to what I could afford.  I should mention that I couldn’t afford to eat either!  I went hungry for weeks at a time.  One of my high school friends found out about that and organized a food drive for me.  I ate a lot of strange stuff from cans for a while !  After several months of this… well, disaster struck.  I got read and outed.  No one in that house wanted a transsexual in the house, I was forced to leave.

So much for the theory that if people know an LGBT person, their hatred will be reduced… not in 1975 it didn’t.

So, I had to find a new place, fast… and I didn’t have enough money to rent my own space, no matter how humble.  I didn’t know a single transperson.  I had never met a transperson.  I was completely alone, no community, no mentors, no one I could turn to.  I can’t properly express how lonely and afraid I was.

I was told about a place called the Alternative Community Center, where they had a bulletin board listing housing.  I hoped that I could find an LGBT friendly space.  I inquired at a goodly number of situations… While I found plenty of L friendly spaces, some G friendly spaces… there did NOT seem to be any T friendly spaces… In fact, in one mixed house I got quite the cold shoulder, openly hostile and vile comments.  But as I walked out, one of the straight men, ran after me and excitedly talked to me, actually trying to flirt with me, then admitted he was a closeted cross-dresser (i.e. a gynandromorphophilic autogynephile)… and while he clearly wanted to be my buddy, he also wouldn’t stick his neck out to support my joining the house-hold.  I was becoming depressed and disparate.  Then, my luck changed.

A very butch lesbian had a room available in a rented house near the beach.  She explained that it was temporary, it being winter, the off-season, so she had rented it fairly cheap.  I could have the room dirt cheap.  Her name was Curly Hummingbird.  She was totally cool with me being MTF trans.  I couldn’t believe my luck.

Living there was comforting and I felt more than welcome.  Curly even set me up with a man she knew.  She loved sharing with me that all her lesbian friends had the hots for me.  She didn’t tell them I was trans.  She also made it VERY clear that she too found me attractive.

As time went on, we had many late night discussions.  It turned out that she was a detransitioner.  She had lived for three years passing as a man.  Yes, when gays, lesbians, and straights were all horribly transphobic when confronted by an actual transperson, a detransitioner was my savior.

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The God Jupiter pretending to be the Goddess Diana to seduce / rape Callisto

After several months, winter turned to springtime weather and the house rent went up.  Curly was moving on (to live in a wymyn’s land commune up in the Santa Cruz Mountains) and so must I.  I thought I had found a new savior, a mid-twenties, self-described “straight” transwoman I had met at the Stanford Clinic’s “Grooming Seminar Series”.  She was very keen on me moving in with her.  But she turned out to be a sexual predator instead (as I wrote about years ago in another essay).  So, I learned that transwomen could be just as dangerous as straight men, perhaps more so for being wolves in sheep’s clothing.

But interestingly, at that “seminar”, Dr. Laub, Sr., the surgeon of the clinic made an announcement that one of the popular members of that little community of autogynephilic transwomen had decided to detransition AFTER having SRS.  This sent shock waves through most of the attendees, save for one twenty-something lesbian identified post-op who philosophized that “he” had found what he needed on his life’s journey and that no one should feel sad about the situation.

Thus, the earliest lessons I learned in the transcommunity… detransitioning was real.  It happened.  It was not tragic… and they were not my enemy.

Having said that, I will admit that there is one very loud asshat of a detransitioner who clearly is our enemy, Walt Heyer.  But notice that he seems to be the lone voice, beloved by the transphobic alt-right and the homophobic Xtian Right alike.  He is the exception that proves the rule.

Finally, I want to point out that someone who begins social transition and/or HRT but backs away from that in a short period of time should perhaps not be considered a detransitioner?  After all, we used to have a consensus in the caregiving community that there should be a “Real Life Test” period sufficient to determine if such transition and medical interventions were the right thing for a given individual.  Perhaps we need to view such “detransitions” as not being detransitions so much as having conducted the medical / social / psychological tests and found that they were not right and count that as also a win?  I’ve learned a new name for such folk, as they call themselves, “re-indentifier”.

Oh, Curly, if you read this, please contact me?  It would be great to catch up after all of these years.

Further Reading:

Essay on Tranwoman as Sexual Predator

External Further Reading:

“I Wanted To Take My Body Off”: Detransitioned

New Thought Crime Blog

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Shameful History of Reparitive Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial by Kay Brown on June 11, 2018

Kay BrownThere is an ongoing ‘war of words’ concerning the best course of treatment for gender atypical & dysphoric youth.  Lately, as our society has learned to accept and even celebrate LGBT youth, there has been a reaction from religious and reactionary bigots who would wish to return to the days when parents and medical caregivers could treat gender atypicality as a serious psychiatric disorder that needed drastic interventions in and of itself, rather than a non-pathological variance found in all human societies.  So, perhaps its time to review the history of such interventions in the light of more recent scientific and humanitarian knowledge.

First, one must understand that historically, gender atypicality concerns were mostly focused on male children, ‘sissies’.  It was often assumed that ‘tomboys’ would outgrow it, but sissy boys would all too likely (and statistics bear this out) grow up to be homosexual or transsexual, both equally considered as disordered, criminal, and to be avoided at all costs.

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To understand the nature of a given intervention one must first understand the underlying assumptions about the etiology of gender atypicality, dysphoria, and sexual orientation that a given intervention was designed to address.  During the mid-20th Century several competing theories vied with each other but there was a common thread, that of a disturbance of nurture.  That is to say, that they rejected the role of biology and focused on the environment.  So, if the environment is broken, so will the child be.  From there, several theories emerge, first up, faulty family constellation, lack of “appropriate” role modeling, and the “Smother Mother”.

sex-and-gender-the-development-of-masculinity-and-femininityThe faulty family constellation theory is from observations that many children grow up in so-called “broken homes”, where single mothers are raising children on her own, with no man in her life.  The theory is that a boy child simply has no male role model and thus learns only feminine behavior and identification.  But, this wasn’t true of all feminine boys.  So, another term was added, the “emotionally absent” father.  This was a man, who though physically present in the home, rejected his son and thus failed to mold the young boy’s behavior toward the “healthy” masculine norm.  Of course, a modern understanding would be that the boy’s femininity had been the cause of the rejection by a homophobic father, not the other way around.  Also, many masculine heterosexual boys had grown up in single mother households, so they had to add the term “vulnerable” to the description of the boys, that is to say, only those who were “vulnerable” to this absence developed into sissies.

The theory also holds that the mother in these families tends to ‘smother’ a boy, hold him close to her body for excessively long periods, ‘tie him to her apron strings’, etc., such that he can’t form a separate gender identity, or even any identity, of his own.

The intervention designed to ‘fix’ the faulty family constellation is to introduce a “healthy” masculine heterosexual male role model to the boy and encourage identification and subsequent modeling upon that man.  Since it isn’t always practical to require a single mother to find a suitable husband willing to take on the task of ‘toughening up’ the sissy boy, the goal is to place the boy in therapy sessions with a suitable role modeling therapist.  For a pre-teen this would often mean “play therapy” with sex typed boys toys.  Ideally, there would also be family therapy where the boy’s father would be encouraged to take a greater role in the child’s upbringing and similar withdrawal of the mother’s involvement.  Playing with girl’s toys is to be actively denied and punished, taking away beloved toys and dolls, often lampooned as “Drop the Barby” therapy.  Another aspect would be to restrict the boy from having female friends and require them to participate in single sex activities such as scouting, etc. where they are often exposed to peer disapproval and even bullying, as a means of providing negative (aversive) “natural consequences” to their feminine demeanor.  It sounds almost gentle and acceptable (compared to electro-shock or emetic drugs then in use in adults)… but underneath, the message to the child is that they are not “ok”, that there is something deeply wrong with them, that they are not lovable as they are, leading to reduced self-esteem and increased loneliness.

While we can all applaud the idea of family intervention to encourage more paternal involvement and bonding, the idea of decreased maternal involvement is simply not justified given that we now know that the faulty family constellation theory is just plain bogus.  Further, if a homophobic father can’t step up and bond with a feminine boy, that boy will need his mother’s acceptance all the more.  Further, placing the blame upon the mother for having “encouraged” the boy’s femininity in this manner is just plain evil.

{Personal Note:  At the age of ten, during the ’67-’68 school year, I was sent to such “play therapy” with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up), a tall bearded man in a large room filled with toys.  I don’t remember seeing any girl’s toys in the room, ever.  According to my parents, separately, since they divorced when I was a teen, I trust that they were both being candid with me, it had been the school psychologist who had insisted that I be refered to Dr. Peters and only Dr. Peters.  This would also explain why my teachers interfered with my female friendships and forced me to interact with boys in class, and there was nothing subtle about it, why I was required to join the Scouts where I hated and eventually kicked out by the Scout Master, sneeringly, as “not Eagle Scout Material”.  —  What I find saddening about the episode is that in my case, the faulty family constellation theory is completely reversed.  My mother, though an amazingly capable and caring parent, was the one who became emotionally unavailable and rejecting.  It was my good fortune that my Dad was always a very warm, loving, caring, and devoted father to all four of his children… though, if we are all honest about it, I was likely his favorite.}

Another intervention that gained some currency in the mid to late 20th Century is, in effect, to place a child into a Skinner Box, that is to say, create a deliberate reward & punishment system, in therapy, in the home, and in the classroom, in which gender typical behavior is consistently recognized and rewarded, perhaps with tokens redeemable for desirable privileges, while gender atypical behavior is penalized.  This type of environment is often used in cases of extremely “disturbed”, aggressive, or violent children and teens where cooperative behavior is rewarded and aggression is penalized.  Here, the theory is that child is held to be “gender disturbed”, expanding the definition used for one class of children requiring extraordinarily harsh and controlling interventions to another.  There were a number of ‘therapist / researchers’ who have published and recommended such interventions using just this pathologizing language.

EOFR3sFXkAEA8WW-2One of these, George Rekers, a self-hating closeted gay man, not content to label gender atypical boys “disturbed”, not satisfied with the stigmatizing term “effeminate” boy, coined the even more powerfully pathologizing and stigmatizing term “feminoid” in the manner of the racist stigmatizing of those with Down’s Syndrome as “mongoloid”.  One of Reker’s recommendations included abusively “spanking” (beating actually) young feminine boys when they committed some feminine behavioral infraction.  Interestingly, Rekers own research showed that such feminine boys were essentially like gender typical girls,

The amount of feminine play by the feminoid boys was found to be significantly greater than that of normal boys, but not significantly different from the predominantly feminine play patterns of the normal girls.”

Imagine putting a gender typical girl through this… yes, that’s the moral and psychological equivalent.  I can’t even begin to express how evil I find this so-called “therapy”.  And this is what some parents and pundits wish us to resume?

Special Note:

Greens bookOne of the most important and yet at the same time, distressing aspects of this shameful history is that these abusive interventions came out of the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the late ’60s and ’70s.  It is important to understand that at the begining of this program, they believed that they were treating transsexual children and had not yet realized that many of these boys would grow up to be gay men.  At the very heart and center of this was Robert Stoller and Richard Green.  It was Dr. Green who gathered together these vulnerable gender atypical children to allow graduate students to conduct this shameful “research”.  Rekers, in his published paper on the “treatment” (read: torture) of Kirk Murphy (aka Kraig), thanks Dr. Green for providing him his victim.  Further, Dr. Green was personally involved in the research.  Knowing this has certainly lowered my esteem for Dr. Green who I had previously held in high regard.

External Reading:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Alan_Rekers

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/06/07/sissy.boy.experiment/index.html

What Are Little Boys Made Of?

References:

Rekers, G., Yates, C., “Sex-typed play in feminoid boys versus normal boys and girls”, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/BF00917600

GEORGE A. REKERS AND 0. IVAR LovAAs, “BEHAVIORAL TREATMENT OF DEVIANT SEX-ROLE BEHAVIORS IN A MALE CHILD”, Journal of Applied Behaviorial Analysis (1974)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1311956/pdf/jaba00060-0003.pdf

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Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transsexual Kids

Posted in Autobiographical, Editorial, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on June 9, 2018
Candice2

Kay Brown with her adopted daughter Liz

I’ve been interacting with parents of transkids for many years now.  What they go through is heart wrenching.  I’ve talked to both supportive and non-supportive parents.  I’ve talked to even more transfolk, both those who were transkids and those who were adult transitioners.  Each was impacted either positively or negatively by their parents attitudes… but none were hurt more than those transkids who had been emotionally abused or abandoned by their parents as teens.

TransSupportUntil the advent of ubiquitous social media, the main means of “trashing trannies” was mass media and churches.  But now, with social media, parents of transfolk are bombarded with conflicting messaging from all sides and can have difficulty knowing which information to trust.  Just as in politics, there is now a great deal of “fake news”, propaganda, misinformation, half-truths, even outright lies to be found online.  Some of it from people whose only interest is to hurt transfolk because of religious or socially formed trans- and homophobia.  Some of it is from transphobic parents of transkids themselves.  There are even websites and discussion fora created by these very same parents bringing together such like-minded folks to create a wave of disinformation, fear, uncertainty, and doubt in others so as to bolster their own decisions to deny their own children the respect, agency, and medical services they so clearly need.

In this post I will actively gather such propaganda and explore how it works and why it is wrong.  My goal is to help parents recognize when others are trying to manipulate their emotions to effect their decision-making.  This will be an ongoing effort so this essay will be updated whenever I see or remember an issue that needs to be addressed.

With popular celebrities like JK Rowling of Harry Potter fame now spreading much of these lies and disinformation, it is more important than ever to separate what is fact from what is fiction.

If this essay seems overly long, blame the voluminous amount of such hateful propaganda that has been created and spread.

Quoting Transfolk Out of Context

This is so classic that it needs only to be mentioned in passing.  But I recently discovered a hideously anti-transkid propaganda website that takes it to a whole new level, including quoting and linking to my blog here out of context:

https://www.genderhq.org/trans-youth-controversial-schools-lgbt-science-dysphoria

Bad History

One sure fire propaganda tool is to set out a revisionist history of the treatment of Gender Dysphoria.  Those who control the memory of the past, control understanding of the present.

One trick is to lie and say that the term ‘gender dysphoria’ is new and replaced the older (and presumably more accurate) Gender Identity Disorder for political reasons under pressure from “transgender rights activists”.  The real history is that “Gender Dysphoria”, a medical term coined by Dr. Norman Fisk at Stanford University in the early 1970s, was included in the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic name and was incorporated in the name of the professional organization, Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association formed in the late ’70s (more recently renamed World Professional Association for Transgender Health).

Greens bookAnother trick is to falsely claim that transsexuality / transgenderism was only about adult sexuality and that children were never part of the picture until very recently.  They sweep under the rug such books as Green’s 1974 Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults.  Children and teens, transkids, were being seen from the begining.  Teenagers were being seen and very quietly transitioning, either as run-aways, throw-aways, or for the lucky few, living at home with supportive family.  Sadly, its also true that some kids were treated abominably in futile efforts to “cure” them (more below).  Transkids, then called “primary” or “true” transsexuals, have always been with us, but they (we) were largely invisible, a despised underclass, criminalized by the law, pathologized by psychiatry, problematized by society, church, and family.

“Transgender Ideology”

The moment you read or hear someone use that term, the material that person is going to share is propaganda.  Those familiar with the culture war against gay rights and marriage equality will recognize its propaganda equivalent “Homosexual (or Gay) Agenda” .  Of course that agenda was social and legal equality.  “Transgender Ideology” is a search for social and legal recognition, and access to medical services, nothing more.  Any other claims are just disinformation.  Both of these terms are meant to invoke nebulous distrust of the motives and actions of the LGB & T communities.

We also see people making calumnious claims that transgender people are trying to “indoctrinate” kids into being transgender.  This is very much in keeping with the old anti-gay equivalent of “recruiting” young people into the “gay lifestyle”.  Sadly, such false claims are even being made by transphobic gays and lesbians (no group is too small or too oppressed that it can’t turn and do the same to an even smaller and weaker group).

However, when you read claims of “Transgender Ideology”, there is an ideology that may be at play… theirs!

Another loaded term in vogue is “industry”, as in “medical industry”, “transgender industry” or just “gender industry”.  The term falsely invokes the concept of a large and uncaring medical industrial complex out to make as much money out of poor hapless kids and their parents, destroying lives, rather than the deeply caring doctors and therapists that actually exist.

Another means of subtly invoking distrust of transfolk is to describe various elements of the quite disparate transgender communities as the “transgender lobby”, likening them to powerful business groups that gain disproportionate power through chummy relationships with lawmakers and regulators.  This is a classic trick whereby one falsely paints a marginalized group as secretly powerful.

In the same manner, every transperson who speaks out is labeled an ‘activist’ (often shortened to the acronym, “TRA”) with a smug undertone that ‘trans rights activist’ means a person with a not to be trusted self-serving “agenda”.

A very recent and subtle twist is to use the term “transgender movement”, as though the existence of transfolk itself was a “movement” or fad, rather than the correct term “transgender RIGHTS movement”.  Consider that the push for equality under the law for non-white people was not called the “Colored Movement”, but the “Civil Rights Movement”.

A popular term meant to subtly disempower transkids and transsexual adults is “gender confusion” to replace “gender dysphoria”.  It implies that transfolk are just “confused” and likely mentally challenged and should just “look in their pants!”.  When you see that term, you know that the speaker / author is no friend of transfolk.

I recently saw a man post a whopper of a lie on a website telling parents that childhood gender dysphoria was an early sign of developing schizophrenia!

More recently, likely because of this very essay pointing out such disinformation and propaganda, some key anti-trans activists have been labeling efforts such as this blog as ” real propaganda”.  It’s a clever “Catch-22” style trap to silence transfolk.

One clever rhetorical trick is to create a false comparison by showing that their propaganda can’t be labeled “transphobic” because true / real ‘phobia is when people are physically abused, beaten, tortured, etc.  Transpeople aren’t being lynched or gay bashed (actually, we are…).  But they fail to acknowledge that dehumanizing language sets the stage for that treatment.  While working against one’s civil, legal, or human rights is just another tool of the bigot.  And in the case of transfolk, working to deny access to reasonable and affordable medical care is just as damaging and cruel.

Blaming the Internet and Other Transkids / Adult Transsexuals

A recent meme to question the validity of gender dysphoria in teenagers is the concept of “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) in which being trans is described as a “social contagion”.  Gee… that’s just saying this is a “fad”… and like the old “phase” claim that transkids were discredited with in the past.  Of course, there is the problem that it has become trendy to claim a “trans” or “non-binary” identity, but these kids and young adults are NOT gender dysphoric.  I’ve written an entire essay on this.

The existence of these non-gender dysphoric teenagers and young adults falsely claiming a “trans’ or “non-binary” identity is easily weaponized to discredit the existence and sincere social and medical needs of transkids, especially as these non-gender-dysphoric teens and young people drop their claim to being “trans” to claim a new identity as “detransitioners”.  Detransitioning does exist.  It is usually found in adult transitioning autogynephilic males who later regret having attempted transition when they find it doesn’t actually help them.  However, detransitioning is extremely rare in actual gender dysphoric teenaged transkids and former transkids (transsexual adults who were gender dysphoric as children).

A classic trope is to falsely claim that transsexuals (or people in general) are telling kids that aren’t trans in any fashion that they are in fact transgender.  They may also use emotionally loaded, sexualized language like “seduced” into being trans. (See classic trope of gay and lesbian people “recruiting”, above.)  One way of making it (falsely) seem especially evil is to claim that the kids being targeted have some special problem, a vulnerability that can be exploited (e.g. claim that the “victims” are autistic, have “untreated trauma”, or have Borderline Personality Disorder), implying that these teens don’t have self agency.  Please note, transsexuals are the LAST people who want other people to be living in a gender that doesn’t suit them.

One of the ugliest strawman I’ve seen cast about is deliberately misconstruing the known high rate of depression and distress found in transkids who live in unsupportive environments is claiming that transkids ‘blackmail’ or ‘manipulate’ others by falsely threatening to commit suicide if they don’t “get their way”.  The claim may be further amplified by stating that transkids (or transsexual adults) teach other transkids to use this threat.  By making this claim, they paint transkids / adult transsexuals as manipulative monsters.  Of course, this is actually an indication of their own lack of empathy and of their virulent hate.  Shocking and impossible as this may seem, this claim really does make the rounds of social media.

Creating False Testimonials

One of the easiest ways that anti-trans propagandists can create a false testimonial is to claim a bogus hypothetical harm, “If this transgender ideology had been around when I was a child, I would have been wrongly diagnosed as transgender.”  This is typically claimed by a mildly gender-atypical woman, a “butch lesbian”, but sometimes claimed by a typical heterosexual woman that liked to do a few “boy” things when young.  Given that perhaps a third of women were somewhat “tomboyish”, quite a few such transphobic women can make this false claim.

These false hypotheticals have the unique advantage that they can’t be tested, challenged, or proven right or wrong.  So they just exist, creating doubt, which is the goal.

Blaming Parents

An ugly, malicious, trope that has been around for years, especially from transphobic gays and lesbians, is that parents push their gender atypical, gay or lesbian, child or teen into falsely believing that they are transsexuals so that they won’t be labeled gay or lesbian.  The logic is twisted, but relies on the false notion that parents are more likely to be far more homophobic than transphobic.  Ironically, many transkids actually experience the opposite, that transphobic parents, as they wrestle with their grief upon learning their child is transsexual, plead with their child to “just” be a CLOSETED gay or lesbian so that they, and their family, won’t have to experience public embarrassment.

There is also the nasty lie that parents are abusing their children by “modifying their bodies”.  I’ve seen the lie that parents and doctors are prescribing such medications and conducting surgeries on pre-teens as young as three years old!  No, that is NOT happening.  No pre-teen is being given any medication (save possibly puberty blockers if they present with precocious puberty, which can and should be treated regardless of gender dysphoria).

Blaming Gender Clinics and Therapists

It has become fashionable to target specialized clinics that see gender atypical youth, especially in the UK, with false accusations.  One also sees comments that call into question the membership, leadership, ethics, and Standards Of Care recommendations of WPATH, the leading professional society for those providing care for gender dysphoric individuals, just because some (but not a majority) of the members are transsexuals themselves.  This is rather like dismissing the American Lung Society because some of its members survived lung cancer.

As some of these clinics have attracted new clients (not all of whom will persist), there is the hand-wringing over how rapidly the “epidemic” of gender issues has grown.  Let’s be real, going from zero to any number of clients is an infinitely large growth.  Most clinics treating transkids are fairly new.  Almost none are over twenty years old and most are less than ten.

We expect that an under served market should respond with high growth when services become newly available.

If zero to something sounds too obvious, the propagandists pick another, but still early date to start, with the same seemingly startling growth.  A common figure tossed about takes the form of 4400% which sounds really high… until one remembers that 100% = 2 times = double.  So, 4400% growth is going from some really small number, say ten kids, when just opening such clinics, to 45 times that low starting number to make it only 450 kids (out of hundreds of thousands of kids in their multi-city/regional service area).  But “4400%” sounds soooo much bigger and alarming!

The other way to make it sound really bad is to talk about how many children are REFERED to a clinic.  But a referral does not mean that they were DIAGNOSED as being gender dysphoric… and it certainly doesn’t mean that they are being tracked toward unnecessary medical treatment.

Another gambit is to point to transphobic medical providers who leave a given large institution because they have recently begun to provide services to transkids, as though it proved anything nefarious.  But transphobic attitudes have always been found in the medical community, at about 50% (which is about the same number in the general public).  Thus one expects to find such transphobic medical providers to jump ship as they find other employment and for propagandists to publicize it.

A more subtle propaganda gambit by anti-trans individuals and organizations is to describe themselves as merely concerned with “over medicalization” of gender variant youth.  That sounds so reasonable, until one understands that ANY medical intervention is considered “over” medicalization by them.

A corollary false claim is that many teens are being prescribed hormones with no “medical oversight”.  That would constitute medical malpractice and as such is not likely to be common as doctors are as a group unlikely to risk that.

One of the lies put out is that therapists and clinics aren’t providing full disclosure or “objective” advice.  What they really mean is that the therapists aren’t telling these kids and their parents what the transphobic people want them to tell them, including disinformation I discuss here.  The simple truth is that the Standard of Care for all patients, gender dysphoric or not, is informed consent, giving full information, by both ethical and legal requirements.  Claiming that these kids and their parents aren’t being given this information is slander and libel.

A recent tactic is to claim that such clinics and therapists “never tell a kid that they are not trans” as though that was somehow nefarious, falsely implying that they are encouraging / pushing gender atypical youth to be transsexual and also falsely implying that they know which kids are ‘true’ transsexuals (or implying that no one is actually gender dysphoric) and who isn’t.  The real truth doesn’t matter to them.  There is no external test.  No blood work, no magic words spoken in therapy.  Only the individual, as they consider their own feelings and real life options, can make this determination and ultimately their life direction.  No clinic or therapist, can from the outside, determine and say to anyone that they don’t experience gender dysphoria.

Finally, there is the perennial threat to file lawsuits claiming malpractice for prescribing “unnecessary” medications or performing surgery on minors as a ploy to frighten caregivers away from serving the legitimate needs of transsexual youth.  Consider this – how many such lawsuits have occured?  I’ve never heard of even one such – have you?  Certainly none that were successful.  IF there had been, it would have made the news and would feature prominently in transphobic propaganda.

(Update:  There is now exactly one legal case in Australia being touted by the transphobic press in which a woman is suing because she claims it is illegal to prescribe HRT to a teenager.  Bets on when the case is thrown out as specious given that birth control is also HRT?)

(Update Oct. 2020:  There is now a case in the UK which is trying to use the same argument that teenagers can’t give consent, ignoring previous law granting those 16 years and over full consent rights and that no one is prescribing blockers to those under age 16 w/o parental consent:

https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2020/oct/07/court-hears-children-cannot-consent-to-puberty-blockers

Note the use of many of the bogus arguments I list here.

Also note actual data on the so called “epidemic” of gender dysphoria, quoting from the article,

“Hyam told the court that referrals to GIDS had gone through a “twentyfold increase”, from 97 in 2009 to 2,590 in 2018, and that the percentage of natal females had increased during that time and made up 76% of cases.”

So, going from when the clinic was barely started to today?  That’s not an “epidemic”.)

Creating Bogus Medical Societies

Doctors are not immune to bias and bigotry.  Research has shown roughly half of doctors and psychologists are biased against LGBT people.  So it would come as no surprise that a hateful minority ignore their professional duties to invest their time in creating alternative organizations specifically to create and spread false or misleading information about gender dysphoria.  Some are part of older organizations, such as the tiny American College of Pediatricians, who historically attacked gay rights, pushed abusive ‘therapies’ to “cure” homosexuality and with it, transsexuality in children and teens.  However, there is one very small band who specifically have targeted transsexuals and transkids, falsely and ironically naming themselves the Society for Evidence Based Gender Medicine whose members are notorious for spreading much of the anti-trans propaganda I list in this essay.

Blaming Schools & Eductors

Schools are often the worst place for transkids, gay, lesbian, and bisexual youth and indeed anyone not in the majority in a given community.  Bullying, most often by classmates, but all too often even by adults is a serious concern.  That concern has been addressed by anti-bullying campaigns that may include empathy building by teaching youth in the school to be aware of and respect LGBT peers.  But that has met with opposition from homophobic and transphobic parents and others.  They decry that “Gender Ideology” is being taught in the schools.  They demand that like sex education, it should be left to families, which in practice provide tacit approval for the continued bullying.

Another area of contention is access to gender appropriate bathrooms and changing facilities.  Propagandists have seized this issue, looking to inflame the public with false stories or just insinuations that “boys will claim to be trans to molest girls in the locker room”.  Or worse, that MTF transkids ARE just boys who want to ogle girls in the locker room.

Just to be VERY clear.  Gender dysphoric youth do NOT want to be seen naked by others of either sex.  That’s one of the key presenting symptoms of gender dysphoria in children and teens, extreme dislike and embarrassment of their sexed body.  (This may or may not be true in adult / older transitioners, who have a very different form of ‘gender dysphoria’.  See FAQ for more information.)

Therapy

EOFR3sFXkAEA8WW-2In the past, it was near universal for therapy of gender atypical children, most often male, to mean attempts to “fix” them so that they were no longer gender atypical, as that was seen as a disorder in and of itself.  It was also believed, falsely it turns out, that if they could get these boys to be gender typical in their behavior, they wouldn’t develop into transsexuals or gay men.  Therapies ranged from gentle “play” with a masculine role model to direct punishing and shaming children (up to and including corporal punishment; i.e. beatings) for atypicality on one hand and rewarding gender typicality on the other.  Both philosophies encouraged parents to remove any and all cross-gender toys and activities, to deny cross-gender friendships, and to shame children, especially boys, for such play.  Therapy for gender dysphoric teens was to “talk” them out of wanting to transition, usually by shaming them.  Today such therapy, along with therapy meant to “talk” gay & lesbians out of being homosexual, is recognized as being both ineffective and abusive.  Some states and countries have outlawed such practices.  Professional societies of therapists and physicians have declared them to be unethical.

{Personal note:  I was sent to play therapy as a ten-year old with Dr. Peters (you can’t make this stuff up) a tall bearded man as a role model.  While at home, my mother would jump down my throat if I so much as looked at a girl’s toy.  And at school, the teachers disrupted my friendships with girls and forced group activities with boys.  Of course, that didn’t work, so I was sent to talk therapy at 15/16, but knew enough not to talk about, nor answer his repeated questions about, neither my sexuality nor my gender behavior and identity so as to avoid any opportunity to shame me.  Thus, I know about these practices first hand.  Fortunately, in early 1975, at age 17, I was evaluated at the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic which recommended social and medical transition.}

Today, most caring therapists and other caregivers recognize that gender atypicality is not in and of itself a disorder.  They also recognize that most young mildly gender dysphoric children will desist on their own as they near adolescence, so there is no need for drastic measures either way.

However, extremely dysphoric children need outlets for their gender expression and that attempts to suppress or change their innate behavior is abusive and will only result in low self-esteem and shame.  They also know that such children need reassurance that they are loved by their parents.  If punished for gender atypicality and/or expressing the pain of dysphoria, the bond between parent and child is put at grave risk.  And yes, some therapists and their caring families recognize that some pre-adolescents and adolescents are better served by social transition.

This new kinder and gentler approach to gender atypicality and gender dysphoria has led to disinformation put out by those who wish that they could continue to offer abusive  reparitive / conversion ‘services’, falsely claiming that such therapies do work.  Some propagandists point to case history notes of reparitive therapists claim that their therapy is responsible for the ‘resolution’ of pre-adolescent gender dysphoria when in fact, they are falsely claiming credit for what is a natural process that would have happened without such abusive therapies.  Transphobic parents and members of the public also lament this situation and put out the lie that “affirming” therapists are “forcing” gender atypical children and teens to become transgender.

The basic truth is simple… just as it is not possible to “fix” LGBT people, it is not possible to force them to be LGBT against their nature.  Saying otherwise is an outright lie.

Another tidbit of disinformation is claiming that therapists regularly “ok” teenagers to get hormones with only one visit.  In over four decades of experience and discussions with literally… oh I can’t even guess the number of transfolk of all ages I’ve met or corresponded with.  It would have to be the hundreds now, the fastest I’ve ever heard of for someone to get their “letter” approving HRT from a psych professional was five one hour sessions.  And when others hear of that low figure, they are incredulous because most adults were required to have at least several months of weekly sessions and most had more, some over a year or more.  There’s a reason why therapists and psychiatrists are called “gatekeepers”.  For minors, it might be faster to get onto puberty blockers if they are seen in longer more intense sessions with at least one second opinion since the clock is seen as “ticking”, but to switch from blockers, or for an older teen, one already past puberty?  That will take longer.

{Personal Note:  I was that teenager who had only five hours in 1975, a record even for the Stanford Gender Dysphoria Clinic: three one hour sessions alone, one hour with my mother, and one hour with my father.  You may read about those interviews here.  And no, I have no real idea why I got my letter with so few visits, but if I had to guess, it was because I still had to wait until I was 18 because my parents refused permission… and that I had previously been in therapy that had been anything but “affirming”.  Interestingly, when I was 23 and had the funds for surgery, the surgeon, a private doc in Colorado, required two recent “letters” from psychiatrists.  I had six one hour sessions with one psychiatrist and one hour for the second opinion… this too was considered a record.  This one I did know why… emotional maturity, intelligence, and five solid years post social transition with a great work and education history.}

 Social Transition

transkids

Transkids after social transition

I see over and over claims that merely allowing a child to cross-dress or socially transition is a form of “child abuse” in and of itself.  I’ve even seen transphobes complaining that letting non-transkids know that transkids and transadults exist and should be accepted and respected, is a form of child abuse!  These claims are usually from the most virulently transphobic and homophobic members of the public.  However, there is a more subtle form of this parental shaming in that people claim that because many pre-teens who are gender atypical will not be gender dysphoric, that they are “forcing” their kids to be transgender.  This meme even floats in the gay and lesbian community claiming that parents do this because they are homophobic and would rather have a transgender child than a gay or lesbian one (!).  My own experience has indicated that homophobic parents are universally also transphobic, so the logic of this assertion is faulty and groundless.

Parents should be advised that many pre-teens who are gender atypical will in truth grow up to be gay or lesbian, but there is no magic bright line difference between transkids and LGB individuals.  That is to say, that from our current state of research, we can’t tell them apart… and indeed, there may be no etiological difference, that the difference may in fact be one of degree and not of kind.  We see cultural and life experience differences leading to differences in rates of gender dysphoria in different cultures and subcultures in what may be the same biological groups.  Given this, loving parents should be open to listening to the needs of their children as they grow up and be flexible in their hopes.

A recent meme making the rounds is that if a child is allowed to cross-dress as a pre-teen, to use a new name etc. they will have social and personal difficulty later when they desist from being gender dysphoric.  Some go as far as to say that this will cause them trauma, having spent years growing up presenting as the “wrong sex”.  But this only shows their own transphobic bias, valuing the lives and welfare of desisting children over persisting transkids.   Consider this from the viewpoint of persisting transkids, if having to grow up presenting as the “wrong sex” is traumatic and that transitioning is a social and personal difficulty at that later age, won’t these kids have had a similarly bad experience if they are not allowed to socially transition earlier?  Either both are true or neither is true.  Actually, the truth is that children who will desist later are still in pain now.  And desisting children detransitioning is no more traumatic than either type transitioning in the first place.  But the transphobic propagandists aren’t interested in nuance and dealing with things in such a way as to reduce pain for everyone on a day-to-day basis.  Remember this.  Their goal is not to help your child be happy and emotionally healthy.  They are only interested in frightening the parents of transkids into NOT allowing them to socially transition in the hope that denying them this at a young age will force them to not get puberty blockers, which will them force them to endure a puberty which will make it that much more difficult for them to transition successfully as adults, which will keep them from being “one of those people”.

A more subtle and insidious bit of propaganda is to point out that in speaking of the likely hood of a child desisting or persisting that a pre-adolescent social transition “predicts” persistence.  The sneaky part is, while there is a correlation between such a pre-adolescent social transition and persistence, the way that the word “predicts” is interpreted is one of causation rather than merely being a successful test of the level of gender dysphora that already exists and the natural affinity / social comfort that a child experiences post social transition.  That is to say, attempting social transition is a great diagnostic test that persistors will take to like a duckling takes to water, while desistors are likely to find social transition does not help them.

One of the ugly issues I’ve seen thrown around is that of impugning the motives and values of various researchers and clinicians, on both sides of the issue of pre-teen transition.  Most professionals have nothing but good intentions.  Each has nuanced views because this issue is not black and white.  But many insist that it should be black and white… and thus will smear those who don’t agree with their own position.

After the age of twelve, social transition is, or at least should be, a no-brainer.  If a teen was gender atypical and dysphoric as a preteen, their desire and need for social transition is one that they should decide for themselves.  In fact, attempting to socially transition is a great “test” since if it doesn’t help them, it will be an obvious fact.

Surgery

Perhaps the most common propaganda seen bandied about is the oldest.  In the mid-50s, as the public began to learn about transsexuality and its medical treatment, many were quick to note that “there is no such thing as a sex change”, as though that proved something profoundly debunking.  Well, this is both a true and yet misleading statement.  It is true in that no surgery, then or now, can take a fertile individual of one sex and result in a fertile member of the other sex.  What is misleading is that the goal of surgery was never fertility, but palliative.  It is to allow individuals who suffer, and suffer greatly, from somatic gender dysphoria to inhabit a body that approximates that of the opposite sex to a close enough degree that it alleviates their dysphoria.  Although many transfolk would love to be fertile in their new gender, they are willing to accept this trade-off to enable a good enough life.

A common ploy is to point out that surgeons are paid to perform these procedures and are “getting rich”, insinuating that they are evil and greedy.  I do hope those that say this never need a life saving operation so that they won’t have to pay an evil and greedy surgeon.

A very common ploy is to paint medical interventions as “destroying healthy bodies”, totally disregarding the emotional pain of gender dysphoria as worthy of medical treatment.  The underlying message that they are trying to implant is that there was no medical necessity, and thus it was monstrous to treat it.  But consider that nearly no one bats an eye when women have breast augmentation, rhinoplasty (cosmetic nose surgery), or even that there is no medical reason for the vast majority of male circumcisions (genital surgery) that baby boys are subjected to years before they can give informed consent.

Some people will point out that SRS sterilizes transfolk as though that were in and of itself medical malpractice, even incorrectly invoking the Hippocratic oath “to do no harm”.  This is a puzzling attitude since many medical issues are treated in such as way that also results in sterilization and no one calls that malpractice.  In fact, many healthy men and women chose voluntary permanent sterilization which is an accepted practice.  For young adults (even if under the age of 18) to knowingly make the trade-off of continuing to suffer somatic gender dysphoria vs. accepting voluntary sterilization is a personal choice for them and them alone to make.

The next bit of propaganda is to describe the result of surgery as ugly, monstrous, or diseased to invoke visceral disgust.  Mary Daly, an extremely transphobic author in the 1970’s described post-operative transsexuals as “Frankenstein’s Monsters”, invoking the image of people hacked together by rogue mad scientist doctors.  Other comments focus on and exaggerate the potential for surgical complications.  Very recently (in fact, just this past week), I’ve seen an outright lie repeated and amplified in social media in which the result of Male-To-Female transsexual surgery is an “open wound” which is easily “infected”, rather than a functional neo-vagina.  What loving parent would want their child to experience such iatrogenic trauma?

A more subtle bit of misleading disinformation is to combine the two memes above, to describe the result of MTF surgery as taking functional male genitalia and turning it into “dysfunctional male genitalia” in an attempt to invoke disgust on one hand and parental concern for their child’s future happiness on the other.  The lie depends upon parents not being familiar with the cosmetic nor functional results because, lets face it, that’s not something to be bragged about in public.  So, I will attempt here, while remaining within socially acceptable bounds, to answer that, given that I myself have such “dysfunctional male genitalia”…   Ummmm… well… I’m VERY happily married to a straight man… and neither of us is unhappy with the results…  ‘nough said.

Another reason these particular talking points work is that parents hang onto the false hope that their child will desist and be heterosexual.  While it is true that pre-teens who are gender atypical but not particularly dysphoric are more likely to desist than persist,  such boys will most likely grow up to be gay, the girls may or may not be lesbian, given that many tomboyish girls are mislabeled as gender atypical.  These tomboyish girls will most likely grow up to be straight.  However, those teens who had been gender atypical AND notably gender dysphoric as pre-teens will not likely desist after age twelve.  Besides, one doesn’t perform surgery on pre- or even early teens.  One is required to wait until the late teens at the earliest and by then, it’s pretty obvious that surgery is right for those who know the trade-offs… and rationally chose to exchange genitalia which they will never use for those that they will joyfully use.

Another bugbear thrown around is the specter of post-operative regret.  I won’t lie in turn; this is a real phenomena.  However, what is not often discussed in the parental fora is that the vast majority of those who later regret SRS are “late onset”.  (If you are not familiar with this term and its implications, please see my FAQ.)  These are usually males who have successfully lived as adult men, very often married to women, fathering children, etc.  They previously had extensive sexual experience as men, enjoying their ‘original equipment’.  In female individuals, gender dysphoria that first present in adolescence has been associated with later detransitioning and regret, but in fewer individuals and certainly far fewer than in the public imagination.  (I’m referring to actual gender dysphoric individuals, not those girls who falsely claim a ‘trans’ or ‘non-binary’ identity.)  Post operative regret is nearly absent from “early onset” transsexuals.  And those few who were regretful weren’t regretting the loss of their ‘original equipment’ but complained of the rare complications that may occur with any surgery.

For parents of Female-to-Male (FtM) teens and twenty-somethings, there is often fear that “top surgery” to remove/reduce unwanted breasts will be regretted as well.  This fear is especially potent in the mothers of FtM transkids because of the natural empathy one feels, of putting themselves into their child’s position and feeling angst at the thought of the loss of their own breasts.  Of course, this is putting their own shoes onto their child, instead of walking a bit in theirs.

There has been a recent blitz of disinformation and propaganda about FtM transmen chest binding being “harmful” with little to no clinical evidence.  But consider that this binding provides no more flattening / compression, and indeed often far less compression of the ribcage and internal organs, than many feminine fashion undergarments in recent history such as corsets, girdles, etc.  I’ve even seen binding being described as ‘barbaric’ and likened to Female Genital Mutilation.  Except, no one is forcing transmen to bind.  Also, transmen are likely not concerned with any alleged harm to breasts that they revile and expect to surgically remove.  Finally, I have to point out that no on seems to be upset about pre-op transwomen “tucking”, which would seemingly come closer to the description of “genital mutilation”.  This is likely because the anti-chest-binding lobby is mostly lesbian whose natural, if misapplied, sympathy is for female bodied gynephilic people (which most transmen are) and have very little sympathy, and often great antipathy, for transwomen.

Puberty Blockers

CoreyOne egregious lie that I’ve seen bandied about, even by physicians, is that puberty blockers cause permanent sterility, often with the misleading term “chemical castration”.  They do not.  In fact, that was the whole point of puberty blockers, to reversibly delay the onset of puberty and its effects to allow young teens some time to emotionally mature before making more permanent changes in the course of their sexual maturation.  Without such blockers, their bodies will make the decision for them… and this may be very much against their wishes (it certainly was against mine!).  Cessation of the blockers allows the natal puberty to resume, with no loss of fertility, unless other medical intervention is begun (such as cross-sex hormones).

Some commenters falsely assert that puberty blocking is dangerous and experimental, often going so far as to profess that doctors who prescribe it and parents who allow it should be imprisoned.  They fail to note that puberty blocking has become a standard of care for precocious puberty and that the medications used are FDA approved for blocking puberty.  Thus this is NOT “experimental” nor any more dangerous than many other medically indicated prescriptions.

The next level of insidious misinformation is to claim that such medication hasn’t been specifically “approved” for gender dysphoric kids.  This is a fantastic Catch-22 because no matter how long its been standard practice, it will NEVER be so listed by the FDA because to do so, the drug company would have to spend huge amounts of money to conduct the study, which they have no need nor incentive to do; Gender dysphoric transkids are a tiny minority and not worth a drug company’s notice.

For instance, a cancer drug that was studied and approved in colon cancer that is later discovered to treat skin cancer would not need to be specifically ‘approved’ for that use.  Doctors would simply prescribe it “off label”, a well established and legal practice, as long as it meets established standards of care in the profession.

Use of puberty blockers is an established and recommended practice in this field.

Then, I read a whopper on social media that one can’t use the safety and efficacy data from precocious puberty studies with transkids.  Wow!  Who knew that transkids respond to medications differently than non-gender dysphoric children?  Are they a different species?  Seriously, one has to take much of this kind of propaganda with a sense of humor.

Another outrageous lie that I’ve seen recently is the assertion that Lupron (puberty blocker) directly causes suicide.  I guess if one is going to lie, one may as well make it a whopper.  Depression is unfortunately common and people who are prescribed Lupron as adults are often under severe stress due to their underlying illness, typically terminal cancer, leading to reports of depression.

To be clear, there is NO reported direct association between puberty blockers and depression / suicidal ideation in transkids.  However, if a child who is extremely gender atypical and dysphoric experiences negative social and familial attitudes, that may be an independent source of stress leading to depression.

A very recent bit of wild lie is to say that “thousands have died on Lupron” insinuating that it was the cause of their deaths.  The truth is that these adults died of prostate or other cancers and were taking Lupron as treatment to slow (not stop) the cancer.

I’ve also seen a rather strange assertion that having been on puberty blockers then switching to cross-hormone replacement therapy somehow leaves the child in a prepubescent state. In the sense that the child won’t experience the changes that would have occurred had they not been on blockers, namely for natal females breast development or for natal males, enlargement of the penis and testicles, voice deepening, beard growth, along with increased upper body strength, this assertion is true… and indeed is the desired effect.  So why the strange assertion that this is somehow a problem?  The meme is also sending the false message that somehow the child will remain forever looking like a prepubescent child, never to appear to be as a sexually mature adult.  The fact remains that cross-sex HRT will allow the child to mature with all of the cross-sex secondary sexual characteristics in a manner closely approximating that of the opposite sex which is, after all, the goal.

In a bid to create confusion and doubt, one recent meme I’ve seen, mixed in the the usual disinformation, is that taking puberty blockers will leave MTF transkids with a penis that is “too small” to form a proper ‘inversion’ neo-vagina.  This is of course an effort to convince parent to refuse blockers so that their child will suffer all the damaging effects of a masculinizing puberty and fail to pass successful later.  They don’t actually care if transgirls have big enough vaginas for comfortable sex as adults.  Just to be clear, decades of transkids who have had successful SRS surgeries, etc. after having been on HRT from a very early age put the lie to this absurd meme.  Not to be too indelicate, but the inverted skin is very easily stretched over time, from both dilation and from coitus (as I know very well from personal experience).  Another factor that this meme fails to take into account is that even if we could fabricate a blocker that allows genital growth while eliminating all other unwanted effects of a masculinizing puberty, the genital growth in and of itself will dramatically increase gender dysphoric trauma and should itself be avoided.

Perhaps the most bizarre bit of misinformation is that somehow, if an MTF transkid doesn’t go through the typical natal male puberty to sexually mature, they will never be able to experience sexual satisfaction.  While testosterone does cause human male brains to develop at puberty, estrogen and micronized progesterone, both part of HRT protocols, will do much the same.  In fact, though never published, there is very strong anecdotal evidence that MTF transkids experience very strong libido development on natural estrogen (E2) compared to other sources (e.g. premarin or estinyl-estradiol).  If you think about it for a moment, this makes sense… given that women have sexual drives as much as men do… and they never went through a male puberty!

It could be argued (and indeed I have so argued), that it would be better to switch from puberty blockers to HRT earlier than some clinicians insist upon waiting, so that the final results are better and so that the teens will appear to be maturing on the same schedule as their peers, for better social functioning.  There are also concerns about bone strength later in life which may be impacted by extended use of puberty blockers.  This is an argument for earlier HRT, NOT against the use of puberty blockers.

Moreover, I’ve seen a very clever bit of misdirection suggesting that MTF transkids, when they begin HRT bone density “fails to catch up” (oh dear!).  Fails to catch up with whom we should ask, but they don’t tell us that they don’t catch up with BOYS, who have larger bones.  These MTF transkids don’t want to “catch up” with boys, they want their bones to be female-like so that they can pass as typical girls, not big lumbering boys.

One of the most illogical arguments I’ve seen against the use of puberty blockers is twisting the statistics that most transkids who go on puberty blockers will persist and require HRT and perhaps surgery… as though being on puberty blockers caused them to persist (!).  This is a failure to note that desisters do so before puberty.  The fact that most persisters in puberty who go on blockers continue to be gender dysphoric is a non-causal correlation, in the same sense that taking antibiotics during infections does not mean that antibiotics caused the infection!  The fact is that persisters who are unable to obtain blockers or HRT at that age will also remain gender dysphoric and will seek out and obtain HRT at a later age (either on the street or legally when they reach majority as I did).  Refusing to provide blockers or HRT in puberty will not increase the rate of desistance but will increase the need for more medical / cosmetic interventions later on (e.g. mastectomy / electrolysis) and likely leave such an individual “funny looking” as an adult (e.g. wide hips on a transman, androgynous face and low pitched voice on a transwoman).

A recent lie I’ve seen is to talk about parents putting their children on puberty blockers as early as age eight (or even age six in one recent agit prop piece in the Federalist !!!) (age five in Breitbart – they keep pushing the age down)(Wow! Age three in another Breitbart piece).  Of course, this was a deliberate distortion of the truth that some children ARE placed on puberty blockers at age eight or nine.  But NOT because they are gender dysphoric, but because they have precocious puberty.  These children are on puberty blockers because entering a precocious puberty at age eight or nine is not good for their long term health, regardless of whether they are gender dysphoric or not, and most children placed on blockers at such a young age are NOT gender dysphoric.

One argument I’ve seen against the use of puberty blockers for MTF transkids is that they shouldn’t be started until she has stored sperm in a sperm bank for later use!  This one is a true head twister, as that would require a transgirl to undergo an unwanted, physically and emotionally devastating masculinizing puberty, by which time, blockers are metaphorically shutting the barn doors, too late to do their intended job.  The argument also completely misrepresents transgirls who will grow up to be transwomen.  Early onset MTF transkids are universally exclusively sexually and romantically attracted to straight men.  Storing sperm?  To what end?  So that they can use it to impregnate their future wives?!?!  That’s the definition of unclear on the concept.  Transgirls will grow up to marry men.  And if they and their husbands chose to build a family with the aid of a gestational surrogate, they will use their husband’s sperm.  (Can you imagine the damaging psychological issues raised by suggesting that one use a transwoman’s stored sperm, for both partners?)

Finally, I’ve seen comparisons of using puberty blockers by teens to NAZI medical experiments in concentration camps.  When such hyperbole is invoked, one knows it is propaganda.

Hormone Replacement Therapy

The most common bit of propaganda about hormones is that their use will be “life long” as though that was somehow an evil in its own right to be avoided at all costs (even including living a life of unhappy gender dysphoria and social awkwardness).

To make a personal digression, swallowing a few pills each day has never been a major issue for me these past four decades and some.  Far more impactful in my own life is the fact that I’ve been dependent upon asthma medication since I was five years old, medication which has far more harsh side effects (theophylline caused insomnia for years, rescue inhalers cause the heart to race and the lungs to itch uncomfortably, steroid inhalers increase the risk of fungus infection in the mouth and throat… and if the meds fail to control the asthma, a trip to the emergency room is needed or one could die, no joke) and far more expensive.

Those who have diabetes are similarly dependent ‘life long’ upon insulin, a life saving medication.

However, forgetting to take one’s hormones for a short period of time is NOT life threatening, nor even very uncomfortable.  A few weeks of not taking them, if one has not had their gonads removed, they will begin to produce steroids again.  If they have had their gonads removed, they may experience ‘hot flashes’.  While not comfortable, they are not life threatening.  The greatest danger is the potential risk for osteoporosis.  But this an increase in the risk, not a certainty.

A number of individuals point to HRT as being inherently dangerous, increasing the risk of blot clots, etc.  These risks are no greater than girls taking birth control pills and if one is seriously worried about it, one can simultaneously take baby aspirin as a blood thinner.  A recent study showed that estradiol, today’s preferred protocol, had NO increased risk of blood clots.

Another bit of propaganda is to grossly exaggerate the risk of breast cancer from estrogen.  However, with decades of HRT use by transsexuals, we have only seen a small handful of cases which were certainly NOT indicative of increased risk compared to natal females.  In fact, the risk seemed to be at about 30% lower than natal females.  But is higher than natal males who were not transgendered.  (Yes, men get breast cancer too.)

Interestingly, the risk of some cancers is significantly reduced in transsexuals due to surgery and HRT.  For example, top surgery reduces the risk of breast cancer prophylactically.  Radical hysterectomy (as part of ‘bottom surgery’) eliminates the risk of ovarian cancer and endometriosis.  For MTF folk, SRS eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and reduces the risk of prostate cancer, as does HRT itself.

As well as claiming risks of cancer, I’ve seen outright lies that HRT causes mental illness!

We’ve heard stories of young transmen being discouraged from taking testosterone because it “shortens” lives.  This is based on the statistical fact that men have lower life expectancies.  However, they fail to note that most of those deaths occur early in life, as male children are more likely to die than female.  Then, there is the increased death rate among young men due to violence and misadventure.  Finally, males carry only one X chromosome, so if there is a bad gene on it, they won’t have the extra copy to compensate.  Combined, all of these issues lead to men having a lower life expectancy, none of which are mediated by testosterone.

On the other hand, it is known that castrated males do live slightly longer.  So by this logic, all men should be medically castrated as teenagers!

Another gambit is to point to a couple studies that show that estrogen “causes cognitive deficits” in MTF transfolk, specifically reducing their mental rotational abilities, while also saying that testosterone reduces FTM transfolk’s verbal fluency.  The HORROR, HRT causes mental problems!  Actually, what they are measuring is the very tiny subtle differences already found in men and women in which men are very slightly better, on average, than women at mentally rotating three dimensional figures and women are very slightly better, on average, than men at verbal fluency.  These turn out to be influenced by hormones in the brain, so no surprise that they should influence transfolk on HRT.  But the effect is so small as to be almost impossible to detect in any one individual.

I think the silliest claim I’ve heard is that “Big Pharma” is pushing the diagnoses of gender dysphoria so that they can sell more hormones.  Given that gender dysphoria is extremely rare… but even if it is silly on the face of it, officials in the UK actually investigated that claim and debunked it.

Parents deserve accurate information, not propaganda and lies — from either side.

NOTE:  If you see anyone spreading these memes, please respond with a comment and a link to this post?  If you have seen other examples of false propaganda directed at the parents of transkids, please share them with me?   formertranskid@gmail.com

Further Reading:

Advice to Parents of Transkids

Shameful History of Reparative Therapy of Transgender and Gay Children & Youth

Further External Reading:

When Children Say That They Are Trans by Jessie Singal

Sacred Bodies: A rebuttal to Jessie Singal by Alex Burasch

“Young Trans Children Know Who They Are” by Ed Yong

Transphobic Parents Activists Target Journalists With MisInformation About Pediatritricans by Tara Haelle

Media’s ‘detransition’ narrative is fueling misconceptions, trans advocates say
They say the current narrative makes “transition regret” seem more common than it is and contributes to misconceptions about transgender people in general by Liam Knox

External Examples of Transphobic Propaganda:

https://www.kelseycoalition.org

https://www.lifesitenews.com/mobile/opinion/transgender-propaganda-hides-scary-truth-about-puberty-blockers

https://pjmedia.com/trending/medical-expert-doctors-are-actually-giving-trans-kids-a-disease-its-child-abuse/amp/

https://savejames.com

https://www.christianheadlines.com/blog/children-should-not-be-allowed-to-medically-change-their-genders-says-johns-hopkins-professor.html

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/02/fda-thousands-of-deaths-linked-to-puberty-blockers/amp/

https://www.ihmistenkirjo.net/blog/psychiatrist-gender-dysphoria-spreads-like-an-epidemic-online

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2019/10/11/camille-paglia-using-puberty-blockers-on-children-is-a-crime-against-humanity/amp/

https://www.nationalreview.com/2019/10/the-origins-of-the-transgender-movement/amp/

https://nypost.com/2020/06/27/how-peer-contagion-plays-into-the-rise-of-teens-transitioning/amp/

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin/article/freedom-to-think-the-need-for-thorough-assessment-and-treatment-of-gender-dysphoric-children/F4B7F5CAFC0D0BE9FF3C7886BA6E904B

https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/netflix-transgender-children-the-baby-sitters-club/amp/

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Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

Posted in Autobiographical, Female-to-Male, Transgender Youth by Kay Brown on June 6, 2018

Kay BrownIs this a newly emerging etiology?

Unless you’ve been under a rock the past few years, you will have heard of what many are describing as a new phenomena affecting natal female teens, “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD) to join the old duopoly of “Early Onset” and “Late Onset” gender dysphoria seen in natal males.  The description of the putative phenomena is that gender TYPICAL and not at all previously gender dysphoric girls learn through the internet and perhaps from friends at school about transgender issues and then suddenly, because of ‘social contagion’, seemingly out of the blue, declare that they are trans.  There have been a number of speculative hypothesis regarding the putative phenomena which I will explore here.

One hypothesis with a lot of weight of evidence is that this is merely the outsider’s term for “Tucutes” / “TransTrender” / “TrendsGender” in which teenaged girls with no real gender dysphoria take on the social position of “transgender”, from identifying as a pre-transition transman to more recently as “non-binary”, a social position that doesn’t require one to actually have to socially, and certainly not medically, transition.  Without doubt, this is happening.  I first met such an individual in 1980.  Their numbers have grown in the intervening years.  But this phenomena, annoying as it may be for some gender dysphoric transmen, is not a major cause of concern to medical professionals in that they rarely seek medical intervention.

Some within the transcommunity have argued that these young people, including those labeled “Tucutes” are in fact the female equivalent of “Late Onset” natal males in that they are autoandrophilic.  This too certainly exists.  While some sexologists and therapists will deny that autoandrophilia exists, I know for a fact that it does, as I had a very close friend since high school who clearly experiences it.  Absolute proof of existence N=1.  We have more evidence than just my one anecdotal one from the years of reports on the sexuality of androphilic transmen.  Such individuals do experience gender dysphoria, but of a notably different character and developmental arc than autogynephilic transwomen.  But just as with autogynephilia, not everyone with autoandrophilia will develop extreme gender dysphoria and thus a range of accommodations occur.

Of course, there is another hypothesis coming from the gay and lesbian community in which they claim that these teens are simply gender atypical lesbians who have been falsely convinced by “Transgender Ideology” that they must be transgender.  At the heart of this is a misunderstanding or deliberate disinformation about the nature of transgender etiology and experience.  Either there are true transsexuals and true lesbians and they shouldn’t be confused… or there are only lesbians and transgender ideology gives them a false sense of gender dysphoria.  The evidence suggests that neither is wholly the case. Gynephilic natal female people exhibit a range of gender atypicality and gender dysphoria.  How they accommodate these within a given culture is variable.  However, when extreme gender atypicality and dysphoria are accommodated by social and medical transition, these are typically labeled “early onset” even if they transition in their 30’s.  If with changing attitudes more such individuals are seeking to address their gender dysphoria at an earlier age, we would expect to see just what we are seeing today.

The question is, are all of those who are labeled with ROGD actually either tucutes or autoandrophilic?  Are some actually gynephilic gender atypical and dysphoric natal females who were simply not recognized or acknowledged as such?  I’ve come to suspect that many may be.

Consider that pre-adolescent tomboys have always been given greater latitude than sissy boys.  In today’s climate of empowering girls to pursue sports and allowed to wear jeans and t-shirts… just like boys, but over scheduled and constantly under parental supervision, with little time for personal choices and expression by privileged helicopter parents, the type that are active on social media, these girls may not have been acknowledged as being gender dysphoric… until the social pressures of adolescence to be heterosexual and feminine.

TransSupportConsider also that nearly half of these parents acknowledged that they knew that their daughter was attracted to girls BEFORE they had confided being gender dysphoric.  (Gynephilia is a key co-presenting factor in transmen.)  These parents also point to their children having other emotional problems, which for them mean that their gender dysphoria is just another symptom, failing to note that gender dysphoric youth living in transphobic households typically experience such problems.  One out of seven of these parents state homophobic attitudes while the rest say that they support LGBT people.  (Really?  Recall that support for same-sex marriage hovers at only 50%… yet 85% of these parents say that they support LGBT rights?  Anyone remember the 60’s cliche “We’re not racist… but our daughter will never marry a black man.” ?!?)

In recent interactions via social media that I’ve had with parents of teens who they claim have ROGD and further claim that means that they are “not really transgender” and they should NOT be encouraged, acknowledged, nor affirmed, I’ve had an extreme sense of deja vu.  What I sense is not that these teens are tucutes or ‘non-binaries’… as most of them have very laid back parents who allow their children to explore their place in the world, knowing that kids do that.  No, I sense both angry denial, genuine concern for their child’s welfare, combined with homo- and trans- phobia, saying “my child is not one of those people“.

Deja Vu

About that deja vu.  At this point I have to switch from academic exposition to personal anecdotal mode:

In very early ’75, at the age of 17, I had “come out” to my father about being transsexual (the word “transgender” did exist at the time, but it was reserved for heterosexual lifestyle cross-dressers = autogynephilic men and specifically excluded androphilic gender atypical MTF transkids).  The time and place had NOT been my choice, having been forced to do so by my mother.  (That’s a whole other story.  My parents were divorced and my mother had custody, as was usual back in the ’70s.)  He seemed calm and concerned, no anger or lamentation.  Instead, he suggested that we should seek professional advice and help.  I recognized an opening.

I had for some months been in contact with the Stanford University Gender Dysphoria Clinic.  I literally had in my possession, in my pocket, the contact information for them.  I gave it to my Dad who said that he would be contacting them.  I was astounded.  The clinic had told me that they would love to help me but that I had to have my parents make the arrangements.  But my mother had made it abundantly clear that she would never help me transition.  Now my Dad was opening the door for me!

I had several intake interviews with Dr. Norman Fisk, the man I would later learn had coined the term “gender dysphoria”.  At the time, I had no idea how influential and expert he was in the field.  He was just a guy who might be able to help me get medical help.  He asked about my sexuality.  I told him about the boy I had a crush on.  He asked me about my dreams for the future.  I told him about how I hoped to find a husband and adopt children.  I told him about my summer job as a nanny and of the two summers I volunteered teaching little kids to swim.  And sadly, I told him about how unhappy my parents were about my behavior and how I had been sent to therapists (who had been anything but affirming).

Then I had a joint interview with my mother and a week later another with my father.

During the interview, my father made it abundantly clear that he thought transsexuals were sick perverts.  Dr. Fisk assured my Dad that transsexuals were NOT mentally ill and that social and medical transition was the typical course of treatment.  My father then became very agitated, objecting, “My son is NOT transsexual.  I’ve never seen anything feminine about him.  This is just a phase!  It will blow over!”  Dr. Fisk knew better, having talked to me and more importantly talked to my mother.

My father focused on the fact that he and I had over the years gone fishing and hunting together (ignoring that during their courtship, so had he and my then teenaged mother).  That we spent hours working together on projects (that he usually chose).  That I was a Boy Scout (ignoring that he had insisted I and my two brothers join since he had been a Scout as a boy… and the deeply mortifying incident in which I had been kicked out of the first Troop though I had done nothing objectively wrong in any sense… but none of the boys wanted the “faggot” around… and that the Scout Master declared to my Dad with a sneer that I was “not Eagle Scout material”… and that my Dad had to find another troop for me to join that accepted queers).  At the end of the interview, my Dad stormed out making homophobic references to Dr. Fisk to me in the parking lot.  (Dr. Fisk was straight, married, and had a son near my age.  I learned that they lived only blocks from my mother’s house.)

The interview with my mother the week before was quite different.  Far from being in denial, she was petulantly resentful that she had such a child.  “I have known for years that he wanted to be a girl.  But I thought that was [morally] wrong.  He was very different than his brothers.  All their friends were boys.  His were always girls,” naming several of my friends over the years, but couldn’t remember my friend who had been my only guest on my tenth birthday.  “Marian,” I interjected for the only time during the whole interview.  “He was always very prissy.  He would walk clear around even the shallowest puddles.  When he was little, I would put him in clean clothes on Monday and on Friday they would still be clean.”  She confirmed that I had been sent to a therapist about my behavior when I was ten years old… and again when I was 15/16.  She came away under the impression that she had spelled out all of the things about me that needed to be fixed, that Dr. Fisk and the clinic would endeavor to make me a normal, healthy, masculine heterosexual man and had shared that impression with my father.

So, it was a shock to my Dad that Dr. Fisk was recommending to him that my family accept that I was never going to be a masculine straight man.  That I was going to transition.  And when my Dad objected, offered this bit of advice,

“Denial will not serve.  You will win a few battles but lose the war.”

At home my mother began sharing comments such as sweetly asking, dripping with obvious false concern, “What will your friends think of you when they find out?”

“They already know,” I replied honestly, having grown used to the twisting knife within her tone.

“I could understand it if you were petite like your sister (at 12 years old, not yet fully grown she was 5’2″ – our mother was 5’5″ –  I’m 5’7″ – our brothers were closer to 6′).”

“That’s funny, Cassie (school friend) is 5’9″ and she has no problems,” I demurred.

“No man will ever love you,” she taunted.  I couldn’t answer back, it hurt too much, but I could feel my eyes smouldering with suppressed anger.

My father came over to see me and begged me not to transition, “You’ll be throwing away a chance for a career.  No one will hire you.”  I couldn’t answer him, having the same fears.  He also tried to shame me, telling me that I was embarrassing the family, that we all have our “cross to bear” and that I should think of my siblings and how they might be treated at school and by friends.  I replied that it was unfair that they should ask that I be extremely unhappy my entire life so that they could avoid some mild embarrassment.  In that same conversation he begged me to live as a closeted gay man, promising that the family would look the other way when I had boyfriends.  My thoughts on this were bitter, as that would put me in the same position as his gay brother, the one we weren’t allowed to meet or talk about.  He then tried to sweeten the deal by offering to pay for vacations in which I could dress up as a woman (!).

I lost my temper at that and loudly replied, “I am NOT a part-time woman!”

Conclusion

I hear that same combination of denial, anger, embarrassment, resentment, desperation, and socially & religiously motivated transphobia in those parents who now describe their teens as having ROGD. Which to them indicates that they are “not really transgender” and should not be allowed to socially transition nor allowed to use puberty blockers much less actual HRT.  These parents sound suspiciously like my parents.

Epilog

I think it worth describing how things went down after the events above, as a sincere warning.

Candice_Caltech

Kay Brown in college

I had already been in the process of social transition, presenting as a girl after school but continued to dress as a boy at school until graduation day.  But had already made arrangements for my high school records to be changed to my new name, female gender, and even to have it say that I attended girls P.E.  It became very apparent that my family, led by mother, was going to do everything they legally could to stop me from successfully transitioning.  Although I had been accepted at a four-year college, I was made to understand that I would not be supported if I continued to present as a girl, so was unable to attend.  I was kicked out of the house by mother and my father was not to take me in.  I started HRT right after I turned 18, forgoing food to buy them.  Using documents from the clinic, I was able to have my driver’s licence and social security ID changed to my new name and gender that summer.  I was given a meagre allowance for about a year with the proviso that I was NOT to show my face anywhere near home.  I attended community college part-time, as they were nearly free the next few years.  I became, in the modern vernacular, a housing and food insecure student.  It took me a few years, having no financial or social support or capital.  But I managed to climb back out of the hole that being effectively disowned had thrown me.  I established a career in Silicon Valley, first as a secretary at age 19, then working my way up.  At the age of 23, I had saved and borrowed enough for SRS.

After SRS, it was perhaps ‘barn doors’ and all… but slowly my folks then began to extend more social and financial capital to me… perhaps also in embarrassment when comparing how they had treated me compared to my siblings.  One had gone to Stanford as an undergraduate and was then attending Baylor Medical School while living in a condo provided by my mother’s family money.  Another was working as an engineer in Silicon Valley, living in a condo also provided by her money.  My sister was going to a small private college… oh… you get the picture.  I had earned a BS soon after SRS, on my own resources, combining credits from four different community colleges and all of my upper division credits earned entirely by examination.  I was then admitted to Stanford Graduate School.  At that point, my father began offering emotional and logistical support and a couple of years later, my mother’s family provided the down payment on a condo for me.

family

Kay, Jeff, Liz, & Reese

Over the years, my mother never really accepted me and we haven’t spoken in decades now, just as I haven’t spoken with any of my siblings.  Oh… and she was wrong.  One man does love me… and we’ve been married these past two decades and I did become an adoptive mom.

And my father was wrong.  My career took off.  I rose to executive rank and even founded and raised venture capital for a start-up which I sold to Samsung.  My father and I speak often… and he makes it clear that he loves and is proud of me.

So, if you are a parent of a transkid or a so called “ROGD” teen.  Please recall Dr. Fisk’s advice to my Dad.

“Denial will not serve.  You will win a few battles but lose the war.”

 

Addendum 9/3/2018:  The past week and some has seen renewed publicity regarding this putative phenomena of ROGD since the Littman paper was published.  I have been following this issue for much longer.  I chalked it up to standard parental denialism which I have written about for a decade now.  But I became disturbed by it when champions of MTF transkids approached me urging me to in effect throw FtM “ROGD” transkids under the bus.  They had been bamboozled by these parents in denial and what I now see as growing anti-transkid propaganda. The Littman paper does NOT document a new phenomena of social contagion among teens… it documents parental denial and rationalizations.  If there is any new social contagion phenomena occuring it is that the internet allows transphobic parents a means to create memes that can be used to bolster their denial and obtain social approval among their “transgender critical” peers for obstructing their teens.

Further Reading:

ROGD As An Expression of Parental Greiving

ROGD Redux

Essay on TransTrenders & Tucutes

Essay on Androphilic Transmen being Autoandrophilic

Advice to Parents of Transkids

Essay on Transphobic Propaganda Aimed at Parents of Transkids

References:

Lisa Littman, “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports” (2018)
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202330

External Further Reading:

Brown University Statement regarding the Littman study controversy

https://thinkprogress.org/conservatives-complain-people-have-noticed-their-anti-trans-junk-science-is-in-fact-junk-ab9ee965b865/amp/

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The Elephant in the Room

Posted in Autobiographical, Transsexual Field Studies by Kay Brown on November 9, 2017

female_scientistOr, Is the “Third Type” of MTF Transgender Simply Mentally Ill ??

In the mid ’90s, during a conversation in my kitchen, where we often held our transactivism strategy sessions over coffee, JoAnna McNamara remarked one day that I was the only transsexual she knew who wasn’t mentally ill.  Actually, she used the term, “crazy”.  I was taken aback by her declaration and asked for expansion and explanation.  She listed a number of people we both knew in common and told me of other numerous examples.  Most of them were actually fairly reasonable examples of anxiety and depression associated with typical late transitioning woes (i.e. divorce, job loss, being regularly clocked in public, etc.).  But some of the stories about these same individuals involved episodes that would indeed indicate serious departures from rational behavior, most especially of delusions and even psychotic breaks, that she had either witnessed first hand or had credible accounts from others.

This fit with some stories that I have been told by a number of care providers who have confided in me… and of my own personal experience.

One of the most famous individuals I met was Angela Keyes Douglas, AKA Douglas Keyes.  When I first met Douglas, in 1977, s/he was living in Berkeley as… well… not really a woman so much as s/he didn’t really pass or even really try, and seemed totally oblivious to how people reacted to him/her.  It was obvious to me that s/he was “off”… and I mean “off“.  We maintained a distant connection for decades.  Douglas had SRS sometime in the ’80s and moved to Florida.  Eventually Douglas returned to living as a man full-time.  I would get mail from him that was off the chart “off“… sometimes friendly, sometimes threatening.  He claimed that he was a CIA or FBI agent and was turning me in for my “crimes”.  He also wrote about the “blue lizard aliens” running our government, when he wasn’t writing about the “Illuminati”.  Clearly, Douglas was psychotic, probably schizophrenic.

Another individual, who was never famous, was my roommate for a time in late ’77 early ’78.  I won’t use her name.  She was in her mid 20’s, very pretty, had transitioned and had SRS paid for by her family while in college and was then working as a computer programmer in Silicon Valley.  However, she was “off”… and I mean “off“.  I didn’t realize it when I first moved in.  Given her age of transition, I had initially thought she must be a transkid.  WRONG !  On the surface, she seemed sweet and put together, until you noticed that she never left the apartment except to go to work.  She had exactly one close friend, a lesbian who I believe she had a serious crush on.  She hated and was terrified of men, all men, but especially gay men.  She had this fixed delusion that all gay men were sexual predators out to seduce her, perhaps violently rape her.  It would seem that part of her motivation for transition was to escape the notice of gay men.  Oh… did I mention that she was heavily medicated on thioridazine?  Thioridazine is a powerful anti-psychotic prescribed as a treatment for schizophrenia.  Well, things went down-hill for us as roommates pretty fast when she discovered that I was actively dating… oopsie… men!  She went off on me one evening using homophobic slurs and after that began having and sharing with others a delusional paranoia fixed on me.  Obviously, I moved out after only a very short time.  In the mid-80’s, I accidentally ran into her in the lobby of a hotel.  I greeted her in a kindly and friendly manner… to which she responded like a startled rabbit and literally ran full tilt away from me!

I had another roommate, who again I will not use her name, who was subject to severe bouts of debilitating depression.  However, she also had times when she was filled with energy, able to achieve amazing things.  But there was a dark side to that energy.  During those times, she would hold very odd ideas, conspiracy theories, etc.  Sometimes, these ideas involved those close to her.  She also took dangerous, reckless, risks that would frighten me in the extreme when I was witness to them.  Perhaps you recognize the symptoms?  I believe that she suffered from bipolar disorder w/ paranoid delusions.

These examples are not the only ones that I have witnessed personally…

This issue has not gone unnoted in the literature on transsexuality / transgenderism.  Norman Fisk, in his seminal paper introducing the concept of “gender dysphoria syndrome” also wrote about the ‘third type’ that they saw applying for sex reassignment at the Stanford Clinic,

“Finally, many psychotic patients have a severe type of gender confusion.  Twenty percent of all of our patients contacting our program are overtly psychotic and of course are referred for or given appropriate psychiatric treatment.”

Could this explain the “third type” that consistently disavows ever having experienced either exclusive androphilia or autogynephilia, insisting that they represent a third type?  Well, no, not completely anyway.  We know that many who deny autogynephilia are in fact falsely making such a claim.  However, these psychotic individuals could represent a portion of them and thus serve as a true, “third type”.  On the other hand, they could simply be a subset of one or the other, or even of both, of the already well established two types, simply evincing a co-morbid condition.  That at 20 to 46%, this could alternatively mean that those who suffer from gender dysphoria are especially likely to have such co-morbid conditions, as Lawrence describes,

Some cases of MtF transsexualism are associated with and plausibly attributable to other comorbid psychiatric disorders, especially psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Á Campo, Nijman, Merckelbach, and Evers (2003) reported on a large survey of Dutch psychiatrists, who had evaluated 584 patients with cross-gender identification and possible GID; in 46% of these patients, the psychiatrists interpreted cross-gender identification as an epiphenomenon of other psychiatric problems, including psychotic, mood, dissociative, and personality disorders. Brown and Jones (2016) observed that, among 5135 persons (69% male) diagnosed with GID, transsexualism, or transvestism who had received care from the U.S. Veterans Administration, 32% had also received a diagnosis of “serious mental illness,” meaning “diagnoses associated with psychotic symptoms” (p. 128), including schizophrenia- and bipolar-spectrum disorders. Thus, comorbid psychotic disorders and other severe mental illnesses may account for some cases of MtF transsexualism in nonandrophilic persons who deny autogynephilia — and for some cases of MtF transsexualism in androphilic persons as well.

Mental illness within the transcommunity has been the elephant in the room.  It’s time we talked about it openly and compassionately.

(Epilog 11/12/2017:  JoAnna, herself suffering from serious mental illness, committed suicide less than a year after the conversation discussed above.)

Further Reading:

Essay on Clinical difference between the two types w/ allusions to differential vulnerability to mental illness

References:

Fisk, N., “Editorial: Gender dysphoria syndrome–the conceptualization that liberalizes indications for total gender reorientation and implies a broadly based multi-dimensional rehabilitative regimen.” (1974) Western Journal of Medicine
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1130142/

Lawrence, A., “Autogynephilia and the Typology of Male-to-Female Transsexualism: Concepts and Controversies”, European Psychologist, 22, 39-54. (2017)
http://www.annelawrence.com/autogynephilia_&_MtF_typology.html

https://www.hindawi.com/journals/schizort/2014/463757/

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