On the Science of Changing Sex

Kincade Fire in Sonoma County

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on October 26, 2019

For my friends and readers, Jeff and I are OK.  Our house is NOT in any of the evacuation zones at this time, though they are near by.

(Addendum 10-5-19:  The fire is out.  We are fine.  Though I grieve for friends who lost their home on Chalk Hill.)

Comments Off on Kincade Fire in Sonoma County

Dubunking Transsexual & Transgender Myths

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on October 20, 2019

phrenologyThere are a number of misconceptions, misinformation, disinformation, and even outright lies swirling around social media regarding transsexual and transgender people, our caregivers, and the consequences of our medical care.  This post is an ongoing effort to dispell and debunk them with actual scientific evidence.  I will update this post as I research issues.  (Please be patient)

MYTH:  Hormone Replacement Therapy & Puberty Blockers Cause Sterility

This is a complex matter, in that while currently taking such medications, one is indeed rendered infertile.  But then, so are women who are taking contraceptive medications.  However, if one stops taking them, fertility returns (provided that no surgical removal of reproductive organs has occured).

References:

https://www.endocrine.org/news-room/2019/endo-2019—ovary-function-is-preserved-in-transgender-men-at-one-year-of-testosterone-therapy

https://www.medpagetoday.com/endocrinology/growthdisorders/41733

MYTH:  Men Who Date & Marry Transwomen Are Closeted Gay (Perhaps Bisexual), Never Straight

This would seem at first glance to a true and common-sensical, based on superficialities.  Many hold this to be self-evident.  It it repeated as true in popular entertainment and by lay people on social media.

But reality is far different.  Actual research into the matter has shown that there are two populations of men that date & marry transwomen, both heterosexual.  One group is what are called in the transcommunity “chasers”, men who avidly seek out transwomen, especially young pre-op transwomen.  The other group is simply straight men who meet and fall in love with a given transwoman, in spite of being transsexual.

GAM“Chasers”, scientifically labelled “gynandromorphophiles” (GAMP) would seem to fit the description of “bi” in that they seek out people who both have intact male genitalia and an overall female form, called “gynandromorphs” (GAM).  However, true bisexual people would also be attracted to the male body form, that is masculine body and personality.  However, research measuring actual sexual arousal to images of nude masculine men, feminine women and young feminine pre-op transwomen do NOT show this pattern.  Instead, these men are preferentially attracted to women and pre-op transwomen, with far less arousal to men.  The opposite pattern is found in gay men.

Note carefully:  Gay men do NOT find transwomen to be very sexually arousing.

The second group that may date a given transwoman is very unlikely to seek out other transwomen should their relationship end.  They are, as Dr. Green in his 1974 book on transsexuals, “Gender Identity Conflict in Children and Adults” wrote,

“The men who fall in love with and perhaps marry women who are themselves former males, by and large, have known their partners only as women.  Their prior sexual experiences have been only with females.  They consider themselves heterosexual and their relationships heterosexual.  To varying degrees they are consciously and unconsciously aware of the biologic status of their partners, but it would be simplistic and would furthermore blur generally accepted definitions to call these men homosexual.  Rather they are men who respond to the considerable femininity of male-to-female transsexuals, ignoring the dissonant cues of masculinity.”

Reference:

K. J. Hsu, A. M. Rosenthal, D. I. Miller and J. M. Bailey, “Who are gynandromorphophilic men? Characterizing men with sexual interest in transgender women”
http://d-miller.github.io/assets/HsuEtAl2015.pdf

Comments Off on Dubunking Transsexual & Transgender Myths

The Sneaky Plan to Stifle Trans Science

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on September 11, 2019

Kay BrownIn the ongoing effort by autogynephilic transwomen to silence those who research and present evidence of the two type taxonomy, a new phase has been entered.  They are now publishing and pushing “ethics” position papers that work on the laudable tendency of people to not “offend” people.  But when science and education are deemed “offensive” to a group that does not want certain well established facts to be known, that’s not being inoffensive to them.  Its granting them the power to censor.

Even more destructive, granting one self-described “marginalized” group the power to censor the science, in this case at a least, also can further marginalize another.  Specifically, we know that there are TWO etiological paths for male bodied people that leads to intractable gender dysphoria.  One can NOT understand those two paths if the very nature of one of those path is deemed “offensive” and censored.  Further, the needs, indeed the very existence, of the unique etiology of the other group, requires that these paths both be fully researched and described.

The most recent development is publication and dissemination of a document listing words and concepts that are to be censored as “offensive”

Thus, it is shameful and hurtful, that this effort to stifle science, science education, and open discussion is being attempted.  It would be even more shameful if it succeeds.

Further Reading:

How to Ruin Sex Research

Reference:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1iHodSA16oP0itTjZPkB5tslBjMHOiMdy9lt9zmTPKPs/mobilebasic

Comments Off on The Sneaky Plan to Stifle Trans Science

Transgender Sexual Predators

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on July 27, 2019

Kay BrownRecent news about a non-op transgender male bodied individual demanding women, who perform very intimate grooming services for female clients, provide it for him, and then making official complaints about them for “discrimination” if they don’t, has caused a serious kerfluffle for the trans communities.  So, let me state in this editorial, with no equivocation, I do NOT support this person nor his actions.  (Yes, you read that right; I will not offer the courtesy of using feminine pronouns for a male sexual predator and bully attempting to use the cover of being a transwoman.)

For a pre-op / non-op male bodied person to demand, using the force of law, to be allowed to, in effect, expose himself to non-consenting women is the action of a sexual predator, period.  This behavior is identical to a public ‘flasher’.  It is one of the four “Courtship Disorders” that include paraphilic rape, frotterism (rubbing one’s penis against non-consenting people in public), and voyeurism (Peeping Tom).  This behavior is a paraphilia that seeks, requires, non-consenting participants and is by definition a sexual offense.

The various transcommunities should, nay, must denounce this behavior and any and all individuals who attempt it.  Further, we should recognize that this is an abuse of non-discriminational laws.  We should support changes in law to end such abuse.

Further Reading:

Dangerous Thoughts

Comments Off on Transgender Sexual Predators

“ROGD” As An Epiphenomena of Parental Grieving

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on June 12, 2019

TransSupportDiscovering that one’s child is gender dysphoric, for what ever reason, evokes parental distress.  How can it not?  The spector of one’s child going through pain is bad enough.  But to “lose” the child that one thought one had, as though they were dying, and yet that child isn’t dying but may metamorphize into another, a stranger, a changeling?  Even for parents who believe that they are liberal, tolerant, accepting of LGBT people, that “loss” is still real.

These parents grieve for the child that they thought they had.  The grief is real.  It hurts.  Even as they love their gender dysphoric child, they still grieve.

Which brings us to how grief is experienced and expressed.  Although often questioned, the Kübler-Ross model is still generally useful if we disregard the notion that one goes through it in a linear progression.  Instead, the “stages” can be experienced in a wicked jumble.  They are denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and (hopefully), acceptance.

Parents of gender dysphoric children will exhibit all of these emotions and expressions.  But now, with the internet to allow parents to very quickly find each other, these personal expressions can take on social expressions.

Unlike the actual death of a child, a child who is gender dysphoric and wanting to socially transition is still standing there, day in, day out, so the grieving stage of denial has no easy check, their child could be mistaken, it could all be just a phase, a fad, a social contagion.  It could be this false malady that other parents are all talking about, Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria… and it should be treatable!  It will all be OK.  My child won’t grow up to be one of those people.

But the child still stands there and still insists that they feel this awful disconnect between their body, their social expectations, their sexuality, and what they dare to dream for their future selves.  The parents feel frustrated, and the next stage of grieving comes to play, anger.  Anger at the child, but that isn’t the real problem they say to themselves, it must be someone else’s fault.  It must be all of that stuff on the internet.  It must be all of that Transgender Ideology that has gotten into their innocent heads, causing Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria.  Those People are to blame.  And when those people won’t take responsibility for hurting their child, well, it’s time they were castigated for it on the internet!

But sometimes, the parents need to bargain.  Oh… couldn’t we find a therapist to fix my child.  Shouldn’t there be some sort of therapy allowed for my child?  Why is conversion therapy no longer legal?  Surely I’m allowed to determine what is best for my child?

Then the sadness strikes and they look to the internet to find advise on how to cope with a transgender child, how to deal with a transgender child.  Fruitlessly searching for those magic words that will make the pain go away.

And maybe, just maybe, they will finally reach acceptance and learn to celebrate the child that they have, rather than continue to grieve the loss the of the child they thought they had.

Parents in online fora grasping at the concept of ROGD as they worked their way through their grieving for their gender dysphoric child.  It is not their child’s etiology.  But as reason for castigating transfolk and an imaged harmful “transgender ideology” it serves the purposes of a number of transphobic constituencies to take advantage of grieving parents.

Further Reading:

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria and Parental Denialism

Shameful History of Reparitive Therapy of Gender Atypical Youth

Essay on Parental Internet Search Strings

Advice to Parents of Transkids

Further External Reading:

What I Didn’t Understand About The Stages Of Grief — Until I Was In Them
by Caila Smith

Tagged with:

Comments Off on “ROGD” As An Epiphenomena of Parental Grieving

Richard Green, M.D., J.D. (1936-2019)

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on June 5, 2019

Greens bookDr. Richard Green passed recently.  How will we remember him?

Joe Herbert published an obit in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a journal that Dr. Green founded.  As one would expect, he lionizes Dr. Green.  I can’t join him.  Dr. Green’s career is not quite as faultless as Herbert would have it.

I first became aware of Green in early 1975, when Dr. Norman Fisk recommended his book, Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults, to me during my first intake evaluation interview at the Gender Dysphoria Clinic at Stanford.  I drove to the book store right afterwards to buy it.  Although interesting and informative in general, one particular passage had the greatest emotional salience for me,

“The men who fall in love with and perhaps marry women who are themselves former males, by and large, have known their partners only as women.  Their prior sexual experiences have been only with females.  They consider themselves heterosexual and their relationships heterosexual.  To varying degrees they are consciously and unconsciously aware of the biologic status of their partners, but it would be simplistic and would furthermore blur generally accepted definitions to call these men homosexual.  Rather they are men who respond to the considerable femininity of male-to-female transsexuals, ignoring the dissonant cues of masculinity.”

family

Those very words, read when I was 17 years old, gave me hope that my dearest wish, to live in society accepted as a woman, to find and marry a straight man, hopefully to also adopt children, just might be possible, in spite of my own mother’s words of encouragement that “No man will ever love you, you know.”  Fortunately, Dr. Green was right, and my mother quite wrong.

Herbert points out that Green and his colleagues at UCLA were working with gender atypical boys believing them to be transkids, future MTF transwomen.  This wasn’t an unwarranted assumption given the standard transsexual narrative, based on the life arcs of homosexual transsexuals (HSTS), but assiduously aped by autogynephilic late transitioning transwomen to improve their chances of slipping by the ‘gate-keepers’.  But in longitudinally following these youngsters, the majority did not persist to become transsexual, but developed into gay men instead.  Herbert praises Green for changing his hypothesis to match the data, as a good scientist should.  Thus was born the ‘sissy boy syndrome’ and the acknowledgement that gay men have gender atypical childhoods.

However, this glosses a key fact.  Green and his colleagues believed at that time that they were working with young transkids.  Yes, I just said that earlier.  Let me repeat that, because it is key to my concern with not forgetting an ugly truth.  Green and his colleagues (most notably Rekers) at UCLA were trying to “cure” transsexual children to make them grow up to be masculine straight men.  To do that, they engaged in the most vile, despicable, “therapy” experiments conducted on children to date.

Lately, it has become unfashionable and even illegal in some polities to conduct “conversion therapy” to attempt to change one’s sexual orientation.  But a few (and that’s still too many) now argue that it is still proper to “encourage” transkids to “accept” their birth sex.  The problem is two fold.  First, where is the line between reasonable acknowledgement that most gender atypical kids are ‘pre-homosexual’ not ‘pre-transsexual’ and transphobically devaluing the lives and needs of transkids?  Second, where is the line between listening attentively and supporting youth to become the best versions of themselves and implicitly, and even explicitly, telling them that both gender atypicality and gender dysphoria are morally unacceptable?;  Or even more explicitly, telling them that being transsexual is a less than acceptable outcome?  (Don’t quibble, this is in fact what is the underlying value system motivating these therapists.)

Dr. Green is complicit in fostering this implicit devaluing of the lives of homosexual transsexuals in favor of desisters as the better outcome.  Yes, I argue that a morally neutral position regarding desistance vs. persistence is the only acceptable one.  Let desisters naturally desist.  Let persisters naturally persist, providing medical technology as requested by individuals making informed decisions as they mature to become the best versions of themselves.  Holding the position that desisting is the desired outcome tells both transkids and the adults we become (yes that includes me) that we are the undesirable outcome. That we are the “failures”.  This is socially and morally a despicable value to hold.

Further Reading:

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

Reference:

Herbert, J., “Richard Green M.D., J.D. (1936-2019)” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2019)
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10508-019-01474-3

Comments Off on Richard Green, M.D., J.D. (1936-2019)

Autoandrophilia vs. Autohomoerotic Sexuality

Posted in Editorial, Female-to-Male by Kay Brown on May 15, 2019

female_scientistIf you are paying attention to the latest discussions regarding sexology of female bodied gender dysphoria you may have come across a debate in which some of the old time sexologists have quibbles about the concept of autoandrophilic transgender sexuality.  Oh, let’s spell it out, Ray Blanchard had once upon a time flat out denied that autoandrophilia exists, largely because he, as many other sexologists asserted, believed women never have paraphilias…. but then evidence poured in… OK… he says so some women have paraphilias (masochism being the most common)… but that still doesn’t mean that gay or bisexual identified transmen are autoandrophilic… they just have autohomoerotic fantasies of themselves as gay men.

Sigh… I say tomato, you say tahmahto…

Seriously, recent research has shown that autogynephilic males can experience essentially the same thing as Interpersonal Autogynephilia, in fact, many of them do, having fantasies in which they are lesbian.  And no, one can’t say that they aren’t the same thing.  Frankly, if males can experience autogynephilia as the result of an erotic target location error, by simple symmetry, we would expect that females can also experience autoandrophilia as a result of an erotic target location error.

Need proof that women experience an erotic target location errors?  Consider amputee “devotees” and “wannabees”, people who are both sexually attracted to amputees and want to become an amputee.  While most are men, there are women.  Are we to say that female wannabees experience a different phenomena just because they are female?  Seriously?  I prefer to use Occam’s Razor and avoid unnecessary sexist ideology.

Back to autoandrophilia in androphilic transmen, we see the same sex ratio, very few such transmen compared to autogynephilic transwomen.  And again, by Occam’s Razor, if we know that female bodied individuals can experience an erotic target location error as rare as amputee wannabee, then we fully expect to find it in simple androphilia as autoandrophilia.  It might “look” different than what we find in males, but it’s still there.

Further Reading:

Essay on Androphilic Transmen being Autoandrophilic

Essay on Amputee Wannabees and Erotic Target Location Errors

Further External Reading:

https://meduza.io/en/feature/2017/08/02/lose-a-leg-find-yourself

Comments Off on Autoandrophilia vs. Autohomoerotic Sexuality

Camille Paglia Is NOT Transgender

Posted in Editorial by Kay Brown on May 3, 2019

Kay BrownHave you noticed that more and more the mainstream press is using the term “transgender identified” or describes someone as “identifies as transgender”?  They didn’t used to do this; and for good reason.  Journalists have twigged to the fact that many people who are lately claiming to be trans aren’t.  The most notable example is Camille Paglia, the “feminist” who isn’t.  Camille Paglia is claiming to be transgender so she can troll actual transfolk, just as she trolls feminists.

I’m sure that journalists have noted that Ms. Paglia never presented in the least bit gender dysphoric, not now, not ever.  Her appearance is perhaps on the marginally tomboyish side… a look that was common for many women back in the late ’70s and ’80s from when her fashion choices were made.  At best, she might be taken to be a “soft butch” as Leslie Feinberg would likely have described her.

Does Camille bind her breasts?  Does Camille use testosterone?  Does Camille even present as a man?  Does Camille even have a man’s haircut?  Is Camille even the least bit gender atypical in behavior, mannerisms, etc.?

What self respecting actual transperson would write of transfolk like this, as she is paraphrased in a recent The Atlantic essay,

“You are either born male, female, or deformed (physically or mentally). Trans people are mentally diseased and often violent. If they are not able to accept the reality of their disease and cope with it they must be removed from society by any means necessary. Some might argue that the high suicide rate among those suffering from this severe mental disease is nature correcting itself. Camille Paglia is a transgender person who was able to accept and overcome her mental disease. Be like Camille.”

Read that bit of text again, especially the part “must be removed from society by any means necessary”.  These are words we would expect to be coming from the alt-right, not a transperson.  If she were speaking of removing Jews ‘from society by any means necessary’ and claimed to be Jewish but has no Jewish ancestors, what would your conclusion be?  When confronted by seeming contradictions, one should look to the most likely explanation based on actual behavior rather than identity claims.  Camille is trolling transfolk.  Claiming to be transgender herself is part of that trolling.

Why would an academic troll transfolk at all?  Well, because it garners attention.  Consider that Jordan Peterson was a little known second rate academic psychologist with very puerile philosophic notions until he leapt to the world stage by pointedly insulting transfolk in a viral video.  Trolling transfolk is very popular among people who have nothing much else to contribute to modern thought.  The real trans population is too small to politically defend itself and thus make for an easy and exotic target to troll to gain notoriety.

Do I support efforts to remove Camille from her academic post?  No.  Do I support calling her out for her transphobic trolling and false claims of being transgender?  Absolutely!

Claiming to be trans does not make one trans.  Being transgender is not like being a Republican or Democrat which are identities that one earns by self appellation.  One simply is trans in the same way that one is gay or lesbian.

Camille Paglia is a transphobic troll, not transgender.

Further Reading:

Essay on people, mostly teenagers, falsely claiming to be transgender

Further External Reading:

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/05/camille-paglia-uarts-left-deplatform/587125/

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

Comments Off on Camille Paglia Is NOT Transgender

ROGD Redux

Posted in Editorial, Science Criticism by Kay Brown on April 22, 2019

female_scientistA paper published online today in the Archives of Sexual Behavior by a young transwoman, Arjee Restar, tears apart the Littman paper purporting to be about a phenomena called Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria which Littman claims is an example of “social contagion” in which teenagers, most of whom are female bodied, develop gender dysphoria purely because of exposure to what many are calling “transgender ideology”.  Restar’s paper admirably questions Littman’s paper on it’s poor methodology which failed to follow good science practices.  The critique shows that rather than testing a hypothesis, Littman’s entire study was designed to produce a predetermined result and pass it off as science, as Restar explains,

“Participants recruited into a study should never be selected based on a researcher’s a priori knowledge of how the results of the paper would appear and confirm their premise. As noted earlier, Littman recruited specifically on three Web sites solely because these venues are attracting a specific demographic group of parental-respondents who are already subscribed into, are selecting into (i.e., self-selection bias), are promoting the concept of “ROGD,” and agree via consent form with the premise of the study. By choosing a specific population of interest and selecting cases and venues where cases can be found, an a priori motivation that favors the investigator’s premise and specific perspectives is likely to be gathered from the sample and thus likely contributing to systemically biased results.”

Fortunately, both Littman’s revised paper and Restar’s critique are openly published, not behind a paywall, so anyone can read both and come to their own conclusions.  However, I do have a few of my own comments to make here.

First, the idea of social contagion of minority human sexual orientation has previously been put forward.  In fact, it became a center piece of homophobic political activism that used such slogans as “Save Our Children” from the “homosexual agenda” of “recruitment”.  That Littman and her ilk recycle this thoroughly debunked trope in a new guise should be no surprise (ref: Brakefield, 2014).

Second, the idea of social contagion (ROGD as a form of “conversion disorder”) focused on girls smacks of the misogynist concept of “hysterical women” found in sexist medical literature of the past.  It’s use here as a “just so” explanation is one that transphobic parents would happily cling to in their denialism.

Third, I’ve already shared my thoughts on transphobic parental denialism in a previous essay.

Finally, I look forward to seeing more of Ms. Restar’s academic work in the future.

References:

Restar, A. J., “Methodological Critique of Littman’s (2018) Parental-Respondents Accounts of “Rapid-Onset Gender Dysphoria” “, Archives of Sexual Behavior (2019)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-1453-2

Littman, L. L. “Rapid-onset gender dysphoria in adolescents and young adults: A study of parental reports.” PLoS ONE, 13(8) (2018)
https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0202330

Brakefield, T. A., et al, “Same-sex sexual attraction does not spread in adolescent social networks.” Archives of Sexual Behavior (2014)
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0142-9

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

Further Reading:

Essay on ROGD and Parental Denialism

Further External Reading:

https://www.buzzfeednews.com/amphtml/shannonkeating/rapid-onset-gender-dysphoria-flawed-methods-transgender

Tagged with: , ,

Comments Off on ROGD Redux

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 they 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.  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, “transphobic”.  Given that a fair number of transsexuals have been refusing to participate, this is non-transgender people calling transsexuals, “transphobic”.

Further External Reading:

Treatment Recommendations For HSTS Transkids by S. Alejandra Velasquez

 

Comments Off on Oppressive Rituals of Ceremoniously Announcing One’s Gender Pronouns