I was inspired to write on the subject of Transsexuality and gender dysphoria because of something that was said on another blog, which can be found HERE, and is also quoted below. The subject of Transsexualism and gender dysphoria is one where I am starting to question the activist-driven view of Transsexualism and other gender dysphoric conditions. I’ve had many Transsexual and Transgender friends over the years and because of this contact, I’ve started to consider why so many Trans people often have serious, ongoing mental health issues, both before and more importantly after gender transition.
Quite a few of the Trans people of my acquaintance have had mental problems that are not cured or allieviated by gender reassignment. This has made me wonder whether or not gender dysphoria is the true underlying problem that they may have had, and to which gender reassignment has been suggested as a cure. This makes me ask the question “Are people being surgically mutilated unnecessarily, to cure a symptom of mental illness, rather than the underlying mental illness itself?” Surely the serious depression that I’ve seen, too often in some of my Trans friends after transition, cannot all be down to coming to terms with a new life after the gender reassignment?
What if the underlying cause of gender dysphoric conditions is a serious long-standing mental health problem like Bipolar, or endemic depression or some other condition, and what if the gender issues are a symptom of the problem and not the problem itself? To give an analogy: An addiction problem whether it be to drugs, gambling or alcohol, may not be the ailment that needs treating per se, but could be an indication of an underlying mental illness.
Unnecessary surgical procedures on those where the root of their psychological illness lies eleswhere and not with gender identity issues is unethical in my view. It may be no better a treatment for their underlying conditions, than chaining the depressed to the walls of Bedlam Lunatic Asylum was a cure for their problems.
Because there is a vociferous lobby for medical-surgical treatment for people presenting with alleged gender dysphoria, this course of action could be being recommended to people who may not be suitable for this kind of treatment.
I do believe that there are those who suffer from gender dysphoric conditions, and some may be helped psychologically by gender reassignment, but the number of these individuals may be considerably lower than many of the Trans organisations say that there are.
The field of gender identity is medically complex and physical apparent gender may not be matched by hormonal or other biochemical markers. There appear to be many factors involved in whether a person is born male or female, but because of this complexity the field of gender medicine contains a lot of psycho-medical charlatans eager to exploit the vulnerable, and those with a political and financial axe to grind.
I am developing some sympathy for those both within and ouside the feminist current of thinking who say that being female is a lot more than possessing the correct gender identifiying sexual characteristics, because such a viewpoint dismisses gender differences in upbringing. In many societies how a girl is brought up is often different to how a boy is brought up, and therefore a biological man who has undergone gender reassignment surgery does not possess the internal knowledge mentally to become fully female. The same I would say applies to those who transition from female to male, they have not had to learn much of the stuff that boys learn when growing up. Because of this lack of socialisation in the gender that they see themselves to be, many trans people are sometimes simulacra of the gender that is outwardly displayed.
This quote from Adrian Morgan on a thread about Transphobia, on Harry’s Place, sums up a lot of my own concerns and then some. Like Adrian Morgan, I don’t want to see Trans people treated badly, but asking questions about the ethical and moral probity of the current treatments for gender dysphoria should not be considered as Transphobia or a hatred of those who say they have gender dysphoria.
Here’s Adrian Morgan’s comment on the Harry’s Place thread regarding criticisms of the Transgender Industry by Julie Burchill and Suzanne Moore in recent press articles.
“I have no anger against Julie Burchill – and she has a point.
I do not want to see persecution of trans people, but there is something odd about male to female trans people lecturing women about how they should campaign on “women’s issues.” Without surgery, many trans people would be viewed by their associates as full-time drag queens. Now, surgery is available on the NHS, and combined with a campaigning lobby, there are demands for transgendered people to have birth certificates changed to assign their birth gender as their assigned gender. Is this realistic, or is it demanding reification in political terms of an emotional feeling that was only turned from a subjective situation to a quasi-reality by surgery?
I have a feeling – and I expect to be excoriated for this – that now society is being bullied to pander to the demands of people who only got the right to free NHS gender reassignment surgery because of threats of suicide.
I look nowadays in bemusement at the way the so-called LGBT lobby is getting recognition in the media as one seamless homogenous entity, when it was never as such in the 1970s, 1980s or 1990s.
There was once huge resentment of bisexuals in the “gay male” community as they could flit from “society-acceptable” patterns of behaviour to “queer” patterns of behaviour at will, and could not be trusted by gay men to be anything other than a quick shag – the chances of a meaningful one-on-one relationship with someone who wanted to be in two worlds were regarded as slim, and I used to hear the term “busdriver” being muttered by gay males in a Hackney café when someone passed them, before I realised it was a slightly contemptuous term for a bisexual.
Though some lesbians were totally politically supportive of gay men when they started to get AIDS, even though gay women did not have the same likelihood of contracting the disease, there were some lesbian factions who still clung to the Spare Rib notion of “all men are phallocrats,” and that sweeping condemnation included gay men too.
And there was never much love from either group for transgendered people because they seemed to be in denial or even traitors to gay or lesbian causes, who would rather change their genders entirely than be feminine men or masculine women.
Nowadays I hear so many people bringing out the term LGBT term – it was creeping in during the end of the 1990s – as if it has always been the “correct” designation, when often they are often really discussing specifically gay issues.
And the bizarrest twist of all comes from Iran, where young teenage homosexuals are hanged publicly from cranes, and where six years ago the charity Noman claimed that more than 4,000 gay males had been executed for homosexuality, And yet in this harsh and heartless system, it is legally acceptable to be a transgendered person, and surgery is provided by the state. But rather than allow transgendered male-to-female people to be truly accepted as normal citizens, they are barred from jobs, and are encouraged to make their livings by prostitution. They engage in mut’ah marriages (sighe in Farsi) which are temporary contracts, where they are married for a brief period to a male punter, who pays them a fee, like a dowry, and when the time period (an hour or a few hours) is over, they are free to “marry” again. And male punters can “marry” them even if they have wives at home, in a society where adultery leads to hanging or stoning, and women are the most frequent victims.
I don’t want to attack trans people, but this grouping of LGBT is a little unrealistic in practical terms.
And I am sorry Sarah, but you are posting here as if Julie Burchill has committed some great crime. She writes:
To have your cock cut off and then plead special privileges as women – above natural-born women, who don’t know the meaning of suffering, apparently – is a bit like the old definition of chutzpah: the boy who killed his parents and then asked the jury for clemency on the grounds he was an orphan.
Well, it may offend your politically correct ideals, but it is a true statement. I only know Julie through Facebook, sadly, but she is a fantastic feisty woman who is fiercely protective of her friends. And she is here defending her friend Suzanne Moore who was unfairly attacked by male-to-female trans people.
Julie is a complex figure, but her fierce protectiveness of those she loves (and that includes Israel) makes her a person I would readily support and defend.
Trans people should be urging others to accept them as whole people, not appropriating the surgical superficialities of another gender and then using overtly masculine belligerent bullying tactics to oppress women.
How can I say such a politically incorrect thing? Well, perhaps it is down to personal experience. In the late 1980s I was threatened to be punched through a window by a trans called Helen, a former dockworker from Liverpool who was trying to seduce my neighbour in Hackney (a woman). I had merely pointed out to her that her open contempt for black people sounded racist. For all her demands that she be treated as a woman, when challenged, her snap reaction was to revert to her previous Liverpool docker “persona” and threaten violence. Helen had surgery, but in her predatory pursuit of the women she fancied and in her aggression, she was still very much exhibiting the very worst type of male behaviour.
So really Sarah, please leave Julie alone on this. She has expressed her opinion, and she is entitled to her opinion. There is no need to act as the Thought Police on this, as if she has committed some sort of heinous thought crime. I cannot ignore that she has stuck up for me and I think Julie is great.
Transphobia? Is this not just another label to demonise and exclude people who do not sing from the all-inclusive let’s-all-pretend-we-live-in-a-Benetton-advert song sheet? Get over yourself, please.”
I’ll end by saying to Adrian Morgan that I agree that Trans and other gender issues should not be lumped in with issues that pertain to sexuality. Sexuality and gender are to a large extent two completely separate things. I will also say ‘well said’ for stating your point, and standing up for Julie Burchill, a writer who I also admire. Prepare yourself for an organised internet assault by those gender activists who are happy to question all views about the subject of gender, except their own.
Link to HP article that inspired this piece