Transphobia in the New York Times

What’s missing from this paragraph? What the three men in Oregon understood, but the White House doesn’t, is that in a healthy society, Islamophobia doesn’t disparage just Muslims, racism doesn’t demean blacks alone, misogyny hurts more than women, xenophobia insults more than immigrants. Rather, we are all diminished, so we all have a stake in confronting bigotry.

“Transphobia does not just hurt trans folk.” Why can’t Nicholas Kristof say that? Because it is too “politically correct”? Because no-one really cares about trans folk, because there are not enough of us to matter, because others would deny that and he can’t be bothered to argue? Because he would deny it himself?

He was writing about the murder of Rick Best, who stood up for a Muslim woman against an Islamophobic rant on a Portland commuter train. Rick Best is a hero. I don’t impugn Rick Best by imagining he might not stick up for me in similar circumstances, but I wonder if New York Times editors and writers would, because there is a constant stream of such things. They miss us out when writing about disadvantaged groups, whom it besmirches civilisation when they are demeaned, but include us at other times?

People have to choose between heating their homes, buying food or buying health care and you want them to worry about the survival of the planet or transgender stuff?…White lives matter, too, you know. That woman forgot that — and lost. We lost our discipline and our moral code in this country. So we need honest Trump to shake things up. That’s Roger Cohen imagining Trump supporters, who later he calls decent, thoughtful, anxious, patriotic Americans who felt they were losing some part of their country’s essence. I wish I believed Cohen thought me as important as climate change, but I fear he just feels I repulse Trump voters as much as climate change realism does.

This happens again and again. When the NYT needs an example of Liberal ridiculousness or political correctness gone mad, it picks on us. Opinion articles devoted to trans issues are generally positive, despite the possibly disconcerting article “My daughter is not transgender- she’s a tomboy“- but there is this steady drip of hostile references. Send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee– but, perhaps, not for trans folk.

I have to add George Yancy, published on 19 June. Is your God dead? He writes we should be mortified by the inadequacy and superficiality of our anguish when we witness the suffering of others, the sort of anguish that should make us weep until our eyes are red and swollen and bring sleepless nights and agonizing days. He quotes Abraham Joshua Heschel: “Any god who is mine but not yours, any god concerned with me but not with you, is an idol.” I continue to be haunted by the murder of an unarmed Trayvon Martin in 2012. Hundreds of thousands of children around the world are suffering. We all have known about the cruel and despicable violence toward transgender individuals. We know about the magnitude of human trafficking, the magnitude of poverty, and the sickness of hatred… “Through lamentation, voice is given to pain.” Yet our lamenting, our mourning for those who suffer, is far too short-lived. I need my lamenting to be heard. It is almost bearable, if I am heard.

Ongoing NYT watch:

22 June, Brett Stephens: nominating more progressive candidates isn’t likely to solve the contempt problem, at least with voters not yet in sync with progressive orthodoxies on coal, guns or gender-neutral bathrooms.

6 July, Mark Penn and Andrew Stein, …working-class voters saw the party being mired too often in political correctness, transgender bathroom issues and policies offering more help to undocumented immigrants than to the heartland.

Credit where credit’s due- Lindy West on the need to be unequivocally pro-choice, 2 August: I hear from some people on the left that Donald Trump’s victory was at least partially the fault of “identity politics” — of feminists pushing too hard, of Black Lives Matter being too aggressive, of trans people needing to go to the bathroom — as though the violent suppression of a movement points more toward its irrelevance than its necessity.

Stating the problem IV

Like many pop songs, it has just one good line, but it is a very good line:

We are, we are driving
we are driving too fast
we are, we are driving
we could crash

starting fire
fire when we crash
starting fire
fire when we crash

Skype counselling session. I have my love intimacy and sexuality weekend coming up, I am going to see someone I have not seen since about 2001, and tell her not to transition, and I have lunch with Quakers tomorrow.

I love the Human Awareness Institute. I will find their weekend distressing, useful, challenging, wonderful. My aim is to pass through distress to enlightenment, to bring my repressed unconscious to consciousness. I love their slogan, “Creating a world where everyone wins”.

I will tell Hannah not to transition. Long term, it is a mistake, though short term it is wonderfully liberating.

I will ask those Quakers what they expected- that I would just vanish? I cycled on Sunday for 55 minutes to Kettering, about 55 minutes back, because Quakers are my main social outlet. I am sociable, and today my longest conversation has been buying apples, lettuce, grapes and plums at the fruit and veg stall. I want those, he wants £4.09, no other chat took place.

Life now is as good as I can imagine it. This is the best I can do. I don’t want to work, even though not looking makes me more vulnerable to the biggest threat in my life, losing my benefits. My life is in Limbo, and a kick up the arse might do me good? No, this is the best I can do. Work would be some of the time horrible, most of the time just unpleasant and dull.

I am in the best situation I can imagine, though it is not sustainable. In the future, when my benefits stop, the best will be worse than this- some horrible job- but all I could do is embrace that worse now, and that makes no sense.

-How do you think people will react to you turning up as a man?
-Some will think I’m an arse, some will see how beautiful and fascinating I am and like it and express that.
-Will you hear them?
-Yes. I am beautiful and fascinating.
-Why so distressed and angry and frustrated?
-Because beautiful and fascinating is not good enough, and I can’t achieve better than this.

Now, I am distressed, frustrated (in Limbo) and frightened, and I think of Rebekah. She lives in Tel Aviv. I met her in London, for less than half an hour, and at her suggestion we facebook friended. Most of her shares are in Hebrew, and pre-AI translate is poor, but she posted some wonderful pictures of her in a wedding dress, feeling delighted, and looking wonderful. She is paralysed and needs a motorised wheelchair but she is blissful.

Rather than words comes the thought of high windows:
The sun-comprehending glass,
And beyond it, the deep blue air, that shows
Nothing, and is nowhere, and is endless.

-I am beautiful, fascinating, highly intelligent, creative, loving
-Unloved. I wish we had another hour to go further into this, she says.

We make another appointment. Perhaps work so revolts me because the only authority figure I can conceive is my mother: unjust, unyielding, capricious and wrong.

Psychotherapy for trans people

Is therapy completely worthless, or might it have some use?

Reparative therapy has always failed, because of how it envisages health, and what it attempts to do. Aversion therapy attempted to make the victim associate their desires with pain, fear, discomfort and misery. If the therapist, claiming that the person needs to control their desires, to fit in with normal society, prevented the person from acting on their desires, that would be a “success”.

For me, any organism seeks out its own health and good. Just as a broken bone knits together, so the mind turns towards what will fulfil it. People are different, with different gifts, and that fulfilment is different for each. The individual does not cross-dress because she is disgusting, and wants to be disgusting, as my mother said, but as the best way she knows of approaching health. The question would be, why does she cross-dress? What does it achieve for her?

The aim would not be to prevent the person dressing, but to find options for her. Is there another way of proceeding, which she prefers? The choice would still be the patient’s. Barry wrote of a person who transitioned role and was going to have surgery, but then reverted and found a partner.

You might favour transition if you imagine that men should be a certain way, women should be a different way. If men are generally more “masculine” whether this comes from nature or nurture or social construct, you may be more comfortable expressing yourself as a woman. Even if you don’t believe these restrictions are appropriate, you might observe that they exist, and feel you will be more accepted after transition.

Intensive psychotherapy would find your wounds and scars. What are you repressing? What shames you, what do you fear in yourself? We are a social species, and trans women in particular are intensely pro-social. We are made in the image of God, loving, creative, powerful, beautiful. What do you want from life? Again, the question is not “Why are you so broken that you contemplate transition?” It is “Who are you?” I have addressed this question after transition, as everyone must, some time.

norah-neilson-gray-little-brother

Post-materialist

I have been a post-materialist since about 2000, but learned I was one yesterday. Before, I had understood it as a matter of spiritual maturity: people move from a position of condemning non-conformists and out-groups to seeing that every human being is doing their best, under difficult circumstances, to agreeing with Blake’s line, “Everything that is, is holy”.

I welcome diversity, which is part of the flourishing of each person, for the good of humanity. This is part of my identity, how I see myself as a good person.

Then the NYT explains me, quoting Ronald Inglehart: when people grow up taking survival for granted it makes them more open to new ideas and more tolerant of outgroups…bringing greater emphasis on freedom of expression, environmental protection, gender equality, and tolerance of gays, handicapped people and foreigners. It is no merit in me, but an accident of birth. This was shocking, even if in retrospect obvious.

As a post-materialist, it means I should seek understanding of my out-group, which previously I thought of as less mature: if you feel under threat, you circle the wagons. Less mature in me does not mean less mature in others. What is possible, for a person?

It might be that if you can make people feel safer, they will be less angry with the outsider, foreigner or non-conformist. Mr Trump and Mrs May go the other way, encouraging the anger. If you feel looked down on by “liberal elites” who tell you not to feel that anger, you may be tempted by moneyed elites who tell you the anger is right. Trump, never worried about survival, bends others’ anger for his own ends. Encouraging the anger, making people feel OK in themselves and rejecting liberal scorn, pleases them so that he does not need to give them anything worthwhile. How do you benefit, really, from excluding refugees? What gain is there, from making Muslims feel as excluded, powerless and angry as you feel?

Are Trump’s patsies capable of empathy, or of recognising their own feelings? Unable to admit how angry and frightened he feels, a man clings more tightly to his world-view, we are right and everyone else is wrong, and those people over there are a threat. This is simply the truth for him, separate from any anxiety he feels about being able to pay his rent.

Is Trump going to permit discrimination against LGBT on “religious grounds”? The NYT said a draft executive order has circulated, but administration officials denied it would be adopted. They take the pulse of the nation. Will this energise their support, or the resistance? What are people saying about the proposed order? The order would increase hatred, and disempower non-conformity.

I am post-materialist because I am in one of the first hate-groups to be victimised. Thank God for the Windrush, I say, bringing Afro-Caribbean workers to Britain, beginning our long march to tolerance from which I benefit.

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Transphobia III

What is transphobia? I think of it as phobia, ranging from mild discomfort to visceral repulsion, but how does it arise? I asked, and a friend wrote that it is A system of oppression, frequently so deeply embedded in society that it can be presented as “natural”, which pressures people to assume that sex and gender are the same thing, that gender assigned at birth is ‘correct’ gender, and that conforming to gendered expectations is important.

Conforming to gendered expectations. This does not distinguish revulsion at me, expressing myself female, from revulsion at an effeminate man. I would have to pretend to be a Real Man to escape this obloquy. This could alter my view of TERFs, who have a disproportionate emphasis on trans issues, rather than more serious feminist concerns. Even though they themselves do not conform to gendered expectations, they hate my non-conformity

-because it mirrors their own, embracing what they reject
-or even because they project onto me their hatred of their own non-conformity, which makes life so difficult.
-or perhaps because when they discover RadFems, and feel at home, this is one of the ways to show they fit in with that group.

We should be allies. We suffer equally under the system of oppression, but that system pits us against each other. And they would say sex and gender are not the same thing, but that sex is a matter of reproduction, gender a matter of culture.

One said that people are scared when others do not conform to norms. We feel safe in homogeneity. I hope that when you can accept your own variation, you can accept that of others. She went on to say that we should not ask people to repress feelings of discomfort, but instead avoid wrongful behaviour. Exposure to trans folk may cure the transphobe, who will become more comfortable with us as s/he gets to know us- which is just how you treat arachnophobia.

One referred to playing the trans card, claiming trans discrimination where there is a real reason for different treatment. Having so few cards, I might be tempted by that; and when I am talking of how trans folk are wronged I could object to the conversation being turned onto wrongs we commit. Yet we should not play the trans card, it is an act of weakness. Oppressing others entrenches oppression, exacerbates the distance between us.

The transphobic person feels selfrighteous about it, and will have arguments why their behaviour is justified. Cis folk will not be so alive to the smell of transphobia. We can see it, and trying to persuade others no, it’s really transphobic, is horrible, bringing back to me my worst experiences of exclusion.

There is institutional racism. I read of a diversity course where the trainer posited every example as “What do we think of them?” rather than expanding the we to include groups with differences.

There is internalised transphobia. I feel wrong; being treated as wrong revives all those feelings of despair and rejection; I restrict my activities to avoid situations where I fear prejudice. I feel wary in pubs.

One said the word is wrong. It is hatred, not fear. I would say it is an aversion, and the suffix “phobia” though originally meaning fear has been expanded to mean aversion, as in arachnophobia again.

“It gives ignorant, narrow-minded, stupid people a label.” Um. No, I don’t feel that is helpful, because it suggests they are incorrigible, and I hope no-one is incorrigible. It is worth working to reduce transphobia.

One said, having experienced sexual violence from men, she was wary of men and so uncomfortable who she perceived as a man but who wanted to be treated as a woman. I sympathise. Her “instinctive feelings about her safety” arise from her experience, not just dislike of the unfamiliar. She feels discomfort when her reason- this individual is unthreatening- conflicts with those instincts. Her empathy could conflict, as well: she knows it is unfair to treat me so. I responded without criticising, and she said that she did not mean me: and I wept in relief, for we were not distanced after all, and wept at the distance I feel from others, some created in me, some created in them.

marie-bracquemond-afternoon-tea

Trans v Ultra-Orthodox

A judge has ordered that a trans woman should never see her children, because their Orthodox Jewish “community” would ostracise them.

The fact that made the judge refuse contact for the trans father with her children may be that J, the father, still wants her children to be brought up as ultra-orthodox. The judge recognises all the reasons why it would be good for the children to see their father, and the list is heartbreaking. They have an irreplaceable relationship, a right to family life, they want it and not having it will be deeply distressing causing a deep sense of loss; the children will resent the injustice that their community deprived them of contact, and that deprivation is discrimination on the grounds of gender reassignment; the children’s sense of identity and self worth will be affected if their father is treated as a sinner, unworthy to see them; they won’t know if J is well or ill; they will not get to know or understand J, as the “community” will denigrate her; depriving her of contact is similar to adoption, cutting her out of their lives; if they have contact now, they might get some experience of the outside world, some chance at being able to make their own choices; they may never be able to choose to see their father, even as adults; contact now means that professional help is available; the court has ordered that the father send four letters a year, but the community may prevent even that. It is an appalling list.

Against the father having contact, the court counts the extreme pressure she has been under, which may make her upset in front of the children. That is Kafkaesque. If they saw her upset, they might see how transition helped her, and how she overcame her difficulties. However the judge says that indicates caution but would not by itself prevent contact.

The father’s lawyers argued that the schools should obey the law. If they did so, teaching tolerance and respect, attitudes might change. The judge disapproves of the schools, and will send the judgment to the Department for Education. I hope some attempt may be made to enforce the law on them.

The judge had hoped that a “warm, supportive” community would support children’s need to see their father. When he pointed out that the evidence had dire warnings of ostracism but no examples, the mother’s lawyers produced statements showing that child victims of sexual abuse had been ostracised. He told them he did not think they could be that monstrous, and they desperately scrambled to prove that yes, they were.

Even though he heard evidence that Jewish law could tolerate trans people, he accepted that this particular community could not. The community is proved to disregard justice, and the welfare of the children. The community all say they will continue their discrimination and victimisation. The father accepts the community is like that, but hope it can be made to change, but even educated people are unyielding and there is no evidence anyone in authority in the community wishes it to change.

The judge recognises that sexuality and gender are not a matter of choice. Trans folk have a right to be recognised and respected as such. “Sin” is irrelevant to law. The children could adapt to their father’s change, but the adults involved could not. The children would be taught in the community that their father was a sinner, and in the outside world that she was an acceptable person. They could never speak of their father to their friends. It would put too much pressure on them. It is too wide a gulf for them to bridge. They would have no support: everyone would take the community line. They might be ejected.

The judge says, I have reached the unwelcome conclusion that the likelihood of the children and their mother being marginalised or excluded by the ultra‐Orthodox community is so real, and the consequences so great, that this one factor, despite its many disadvantages, must prevail over the many advantages of contactThis outcome is not a failure to uphold transgender rights, still less a “win” for the community, but the upholding of the rights of the children to have the least harmful outcome in a situation not of their making.

Orthodox Judaism and trans

You have heard of trans women not being able to see their children. With the difficulty of transition, some of us cannot take on that additional fight. One I knew killed herself after being told her wife would not let her see her children, and at the funeral was erased: she was referred to only by her former name, as if a man had died. Now the English courts have ruled that a trans woman should not see her children, because they would be ostracised by their Orthodox Jewish community if she did. She can write four letters a year to each child.

To write this post, I have read the detailed statement of evidence and law by the judge, but not his own assessment and conclusion. It is clear to me that any child brought up in such a “community” will suffer significant harm.

People in this community are not responsible for their own lives. “Personal decision making is minimal, with all major concerns being discussed with one’s rabbi” [see paragraph 85 of the judgment]. J, the father who has transitioned, [58] knew at the age of six that she was different. She could not speak to anyone, and prayed to God to make it go away. Children in less controlling circumstances feel the same: I did not speak to anyone until aged 18. After fathering five children and twice attempting suicide by taking pills, she began to speak to a therapist outside the community. Broken Rainbow, the LGBT domestic violence charity, gave her confidence to leave. It has now closed down.

The community sees transition as “a defection from core values, and expressive of hostility and disrespect” [106]. The community cannot accept how badly it hurts its members, so blames those who leave.

The court-appointed Guardian accepted that within the community, the children could not make their own decisions about seeing their father [136]. Exposure to the outside world is seen as dangerous to the children, who are taught to see it as hostile to the Jewish community. The mother does not speak of J at all.

Children exposed to “outside influences” may be ostracised. The judgment gives examples of other divorced couples. One mother could not get her child into the school she wanted. “The school would not risk the influences the father’s contact with the child might have on the rest of the student body.” This, note, is the case of a straight parent. In J’s case, her son A’s head teacher said that if A met J he feared A’s religious commitment could be compromised.

In a case where a child was sexually abused within her family and the wider community from age 11-14, she was fostered through secular social services. She was not allowed to talk to friends, whose parents said they could not risk their children hearing about “things”.

J could not bear the thought that her son, aged 12, would be faced with her unexplained disappearance, so she told him fifteen months before that she could not carry on with the marriage, and that she was leaving five days before she did. This is held against her. The pain she has suffered, in being unable to be herself, attempting to conform, finding conformity impossible even though she knew how much it would cost her to transition, and now in transitioning and suffering all that loss, is used against her to show that she should not have access. Telling her son was seen as very bad indeed. Her own needs overwhelm her [120], she cannot prioritise the emotional needs of the children, which militates against contact.

Their interpretation of the Torah is completely against transition. Deuteronomy 22:5 forbids dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex, and Leviticus 22:24 forbids castration. For all religious purposes J will be considered male, will be required to give a Get, or religious divorce, to her wife [93], and as most social activities as sexually segregated would not be allowed to join either the women or the men.

The community fought viciously against J. Having so let her down, they project all their wrongdoing onto her. They threatened violence [61]. They refused to consult her about anything to do with the children, and would not accept maintenance payments from her. They rebuffed all her attempts at contact [25]. They made allegations that she had sexually abused her son aged 4, though the judge says “There is no credible evidence that J has behaved in a sexual manner towards D or any of the other children” [32].

The schools responded particularly badly. Minutes of a “Team around the children” meeting show their priority was to protect the community and enforce its “cultural norms around gender and sexual identity” [33]. The schools’ duty was to “uphold the religious ethos”. Other parents would “protect” their children from information shared by J’s children.

Fortunately, schools are restricted in England from so betraying their pupils. I am horrified that any still persist, but at least one has been shut down. It is unlawful for a school to discriminate against a pupil because of their association with someone transitioning gender [48]. The education regulations include a curriculum obligation to encourage respect for other people, paying particular regard to the protected characteristics set out in the 2010 Act [50]. The school was forbidden to enroll new pupils because it did not enable pupils to learn of the existence of trans people. It must encourage respect of us, and other groups which suffer discrimination. Why the Department for Education is not shutting down other such schools, I do not know.

The law supports contact for parents. It is to be presumed that contact furthers the child’s welfare [38]. Children are entitled to the “love and society” of both parents. Court of Appeal cases on trans parents say children should have professional help to learn of their father’s transition so they can adjust to the change [41]. However the Guardian noted that required “a solid structure of support” for the children, wider than the nuclear family [129]. And yet J cannot see her children.

The eldest son is angry with his father. He blames J. “If he cares, he will leave me alone” [139]. He said his father had done him damage. The child cannot recognise that the damage comes from the Community failing to accept how human beings are, and imposing such terrible control.

You can download the judgment from this page.

Transphobia II

Transphobia is like anti-semitism: people deny it exists. Just as there is clear anti-semitism, like the blood libel, and justified opinions which are not, such as opposing house demolitions in the Occupied Territories, there is clear transphobia and questionable opinions which are disputed. Some would say even the opinion that trans women should not use women’s public toilets is not transphobic, and work hard to produce the appearance of rationality and concern for the vulnerable, arguing that. Perhaps trans folk would extend the definition too far.

Some people have a Yuck reaction to us. As with anti-semitism, many of them get self-righteous about it, like the woman who objects to the feminine presentation of trans women, claiming any feminist would find that presentation disempowers women, as if we had the power to be fashion leaders. How calm is that person, really? How far do they want to exclude us from ordinary life? What proportion of their writing concerns trans women, rather than other feminist concerns?

It seems to me that some people cannot imagine that yuck reaction, and I wonder how I can convince them. A man in the shopping mall who had never seen me before hissed “f–king nonce” as he passed me, and I wondered what I had done that he so hated me. A group of drunk young men on the train, and one shouts, “Oh look, it’s a tranny”, and they continue shouting until they get off. Fortunately my friend was in First Class, safely apart from them. Just possibly, that might be societal transphobia rather than individual, deliberate hatred; not all of them are repelled, but none stops the others from shouting and perhaps they would say, “But, it’s a tranny! Wouldn’t everyone shout at a tranny?” if asked why they were shouting. Just boisterous young men with normal animal spirits?

A shopper takes a second look at you, and exclaims, “It’s a man!” But she was just shocked and surprised, and vocalises a passing thought, as anyone might stare at someone a little out of the ordinary.

“F–king nonce,” though. Calling me a sex offender. No idea who I am beyond reading me as male, dressed female. That’s not a normal reaction to people like me, surely? Might you believe that it was phobic?

If someone I think of as a friend could imagine herself exclaiming “It’s a man,” the first time she had seen a trans woman in the street, could imagine herself feeling “Bless my soul” levels of shock, because, well, trans women really are out of the ordinary- even though perfectly acceptable-

could someone be my friend, chat happily with me, then say, “Well, you are a bit weird, really. You aren’t normal. I don’t hold it against you, I like you, really…”

but me being trans is if not the elephant then the sweaty runner’s shirt in the room, which we don’t see but which insinuates itself into everyone’s nostrils…

How widespread is the “I am perfectly accepting, but face it you are a bit weird” sort of attitude? Would they say, “Surely everyone’s like that, I would not shout abuse but I would notice, surely you can’t object to that?”

Am I too sensitive?

Transphobia exists. “F–king nonce” is an example of that. Yet friends don’t seem to realise.

A man. I hear he is now in prison: he did not attend the first sentencing hearing, threatening suicide, but did attend the second a day or two after I had the misfortune to meet him. He came to the Quaker meeting once and left after ten minutes, not liking the silence. Then he came a few weeks later just before we were about to finish, and we gave him a cup of coffee. He sat in the corner. We did not start a conversation with him, nor he with us, but I took him over the cup of coffee and offered him a biscuit which he declined.

People were leaving, and he made no sign of wanting to, so I told him we needed him to leave. He objected. I explained and he said, “I don’t know if you’re a man or a woman” and continued objecting, standing close to me, and waving his hand near my face. At this point people notice and come over to see what is going on. They see me in a confrontation with a man.

So after he has actually left, I explain what happened, and someone says, “Well, that’s your account of it.”

Honestly, what? It’s transphobia. Have you no memory, no gay friends, you never saw someone abused simply because he was gay? That man could only object to me if I had done something objectionable? The EEUghH reaction, the hatred, for Jews, black people, gays, Manchester United supporters- some people are prejudiced and react violently- you are aware it exists, right?

Can you not imagine that someone might be prejudiced against people like me, without any other reason? Do you sympathise with their shock or revulsion? So, you look at me, disbelievingly, without sympathy when I explain how horrible the situation had been, and how can I possibly get through to you?

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Detransition

Crash is concerned people are calling her “transphobic” and not listening to the nuance of what she is saying, but unapologetic, saying that she of course will act to advance our own well-being. If that means telling stories and truths other people find uncomfortable, so be it. She spent four years on T, presenting male, and has reverted. Yet she wants transitioned and detransitioned people to be allies, and is not helped by people using her story as a weapon against transition. So, how could we be allies?

I don’t know of any detransitioned woman who doesn’t believe that adults can decide what to do with their lives and their bodies, including to transition if they decide that’s what’s best for them. No, that would be a detransitioned man, Charles Kane, filled with resentment for what he did to himself. That might be something about female socialisation, growing up to make the best of it and see others’ point of view. However she wants to speak out for detransitioned and dysphoric women… because no one else is looking out for us.

She bears the scars of transition- chest masculinisation, T use- and has a deep voice and facial hair. She is forging a new path: transition is well-travelled, with many books and support groups on what it means, but on detransition she found only a few blogs.

First, I found her blog post about the backlash from the article about detransition in a new online magazine The Outlook, then went to the article itself. I would like us to be allies. Anyone who transitions has had difficulty living with themselves in a gendered society, even if they detransition. We have a lot in common. Why is she called transphobic? This quote from The Outlook may give a clue: The bloggers write about how they’ve come to understand their own transitions as a response to trauma, or an expression of self-hatred stemming from living in a patriarchal world, or a capitulation to social pressure. I might see their detransition in the same way- the only word I might change is “patriarchal” to “transphobic”, and even that is not absolutely necessary.

I have thought about detransition a lot, and always called it “Reverting”. That’s a different way of framing it, as a failure. This is how we are opponents in a zero-sum game: if detransitioners are people who should never have been diagnosed with gender dysphoria in the first place, but treated otherwise than by transition- people who have been wronged by the system- then it should be much more difficult to get hormones or surgery.

I should be accepted as a woman because I really am a woman. This is the basis for our argument that we should enter women-only spaces, be treated as women, be recognised in law as women. Psychiatrists who specialise in us have the expertise to diagnose gender dysphoria, for which the treatment is medical, surgical and social transition.

But it’s a zero-sum game. Crash could not have been prevented from transition without it being made more difficult for the rest of us. The Outline cited studies that regret is 2.2% or less- making transition more difficult stymies forty people for the sake of one. Arbitrated by fairness or Utilitarianism, my side should win the zero-sum game. And, possibly, many who reverted might not have taken no for an answer when they transitioned.

I really am a woman. Or, the only treatment for gender identity disorder is transition. Crash says she suffered from internalised misogyny, trauma and dissociation. I learned The Script, what I was told I should say to ensure I got the right diagnosis. The Script was not true for me, I told the truth, and got the diagnosis and treatment anyway. If Crash could have been protected from transition, a real trans man might have been wrongfully refused it- and given that hormones and surgery are so invasive, psychiatrists might err on the side of caution. But when we transition, we really really want that treatment.

I do not trust the psychiatrists. I don’t think there are clear discrete groups, one of which suffer from gender dysphoria who should transition, and another whose symptoms mimic those of the first but who suffer from some different diagnosable condition, dissociative disorder or something else. My psychiatrist told me I was “not psychotic” but I don’t know he was right about that.

I don’t think I am dissociative. I hated my body before transition. Now, I love it. What would I know? On what basis is Crash diagnosed as dissociative- is it just because she has decided to revert?

I wish diagnosis could be certain, but it is more messy than that. I want Crash as an ally, because we have a great deal in common. We are both people who did not easily fit the stereotypes attached to our birth gender, the social construct of “man” in my case, “woman” in hers. We try to make our way as best we can. We live in gendered societies, with expectations about what a man or a woman ought to be like, even if those expectations are broader and more inclusive than I, desperate because I saw myself as less than a real man, imagined them to be.

There are those who would argue that Trans is a great lie, that the removal of breasts penises and gonads is a vile mutilation, and we should accept our bodies. Some of them are religious nutters with rigid ideas of what “Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” is, and some are radical feminists who think gender roles are a misogynist social construct imposed by patriarchy. Yet we desperately want social and/or physical transition.

When I transitioned, I thought it was quite possible that I would revert within five years, but transition was the only way I could find that out. I wanted it so much. I had to try it. I have not reverted yet. This might escape the zero-sum game: that detransition is right for a person does not mean that transition was necessarily wrong. Or, alternatively- I am not a woman, or even a person who particularly well fits the social construct of “woman” in my society; only someone who has chosen to identify as Clare, and I have a right to identify like that, or as Stephen, or Hillary. That detransition is right for someone does not mean it is right for everyone, or that anyone should be stopped from transitioning because they might revert later. It is not clear cut, but confusing, and people make mistakes.

Whatever, I want to extend a hand of friendship to Crash. We are both people who have been uncomfortable with gender roles, and have done what we thought best in response to that. Let us honour our choices and mourn our mistakes together. I doubt I could have been saved from myself. None of these choices are easy: that we have all faced them is a bond. (That’s just me- I like to see things in terms of common interest and common experience.) Crash linked to this video: “We’re not recruiting, okay?” says the detransitioned woman. “This is about people’s well-being”. I want their well-being, as well as my own.

Continued here: Detransition II, on Callahan, a detransitioned woman whom people call a trans excluder.

The Outline.
Crash’s blog. Crash’s video.

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Benefits of immigration

Immigration is always a benefit to the economy. There are more people, and the new people are more likely to be economically active. The economy grows, and they can be taxed for public benefit, all the things like health, education, natural monopoly utilities and transport which are better done by society, together. No way exists of using competition to make companies serve the public in these services. Public services get better because of immigration. They have got worse since 2010 because of deliberate cuts by the Tory government. The Nationalist lie that immigrants flood our country and damage our public services, used to get hard Right politicians elected who will cut those services further, is a great evil. Cuts inflame people’s fear and anger, and that anger makes people more authoritarian.

Dancers, flibbertigibbets and butterflies like me are in for a hard time.

My friend asked, but why is it always expressed as “good for the economy”? Is there nothing more important? Yes. Immigration is good for the culture, and for each person.

It is difficult. It causes tension. Migrating to a country can curtail horizons rather than expanding them. Polish or Bangladeshi communities exist where some people hardly go out of that small group, or learn any English. Well, people have to achieve the means of survival before they can self-actualise. Any organism explores its surroundings, looking for what will benefit it, avoiding harm, and once they get time to draw breath and really look about themselves loving, creative and adventurous souls will embrace the possibilities of different cultures. Not me, particularly, if I see a “Polski Sklep” I stay out of it, but I am not adventurous cooking even in English cuisine, and once something becomes mainstream, like Italian or Bangladeshi restaurants, I use it happily.

And I feel it is possible to be too assimilated. I was uncomfortable around an Indian Christian woman. I am not sure why, or what she had done I might object to, or what I would rather she had done, but there is something I can’t quite put my finger on. This is a blog, I would never throw out such an inchoate idea in writing published anywhere else.

And yet for adventurous leaders, whom the community will follow, our possibilities are expanded. Culture widens, we get new ways of understanding, expressing ourselves, and relating to others. We have more options, so we are more free.

We move from a homogenous society in which we can predict how people will be, to a diverse society where we accept difference, and that benefits flibbertigibbets and queers, who really have to curtail ourselves to fit a village homogeneity. But no-one fits that homogeneity, really, so everyone benefits.

Except the authoritarians, the grinches, the know-alls and control freaks who want everyone marching in step to the same martial music. Few people are like that naturally- even Mr Farage seeks his own freedom, as he seeks to deny it to everyone else- but people can be forced into that mould, by inflaming and misdirecting their anger and resentment. Diversity is our best defence against totalitarianism.

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