Saturday, January 31, 2009

Oh the irony!

The Illinois Family Institute decided to weigh in on the rather bizarre situation in Illinois where those who have had sex reassignment surgery are allowed to change their birth certificates only if the surgery was performed in the United States, thus preventing those who go to place like Thailand or Canada that privilege. Here is a section from their article:

In the Jan. 28, 2009 edition of the Chicago Tribune, there is a story about the two sexual amputees who are suing the state over the refusal of the state to change the "gender" designation on their birthcertificates from "male" to "female." Several important points must be made. First, it's utterly reprehensible that anyone in the medical community would be complicit in facilitating a psychological disorder by amputating healthy body parts. There is a condition known as either apotemnophilia or Body Integrity Identity Disorder (BIID) that is characterized by the desire to amputate a healthy limb. It is useful for comparison in that it is thought by many to be closely related to Gender Identity Disorder (i.e., transsexualism), which society is increasingly accepting as a valid identity that emerges from biological influences and whose behavioral manifestations are morally legitimate. Apotemnophiles, as they are referred to in some circles, identify with amputees and seek to align their bodies with their psychological identities through amputation of healthy body parts. Dr. Anne Lawrence explains the condition:

Desire for amputation of a healthy limb has usually been regarded as a paraphilia (apotemnophilia), but some researchers propose that it may be a disorder of identity, similar to Gender Identity Disorder (GID) or transsexualism. Similarities between the desire for limb amputation and nonhomosexual male-to-female (MtF) transsexualism include profound dissatisfaction with embodiment.

She further explores the similarities between Male-to-Female (MtF)transsexuals and those who seek limb amputation:

Persons who want to undergo limb amputation typically experience an intense desire or overwhelming compulsion to change their bodies to match their idealized images of themselves as amputees. . . . They usually describe their feelings as developing early in life, often before puberty. . . . most emphasize that they are primarily seeking a sense of wholeness or completeness or are attempting to correct a mismatch between their bodies and their identities.

Now, the irony here is that Dr. Anne Lawrence is what the Illinois Family Institue would describe as a "sexual amputee." And yet, while citing this rather questionable source, they refer to Lawrence as "she." Anne Lawrence is well known as part of the infamous "Blanchard, Bailey, and Lawrence" often abbreviated as "BB&L" who have built their careers around attacking HBS women. Even more ironic is the fact that Lawrence self-identifies as a sexual fetishist, claiming to be an autogynephile, which BB&L define as "a man with a fetishtic desire to be feminized."

Ah yes, irony at its best. Once again, BB&L are the darlings of the religious right, who contradict their own erroneous beliefs in an effort to attack those with HBS.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Won't someone please think of the children?!?!?!?!?

Some years ago, I won't say how many, I had a disagreement with my 6th grade teacher. She accused me of talking, and I hadn't. Since she was threatening me with rather dire punishment, I told her, to her face, that she had told a lie. Well, of course this did not go ever well with her, and I quickly found myself in the principal's office. The result was, I was referred for testing to find out what was wrong with me.

Over the course of several months, I was sent to a number of offices where I received an array of tests, all designed to determine exactly why I was having trouble. In addition to psychological exams, I also had my vision and hearing tested.

Of course, what was wrong was simple. I had what would the DSM-IV would label as "Gender Identity Disorder in Children." Of course, it would be my contention that I had Harry Benjamin Syndrome, which is a completely different matter. Unfortunately, at that time, and in that place, those who saw me were not quite so enlightened. And for that reason, I was not willing to reveal certain things to them anyway. Simply put, I knew better than to do so.

I do wonder if one of the people I saw didn't have some suspicions. My mother made some rather odd remarks in later years about what he told her. What she said simply did not sound quite right, and knowing my mother, she might well have been trying to hide the true facts from me. But, I do recall, on at least one occasion, deliberately lying to a psychologist. And given what she did with what I did say, I shudder to think about what would have happened if I had told the truth.

She asked me what seemed a relatively benign question. If I had three wishes, what would they be. Well, of course, the first one would have been to be a girl. Of course, that was not a safe answer, and I knew it. I made up three answers, that I thought would be benign...."To have more friends, to have a million dollars, and for three more wishes." The last one was a common answer among my friends when we pondered this question...and no, I didn't tell them my first wish would be to become a girl either.

Well, what I thought was safe, turned out to be anything but. She took the first answer as an indication that I felt isolated. And she took the third as proof that I did not like to follow the rules. I can only imagine what she would have written if I had told the truth.

Times have changed, at least for some. Much research has been done on children who show signs of having some issue with their gender. In fact, it has been suggested that one of the primary reasons that "Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents and Adults" is listed in the DSM-IV is so that therapists can continue to treat children in an effort to prevent that mental illness.

One of the leading proponents of treating children with gender issues is Kenneth J. Zucker who practices at the notorious Centrefor Addiction and Mental Health aka the Clarke Institute. Yes, the same place where Ray Blanchard practices.

Zucker is also leading the American Psychiatric Association committee that is revising the section of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual dealing with "gender idenitity disorder." Many find this disturbing because of his association with people like Blanchard, Michael Bailey, and Anne Lawrence.

Zucker is the leading proponent of the use of reparative therapy to treat children with gender issues. He has made the claim that he is able, using psychoanalytic techniques, to prevent children with gender identity disorder from becoming adult transsexuals. Now, reparative therapy is what is commonly used by the ex-gay movement to "cure" homosexuals. Ironically, the American Psychiatric Association has condemned its use with adults, but makes an exception for those like Zucker who apply it to children.

But the question remains, can Zucker's approach prevent someone from growing up to be transsexual or HBS? According to Zucker, most of those he treats go on to become homosexual, "rather than transsexual." He cites this as a success. But there is a major problem with Zucker's that has been pointed out by a least two of those who might otherwise be seen as part of the same group. In the absence of treatment, most children who exhibit what is termed "gender identity disorder" grow up to be homosexual anyway. Both Michael Bailey, and more recently Alice Dreger has admitted this. In fact, in a recent article Dreger seems to openly disagree with Zucker's approach.

She compares Zucker's "try to make them normal" approach, which supposedly tends to make the child homosexual rather than transsexual, and the "accomodation" approach, which allows the child to be "what they feel they are," but which can lead to later problems when the child realizes that he or she is really homosexual, and finds both somewhat lacking. Instead she endorses a third approach.

This approach, which was developed by Peggy Cohen-Kettenis is not so concerned with the child's gender issues, as much as the child's functioning as well as the family situation. It recognizes that most children will not go on to be transsexual or HBS, but if they do, the child is supported in this decision and is assisted in preparing for sex reassignment.

As much as I have disagree with Dreger in the past, surprisingly, on this issue, she seems to be the voice of reason. Zucker's approach accomplishes little, if anything, other than probably leaving the child who really is HBS feeling confused and guilty. The accommodation approach works fine if the child really is HBS, but since that is difficult to verify, it may cause problems if the child later decides to follow a homosexual path.

Unfortunately, many who work in this field are less concerned about the health and welfare of the children than they are about pushing their own agendas. Zucker is part of the larger group that is dominated by the rather bizarre views of Ray Blanchard who has made a career out of trying to discredit people who are HBS. The fact that Zucker considers it "preferable" that a child identify as gay rather than HBS or transsexual is part of this. It is widely believed that Blanchard simply represents the disdain that many older gay men have for transsexuals.

And many who push the accomodation approach have their own agendas. While this is clearly the best approach for the child who truly is HBS, unless that can be firmly established, it may result in worse problems.

Clearly, this is any area where much research is needed. But those doing the research need to approach the subject with truly open minds, leaving behind the sort of prejudice and stubborness that has caused so much heartache in the past. One only has to look at the results of John Money's mistreatment of David Reimer to see how tragic such an approach can be.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A Historic Moment....

Well, as of noon Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2009, our country has a new President. And this was a moment of major historical significance as it represents the first time that an African-American has become President. It is an exciting time for the country. There has been a lot of speculation about what this means for various factions, including the "transgender" community.

Personally, I wonder what Obama's taking office means for those who have Harry Benjamin Syndrome. It has become obvious that more often than not, that which is sought by the "transgender" activists may not be acceptable to those who have HBS, and may even be detrimental. Obama has already stated that there will be no discrimination in his administration's hiring on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It will be interesting to see how that works out in actual practice. Of course, for most with HBS, this would not be that much of an issue, as they would not want that fact made public.

And I know, during the transition, one local "transgender expert" was called to meet with the transition team to provide advice for the Department of Health and Human Services. I don't know exactly what actual advice was offered, but I have concerns since this person has strong links to some who represent the more extreme elements of the "transgender community."

There are, of course, more practical issues of concern to those with HBS. For example, how will the new administration implement the Real ID act? This law caused a lot of concern because it appeared that it might lead to problems for those who had left their previous lives behind. It has somewhat faded as an issue, since full implementation has been put off until 2011.
Another area of concern regards passports. There was some talk, early in the Bush administration, that the policy of issuing temporary passports with the sex marker changed for those traveling overseas to have sex reassignment surgery would be ended. Apparently this did not happen. Again, it seems likely that this will not be a problem under Obama's administration. But there is a possible danger that the laws might be loosened too much.
The bottom line is, what those with HBS most need is simply the right to be recognized as being members of their reassigned sex, and to have their privacy protected. Unfortunately, that is a not at all a priority for the transgender crowd, who are more interested in forcing society to accept men as women, and vice versa.

One thing is clear, this is a time of renewed hope. Many are more than willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, and to look ahead with optimism. Only time will tell whether he will be a great President, or a major disappointment.

But I have to say, I am very disappointed in the behavior of many who did support him. There has been a lot of nasty comments about George Bush. Bush was certainly not a great President, and there were certainly a lot of mistakes made. But he was hardly the monster he has been made out to be. And he was hardly the worst president ever. At least two others come to mind that I would consider worse, one Republican and one Democrat. Those attacking Bush would no doubt be among the first to be offended at the least slight against Obama. Once again, it appears that irony is dead. No one likes a sore loser, and a sore winner is even more offensive. It remains to be seen if Obama represents a major change in American politics, or if we will return to the conservatism that has dominated before. Only time will tell.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Bathroom Issue....Again

The dreaded "bathroom issue" has reared its ugly head again, this time in Gainsville, Florida. About a year ago, the city council there passed an ordinance that, among other things, granted "transgender people" the right to use whatever bathroom they choose. Now, a conservative group has started an effort to repeal the law. As part of this effort, they have put out a very controversial commercial. The thing is, the conservative group raises a vaild point.

Now, I know that is remark is going to be taken as heresy by the transgender crowd, but that is just another example of how short sighted they can be. This ad exposes a very real problem with this law, but it is one that the transgender activists want to ignore, or perhaps pretend is not really there, but it is there, and it needs to be addressed.

The law simply states that access to facilities cannot be prohibited on the basis of, among other things, gender identity. It does include an exception where nudity is unavoidable, such as dressing rooms and showers.

The problem is, the conservative groups have targeted the very obvious flaw in this law. It is simply too vague. Now, it is very possible, even probable, that this is not their actual purpose, but it is still true. The transgender activists have, of course, been raising a howl. They are complaining that they are being portrayed as "sexual predators." But the strange thing is, that is not what is happening at all. I really don't see where they are remotely suggesting that "transgender people" are going to be doing something wrong. What they are pointing out, and quite rightly so, is that as the law is written, it allows anyone to enter any bathroom, and simply claim that at the moment they did so, they have a certain gender identity. And that is obviously a problem.

The commercial that has everyone up in arms does not even remotely portray a transgender person, at least not obviously. It shows a man, clearly presenting as a man, entering a women's room. I certainly don't think that is what the law was intended to protect. But, it is exactly what this poorly written law would allow.

So, what is the answer to this sort of problem? Some would simply say that anyone born male should be forced to use the men's room. That would do serious, and grevious harm to those born with HBS. So, as is often the case, we are caught between two extremes. Obviously a compromise is needed.

The proper answer is quite simple. The law should simply put reasonable restrictions on who is, and is not, allowed to use a bathroom that does not match their anatomic sex. It should be restricted to those who are undergoing treatment for HBS or transsexualism, who have started the real life test and are thus living full time as a female. Tranvestites, so-called non-ops, and those who identify as gender queer would either use the restroom appropriate to their birth sex, or else need to find a unisex restroom (which are increasingly provided in public places for situations where assistance is needed, and the care provider my not be the same sex).

This would solve the problem for everyone. The religious right would have less to complain about, those who really need to have this right would receive it, and it should reallty do no harm to those who wish to identify as women while retaining their penises. In fact, it would give those who are gender rebels a chance to be very "out, loud, and proud." And most importantly, it would remove a defense that could be used by those who might abuse it.

Would this make everyone happy? No, of course not. But it would do what is right, and accomplish what was probably originally intended,

Thursday, January 8, 2009

And the Clue Meter Continues to Read Zero....

I never fail to be amazed at how incredibly clueless the gender facists can be. They spend an incredible amount of time whining about the how people should be free to be who, and what, they wish to be, while at the same time they attack those who are pushing the Harry Benjamin Syndrome model...because they seem to object to people having the right to be a part of the gender binary. In there view, it only seems to be acceptable for someone to have surgery as long as they are willing to be "out, loud, and proud" as a member of the "transgender communuity." Anyone who dares to simply wish to be normal, and live their life as who they really are is branded as a traitor to the cause.

Recently, one of the leading gender facists, Mercedes Allen, posted on "The Future of Transsexual Medical Care." Now, when I first saw this, I thought it rather funny Mr. Allen would be trying to speak about was the future of medical care for those who are transsexuals, not transgender. After all, for many years Allen was an avowed "non-op." But it seems that Allen has recently decided that he wants to be a "woman" after all. In an earlier post, "Mercedes Joins the Gender Binary," he announces that he has decided that he wants "GRS," by which he means "Gender Reassignment Surgery." Now, unless doctors have figured out how to make major reconfigurations to the human brain, I have no idea who such a surgery could be accomplshed. Of course, Mr. Allen is really just a classic transgender on whom such fine points are lost.

Now, as disturbing as it is that Allen has "suddenly" decided that he wants "surgery," that is not the primary topic of this article. But I would like to take a moment to discuss this sort of thing. Now, first off, it is entirely possible that this is just a ploy to gain some status and credibility. In the "Imaginary Transgender Hiearchy of Status" a "pre-op" trumps a "non-op." Of course, a "post-op" trumps them all, but that is beside the point. By moving from "non-op" to "pre-op" Allen can possibly hope to silence those who dismiss him as just a "wannabe." In fact, given that he remarks " It also doesn’t mean that I’m allowing ideological bullies push me into making a life-changing decision based on their indignant and bigoted puritanism," it is very possible that is all that this is. Now, I don't know of a single HBS person who would ever actually do such a thing. Almost everyone would say that this is not something to seek unless it is absolutely necessary, and in fact, my advice to Allen would be to seriously reconsider if he is seriously considering surgery. Everything I have read that he has written indicates that he is not a person who needs to choose that path. In fact, no one should ever "choose" it at all. If it is truly a choice, then no, it is the wrong path.

But that aside, I was struck by the complete cluelessness of Allen's attempt to "pontificate" on medical issues. What specifically brought this on was the assertion that, "What is needed right now is to assess what our community itself can do in order to (best case scenario) drive the change toward a better model of transsexual health, or at least to (worst case scenario) avoid a future in which transition and surgery are further restricted or made unattainable to the people who need them."

Now, first off, Allen is one of those who rejects the Harry Benjamin Model, even though it is specifically a "better model of transsexual health." The problem is that it is not a "model of transsexual health" that fits the transgender party line. And, of course, I would imagine that what Allen really means is that he would like to avoid a future in which surgery is specifically restricted to those who need it. Allen, as has been observed, does not "need" surgery, but instead has developed, for whatever reason, a desire to have the surgery...or at least to claim that he does.

Again, I strongly suspect Allen simply wishes to claim some degree of standing to speak for those seeking surgery. His previous writings show no inclination towards any real desire for normality. And that is really what separates those who are truly transsexual, or preferably HBS, from those who transgender.

A person with HBS generally wishes to simply be who they really are. They derive no pleasure from being "different" and that plays no part in their motivations to transition. In fact, much of their life has probably been spent in misery because they have been punished for something they cannot help and which they often do not completely understand.

Early on, all I knew was that there was something wrong. I knew I was not "normal," but I did not really understand exactly why. I seemed to be at odds with what the world expected of me. In my childhood innocence, I was simply myself. As I grew older, my behavior caused more and more distress for my parents. Of course, they did not deal with this well, and when I did not "outgrow" those things, they tried to correct me. I learned to hide parts of me from people.

Now, for most people who are "transgender" the opposite was largely true. They were perfectly normal in childhood. They showed no signs of having gender issues until after puberty. In fact, many of them lead successful lives in their birth sex. For me, the opposite was largely true. I had numerous indications of what lie ahead. But, I wanted to get away from it. I did not know what was wrong, but I knew I had to hide it from my parents, my teachers, and my peers. The worst thing I could be was a "sissy." I was, I wanted to deny it, but I could not escape it.

When I read someone who says that he had a successful career, or was happily in the military for an extended period, but now is a "woman," I am just amazed. I would not have lasted through basic training in the military. Not as a man, for sure. I know there are women in the armed forces, but for all of the claims of "equality," they are still treated differently. They are not expected to be men, as that would never work. But these men were often able to successfuly fit in, and had no problems serving.

Of course those like Allen who "suddenly" decide to have surgery after an extended period of denial are classic autogyenphiles. The flaw in Blanchard's theories is not that autogynephiles do not exist, this beyond quesion, but that he is excessively rigid in his criteria. A lot of younger women with HBS identify as lesbian. That does not mean they are autogynephils, and they certainly do not fit within Blanchard's stereotypes. But those like Allen do show the classic indications. They may try to deny it, but that is what they are.

No, the transgender crowd continues to be completely clueless. They want everyone to be part of one big, happy family of gender variant people. They cannot understand that there are significant differences, and that there really is no such thing as "transgender" as they try to define it. At best, it is a group that people should be free to opt into. They want it to be a group that no one can opt out of.