Gender Critical Dad is fed up with the bucketloads of doublespeak

Gender Critical Dad is a brand new blog by the father of a teenage girl who—after coming out as a lesbian at age 14–has now decided she is in fact a trans man. They live in the United Kingdom.

As far as we know, this is the first skeptical blog created by the father of a self-identified trans teen.  Click on over and check out his blog. He’s already got several interesting posts up, from the perspective of a “stroppy bugger” (his term).

Gender Critical Dad is available to respond to questions in the comments section of this post.


What inspired you to create your own blog, as a “gender-critical” dad? Did you find other gender-critical blogs or resources that helped motivate you to start your own?

I think it was several things: A displacement activity, to find some use for the anger and restlessness that ran round and round my mind since I realised the danger that my daughter was in; a catharsis, a chance to tell my story, make some sort of sense of it, get a reality check. Was I a horrible person for not “supporting them on their brave journey”? The blog is a place where I can get things out without burdening friends and my partner.

Hopefully my story will encourage others—maybe especially fathers–who are going through the same thing and let them know that the things they perceive and how they feel, are valid and real.

The current predominant narrative of trans kids is very much one of brave kids finding their true selves, supported by loving friends and a family who courageously struggle to come to terms with this brave new world.

I, as well as other parents are telling a more real narrative that features anxious, confused kids, scared of the adult sexuality portrayed in an ever more pornified world and feeling unbearably cramped by the tightening gender roles, desperately looking for an alternative. That scary world includes people encouraging them to identify as trans, sometimes mistaken but well meaning, sometimes for sinister motives. It includes organisations which have infiltrated academia, the NHS [UK National Health Service], and education. It includes a cult with all the manipulative features we would recognise from Scientology or the Moonies.

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I’ve used the name “Gender Critical Dad” because it was the most accurate name I could think of. I hope it is taken as a mark of respect to the subReddits with that name and the important work done by radical feminists that I depended on to make sense of my feelings about the transgender dogma.

I have no wish to claim any ownership of the term gender critical. I am using it because it is catchy and memorable, and it will hopefully help me get my story out to other people being hit by transgender. If more people think about wider gender critical ideas and take a more respectful look at radical feminism, that’s fantastic.

4thWaveNow has been an enormous influence, showing me that other people have stories similar to mine, and also demonstrating how telling those stories can give comfort, strength and support to other people. I am also inspired by https://youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org/ and https://rebeccarc.com/ for providing a very sane, calm and well-reasoned critique of transgender.

Have your views about your daughter’s transition evolved since she first announced she was a trans man?

Yes, before I hit Peak Trans, my image of a transgendered person was Hayley Cropper from Coronation Street, a quite dignified person, who had taken a well thought out decision and just wanted to carry on with life as a woman.

The reality I discovered was very different, a world of aggressive men using trans as an excuse to invade women’s spaces and get a kick out of intimidating them. An ideology that, while claiming to be liberating people from assigned gender, actually re-enforces gender roles and then tells vulnerable young people that the only way out is to mutilate themselves, start a life time of drug dependence and nurture an obsession with appearance and other people’s perceptions, claiming it as victimhood.

We were glad to see your new site, since so few fathers seem to be weighing in publicly about the transgender youth trend. Most of the contributors to 4thWaveNow are mothers. Why do you think that is? Is there a reason why dads would hesitate to make their views known?

I think most men, especially those on the left side of the political spectrum, are scared of being seen as intolerant and bigoted. It’s a very “Emperor’s New Clothes” situation. I think most men have no problem with gay men or lesbians, but really don’t believe in the reality of a gender identity separate from biological sex and would find the logic of genderist dogma farcical. The idea of someone, straight faced, explaining that trans women can have a female penis, but are just as much women as biological women would be met with the derision it deserves by the majority of men.

These men might be sympathetic to Hayley Cropper, but also have an understanding of what autogynephilia is, even if they have never heard the word. If they were exposed to the wild west of queer theory and gender identity politics they would find it both ridiculous and sinister.

The difference between what they feel and what they see everyone else express, is a massive source of cognitive dissonance and very difficult to make sense of.

A lot of dads are understandably, desperate to keep some sort of relationship going with their kids and partners, and they may be unaware that other people are experiencing the same feelings so go along with the trans narrative. Many may not be able to cope with the difficult feelings caused by the cognitive dissonance and end up estranged from their children and partners.

4thWaveNow has a couple of posts focusing on Jay Stewart and the organization Gendered Intelligence in the UK. What has been your experience with Gendered Intelligence?

I initially assumed they were some sort of gay and lesbian or feminist support group. What I found from looking up their web site and from https://youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org/ was they are both a trans cult, a trans pressure group and an increasingly lucrative business.

I went to some meetings that were open to parents. I found a small group of young people, all looking younger than their age, some anxious parents and  two strapping blokes who looked like parody transvestites from “Little Britain.” It was a deeply creepy experience and I realised just how perfect a set-up it was for grooming vulnerable young people and setting up dependencies that could be exploited the day they turned 18.

To be honest I only read anything from them to get an idea of what they are doing that directly affects my daughter, I really do not need to wind myself up. The more I see of them, the more they remind me of Scientology, but they are stealing young people’s healthy bodies, not just gullible rich people’s money.

You have written that your daughter originally came out to you as a lesbian, but now says she is a trans man. Obviously you are skeptical of this switch. How does your daughter explain it to you? Why do you doubt it? Does she know about your doubts?

Communication on the topic is difficult at best. It always ends up in rows [UK English for “arguments”] which I do not handle well, so I tend to avoid the subject, so a lot of what I think about this may be supposition.

She says that she has never felt happy as a girl and that once she came out to friends and teachers, she has never been happier.  She tells us that everyone else accepts her new gender and she passes effortlessly. We know from personal experience that this is untrue. It also sounds just like so many stories on the Gendered Intelligence website or any other pro-trans site.

I’ve known a lot of lesbians from a previous job I had, and they were all wonderful, open and friendly people. My daughter seemed to be developing into a very stylish lesbian before the trans thing started. But now she’s withdrawn, ashamed of her body and obsessed with her appearance.

She knows exactly how I feel, but as I said, I don’t handle rows well.

How are you handling the transition? Do you use “preferred pronouns,” and have you purchased a binder?

I’m determined to not be an enabler, so I will not use preferred pronouns, but otherwise I try to keep my opinions to myself, not always successfully. If I try to discuss it, we will end up rowing and I will push her further into the cult.

Somehow she got hold of a binder. I pretend not to notice when she wears it.

Did your daughter show any signs of being gender dysphoric as a young girl?

This question is impossible to answer without either accepting or confronting a lot of the assumptions behind the trans ideology. I’m a stroppy bugger so here we go.

If you look up the symptoms of gender dysphoria on the NHS (http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Gender-dysphoria/Pages/Symptoms.aspx), you get a list that includes:

  • disliking or refusing to wear clothes that are typically worn by their sex and wanting to wear clothes typically worn by the opposite sex
  • disliking or refusing to take part in activities and games that are typically associated with their sex, and wanting to take part in activities and games typically associated with the opposite sex
  • preferring to play with children of the opposite biological sex

…all of which is just sexist bollocks. Most people would display these “symptoms” at some time in their lives.

Next in the list of GD symptoms we have:

  • feeling extreme distress at the physical changes of puberty

I grew up a boy, I was late to puberty and not at all happy about that. I can understand why puberty is a bigger challenge for girls, who might well have learned about puberty blockers from the internet. So this too must catch a lot of people.

  • disliking or refusing to pass urine as other members of their biological sex usually do – for example, a boy may want to sit down to pass urine and a girl may want to stand up.

My brother went through a stage of sitting to pee; he had somehow got the idea that that was why women lived longer.

  • insisting or hoping their genitals will change – for example, a boy may say he wants to be rid of his penis, and a girl may want to grow a penis.

As a late developer, I was convinced I was under-endowed. How would I have reacted if offered the chance of being a special snowflake who would grow into a beautiful lady?

So we are left with:

  • insisting they’re of the opposite sex

Girls get a shit deal, since they have to live up to ridiculous beauty standards. Boys watch enormous amounts of porn and that influences the pressures they put on young women. Aspects of puberty that my generation accepted or even celebrated, like pubic and underarm hair, are now deemed repulsive. Young women are expected to be a ridiculous hybrid of constantly available sex toy, pure maiden and pre-pubescent little girl. As I have discovered, post-trans, lesbianism as a distinct, respected culture and role model has disappeared–to now be a category on You-Porn or a pretense of autogynephilia.

Is it any wonder that a lot of young women these days see no alternative to trans?

Kids are weird. That’s just what they do, so just let them be weird kids for a while. Don’t call it either a mental illness or some mismatch between their bodies and a mythical gender fairy that can be cured by surgery, a lifetime of hormones and bucket-loads of doublespeak.

So when you get right down to it, asking whether my daughter ever showed signs of gender dysphoria is a really stupid question. The only answer is “probably no more than you”.

If my daughter lives life for a while as a woman, lesbian or straight, actually has relationships and then comes back to me as an adult and says that she would be happier as a man, then I would think very hard about it and  try to understand.

Do you know other parents “in real life” (vs. online) who share your gender-critical views?

No, although I have ‘come out’ to some close old friends and colleagues. Once I’ve explained the reality of what trans is, they seem to accept my version.

How does your partner (your daughter’s mum) feel about all of this? Do your views differ?

My partner agrees with me and shares my views on gender identity, but is much better at navigating the thin line between enabling the delusion and losing communication, so can still to some degree communicate with our daughter. Still, my partner often ends up being told by our daughter how terrible we are. She really has been a rock; at times I have been close to crumbling and she has always been there for me.

Are you observing other teen girls in the UK who are also transitioning to male?

I see some around town. It’s heart-breaking, these young women, who could be beautiful and confident, who could be enjoying the freedom of youth and all the chances to explore themselves and the world. But now heads down, huddled, painfully self-conscious, anxious, making pathetic attempts to pass, but I’m sure, that at some level they know that people are only pretending to believe it.

How does your daughter’s school handle her transition?

They encouraged and colluded with it without telling us. They gave her a new name badge and use preferred pronouns. One teacher seemed quite proud of how she had supported our ‘special lovely’ daughter. Yes I’m furious about that, but can’t bring it up without outing and alienating her. Someone might be getting a present of Sheila Jeffreys’ Gender Hurts book at the end of term.

How can we support what you’re doing?

Keep doing what you are doing. Let people know that there is another story and that the gender identity dogma is a lie.

I’d love to see us get organised and start acting collectively, but I know that will be very hard, with everyone needing to protect their and their kids’ privacy.

We need to reach out and let people know that there is dissent and that the dissenters are not horrible people. We need to separate rejection of the trans ideology from homophobia and let people know that there is no scientific validity to gender identity and that there are other ways of tackling gender dysphoria.

I’m sure there is a story here that a good investigative journalist could really run with. It reaches from grubby little men in girls changing rooms, through to some very powerful people, all the time trapping and exploiting young people. I haven’t a clue how to get that story out.

 

Shrinking to survive: A former trans man reports on life inside queer youth culture

Max Robinson is a 20-year-old lesbian who recently detransitioned after 4 years of hormone replacement therapy. She underwent a double mastectomy at age 17, performed by plastic surgeon Curtis Crane in San Francisco. Max reports that her gender therapist wrote letters verifying the immediate medical necessity of these treatments.

Max currently works to provide direct support to developmentally disabled adults living in group homes; she detransitioned on the job in December 2015. Her novel Laika, which tells the story of the little stray dog who was sent outside Earth’s atmosphere in a Soviet satellite, is available digitally or in print here. In addition, Max and her partner collaborate on many graphic art and creative writing projects.

 Max, like many young lesbians of her generation, was led down the path to FTM “transition” as a teen, effectively short circuiting her chance to fully integrate her orientation as a same-sex attracted female.  As detailed in her account, the difficulties many young trans men face in queer communities are not widely known; and the less-than- rosy experiences of FTM teens are certainly not discussed in the many mainstream media stories which unquestioningly celebrate testosterone and surgery as welcome treatments for dysphoric girls—many of whom are same-sex attracted.

Max’s story will also appear in an upcoming anthology to be published within the year.

In the meantime, Max is available to respond to your questions and discussion in the comments section below this post.

All of us at 4thWaveNow are very grateful to Max for her courage in writing this post.


by Max Robinson

When I was 5, I led a girl rebellion. We put on capes and chased some boys in capes around. Whatever they said we couldn’t do, we did. It was mostly push-ups or holding bugs. I could hold any bug. My dad still has a picture in his office of me at a science fair, hands full of hissing cockroaches.

I hated to be told there was something I couldn’t do. In first grade, I’d go home from school all in a huff because the girls’ bathroom pass had pictures of bows on it, while the boys’ had soccer balls. My teacher wouldn’t let me choose which pass I wanted. I played soccer!

When I was in third grade, I drafted letters to the author of a children’s book series. I was bothered by the constant underlying sexism in her books about a family rescuing animals. The mom and the daughter were always secondary, sweeping or cooking in the background, while the father and son saw all the action. What troubled me most of all was that these books were written by a woman. I didn’t understand why she couldn’t create a single interesting female character.

Around the same time, my mom finally let me buy a pair of boys’ shoes. They were red and black, and I didn’t have to tie them. I wore them all the time, so often that the plastic frame of them tore through the fabric. It cut into my feet, but I didn’t tell my parents. I thought I wouldn’t get another pair. They didn’t find out until they saw the back of my ankles, torn and bleeding. When I told them why I hadn’t said anything, they got me another pair. This is my first memory of hurting myself on purpose so that I would feel better about my appearance. Later, there was tweezing, high heels, waxing, shaving, running, and trying to starve myself. In all of those, at one time or another, I was encouraged, but they really weren’t for me. I wanted to choose to hurt myself in my own way.

When I was 16, I talked my older sister into ordering me a binder, and I wore it as often I could. It hurt like hell. I insisted it didn’t. The pain made it easier to think less, which was nice, especially at school. Class was boring and I couldn’t focus, so I would always spend the whole day winding myself up with some thought obsession or another to keep busy. I would ask the teacher for bathroom breaks, and then used them to cut myself, just because I was under-stimulated and unhappy.

After school, I read Autostraddle articles and dozens of pages into the archive of FTM blogs. I was glad to see some women who looked kind of like me, saying that they had futures now. I wanted what they had, and I hated what I had. I think I was 15 or just barely 16 when I started checking this stuff out.

The longer I thought about it, the more sure I was that it was true. At first, I thought I might be genderqueer. Then, I wanted to go on testosterone for a while, but keep my breasts. Next I was sure that I wanted them gone. I would confess these changing thoughts anxiously to other trans-identifying friends online. They would reassure me that this happened to a lot of people, and that the dominant transgender narrative was oppressive.  Then I began reassuring others of this, too. We all agreed that being trans was very special and difficult.  Before, I had never felt special or that my pain mattered.

Some part of me knew I was talking myself into it. I ignored that part.

For the first time, I had a community that paid attention to me, at least online. We talked about our feelings and we listened to each other. This was my first real experience with Internet culture. I loved having friends. It wasn’t like school, where I was irritable and weird, floating between tables at lunch. People actually liked me on Tumblr. Almost all my friends were female and trans-identifying.

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I didn’t know anything. It was just so comforting to think that I was born wrong. If my body was the problem, it could be solved. Transition had clearly defined steps. Everybody chose from a set list, and when it was over, they were properly assembled.

When I renounced my connection to womanhood and what I shared with my sisters, I sealed away important parts of myself. I thought I was turning away from the hurt that came from being seen as a woman by men, but it was too late for that. That hurt has been inside my bones for years. After transition, I kept quieter than ever before. Always afraid, always afraid. Brought back into line.

Transition was supposed to fix things. That’s what I believed and that’s what doctors told my parents. I was 16 when I started hormone blockers, then testosterone. I was 17 when I had a double mastectomy.

If I didn’t look like a dyke and act like a crazy teenage girl, there would have been nothing to fix.

To fund my surgery, I started a blog where I posted print-to-order clothing and gifts, pandering to the interests of the people I saw on there. It worked pretty well. I got a bunch of money, but not quite enough. My parents used some of theirs, and my grandma helped, too. After all, this was a medically validated condition. I had been to appointments with professional after professional, all of whom agreed this was the way to go.

But it turned out to be cold comfort, removing hated body parts. Breasts marked me as a woman dressed funny. I wasn’t afraid to be anesthetized or cut open. The day of my surgery, after the doctor drew the lines of the incisions on my skin in Sharpie, I asked him where the tissue would go. He told me it would be incinerated as medical waste. I cackled. When they led me back to the operating room, I was confused. I thought there would be a silver table that I had to lie down on. I told my doctor this. He told me it wasn’t an autopsy, and laughed.

My first post-op memories don’t start until a day or two later. The pain wasn’t bad, and emptying my drains reminded me of using a menstrual cup, just with a lot more yellow stuff. It felt better than trying to live as a man with breasts. I couldn’t lift my arms to wash my own hair for a couple weeks, but seeing a flat chest was a breath of fresh air. It felt like it made sense after I had been watching my old face disappear, cheeks narrowing, beard coming in, because of testosterone. I didn’t want to be seen as a woman–as a lesbian–and I didn’t want to ask why.

Or maybe I just didn’t know who to ask. I did try. Before I started medical transition, I asked my gender therapist, a trans man, about internalized misogyny. The question was dismissed. I didn’t even really know what internalized misogyny was, but  I wanted to understand. Instead, I was assured that it probably wasn’t that. I got a letter for hormone replacement therapy, and later, for the top surgery. I was grateful.

It took years of testosterone for me to finally realize it was okay to live in my own body without it, that making this peace with myself was possible, and that I deserved that chance. I didn’t know it was okay to be a dysphoric lesbian, that I could survive this way. I was almost 20 when I stopped hormones. I had been 20 for a little while when I stopped understanding myself as a trans man.

Things changed. My mind changed.

There’s a species of rotifer (microscopic zooplankton) called Bdelloidea. A male bdelloid has never been observed. They’re all female, reproducing exclusively through parthenogenesis for millions of years. How did they survive quickly evolving parasites and rapidly changing environments without the adaptability afforded by sexual reproduction? Bdelloids shrivel up under stress. In anhydrobiosis, they’re easily carried away by the wind. For up to nine years, they’ll stay alive like this–barely living, but alive. Shrinking yourself to survive is a legitimate strategy, and sometimes it works.

After I detransitioned, I started a new job where I was known as a butch lesbian. At first, people treated me worse than when I was “passing” as male. Nobody trained me. They tried not to look at me at all. They didn’t relax until I started talking, talking like I had in high school. I made jokes and people laughed. I told them about my childhood when they told me about theirs. I did more than listen, finally. People actually liked me here, the same people who looked at me funny when I first started the job.

It had been so long since I had said anything outside my home without worrying about whether I “sounded male.” I hadn’t realized how much I had been holding back since I decided to transition. I hadn’t made new friends, except online, in years. In a couple weeks at this job, I got rides home and wedding invitations. I thought I was incapable of connecting to anyone in person, but I was just incapable of connecting to anyone as a man — because I’m not a man. I can’t pretend to be one without hiding an essential part of my nature.

I thought “woman” was wrong for me, because of how I dressed, how I related to my body, how I resented the expectations society had for me as a woman. I didn’t realize that my horror at my body could be caused by the horror of living in a world that wants to control all women.

If “being a woman” really was nothing but an identity, if I had been raised in a world where it really did just mean calling myself a woman, I never would have transitioned.  I would never have attempted to surgically and hormonally erase my femaleness. My drive to be anything but a woman was rooted in the material reality of being a woman, a material reality that cannot be identified out of. Trying to live in a fantasy where everything women have suffered for being female is null and void, even as misogyny continues to shape our lives, was valuable only in that I finally learned how incredibly valuable it was to name myself as a woman.

There is power in naming. It’s how we find each other, how we connect to our histories, how we connect to our futures. Driving us apart from each other is the easiest way to keep us from learning to recognize attempts to redefine our realities.

I didn’t know this then. I subscribed to an incredibly misogynistic set of beliefs for years. “DFAB privilege” was a common phrase in our community – “designated female at birth privilege.” It was accepted fact that being born female gave you a lifelong advantage over a male who transitioned. This included men who used transition only to mean using different pronouns on Tumblr and having an anime girl as their avatar. We believed that, as “dfabs,” we needed to shut up about our petty problems. We could never have it as hard as any “dmab women or non-binary people.” Everyone in the trans community agreed that it was our responsibility to uplift “dmab voices.” None of this seemed outrageous or strange to me; it felt pretty intuitive. Growing up under male domination is a grooming process that leaves many girls and women extremely vulnerable to manipulation.

The first experience that did make me start to feel suspicious of male transition was when I was 18 and a genderqueer-identifying man who had never pursued any kind of transition raped my best friend, a woman unacquainted with insular trans community politics. I had indirectly introduced her to this guy via mutual friends. After the rape, she told me what he did; I had been in the next room the whole night, awake, talking to someone I didn’t even like. I had no idea it was happening. When she let our mutual friends know, we both assumed they would have her back; after all, they referred to their apartment as a safe space for rape survivors. But instead, her rapist changed his pronouns on Tumblr, claimed to have schizophrenia, and then said that he couldn’t possibly have raped her, because of the power dynamics between a “cis” woman and a transwoman. He moved back to LA a few months later, without ever taking any steps towards transition. When he got there, he told his old friends he wasn’t schizophrenic or trans anymore.

Years before that, two different transwomen I knew had pressured me into sending nude photos of my breasts to them. I messaged them first, as a 16 year old, after seeing them repeatedly posting about being horny and suicidal, and how only nudes would make them feel any better. They didn’t even know who I was. To one of them, I submitted the nudes anonymously. I didn’t want to talk, I just wanted him to feel better. I thought it was my responsibility. It might still be posted somewhere, I have no idea.  Both of the transwomen who sexted with me identified as lesbians at the time and knew I was a transman. They didn’t care, as long as we were talking one-on-one.

I didn’t fully see the value in differentiating male from female until a traumatized and disabled lesbian I knew well, K, finally admitted to me that her transwoman partner M was beating her regularly.

For three years, she lived with steadily escalating physical & sexual violence, the details of which were originally included in this article but have now been removed for privacy reasons. Suffice it to say – it was an intimate portrait of what radical feminists understand as male violence.

It’s been two years since she moved in with me, away from him, and she’s still recovering from what he did to her. She had two decades of trauma before that, but nothing ever broke her like this did. Calling that relationship “lesbianism” left her stranded from the framework she desperately needed in order to contextualize her experiences as a survivor of captivity. It destroyed her ability to call herself a lesbian or a woman for a long time: if lesbians like to sleep with transwomen and were repulsed by the supposed maleness of transmen, how could she be a lesbian herself? If women are what her ex-partner M was, then she, K, must be something else entirely. The language of transition lends itself readily to abusive gaslighting that disguises and distorts women’s ability to name what is happening. What was done to her was extreme cruelty of a distinctly male variety, cruelty she was especially vulnerable to because of her lifelong history of trauma at men’s hands.

The more I started to understand that M could not have been female, the more I understood why I was. One’s actual sex matters. Running from its significance prevents you from doing anything but continuing its cycles of destruction. As soon as a transwoman said, “No, I’M not a man,” we instantly lost our ability to protect ourselves from him. Women who never transitioned in these trans circles believed their “cis privilege” rendered them man-like in their power. For those of us females (mainly lesbians) who did seek transition, we were often told that, as transmen, we were exactly as bad as any other men.

Loading the language was an incredibly powerful tool. I was a lesbian trying to save my friend from domestic violence at the hands of a man she had partnered with out of intense desperation, facing immediate homelessness as a severely mentally ill woman with limited mobility. Understanding this could have connected us to our foremothers who struggled through similar battles to protect each other from abusive men. Instead, we felt completely adrift. Other women dealing with abuse perpetrated by transwomen have described a similar sense of being in entirely uncharted territory, terrified to speak first, unable to find anyone else sharing experiences; they’re all too scared of being labeled an untouchable “trans-misogynist.”

In the 21st century, intelligent and capable adult women are having to relearn what “man” means, with fear at their backs every step of the way. We were among them, exploring radical and lesbian feminist ideology online and marveling at how decades-old works precisely described circumstances we had thought of as occurring only recently. Janice Raymond’s discussion of transexually-constructed lesbian feminists in The Transsexual Empire was startlingly relevant. She saw this coming. As lesbians, we have a rich history of theory that had been completely denied to women who came of age when K and I did. All either of us knew about Janice Raymond, until last year, was that she was evil to the core; a horrible transphobe. We believed this because we didn’t know any better.

Deprogramming took almost a year. Both of us were terrified just to read dissenting opinions. K, me, and another lesbian exited from the radical queer scene began moderating an online support group for anyone dysphoric and born female, including many who still identified as trans. When that group started, I was still one of the transmen. All of us were so incredibly relieved not to be alone. We disagreed on a lot of stuff, but we were all tired of what we saw happening to females.

When our remaining friends from the transgender community found out that we considered transwomen capable of male violence, and that we were concerned about transition’s effect on young adults, almost all of them deserted us immediately. Female trans-identifying friends who knew K’s history of homelessness and our currently rocky financial situation started talking publicly to each other about how we literally deserved to starve to death.

Losing these friends hurt enough on its own. Being cut off from them just when we had begun to see the severity of the situation within these groups was so much worse. I have a list of 20 intercommunity predators, mainly transwomen who prey on females — women or transmen. Eleven of them are one or two degrees of separation from us. So many women in our community had themselves been pressured to share nude photos, coerced into unwanted sex, or outright violently assaulted by males describing themselves as transwomen, but they still didn’t feel able to challenge the narrative they were being fed. These women, our friends, had been there with us. They saw transwoman predator after transwoman predator being named by their terrified female victims. The “call-outs” (a word used for anything from hurting someone’s feelings slightly to brutal rape) usually only happened once several victims of the same predator found each other and made sure they had friends on their side. When victims couldn’t be sure they would be supported, they didn’t come forward. The political climate made it doubly difficult to “call out” a transwoman. We were constantly being reminded that transwomen are harmed by the horrible stereotype that they’re all rapists or perverts, and we were taught that we needed to be constantly policing ourselves to avoid perpetuating this idea.

The silent victims of transwomen had good reason to keep quiet. We all saw transwomen using the language of “cissexism” and “transmisogyny” against anyone who named their behavior as harmful. Even transwomen dating other transwomen experienced abuse at their hands. In the resulting fallout, it was never clear who the true aggressor was; both of them would immediately begin using identity politics and “privilege dynamics” (i.e., someone poor can never hurt someone rich, under any circumstances, etc.) in a way that was very effective at obfuscating the truth. Our friends had been right beside us for all of this, and they still damned us for beginning to name what had enabled this wide-scale intercommunity violence.

Young lesbians in the “queer community” are known by many names: if you want to avoid scrutiny for not hooking up with transwomen, you’ve got to get creative. Some of us call ourselves queer, bisexual, or pansexual, because there’s no word for only being attracted to females, and you can’t be a lesbian if you date transmen or avoid dating transwomen. A lot of us, having been told that we can opt out of womanhood by choice, decided that we never want to be called “she” again. Young women who cling to the word “lesbian” find themselves increasingly pressured to sleep with transwomen, because—according to trans dogma–they are supposedly more vulnerable and oppressed than any “cis” lesbian.

Many transwomen seem to view dating a “cisbian” as a uniquely valuable source of gender validation. After all, lesbians only date women. There is no acknowledgement that, under some circumstances, some lesbians can be coerced into relationships that they are incapable of experiencing as anything except traumatic. I have never seen a transwoman from these circles ever express the possibility that this might be true. By all appearances, they have never considered it. Running from unpleasant truths is something that a lot of folks who transition (me included) tend to get very good at.

The insistence that lesbianism is not a strictly female experience runs so deep that transwomen, even those who only date other transwomen, often refer to themselves as “transdykes.” This includes those who are not transitioning–men who can literally only be differentiated from any other man when you ask his preferred pronouns. Many women believe that these “transdykes,” even those who have never been identifiable as anything but straight men to the outside world in any way, are more oppressed than any “cis” woman, specifically on the axis of gender. The level of gaslighting taking place here is difficult to overstate.

From the outside, now, I can finally see how ridiculous it is. Realizing this took months and months. It took us a year of exploring the feminist theory that had been forbidden to us before me or K could even call any transwoman a man without having a panic attack.

At first, when I started learning more about opposing viewpoints, I identified as a “gender-critical transman.” I knew that the transgender cause had been used in a lot of disgusting ways, but I still believed transition was the only way I could survive, and I was trying to reconcile seeing myself as transgender with believing that the vast majority of trans activism was harmful to women. During this time, I really looked up to gender-critical transwomen–transitioning males who were usually at least marginally more sympathetic and thoughtful than most men. I tried to reconcile our respective identities and our needs, as we understood them, with the needs of women as a class.

I failed. At the end of the day, I just don’t want anyone male in the bathroom with me. I don’t want them on a women’s volleyball team. I don’t want them at Curves. I don’t want them in a lesbian book club. The experience of being male is fundamentally different from the experience of being female — even if a man passes, even if a man has surgery to more closely resemble his idea of a woman. I don’t say this out of a hatred for transwomen. I say this out of love and respect for women. What we are cannot be conceived nor replicated in a man’s imagination, and it absolutely cannot be formed out of male tissue on an operating table.

The sympathy I feel for men harmed by gender, to the extent that it means I encourage male-to-female transsexualism, is in direct competition with the sympathy I feel for women harmed by gender. Everyone is entitled to make their own choices about their bodies. Everyone is also entitled to have opinions about the choices that others make about their bodies. I feel that transition is a treatment with far-reaching harmful side effects — not only for the individual receiving treatment, but for those around them.

Lesbians who see their sisters disappearing are more likely to try to erase themselves. Lesbians who are forced to welcome men into their spaces will never be able to see or understand the value of female-only space, having never actually experienced it. Transition does not cure the irreconcilability of our selves with our environments. Gendered identity crises are very real to the individuals experiencing them, myself included, but this energetic drive towards change is not best spent reforming ourselves into someone who can assimilate into the world men have built. We need to use this energy to work towards restoring balance to a sick world.

Many young lesbians (and some older lesbians caught up in a youth-oriented trans/queer culture) hold political views diametrically opposed to our collective interests. We genuinely believe some off-the-wall garbage, like that it’s wrong and evil not to be attracted to penises because of “internalized cissexism.” We have been successfully brainwashed to serve males at the expense of our own health and sanity.

I have so much empathy for other women who believed transition was their best choice. I lived that. The fact is, loving a woman does not automatically mean agreeing with her. I believe that all of us deserve better. We deserve to experience autonomous female space. We deserve the opportunity to experience our bodies as a part of nature worthy of celebration, not objects to be “reconstructed.” The energy we spend trying to run from our own bodies is better spent working to support each other.

Those of us who make it out of communities like the ones I was in often only manage to do so because of strong female (in my experience, lesbian) support networks that help us relearn how to think for ourselves without getting angry when we make mistakes in the process. I hear political opponents of the transgender movement calling it extremely cult-like and in the same breath damning the women, usually lesbians, who fall into the trap. This reinforces the learned hatred of anyone who disagrees without creating any opportunity for victims of this ideology to ask questions and explore viewpoints that—while the victims have not yet extricated themselves–genuinely feel like some kind of blasphemy to them. The pace of progress needs to be determined by the individual. Frustration with the behavior of young people in the transgender community is very understandable, but even the most righteous anger is unlikely to change minds when it’s directed at someone who has been manipulated into believing that dissenting women are literally equivalent to murderers.

The beliefs they have internalized are harmful to all women. No one is obligated to subject herself to being triggered or re-traumatized by the virulent misogyny that trans activists tend to espouse, even in the name of reaching out to a sister in crisis. Taking care of yourself has to come first. I try to stay available for conversations with questioning trans-identifying females, but I can’t always be there. I need rest, too.

As I move away from viewing myself and my body as an object to improve, I’m realizing more and more how much of my energy has been devoted to appeasing men in some way. By and large, that was a waste of time. I’m working on using my emotional energy for the benefit of myself first, and then for the benefit of other women.

While I was transitioning, I was terrified of eventually regretting it. I sure as hell didn’t let on much about my doubts, for fear of losing access to medical treatment, but I was consumed all the time with obsessive thoughts about it. I didn’t understand how I could go on living as a woman with no breasts. What man would want to fuck me? Never mind that I didn’t want to be fucked by any man; that didn’t feel like a good enough answer.

I am so incredibly grateful that I learned that there was more to being a woman. Transition was absolutely not the easiest way to learn this, but it was how I learned it. It was how I learned that I could survive without men viewing me as a piece of meat. I never shaved my legs or armpits again. I stopped tittering at their stupid jokes. I dress practically. I’m grateful that I learned it was okay to exist as I am.

For me, transition was a processing of distancing my true self from my body and my environment. Detransition has been the opposite: learning to participate earnestly in the world again. For me, this isn’t about undoing my transition. I’m not seeking any further changes like electrolysis or breast reconstruction. I am a woman, even if my body is recognizable as the body of a woman who once thought transition was the best choice available to me. My body has known tragedies, but my body is not a tragedy. When I catch myself slipping into deeply misogynistic internal tirades about the aspects of my appearance that changed during transition, I practice thought replacement. I am not a waste of a woman.

I’m so grateful for all of the incredible women I’ve connected with who are on the other side of transgender identities now. Some of them are women I met years ago, when both of us were still pursuing transition. Transition doesn’t have to be forever. If transition makes you sick inside, you don’t have to live and die with that sickness. There is community. There is processing. There is genuine healing. More and more of us are waking up, each with her own story. We question and disagree, with our enemies and with each other. We learn. Together, we are moving forward.

Nothing wrong with your body that the truth can’t cure: Guest post

This guest post by “fightingunreality,” a regular commenter on this blog, is the second in an ongoing series of accounts by women who at one time experienced gender dysphoria or the desire to become the opposite sex—but who turned away from “transition” without undergoing hormones or surgery. (The first in the series is “Abandoning the Ship of Woman,” by guest poster “Dot.”)

I am looking for more guest posts from formerly dysphoric women and girls, of all ages, who did not take steps to “transition” medically. There are some fine writings/blogs authored by detransitioned/detransitioning women who did embark upon medical transition but returned to embracing their femaleness; I will leave it to those women to continue elucidating their experiences for us. One excellent blog by a detransitioned woman is that of Maria Catt, who wrote powerfully yesterday about the hazards of transition and specifically testosterone—both from the perspective of someone who has used “T” herself, and as a worker in a medical clinic which served transgender people. Another fine blog by a detransitioned woman is “Hot Flanks,” who writes sensitively about her journey home to female after years of trans-identification.


Nothing wrong with your body that the truth can’t cure

by fightingunreality

As one of many women who have faced some of the issues confronting teenagers who call themselves “transgender,” I feel reasonably certain that, had these girls been born in an era before the all-out indoctrination that has taken place in the past decade, they would not only not be seriously considering altering their bodies; they would be developing a framework for understanding why they ever felt the female sex was not their own.

Such dysphoric females would most likely eventually connect, as I have, with other women who had the same difficulties–even if those difficulties remained unspoken. Instead of demanding hormones and surgery, these girls would be learning to cope with the ongoing changes that take place as they gradually mature, physically and socially. And it wouldn’t be easy, but nothing of importance ever is. Especially during the teenage years.

I imagine a self-identified trans teen reading this and thinking, “Eh, what could she possibly know? She was never ‘really trans’.” In response, I ask: What IS “really trans”?

Dysphoric teens often talk about depression and anxiety spiking during their middle school years, when their bodies begin changing in ways they don’t want and can’t stop; changes that feel wrong.

Do you have any idea how common these feelings are? For the longest time, I wouldn’t talk about them because I thought they were weird and embarrassing. But it turns out that a lot of my friends felt the same way and weren’t talking about it either. Nothing seems right when your body starts to change, and it doesn’t help that the hormones that are causing the changes fuel emotional highs and lows that are really intense and hard to handle. I know it doesn’t really seem like it, but things get a lot easier to deal with. It just takes time.

I remember this time period very well. I panicked. I was depressed. I didn’t know what to do because I could not imagine myself becoming what I believed it was to be a woman. I was neither like the women I knew nor those I saw on television. The idea of having to buy or wear a bra was repugnant. As a result, I did the only thing that seemed logical at the time: I hid my breasts and tried to carry on as if nothing had changed. I wore layers and vests and spent a lot of time worrying about other people noticing.

I remember feeling ashamed, especially when my older sisters made fun of me for trying to deny this development, or alternately, for acting or feeling like I was a boy (something that I never verbalized for fear of perpetual teasing). I had been obsessed with becoming a boy prior to hitting puberty, and what I considered to be my body’s betrayal seemed like the ultimate cruelty. Like some sort of unfair punishment.

Remembering those times, I wonder what it would have been like if I’d had someone I trusted who I could talk with about it–someone who understood the depth of my despair, who’d been through something similar. I did not have any such confidante. Yet in retrospect, I consider myself extremely lucky, because what I also did not have–which virtually every other child and adolescent has now–is someone who would have reinforced my belief that I really was meant to be a boy; that I was “trans.” I have to tell you, I would have bought into that belief with everything I had because I did not want to be female. I did not want to wear dresses or makeup, bleed every month, date boys or get married—ever. Being “trans” would have been the perfect out for all of those things, and once your body starts to develop, the pressure is on. Everything changes.

Thinking back, it was around age 5–the time when I started kindergarten –when I began to realize I wasn’t quite like the other girls. To be honest, I can’t even remember what activities the girls engaged in because I didn’t pay much attention. I guess it must have been dolls, since the note inscribed on my very first report card said that I didn’t like to play with them, but instead played with “trains and boys’ toys.” It made it seem like it was a bad thing–like I was bad–and I can recall from that point on a growing alienation from whatever it was that “girl” was supposed to mean. I actually remember at one point feeling sorry for *them,* for the girls, as if I weren’t one myself.

By the time puberty hit, my friends were all boys, so I guess you can imagine the additional issues that started to develop right along with my budding breasts. Suddenly the pressure was really on from the adults to act more ladylike, and there came rules about spending time alone with the boys and separating us for activities. We couldn’t play together as easily. There was increasing snark from the girls at school who marked me out as “other” for my failure to socially conform. I didn’t really need to hear their comments, though, because my changing body was a constant reminder of how I was supposed to behave and look which had nothing to do with how I felt about or saw myself. I felt trapped.

Worse, it wasn’t just the girls who had become suddenly self-conscious about their increasing need to conform: the boys who had been my peers and best friends began to see me as “other,” too. It didn’t matter that I was just as good as any of them when it came to sports, or that in a fight I would most likely win. I was a girl, and that alone altered the dynamic in our little group. It was even worse outside of our circle of friends. Individually, my friends seemed the same, but around the other boys, it was like they had to prove something to each other. Influenced by their own surging hormones, some of them began to make sexualized comments to impress each other with the pretense of worldliness, and the situation became increasingly intolerable. Former friends would dis me in the presence of others in order to get a laugh or to prove their masculinity. Hanging out with a girl wasn’t cool at this age unless it had some sort of sexual connotation. My sense of betrayal was devastating and complete.

It was at this point that I found myself alone. No longer accepted as a peer, I was closed out of the boys’ club and realized that I had little in common with the girls.  I hadn’t really learned the rules very well, and from what I saw, I didn’t want to. Girls seemed helpless sometimes–interested in things that were incomprehensible to me. They began to cover the backs of their notebooks with popular boys’ names, plus theirs, surrounded by hearts. I just didn’t get it. It was pretty clear that I did not really fit in: I was not like them, and I certainly wasn’t going to grow up to be like their moms who I understood even less. I had no role models–I knew no one like me. As an adult, I can acknowledge a multitude of contributing factors, but at the time I could see only one real source of my pain: my body had betrayed me. I was alone, I was depressed, and I couldn’t see any way out of my situation. I felt like a mistake and I too often just wanted to be dead. As it was, I did what I could to simply hide. I sought invisibility and spent a lot of time by myself.

What if, along with my rejection of my maturing body, my growing depression, the loss of my peer group and my increasing alienation, I’d been told that there was a cure? I, along with a number of my friends, have asked that question. What if I’d been told that I must have a “male brain” or that there was science that showed that I had a “medical condition” that caused all of the problems? What would I have done? It didn’t happen, fortunately, but I think I understand my former self well enough to know: I would have attributed all of my social difficulties to that “condition.” I would have believed that if I could just fix that “condition,” all of the other issues would be resolved or at least lessened. They were, after all, entirely related to being the wrong sex. Weren’t they?

Having been raised in a very religious household, I actually believed as a young child that god would give me a boy’s body if I prayed often enough and hard enough. As a result, every time I was made aware that I was, in fact, a girl, I would repeat my litany with the sincere belief that my prayers would be answered. I would imagine myself as having changed, as having all the qualities I believed that entailed. When I showered, I’d plaster my soapy hair to my head so it would feel and look short. I’d shape lather on my face in the form of a beard, imagining how I would look when things were “fixed.” Each time, as my fantasy washed away, I would experience an even greater disappointment in the reality I faced. The more I engaged in the fantasy in its varying forms, the more distressed I was at what was: my body seemed to grow worse and I prayed even harder. I bargained with god, formulated deals, but each morning I awoke to the same disappointment. Despite my lack of progress, I continued praying for a few years because I convinced myself that my long-term dedication would somehow prove my faith, and that would make a difference. It was only the loss of that faith which eventually caused me to give up: I became convinced that god couldn’t hear me. I hadn’t lost my body shame, only the idea that there was anything I could do about it.

Testosterone and mastectomies don’t require a god or magic–just money and a psychologist’s approval. It’s a real thing that you can find out about now without even trying. You can watch hours of videos online as some girls/women sprout beards and their voices are lowered. You can see them pose with fading scars, pectoral muscles now hormonally enlarged and visible in the absence of those hated breasts. You can read all of the accompanying comments supporting her choice and your desire, and you can find a ready-made community to replace the one you lost, to accept and agree with the idea that something is terribly wrong with the way you are now that can be fixed with hormones and surgery. They’ll even tell you how to go about getting them. This is a real thing. But the magical thinking involved is the belief that you can actually change your sex; that you will be indistinguishable from actual males. The unreality of this is easy enough to overlook if you want something bad enough, even if you have no way of knowing what it actually means to be what you want. With “gender reassignment” and T, there’s no need to ever give up hoping for a miracle, because unlike god, the purveyors of gender change are listening very closely. They even advertise, making sure you can hear them. They are waiting for you. They’ve published books to help you, a teen, lay out all of the talking points that will help you convince your parents that you need this “cure.” They’ve made it easy.

As it was, as a teen, I had nothing of the sort. Oh, I’d heard of “sex change” operations, and for awhile clung to the idea of one as I tried to maintain that possibility, but the reality was that they were still really rare and impossible for someone so young and with no money, and there was no question that my family would not approve. As a result, I was forced to face reality. I was female, and I had to accept that and do what it took to learn to navigate the world as such.

One of the interesting things that happens when someone wants something badly is that they begin to fantasize about having it. They imagine themselves in possession of their want and it gives them pleasure, the fantasy itself becoming the reward. Unfortunately, reality is not changed and it often seems even worse or even less real when compared to what has been imagined. For myself, I know that the more I visualized myself as a boy, the worse I felt about who I actually was. The more I saw myself as being what I wanted, the more that want took on the characteristics of a need, something that I had to have; that I could not live without. I was wrong, of course, but had “gender reassignment” existed back then, it would have served as the material manifestation of that need –the promise of a wish fulfilled, that which god would not grant me. There would have been no reason for me to resolve the conflict that I had with my body. The time and experience I had which allowed me to come to terms with my sex would have been spent instead on fueling the same fantasy which had intensified my previous despair: my fantasy visualization would have prolonged my rejection of my body, and the degree of my dysphoria and dysmorphia would have increased.

As it was, I went through an intensely lonely and depressing time, but at some point, after about a year I guess, one of the girls in my class decided to befriend me. To be honest, I think it was because she felt sorry for me, but really, I didn’t care why. What mattered is that through her I gained entry into her circle of friends and my isolation ended. It would, of course, be convenient to slap some happy ending on the story and tell you that all was happily ever after from that point, but I think that kind of thing only happens in made-for-TV movies. I was still a teenager, with adolescent mood swings and depression, and I still was not one with my body. I had my issues, and so did my new friends. We were all pretty messed up, but at least we were messed up together.

In retrospect, I think it’s highly likely that I would have been dragged irretrievably into the world of crime and drugs that many of them fell into had my love of sport not provided a diversion from complete immersion into that subculture. Title IX had just been passed the year before, and even my small rural school was forced to provide some girls’ sport teams in order to comply. It wasn’t the football or baseball that I had formerly enjoyed playing with the boys, but basketball provided me with the opportunity to develop and prove my strength and my skill in a way that as a girl I had been denied. Not only did the physical activity help me gain a new relationship with my body –which believe me, was a very, very big deal. But for the first time, I was in constant contact with other girls whose strength and ability I admired, and with whom I could develop a sense of camaraderie and teamwork. I think maybe it was the first time I really realized that female was something to be.

The bravest and smartest and strongest people I have known have always been women. I just had to open my eyes to see it.

I am not “trans.” I never was “trans.” I was a girl, a female who’s grown up in a culture that makes us feel like less because of our sex. It is a world that teaches us that our opinions are not valued, that our knowledge is incomplete, that we are weak and that we are never safe if we go out alone. It is a place where we’re made to feel that merely being female is an invitation to men to do what they will despite our objections. To be female in this age and this place is to be convinced that the more we mature, the more limited our options become, and it is this belief we must resist, not our sexed bodies.

For myself, I was lucky. I managed to arrive at maturity at a time when women were actively fighting to shatter these myths and I was able to hear their voices over the constant murmurings of those who had and would define me by my use to them. These women were not popular then—they were mocked and reviled just as women are now, but they would not be silenced. Their words let me know that I had truly never wanted to be a boy, but rather that I didn’t want the limitations that were being forced on me as a girl. I was–we all are–more than our culture tells us we can be, and ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with your body that the truth cannot cure.

If you can manage to listen to the voices of the strong women who came before you, voices that are currently being drowned out by the popular trans-narrative, you may just hear them, too.

Introducing a new, global organization for parents skeptical of the “trans kid” trend

I’m happy to announce the launch of Transgender Trend, an international organization created by and for parents who are questioning the accelerating trend to diagnose children and adolescents as “transgender.

Transgender Trend, started by parents from the UK, the US, and Canada, aims to be a source of information and support for anyone who wants to challenge the pediatric “transition” narrative that has swept the Western world in the last several years. In addition, the organization intends to issue press releases, and to be a voice for parents, family members, and supportive friends who have been seeking–so far without success–to reach others who share their doubts and concerns.

The website (still in development) features an FAQ, links to and synopses of research studies, quotes from doctors, researchers, and psychologists, and a blog. It’s expected that the site will grow over time. Comments and questions are very welcome, but please note: Transgender Trend is not intended as, nor will it ever be, a place for trans activists to harass and harangue the parents and supportive others who congregate there.

Stephanie Davies-Arai, mother of four and the author of Communicating with Kids, will be the UK spokeswoman for Transgender Trend. Stephanie has recently given written evidence to the UK Parliament on the issue of pediatric transgender issues.  She also wrote a powerful piece,  “The Transgender Experiment on Kids” for the Wales Arts Review (now published on her own blog), critiquing the increasingly worrying child and adolescent “transition” narrative.

Stephanie has this to say about the launch of Transgender Trend:

I’m really happy to be working in collaboration with 4thWaveNow and a global group of parents to launch Transgender Trend. Our site is dedicated to evidence-based research and information which I hope will become a resource not only for parents, but for the press and the media too. For too long, we’ve only been hearing one side of the argument: that ‘gender nonconforming’ children should be socially and medically ‘transitioned’ as young as possible; that teenagers who suddenly announce they are ‘trans’ should be taken at their word with no questions asked.

Disguised as progressive liberalism, transgender theory depends on the reactionary and conservative belief in rigid gender stereotypes which now increasingly inform our interpretations of children’s behaviour. In the absence of any rigorous analysis of this theory, we are playing with children’s futures in the name of political correctness. Ultimately, the move to reclassify ‘male’ and ‘female’ not as biological sexes but as gender types, disproportionately harms women and girls.

I hope Transgender Trend goes some way to balance the overwhelmingly uncritical celebration of ‘transgender kids’ throughout the mainstream media, and that we can provide reassurance to parents who are struggling with this issue: You are not alone.

Parents and supportive others from around the world are welcome. Please visit Transgender Trend at:

http://www.transgendertrend.com/

 

 

Teen suicide and the chilling effect on dialogue

Another teenager who identified as transgender committed suicide yesterday. Blake Brockington, the first trans homecoming king in the nation, jumped off a bridge in Charlotte, NC and died immediately.

Teen suicide is the most horrible thing imaginable, and we all need to do whatever we can to prevent it.  Gender dysphoria—the pain resulting from a sense of dissociation from one’s own body and biological sex—is a very real phenomenon, as anyone who has experienced it will tell you. After one of these tragedies, the dominant message is that suicidal ideation in people who are “gender non-conforming” is solely the result of transphobia and the lack of (usually) parental support for “transition.”  Parents, family members, and anyone else who was not fully on-board with the young person’s desire or efforts to change his or her gender are vilified, often to the point of death threats and stalking.

But maybe, just maybe, some of these young people want to die because 21st century society has given them the message that they cannot live their lives legitimately and happily in the bodies they were born in if they do not conform to gender stereotypes. That if they don’t like “girly” things or are “sissy boys,” or if they identify with and enjoy pursuits and body ornamentation traditionally associated with the opposite sex, they and their families must push for a medical diagnosis that will commit them to a chronic, expensive health condition involving lifelong drug treatment and repeated plastic surgeries; that they will have to live like Type 1 diabetics, requiring treatment for the rest of their lives. How can all of this pressure to conform not contribute to a sense of hopelessness and despair?

When a young person takes his or her own life, we must absolutely ask “why.” But a teen suicide should not shut down an open-minded discussion about root causes and conditions. Blake was out as trans. While Blake faced a lack of family support for “transition,” things seemed to be improving. The high school was open-minded enough to allow Blake to be their homecoming king. Blake was an activist with a purpose, well respected by many, with a long life to look forward to. Is the reason for Blake’s suicide simply that society or family weren’t supportive enough of the dominant transgender paradigm, or could there be a more complex explanation? Is gender therapy the only answer for a gender non-conforming person in pain?

I write this not to trigger hate or anger against any person, no matter how he or she identifies. I write as the parent of a gender non-conforming child whom I love more than anything on earth. Reading about another teen taking their own life is awful. But Blake’s suicide does not make me question gender politics less: it makes me question more.

Tumblr question: Have you seen studies that show that trans brains are different from other people’s brains and are more similar to the gender that they identify as? I’ve seen some (only in regard to male/female genders) and am curious of your opinion on them.

I have seen some of those studies. There are also studies showing just the opposite (that there is no such thing as a male/female brain). There have ALWAYS been women (and men) who embody characteristics traditionally considered to belong to the opposite sex, and in my view we should celebrate those outliers rather than pathologizing them.  But let’s assume there is some validity to the studies you mention. For me, the existential question is this: Which is the more compassionate, less risky, and more inclusive response: (1.) to DEconstruct gender (as we Second Wave feminists started to do) and encourage people to express themselves in (more conventionally understood) “masculine” or “feminine” ways as they choose, while accepting the bodies they actually are, or (2.) to leap to the conclusion that the one and only solution to the problem of “feeling” like the opposite sex is to attack it with a surgeon’s scalpel and steroids, which can cause serious health problems that must be monitored and managed? Just because the medical profession CAN create a facsimile of a male from a female body, should it? For me, the choice is clear (except in a few rare cases, primarily intersex people).

I fully understand WHY a person feels they need to change their body to match their mind, but the very idea that there is such a thing as a male or female brain is really just that—an idea. If a female dog behaves more like a male dog, does the female dog think about acquiring a penis? We can’t know, and of course, we aren’t dogs, but we ARE animals, exquisite products of evolution. I resonate with the poet Mary Oliver’s advice: “You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”

If you have access to a university library, Joseph de Rivera wrote a paper called “The Construction of False Memory Syndrome: The Experience of Retractors”. It’s in Psychological Inquiry, 1997, Volume 8, Number 4. The paper discusses how people went through stages of using remembered abuse to explain other problems in their lives, centering their identities on that belief, and cutting off anyone who doubted the abuse. As in modern gender therapy, believer therapists guided this process.

Thank you for this reference. The feminist community fell hook-line-sinker for this too for a number of years, with
devastating results for some families. The sad thing is that sexual abuse of
children is very real, but there is zero evidence that memories of abuse are so
easily forgotten or suppressed. Just as transgenderism has hijacked the pain of
intersex people, the false memory “movement” obscured and cast doubt on
REAL allegations of abuse. Family members who questioned false allegations were
demonized and bonds broken. I fear this is the same thing that is happening
with so many teens who dismiss their parents as “transphobic” for daring
to question the dominant paradigm.

Below is an excerpt from the abstract to your referenced article:
Abstract: More than 300 persons have now retracted charges of childhood sexual abuse (CSA) based on “memories” recovered in psychotherapy. How may we understand their experience? …The accounts of the retractors and their critique of different explanations are presented. ..In all cases, the experiences of the retractors appeared to be determined more by the therapeutic situation than by characteristics of their personalities.