With clarity comes hope …

A well-written article by American therapist Lisa Marchiano:





Fighting for the right to fight …

The CBC is showering us with rainbow glitter in its news announcement of the historic presence of the Chief of Defence, Staff General Jonathan Vance, alongside Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau at the Ottawa Pride Parade.

Meanwhile, in the United States, President Trump tweeted he would reinstate a ban against transgendered people in the military.  The most cited argument against such a ban is from the Rand Corporation, stating that the presence of transgendered people in the military has:

“little or no impact on unit cohesion, operational effectiveness, or readiness.”

The main reason: Trans people simply aren’t that large of a population. Based on RAND’s estimates, trans troops make up around 2,450 of the 1.3 million active-component service members — a fraction of a percent of the US military. While some trans service members would seek treatment, RAND pointed out that only a small subset would: “Estimates derived from survey data and private health insurance claims data indicate that, each year, between 29 and 129 service members in the active component will seek transition-related care that could disrupt their ability to deploy.”

RAND concluded this will have a very tiny effect, if any, on military readiness, finding that “the readiness impact of transition-related treatment would lead to a loss of less than 0.0015 percent of total available labor-years in the active component.” In comparison, “in the Army alone, approximately 50,000 active-component personnel were ineligible to deploy in 2015 for various legal, medical, or administrative reasons — a number amounting to around 14 percent of the active component.”

Note the rationale supporting transgendered people in the military is the small number of transgendered people in the military.

Also note that a major grantor of the Rand Corporation is the Anthony and Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation, and that a prominent member of the Pritzker family is the transgendered former military member, James/Jennifer Pritzker.

Not surprisingly, law suits have been launched on behalf of the “civil rights” of transgendered people who want to serve in the US military.

I would think the most important aspect of whether transgendered people ought to be allowed to serve in the military relates to their psychologic fitness.  What is a military’s position on undiagnosed or misdiagnosed anxiety disorders regarding fitness to serve?  Are individuals with other untreated or mistreated anxiety disorders, disorders such as somatoform or eating disorders, allowed to serve?  If so, then it would appear inconsistent to ban transgendered individuals.  However, if untreated or mistreated anxiety disorders are considered to put individuals at risk, for themselves or their colleagues, when they serve in the stressful environment of the military, then it would be cruel and unethical to fight for the right for transgendered people to have the right to fight.

From a detransitioner …

Hello! I’m a detransitioned male. Thank you for writing this piece – I totally agree with what you write about anxiety and transition. As I’ve grown and healed I’ve found myself becoming less anxious, and more recently I got to the point where I can acknowledge that I’m a man and always have been. Yes I’m swishy, and yes I’m homosexual, and yes I’ve struggled with these things most of my life, but clearly orchiectomy and 8 years of cross sex hormone replacement ‘therapy’ wasn’t the most holistic way of dealing with these issues. My medical intervention was profoundly harmful and I was very unwell when I sought it out. Further more, I believe that there is a very cult like aspect to trans culture, and the more I read about cults, the more detransitioning appears similar to leaving a cult.

This is all heartbreaking to me; a generation of gender non conforming folks is being sterilized and mutilated. Personally I have deep regret and sadness that I choose such harmful path that didn’t even address my underlying issues. I’ve written about some of my experiences here: http://notesondetransition.blogspot.com/2017/04/introduction.html

First Person, from a Nineteen-Year-old Canadian …

A lot of people describe the time when they realized they were transgender as a sort of lightbulb moment, a defined point in time where everything about their life changed. I had a very different experience. I can’t say with certainty when exactly I ‘figured things out’, or even that I currently have figured everything out. As humans we are constantly undergoing change, but change is slow and takes time, and we often only realize its significance in hindsight.

As such there’s not much I feel I can say about how I came to realize I was transgender. I know that I never considered myself to be a girl, and in elementary school that was fine, since puberty hadn’t set in yet and the divisions between groups of people that start in junior high had just barely begun to form. I remember starting grade 7 and feeling the pressure to conform to the girls at the school, especially with being forced to use public change rooms for gym class. At first, I thought that maybe if I just tried to fit in, I would feel better. I got clothes that hugged my figure, I tried to hang out with only girls, and I felt terrible. It was truly the worst year in my life. It wasn’t that I simply didn’t like being girly, but it was that any time I felt I had to ‘be a girl’ (anything from hanging out with girls to simply being introduced as ‘she’), it felt like I was having to act as a completely different person, that I had to put on a façade and act differently, even though there was no real reason for this.

I couldn’t connect what others (and myself) could see when looking at me to really being me. When looking in the mirror, it was someone else’s body, somebody else’s figure and face. It wasn’t that I didn’t like how I looked, or that there were things I wanted to change, but that I couldn’t connect what I was seeing to actually being myself. When I would catch a glimpse of my reflection when walking past a window, it was someone else I was seeing. My mind couldn’t accept that there was any way that could be me.

I kept feeling worse and worse, and couldn’t see any reason to get up in the mornings or stay awake after eating supper. I felt like I was distancing myself from my own life in a desperate attempt to be able to continue it; intentionally detaching myself from the events of day-to-day life was the only way I could bear it. I didn’t have any real interests in anything, didn’t really feel like I was ‘feeling’ anything a lot of the time. I just ‘was’ – existing, but nothing more. By the end of that year, I knew that there was absolutely no way I would be able to continue like this. So, in the following years I tried to change things so that I could feel better.

The first thing I knew I had to change was the clothes – the tight ones that showed off the shape of my body were distressing me, so I started dressing in things that I could feel comfortable in, things I could just wear and go about life in rather than be thinking about constantly. So, I started phasing out the clothes I had thought would help but now hated (luckily I was also growing), and I started hanging out around people who I could genuinely laugh and have a good time with rather than those to whom I felt obligated, and things started looking up. I was beginning to feel better about myself, more comfortable. At some point around when I was 14, I stumbled across the idea of being transgender. Like I said, it wasn’t a lightbulb moment, but I gradually realized that this was the thing that best described who I was, and who I was most comfortable with being.

I told my parents that I knew I was transgender around the time I turned fifteen. I had told only one of my friends sometime prior to this, and it had taken a lot of thought before coming out to my parents. We’ve never been the type to share deep thoughts or bounce ideas off each other, and I’ve never really (and still haven’t) opened up to them about much. It didn’t go over very well, which deterred me from coming out to other people for fear of similar rejection. They felt that they ‘didn’t see it coming’, that there ‘weren’t any signs’ when I was little. I beg to differ, but memory is always skewed so that’s something we have to agree to disagree on. I do know that my favourite books growing up were about girls who disguised themselves as boys for various reasons, and that in every case ( I believe there were three such series I enjoyed), shortly after the main character had been ‘found out’ and resumed living as a girl I lost interest, preferring to reread the parts of the stories before this point rather than search out the rest of the series.

In the couple of years following coming out to my parents, I found myself stuck in a bad place. I wanted so badly to transition, but I was too scared/depressed/passive to actually go out and work towards it. I found myself avoiding any sort of social interactions – school situations, getting a job, any social interaction outside the people I already had met – that would require me to introduce myself, since I didn’t want to use my birth name but didn’t have enough confidence to use a new one because I didn’t feel that I ‘looked the part’. In a way it was like the conundrum of “need experience to get a job, need a job to get experience”, but with feeling the need to ‘pass’ in order to progress in life.

One reason I feel that this happened was from seeing and reading too many stories of other transgender people at various steps in their transitions. I would watch, and hope that the same would magically have happened to me when I woke up the next morning. Inevitably I would fall into a complete feeling of hopelessness when I realized how much more put together their lives were than mine – how much further ahead in their transitions they were, despite many of them being the same age as me or younger. This led to a lot of me observing my life passing me by passively, and at times things didn’t feel real. It was like I was watching someone else’s life unfolding and not living it myself.

Eventually I started to notice this unhealthy pattern and slowly began to work my way out of it. I came out in a couple of safe places: to the pride club at school, to a couple groups of very close friends. Each time was through typed words rather than in person, and each time was spur-of-the-moment. I may have thought about doing it for months or years, and started typing what I wanted to say multiple times, but when I finally did it was right then and there, words written in the span of 15 minutes or so and sent before I could think about it too much. This helped, and the encouragement I received and the knowledge that people would accept me for me even if I still didn’t think I ‘passed’ helped me to eventually figure out that my previous pattern of feeling completely hopeless due to not being ‘as far along’ as other people my age was detrimental to me, and that my life would be a waste if I continued like this any further.

Finally, I started working towards actively becoming a better version of me, a version I could be happy about. After finishing high school, I took a year off with my goal for it to be a year of “work and self-improvement”. At all three of the jobs I had, I introduced myself by my preferred name, Dylan. This required me to come out multiple times to higher-up people at these companies, largely due to tax/pay reasons where legal names are concerned, and I found everyone accepting, caring more about whether I could do the job at hand than my pronouns. I was also pleasantly surprised to find that many of my coworkers who couldn’t figure out my gender approached me in private to ask how to best address me. They usually started with something along the lines of “so this is an awkward question but…” which, while understandably awkward, was a huge relief and it was astonishing to me how many people honestly don’t mind and just want to make sure everyone is comfortable.

So I had the ‘work’ part down, now for the ‘self-improvement’. I finally talked to my doctor about being transgender and my wishes to start down the path to hormones and possibly surgery. While I’m currently stuck in waiting lines in order to be assessed (and while I often kick myself for not starting sooner with how long it’s taking) it’s a relief to be able to look forward to something that I genuinely believe is the best course of action in order for me to live the best life I possibly can. I also wanted (and still want) to improve my overall physical fitness, so I began going to the parkour gym in town more frequently, and I started training in martial arts. At both places I was up-front about being trans, and both were accepting and happy to know that I was happy (or at least on my way). Overall I would consider the year I took off to be a huge success; it made me more outgoing, I became more confident, and I began to improve myself and feel better about who I am in every way.

That brings me to now. I’m working towards finishing my first year of university as a theatre tech major. I want to find a job working backstage for theatre, or film, or a travelling show – any of those would be amazing. I’d also love to do stunt work, but I need to further my physical fitness in order to do so. I’ve started rock climbing, and sword fighting, and training in different styles of martial arts. I actively work towards doing things that make me feel happy and are fulfilling, and towards reducing or removing things that don’t. I still don’t have myself fully figured out; for example I have no clue what my sexuality is, but I don’t really care. I’ve accepted that I’ll figure it out at some point – or never – and it doesn’t bother me to not know.

There’s a quote I heard once and I try to live by it: “I still don’t like who I am, but when I look back on who I used to be I’m my favourite self I’ve been so far.” As long as the things I do and the steps I take lead me down a path where I can look back and say that this is better than I was, that this me is the best version to date, I will continue down that path. And if I can’t say that about myself, then I will look for what’s missing or what needs to be changed. It is so easy to get sucked into dark places, but “even darkness must pass”, and I truly believe that the darkness has passed for me. The world lies ahead, and I plan to live the best life possible in it.

Conforming to the trans narrative …

Another sad, misguided “born in the wrong body” narrative of a non-gender-conforming lesbian believing her “authentic self” is a gender-conforming man:

Another sad, misguided “born in the wrong body” narrative of a non-gender-conforming lesbian believing her “authentic self” is a gender-conforming man (full story and audio):

Friday January 13, 2017

‘I’m trapped in the wrong body’: NWHL’s Harrison Browne on becoming the man he is today

Harrison Browne, the first openly transgender hockey player, has struggled for most of his life to come to grips with his gender identity. For years, he lived in confusion and fear. It was a path that eventfully led him to the realization that he was trapped in the wrong body. And it wasn’t long before he felt like he had no choice but to confront this, and come out publicly as a transgender athlete.

Hear the story of Harrison’s long, hard-fought road to self-discovery, and how he ultimately became a beacon of hope for the transgender community.

Creepy clowns and transgenderism …

Beware the clowns: a lesson in moral panic

There are reports of clowns in the woods near South Carolina, though none have been photographed.

There are reports of clowns in the woods near South Carolina, though none have been photographed. (Fernando Vergara/AP)

Something strange is happening in South Carolina.
People are telling the media and police that they’ve seen sinister clowns near forest, offering children money and luring them into the woods.
The clown sightings have continued for days, but so far, there’s no photographic or physical evidence of any malicious clowns.
Despite the lack of hard evidence, media in the United States, Canada, and overseas are running with the story.

media clown story

Screen capture from Fox News in the Carolinas, and a story warning of sinister clowns (Screen capture from myfox8.com)

Stuart Poyntz, an Associate Professor in communications at Simon Fraser University, says the media may be contributing to a moral panic.

A moral panic is a way of telling stories in simple and straightforward ways that try to resolve larger problems. So in this case, children are under threat from an unknown. – Stuarty Poyntz, Simon Fraser University

Poyntz says the story, with its vague sense of reality, plays on people’s fears that some universal insidious force is trying to lure or corrupt children.
To Poyntz, there’s a fascinating resonance between the stock images of clowns used in media reports on the story, and a recent political debate in North and South Carolina. Recently, the Carolinas have hosted a debate over transgenderism and access to bathrooms, with bills proposed in each state to prevent people using the bathroom of their choice. A widely shared meme during those debates depicted a man wearing gawdy clothing, smeared makeup, and a wig. It warned of allowing this clown-like man near one’s children.

clown transgender

An image circulated online during political debates over bathroom access in North and South Carolina (Screencapture, Facebook.com)

Poyntz says the unproven existence of sinister clowns trying to lure children away, at a time when people are concerned gawdily dressed men will be in the bathroom with their daughters, is an example of how a moral panic can distract people from genuine and complicated issues.

The societal harms of moral panics are numerous. It does tend to focus our attention on the wrong kind of scapegoats that are meant to explain problems. It also tends to distract us from changes that are ongoing in the lives of those who we care about most. – Stuart Poyntz, Simon Fraser University

As for the media, he’d recommend at least trying to determine whether sinister clowns are actually in the woods of South Carolina before reporting on the story any further.



Power sticks …

Among the non-pathological conditions that get medicalized and for which interventions are invented and applied is erectile “dysfunction.”  Erectile “dysfunction,” except in the case of injury, is a normal senescent result of aging, often accelerated by lifestyle choices and conditions, such as smoking and and drinking alcohol and diabetes.  Not all men feel their lives are over if they cannot continue to have a robust erection, but many do, and they know all about the little blue pill that, on television commercials, will make them joyfully bounce out of their bedrooms and into the world.  All is right, the ad implies, in your manly ability to conquer the world if you have a worthy erection before setting out.

I do not prescribe Viagra, or its brother Cialis.  If a man asks me for that prescription, I offer to refer him to a urologist, so he can be assessed for organic factors, if there is an underlying cause for his declining performance.

Previously I had tried to discuss with such men that waning penile prowess is natural, and that sexuality is broader than jackhammer penetration, that a couple can have satisfying intimacy in many ways that do not rely on penetration and that, in fact, navigating this can actually enhance intimacy.  Never once has this conversation been of interest to any man, so I gave up on this approach, realizing that for these men, erection is not about sexuality but about power.  I have maintained the informative part of my discussion with them that decreasing erectile function may be resulting from other health factors, and then I announce I will send them to a specialist, who will assess them.  I could do this assessment, but in the end, if all is normal, I will not given the prescription they seek, so I remove myself from the equation and send them on.  The referral option is also a test of sorts, to see how serious they are about their request as a health issue.  They usually agree to the referral, such is their want of the pill, but not without some griping for the ordeal they are reluctant to undergo, which is telling, I believe.

I am not professionally obligated to give patients what they want but I am professionally obligated to offer them access to what they want, if it is part of common medical practice.

Why do I not simply give the prescription?  Because there are already too many erections in the world, too many erections that are used to objectify women, too many as an endpoint to porn, too many that are in the service of rape in all its manifestations, and I have absolutely no way of knowing how any particular man will make use of his erections.  I refuse to risk abetting.

Though erections and abortions are not equivalent by any means, compare the ease of access to Viagra (everywhere, except from me, and often covered by drug plans) with the ease of access to abortions.

In Canada, it is thought we are legally and socially ahead on abortion access, but only in word:

Abortion has been legally unrestricted in Canada since 1988. Under the Canada Health Act, a federal piece of legislation that mandates how health care services should be provided for Canadian citizens, abortion is defined as a medically necessary procedure. This means it should be paid for by provincial health care, regardless of which province or territory a woman resides in, or whether she receives an abortion in a clinic or a hospital. Abortion, like any other necessary medical procedure, should be equally available to all women regardless of where they live in Canada.

However, this is not the case: provinces differ in many ways in regard to abortion. For example, some provinces have very few hospitals and clinics that provide abortions, or refuse to pay for abortions that take place outside a hospital.

It isn’t, in word, much different in the US, but the vigor with which various states obstruct a woman’s access to abortion can be astonishing:

Moments after the supreme court struck down a law threatening to close half the abortion clinics in Texas, a banner appeared outside the Austin headquarters of the lead plaintiff, Whole Woman’s Health. “We won!” the sign boasted in big block letters. “Our clinics stay open.”  Only this clinic did not.

Until two years ago, this building was an abortion clinic. Then a new law – one of the nation’s harshest – required all Texas abortion facilities to meet expensive, hospital-like building standards, compelling all providers to have patient admitting privileges with a nearby hospital. The clinic was unable to satisfy either regulation and forced to close in July 2014.

Monday saw the supreme court strike down these requirements as unconstitutional. The decision emphasized the lack of medical evidence showing that such laws make abortion, a simple outpatient procedure, safer.

But Amy Hagstrom-Miller, the Whole Woman’s Health CEO and founder, is not sure if the former clinic in Austin, which Whole Woman’s Health and local reproductive rights groups use as an office suite, can ever again serve as an abortion clinic.

Abortion providers in Canada and the US alike have and continue to risk their lives in their efforts to provide access to abortion for women.  There is no threat to the life of a provider who gives a prescription for Viagra.

Again, access to erectile “dysfunction” medications and to abortion are not equivalent issues, but it does make plain the underlying political reality:  that men view it as their right to decide about both a man’s erectile function and a woman’s ability to abort the result of his erectile function.  Erectile function is about power; abortion is about a woman’s autonomy to seek physical remedy for men’s power.  Until there is at least an equality of access to abortion, there should be restrictions, if not an outright ban, on access to erectile enhancing aids for men who are medicalizing their senescing sense of power.  At the very least, erectile “dysfunction” as it pertains to power should not be legitimized as a medical condition.

What does this have to do with transgenderism, the theme of this blog?  These issues are all the same: male power over women.  Most of the men who believe they are women do not undergo a penectomy.  Women do not have penises.  If these men truly believe they are women, why are they hanging onto, in all senses, their power sticks?