The mother of a “transgender child” who blogs at TransformingFamily.net authors a long and thoughtful response to a few comments that were left about her blog by GenderTrender readers last week on this post: http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/04/19/from-dirt-trans-trending-who-is-transitioning-the-violence-against-lesbians/#comments
Trans*forming Mom – who is “transforming” her 15 year old daughter into a lifetime program of dependency on sterilizing medical treatments designed to disguise her true sex, as well as “transforming” her into a 15 year-old recipient * of a medically-unnecessary double mastectomy- classifies the comments left on the GenderTrender post as “the most harsh criticism” she has ever received.
[*According to information on the TransformingFamily blog, Dr. Beverly Fischer of Baltimore MD performs “cosmetic” double mastectomies on healthy girls as young as 12 ]
Trans*forming Mom describes her background being raised as a Christian Fundamentalist and relates her experience of receiving a lifetime of violence and abuse from men. “I had not only experienced violence, objectification, abuse, and assault from men beginning at the earliest stages of my life, but i had seen other important women in my life experience this too,” she writes.
Mom writes about her daughter’s distress at her failure to adequately perform, or find satisfaction in, oppressive sexist gender roles assigned to females. “He has shared that, because he didn’t feel comfortable as a girl, he didn’t have an identity. So, he threw himself into ballet and “being the perfect daughter” as a way to distract himself from the reality of his male-ness. He has told me that there is only one thing that he ever felt that he had to do, and that was to be a girl, and when he allowed himself to accept that he was not one, he felt that he failed. This breaks my heart. And he wasn’t taught or told that he had to “be a girl” in any certain way, or be any type of girl. He just knew he was expected to be a girl because that is what we told him and how we raised him based upon his birth assignment, and he knew he was not one,” she writes.
Trans*formingMom makes repeated analogies between the medicalization of gender and homosexuality. She compares irreversible pediatric sterilization and surgeries on dysphoric children to young children who identify themselves as homosexual and implies that feminists should get right on board. For the record, I don’t know any feminists, gays, or lesbians including myself who suggest that children or adolescents should make permanent lifetime decisions regarding their future sexual interests or self-concepts. Trans*formingMom compares trans people who de-transition or come to reject genderism with the “ex-gays” of religious fundamentalism.
Mom also seems to have confused me with Dirt, since the post in question was re-blogged from Dirt’s excellent site.
The saddest part of her post for me was in the comments where she explains the lengths she went to convincing her daughter not to seek out and read the comments, and the blog, that Mom is writing about. Her daughter is old enough to opt into lifetime medical dependence and cosmetic disablility and sterility and breast removal, but is not old enough to be exposed to the world of feminist thought on “Gender”.
Unlike Trans*formingMom (and many gender believers), feminists aren’t afraid of exposure to other points of view. Her post is re-blogged here: http://gendertrender.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/criticisms-and-misconceptions-from-people-who-just-dont-know-what-theyre-talking-about/
[Note: The comment from “GenderTrender” on the post is not me. That is “Manfeminist” Natalie Reed – yes THAT one!- who enjoys harassing lesbians and feminists by running imposter accounts.]
“I saw the breasts and I saw the long hair and I thought, like, that’s what I wanted.” – Jait Jr., former transgender teen now a gay man trying to undo the damage to his body done by hormones and silicone.
“I’m always walking around with a secret”.
MTV “True Life” runs a segment on transgender teens- one male, one female, now forced to undo the damage as they grow up and change their mind about believing they should medically alter their bodies into looking like the opposite sex. “I’m questioning my gender again”- Full episode here:
The incredible sexism of their home environments (“Boys who play with Barbie must be girls”) is astounding and illuminates some of the cultural forces driving the “transgender children” trend. Both of these former trans teens were fully supported into transitioning by their families, and both families cautioned the (now young adult) transgenders against switching back.
“This is what I was afraid of. They don’t get it. They feel like I’m not being true to myself. I don’t know… I just feel like they think that I’m making a mistake.”- Jait Jr on his family’s lack of support for his de-transition.
“Right now I just want to shave off all my hair and be a man so that’s what I’m going to do”- Jait Jr, formerly “Daniella”.
“Detransitioning is what is going to make me happy”- Jait Jr.
“Growing up, I never really felt super-girly and I couldn’t put my finger on why.” -Amanda, former teen transgender “Anthony” now quitting testosterone and undergoing electrolysis to remove her beard.
“I guess my biggest fear is that right now I’ve got it all figured out but that I’m going to get confused again and not know what I’m doing or who I am. Forever.”- Amanda
“I just hope that this is the last transition I make. I don’t want to keep doing this”. -Amanda
“I hope I’m done with gender related surgeries for good this time”.- Jait Jr.
“I guess I kind of feel reborn”.- Jait Jr.
“I haven’t felt this comfortable in a while”. -Jait Jr.
“I think I prefer make-up to shaving because it’s easier and a lot more fun”- Amanda, still a strong believer in gender roles.
Massachusetts State Education Board issues unprecedented Gender Guidelines : enforcing legal sex-stereotyping in all public schools across the state
February 19, 2013
The State of Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education released late Friday ( in a classic move used to avoid news cycle coverage) an 11 page document containing mandated guidelines on the implementation of legal “Gender Identity” which effective immediately- replaces legal sex of children with state-mandated sex “roles” based on outdated sex stereotypes, a practice which the Federal government has already rendered illegal and discriminatory(see Price Waterhouse).
It’s no wonder the Governor-appointed Board timed the release of this document to avoid media and public scrutiny: it contains possibly the most widespread state-sanctioned codification and enforcement of sex-role stereotyping enacted on the populace by a government body since the passage of Federal Title VII regulations which were specifically designed to prevent such a practice.
Specifically, as of Friday, legal sex of all primary and secondary students is eliminated and replaced with a legal category based on student adherence to sex-role stereotypical behaviors classified as feelings, thoughts, behaviors that the State of Massachusetts deems “male feelings” or “female feelings”. “Male behaviors” and “Female behaviors”, “Male thoughts” and “Female thoughts”. Truly remarkable.
“A gender marker is the designation on school and other records that indicates a student’s gender. For most students, records that include an indication of a student’s gender will reflect a student’s assigned birth sex. For transgender students, however, a documented gender marker (for example, “male” or “female” on a permanent record) should reflect the student’s gender identity, not the student’s assigned sex. This means that if a transgender student whose gender identity is male has a school record that reflects an assigned birth sex as female, then upon request by the student or, in the case of young students not yet able to advocate for themselves, by the parent or guardian, the school should change the gender marker on the record to male.”
The State of Massachusetts now officially subjects all students who fail to conform to sex-role stereotypical feelings, thoughts, and behaviors, to the state classification “transgender”.
“Transgender: an umbrella term used to describe a person whose gender identity or gender expression is different from that traditionally associated with the assigned sex at birth. “
Further, the guidelines eliminate all Federal sex-based protections for female students (example: Title IX which guarantees equal funding of educational programming based on sex; female rights to sex-segregated showers, locker rooms, toilets).
The guidelines mandate that female students must shower with and undress in the presence of male students during mandatory physical education programs. If the girls refuse, they are to receive state-mandated counseling sessions designed to overcome their resistance. Should the girls persist in refusal to shower and change clothing in the presence of male students or if they fail to pretend a male is female they will receive state-sanctioned disciplinary actions against them which will effect their participation in the public educational system.
“In all cases, the principal should be clear with the student (and parent) that the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity. “
“Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to address the discomfort and to foster understanding of gender identity, to create a school culture that respects and values all students. “
“The student John Smith wishes to be referred to by the name Jane Smith, a name that is consistent with the student’s female gender identity. Please be certain to use the student’s preferred name in all contexts, as well as the corresponding pronouns. It is my expectation that students will similarly refer to the student by her chosen name and preferred pronouns. Your role modeling will help make a smooth transition for all concerned. If students do not act accordingly, you may speak to them privately after class to request that they do. Continued, repeated, and intentional misuse of names and pronouns may erode the educational environment for Jane. It should not be tolerated and can be grounds for student discipline. “
All female sports teams in the State of Massachusetts will henceforth be open to male students, on the condition that the male student professes an “earnestly felt belief” that he conforms in some way to stereotypical sex-roles traditionally assigned to females (at least sometimes: his sex-role feelings may wax and wane throughout the day and the guidelines explicitly support this).
“Where there are sex-segregated classes or athletic activities, including intramural and interscholastic athletics, all students must be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity. “
“The statute does not require consistent and uniform assertion of gender identity as long as there is “other evidence that the gender-related identity is sincerely held as part of [the] person’s core identity.” “
“Confirmation of a student’s asserted gender identity may include a letter from a parent, health care provider, school staff member familiar with the student (a teacher, guidance counselor, or school psychologist, among others), or other family members or friends. A letter from a social worker, doctor, nurse practitioner, or other health care provider stating that a student is being provided medical care or treatment relating to her/his gender identity is one form of confirmation of an asserted gender identity. It is not, however, the exclusive form upon which the school or student may rely. A letter from a clergy member, coach, family friend, or relative stating that the student has asked to be treated consistent with her/his asserted gender identity, or photographs at public events or family gatherings, are other potential forms of confirmation. “ [Photographs illustrating what? One presumes illustrating the child engaged in some form of culturally sex-stereotypical dress or behavior-GM.]
The guidelines mandate and codify differential social role treatment of girl and boy students by all teachers and administrators based on sex and on student adherence to sex-role stereotypes.
“In most situations, determining a student’s gender identity is simple. A student who says she is a girl and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day and throughout every, or almost every, other area of her life, should be respected and treated like a girl. So too with a student who says he is a boy and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day and throughout every, or almost every, other area of his life. Such a student should be respected and treated like a boy. “
This government document explicitly equates legal protection from sex-based discrimination for women and girls as “discriminatory” to those who “profess a strongly held belief” in sex-role stereotyping and discrimination.
The government of Massachusetts, in accordance with the above premise, removes and eliminates all sex-based protections (both state and federal) for females against sex-discrimination. This policy is a stunning example of how the new legal category “Gender Identity” or “Sex-Role Identity” is directly in opposition to female legal protections and recourse against discrimination based on sex. It elevates discrimination against females to a protected category while eliminating all hard-won feminist gains against the practice of mandating legal status based on sex stereotypes.
These new guidelines, which apply to all public primary and secondary students in the public school system, are based on the Massachusetts State Legislature policy giving special legal status to individuals who profess a strongly held belief in stereotypical “Sex-Role Identifications” in its 2011: An Act Relative to Gender Identity (Chapter 199)
That law held that individuals should not be discriminated against based on their “consistent and uniform assertion” and “sincerely held belief” in sex-role stereotypes or “gender”. That is what the law states. But what it actually DOES, if one looks at the statute, is create a legal status based on stereotypical sex-based (and discriminatory!) social ROLES as a REPLACEMENT for legal sex. See the laws related to sex which were amended to replace biological sex with “sex-role” or “gender”:
SECTION 3. Section 89 of chapter 71 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “sex”, in lines 91 and 320, in each instance, the following words:- , gender identity.
SECTION 4. Section 5 of chapter 76 of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “sex”, in line 10, the following words:- , gender identity.
SECTION 5. Section 12B of said chapter 76, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “sex”, in line 185, the following words:- , gender identity.
SECTION 6. Section 3 of chapter 151B of the General Laws, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “sex”, in lines 17 and 61, in each instance, the following words:- , gender identity.
SECTION 7. Section 4 of said chapter 151B, as so appearing, is hereby amended by inserting after the word “sex”, in lines 3, 69, 82, 87, 96, 103, 136, 163, 169, 179, 226, 233, 243, 339, 349, 353, 359, 485, 495, 505, 661 and 670, in each instance, the following words:- , gender identity.
The Massachusetts law does not explicitly define “Gender”. Here is the World Health Organization definition:
What do we mean by “sex” and “gender”?
Sometimes it is hard to understand exactly what is meant by the term “gender”, and how it differs from the closely related term “sex”.
“Sex” refers to the biological and physiological characteristics that define men and women.
“Gender” refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women.
To put it another way:
“Male” and “female” are sex categories, while “masculine” and “feminine” are gender categories.
Aspects of sex will not vary substantially between different human societies, while aspects of gender may vary greatly.
Some examples of sex characteristics :
- Women menstruate while men do not
- Men have testicles while women do not
- Women have developed breasts that are usually capable of lactating, while men have not
- Men generally have more massive bones than women
Some examples of gender characteristics :
- In the United States (and most other countries), women earn significantly less money than men for similar work
- In Viet Nam, many more men than women smoke, as female smoking has not traditionally been considered appropriate
- In Saudi Arabia men are allowed to drive cars while women are not
- In most of the world, women do more housework than men
The definition of“Gender” is sex-role stereotyping. Gender is “the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women”.
“Gender Identity” is “Sex-Role Identity”.
While all Massachusetts citizens are entitled to their personal sex-role beliefs or identifications, the State has no business promoting sex-role beliefs, which are by their very nature stereotyping and inherently discriminatory against women.
Sex role stereotyping is bad for women and girls. Many of the legal protections for female students that are being eliminated state-wide by this document were designed to counter some of the negative effects of sex-role stereotyping, for example the lack of equal funding given to girl athletes based on the sex-role stereotype that females are not athletic, or that females should not exhibit behaviors that are competitive. Title IX was created to counter sex-based discrimination policies enacted for decades by public educational institutions.
Feminists support the abolition of sex-role stereotypes. Feminists do not support social policies which conflate sex-role stereotypes with reproductive sex.
When the state mandates that children should be treated differently based on arbitrary, sexist stereotypes, when the state educational system declares against all known science and fact, that those who do not abide sex-role stereotypes must not actually be male or female sexed, when the government disciplines children for acknowledging biological reality and scientific fact in an educational system, when the government mandates that girls – at least one quarter of which will be sexually assaulted by a male in her lifetime- receive state-mandated psychological counseling to impress upon her that her discomfort showering with male high school students is evidence that she has a psychological dysfunction (!) and that the state will discipline her if she continues to express fear (!!) FEMINISTS DO NOT SUPPORT THIS.
Women, Women’s Rights Activists, Concerned Parents, Feminists call on the State of Massachusetts under Governor Deval Patrick to:
- Compel the State Board to develop guidelines that protect the rights of students and parents to hold strongly held sex-role beliefs
- WITHOUT codifying those personal, private sex-role beliefs into state law,
- WITHOUT eliminating sex-based protections and rights of female students (Title IX protections, right to sex-based changing rooms, restrooms and other spaces sex-segregated for female safety)
- WITHOUT inflicting state-sponsored discipline or punitive psychological “counseling” treatments on children who do NOT share the strongly held sex-role beliefs of others, and who do NOT believe that biological sex is maleable,
- WITHOUT forcing children through power of the state to comply with sex-role stereotypes,
- WITHOUT mandating that teachers, administrators, and others acting under authority of the state treat male and female students differently according to “the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for men and women”, many of which are designed to restrict female equality.
You may contact Governor Patrick here:
Massachusetts State House
Western Massachusetts Office of the Governor
Office of the Governor
Read the full 11 page PDF by clicking here:
Insurance coverage of medical treatments for “sex changes” is very controversial. Medicaid coverage of gender identity related conditions is practically a legal field of study unto itself.[i] Like the various definitions of "gender identity,” the rules that control driver’s license and birth certificate amendments, and whether violence against someone is considered a hate crime; health insurance is governed differently in every state.
December 31, 2012
What was the top GenderTrend of 2012?
Here are a few to get you started…
Transgender: Not a disorder but still life threatening
Use of word female = transphobic
Gays and Lesbians oppress heterosexual men
Male access to cosmetic use of estrogen a matter of Women’s Reproductive Rights
Dykes banned from Dyke Marches
State “Gender Identity” statutes override Federal Title IX rights for Women
Purple too feminine a color for boys
End of DADT leads to drop in funding for LGBT Military advocacy groups- they merge and are handed over to transgenders
Free sex changes for men who decapitate women
Associated Press stylebook bans use of word homophobia- transphobia still ok
Cotton Ceiling seminars held by Planned Parenthood to re-educate Lesbians into accepting the peen
All female public gatherings banned in UK
Transgender and MRA activists join forces, merge against women and feminists
Transfeminism = Mansfeminism
WPATH, Trans activists, “Queer Studies” academics call for banning of women’s books they have not yet read
Feminist conferences critical of sex-role stereotypes blacklisted by mainstream feminist press for fear of hurting men’s feelings
Lesbian and Women’s workshops banned by National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation fetes men who refer to women as “fish”, lesbians as “dysfunctional”, and who threaten to “bitch slap” Lesbians
18-month-olds diagnosed as Transgender
APA declares WPATH Standards of Care unscientific and poorly cited
Julie Bindel, Germaine Greer, and Sheila Jeffreys treated like shit- oh wait no, that’s every year
Middle-aged military men win the right to sauna with high school girls and participate on women’s junior college sports teams
Boys can be Girl Scouts but only if they “feel” female and adopt sex-role stereotypes
“Reproductive Brain Sex”- it’s almost a thing
Questioning sex roles = Exterminating men
Tampons = Transphobic
Vast popular surge of gender-critical feminism
Hmmm …. I’m sure I’m missing some! Add yours in comments or state your vote for the top, most significant GenderTrend(s) of the year.
A sixteen year-old Arizona girl was arrested Thursday morning for posting detailed plans for committing mass murder of fellow students at the Maricopa County Red Mountain High School that she attended, to be followed by her suicide. She posted the plot on the YouTube video of a transgender Vancouver community group. The channel owner reported the threats to Vancouver police who tracked them down to the Mesa AZ region and contacted area police Wednesday night.
According to [police Sgt.] Jones, the post went on to say, “I WORK at the high school as a student teacher basically… which is why no one can find out about me somewhat accidentally planning to blow up the school. (and yes… it would be super easy…)”
The teen has reportedly admitted making the posts.
Sherriff Joe Arpaio said in an online news conference that the teen has been arrested as a juvenile for one count of threatening and intimidating and one count of computer tampering but that the investigation was ongoing and more charges were possible. He stated that the teen’s motive was not yet clear but that there were not yet any indications of bullying. She is being held in a Juvenile facility.
From the Maricopa Sherrif’s Dept press release [PDF]:
“ …the 16 year old is a student teacher at the high school and in her interview with Sheriff’s detectives said she was scared because she thinks she may really carry out the plans detailed in the post, and “ f@#king kill everyone”.
The 16 year-old also admitted to Sheriff’s detectives that she had thought about the killings for a while, planning to “cut the wires to the security carts” on campus so as to slow down the response during an explosion, and shoot people from the other side of a fence.
When Sheriff’s detectives entered the home this morning, they found three handguns including a semi-automatic .40 caliber, a .357 revolver, and a .22 revolver and seized two computers in the home to process for further evidence. The weapons were not seized but released to the girl’s father for safe keeping.
In the interview by Sheriff’s detectives of the girl’s parents both said their daughter has a history of mental health issues, has been seen by a psychiatrist, and had recently been inquiring about where the guns were being kept in the house. The father said he was alarmed by his daughter’s comments and took the additional safety precautions of placing trigger locks on each gun and safeguarding them in a gun safe.”
From KPHO News:
Students were sent home early Thursday. The school will have increased security on Friday and will close early.
Rumors of potential threats swept across the U.S. causing hundreds of school closures this week in the wake of the devastating mass murder of women and children at the Sandy Hook CT Elementary School. Dozens of teens have been arrested nationwide for making threats against their schoolmates via social media, phone calls, and notes.
October 29, 2012
From the DailyMail:
“Ms Cooper who was training to be a hair dresser as Bradley, believed at the age of 16 she was old enough to make the life-changing decision to give her ‘peace of mind’.
In 2010 Ms Cooper- then Bradley- told the News of the World: ‘I hate my body as it is now. I’ve known for years I’m a woman – I think and act like a woman, not a man. I don’t want years of misery.
‘I want it done as soon as possible so I can be the person physically that I am on the inside.
‘People might think I’m too young to make such a huge decision but I know my own mind and this is what I want.’
From the Mirror Online:
Last night child psychologist Karen Sherr, formerly of Great Ormond Street Hospital, said: “It’s absolutely ludicrous for young kids to make such huge, life-changing decisions… and for doctors and their parents to support it.
Ria has come full circle, now stating:
Ria admits to dabbling in prostitution – something touched on by a recent Channel 4 documentary which followed her life over a year. “If there’s one thing I regret it’s that but, as usual, it was all about looking for love and being loved.
Sadly, the second youngest gender patient in the UK, Angel Paris Gordan- who had his testicles removed by NHS doctors at the age of 17- was in the news last August after being arrested for buying crack cocaine.
Ria was only two months away from his scheduled surgical castration and sterilization which was ordered by doctors at the London Gender Identity Clinic.
No word yet if Ria will file a lawsuit against those who diagnosed and “treated” him. In 2009 the Monash Gender Clinic in Australia was shuttered while investigations were made and settlements paid to ex-patients who filed claims against practitioners for misdiagnosis and surgical mutilation. From TheSundayAge, which covered those events:
“’I will never be able to have sex again. Ever’
May 31, 2009
Three former patients of Australia’s controversial sex-change clinic say misdiagnosis and wrongful surgery destroyed their lives. Jill Stark reports.
HE WILL never forget the noise. Lying on the hospital trolley being pushed towards the operating theatre, he heard nothing but a primal wail. He looked back to see his younger sister sobbing, traumatised by the enormity of what he was about to do.
Andrew*, born male, was minutes away from an operation that would make him a woman. Psychiatrists said he had a female brain in a male body. Gender reassignment surgery was the only way to ease the mental torment he’d endured since adolescence.
But as the wheels squeaked towards the operating table he was struck by an unshakeable thought: “It’s not right.” He remembers telling the surgeon: “I think I’m doing the wrong thing, it’s not right, I think we’ve got to stop it.”
The surgeon stroked Andrew’s face, telling him it was natural to feel frightened before an operation. He protested again, insisting it felt wrong. Then it went black. When he woke up he was sure the surgery had been cancelled. The romantic tales he’d read of transsexuals who awoke post-surgery feeling “reborn” convinced Andrew the operation had been halted, because he felt no different.
“Then I remember lifting up the sheets and putting my hand down and feeling it all bandaged and packed. I just started bawling my eyes out and screaming … I remember saying to myself, you f–king idiot, Andrew, how could you be so bloody stupid?”
Twenty years after surgery that left him feeling like a “desexed dog”, the grief can still overwhelm him. Now 42, Andrew tells The Sunday Age the operation he had as a confused 21-year-old has shattered him.
After psychiatrists from Monash Medical Centre’s Gender Dysphoria Clinic referred him for reassignment surgery — including breast implants, the removal of his genitals, and the creation of a makeshift vagina — he tried to make the most of his new life as a woman.
He grew his hair long and wore make-up in a bid to fit in. Doctors told him it was normal to go through a period of adjustment. In time he would feel like a woman. But something wasn’t right. “I remember thinking to myself, what would happen if I admitted the truth to myself? I’m a man and I’ve just been mutilated, that’s all.”
Silent tears fall as he describes the anger he felt towards the doctors who led him down this path. But most of all at himself for believing them. It wasn’t until the mid-1990s when, supported by a woman with whom he was having a relationship, he returned to the clinic seeking help to return to life as a man. He says his psychiatrist, Dr Trudy Kennedy, told him she could not see him.
“I rang her up, I was telling her, ‘I’m suicidal, I’m not coping’. She said, ‘Well, if you’re that bad you should go to the emergency department’.”
Dr Kennedy says she has no memory of that phone call. But she concedes what happened to Andrew was wrong. “I think it was a terrible mistake that he was allowed to go ahead with it (surgery) instead of taking the time to think about it.”
She says Andrew’s surgeon is now dead. But Dr Kennedy, who assessed Andrew’s mental fitness, admitted to The Sunday Age: “I don’t know if he was ready for it (surgery) or not. He said he was ready for it. He’d been hounding us since he was 18.”
It’s true that Andrew thought he was a transsexual. However, the broken childhood that preceded his referral to the clinic is a recurring theme among those who feel they were misdiagnosed. Born to teenage parents, his earliest memories are of being hit and spat on by his father.
Latching on to his mother, he became distraught when he had to leave her to go to school. Confusion about his sexuality was compounded when he was raped by two men at the age of 16. As he aged and started to resemble his father, he began to hate his male appearance. A chance discovery of a book about a transsexual was a pivotal moment. The story resonated with him. Perhaps this was what he was.
Another former patient, Angela*, was also an abused child. Sexually molested by a cousin between the ages of four and nine, she grew up hating her femininity.
She recalls punching her breasts and working out obsessively at the gym to “remove anything that reminded me I was female”. She was a 22-year-old university student when she was referred to the clinic by her GP, depressed and struggling with her identity. Dr Kennedy diagnosed her as transsexual at the first assessment, prescribing her male hormones and suggesting female-to-male surgery.
Within months Angela’s body was covered in thick hair, her voice deepened and she had a full beard. She had to shave under the covers every morning to hide the truth from her conservative Catholic parents. Two years later she had surgery to remove both breasts and was scheduled to have a full sex change. Angela could no longer conceal the truth from her family and began living as “David”. Thankfully, she says, she realised there had been a mistake before undergoing full genital surgery.
“I remember at one point looking at myself in the mirror with this beard, my breasts gone and thinking, ‘Oh my God, what the hell am I going to do?’ … I felt ugly. I was the classic bearded woman, a monster trapped between two worlds.”
She claims her pleas for help were also ignored by the clinic and her return to life as a woman was a nightmare that involved two years of painful electrolysis to get rid of facial and body hair and surgery to reconstruct her breasts.
Now married to a “wonderful” man, Angela has three young children and has slowly rebuilt her life. Looking back, she acknowledges she gave consent for the procedure but believes it was not informed consent. She feels she was mentally ill and that her childhood abuse played a part in her gender confusion.
This nature or nurture argument is at the centre of the controversy surrounding the Clayton clinic. Like many psychiatrists, Trudy Kennedy maintains people with gender dysphoria are born with a genetic predisposition. While the condition is classified as a psychiatric illness, they believe it has a biological basis and can be cured only by gender-altering surgery.
They reject suggestions that a history of abuse, conflict with parents or underlying psychological problems can cause gender dysphoria. Indeed, just months ago, Melbourne scientists added fuel to this argument with the discovery of a gene that seemed to be responsible for feelings of being born the wrong sex.
But what worries other psychiatrists is the mounting evidence that surgery may not actually improve the lives of those who feel they were born with the wrong body. A review of more than 100 international studies of post-operative transsexuals by the University of Birmingham found there was no scientific evidence that surgery was effective and, in many cases, patients were left feeling more distressed. Baltimore’s Johns Hopkins University — which housed one of the pioneer gender clinics — no longer performs sex-change surgery due to such concerns.
A recent British review found suicide rates of up to 18 per cent among people who had undergone gender reassignment surgery. Doctors from London’s Portman Clinic say they see many patients who feel trapped in “no-man’s land” after surgery, finding themselves with a body which is no longer recognisable as male or female. Psychotherapy, the experts believe, may have saved them from such a fate but few gender clinics offer it.
Reviews of the Monash clinic found psychotherapy was rarely, if ever, offered. While a patient would require a diagnosis as a “true transsexual” from two psychiatrists before being offered surgery, both opinions were from inside the clinic — one that operates under the fundamental ethos that surgery is the only cure.
Andrew describes his experience as like “being on a conveyor belt” — prescribed hormones on the first visit and getting breast implants and a nose job within months. He says he consented to the procedures, and the sex-change surgery, because he believed it was his only option.
Another former patient, a 66-year-old man who was sexually abused by his mother as a child, had his genitals removed in 1996 after a referral from Dr Kennedy, who said the abuse played no part in his feelings of gender confusion. The man says his GP described him as a “walking cloud of despair” following the operation, which he says he will never get over.
However, Vikki Sinnott, a Melbourne-based psychologist specialising in transgender issues, has seen many clients who have benefited from surgery. She believes the regret rate in Australia is “tiny … between 1 and 2 per cent”. But she concedes no studies have been conducted to test this.
Indeed, one of the most glaring problems uncovered by the government reviews of the Monash clinic was lack of patient follow-up. Ms Sinnott says this could be due to a lack of funding. “But it’s also about people’s willingness to be involved. Quite often people will say, ‘Thank you very much, I’m happy with where I’m at, I’ll now go and continue with the rest of my life’,” she says.
None of the misdiagnosed patients spoken to by The Sunday Age deny gender reassignment can be beneficial to people who are correctly diagnosed as transsexual. Some have even offered to be part of any research conducted by the clinic. However, the transgender community has harshly criticised them for telling their stories, accusing some of lying to doctors about their transsexuality in order to get surgery they later regret — an opinion voiced in the past by Dr Kennedy.
Angela’s husband, who has campaigned for years to make the clinic accountable for his wife’s ordeal, says even if that were true, a competent psychiatrist would detect the deception and conclude an underlying psychological problem was driving it.
“When patients report feeling like the opposite gender, that is genuinely how they feel at the time,” he says. “They are no more lying than someone with anorexia is lying when they say that they feel fat.”
For Andrew, it’s the small victories that keep him going. “I will never be able to have sex again. Ever. It’s taken a long time to come to terms with that, but now I can say it without crying,” he says.
“You can’t be angry forever. You’ve got to let it go for your own health, and the people who love you.”
*Names have been changed.
Here is the documentary covering Ria’s life as a “Transgender Child”
October 23, 2012
October 15, 2012
My son, lets call him Ellis has always been a sensitive child. Even when very young it was obvious he was not a typical boy. I remember at 3 years old him picking up an Autumn leaf and turning it over gazing at it intently. Then he turned to me and said, "beautiful". He always shunned playing football with other boys or physical games and instead preferred to play with the girls, or one other boy who was similar to him.
September 26, 2012
From Katie S., mother of a “Transgender Child”:
Submitted on 2012/09/23 at 5:54 pm
I find this entire blog very mean-spirited. I’m not sure why you have such strong feelings against transpeople. I feel sorry I stumbled onto it. Transgender people are already a marginalized population. They experience violence left and right. Honestly, why do transpeople bother you all so bad that you have to invest so much time and energy tearing them down? Maybe I’d have to be some kind of ultra feminist lesbian type to understand.
I’m actually a conservative-leaning woman. I’m married, and live in Utah with a girl and three boys. The baby of my family, a boy, has insisted he is really a girl from almost the moment he learned to talk. He’s eight now, and it’s been incredibly difficult to deal with this issue. Our church, family and friends are not supportive, but when his father and I force him into a male role, he gets so depressed that we become scared for his personal safety. When he was five, I found him in bed in the morning with his pants down. When I asked him why he slept like that, he said he wanted to make it easier for God to take his penis away. He’s ALWAYS believed he was really a girl, and that God made a mistake.
I’m sorry, but you’re missing something. I don’t know what it is, and obviously, you don’t either. I am an LCSW, and I’ve accessed lots of psych articles about brain and genetic differences in transpeople. From what I’ve seen with my son, and the other kids he plays with at Kids Like Me (a program for trans kids), I agree with the research. There’s no other way to explain my son’s early behavior. His feelings have not changed, no matter how hard his father and I push, or how much time he’s spent with counselors at LDS Family Svcs. It’s just what it is. I’ve come to accept that.
It scares me that he/she will have to deal with people like you someday.
Submitted on 2012/09/23 at 11:02 pm
I do not agree with your argument that human brains are not sex-typed. You might be inconvenienced or annoyed by the fact that male/female hormones and genetics influence the brain, but to deny it is also a form of “magical thinking”.The research I’ve read and the experiences I’ve had with my transgender child prevent me from believing any different.
I’ve noticed that most of your writing paints a very simplistic, black and white picture. In this post, it’s either “sex-typed brains explain all gender-specific behavior” or “social role conditioning explains all gender-specific behavior”. It’s all or nothing. In reality, nature working in tandem with nurture is actually the most plausible explanation for all human behavior. And do sex hormones, which have an effect on every single aspect of our bodies, magically skip over the brain? I believe that social conditioning plays a huge role in male/female performance, and when you compare outcomes between males and females, it almost always looks like two barely distinct normal curves. Performance and anatomy are two different things, and in my opinion as a mental health professional, there is something going on in the brain that guides us in some of our reproductive behavior.
My son is only 8, and our family believes in different gender roles for men and women. I actually enjoy being a mother, wearing makeup, and looking and feeling feminine. My husband enjoys doing guy stuff. Why then, has my son completely rejected his body and his role at such a young age? We’ve offered male socialization. Why does he reject it? What convinces a 3 year old boy, against all of our wishes, that he is really a girl?
Explain that to me.
How will laws against pediatric conversion treatments affect the medical trend of sterilizing gender-noncompliant children?
September 19, 2012
The California State legislature recently passed a law prohibiting therapies or treatments designed to change the presumed sexual orientation or “gender expressions” of children.
New Jersey Assemblyman Tim Eustace has announced that he will introduce similar legislation in that state on September 24.
How will these new laws impact the emergent “cosmetic medicine” trend of chemically halting maturation of sex-role non-compliant children (“Transgender Children”) followed by the application of sterilizing lifetime cross-sex hormones? The children being sterilized and “electively disabled” and made drug dependent for life by the new wave of “Gender Treatment” clinics sweeping the country are below the age of consent, and have these profound and irreversible eugenics treatments performed on them at the behest of their parents.
Research shows that the majority of children referred for such gender “treatment” will grow up to be normal well-adjusted gay and lesbian adults if left medically untreated. Research also shows that the vast majority of all children who are referred for gender “treatment” report no continuance of gender distress into adulthood if left medically untreated.
Will these laws provide grounds for class action suits against medical providers that perform such treatments on pediatric subjects? Alternately, will these laws prevent parents from having the right to withhold consent for lifetime disabling “treatments” to be performed on their children -if their children are diagnosed as being sex-role non-compliant?
We don’t yet know.
Law professor Mary Zieger published an interesting commentary today exploring the issues. GenderTrender will be following these developments closely.
California Legislature Underscores Need for Better Gender Identity Standards
JURIST Guest Columnist Mary Ziegler of the Saint Louis University School of Law says that the US Supreme Court’s decisions in reproductive rights cases may complicate efforts to bring constitutional challenges against California’s recent legislation banning the use of sexual orientation therapy on minors…
JURIST recently reported on a law passed by the California State Legislature prohibiting the use of sexual orientation change or conversion therapies on minors. Sexual “conversion” or “reparative” therapy is designed to change the sexual orientation or gender identity of the patient. Its supporters include religious organizations and the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH). After the American Psychiatric Association (APA) issued guidelines cautioning ethical practitioners against performing conversion therapy, the California legislature began crafting the first law prohibiting the therapy, described by the statute as “sexual orientation change efforts.” The law prohibits any psychologists or mental-health care providers from encouraging attempts “to change behaviors or gender expressions, or to eliminate or reduce sexual or romantic feelings” for persons of the same sex.
Two things struck me about the California law. The first involves the law’s relevance to transgender individuals. Noticeably, the legislature’s findings asserted only that homosexuality and bisexuality were not diseases. The legislation made no such statement about gender identity or gender expression. Although regulating efforts to change “gender expressions,” the legislature described these attempts as a form of sexual-orientation therapy, conflating gender identity/expression and sexual orientation and leaving open the issue of whether transgender individuals suffer from a disorder in a way that gay, lesbian or bisexual people do not.
This omission may well reflect the ambivalence that some progressives feel about describing gender identity (or gender identity disorder) as an illness. M.T. v. J.T., one of the few cases to recognize that an individual can legally change her sex, relied on a medical framing of gender identity, explaining the importance of relief for those “suffering from the condition of transsexualism.” Changing one’s sex becomes, in this account, the necessary treatment of a disease. At the same time, LGBQT activists argue that transgender identity is not pathological or inferior to any other form of gender identity or gender expression. The statute highlights this tension, and it makes clear that even sympathetic legislators do not yet always have the vocabulary or understanding to address gender identity issues. The law frames all conversion therapies as involving sexual orientation. This paradigm obscures important differences between sexual orientation and gender identity that the courts may well have to flesh out.
I was also struck by the response given to the law by the right-wing Pacific Legal Foundation. [CORRECTION: Correction: Professor Ziegler's link is to the Pacific Justice Institute, not to the Pacific Legal Foundation, which is a separate organization and takes no position on this matter. -GM] The Foundation suggested that it would argue that the law violated First Amendment rights to free speech and Fourteenth Amendment rights to privacy. I couldn’t help noticing what the Foundation did not say — that the law violated parents’ Fourteenth Amendment rights to custody and control of their children. In a series of cases involving the unwillingness of Jehovah’s Witnesses to allow their children to receive blood transfusions, the courts have balanced parents’ religious liberties and rights to custody and control of their children against the best interest of the child.
It is not clear how the courts will strike this balance in conversion-therapy cases. The US Supreme Court’s parental-rights cases, such as Troxel v. Granville, primarily address custody and visitation. Lower court decisions offer little additional clarity, since they most often involve situations in which a child faces a risk of death or serious bodily harm. If the sexual-orientation-change statute is challenged, the courts will have to decide how, why, and to what extent “conversion” therapies harm children. The Supreme Court may also have to elaborate on the parental right (or liberty interest) spelled out in Troxel. How far does this right go, especially when a child’s own sense of identity is at stake?
That the Foundation did not rely on a parental/religious rights claim was surprising. It was more than a little ironic that the Foundation did rely on physicians’ rights to speech and privacy, since the grassroots right, and the anti-abortion movement in particular, has effectively gutted both in the Supreme Court. In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in the context of an informed-consent regulation, abortion opponents argued, and the Supreme Court held, that physicians giving medical advice were not speaking at all. Instead, they were practicing medicine, and the State had a good deal of latitude in regulating medical care.
Secondly, in the years leading up to Casey, abortion opponents argued that physicians had no privacy rights in the abortion decision — whether that right involved the freedom to practice medicine as one saw fit or privacy in the doctor-patient relationship. At most, the argument went, physicians had standing to assert rights that belonged to someone else. This argument effectively justified regulations that could be framed as affecting only physicians more than women, including laws banning particular abortion procedures or requiring physicians to describe an ultrasound. In the conversion-therapy context, arguments about medical speech and privacy probably won’t work precisely because the grassroots Right has undermined them so thoroughly.
Interpreted broadly, Casey leaves significant room for the state to regulate quasi-medical aspects of the culture wars. In the case of the California statute, Casey also makes clear that the courts may have a broad new role in adjudicating the truthfulness of all medical speech — not just statements made during abortion care.
The idea of courts deciding the truth of statements suggesting that homosexuality is a medical illness makes me uneasy. I am not sure that courts are competent to determine the truthfulness of supposedly scientific conclusions, especially when those conclusions address hot-button social issues. I am even less certain that courts should focus on truthfulness. The issue of “conversion” therapy raises important questions about the scope of parental rights, the reach of the Free Exercise Clause, and the meaning of equal citizenship under the Fourteenth Amendment. Hopefully, courts will take on these issues directly rather than expanding sadly inadequate truthful-and-non-misleading standard from Casey.
“Conversion” therapy is part of an ever-larger medical front in the wider culture wars. In the abortion wars, the right has reaped substantial benefits from medicalizing a variety of constitutional, moral and social issues. I expect that the California law will show that both the left and right can play this game. What Casey has given social conservatives in one context, Casey may well, in other contexts, take away.
Mary Ziegler is an Assistant Professor of Law at Saint Louis University School of Law. Her publications include articles on the same-sex marriage debate, reproductive rights and the history of the American eugenic legal reform movement. Prior to her position at Saint Louis University, she served as the Oscar M. Ruebhausen Fellow in Law at Yale Law School, and as a clerk for Justice John Dooley of the Vermont Supreme Court.
Suggested citation: Mary Ziegler, California Legislature Underscores Need for Better Gender Identity Standards, JURIST – Forum, Sept. 18, 2012, http://jurist.org/forum/2012/09/mary-ziegler-gender-standards.php.