Clownfish Redux

August 27, 2013

A must-read post. Not to be missed. Wow.

redressalert

My unpopular perspective is that the adoption of trans identity is frequently a trauma response. Some of the first cracks of daylight that could pierce my former ideology came from Carolyn Gage’s article on how the reality of sexual abuse can complicate FTM trans narratives (“The Inconvenient Truth about Teena Brandon,” Trivia, Issue 10, February 2010).

I recently learned that in the mid-90s, Aaron (still Holly, then) Devor even did a study suggesting that some FTM identity formation is a response to abuse, perhaps a form of dissociative identity disorder. (This resonates: approximately 2/3 of my sexual abuse support group transitioned ftm and identified as “multiple.” This was years after I detransitioned but before I really got what it had meant in the first place.) The study interviews FTMs and specifically some who are trained therapists. According to Devor, “all three of the participants who were therapists mentioned that…

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15 Responses to “Clownfish Redux”

  1. Gene K. Says:

    Nobody’s commented yet – I guess I’ll comment. My thoughts are confused, so hopefully I’ll make some sense. I have an abuse history. I know all about complex posttraumatic stress disorder. The two things that have helped me the most is: 1. being able to talk about the things that happened ad nauseum with a therapist and 2. Yell at the people (family members) who did the things to me – it was great. So my history, my girlhood, my adolescence, I only have access to, in words, not just flashbacks, but a coherent narrative (to a degree), is something I had to battle for. I sometimes think if YouTube had been around, videos of my childhood (girlhood) would be YouTube phenoms. I’m sure this is true of a lot of people. Including trans people. It enrages me that there are men who may be traumatized, but instead of dealing with it, their own BOYHOOD, their own MALE adolescence, they decide (with help of therapists, surgeons, whatever), to SELF-ERASE all that (very Christian “sins washed away,” “born again” fervor), and “become female” – which is what I AM – and thereby get a 2-for-1 deal: They erase not only their lived experience as male, they get to erase MY lived experience as female. I don’t think I’m explaining myself very well. But it’s like, how fucking DARE you – and your academic and medical enablers – try to force me to vacate my life, my reality, my herstory – that came at a tremendous cost – because otherwise it will make YOU feel bad. I don’t feel like I’m making any sense. But it’s like, “abuse dysphoria” and “trauma dysphoria” get turned into “gender dysphoria” – how CONVENIENT that is for the people who traumatize children and adolescents (and were probably traumatized themselves) – they never get called on their crap, go to jail, receive any social stigma – NOTHING. They don’t even get yelled at by their victims!!!!!!!!!! And then there’s the “trans” man (I’m thinking of interactions I’ve had online with them, and also in dating scenarios) – dumping his crap on a female victim of abuse such as myself. Calling me a misogynist, a bigot, etc. EXCUSE ME????? Well, those are my rambling thoughts. Reading about Teena Brandon gave me flashbacks.

    • Choco Says:

      Thank you for posting this Gene K! Don’t worry, your thoughts are beautifully and coherently written. What you described is the truth for many women. It’s funny how transactivists scream that no one listens to them, when they completely erased Teena Brandon’s herstory and call her family (her mother especially, b/c all mommies are evil) horrible things just b/c she called Teena her daughter. Before she was murdered she identified as a lesbian and said she always new she was female and could never be anything else, but of course that’s not as newsworthy.

    • Gene K. Says:

      Choco – I appreciate your kind words. It seems like there is a real disconnect between the theory of transgenderism, and what the actual LIVED experience of individual transgender people is. I mean, I’ve heard many different stories of how someone became transgender – and here and there, it’s like, wait a minute…let’s go back to the part about abuse…or the part you’d rather not talk about – yes, THAT part. I think “elision” is the word I’m looking for – hmm, definition, “the omission of a sound or syllable when speaking” – the omission of a significant part of one’s life experience, when describing one’s transgender trajectory – call it translision. No one will get the reference, I’m sure, if I start using it – hey, you just translisioned there, in describing your transition!

  2. Em Says:

    The Gage article is terrific. Thank you.

  3. red Says:

    And Gene. You made perfect sense to me. Thanks so much for saying it. xxx

  4. Bev Jo Says:

    Almost all girls suffer sexual abuse, and almost none identified with the rapist.

    This kind of psychoanalysing of women who claim to be men as victims can be dangerous and hurtful. What I have been seeing is women who want access to gay men, and also just access to male privilege. Not one of the F2Ts I’ve talked with felt like boys growing up. The idea came to them through peer pressure and genderqueer community. I know one who said she didn’t want to be raped any more, but nothing seemed male about her at all.

    When Brandon Teena’s story first reached the news, I watched closely and saw how her friends and mother said she was a Lesbian. She seemed to be a young Butch who figured out that her life might be easier and less dangerous if she passed as a man or boy than as an obvious Lesbian, which many Butches have done throughout patriarchy. Passing as male does not mean wanting to literally be male.

    And then the trans cult claimed her as one of their and bombarded the media, as they did about other past famous Butches who can’t speak for themselves, from Joan of Arc to Radclyffe Hall.

    This would not be the first time that Carolyn Gage has so misrepresented Butches.

    I’m wary of anyone who in any way promotes or legitimizes trans as a reality. The entire point is to either oppress females by appropriating our identity or to oppress females by not wanting to identify as one.

    Why not make completely separate categories for the men who claim they don’t want to be men, but in no way involves using female identity or demanding access to us or our space?

    And for women who don’t want to identify as women….. It just feel like being asked to now refer to them as “your highness.” I’m dealing with this constantly in my community. A friend’s daughter’s lover just began identifying as a man (as a teenager, she had changed her name to a slang term for methamphetamine) and all are dutifully obeying the rules. It’s like the Invasion of the Body Snatchers with no safe, sane people left.

  5. Guls Says:

    I recall the last chapter of Dworkin’s memoir touching on Multiple Personality Disorder as a response to violent trauma, especially childhood trauma: it seems almost trite, too perfect to read MtT transgenderism as adopting a female persona in order to escape male-ness. The narratives of MtT and FtT look so different on the surface – and as a male I’m sure I’m not in a position to interpret the latter – but this line of thinking strikes as chord with me nonetheless, I don’t know why. Ever since I accidentally discovered GT thru some random link (on Jezebel, I think) the issue has scratched an itch that I can’t quite put my finger on. I have no illusions about being – or wishing to be – female and yet I can’t help but figure male-ness as something over-sold and a corrupting force in the natural scheme of things. Dworkin showed a rare ability to make great leaps of imagination whilst remaining grounded in banal, often tragic reality, as here. I wish thoughtful, compassionate articles like this were more widely read: maybe then the gullible Twitterati would find it less contingent to dismiss RadFem insight as hate speech on a par with rabble-rousing Nazis and MRAs.

  6. Peridote Says:

    I am a male with some experience and knowledge on this subject so I thought I may as well share my thoughts for what they are worth. As long as I have remembered I have always wanted to be a female! I have don’t know why but I have, when I was young I would much prefer playing dress up with my sister then doing something violent and boyish with my brother . So it may actually surprise you when I say that I actually agree with almost everything that has been said in these comments although I have felt the way I do, I do not consider myself female I only have to look in the mirror to see that, I would not pursue any kind of operation or try to pass as a women because I simply am not and I actually feel I would be mocking them if I did! it does not matter what I want it does not change the facts! I think a lot of trans people just say they are or should have been women because so many others do, I know and accept that I am man however although I do believe that it can be a result of traumatic past, I do actually also believe that there are biological and genetic factors that can influence affect a person as well. I do feel though having the personality that I do is not necessarily a bad thing most guys that I have met honestly treat women like sex objects and because I am a guy myself I get to hear entirely how they truly feel about women, I have never been like this myself though and it gives me motivation to care more issues that affect women in general due to men like this(which seems to be most) but in conclusion I feel unless you have 2 X chromosomes you can not logically call yourself a women!🙂

    • druidwinter Says:

      That ex-soldier is an idiot. He should know, Staying with the women?? There is a reason why he cant and it is not because of ‘me me me me transphobia’. They dont punish or question men[they are humans with rights], but unmarried females can be stoned to death[not in a fun kinda way] and forever labeled whores [and targeted for rape]for being in the company of a man that is not her relative; if he is left alone with a female child, the parents cannot guarantee she is a virgin anymore and the father is within his rights to kill the child. The sexchange only allows him to be with and marry another man. But like a typical self-centered man, This is all about me me me me me me me me me me me.

      • lightperidot Says:

        Many religions are inherently sexist, man made institutions that over the years have been changed to control most people in general but especially women. in these “holy” country’s you see many men openly going against these strict rules and being allowed to do it. whilst women being strictly held to every single detail is pure hypocrisy and in some cases even make up rules that are not part of religion like Saudi Arabia preventing women from driving! Essentially a large part of religion is about keeping women down forcing them to belief that they are inferior to men at a very young age, and such beliefs that if they are raped it is there fault this pretty much prevent them from reaching their full potential as people and that is the aim basically it stems from jealousy and desire to keep women under control that has been there since even before mainstream religion, but religion is being used as a tool to help these men achieve that desire. As for this man I agree with you and I have no idea how he can identify himself with women when he willingly joins something so anti women and the fact he marries a man that does not know he had a “sexchange” shows he has little to no morals I personally from my knowledge on the subject would be willing to bet that he has some kind of sexual fetish for what he is doing and that is the real reason for it! Sadly its is impossible to speak any criticism against islam or trans people without being labelled “phobic”. I am peridote by the way even though my name has changed.

    • Teal Deer Says:

      Lucy and the husband have “met twice for sex”?! What normal person, let alone muslim woman, would tell a newspaper that? Of course, it validates the “I’m a woooooooman!” claim to let everyone know the husband knocked out the cobwebs on ye olde man cave*, but seriously!

      *Just want to be clear, I would never refer to a genuine vagina by that expression.


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