And now the “Transabled”

And now the “Transabled” January 31, 2023

The purpose of surgery, traditionally, is to save patients’ lives and to restore their health.  But today surgeons are also operating on healthy bodies to make them conform to what the patients want to look like (cosmetic surgery) or to what sex their patients want to be (“gender-affirming” surgery).

Some people have the desire to be physically disabled–to be blind, deaf, paralyzed, or an amputee.  This is a psychiatric condition called “body integrity identity disorder” (BIID).  Those afflicted with this syndrome sometimes stage “accidents” to cut off their hands or to blind themselves.  There have been cases of doctors amputating patients’ healthy legs and putting out healthy eyes at their request.

Now this mental health problem is being labeled “transableism” (on the model of “trans-” + “disability”).  And there is an effort to normalize the condition, to promote its “treatment” with disabling surgery, and to turn being “transabled” into an identity.  Comments Wesley J. Smith in an article on the subject,

The point of changing the identifier from a psychiatric condition (BIID) to an advocacy term (transableism) is to harness the stunning cultural power of gender ideology to the cause of allowing doctors to “treat” BIID patients by amputating healthy limbs, snipping spinal cords, or destroying eyesight.

He refers to a generally favorable article by Sarah Boesveld  in Canada’s National Post entitled Becoming disabled by choice, not chance: ‘Transabled’ people feel like impostors in their fully working bodies.  She quotes Alexandre Baril, a scholar who studies the topic:

“We define transability as the desire or the need for a person identified as able-bodied by other people to transform his or her body to obtain a physical impairment. . . The person could want to become deaf, blind, amputee, paraplegic. It’s a really, really strong desire.”

Boesveld also cites another Canadian scholar, Clive Baldwin, noting that “Some of his study participants do draw parallels to the experience many transgender people express of not feeling like they’re in the right body.”

He suggests this is just another form of body diversity — like transgenderism — and amputation may help someone achieve similar goals as someone who, say, undergoes cosmetic surgery to look more like who they believe their ideal selves to be.

“Transableism” is condemned in the disabled community, for, in Baril’s words, “denying or fetishizing or romanticizing disability reality.”  Interestingly, it is also condemned in the transgender community, for, as far as I can make out, trying to steal their thunder.   But, as Smith points out,

If reality can be defined by one’s subjective inner state instead of objective biological reality, why permit one “transition” and not the other? Indeed, the only distinction I perceive between the two is that gender ideology is backed by the LGBT political juggernaut and “transableism” is not.  But give it time. Once transgenderism becomes just another lifestyle, transableism won’t be far behind.


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