More “gender” skepticism

More “gender” skepticism May 11, 2015

Go read this article from the Washington Post, “When no gender fits: A quest to be seen as just a person.”  This dates from September 2014, but appeared as a “related” article to a more recent piece (on abortion, so not terribly related).

The article profiles a young woman, heading off to college, who considers herself “non-binary, agender, and use[s] they/them/their pronouns.”  She wants hormone treatment, not to develop a male physique, but because “In Kelsey’s mind, the body that would feel right wasn’t the body Kelsey had now. Kelsey wanted a redistribution of muscle, less on the hips and more in the upper body. A lower voice, though not too much — not to where it would sound like a man’s.”

How did she get to this point?  The article says,

For Kelsey, identifying as agender wasn’t an immediate realization but a gradual awakening, a recognition that what applied to other girls didn’t seem to apply to Kelsey. People would say Kelsey was pretty, and it made Kelsey squirm — not because Kelsey felt unattractive but because other people’s definitions of pretty, or handsome for that matter, didn’t work. Dresses and makeup only made Kelsey feel uglier, but boy clothes weren’t right either. It wasn’t about being a tomboy. It wasn’t a personality trait. It wasn’t even about the clothes, although those were an immediate shorthand for Kelsey’s discomfort. It was something different and deeper.

Her mom, who struggles with the situation, lost her husband to cancer four years previously; is this related?  Is this typical adolescent turmoil that took a different direction because of the availability of all manner of ideas out on the internet?  The article certainly seems to indicate that a lot of what happened was a conviction that “girls like to be girly, I don’t like to be girly, therefore, whatever it is that I am, it’s not a girl.”

So I said that I was skeptical of the idea of transgenderism, a couple days ago; this really kicks it up a notch.  I get that this girl doesn’t feel like she fits in with the other girls in her school, hunting for the best prom dress, but:  why should it be necessary to take preferences for dress and appearance and make the leap to declaring that you need hormonal treatment and a new set of pronouns?  Why not just check the “sex: female” box and go on with your day?  I just don’t see any reason why a desire for a nontraditionally-female appearance — clothes, hairstyle, etc. — necessarily means refusing to accept the “female” box.

Helpful hint:  don’t go searching the terms “non-binary” or “agender” on the internet.  There’s a lot out there that makes Kelsey’s request for hormones seem mild, including people who pursue their “agender” identification to the point of surgery, and one link led to the suggestion that this is all bound up with transhumanism, as well, that is, not the pursuit of extra-long life spans, but the idea that we can remake our bodies however we choose.

Quick update:  does Kelsey need therapy?  It was to a therapist that she was already seeing that she brought up the idea, having read about it online, both of being agender and taking hormones.  And apparently there are therapists and other medical professionals who are as willing to sign off on this as they are sexual reassignment surgery.

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