Gender Jamboree, Part Five

Gender Jamboree, Part Five August 5, 2019

Part One; Part Two; Part Three; Part Four

I’ve spent my last few posts outlining some ideas about the basis of trans identities. As I’ve said, I’m no expert, and I encourage people to go to trans sources. But based on what I do know, it seems plausible that trans identities may have a spiritual root, a neurological root, or both. I’d like to turn now to a widespread opinion among Christian culture warriors that I think is without merit, and explain why.

The vague commonplace is that trans identities are a sort of mental disorder infused into people by malicious ideologues, who want to dismantle gender, for the mere pleasure of destruction. Trans identities are, on this view, firmly on the “nurture” side of a nurture-versus-nature debate, and can be cured through therapy and observing conventional gender behaviors.

There are a number of problems with this. The first is, we already did this exact thing with homosexuality, and it very spectacularly didn’t work.

Another problem is that trans people typically spend a considerable chunk of their lives trying to conform to their assigned gender, often for deeply held personal or religious reasons, and it doesn’t make their trans identities go away. What cracks me up, in a bitter sort of way, is the underlying idea that trans people haven’t already thought of, and tried, all the stuff that cisgender people tell them to. Who would want to feel uncomfortable in their own skin? Who wouldn’t do everything they could think of to fix it? And remember, trans people, like gay people, typically spend years in the closet—years between when they articulate even just to themselves what it is they’re feeling, and when they first tell another person. They’ve had time to think. They are, broadly speaking, prepared to stick a fork in it.

If diametrically opposed behavior and ideology cannot prevent a trans identity from forming, why the hell would they be able to fix it? Cases like David Reimer‘s or Christiane Völling‘s (1) differ in important respects from trans experience; but they do suggest that gender identity is an innate and intractable thing, not something that can be eradicated by counseling or surgery. (2) If years of psychological conditioning can’t suppress gender identity … then how can we expect years of psychological conditioning to suppress gender identity?

A third difficulty with the Christian kulturkampf anti-trans view is that transgender identities are not actually new. Many cultures have had social categories for people whose gender didn’t seem to fit neatly into either female or male, for whatever reason. Some persist to this day, like the hijra of India or the fa’afafine of Samoan culture. (3) Far from being thought up by fanatical postmodernists, these are deeply rooted traditional identities that have grown up in cultures which value the family very highly indeed. The language and theories surrounding trans identities in modern America are new, sure; but the thing the language and theories are about is not.

Part Six

(1) Reimer, due to a botched circumcision, received sex reassignment surgery in infancy and was raised as a girl. Despite years of intensive (and abusive) therapy, he never felt like a girl, and transitioned back to living as a male in his teens. Völling was born intersex and assigned as male, although her only sexual organs were female. Although she grew up as a boy and was apparently comfortable at first, she later transitioned and ultimately won a suit for damages caused by unnecessary surgical intervention.

(2) I’ll allow that our medicine may simply not be advanced enough to effect changes like this. But even if it were, that wouldn’t necessarily make such changes a good thing. The Reimer and Völling cases are particularly dramatic examples of well-meaning medical interventions that went horribly wrong for the patients.

(3) Disclaimer: I don’t understand these categories well. I cite them only as non-Western, pre-modern examples.

Images via Pixabay

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  • There does seem to be a consistent (if not always well articulated) school of thought that believes that social harmony is best achieved if those that are different from the norm simply pretend that they are not different, regardless of how difficult that is for them. In this view, the social disruption caused by acknowledging/accommodating differences is more harmful than the quiet suffering of minority persons. (For a less controversial example, forcing left-handed people to use their right hands in school.)

  • Ame

    Let’s be careful here. By turning the issue that we can’t refer to gender identity issues as a “mental problem” because it suggests that being trans has a nurture origination actually masks a prejudiced stigma of what mental health illness is. It’s not simply a problem in one’s head or bad parenting or being driven crazy by bad events. Some mental health problems do arise out of the effects of the environment or trauma causing biological stressors and reactions (cortisol, adrenaline, oxidative damage, etc) to negatively impact the expression of genes, hereditary predisposition, physiological, endocrinology, and sympathetic nervous system. For example, I don’t have generalized anxiety disorder because my parents were at times chaotic and emotionally dysfunctional people. Rather, I have a hereditary predisposition for my body and mind to overreact to stimuli as though I am under constant threat, even if I intellectually know that the response is irrational. I have been through various kinds of treatments to train my body and mind to remember that the probability that I am safe at any given moment is high, change behavior and thought patterns to better cope with stress, and to reach some kind of chemical balance.

    I do believe that gender identity issues are a biological conditions that cause a dissonance between the mind and it’s perception of the body, which is a mental health issue as much as a bodily one. That dissonance doesn’t necessarily mean a pathological disdain for the body nor a delusion but a conflict over the best interests of the mind versus best interests of the body. I am hesitant of any treatment that disregards the body as nothing more than a vessel at mercy of the mind or a commodity that can be surgically modified despite being otherwise healthy. I am not a fan of most kinds of cosmetic surgery either and transhumanism for reasons other than therapeutic benefit is out of the question for me. I believe gender identity issues can either be congenital or acquired. I think we’ve only seen the tip of the ice berg of what these conditions really are and will see significantly game-changing revisions to our current understanding. I do speculate whether gender identity issues are neuroatypical spectrum disorders, also some forms fall under the body dysphoria category. I do wonder if the fact that we haven’t been able to figure out how to filter out from the water supply artificial hormones from hormonal birth control or nonbio-identical estrogen supplements, and because of that present levels are changing embryonic and fetal development much like pesticide exposure can.

    I can empathize with trans people and I do care for their freedom and wellbeing. I grew up with a disdain for my own gender, what I perceived as the inadequacies of a non-athletic female body, wishing I had been born a boy. I was bullied at school as though I were a boy. Maybe I am cisgendered, maybe not, but certainly gender non-complying to the extent that I only follow gender roles as I deem the appropriate for a given environment or occasion. I not at all girly. I have a tough time in women circles. I only recently embraced my femininity thanks to all the biological, hormonal and physiological changes that maternity brings. But I believe its important to my whole health and happiness to accept the reality that I have a female body, female DNA, and carry the capacity for mammalian gestation. Even if my body were to be reproductively disordered or deformed or rendered disabled, my genes say what my healthy state as a female should be. I am genetically someone’s daughter, granddaughter, sister, aunt, and mother.

  • Tom Jefferson

    The Pope’s Address to Colloquium on Complementarity of Man and Woman makes it crystal clear that marriage can only take place between a man and a woman

    The Pope has also made it clear that there is no room for homosexuality in the priesthood.

    “LGBT” sophistry-redefines homosexuality as a normal and immutable condition equivalent to heterosexuality & gender as fluid social construct making them states-of-being completely independent of conduct and biological reality – making the abnormal normal is insane – like atheism the lgbt creed is self-interest. The LGBT 2% embrace atheism because it has no moral code. Religion is gounded in natural law. The LGBT subculture is defined by trying to normalize sodomy.
    Family is an anthropological fact – a socially and culturally related fact. Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. The family is the foundation of co-existence and a remedy against social fragmentation.

    The behavior of a man engaged in the act of sodomy with a homosexual partner is not morally equivalent to the behavior of a man who is engaged in a loving and conjugal union with his wife. It is moral blindness and even stupidity to pretend otherwise. True Christians recognize this. Phony Christians continue to try to normalize the abnormal so they can satisfy their own selfish perversion no matter what the cost to their neighbors. There is nothing Christian about that.

    In an open letter,Cardinals Burke and Brandmüller call on bishops attending the Vatican summit on clerical sex abuse to end their silence on moral corruption in the Church and uphold the divine and natural law.

    Belonging to a 2% subculture defined by trying to normalize a perversion when practiced in can create HIV and kill your partner should be condemned not encouraged. The homosexual subculture infiltrated the church and used it to prey on children. They deserve a special letter in the lgbt list – P for perverted pedophiles. Plgbt are a sick group.

    By blaming God for a human choice that breaks the divine laws,removes all concept of sin from life. If your behavior is strictly a result of how you were created, then you are not responsible for your poor choices any more than you are your eye color. Nor is society, nor your parents. It’s all God’s fault for not making you perfect in the first place. So there is no reason for Jesus to have died for your sins because there were and are no sins.

    Even acts that seem overwhelmingly evil are no longer sins. Murder, rape, theft, and whatever else you can think of are all non-sins, if they grow out of our being created imperfectly. We did not create ourselves, after all. It’s not our fault if God made us flawed, so why are we responsible for our personal choices?

    Natural law is the foundation of the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution and religion. We are being taught to forget both human nature and the God who created it. Four Council on Foreign Relations members have been Supreme Court justices: Sandra Day O’Conner, Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Neil Gorsuch. The Council on Foreign Relations are using the Supreme Court to interpret our rights to Life, Liberty and Happiness in fanciful and destructive ways. This results in insurmountable societal divisions used to divide and conquer the bewildered herd by setting us against each other and creating polarized politics. People that promote destruction of religion, the traditional family, normalizing sodomy, and encouraging a mother and father to murder their child have no place in public office.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    “That dissonance doesn’t necessarily mean a pathological disdain for the body nor a delusion but a conflict over the best interests of the mind versus best interests of the body. I am hesitant of any treatment that disregards the body as nothing more than a vessel at mercy of the mind or a commodity that can be surgically modified despite being otherwise healthy. I am not a fan of most kinds of cosmetic surgery either and transhumanism for reasons other than therapeutic benefit is out of the question for me.”

    A healthy non-suicidal mind is in the best interests of a healthy body, otherwise it is as life-threatening as any cancer. As such, medical intervention either hormonal and/or surgical, where it demonstrates a reduction in suicidal ideation over non-medical intervention (which, it does, for which I’ve provided evidence already) is imperative.

    Also, trans people aren’t trying to be transhuman. We’re people with our own humanity, and body modification has centuries of history intertwined with human culture, it is no more ‘transhuman’ than the fact that my vision is improved with glasses, that I was never born through a birth canal, my grandma’s heart runs a miniature computer and that almost everyone’s teeth is impregnated with an artificial layer of hardened flourapatite.

  • Ame

    But for those who are not suicidal, there should be more options. Or is it impossible to diagnose a person as having gender identity disorder unless there is suicidal ideation present?

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    GID is not used as a diagnosis anymore.

    You seem to have great trouble with grown adult trans people having bodily self determination where they simply desire it, and I keep wondering “why?”

    It doesn’t effect your life in any way, shape or form.

  • Ame

    It’s still used in ICD-10. Again, I am not on the inside. Still learning here. And unfortunately, I don’t have anyone here willing to provide polite instruction.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    The ICD-10 is pretty old, finalized in 1992, and the GSM-5 and ICD-11 have dropped it. ICD-11 will come into effect in 2022, but it has already been finalized.

    But if somebody has a problem with trans individual’s self-determinism you better damn understand people aren’t going to be polite to soothe the thin-skinned.

  • Ame

    Already aware of that, and until 2022, ICD-10 is law of medical land. Can’t be fudging the codes to better match what people prefer to use as medical jargon. The doctor may use one term for you and still use whatever you fit for a diagnosis in the ICD-10 for billing purposes. Unless of course, your transition doctors are willing to commit medical and insurance fraud.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    Oh yes, please do insinuate that trans supportive doctors could be felons why don’t you.
    Very empathetic to the trans community. /s

  • Ame

    Did not insinuate. No matter what they say to you personally, they have to use the code you fit under. To do otherwise is medical and insurance fraud. That’s the reality that medical professionals face, at least the ones who care about ethics.

  • Joslyn Renfrey

    No, you’re right, ‘insinuate’ is too weak of a word to apply. If only you had such attention to minutae when researching trans medicine more generally.

  • Ame

    Fill me in