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I Think We May Have Just Hit Peak Trans

In a — where else? — Salon.com story that reads like a parody, but isn’t. [1] Lookit:

Texas has some of the harshest abortion restrictions in the country, which make it financially and logistically unfeasible for millions of women to make safe, legal decisionsabout their reproductive health. But the restrictions don’t just impede women’s choices; they also make it impossible for many transgender Texans to access abortions as well.

The state’s pro-choice advocates are taking note, and are working together to ensure reproductive justice for all Texans, regardless of gender. In a first step to expanding advocacy, the nonprofit group Fund Texas Women has announced that it will go by a new name [2], effective immediately, in order to better represent the people it serves:

In order for our organization to provide quality abortion services, we have to make sure that everyone who needs help traveling for their abortion is able to get it. But with a name like Fund Texas Women, we were publicly excluding trans* people who needed to get an abortion but were not women.

We refuse to deny the existence and humanity of trans* people any longer.

Our board has unanimously voted to approve our new name, Fund Texas Choice. Its emphasis on abortion, not on “women,” makes it a more just alternative.

The press release [2]concludes, “Thank you for supporting us though the transition.” Nyuk nyuk.

So this is why the crackpots at the Tea Party Of Louisiana believed that Common Core turns people gay [3]. The world is so damn crazy these days that anything is possible. Like a man who needs an abortion. Coming next: a feminist charity dedicated to providing bicycles to fish.

68 Comments (Open | Close)

68 Comments To "I Think We May Have Just Hit Peak Trans"

#1 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 20, 2014 @ 11:28 pm

Mitch, you were making so much sense, and now you’re not. I mentioned the relevance of female organs to pregnancy because the announcement cited in the original post implies that there is some necessity to go out of the way to make abortions available to trans people who are somehow “not women.”

Reasonable accommodation of the fact that a small number of our fellow humans are trans is appropriate, but “trans” is not a third, fourth, or fifth sex, it is an unfortunate ambiguity between the two sexes in which all life on this planet more complex than a sponge exists.

Most of the controversy over trans persons and bathrooms has come up when someone is told they will have to use an individual bathroom, not a mass common restroom, and they go screaming about not respecting their identity. For the umpteenth time, bathrooms are not segregated by sex for the purpose of reinforcing sexual identity — its so women don’t have to partially disrobe in front of fellow humans with penises, and vice versa. If you’re ambiguous, and can’t get along with using the room that matches your body, you need to use an individual room.

Mass public facilities haven’t been an issue yet, but if there’s enough demand to justify a supply, sure, a few individual bathrooms would be just fine. Many public setting already have such things for entirely different reasons, including “family rooms” for adults with children — which avoids the question of mommy taking little brother into the women’s or men’s room. These rooms could also be used by trans individuals. No biggie.

I know you can’t resolve the ambiguity by just twinkling your nose. I said, for the weeks, months, years, it takes to resolve the ambiguity, if you can’t use the facilities designated for the body you’re in, no that does not create a right to use facilities designated for the body you don’t have yet.

I agree that this is way over-hyped. I bet most trans people manage perfectly well using the facilities for the body they are in for now. But it gets hyped when someone claims a “right” to use whichever facilities they feel like using, with no regard for anyone else or why the facilities are segregated by sex, and people have been known to sue, and get rulings that schools etc. have somehow infringed someone’s “rights.” That IS the hype.

And who said anything about wanting to beat you up?

#2 Comment By Agathonika On August 21, 2014 @ 5:18 am

The ayatollah does NOT accept “sex reassignment” for “humanitarian” reasons. It is acceptable in Iran because homosexuality carries a death penalty, but the clerics have somehow decided that if a gay person has the surgery and tries to pass him or herself off as the opposite sex, it’s not immoral to be gay anymore. It’s part of a general cruel insanity, not some beam of enlightenment.

#3 Comment By John On August 21, 2014 @ 7:39 am

Unless they have completed their surgery transgendered individuals have to use either a private bathroom or a public bathroom that is specifically provided for them.

I see no way around it. They don’t fit into either gender and will cause those of the gender which they are transitioning out of as well as those of the gender they are transitioning into, a lot of discomfort.

Cisgendered men and women don’t want people who either are or appear to be of the opposite sex invading their space when they are relieving themselves.

#4 Comment By dominic1962 On August 21, 2014 @ 11:32 am

John,

“Cisgendered men and women don’t want people who either are or appear to be of the opposite sex invading their space when they are relieving themselves.”

Yeah, and it really pisses me off when all these peasants around here don’t kowtow to me and make a path for me out of their bodies, seeing as I am now transitioning into my true self, the Son of Heaven. What do people have against their divine ruler, who has the Mandate of Heaven?

Caustic sarcasm aside, “cisgendered” people can go to the freakin stall in the bathroom that matches what they have for junk and sit down then.

#5 Comment By Mitch On August 21, 2014 @ 11:52 am

Siarlys, my assumption was correct. You are refusing to acknowledge any distinction between the biological reality of sex and the internal subjective reality of gender. I grant that it is a difficult distinction to make for a person whose sex and gender aligns in the usual way. It is so completely integrated within you (within non-trans) at such a young age that it’s hard to tease them apart as being distinct realities. But they are different “things” – which is why I said that there would be no such thing as trans people if the only reality is the concrete fact of biology. (intersex also a biological reality, a somewhat related but different issue)

I do sympathize with your position on the bathroom issue, actually, for a lot of complex reasons that I won’t go into. The fear that women will be forced to share public bathrooms with any male-bodied person who dolls up and declares themselves a woman. I don’t think that’s a completely unfounded fear – there are a few weirdos out there. I’m not entirely comfortable with the idea of a legal entitlement to access a public bathroom of the opposite sex. You are correct that most transpeople do manage to negotiate this on their own, but probably not in the way that you think. For example, I pass 100% and have since about 6 weeks after my first injection of testosterone, the day I realized that I simply could not go into the women’s restroom without getting into trouble. I used the men’s room, nobody blinked an eye and its been that way ever since.
I am greatly privileged as a transperson due to my ability to pass. I was blessed with a physicality such that my gender identity as man is just not questioned at all, ever. Whether people know my biological sex or not. Very lucky indeed.

That’s not the case for many of my trans brothers and sisters, and life is very, very hard for them. I think that if more people could try harder to understand their (our) circumstances, extend a charitable attitude, and reflect a bit on why exactly it makes you so uncomfortable, I suspect that “Peak Trans” would die down as quickly as it came. Many other cultures in history have acknowledged the reality of transgendered people, and created a space for them to not only exist, but to thrive and contribute to their society, in many cases genuinely appreciating the unique perspective and gifts that they brought to the society.

If this culture could move in that direction, rather than viewing us as “unfortunate ambiguities” – a polite euphemism for freak – I do think “Peak Trans” would die down. That’s what I pray for.

#6 Comment By John Dumas On August 21, 2014 @ 2:50 pm

Agathonika,

We seem to agree on a number of things, yet you seem to think we disagree.

First, I’m not disputing the claims of the study, although I will offer the caveat that it is just one study. One needn’t stick around conservative sites for too long to find people who reject 60 years of consistent research that shows that homosexuality is normal, healthy, and not due to a choice. They apparently need yet another study before they decide that gay people are okay.

My only point was that if the study shows that surgery has no effect on the suicide rates, then we need to look at the further outcomes. Are the people who get surgery happier and better adjusted than the people who don’t? I’m neither a sociologist nor a researcher in gender and sexuality (though I have friends who are), so I don’t know the answer to that. I’m not even qualified to do the research (though I would gladly help write a grant proposal).

Obviously, the study would not simply be ringing up transgender people and asking them if they’re happy with their surgery, but instead asking the sort of questions psychologists ask to determine people’s inner mental states.

If it could be shown that people who undergo the surgery are actually less happy and less well adjusted than the people who don’t, that would be a serious call that the surgery was doing harm. Currently, there seems to be no evidence that the surgery does harm, though the suicide study does certainly put a limit to the amount of good done by gender reassignment surgery. For any medical intervention, it’s appropriate to ask if the benefits are worth the costs.

That said, once again, I share your discomfort (though perhaps not in degree) of the surgical operation of healthy, functioning body parts.

Carlo’s question actually points to this nicely. People suffering from schizophrenia don’t have nicely functioning brains. The world is a confusing and terrifying place for them. Yet, we can’t force people with schizophrenia to take their medication. They have the right of their bodily autonomy.

Once again, I am open to the idea that there is some other appropriate intervention than surgery for transgender people. It very well may be that in allowing gender reassignment surgery, we are complicit in people doing harm to themselves. However, it is not clear that being transgender is like being schizophrenic or having an obsessive compulsion to cut oneself.

This gets back to a broader definition of success than “is there a change in the suicide rate”? Certainly, treatment does reduce the suicide rate of people with schizophrenia, and also betters the lives of those who don’t commit suicide.

Further, there has been some research that indicates that there may be a biological aspect to being transgender. There was a [4] in the Netherlands that found neuron numbers in the brains of transgender people in conflict with their biological sex. Another [5] did brain scans on transgender people who had not surgery, and found that female-to-male transponders had masculinized brains, while male-to-female transgenders had brains that were somewhat feminized.

There’s some science indicating that this isn’t just some delusion.

With that evidence in hand, then the question becomes “how do we reach the best possible outcome”? Obviously, if someone has the brain of the opposite sex, they’re not going to achieve a happy life just through some talk therapy.

I’ll admit that one long-standing reservation I had to the claims of transgenders was that their explanation of being trapped in the “wrong” sex strongly resembled late nineteenth-century explanations for homosexuality, now long discarded. Of course, those early sex researchers may have been examining people whom we today would call transgender instead of gay.

There seems to be a biological aspect to gender identity, just as there seems to be a biological aspect to sexuality, neither of which is comforting news to those who think that transgender and gay people have chosen not to conform.

#7 Comment By Mitch On August 21, 2014 @ 5:07 pm

It very well may be that in allowing gender reassignment surgery, we are complicit in people doing harm to themselves. However, it is not clear that being transgender is like being schizophrenic or having an obsessive compulsion to cut oneself.

John I appreciate your openness in thinking about this issue in as objective a fashion as possible. It actually is helpful, and moreso even than people that just swallow the idea wholesale and are happy to provide hormones and surgery to just about anyone who asks. Forgive my glibness, but I too am uncomfortable about the idea of surgically and hormonally altering a healthy body. It is certainly not something to be done lightly, and not if it can not clearly be shown to result in improvement in quality of life. My experience, and from what I have read anecdotaly and from scientific studies, is that the “regret rate” is extremely low. For myself, the hormones and limited surgery I’ve had has immeasurably improved my quality of life and ability to function in the world. I know I’m not alone in this. I have struggled for years over whether to get “lower” surgery, and have fairly recently decided to move forward with it. Would I commit suicide without it? Don’t think so, but is that really the standard to measure against? I know too many guys that have reported a feeling of completeness and wholeness, and, perhaps oddly, bodily integrity after getting the surgery. My 91-year-old grandmother gets it. When I told her my plans she said something like “well, I would think so” and wondered why it’s taken so long.

If I’m deluded about myself, well then I’ve been consistently deluded for about 43 years!

#8 Comment By John On August 21, 2014 @ 9:19 pm

Mitch,

Those who keep posting the Monty Python bit are only tempting me to post the “Every Sperm is Sacred” song whenever the topic turns to the assumed “purpose” if sex.

It works both ways. 🙂

#9 Comment By John On August 21, 2014 @ 9:26 pm

Carlo,

I don’t think respecting the right of a transgendered person undergo reassignment therapy does the society that much damage. Transgendered people can function in society without hurting people, so comparing the decision to, I guess from your perspective, “humor” them by acknowledging their gender to the need to self medicate a schizophrenic seems far-fetched.

#10 Comment By John On August 21, 2014 @ 9:30 pm

Dominick1962,

We seem to be in agreement on the bathroom issue but there is a nice way of telling the pre-op transgendered they should use a private restroom and a not-so-nice way if saying it.

There is no need to be mean or unkind towards them. We don’t have to deal with the issues they have to go through so there is no need to be so judgmental about it.

#11 Comment By Erin Manning On August 21, 2014 @ 9:54 pm

Mitch, clearly some people do regret transitioning:

[6]

If gender is something that can be changed from the “wrong” birth gender to the “right” desired gender, why would so many people be unhappy enough after the change to want to go back?

#12 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 21, 2014 @ 11:31 pm

Mitch, you are saying enough in a sufficiently thoughtful and rational way, and speaking in part on a subject about which you are the world’s only expert (what it means to be you and how you respond) that I don’t want to get into a point for point argument. I will quibble on one point.

To refer to a trans-sexual condition as an unfortunate ambiguity is not a euphemism for freak. It is a medically and biologically accurate statement. You have a condition that is biologically not normative, but your life is 100 percent for you. It would be good if nobody ever had this conflict, but those who do have to grapple with it, and the rest of us should try to be helpful, without reorienting the entire fabric of society around catering to it.

Something is out of alignment — if it were not so, there would be nothing to talk about. Likewise, if there were not loud narcissists demanding to be the center of the universe, you’d have a lot less trouble making perfectly valid points about how you choose to resolve the conflict.

Of course, many of the bitterly debated points of this nature would not exist if

(a) we did not have deeply entrenched habits of wearing clothes, and,

(b) a well developed sense of privacy about excretory functions.

I mean, if it were all out in the open, what would there be to hide, or demand access to?

#13 Comment By Mitch On August 22, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

Siarlys, with all due respect, “unfortunate ambiguity” is not a medical and biologically accurate statement. “Unfortunate” is a value judgement. Certainly, transgender is not normal. Whether you choose to view something that is not normal as “unfortunate” is up to you. For myself, it is not helpful for me to view my situation as “unfortunate.” Then, I could feel sorry for myself, and others can feel sorry for me, but that doesn’t help me. I just say it is what it is. Similar to the Down’s Syndrome children discussed in other threads. If you had a DS child or grandchild, you might choose to view it as unfortunate, or you might as some others do, choose to view it as an opportunity and a blessing. I believe God made me this way, and that in itself has its own purpose and value. For example, I think that I understand the perspectives of both men and women in a way that non-trans do not.

I wholly agree that transpeople can be easily accommodated in this culture without reorienting the fabric of society. I also recognize that there is a loud and aggressive faction of transactivists that want to do just that. I don’t believe they are anywhere near the majority, they are just the loudest.

Regarding the bathroom issue: When I say it’s overhyped I mean that by and large it is simply not an issue – at all. In the US at least, there is plenty of privacy in both men’s and women’s bathrooms when the people using them act according to the social norms for each (social norms being different in men’s and women’s room). I’ve been using the men’s room for 15 years and nobody’s privacy, including mine, has ever been impinged upon. I’ve worked at 2 large corporations and a gov’t agency and neither place has a “third” bathroom. I’m sorry, but I have the “right” to use the bathroom at work like everybody else does. Should each of these organizations have been forced to build a special bathroom just for little ol’ me? That’s ridiculous, right?

Again, saying this is not to deny that there aren’t weirdos who push things wayyyy too far. Colleen Francis is top of mind here: [7]

This example is why I would be uncomfortable with a legal entitlement to use a bathroom of the opposite sex, because its just too hard to delineate for whom and in what circumstances it is and isn’t ok. But I think that if people could just relax and recognize when someone is behaving appropriately and extend an attitude of charity, the need for laws and litigation diminishes significantly. And then the obnoxious outliers can be dealt with fairly easily. Personally, I’d be happy to see Colleen Francis either in jail or a psychiatric institution.

Erin: Thanks for the link to that website. I had not seen it before and am interested in reading it further. My initial reaction, though, is that often people who made a choice that was not right for them – a choice that had enormous consequences – then becomes absolutely certain that it isn’t right for anybody else. I can, however, believe that there are significant numbers of people who transitioned in the last few years who regret it. I have felt that the trans phenomenon has become a bit trendy and have seen people transition that I have wondered how necessary it is. On the one hand, greater acceptance of transgendered as made a huge positive difference in my life in so many ways, and at the same time I think hormones and surgeries are being prescribed too freely and without enough evaluation. Just my opinion, but I actually really don’t know much. I’m not all that plugged in, but I know quite a few people who have had surgery and no regrets at all, and a significant increase in well-being.

John: My absolute favorite MP skit of all time! I imagine even most Catholics find it pretty funny 🙂

#14 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 22, 2014 @ 3:47 pm

Well Mitch, I do view Down’s Syndrome as unfortunate. Seriously, is it something you would WISH on a child? Rod had a post at the old Beliefnet site about whether, if you could cure DS in utero, would you do so? Not abort, cure. I would think that a no-brainer.

However, there is a lobby that had built up a head of steam over the notion that DS is just a loveable difference. The reason, of course, is to provide a foundation for telling women NOT to abort, but the logic and the inertia have carried some people to the point of advocating that there SHOULD BE people in the world who have DS, that a child has a RIGHT to be born with DS. (Now THAT is cruelty to children, and to the adults they will become.)

Wouldn’t it be more fortunate if you had been born either a man, or a woman, without the split you refer to as between sex and gender? (I could quibble over definitions, but no need to get into that).

I similarly dispute the notion that deaf people are just different, not missing anything. They are missing something. Almost everyone else in the world perceives certain phenomena and stimuli that deaf people do not. My father is GOING deaf, and because he knows what he is missing, he finds it unfortunate. Someone born that way may be better able to cope, but there is nothing GOOD about being born minus one sense.

We each have to play the cards we are dealt, and nobody should be considered an inferior person because of they way we were born. But your experience has been, by your own account, somewhat painful and difficult at times. If you were simply saying, don’t focus or dwell on the transitional choices I have to make, just let me live my life and relate to me as a human being, there’d be nothing more to talk about. But whatever you are dealing with, its not a gift, its a struggle. I wish you well in living your life with, through, in spite of, or moving beyond it.

#15 Comment By YoungWoman On August 23, 2014 @ 9:53 am

Change name back to “fund texas women” do not participate in the erasure of women just because of political correctness. Women get abortions, not people. Yes, women are people but be specific, women get abortions. The change of name is ridiculous and a huge disrespect to women. It seems like we are going back to the 1920’s and everything fought for by women is being taken away again by men.

#16 Comment By Mitch On August 23, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

Siarlys, I do of course see your point. I wouldn’t choose DS or being trans, nor wish it on anyone.

If you were simply saying, don’t focus or dwell on the transitional choices I have to make, just let me live my life and relate to me as a human being, there’d be nothing more to talk about.

I don’t think I (nor most transpeople) are really saying much more than that, when it comes right down to it.

But whatever you are dealing with, its not a gift, its a struggle.

Can it not be both? Isn’t life itself both a gift and a struggle – no matter who you are or what your circumstance? I generally don’t consider myself more unfortunate than “normal” people. Yes, I struggle and suffer in a particular way that most others don’t. But I see that others suffer – others that seemingly “have it all” – struggle and suffer in ways that I don’t, and in ways that I don’t wish for.

This conversation brings to mind a Chinese folktale:

A man who lived on the northern frontier of China was skilled in interpreting events. One day, for no reason, his horse ran away to the nomads across the border. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

Some months later his horse returned, bringing a splendid nomad stallion. Everyone congratulated him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a disaster?” Their household was richer by a fine horse, which his son loved to ride. One day he fell and broke his hip. Everyone tried to console him, but his father said, “What makes you so sure this isn’t a blessing?”

A year later the nomads came in force across the border, and every able-bodied man took his bow and went into battle. The Chinese frontiersmen lost nine of every ten men. Only because the son was lame did the father and son survive to take care of each other. Truly, blessing turns to disaster, and disaster to blessing: the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.

I appreciate that you are a man of goodwill and respect the way you see the world. I just offer this as another possibility. I wish you well in your life and struggles as well.

#17 Comment By Mitch On August 23, 2014 @ 4:03 pm

I realize my last comments may come off as seeming that I think that way all the time, and whatnot. I don’t, and have the habit as much as anyone of seeing others’ situations as unfortunate or sad. I did exactly that earlier in this thread, and do it all the time. For myself, it’s a habit of mind, but not an ideal one because it serves to create distance and separation and does nothing for furthering compassion and love. “Objectively true” or not.

#18 Comment By Canaan On October 29, 2014 @ 11:37 am

The erosion of women everywhere continues. Liberals are coattailing these guilt-trip shenanigans and we are now expected to accept the every demand of the Most Oppressed Group (transgender, of course!).

Unbelievable to think that there are places right now where you can change the biological sex that appears on your documentation by simply requesting it.

No longer can you speak about women’s issues or women’s rights because suddenly you are considered “bigoted” because don’t you know that women can have prostates and penises and men can have uteri and vaginas? This same group of people will rebuff the biological reality of what it means to be a woman (adult human female) or a man (adult human male).

What a horrible state of affairs.