Thursday, November 7, 2013

From The Huffington Post - Transgender Education: Teaching the Teachers

There are a lot of great points in this short article. The main thing that struck me was the authors statement that she didn't go through a transition so much as she stopped pretending to be something she was not. Anyway, if you've read my blog at all you know that I talk a bit about the topic. I also agree with Ms. Mott has some other great points about how we kind of undermine our own cause by how we frame things... Have a read and let me know what you think.

Read the article here: Transgender Education: Teaching the Teachers


Anonymous said...

Please forgive me for being blunt. This Mott character is delusional. He thinks he is a woman, so the rest of us must suspend reality in order to enable this poor fool's delusion. Really? I don't think so.

Halle said...

Her description of a gender continuum is important. It is the polarization of gender that creates a crisis here. We see woman who express a masculine side quite freely and without censure. When a man expresses a feminine side the reaction is very different, almost as though they had somehow insulted every man in the room. This form of sexism is perhaps the real reason Mott and so many of us find therapy necessary.

Katherine said...

Rather than just deleting this comment I think I will take the bait... Why are you here? Why are you reading this blog if you fundamentally disagree with oh... 100% of the scientific and medical community that states gender dysphoria is real? Let me be blunt... Your concept of self as a man or woman is nothing more than what you believe to be true as well. Is your sense of self a delusion? I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you don't think so because you were born with whatever sexual organ you have. ANyway, rather then continue this circular argument I respectfully ask that if you want to understand this issue ask without being hurtful or argumentative. If you rather be hurtful than your comments will be deleted.

Katherine said...

Ever read Whipping girl? Awesome book that talks about this.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for not deleting my comment and having the courage to engage in what could easily evolve into a constructive dialogue.

Before I respond to your very valid queries, let me first respond to what appear to be some misconceptions on your part as to the motivations behind my comment. I can assure you that my intent was not to be hurtful, but rather to express an opinion. Also, I am not in any way denying the reality of gender dysphoria. That it exists in many troubled individuals, is empirically obvious from the existence of so many blogs on the subject.

Another misconception seemingly implied by Halle's comment, is that I disagree with or deny the concept of a gender continuum, although I am not so sure that women are "allowed to express in a masculine manner without censure". I admit that since WW II, our roles in society have changed significantly, but I cannot see that as the same as men pretending to be, or acting/dressing like women and demanding that they be accepted as such.

So now that I hopefully have clarified my thinking on this, let me respectfully ask you this question, since it was you that brought this up in this following statement, which I will quote:

"Your concept of self as a man or woman is nothing more than what you believe to be true as well. Is your sense of self a delusion?"

Might I assume that your first sentence in this quote is your premise? If so, then for the sake of discussion, I will agree with you that while this might, or might not be true, (that I believe myself to be a man or woman), it does not follow that just because I believe something to be true makes it, in reality, true. In other words, just because I might believe in the Tooth Fairy, (I do not), does not mean that the Tooth Fairy exists.

If I insist that the Tooth Fairy does in fact exist, and insist/demand that others accept my belief as factual reality, I might very well meet the definition of delusional.

Reading, M. Mott's blog post is what gave evidence to my conclusion that he is sadly delusional.

Katherine said...

The tooth fairy analogy is something we hear often (along with queen of France, a rocket scientist, etc.). Might I point out that these things are all concrete definitions with very strict criteria. Additionally, I 100% agree that simply saying you are something does not in any way make it so. I cannot despite anyone's instance to the contrary say I am a man and it is suddenly going to happen (trust me, I tried that for 31 years). What this type of analogy fails to take into account is that gender is not something akin to a specific person, place or thing. It is not even a this or that construct.

Think about it for a second. What really makes you a man or a woman? Really think hard... the knee jerk response is genitals but that is bull. If a man looses his genitals in an accident he is still a man. If a woman has a hysterectomy she is still a woman. Is it a sense of being masculine or feminine? Nope, I know some very feminine straight men who are definitely NOT women... so what is it?

The reality is that gender is a separate abstract part of our identity that is something we (everyone) just knows. We don't think about it, it is just like every other part of our sense of self, we know it to be true because it is who we are.

Lets go back to your analogy of being delusional. If I where to say I was the queen of France I would obviously be delusional (unless I was in face the queen of France) as being French royalty is easily defined. Either you are a member of this group or you are not. Now gender not like this. Rather then being a concrete construct, it is a complex sense of self that is constructed in ones own reality by culture, biology, genetics, and all kinds of outside and inside forces. Also, many cultures have vastly different ideas on gender identities and more than a few have more then just the two we are accustom to here in the west (Thai culture and some native americans have 3 genders). I understand we have 2 here in the west but my point is to show it is not in fact this black and white set in stone from birth dichotomy that some people seem to think it is.

So what am I getting at? Well to say I am a woman despite being born will male genitals is not such a far fetched and crazy idea if you can accept the reality that gender is not tied to your physical self. Also, if we suspend the necessity to police others sense of self what matter does it make anyway? Who cares if I simply want to be a woman today and a man tomorrow (not remotely suggesting I do but the point is valid).

Maybe that is the frustration that many trans men and women feel when confronted with this argument. Despite the length sometimes exhausting explanation about gender and what it is and what it isn't... Maybe it is just the fact that the argument is simply silly. Why do people feel the need to tell us who we are? It would be like me looking at someone who was Christian and saying, no, you were born to Jewish parents in New Jersey so you are Jewish. Just because you go to church and say you believe in Jesus doesn't change the fact that you have Jewish blood running through your veins. That... that right there is how ridiculous the "Insisting you are the tooth fairy doesn't make it so" argument sounds.

In the end people will say the difference is that people like me need to prove our point to justify others accepting us into society at large. That we want society to change to accept us and that is a problem... And well to a point that is true. I hope that through civil conversation and discussion that people will slowly come to see that we don't want to destroy the world or bring society to its knees. We just want to live our lives as normal as possible without the treat of violence and discrimination based on nothing more then who we are as people. hell, all I want to do is put on my jeans and t-shirt and not have to worry about getting my ass kicked cause I happen to see myself as something someone else disagree with *gasp*.

Anonymous said...

Wow! That was quite the response and quite overwhelming at that. It seems I have awakened a sleeping giant by having been so bold as to offer an opinion on the relationship between someone's heartfelt beliefs and reality. Now it seems you are moving this discussion into a definition of reality. Can we at least agree that tooth fairies do not exist, or must we enter into that endless, (circular) argument as to whether or not they "exist in the minds of children", or within the realm of fantasy and the historic lore or "some" cultures?

Let us try to move on to just one of the pillars of you trans* construct, that "gender is not something akin to a specific person, place or thing. It is not even a this or that construct". OK...If that is what it is not, then what is it? And how does that relate to and individuals actual sex? Remember, I agree that gender is, or can be, fluid. I also agree that you should be able to put on your jeans and T-shirt and not get beat up because you see yourself as something that others do not. However, while I might agree with your right to go about your business as you desire, I would caution that stepping beyond the locally accepted standards of behavior, can be hazardous to your health and well-being. Think how your wearing a mini-skirt would go over in Riyadh, Tehran, or just about anywhere for that matter.

Katherine said...

If you are under the impression I am trying to define reality that is not the case, although that is a very fun topic to debate :) And I do agree that the tooth fairy is fictional but to answer your question, gender has no relationship to sex. They are correlative not causative. That is my point. In the case of gender, one's belief is reality. That is how gender works, instead of say it is part of who we are maybe it is best to say its is part of our self concept. I guess the thing that is hard for non-trans people to understand is you cannot change one's gender. People will point ask "isn't that what we are doing?". Absolutely not. when we come out we aren't changing our gender, we are refusing to pretend something we have most likely always rejected. i was told I was a man from the time I was young. The doctor said it when I came out and my family raised me that way. That doesn't make it true. Only I know who I am and when I was 31 I decided I had had enough and I needed to stop pretending. I knew that if I didn't in all likelihood I would be dead and this conversation would not be happening.

Sure some people can hide it to some extent but many (myself included) cannot. You cannot just tell a trans man or woman to just accept the fact that they are not living in reality and they should accept their body as is. There is a reason 47% of trans people have attempted suicide. Many people want desperately to fit in and be "normal". You think I would wish this life on anyone? Think for a second what it would be life knowing you could never be a normal part of a society you love?

Also, when I was talking about other cultures I wasn't talking about historic lore and fantasy. Thailand's, kathoeys, India's Hijra, and the Lakota's Winkte are all very real and modern examples of cultural acceptance of a thrid gender.

But back to your point and as I stated above you cannot change one's gender. It is like asking someone to rewrite their entire personality. It is a fundamental part of our self concept and not it the I'm the tooth fairy sense. Delusion implies one does not understand or accept reality. I understand my gender and my physical sex are not in alignment. The dysphoria in gender dysphoria come from the very real knowledge that who I am does not fit what I am. It is only compounded with the knowledge that I can expect a lifetime of rejection because of it. This is all why the only effective treatment recognized by the medical and scientific community is transition.

Knowing that what else are trans men and women supposed to do given they have two options: transition and risk discrimination but also have the opportunity to live a life as close to normal as possible or attempt to live a lie to appease society at large and risk the very real likelihood of a lifetime of debilitating depression, self harm, drug addiction or worse?

Anonymous said...

Again your response is a bit overwhelming in that you seem unable or unwilling to deal with a single issue, instead choosing to throw a plethora of presumptive dictates into the mix and then build those into to some seemingly rational social construct. I understand your motivation, I think, but perhaps you could clarify. Is your goal an acceptance of people like yourself or Mott as some third gender as they have in some cultures?

I must apologize for not being able to just accept many of your unsubstantiated and contradictory dictates. For example, this following series of statements are so contradictory as to defy reason...." gender has no relationship to sex..." How can you say that? Gender is how the sexes are differentiated beyond the obvious physical differences.

"....They are correlative not causative." While this sentence is true on its own, it is a direct contradiction to your preceding statement that, "gender has no relationship to sex."

Are you beginning to see my difficulty? While you insist that you are not re-defining reality, you clearly state that, "In the case of gender, one's belief is reality." Is this not a statement that defines, or re-defines, reality?

Also, you seem to forget that I am not denying the existence of Gender Dysphoria. I just object to having people tell me what is fact and what is delusional fiction. Just because you or others might believe that you are female, when in fact you are male, does that require that I accept your belief? If it does, then who determines what is fact and what is fiction? Am I not entitled to my own understanding based on what I perceive to be the facts/

That is my point. In the case of gender, one's belief is reality. That is how gender works, instead of say it is part of who we are maybe it is best to say its is part of our self concept"

Katherine said...

I am not sure I follow you. The definition of correlative is when two things that appear to be related but are not. For instance, the rise in the rate of autism is in lock step with the increase sales of organic foods. Despite this correlation there is absolutely no evidence that either are related to each other... The relationship is coincidental. So when I say "....They are correlative not causative." I am simply validating the fact that "gender has no relationship to sex" not contradicting it. I want to also clarify that there are links between ones sense of gender and physical body but one is not dependent on the other. So you understand my confusion.

As for your question about whether I want to be seen as a third gender, I for one do not want to be recognized as nothing but what I am, a woman. There are some who would like to be seen as a third gender and that is their prerogative. My only reason for bringing up the fact that some cultures recognize a third gender was to illustrate that there is no real relationship between sex and gender.

What appears to be happening here is that you seem to want to through out science on the premise that you don't believe it can be true despite decades of scientific and medical literature to the contrary. I would pose this question to you: How can you accept the fact that gender dysphoria exists but say people who experience it are delusional? Unless you equate gender dysphoria to something akin to schizophrenia which it is nothing like clinically or symptomatically. Do you reject current scientific literature? If so on what grounds? If you do not reject mainstream research and science then on what grounds do you justify calling trans men and women delusional?

Anonymous said...

I have stated repeatedly that I do not deny the existence of GID. Your "science" recognizes it as a mental disorder characterized by many disparate yet predictable co-morbid disorders. The reality that the creators of the DSM V now define GID as Gender Identity Dysphoria instead of Gender Identity Disorder does not mean that this Dysphoria is all good and it is incumbent on society to now accept what was previously recognized as a mental disorder. The very fact that GID is still included in the DSM pretty much tells you that a significant psychological disorder exists.

If in fact you consider yourself a woman/female, how do you reconcile that with your male body. You see just because someone suffers from GID does not make them delusional. It is when they do not accept that they are suffering from a psychological disconnect akin to schizophrenia, and believe that despite the physical reality of their bodies, they are what they clearly are not, that they meet the definition of delusional.

Why not simply accept the reality they they have this peculiar disorder or disconnect between their birth sex and their personal desire to be seen as a member of the opposite sex, and then move on from there It is this forced, and frankly somewhat bizarre, premise that sex and gender are not related, that lies at the heart of your fallacious hypothesis. And just FYI, I do not consider the convoluted mental gymnastics of Serano as "mainstream research and science".

Anonymous said...

FYI: adjective: correlative

cor·rel·a·tive /kəˈrelətiv/

1. having a mutual relationship; corresponding.

"rights, whether moral or legal, can involve correlative duties"


(of words such as neither and nor ) corresponding to each other and regularly used together.

noun: correlative; plural noun: correlatives

1.a word or concept that has a mutual relationship with another word or concept.

"the child's right to education is a correlative of the parent's duty to send the child to school"

Anonymous said...

Some thoughts you might want to consider.

"My core identity is mine alone. My path is mine alone. I am just trying to live my life and I don’t want anyone thinking I am telling them how they should live theirs. A lot of gender variant people have suffered much in life and have worked with great dignity and diligence to find a way of living their lives in a way that is fulfilling for them. I do not want what I write appropriated by the forces of bigotry and hate as ammunition to be used against a group of people who, like everyone else, deserve respect and compassion. I will continue to fight those forces with passion. By the same token, I also hope that by talking openly about this subject it will help the trans community in doing a better job of understanding and respecting some of the views about gender held by those who are not part of the community. A non-transgendered person’s view of what gender identity means to them is often just as strong (or stronger) as someone who is trans and certainly no less valid. We can’t dictate what gender someone believes us to be – but we can assert our right to be treated with respect and the right to live our lives as we want to providing it does not infringe upon anyone else’s self-identity, safety or basic rights (and I do think that is something very real to watch out for.)

Katherine said...

Yes, that is the definitions on the word "correlative" and i should have been clear that I was talking about correlation statistics. Likewise I should have used the term in my discussion. I apologize for my being unclear.

n a statistical procedure used to determine the degree to which two (or more) variables vary together. Correlation does not suggest a cause-effect relationship but only the degree of parallelism or concomitance between the variables, the cause of which may be unknown. The
Pearson product-moment correlation (r) is the most frequently used, and this coefficient is used unless another is specified.

To simply look at two correlative variables (say sex and gender) and try and suggest a causative effect based on their rate of alignment would be a logical fallacy as one does not prove the other.

Katherine said...

You have a very peculiar and select interpretation of the information you are trying to use in your own defense. For one GID is NOT listed as a disorder in the DSM V. And as far as the argument that it was in the past? At one time homosexuality was included in the DSM... It homosexuality a delusion? As new information becomes available things change. That is how science works.

I think the biggest problem I have with your argument is you try to lump GID into a group of disorders that are VERY different. Basically your entire argument is based on the assumption that others dictate who we are and we should accept that as the way it is because that is the way it has always been. Also you seem to insist that people with GID are somehow misdiagnosed by the medical community at large. Also, rather then the standard proven treatment (which you seem to think is the root of the clinical problem), we should lump trans men and women into a group of "sick" people despite the fact that they present with a situation that is clinically and symptomatically dissimilar to the disorders you seem to think they resemble? I've asked in every response and you have not answered so please tell me what are your resources and what do they say is the proper treatment for people with GID? What research shows that trans men and women are sick delusional people who are trying to force their will on society? I respect your opinion but frankly you are either gravely misinformed or completely unwilling to understand what we are talking about. The following are true statements (not just my opinions):

- Gender is NOT psychically tied to sex, there is a correlation but that does not prove causation.
- Gender, unlike sex is culturally based.
- People sometimes identify as a gender that is not congruent with their biological sex. This happens in every culture and has happened for all of recorded history. How these people are seen and treated in society at large greatly depends on the culture they are part of.

P.S. I also do not think "Whipping Girl" is anything close to a reference for what it means to be transgender. It is an interesting book about our cultures anti-feminist mindset and how it is reflected in the anti-transgender mindset (particularly anti trans woman)... The research I am talking about is the APA and other groups that actually do science, not write books. This stuff isn't hard to find unless your only source of information is Fox news.

P.S.S Edited my comment to be more clear.