Thinking Outside the Gender Box

Originally posted on christinebenvenuto:

Sheila Jeffreys, a professor of feminist politics at the University of Melbourne, offers an interesting and thought-provoking analysis of transgender issues in a new book, Gender Hurts (Routledge, 2014). Depending upon your point of view, her ideas may offend or may enter the discussion like a breath of fresh air. Reading the book, what I found myself wishing was that a discussion was really happening – that a free and open exchange of ideas and information on all the issues touched upon in this book was possible. That it isn’t – that there are those violently opposed to free speech for for anyone who doesn’t agree with them in this arena – isn’t lost on Jeffreys.

The book traces the short history of the transgender rights movement, beginning with the word and concept of “gender” itself. Once upon a time offered as a replacement for “sex roles” by feminists who…

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Paul McHugh (USA)

Originally posted on Gender Identity Watch:

The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed written by Dr. Paul McHugh on transgenderism. As expected, trans advocates immediately attacked the Wall Street Journal for publishing it.  McHugh is wildly reviled by trans activists. The op ed appears in its entirety below.

The government and media alliance advancing the transgender cause has gone into overdrive in recent weeks. On May 30, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services review board ruled that Medicare can pay for the “reassignment” surgery sought by the transgendered—those who say that they don’t identify with their biological sex. Earlier last month Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that he was “open” to lifting a ban on transgender individuals serving in the military. Time magazine, seeing the trend, ran a cover story for its June 9 issue called “The Transgender Tipping Point: America’s next civil rights frontier.”

Yet policy makers and…

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Forced pediatric transsexualism

Two nice people were ignorantly gushing on Facebook about how wonderful it is that a little 5 year old girl is being forced into a life of medicalized transsexualism.  A demonic pair of attention-seeking San Diego real estate agents has offered their daughter up in sacrifice to the pediatric transsexualism industry. I made the following comment:

FacebookI had not yet had my morning tea when I wrote this. I cribbed extensively from several excellent articles  on GenderTrender in preparing my comment. Before the “gender identity” fad, little girls not conforming to patriarchal “femininity” might have been called “tomboys,” and many would likely have grown up to be butch lesbians. Now they are being forced into a life of medicalized transsexualism.

I’m not saying that it’s “good” to be hearing-impaired, but it seems sort of telling that the parents already had their daughter surgically kitted out with a hearing aid at age 12 months, the earliest possible time allowed in current medical practice. She has likely already had additional surgeries (to replace and “upgrade” the hearing aid) as she’s grown, and will probably continue to have them. Was her hearing really that poor at 12 months? In view of their subsequent actions, I get a sense from these parents of “Munchausen syndrome by proxy.” But this is just my speculation.

The ‘treatment’ for non-gender conforming girls/boys is child abuse

Originally posted on Shack Diaries:

In the UK any child not conforming to gender stereotypes may be diagnosed as having gender dysphoria – defined by the NHS as:

“a condition in which a person feels there is a mis-match between their biological sex and their gender identity.”

The age at which treatment can start for this ‘condition’ was lowered in 2011 from 16 to 12 years old.

The Gender Identity Service at the NHS Tavistock and Portman clinic deals with all cases of such treatment for those under the age of 18. Treatment involves hormone blocking injections in order for the patient to basically undergo the process of stopping puberty, as pre-stage to a possible ‘sex change’. The drugs used are also potenially very dangerous, previously used in cases of extreme cancer treatment for example.
Children as young as 3 years  (!) have been treated at the clinic and the number of referrals has tripled…

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Have fun, boys

Originally posted on Hypotaxis:

Born in the wrong body” reads Jezebel’s synopsis of Boys Don’t Cry.

And so Teena Brandon, a gender non-conforming lesbian, has been claimed by the Transactivists.

Nowhere in Teena Brandon’s history did she identify as “trans” or as “in the wrong body.” Medical professionals and trans activists are all too eager to claim her as trans/wrong bodied. It fits their narrative nicely.

I’m sorry to inform y’all, but there is no “wrong body.” You are born into the body you are born into – male or female, no matter. Your body is perfectly fine. Your male body, your female body is beautiful. Your body is not a theory or a construct. Your body is not an abstraction. Your body is a biologically determined, finite, bit of flesh – enjoy that shit – you’re gonna be dead soon.

If your male body wants to wear glittery capes and eyeliner, that’s…

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Transgender = commodity fetishism

Excerpt of an article from 1982.

Dwight B. Billings and Thomas Urban. The Socio-Medical Construction of Transsexualism: An Interpretation and Critique. Social Problems, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Feb., 1982), pp. 266-282

Forms of illness are always more than biological disease; they are also metaphors, bearing existential, moral and social meanings (Sontag, 1978). According to Taussig (1980:3), ‘the signs and symptoms of disease, as much as the technologies of healing, are not “things-in-themselves”, are not only biological and physical, but are also signs of social relations disguised as natural things, concealing their roots in human reciprocity’. Even with negotiated illnesses which often lack a basis in biology, the reified disease language of natural science obscures their social origins (Holzner and Marx,1979:137). Disease-talk is about things, not social interaction. Patients whose subjective histories are subsumed under the unifying rhetoric of transsexualism win operations but no language adequate to express the disparate and diverse desires which lead them to body mutilation. These remain private, inchoate, unspeakable.

Critical theorists describe the ideal therapy situation as a paradigm of non-distorted communication (Habermas, 1968:214). Rather than ‘treat human beings as the quasi-natural objects of description’, the goal of communication is patients’ self-reflection and emancipation from the reified pseudo-language of neurotic symptoms (Apel, 1977:310).

The real task of therapy calls for an archaeology of the implicit in such a way that the processes by which social relations are mapped into diseases are brought to light, de-reified, and in doing so liberate the potential for dealing with antagonistic contradictions and breaking the chains of oppression. (Taussig, 1980:7)


According to this view, therapy promises either to provide patients with sufficient self-understanding to criticise society and struggle politically against the crippling effects of social institutions or to provide new fetishes and easily commodifiable solutions to personal troubles (Kovel,1976–7). Transsexual therapy, legitimised by the terminology of disease, pushes patients towards an alluring world of artificial vaginas and penises rather than towards self-understanding and sexual politics. Sexual fulfillment and gender-role comfort are portrayed as commodities, available through medicine. Just as mass consumer culture, whose values are illusive, offers commodities whose ‘staged appearance’ are removed from the mundane world of their production (Schneider, 1975:213), surgically constructed vaginas are abstracted from the pain and trauma of operating rooms and recovery wards. Critical theorists claim that the illusions of consumerism can be as pathological for individuals as the neuroses and psychoses symptomatic of the earlier period of capitalist industrial production (Lasch, 1978).Today, in late-capitalist consumer culture, frenzied rituals of buying contradict the puritanical self-denial characteristic of the nineteenth century. We express our identity as much by the things we buy as the work we do. Commodities promise escape from alienation, and the fulfilment of our needs. Critics compare the temporary solace of consumer spending with the transitory euphoria of a drug-induced trance (Schneider, 1975:222).Similarly, transsexuals are in danger of becoming surgical junkies as they strive for an idealised sexuality via surgical commodities. This is what physicians refer to as a ‘poly-surgical attitude’ among post-operative patients (Pauly, 1969a). Male-to-female patients especially are caught up in an escalating series of cosmetic operations—including genital amputation—to more closely approximate ideal female form. They routinely demand breast implants and operations to reduce the size of the Adam’s apple. Edgerton (1974) reports that 30 per cent of his patients also sought rhinoplasty (nose reconstruction); others demand injections of Teflon to modulate vocal pitch and silicon to alter the contours of face, lips, hips and thighs. Surgeons reduce the thickness of ankles and calves and shorten limbs. In their desperation to pass, male-to-female patients try to effect a commodified image of femininity seen in television advertising. In so doing, many patients are themselves transformed into commodities, resorting to prostitution to pay their medical bills.

While it is difficult to assess the ultimate worth of consumer products, we can try to discern the false promises implicit in their appeal. In the absence of adequate follow-up research, it is impossible to assess the lasting value of sex-change surgery, though recent studies suggest an almost invariable erosion of the transsexual fantasy following an initial ‘phase of elation’ lasting two to five years after surgery (Meyer and Hoopes, 1974). Johns Hopkins University physicians stopped performing sex-change operations in 1979 on the grounds that the patients they operated on were no better off than a sample of transsexual patients who received psychotherapy but not surgery (Meyer and Reter, 1979). Other prominent clinics, however, continue to perform surgery (Hunt and Hampson, 1980).The following excerpt from a letter written by one transsexual who underwent surgery expresses the disappointment and anguish of some patients:

No surgery can possibly produce anything that resembles a female vagina. The operation is a theft. [The surgically remodelled tissue] is nothing but an open wound. It needs dilation to keep it open and if dilated too much become useless for intercourse. Such an open wound lacks protective membranes and bleeds under pressure… Apiece of phallus with an open wound below and a ring of scrotum hanging is all it is…Who calls that an artificial vagina is nothing but a bandit looking for ignorant and credulous people to exploit them. (quoted in Socarides, 1975:130)

The evidence suggests that Meyer and Hoopes were correct when they wrote that, in a thousand subtle ways, the reassignee has the bitter experience that he is not—and never will be—a real girl but is, at best, a convincing simulated female. Such an adjustment cannot compensate for the tragedy of having lost all chance to be male and of having, in the final analysis, no way to be really female.(Meyer and Hoopes, 1974:450)

Taussig (1980:7) shows that ‘behind every disease theory in our society lurks an organising realm of moral concerns’. In this paper we have examined both physicians’ and patients’ motives for sex-change surgery. We conclude that at the level of ideology, sex-change surgery not only reflects and extends late-capitalist logics of reification and commodification, but simultaneously plays an implicit role in contemporary sexual politics. The recognition that, in this day and age, the fulfilment of human desires is less a matter of public discussion than a technical accomplishment of social administration (Habermas, 1973:253) applies equally to sex-changes. Medicine brushes aside the politics of gender to welcome suffering patients —many fleeing harassment for sexual deviance—into pseudo-tolerant gender identity clinics. Yet these clinics are implicitly political and, indirectly, intolerant. With reproduction and sexual functioning falling under medical jurisdiction, physicians have played crucial roles in maintaining gender organisation (Ehrenreich and English, 1973). In providing a rite of passage between sexual identities, sex-change surgery implicitly reaffirms traditional male and female roles. Despite the mute testimony of confused and ambivalent patients to the range of gender experience, individuals unable or unwilling to confirm to the sex-roles ascribed to them at birth are carved up on the operating table to gain acceptance to the opposite sex-role.

Critical theorists contend that, in the United States, hegemonic ideology absorbs and domesticates conflicting definitions of reality (Gitlin, 1979:263). But rather than support contemporary movements aimed at reorganizing gender and parenting roles and repudiating the either/or logic of gender development (Chodorow, 1978:1979; Ehrensaft, 1980), sex-change proponents support sex-reassignment surgery.


Toward an End to Appropriation of Indigenous “Two Spirit” People in Trans Politics: the Relationship Between Third Gender Roles and Patriarchy

Originally posted on culturallyboundgender:

When I say that transgenderism is culture bound, don’t get me wrong: I think every gender role and presentation is, in fact, dependent on culture.  The entire idea of gender, the roles that are developed and called “gender,” are based on the sex binary.  That’s why almost always, when you see gender roles, even if there are more than two, you can bet money that it’s just a matter of reclassifying people who don’t fit into a culture’s otherwise rigidly defined sex roles.

Which brings us to the indigenous people of North America.

I have a special kind of rage for any white person who claims to identify as a “Two Spirit” person.  It’s like wearing a hipster headdress: it proclaims loud and clear that you’re a white person who likes to appropriate American Indian culture while having little or nothing to do with the culture you’re appropriating.


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