We should not be considered transgender, or transexual or transvestites. These terms only mean anything with reference to the perpetuation of the gender binary. The fact that some men wear makeup or dresses or have long hair or are nurturing or any of the other things that our society currently associates with women should be entirely unremarkable. If we expand the bandwidth of what it is to be a man we don’t need these terms and certainly don’t need to claim to be women.
trans is the interpretation and implication that the illness that is body dysphoria is a sign of someone’s being the other sex and that the patient can only be helped with medical transition. I reject it on that basis and thus prefer simply “body dysphoria”.
A Guy Called Helen
Thank you. I’ve been thinking about this since you replied. I think I’m a victim of having lived in our gendered society and this has resulted initially in “gender dysphoria” as a rejection of masculinity and misogyny. This in turn led to body dysphoria as my body came to represent the masculinity and culture that I reject. I don’t believe that it’s a medical illness but more a psychological reaction to trying to fit a square peg in a round hole. In a society where our behaviours and expression aren’t policed based on binary gender expectations I don’t think trans would exist and there would be no need for medicalised transition. As it stands though, I think I’m too damaged and medicalised transition has helped me immeasurably.
Thank you for replying. I really appreciate your presence on my dash.
Yes, I view transition not as the ideal way to deal with it, but it is effective for many in this kind of society. And I will accept and respect it as one way of coping. The issue starts for me where the entitlement comes in, but you know of that.
I have a little question for you as someone who thinks that dysphoria has its roots in socialization…I’ve been trying to make up my mind about kids who suffer from body dysphoria, starting to realise it at very young ages. I’ve read lots about incongruous body maps and brain differences (described as a way of brain sex, but I rather interpret it as seeing a mental dysfunction in brain scans like one can see, let’s say, illnesses like depression) and it seems like some people really are born with body dysphoria.
I’d really like to know your thoughts on this.
Also, thank you for keeping this blog up, it’s really helpful for me and many others! 🙂
A Guy Called Helen
Thank you so much for your kind words.
That’s such a great question and my honest answer is that I don’t know. It’s very difficult because there is so much appropriation and obfuscation from the transgenderists.
I suspect (but don’t know) that Blanchard was actually on the right lines when he first described autogynephilia. He postulated that there are a small percentage of transexuals that have been dysphoric from a very young age, but for most the gender performance starts in puberty, often with a sexual component, and dysphoria accumulates over time with the sexual component diminishing and being replaced with a core identity.
(For the record I think that Blanchard’s analysis was largely right, but incomplete and over simplified but that’s a whole other conversation)
I think that many of the second group appropriate the experiences of the first group to the extent that the first group have been lost (in turn I think that non-dysphoric transgenderists have appropriated the second group). I think the reasons for this appropriation of the first group are multiple and include 1) a need to fit the Harry Benjamin narrative in order to gain access to treatment (and this self deceipt becomes a persons reality); 2) a need to not feel pathologised; 3) a denial of the sexual component as this is interpreted as perverse (which is particularly the problem and IMHO needs to be destigmatised if we are to have honest interactions about this).
So in answer to your question, yes I think that some children do seem to suffer from body dysphoria from a very young age and this *might* not be a result of socialisation.
What we are seeing now though is some people transing their kids. They are so bought into the gender binary that they see perfectly natural gender non-conformity as evidence that their children are actually the other sex. This also contributes to the erasure of the genuine cases.