Wednesday, 27 August 2008

A Reading List concerning Transition

So you want to be a T-girl : an unvarnished look at the difficulties of transition - and after. I should add that I have some severe differences with many of the opinions expressed therein, and some of the statements of fact too.

Gender Identity Disorder . Written in 1999 by Sarah Becker MD. A good 1-page explanation.

Gender identity change in a transsexual: an exorcism.A 1977 paper (without follow up as to long term success) showing the desperate lengths some psychiatrists went to when dealing with Transsexuality. Yes, Exorcism is a word used literally. A Later paper used the more innocuous term "Spirit Release Therapy". Same thing though, Bell, Book, Candle, Ju Ju Masks, Pyramids... But at least not Electro-Convulsive Therapy, Aversion Therapy using nauseating drugs and pain-inducing devices, or destroying parts of the brain, all fashionable therapies at the time. I'm immensely glad I kept my mouth shut, and didn't fall into the hands of these people.

Rethinking Sexism : How Trans Women Challenge Feminism The world's largest annual women-only event excludes trans women, sparking a debate among feminists about sexism and privilege.

Can a marriage survive transition? A spouse's perspective. Some can. Usually not.

ETHICAL CONCERNS RELATED TO TREATING GENDER NONCONFORMITY IN CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE: LESSONS FROM THE FAMILY COURT OF AUSTRALIA The best single article on medicine, the law, and transsexuality I have yet found. Some people "get it". A must-read for medics, lawyers, and those with TS children.

And finally... an extact from correspondence with Dr Veronics Drantz, Geneticist
...I fit the standard gender binary model very well in terms of mind, it's just the body that's odd. The Gender Binary Model is not complete rubbish - it covers well over 70% of all people. It's like saying all road vehicles have 4 wheels, a good first approximation. It's only when you insist that motorbikes, semi-trailers, large trucks, bulldozers etc have to have 4 wheels too, or don't exist (or can't be allowed to exist), that you run into trouble. Reality gets in the way. And Unicycles cause complete cranial implosion.

OK, that's enough about me for the time being. I blogged my transition, and that is as good a record of what happened, as it happened, as you'll find.

What do I think of the Diamond-Money controversy? I have very few differences from Milton Diamond's views. He's right in the main, though I think he underestimates the importance of emotional response when it comes to gender identity formation.

I'll try to explain: rather than Gender Identity being a "Tabula Rasa" at birth (the Money theory), certain propensities, tendencies, embedded in the Lymbic system already exist long before birth. They dictate what is "uphill" and "downhill", the direction further development will TEND to go, all other things being equal, and the "steepness" is variable. The causation of these tendencies and their strength, is probably primarily hormonal, but gene sequences (rather than the very crude metric of chromosomes) may play a large part too. The directions may be towards what is stereotypically female, stereotypically male, or neither, as "male" and "female" only describe attributes most often found in standard 46xy bodies, and standard 46xx bodies, the "70%" with 4 wheels.

The child with such emotional pre-programming then discovers their gender identity through the "what am I most like" process described by Diamond, with appearance and social role playing some part, but not a big one.

A terribly crude approximation is that 1/3 will be boys, 1/3 will be girls, (their "steepness" is high), and 1/3 could function in either role, depending on circumstances. I feel so awful making such horribly imprecise statements, it's not as if "boy" and "girl" are single variables, they're vectors, not scalars, and not absolutes. BBngbbGb we'd call "Boy", gGGgbgBn we'd call "Girl", just assuming there's a continuum of B..b..n..g..G and only 8 quantities. In fact, you could say that even that terribly simplistic model would indicate 58 different genders! Worse, it's not discrete, rather than each variable having only 5 different values, they are continuous, 0.000.. 1.000. And not 8, but possibly thousands of coefficients.

Worse still, something as nebulous as "sexual orientation" might be, say, a product of the 2nd and 4th coefficients. Bg and Gg respectively. Corresponding to appropriate numbers on the Kinsey scale, itself a crude model.

To cut a long story short - I'm in the Diamond camp, very firmly. I see nothing magical about the 18 month mark.


frances said...

You're seriously linking to a piece on being trans* that says, "but a 'woman' who keeps her penis is hardly a woman, and most of these people will openly describe themselves as a she-male rather than a transsexual anyway."?

I read your blog occasionally but often I find your attitudes towards different ways of being trans* to be quite ignorant, proscriptive, and hold more in common with radical feminist or right-wing transphobia than with any considered view of gender.

Have you read Judith Butler?

Zoe Brain said...

I added something that should have been included earlier regarding the rather pungent "T-girl" article, thanks for drawing this to my attention.

The title of it is something I consider quite odious too.

I'd be interested in other areas of difference though. Could you please give me some examples?

As regards Judith Butler, Susan Boro, et al, I've not read as much as I should have.

Bad hair days said...

I can hardly relate to anything named as exchangable history among TS on that "So you want to be a T-girl" thing.

Zoe Brain said...

I read "so you want" when I was starting my transition - and found out that I didn't identify with it at all, it was quite foreign to my own situation. I'd never cross-dressed for example, and thought ties were impracticably silly enough, let alone garter belts and the like. That was just one minor aspect, there were far more major ones.

However... it was a useful expose of the problems that transition brings. Unvarnished, no holds barred, warts and all. For that reason alone, it should be part of a reading list.

Shannon said...

I DID fall into the hands of one of those quacks in 1975, and fought my way back out by lying my ass off. It is the only time in my whole life that I have lied and been proud of it.

Leah said...

Zoƫ that piece by Dr Becker is kind of obsolete now. We are not diseased or disordered. Transsexualism is a naturally occurring bilogical variant. Society is the one with a disease (intolerance). And the prevalency rate is off by a factor of more than 10. Why did you post these articles?

Zoe Brain said...

Perhaps I should have added a few more to the list. Some of Bailey's stuff. Cohen-Ketternis. The official line of the UK government.

It's a list of readings giving different views, so we can see how those views have evolved. And see the kind of things that some people believe, as those articles are the only ones they've ever seen.

All, even the "T-girl" article, have some value. Even if only, as in the Exorcism article, as Horrible Examples.

Lisa Harney said...

The Exorcism article involved Blanchard. That's enough right there to disqualify its validity.

Admittedly, I realize you're not presenting it for validity, but for historical interest.

Zoe Brain said...

It's a different Blanchard. Blanchard EG not Blanchard R.

Lisa Harney said...

Ah, okay.

What an unfortunate name!

Anonymous said...

I didn't think the "T-Girl" article was horrible, though there were many parts that I disagreed with.