Friday, 28 November 2008

A Personal Thanksgiving

I'm Australian, so we don't have the peculiarly USAian custom of eating ethnic foods of various varieties - native birds and native berries, not forgetting chimerae like the Turducken.

By I have my own personal Thanksgiving. It was entirely out of pure, blind luck that I kept my mouth shut when young. I didn't know how transsexuals were treated - or rather, maltreated and mistreated - in the 60's and 70's. Had I known, I would have been terrified. And the mistreatment continues to a lesser extent.

From The Gender Gulag at GIDreform.
In 1995, Dr. Deidre McCloskey, a renowned professor of economics at the University of Illinois, Chicago, was taken from her home by sheriff’s deputies with “a warrant for arrest for mental examination.” Dr. McCloskey was a transsexual woman who had come out of the closet to her family prior to social transition, Deidre’s sister, a psychologist, held intolerant views of gender diversity and, like Mrs. Phelps’ nineteenth-century husband, was easily able to procure a civil commitment to a psychiatric ward.

Dr. McCloskey was incarcerated not once but twice at her sister’s insistence.
Deidre was interrogated by psychiatrists who displayed utter ignorance about gender dysphoria and the transition process. She was labeled as “manic,” resulting from “latent homosexuality,” decades after the American Psychiatric Association had removed same-sex orientation from the classification of mental illnesses. One psychiatrist demanded, “Are you a homosexual?” “Do you wish to become one?” When Deidre responded “no,” that she was attracted to women, the doctor was incredulous. Reflecting old stereotypes confusing sexual orientation with gender identity, he responded, “Well, then, why are you doing this?”

To regain her freedom, Dr. McCloskey was forced to pay $8000 in legal fees and, astonishingly, was billed $3000 by the hospitals that falsely imprisoned her.
That was 1995. But before then, it was much, much worse. When I was a girl.
April’s “treatments” included drugging her with ether while doctors exacted, “Why do you want to be a woman?” Later, the interrogations were punctuated with sodium pentathol injections. Ashley was given massive doses of male hormones. Finally, she was placed in a public ward and administered electroconvulsive therapy.
Phyllis Burke, author of Gender Shock: Exploding the Myths of Male and Female, [4] told the heartbreaking story of Jamie, a transsexual woman who survived fifteen years of hospitalization from age six. “Jamie did not do boy things, and would not lie about it,” Burke explains. Admitted in the late 1950s, Jamie was drugged and given numerous electroconvulsive shock treatments over the span of her imprisonment:
“The treatments never became less painful, and there was nothing more painful than the shock, not even the rapes by the male patients, not even Mother and Father never returning.”
At twenty years old, following an extremely painful ECT treatment, Jamie escaped the institution and made her way to San Francisco and transition to an affirmed life. Jamie asked Ms. Burke to find as many children like her as she could and write about their stories,
“No one is talking about them, … but there are still kids in the hospitals.”

I could so easily have been one of them...
Harsh punishment of gender variant youth occurs in outpatient as well as residential settings. Dr. Arianna Davis today is an advocate for trans and intersex communities and GID reform. Though born with an intersex condition and expressing a strong female identity at a very early age, she was assigned male and later diagnosed as mentally ill for not comporting to that assignment. Arianna was subjected to a gender-reparative therapy regimen at UCLA in the 1980s:
“I was subjected to forced testosterone injections and used as a study subject against my wishes. These things happened (under the physical beatings and punishment -recomended by a therapist of a reparative mindset- the urging of my father and the all too eager compliance of UCLA doctors and researchers).”
Dr. Davis’ story raises the point, a painful memory to so many of us, of how physical violence from parents of gender variant children is encouraged by intolerance from the mental health professions – what has been called, “the sissy-whupping method.”
It wasn't just the children who were the victims here. Parents who dearly loved their children and were terribly distressed by their unusual, apparently abnormal, behaviour were acting out of ignorance, and the best of intent. They consulted the best professionals, the experts in their fields, and were commanded in no uncertain terms to torture their children "for their own good". To physically and mentally abuse them, despite their personal heartbreak, if they were to be responsible parents. How many of these parents have suffered the tortures of hellish guilt as the result? How many children have been estranged, have grown up to hate rather than love them? How many have suicided? And how many parents became brutalised and thuggish to their other children too?
Sadly, the APA never discouraged analogous gender-reparative therapies attempting to change gender identity or suppress gender expression. Indeed, the dictum of “First, do no harm,” does not seem to apply to the treatment of gender variant people within American psychiatry. Nor do the bounds of human compassion and decency, when it comes to enforcing conformity to assigned birth sex. For example, Dr. Ron Langevin of the University of Toronto Clarke Institute of Psychiatry (today known as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) promoted inhumane aversion treatment of cross-dressing individuals assigned male at birth in his 1983 book, Sexual Strands: Understanding and Treating Sexual Anomalies in Men.
Reminiscent of a scene from Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange, Langevin described chemical aversion therapy to “cure” cross-dressing,
“In chemical aversion therapy, the patient is first administered nausea inducing drugs. When he indicates that he feels sick, his favorite female clothes used for crossdressing are presented. He should touch them and look at them as best he can. Then he is overwhelmed by the need to vomit. The clothes are withdrawn and the procedure repeated several hours later.”
Next, he noted the advantages of “electrical aversion” in offering greater “control” over timing. He described the treatment of a patient.
“The conditioning stimuli were pictures of women wearing panties which were followed by the unconditioned stimulus, electric shock. The shock level was set so the patient found it so uncomfortable, he wanted it stopped. In addition to seeing pictures, he was instructed to handle panties and to imagine himself wearing them. After 41 sessions, he said he was no longer troubled by the “fetish” but a month later, it spontaneously recovered.”
You see... it didn't work. They knew it didn't work. So they upped the currents, almost to the point of charring the flesh. This wasn't "ECT", electro-convulsive therapy under anaesthetic, the idea was to intentionally inflict pain. To Torture into compliance. Not in one session, or two, or three, but in dozens of torture sessions, 41 in the case mentioned. And it still didn't work.

What they would have done about someone like me, who wasn't particularly interested in female attire, I don't know. Tortured me until I fit a recognised diagnostic pattern which they could then attempt to "cure"? Stranger things happened. No, I think they would have tried something like this, something I know I would have been vulnerable to. I had a mild taste of it, you see, with the first "expert" I consulted, back in July 2005.
Finally, Dr. Langevin introduced a newer form of “shame aversion therapy” used on a “transvestite:”
“the patient was required to crossdress before a disinterested group of men and women who watched him without reaction or comment. … In this case, shame replaces electric shock … the patient was evidently experiencing shame. He was in tears as he crossdressed and had a look of anguish on his face. He attempted suicide the following day according to the investigator.”
I had the only 15 seconds of suicidal ideation I've ever had in my life after a "mental health professional" harangued me at high volume the day after I went "fulltime". Two days after I was threatened with rape because I no longer "passed" as male in my normal attire.

I was told by this "expert" how much my behaviour was damaging my child, and commanded to cease taking hormones immediately. Except of course, I wasn't taking any... and if my continued existence was damaging my son, well, you can see where my thought processes were going. Had my hormone levels been remotely normal, I would have recognised his misjudgment immediately, and ignored his views. As it was, it took a while. Had I been less than emotionally healthy, yes, it could have been a fatal error on his part. As it was, within 24 hours I'd recovered.

I don't blame (well, not overmuch) some medical professionals for being ignorant of the issues. The field is fast evolving, we are a minority, and few will have seen more than one or two of us amongst the delusional, the attention-seekers, and the just plain selfish. But I do blame any medic in any area where they consider it quite usual to kill a proportion of their patients. And that is what they were doing, driving them to suicide with "cruel and unusual punishment" for committing the crime of not fitting their theories.
It is time for the APA and the mental health professions to extend an apology to all who have been imprisoned or traumatized in the course of these treatments.
I'm not sure it is. I do feel though, and feel strongly, that an in-depth and very public investigation of past treatment should be conducted. Not so much a "Nuremberg" looking to punish the guilty, but an inquisitorial fact-finding inquiry into what has been done in the past, and what all too often continues to be done to children, right here and now.

The apology can come later. First comes the acknowledgement of the crimes, and most importantly, ceasing to commit them.

And I am giving the most heartfelt thanks that I concealed everything. I lucked out.


Nica said...

Hi, Zoe.

Do you think there is some relation between this and the traditinally male dominated medical profession in general?

BTW I've been there and done that, too. Almost didn't make it.

Anonymous said...

It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that mental institutions are like basic training in the military. You go along with the program to get out. You do not have to believe in what they are doing just play the game because they hold all the cards. You have a lot more power on the outside. Perhaps if one does not figure that out they do need extra help.

sumptos devil s advocate said...

This is a great way to get the government to deprive McCloskey and others of their rights to keep and bear arms.

Nicole said...


Thanks for all the work and research you do on behalf of the Transgender Community. It is very much appreciated.

When I first disclosed my intentions to transition in 98, my Mother sought counselling and was advised that I should be given testosterone injections.

That was only 10 years ago in Australia.


Emily said...

Likewise, I'm glad that I learned early to hide being transsexual, having had a terrible shock when I was five or six after saying the wrong thing once (I will never forget my father screaming at me that no, I was not a girl).

My parents admitted that through lack of understanding, had I come out as a child they would have done everything they could to 'fix' me. Luckily, when I came out as an adult, they did understand enough not to try to do so.

Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

D. Pressed

Zoe Brain said...

Nica - that's part of it. Another part though is the hard-Right-wing proportion in medicine and the military. And that proportion i increasing, and rapidly.

It used to be that those on the Left had ideals of Public Service. These days, it seems they regard it as "someone else's problem", not theirs. The more fanatical home-schooled Christians on the other hand see it as their Christian Duty.

I'll quote Allyson Robinson:
As our culture has shifted toward tolerance and celebration of diversity, many prospective cadets and their parents have come to see West Point as a bastion of conservative social values–a place where they can be assured of experiencing the kind of social-moral environment they desire.

In Colonel Kolditz’s words, “In previous years, when you’d ask cadets what other schools they had to choose from, you’d hear, ‘Yale, Harvard, and West Point,’ or ‘MIT, CalTech, and West Point.’ Today, you’re just as likely to hear, ‘Liberty University, Wheaton College, and West Point.’”

I've seen the same effect both in Med Schools, and at ADFA.

I'm troubled by this: by both the increased selfishness on the Left (which is why I'm on the Right), and the increased superstition and bigotry on the Right that has flowed in to replace those on the Left who once felt a sense of personal responsibility - and now just feel a sense of personal entitlement.

That's why I try to educate, and to reach out to those on the Right like me, who have the best of intentions and the courage of their convictions. Now if only they didn't believe in a flat earth....

Zoe Brain said...

Anne O'Namus - the problem for a torturer is that they can never be sure if the victim is lying and telling them what they want to hear, or telling the truth.

Merely co-operating with a psych team is not usually enough. One must convince them that you truly do love Big Brother. If you don't, well, the floggings will continue until morale improves.

Zoe Brain said...

SDA - good point, I hadn't thought of that.

Nicole - thanks so much for your kind words. It seems to me sometimes that I do so little though.

Emily - Hugs. What more is there to say?

D.Pressed - yes, an interesting, but I think hopeful, case. When the question is framed as "in order to be granted full human rights we insist that you be sterilised" - well, when it's put that way... the argument is pretty thin. Win or Lose, this will have immense repercussions. If we win, a step forward, and if we lose, there may well be a public outcry that will mean a loss is just a delay. We Shall See.

Battybattybats said...

"The field is fast evolving, we are a minority, and few will have seen more than one or two of us amongst the delusional, the attention-seekers, and the just plain selfish."

Exactly who are you referring to as delusional, attention seekers and plain selfish?

If your referring to the other clients of psychiatrists then yes, some are delusional. But as for the rest? I think you may be doing many people a disservice.

Me included. As I went to a CBT psychologist to help deal with anxiety issues related to cognitive impairment symptoms of my disability and got help dealing with my problematic relationship with a suicide-threatening girlfriend and help in accepting my gender issues thrown into the bargain (clearly I was one of the lucky ones as I got help in accepting not quashing). Neither delusion nor attention seeking nor selfishness.

As for the rest of your post, darn good points and a really important issue that morepeople need to hear about. Many more people!

Anonymous said...

Western Australia - foul, evil place that is essentially a Death Camp for people like us.

When I was growing up there in a number of country towns, the massive youth suicide rate - still at epidemic proportions even now - was attributable to the widespread belief there that anyone who deviated from the norm was obliged to "cull" themselves so as to avoid embarrassing the citizenry.

So many of my friends killed themselves as children, and throughout their adulthood, and oftentimes their immediate family members too, in many often hideous and inventive ways.

I remain amazed that I survived the experience. I am forever grateful that I managed to escape that godforsaken hell hole of a state for a slightly more civilized one.

sumptos devil s advocate said...

You're narcissistic when you feel entitled to the women's bathroom when you really aren't. Every one of you, upon entering a bathroom, look upon the women there with lust and envy, for only for the emotional trip has each and every one of you undergone this process of CHANGE.

Anonymous said...

'Every one of you, upon entering a bathroom, look upon the women there with lust and envy'

Speaking about yourself? If you have to go you have to go and I do close the door.

Zoe Brain said...

SDA - an interesting link.

The person who wrote that is inhuman, so not entitled to use bathrooms. Hey "she" thinks others are entitled to judge, so I'm judging her.

"She" is not concerned about whether someone is post-op or not, and doesn't care a fig as to their endangerment if they attempted to use a male restroom. It's all about her, and her feelings, not other people.

It's "Projection", the inability of a narcissist to put themselves in anyone else's shoes and to label others as selfish.

I really don't see what the "bathroom issue" is. Yes, I'd feel uncomfortable if a man was using the same restroom as I was, assuming it was gender segregated. Some are not, BTW.

But before you make such judgments, you have to decide what is a man, what is a woman. Why is it that you said "woman's bathrooms" - what about those "not entitled" to use men's ones? Are there some people not "entitled" to use either?

What about extremely butch lesbians? What about women with PCOS and beards? What about women with CAH and masculine-looking genitalia? What about women with CAIS and 46xy chromosomes? What about people with 47xxy chromosomes?

As far as I can see, the only practical measure to avoid social offense is to go by superficial appearances. In some cases, that will mean that a person is "entitled" to use either.

I don't consider I have "entitlement" to use a male rest room, even though my Birth Certificate says "Boy". My passport says "Female", and (more importantly) my medical records show that I'm being treated for a medical condition only women can have.

So who decides? Because if I had my druthers, I'd ban this so-called "human" from polite society restrooms included. For terminal spiritual ugliness, no matter what "she" looks like on the outside. I wouldn't feel safe with her around.

Battybattybats said...

"You're narcissistic when you feel entitled to the women's bathroom when you really aren't. Every one of you, upon entering a bathroom, look upon the women there with lust and envy, for only for the emotional trip has each and every one of you undergone this process of CHANGE."

Right. Thats exactly why I keep arguing for single-use disabled-access toilets to entirely replace all communal-access toilets.

Because by wanting to protect everyone from rape and assult, women, men, boys. girls, the elderly etc etc I'm clearly trying to get access to women to ogle them... oh wait, thats fundamentally the opposite isn't it! Oops. Sorry to scupper your argument. (you can find plenty of my public posts on that issue at Bilerico and at Pam's House Blend amongst others)

What a crock of $#!^ the argument is a total failure of reason.

Here's some obvious holes in the idea:

1. Many transgender people are attracted solely to men. Making your 'every one' statement utterly false.

2. There are non-TG women who are attracted solely to women. Making the idea that only using the toilet with non-TG women is safe from lustful leering utterly false.

3. There are non-TG women who have raped other women, who have raped children, who have raped men meaning that women and children are not physically safe with non-TG women in a toilet either making the argument that keeping TG women out of the womens toilet creates safety utterly false.

4. Many TG women still avoid using public amenities even when legally able to and when they do they often prefer gender neutral and single-user bathrooms. More falseness.

So then. Your argument is clearly incorrect.

If you genuinely care about bathroom safety then join the movement to remove the dangerous communal space in public bathrooms and for security camera monitoring outside all bathrooms. Protect everyone from sexual predators, including from non-TG women who are sexual predators.

And if you have any honesty, any integrity, any capacity for reason at all you should repudiate your quoted comment and related views in their utter entirety, apologise publicly to me for your insulting false claim of 'all', to all those people who clearly also cannot possibly fit into your argument because they are only attracted to men or because they only want single-user bathrooms, your failure of reason in making such an illogical nonsensical and easilly invalidated argument which insults so many people on the basis of nothing at all.

Well? Show your character. Can you admit when your shown to be clearly wrong? Can you apologise when you have insulted people with a baseless and offensive accusation?

Zoe Brain said...

BBB - breath-holding is contra-indicated.

sumptos devil s advocate said...

My purpose is to throw stuff out and see what sticks.

Anyway, hasn't either of you heard of Jerry Leach, the one who talked about the emotional trips he was looking forward to when he was wanting to have SRS?

Battybattybats said...

"My purpose is to throw stuff out and see what sticks."

Your missusing and missrepresenting the traditional role of the Devils Advocate.

You made a blanket statement. One that was logically untrue, patently false, a clear logical fallacy of a high and extreme order. And you are not in a formal setting where someones potential sainthood is under review.

Instead your statement is more closely related to deliberate acts of slander and libel, of 'yelling fire in a crowded theatre' as the saying goes.

You cannot escape your ethical and moral obligations to the consequences of your arguments by assuming a self-appointed title and a crude semblence of a role entirely out of it's context.

As such you are clearly more aptly and easilly judged on moral and ethical grounds than anyone you throw anything at. You are not free from such as you are not a court-appointed person fullfilling an 'obligation of duty' to an adversarial argument method of investigation.

False-devils-advocate you are judged and found wanting. You are incapable of withstanding the same process that you attempt to direct to others as your guilt is admitted while your accusations have been baseless.

Perhaps it is time for you to rexamine your own moral wirth and the ethics of your behaviour.

It is one thing to raise issues and arguments even if you believe them false so as to have them fully dealt with in an ethical, philosophical or legal discussion. It is another to just 'throw stuff at something' with no regard to logic, reason or the consequences upon others.

A simple rephrasing of your post as a question like 'What about those who might say.... ...?' and you would not have caused offense, stepped outside the boundaries of your alleged role or looked like a complete idiotic paltroon attempting to cause suffering to others for your own unethical gratification (I suggest you try learning about ethical BDSM if you have a need for sadism so you can enjoy it in private using a safeword with someone likewise enjoying the experience rather than getting off on harming unconsenting others with your attempts at emotional rape)

But alas you display all the nous of Mike the Headless Chicken and all the character of the worst dregs of humanity.

Please try actually learning a little, and thinking a little. Your post and self-appointed 'purpose' is an extreme 'veil of ignorance' failure.

sumptos devil s advocate said...

Anyway, I had come across this site sometime ago:

The Reality Resources run by one Jerry Leach, who said he had GID which he cured through his faith. Some descriptions of his personal life are interesting, however. He frequently referred to things like SRS being

the ultimate “trip”

SRS would "energize [him and others] to experience emotional peaks every day thereafter."

In his experience, he apparently was not too fulfilled from having to live a full year as a woman and he went back to living as a man.

Now, I understand that most transsexual people do not share his experience, but he might respond saying that transsexual people do: They are merely concealing it. This argument is similar to that given by Bailey.

Still, I do wonder.

Mercedes said...

You wrote:
"The apology can come later. First comes the acknowledgement of the crimes, and most importantly, ceasing to commit them."

Exactly. We have a few target psych hospitals and hospital wards in Alberta which are serious problems (ironically, one of them is in the hospital in which the Gender Clinic is located). What they like to do in these hospitals is dismiss GID as a diagnosis and go to Dissociative Identity Disorder or Borderline Personality Disorder instead, with ECT as a curative method.

We've come to the point where once we learn that someone is in one of those psych units and has one of these diagnoses (or is likely to be given one), we try to keep visiting, keep calling, keep involved with the patient, sometimes discussing GID with the docs... mostly so the doctors know that they will be held accountable for their actions. This last summer, we found out that it worked when they started doing heart tests on one girl (she was young, no history of heart issues or hereditary issues), which indicated to me that she was being prepped for ECT. We stayed on like a dirty shirt, and they released her instead. But we can't always do everything needed, and it's also very rare for us to know of someone in the community being treated this way until they come to us after the fact.

I don't know what will change it. The people who make these decisions have simply hardened their hearts.

Battybattybats said...

"I don't know what will change it. The people who make these decisions have simply hardened their hearts."

I dont know if it has any merit in encouraging them to reconsider their notions, but sometimes I just want to get animal blood from a butchers and dump the same volume of that liquid at the doorstep of those whose actions failed to prevent it or encouraged it. Stain their doorstep with the blood they allowed to be spilt.And if the vandalism is too much then how about crates of red liquid to the equivalent of all the TG peoples blood from that years toll sat clear and visible before the offices.

For the ECT stuff set up a barbeque in public, of pigs hearts preferably by electric cooking and then have it delivered to the hospital.

Maybe a performance art piece with people dressed as doctors electrocuting fluffy pink plush rabbits till they burst into flames.

Sure it's rather old fashioned but it may get better media attention (and carry well on youtube) than simple protests and it also may make their invisible brutality visible through simple obvious symbolism.

Battybattybats said...

Lost part of a sentence there, it should have read:

but sometimes I just want to get animal blood from a butchers and dump the same volume of that liquid as once filled one of our fallen at the doorstep of those whose actions failed to prevent it or encouraged it. Stain their doorstep with the blood they allowed to be spilt.