Monday, 16 October 2006

Special Victims

Australian TV is a little behind the current US series. Case in point, the latest episode of Law & Order : SVU. Special Victims Unit.

The episode just aired was Identity.

It left me in tears. You see, so much of the episode was based on fact.

From Intersex Initiative :
Investigators confront the parents: "What happened? Is it that you just had to have a boy and a girl?" "It was a freak accident. They do it hundred times a day. It's supposed to be a routine procedure." "What?" "Circumcision... They used some sort of device to remove foreskin--it malfunctioned. Burned him severely. We spoke to all those experts, and they all said that he will never be normal... Imagine the abuse he'd take in locker rooms. Humiliation of explaining it to the girl he fell in love with. We couldn't put him through that." "Did you think that sex change operation would be easier for him?" "What else could we do? Dr. Blair convinced us that it was the only hope our child had for a normal life... He promised us that it would work. He promised us, as long as we are committed to raising him as a girl."

Next, investigators visit Dr. Blair, a character obviously based on psychologist/sexologist John Money. "Any plastic surgeon would tell you that it's easier to dig a hole than to build a pole... In order for the experiment to work, she has to look like a girl, be treated like a girl, and taught to act like a girl... Children are born psychosexually neutral, a blank slate. Gender identity is determined by nurture, not nature."

Investigators then go back to Lindsey to tell her that they would not press charge against her because it was self-defense, but Lindsey is rightfully confused about what had happened. "But I don't understand... You said my brother had to have done it. Just tell me what's going on! I feel like I'm going crazy. Please." It is at this point Lindsey is finally told the truth despite the objection of Dr. Blair. "You were born a boy. There was an accident right after you were born." "I knew it! I never once felt right! Why didn't anybody tell me? Why didn't you tell me? What was my name?" Almost immediately, Lindsey stops taking estrogen and chooses to transition back to his genetic gender.

But that is not all: Logan wishes to press charge against Dr. Blair. "He molested us. He used to show us these pictures of adults having sex. He pushed us into positions. He used to make me and my sister pretend we are having sex." This is the detail similar to Dr. Money's practice described in "As Nature Made Him." In response, Dr. Blair insists that everything was necessary part of the treatment. "It was important to differentiate their gender roles... It clarified things for Lindsey. She had to be programmed. It's perfectly normal for children to explore each others' bodies." "So you are not denying any of the allegations Logan made about your practices?" "Denying? I'm writing a book about it."
The most unbelievable parts of the episode are the parts that most closely mirror reality. That is exactly what happened, and yes, he did write a book.

Now we know - or most know - that Gender is set in the brain, not the genitalia, and not amenable to any amount of nurture or brainwashing. Goodness knows, many Transsexuals try so very hard to be the gender the mirror and society tells them they have to be. And a small proportion of TS people have been made that way. Born Intersexed, their bodies were changed to the gender the surgeons guessed was best. Often they guess right, and a normal life becomes possible. Sometimes though, they guess wrong, and Transsexuality results.

This practice is still standard today. Instead of waiting till the child is old enough to state which gender they feel themselves to be, Intersexed children are, to put it bluntly, genitally mutilated shortly after birth.

Here's the ending in fiction:
In the end, however, Dr. Blair is found murdered in his office. They find the DNA and security camera evidences indicating that either Logan or Lindsey--now going by Luke--must have committed the crime, but they cannot figure out which one did it. "They came up with a perfect crime." "Until you get one of them to flip." "That's not going to happen. They are too close." The scene pans out as Logan and Luke, now wearing similar clothes and hairstyles, feel each other's presence through the holding cell wall.
The ending in fact:
Unfortunately, in the real "John/Joan" case both twins--Brian and David Reimer--have committed suicide
Dr Money died not long ago, well-respected in his field, despite his inhuman conduct.

I'm on a variety of support groups. Some of the most amazing things have happened, people being treated this way, as experimental animals, even to this day. I have to deal with the wreckage, the consequences, the pain every single day, providing support simply because I've had it just so easy compared with nearly everybody. I can't not help. And yes, I get my share of support too, sometimes things aren't easy for me either.

Seeing this episode caused me to be unspeakably angry at the way some people have been treated, and are continuing to be treated. OK, I've been discriminated against in this whole Passport farce, but compared with other things, it's nothing.

I just have to remember - it was only a TV program, and one not the freshest either.

A program about Special Victims indeed.

1 comment:

Lloyd Flack said...

Actually this episode is a repeat. I remember seeing it at least two years ago.