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Friday, May 17, 2019

Trans Mania and Homophobia

Andrew Sullivan: The Nature of Sex

"It might be a sign of the end-times, or simply a function of our currently scrambled politics, but earlier this week, four feminist activists — three from a self-described radical feminist organization Women’s Liberation Front — appeared on a panel at the Heritage Foundation. Together they argued that sex was fundamentally biological, and not socially constructed, and that there is a difference between women and trans women that needs to be respected. For this, they were given a rousing round of applause by the Trump supporters, religious-right members, natural law theorists, and conservative intellectuals who comprised much of the crowd...

It’s an argument that seems to me to contain a seed of truth. Hence, I suspect, the intensity of the urge to suppress it...

The proposed Equality Act — with 201 co-sponsors in the last Congress — isn’t simply a ban on discriminating against trans people in employment, housing, and public accommodations (an idea with a lot of support in the American public). It includes and rests upon a critical redefinition of what is known as “sex.”...

What the radical feminists are arguing is that the act doesn’t only blur the distinction between men and women (thereby minimizing what they see as the oppression of patriarchy and misogyny), but that its definition of gender identity must rely on stereotypical ideas of what gender expression means. What, after all, is a “gender-related characteristic”? It implies that a tomboy who loves sports is not a girl interested in stereotypically boyish things, but possibly a boy trapped in a female body. And a boy with a penchant for Barbies and Kens is possibly a trans girl — because, according to stereotypes, he’s behaving as a girl would. So instead of enlarging our understanding of gender expression — and allowing maximal freedom and variety within both sexes — the concept of “gender identity” actually narrows it, in more traditional and even regressive ways. What does “gender-related mannerisms” mean, if not stereotypes? It’s no accident that some of the most homophobic societies, like Iran, for example, are big proponents of sex-reassignment surgery for gender-nonconforming kids and adults (the government even pays for it) while being homosexual warrants the death penalty. Assuming that a non-stereotypical kid is trans rather than gay is, in fact, dangerously close to this worldview. (Some might even see a premature decision to change a child’s body from one sex to another as a form of conversion therapy to “fix” his or her gayness)...

The Equality Act also proposes to expand the concept of public accommodations to include “exhibitions, recreation, exercise, amusement, gatherings, or displays”; it bars any religious exceptions invoked under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993; and it bans single-sex facilities like changing, dressing, or locker rooms, if sex is not redefined to include “gender identity.” This could put all single-sex institutions, events, or groups in legal jeopardy. It could deny lesbians their own unique safe space, free from any trace of men...

The core disagreement, it seems to me, is whether a trans woman is right to say that she has always been a woman, was born female, and is indistinguishable from and interchangeable with biological women. That’s the current claim reflected in the Equality Act. But is it true that when Caitlyn Jenner was in the 1976 Olympics men’s decathlon, she was competing as a woman, indistinguishable from any other woman? Contemporary orthodoxy insists that she was indeed competing as a woman, and erases any distinction between a trans woman and a woman. Similarly, public high-school girls track or wrestling teams would have to include female-identifying biological males — even if they keep winning all the trophies, and even if the unfairness is staring you in the face.

Most of us, however, intuitively find this argument hard to swallow entirely. We may accept that Caitlyn Jenner, who came out as a woman in 2015, always understood herself as a woman, and see this psychological conviction as sincere and to be respected. But we also see a difference between someone who lived her life as a man for decades, under the full influence of male chromosomes and testosterone, and who was socially accepted as male and then transitioned … and a woman to whom none of those apply. It is highly doubtful that a non-trans woman could have successfully competed against men in athletics in the Olympic decathlon, no less. Whether you look at this biologically (hormones and genitals matter) or socially (Jenner was not subjected to sexism as a man for most of her life), there is a difference. If there weren’t, would the concept of “trans” even exist?

This is the deeply confusing and incoherent aspect of the entire debate. If you abandon biology in the matter of sex and gender altogether, you may help trans people live fuller, less conflicted lives; but you also undermine the very meaning of homosexuality. If you follow the current ideology of gender as entirely fluid, you actually subvert and undermine core arguments in defense of gay rights. “A gay man loves and desires other men, and a lesbian desires and loves other women,” explains Sky Gilbert, a drag queen. “This defines the existential state of being gay. If there is no such thing as ‘male’ or ‘female,’ the entire self-definition of gay identity, which we have spent generations seeking to validate and protect from bigots, collapses.” Contemporary transgender ideology is not a complement to gay rights; in some ways it is in active opposition to them.

This is the deeply confusing and incoherent aspect of the entire debate. If you abandon biology in the matter of sex and gender altogether, you may help trans people live fuller, less conflicted lives; but you also undermine the very meaning of homosexuality. If you follow the current ideology of gender as entirely fluid, you actually subvert and undermine core arguments in defense of gay rights. “A gay man loves and desires other men, and a lesbian desires and loves other women,” explains Sky Gilbert, a drag queen. “This defines the existential state of being gay. If there is no such thing as ‘male’ or ‘female,’ the entire self-definition of gay identity, which we have spent generations seeking to validate and protect from bigots, collapses.” Contemporary transgender ideology is not a complement to gay rights; in some ways it is in active opposition to them.

And so it is not transphobic for a gay man not to be attracted to a trans man. It is close to definitional"


The Unspoken Homophobia Propelling the Transgender Movement in Children

"As I’ve watched as glowing stories about transgender children have flooded every progressive news outlet over the last few years, every one of them appalls and saddens me. Because the underlying story that the public isn’t privy to is that many of these children would have grown up to be gay, but are instead undergoing a new form of conversion therapy...

Therapy that seeks to help gender dysphoric children grow comfortable in their birth sex (known in the research literature as the “therapeutic approach”) has been conflated with conversion therapy, but this is inaccurate. All of the available research following gender dysphoric children longitudinally shows that the majority desist; they outgrow their feelings of dysphoria by puberty and grow up to be gay in adulthood, not transgender.

Children will say they “are” the opposite sex because that’s the only language they have to express to adults that they want to do things the opposite sex does. Cross-sex behavior has also been shown to be a strong predictor of homosexuality in men. Previous research tells us that even children who are severe in their feelings of dysphoria will desist.

Another phenomenon that points to homophobia as a possible motivation for transitioning is that of rapid-onset gender dysphoria (ROGD), wherein adolescent and college-aged girls suddenly declare to their parents that they want to transition, without any previous signs of being distressed about their birth sex. This desire to transition usually manifests during or after puberty, yet these girls don’t meet any of the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria.

A study published last month on ROGD—one that gained widespread media attention for infuriating transgender activists—found that a large proportion of these girls had come out as lesbian or bisexual prior to coming out as transgender.

Why would this be the case? Along with the physical and emotional discomfort that is typical of undergoing puberty, it has become more socially acceptable to be a transgender man than a gay woman. The study’s findings also showed that transitioning increased students’ popularity among their peers and offered greater protection from harassment, because teachers were more concerned about anti-trans bullying than bullying that was anti-gay...

[Families] may be more than happy to go along with facilitating their child’s requests to transition to the opposite sex, so that to the outside world, that child will appear heterosexual—an adolescent boy who is attracted to other boys will appear to be straight if he transitions to female. What’s most disturbing is that these parents will be lauded as open-minded and “on the right side of history,” when in actuality, they are homophobic. In some cases, a child may internalize their families’ anti-gay sentiments, which adds to their desire to transition.

Saying any of these things aloud will get a person branded as transphobic...

Many of my friends have told me how relieved they were to not have grown up in today’s political climate. As children, they similarly voiced unhappiness about their bodies and felt that they identified with the opposite sex, but eventually grew up to feel comfortable living as gay men. They fear they would have decided to transition, because transitioning is now considered a viable, and almost commonplace, way to resolve this.

Transgender activism has successfully piggybacked onto the hard-won victories of the gay rights movement. The public understands that attitudes towards gay people were once abhorrent, and they also understand that many interventions aimed at “changing” gay people were unethical. Most empathic people have consequently been persuaded that being transgender is the same, in this regard, as being gay—that it is something that shouldn’t be questioned and should always be affirmed."


At least conversion therapy doesn't permanently alter your body.


Amazing Vox article:

Transgender kids who transition: it’s no big deal if they change their mind in the future

While:

Systematic review finds only “qualified support” for hormonal treatments for gender dysphoria in youth

"[There] is a dearth of quality data on the physical and psychosocial effects of hormonal treatments on gender dysphoric children, teenagers and young adults. The limited evidence that is available provides “qualified support” for these treatments, the review concludes...

When it comes to children, teens and young adults aged under 25, we simply do not yet know much about the psychosocial effects of pubertal suppressors (including gonadotropin-releasing analogs which suppress the development of secondary sexual characteristics) and further hormonal treatments (both gender-affirming hormones and cross-hormonal treatments, such as anti-androgens, which counter the effects of testosterone, and progestins, which suppress the menses)...

The limited evidence available suggests that these interventions are “relatively safe” in terms of their physical side-effects, although there is no long-term data (including potential adverse effects on fertility). Where short-term side-effects occur, these can include, among others, hot flushes, fatigue, weight gain and, most concerning, changes to bone mass density...

One study found oestrogen led to a degree of breast growth that most of those treated found unsatisfactory. There are some cognitive effects to consider – for instance, after taking puberty suppressing drugs, teenagers born male but seeking to transition to female, subsequently showed poorer performance on tests of executive functioning and mental rotation. Perhaps most concerning – especially given the psychological vulnerability of many teens with gender dysphoria – there is simply no data on the psychosocial effects of these treatments.

This lack of data is in the context of a growing concern among some psychologists and psychiatrists that the affirmative approach may have gone too far. For example, psychologist Dianne Berg, Co-Director of the National Center for Gender Spectrum Health in the US (which advocates an affirmative approach), told The Atlantic recently “Under the motivation to be supportive and to be affirming and to be nonstigmatizing, I think the pendulum has swung so far that now we’re maybe not looking as critically at the issues as we should be.”

One critical issue that has yet to be addressed by research at all, is what the effects are of hormonal treatments on children and teens who later de-transition. As of now, Chew and her team say there are “no known studies to date in which researchers have reported the rates and circumstances under which transgender youth cease their hormonal therapy in an unplanned manner or the risk of subsequent regret.”"
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