Drat! Another of those dilemmas. An instance where the personal gets political and the political becomes personal. So do I write this for my current affairs blog (on which you’ll currently find a load of stuff about psychiatry and the Royal College of Psychiatrists, aka RCPsych).
Or does it go here? On balance, since this is about my personal reaction to something in the news that might end up affecting me a fair bit, I’m going to stick it here. Also, because its led me on to a bit of an insight – although, as is the way of these things, I doubt my insight is any different from what hundreds of trans women discovered long before I have.
Short background, with more detail on the current affairs pages. There is an ongoing suspicion between psychiatrists, who seem to have inserted themselves into the transition process as gate-keepers, and the trans community, who find themselves on the receiving end of this behaviour.
Suspicion is not reduced by the insistence of some psychiatrists, in the face of all evidence, that transgender is mostly repressed homosexuality – or the fact that some psychiatrists and some feminists seem to believe that all this is simply explained as a failure to adjust our inner perceptions to outer reality, brought on by social rigidities in the “gender binary”.
A merely academic argument? Well, perhaps it is for those who have the luxury of commenting on transgender issues from the sidelines. But if you live it, know the gried it brings, as well as the sheer frustration that dealing with the gate-keepers also brings about, its far from that. Failure by the psycho-medical establishment to deal with trans individuals on their own terms seems to me to be a direct cause for much depression, as well as being a main reason why the trans community has one of the highest suicide rates of any group in the UK.
So when a psychiatrist – such as the esteemed Dr Az Hakeem, or a feminist such as Julie Bindel goes public with the view that its all in the mind: needs only “talking therapy” and surgery should be blocked or denied, I don’t regard it as mere academic argument. It is for me – and for others – a matter of life and death.
Which is why, to get back to the political, there is currently such anger in the trans community at the fact that a conference on Transgender has been organised by the RCPsych. Not just by the RCPsych, but by their Lesbian and Gay Interest Group (with no significant trans input) and that it is to be addressed by, amongst others, the aforementioned Julie B and Dr H.
Angry? That doesn’t go even half way to describing my feelings about this.
I’ll be involved intimately in organising protest against this event and, at some point in mid-May, you may be reading on my blog about a demo at the RCPsych…or even my arrest for getting just a little hot under the collar at the demonstration that seems now inevitable.