Posts tagged gender dysphoria

The day it changes…

T-day. Transition day. The day it all changes. After today nothing will be the same. Even if, on the surface, all is still the same.

Because today is the day when the UK’s press and media will finally, forcefully, be asked to face up to their awful responsibility for the hate and bigotry they foment on a daily basis. Read the rest of this entry »

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Event: Gendered Intelligence Film Night Fundraiser

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Limited transformation

A chance posting on a forum i frequent reminds me of a business – Transformation Ltd – that i’d guess most trans women are all too familiar with…and which most non-trans folk will never have heard of.

Its a place where you can go, as the label sugests, in order to transform. There you can buy clothes, shoes and wigs – as well as some slightly more esoteric paraphernalia such as breast forms and figure-enhancing supplements (not clear whether these are actually hormones, or something else). And you can stop by for “make-overs”.

And, i fear, T Ltd may have contributed to my putting my own transition back by many years.

The problem is: you need to get your head around how in the closet trans was even ten years ago – and also how closely associated it was with sexual exoticity.

When, finally, i was assessed for gender dysphoria, the general diagnosis was “long-term repressed”. Which was sort of true: and i am wary of rewriting my past history; but behind the blokish facade was always something else.

A fascination with gender issues and a fantasy life that returned, time and time again, to metamorphosis. So, now and then, i’d drop into “adult shops” and pick up magazines supposedly dealing with trans stuff…and recoil in horror from the highly sexualised matter presented, with its focus mainly on “forced transformation”, or the “chicks with dicks” end of the spectrum.

Which i won’t condemn: but which was so alien to me that each visit was followed by a total swearing off and a promise to self to be a good little fellow and put aside all that stuff forever. Six months later….

So, too, with Transformation Ltd. I’d visit from time to time: a nervous poking of my nose around the door and…what?

Its hard to get myself back into the mindspace now, but it was a mix of fascination and revulsion. This caricatured feminity…the obsession with red and black shiny stuff, high heels and short skirts…this wasn’t me, couldn’t be me…could it?

At the same time, i remember long pauses in front of the wig array: eyeing up the beautiful flowing locks; a mix of fear and …what i didn’t get at the time…total loss.

I wanted…was desperate for…something. But back in the bad old days, the overlap between trans and kink was a massive, massive obstacle, to understanding.

Its probably why i transitioned so late: why, once i began, i eschewed all hint of artificialness, preferring to look weird than opt for the easy option of wigs and breast forms; and why even now i am sometimes so, so jealous of those transitioning today for whom there is the internet and information and a much clearer picture of what the options are.


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Mixing it with the media

Ah well. The joys of being notorious is that i do get the opportunity to inject some common sense – 🙂 – into public debate occasionally.

Was on the Beeb this morning (i’ll get a link as soon as i can find it) and here’s a statement I put out to accompany the prog. Doesn’t 100% reflect what i said, but i think the sentiment is important.

Writer and sexual rights activist, Jane Fae today hit out at the bigots and hypocrites who she accused of using concern about the welfare of a ten-year-old child with gender dysphoria as a figleaf to disguise their own inability to deal with gender issues.

Speaking to BBC Radio Lincoln, she said: “The decision by the family of a 10-year-old child from Worcester to allow her to commence treatment for gender dysphoria is courageous – and clearly cannot have been easy.

“There is no guarantee of getting the right answer in cases such as these. However, with the support of experts with years of experience in the field of gender, they have probably chosen the least damaging option for their daughter.

“They are doing nothing that is final. Rather, they have recognized that for someone with dysphoria, every day of puberty is soul-destroying and hateful. They have therefore taken steps to put puberty on hold for the time being, giving their child the time to mature and decide for herself whether full gender transition is the right option for her.

“A lot of hot air has been generated by people not directly involved in the case. With no knowledge whatsoever of the individuals concerned, they have suggested this is no different from any girl or boy acting slightly at variance with their birth gender. They have made baseless allegations against the mother. And in some cases, the language they have used – describing the child as a “freak” – is utterly contemptible.

“All we are hearing from such types is a hatred of difference, thinly disguised as concern.

For further information, contact Jane Fae

Tel: xxxxxxx
e-mail: xxxxx

Hope that sort of catches a mood….


Edited to add: apparently i called it slightly wrong. AN expert closely associated with this case has just e-mailed me to say that “in this case, the child has not yet started medication to suspend puberty. Apparently the parents see that happening at around age 12 if the child’s gender dysphoria persists.”

So even less “permanent” than the critics claim.

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Loving parents and transphobic parents

The phone rings: its from the local Beeb, asking me if I’d like to pop back onto the radio and give everyone an update following my recent encounter with the surgeon. Of course, I agree.

And? Oh, yes. They would like a view on the Worcester case: this is the story about the child diagnosed as dysphoric and being allowed to pause puberty and to grow in her identified gender from age 10.

Sure. Though personally, I can’t see what all the fuss is about. And if you aren’t likely to be listening to Radio Lincoln tomorrow morning, here’s roughly what i’ll be saying.

The dysphoria dilemma

The first and only big point to make is that I don’t know any of the people involved. Which means that I can sympathise, but offer no direct advice. Sympathy, because cutting thru all the headline-grabbing stuff, this is a fraught decision by the child’s parents and one I do not believe has been taken lightly.

Unless you can confidently predict the future, you have no way of knowing whether your diagnosis is right or wrong. Only a best guess.

Diagnose dysphoria where there is none – and you possibly expose a child to embarrassment, ridicule and an extra difficult teenhood. On the other hand, fail to diagnose it when it is present, and you condemn that same child to years of torment in which every day, every developmental step towards growing the wrong body, is slow soul-crushing suicidal agony .

What was it that one mum in this situation told researchers? “Better a live daughter than a dead son”.

In the end, all that this child, her family, the experts have done is to put puberty on hold. That gives her time: time to be sure, time to decide. Crucially, if she does opt for a full transition, her body will not be twisted into a detested alien masculinity. It gives her the best possible chance of an adjusted adulthood.

Don’t forget to involve the parents

Otherwise, there is the very slight faux pas that kicked this issue off into the national media. The school were supportive: perhaps too supportive, as the head teacher welcomed his pupil’s transition process by putting on a couple of special assemblies to tell her fellow pupils…and forget to warn their parents in advance.

Big mistake. Even if not a single parent is remotely transphobic (a big and unlikely if), that’s a bit of a PR error. At tea time: “So, Johnny: what happened at school today?”

“Well, the head called us all into assembly and told us that Robert is now Roberta…”

Nah. I can see how parents might throw a wobbly at that. The golden rule must be: involve, involve, involve. We did that at our son’s school: informed all parents by letter before I began my public transition, and I agreed to be available to answer any direct questions and that seemed to work well.

A pity, because otherwise, this seems to have worked OK.

Instead, what did some of those parents who hadn’t had advance warning do next? Oh. They ran off to the local press, complaining and issuing dire warnings.

Or as one unnamed parent is quoted in the Worcester News: “The headteacher told all the kids that there was a kid at the school who was a girl trapped in a boy’s body.

“The parents we spoke to are absolutely outraged that they weren’t consulted about this.

“This kid is just going to be bullied now. Why didn’t the school send us a letter?”

Huh? Consulted about what? The family’s decision? Or the likely bullying to follow? And if they were really concerned about bullying, intrusion and the like, what the hell are they doing running off to the local press?

And the transphobes gather…

No. Its not hard to spot transphobia when it raises its ugly head. It has a most particular stench. Its there in those oh-so-thoughful comments on some of the national rehashes of this story which bleed with faux pity for the “poor boy”, whose mum probably forced this on him by insisting he play with girls’ things as much as in those vile posters who think it OK to call the child a “freak”.

Utter, utter morons!

Besides, I do wonder if any of those coming out with such garbage have ever dealt with real children.

I know my son. Trying to buy him a pair of jeans with even slightly pink-ish stitching was enough to spark a mutiny: the very idea that I could “trick” him into feminity is just laughable. So, too, it seems to be with other peoples’ children. They mostly tend to be what they will be.

Sadly, I suspect that all of the above is second cousin to the story I posted a week or so back, about the US student whose classmate shot him. It was all his fault because he was gay. Or effeminate. Or something unnatural. So, it was “only natural” for tensions to rise in the school…and presumably only natural, in a US setting, for someone to die.

At base, this is not about the child, who seems to be surrounded by positive helpful people and sensible adults. It is about those poor, sad, insecure folks who cannot envisage a world that is not slotted irrevocably into the gender binary – and whose reaction to anyone who dares to shake the cowardice of their convictions is to bluster, insult and threaten.

The real story is about a child and a family doing as well as they can: the anti-story is how, in 2011, a bunch of bigots still peddle their hatred of what they do not understand – all the time sugar-coating their transphobia beneath a thin veneer of concern.


P.S. All credit to the Worcester News write-up of the main story: sensitive and as far as i can see, they got it right. Unlike some of the national press (the Metro, for one!)

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