So I was fucking around on Twitter the other day, as I am often wont to do (@nataliereed84, hint hint hint), and happened to catch a re-tweet from some place called trans-health.com. This site has existed since 2001, but sort of fell under the radar for awhile before recently being purchased by transguys.com and re-launched this past December with some very spiffy, slick, professional-looking, doctor-y science-y medicalish graphics.
My initial reaction was interest and excitement. YES, absolutely what we need are good, reliable sources of health information for trans people. As I’ve mentioned, we are frequently put in the difficult and awkward position of having to educate ourselves about transgender health issues and guide our own treatment and care. Most doctors are not provided very adequate education about transsexuality, transgenderism, related treatments and our specific medical needs and risks. That requires us to take on a lot of the work ourselves. Unfortunately, the information that is available can be spotty, unreliable and difficult to navigate. There are conflicting messages, conflicting theories, and even conflicting interests turning the entire thing into a quagmire of politicization, monetary concerns, pseudo-science, theoretical and conceptual debate, alt-med foolishness and cultural stigma that buries science and accuracy and renders the process of conducting research into a mad-cap scavenger hunt… one that requires a certain level of critical thinking skills, skepticism and medical literacy that not everyone who needs to be able to sort the good information from the bad is going to possess.
So I was initially optimistic and hopeful that this seemingly well-put-together website was going to offer a nice, clean, comprehensible resource towards which I could direct people in need of reliable medical information about transgenderism.
I’m a naïve idiot like that sometimes.
One of the very first articles I noticed, as it cycled through the featured article graphic linky banner thingy, was “Reiki For Trans People”. My heart sank. But I gave it a click to see what it actually said. Maybe it would be an honest, scientifically valid appraisal of the relative merits of Reiki and the lack thereof. I’m a naïve idiot like that sometimes, too. But upon reading, my heart sank even further. Behold, and weep the tears of the damned:
“Reiki is different from most other forms of energetic support. Reiki practitioners are attuned with symbols to enhance the transmission of Life Force Energy (unconditional love). Without the use of these symbols, it is not Reiki. Reiki practitioners also do not “take on” the symptoms of any illness. Reiki practitioners are conduits— offering unconditional love for everyone’s highest will and best good. It is like a hose bringing water to a garden after a hot day— a nice, soothing, refreshing feeling. I am sure you have hurt your knee at one time or another. I know I have. When I do, I put both hands on the hurt place. That is Reiki. It is that simple. With clear intentions, you cannot do it wrong.”
Wait… what? What is this I don’t even…?
The same as putting your hands on a hurt knee? So Reiki is an instinctive reflex designed to help us quickly apply pressure to what may be a wound and may be bleeding? What? Or is it unconditional love? Am I unconditionally loving myself when I apply pressure to a wound? Is Reiki like masturbating your knee or something? DOES THAT PARAGRAPH EVEN MEAN ANYTHING?!? AUUUGGGHHHH!!!
“I was taught that before I start a Reiki treatment, I ask the client if it is okay to give that person a loving Reiki treatment. There are two reasons for this. This clearly states that they are open to the healing aspects of a treatment. This also empowers the client to accept their part in their healing. The practitioner is not the healer: the client is. The client accepts the energy and decides where it will go. Reiki cannot be forced on anybody. If the client does not want the energy, Reiki practitioners allow the energy to go into the earth for the best and highest use of the earth. That way, the energy is not wasted.”
Oh… okay. I think I get it now. It’s like Mati from Captain Planet or something. It’s a magic thing, a spiritual belief. But wait…
“Reiki is not connected with any religious belief. While there are some practitioners that have their own religious beliefs, I know other practitioners that do not. Unconditional love does not depend on a religious belief. It just is.”
Um… how are you defining religious belief here? Because if you’re talking about love and energy and earth magic, and you’re putting faith in these concepts, accepting that they “just are”, without any evidence at all, that is exactly the same as religious belief.
“Reiki is not a replacement for any medical treatment or drug. Reiki complements any form of healing modality, whether it be conventional or alternative therapies. I have worked with psychologists and psychiatrists and seen a marked improvement in my clients.”
And you’re sure the improvement wasn’t coming from a) the psychologists, b) the psychiatrists, c) the actual medical treatments you’re “complementing”, or d) time?
I’ll spare you all (and myself) the pain of continuing through the whole thing. If you’re feeling morbidly curious, though, you can read it for yourself. One more fun quote, though:
“a major portion of most of trans people’s concerns seem to be centered around their gender issues.”
I never would have guessed!
Needless to say, I was saddened by the presence of this article on what I’d hoped would be a nice, reliable source of helpful medical information for trans people. We’re in very desperate need of such resources. But when a site goes ahead and throws insanity like this into the mix, it only serves to further confuse the already difficult and terrifying process of transition and managing the health of a transgender body.
It’s not simply a little bit of harmless alternate theories being presented as an option. It is causing direct and real harm to our community. What we need is clarity, accuracy, and real research into our medical needs and how to improve our health, treatment and options. We need improvement in the medical community’s understanding of how to treat transgender patients. We need better understanding, based on evidence, research and proper scientific study. We need better access to information. We do NOT need the “unconditional love” of a stranger (conditional on payment, of course) and “healing energy pathways” and the alignment of our chakras.
Things are not good for us right now, and they could be a lot better. But undermining the credibility of those needs, exploiting our fears and trauma to sell ineffective “healing”, making the ability to acquire reliable information on transgender health more difficult, and muddying the discourse with nonsense like this is directly detrimental to helping our community’s legitimate needs be met and improving the state of transgender healthcare.
Come on Trans-Health.com… you can be a lot better than this.