Caught Up In Cotton »« GenderGaming

Sometimes Victory Rings Hollow

So “we” did it, everyone! “We” successfully petitioned and fought and made a fuss and now “we’ve” won! Donald Trump himself has announced that Jenna Talackova will be permitted to participate in the Miss Universe Canada competition!

By banding together as a community, and making our voice heard, we have successfully ensured that this totally passing-privileged, beautiful-by-cisnormative-standards, successful beauty queen will be able to subject herself to objectification in an ultra-patriarchal competition built entirely around the premise that a woman’s worth and validity is dependent on how well men are able to sexualize her and project their desires onto her!

Yay?

Meanwhile, the media blackout on Bill C-279, the Canadian trans rights bill that would prevent all Canadian trans women (not just individual gorgeous beauty queens) from being subject to all forms of legally-empowered discrimination (not just being barred from appallingly sexist pageants) continues, with nary a single comment raised by the media in regards to the bill over the entirety of the Talackova story’s unfolding. Meanwhile, no comparable outcry has been raised on behalf of Alexandra, the German trans girl who is now being subjected to one of the most horrific and disgusting human rights abuses I’ve ever witnessed within a “developed” democracy in my lifetime. The petitions for both the bill and for Alexandra remain at a fraction of what was pulled together for Talackova, likewise the media coverage.

Hooray for the rights of trans women to subject themselves to misogynistic oppression. Meh for actual progress or protection from blatant violations of rights.

I’m sorry, but this victory rings incredibly hollow for me (even though, technically, I do support Talackova’s right to compete, if only on the basis that trans people should have all the same rights as cis people, including the right to do silly things), and really, I am ENORMOUSLY disappointed right now. I’m disappointed in the media. I’m disappointed in Canada. I’m disappointed in humanity. I’m disappointed in the supposed supporters of trans rights. And for perhaps the first time since I transitioned and began participating in the trans rights movement, I’m disappointed in the trans community itself.

Way to fucking prioritize, everyone.

What does it say about our community, about where we’re heading, what we want, how we see ourselves, and our goals, when this is the fight we choose to pour ourselves into and ultimately celebrate? Is this what we consider most important? The capacity for trans women to be sexy bikini shots on the beach, to be in the evening wear competition, to be be sexualized by men and crowned most-attractive-in-the-land (in accordance with cisnormative, heteronormative, vanillacentric concepts of beauty)? Do we want to de-fang ourselves, remove the threat we pose to such cisnormative standards and concepts? Market ourselves as an object totally safe for male consumption? Become subservient pretty-things-to-look-at? We’re fighting for the right to be subjected to the same misogyny cis women are subjected to?

Really?!

These are the things we’re willing to fight for, and invest enough energy into to win? At the expense of attention paid to actual human rights? These are the heroes and icons of our movement?

If so, I’m not sure it’s my movement at all, or anything I wish to be a part of.

I’ve been finding myself increasingly unnerved by who we position as our “positive role models” and “icons”, particularly amongst trans women. While we certainly have our Julia Seranos, Vandy Beth Glenns, Paris Leeseses, Sarah Browns, Sandy Stones, Lynn Conways and Susan Strykers, it seems more often than not the kinds of trans women we most consistently and strongly place on pedestals are those who are beautiful and “successful” in relatively conventional ways. The women we swoon over, and “want to be like”, are not scientists like Serano or legal pioneers like Glenn or activists like Stone or politicians like Brown or pioneering engineers like Conway, they instead seem to be valued on the basis of their beauty and charm like Janet Mock, Kim Petras, Jamie Clayton, Laverne Cox or Calpernia Addams. These women additionally end up being the primary image of “successful” trans women in the media, almost as though the only yardstick by which a trans woman’s success is measured is their beauty (again, within cisgender standards).

I have absolutely nothing against any of those women. They all are great people and really are doing a lot of good for our overall imagine in the public imagination, nor are their accomplishments strictly within the bounds of celebrity and beauty. Mock, for instance, is an editor at People magazine and had worked her way to that position long before disclosing her history. But nonetheless I have a lot of concerns and worries over how these women are positioned so strongly as our primary role models at the expense of women whose achievements have been more intellectual or political or artistic in nature. I worry about where we’re placing our priorities, that so much of our idea of what a “good” or “admirable” trans woman is seems to hinge on things like cis expectations of beauty, or on beauty itself, or on rather problematic concepts of what defines female success and power itself.

What do we give up when we attempt to position ourselves as acceptable within the current standards and parameters of sex, gender, and womanhood, rather than continuing to challenge those standards and parameters and keep pushing at their edges? When do we stop being a movement, and start being a commodity? When do we hit the point where the legacy of Stonewall turns into our own versions of “Will & Grace” and “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy”, our own sanitized, marketable, “safe” version of transgenderism?

Or did it already happen?

There’s been a hashtag on twitter lately, I think initially started by Janet Mock, called #girlslikeus. While I’m sure its intentions were great, and it was meant to be an inclusive thing, through which we could find solidarity with one another, so far all the instances of the hashtag I’ve seen have focused on highly successful trans women in the entertainment and publishing industries. It’s all seemingly been about magazines, TV, award ceremonies and beauty pageants. Nothing about the #girlslikeus who are sex workers, or #girlslikeus who are homeless, #girlslikeus who are suffering from mental health issues, #girlslikeus who can’t find work, #girlslikeus who are assaulted, #girlslikeus who can’t access medical care, #girlslikeus who are harassed by police, #girlslikeus who still don’t have basic legal protections from discrimination.

The overall impression, reading these tweets is not one of “oh, there are girls like us in the media too!”. The “us” never feels right. Their narratives don’t really overlap with my own at all. Instead, it ends up looking like #girlslikeTHEM.

Having these kinds of positive images in media, and having our beauty queens and television presenters and entertainers, is all important, yes. Absolutely. Normative beauty itself isn’t something to be shunned. Normative beauty is one of the many ways a gender can be expressed, and is no less valid than any other such expression. But the problem is in fighting for our beauty queens and entertainers and ability to fit into normative standards at the expense of the other fights. When we hold up our pretty TV show hosts as being so amazing and beautiful but ignore the breadth and range of beauty that exists within our community that isn’t embraced and marketed by cis society, when we hold up these icons at our idols to aspire towards at the expense of considering all the other possible ways to be an amazing and successful and awesome trans woman (such as intellectually, creatively, politically)… and when we unleash an enormous outcry and zealously campaign for the right of a trans woman to compete in a beauty pageant, while ignoring the lack of legal protections against discrimination that made her exclusion possible in the first place while having FAR WORSE consequences for many other trans Canadians, and ignoring the possibility of a trans girl being institutionalized against her will and forced to endure a masculinizing puberty as psychiatrists attempt to “cure” her gender, with courts excluding all qualified and experienced medical opinion from the case, and denying her the right to even be able to testify for herself or have a lawyer represent her interests… when this is how we prioritize our goals, something is deeply, deeply wrong.

C’mon, everyone. It would break my heart to end up feeling like we don’t even deserve our rights.

 

ETA UPDATE:

Alexandra’s mother just lost her appeal. The German court decision stands.

Good job, everyone. Enjoy your beauty pageant.

Comments

  1. Emily says

    I must agree with you. Throughout this I was just going, “We’ve got a child about to be institutionalized for their gender identity in Germany, and a Trans-rights bill in Canada that is pretty much completely unknown, and we’re fighting for the beauty pageant and ignoring the rest?”

    I don’t know…

  2. Anders says

    Could it be that the fight to include bill C-279 was perceived as doomed from the start? Investing yourself in a fight that cannot be won is necessary at times, but it’s not for the many. Although I don’t see why it would be so difficult in Canada when we already have that kind of protection in Sweden…

    I don’t know enough about the gay movement from Stonewall onwards, but could it be that the introducction of minorities into the general consciousness proceeds from the least threatening to the most? That beauty pageants and silly sitcoms are a phase to ease the full acceptance that comes later?

    Am I suggesting that we should be satisfied with what we got this time around? That we should retreat and take satisfaction in half a victory? No! I’m rather suggesting that we should not lose heart because we couldn’t go all the way. Every step forward, no matter how small or silly, is still a step forward. The important thing is to never retreat.

    Better listen to the snapped string
    Than to never string a bow

    • Emily says

      It wasn’t just the fight over the bill. There was also the child being institutionalized in Germany for being transgender. Do you think a fight for that kid was perceived as doomed as well?

      If I had to choose between fighting for the child or the beauty queen, I would have chosen the child. No question.

      • Anders says

        Quite frankly, yes. Changing a court’s mind once it has been made up is very difficult. With that case we also fought against the perception that an 11-year old is not ready to make such a decision. There’s an immediate reaction against letting so young kids make life-altering decisions (normally a sound reaction, though not in this case).

        I still think it worth the fight, though – not so much for that child as for the next one. But I recognize that not everyone thinks that way.

        • says

          It’s not a life altering decision. Lupron simply preserves options until they are old enough to make the choice. Denying Lupron is making a horrible choice FOR them, to put them through something nightmarish, and irreversible.

          • Anders says

            I know that. You know that. Now poll 100 random Canadians. How many of them know this?

          • says

            That one soundbyte is something I am still hoping to make as public as possible: essentially, “there is no reason to campaign against delaying puberty, which will only benefit transgender children and do nothing irreversible”.

        • says

          When you say something like this it only serves to push people toward the inactivity side of the fence they may be sitting on. People are by their nature pretty lazy. We try to find the most parsimonious way of dealing with life. If you give us an out when we have little emotionally invested in a situation we will take it. It just gets too messy for our brains anyway and it won’t work so why bother. I know you said this after the fact but that kind of negativity will only be a hinderance in the future. Of course they should bother. They should bother because there is never a wrong time to do what is right. In this case standing up for the rights of a minority or even a little girl is right. Futile or no it is right and that should make the decision to be vocal and easy one. People talking about the futility just make the decision to do what is right harder.

          Sorry if the syntax is confusing. Phone typing.

          • Anders says

            I think you misunderstood me. I definitely think the fight is worthwile, if not for this girl then for the next one. And I think that setting overambitious goals only to have them defeated on a regular basis is also a recipe for disaster, moral-wise.

            We should be aware that we will probably lose this fight if that is the case, and see our struggles as preparing the way for later victories. That was my point.

  3. says

    Well, being ignored unless you’re a model is pretty much par for any woman. This whole thing is likely going to result in Miss Universe getting more attention than usual.

  4. says

    There was kind of a big blowup on Tumblr about Alexis and how the petition to rescue her was useless and amounted to slacktivism. Nothing shuts people down like cries of slacktivism, especially those who are motivated by cis guilt but whose voices are nonetheless useful as part of the larger outcry. And as usual, those accusations came with no helpful advice as to what people actually *can* do to help Alexis, or (gods forbid) others in her situation.

    I realize Tumblr itself is basically a parody of social justice activism, but it was disheartening to see people basically talked out of rallying to save this girl. (We get mixed messages about the efficacy of online petitions, I’m assuming it doesn’t actively *harm* anything to sign one.) If you wonder why nobody’s signing, that’s at least part of the reason.

    • Anders says

      The term ‘slacktivism’ is interesting. It instantly craps all over the stuff people who are disabled can do.

      • says

        Hmm, yes and no. I can’t do much in-person agitating due to my autism and social anxiety disorder, but I can write letters, and a personalized letter is always worth more than adding one’s name to a petition.

        I find the idea of “slacktivism” problematic too, though, if not always specifically ableist. Reposting something on a blog site like Tumblr, for instance, *does* call attention to a cause, moreso than, say, changing your Facebook pic for child abuse awareness (because, like Daisy says, who doesn’t already know child abuse is a problem?) There’s a difference between applying “slacktivism” to something that truly is useless or frivolous, and applying it broadly to any type of activism that doesn’t have an in-person element.

        And it’s always obnoxious, I think, to rail against slacktivism while failing to mention other, better venues for activism… which strikes me as a slacktivist activity in itself. Less than five minutes on Google brought up this link which has names and email addresses of real, actual people one can write on Alexandra’s behalf.

  5. Brittany says

    I do NOT agree that the “Trans community” is “fighting more” for the rights of Jenna Talackova to participate in a beauty pageant than for other more important cases – such as the German Trans girl forcibly institutionalized. The MEDIA jumped on the Jenna Talackova story since it was the most interesting to THEM — NOT because it was the most important issue concerning ‘Trans rights.’ The REASON it was more important to them was because it was SO OUTLANDISH to them that a Transsexual woman could actually PASS so well and actually be as beautiful as a cisgendered woman — THAT was the REAL news to them (and to the world) – NOT the fact that Jenna was being denied her “right” to compete. The “story” was the fact that a TS woman could “look so real” — THIS is what is really sad. And if you want to REALLY be depressed take a look at the IGNORANT/HATEFUL/INFURIATING comments posted by people under the story on ANY mainstream news site…

    Basic civil rights should ALWAYS be given top priority for what we as a community fight for. The case of the German girl being institutionalized should be one of the NUMBER ONE “issues” at the moment for ALL of us! Jenna Talackova was given the opportunity to grow up in the gender she knew she was and to transition at a very young age. This same opportunity should be given to the girl in Germany! Being someone who could not transition until later in life, I know just how important it is for people to transition as early as possible — and the HELL they have to go through if they are forced to wait! It breaks my heart that this young girl had those opportunities taken away from her by her bigoted/IGNORANT father and a German court!!!

    Again, I do NOT believe that the beauty pageant was the “top priority” for the Trans community to rally behind — it just simply (and SADLY)received more media attention because of the reasons I mentioned above.

    • Anders says

      So… how do we continue the fight for Alexandra? Can the presumably wise heads on various trans blogs unite behind a common plan and post about it? And the various cis-ally blogs do the same? And we then try to actually do it?

      That would be nice.

    • kingjing says

      “I signed the petitions for Alexandra and Bill C-279. Is there anything else I could do?”

      Tell everyone about it. Friends, family, coworkers, schoolmates. If you have a blog, post about it. Try to direct as many people to the petitions as possible. If you live in Canada or Germany, let your government know how you feel about these issues! If you don’t live in Canada or Germany, you can still let them know how you feel! International pressure can go a long way. Try contacting politicians. Nine times out of ten you’ll get a non-reply from a faceless intern or volunteer, but once in a while you may actually reach somebody. The important thing is to keep at it. Tell your friends to write in too. A flood of personal letters in support of the bill, it seems to me, would go a long way to helping it pass.

  6. beneficii says

    “Alexandra’s mother just lost her appeal. The German court decision stands.

    So a federal court in Germany has made its ruling on this matter? I cannot find a source for that. I was under the impression that the original Berlin court ruled against her, her mum lost the appeal to another Berlin court, and her mum was now appealing to the federal courts. I have not seen evidence of a ruling by the federal courts on this matter yet, and a search of Google News and Google itself does not reveal evidence of one.

    • says

      Hmmm… I’m a bit confused now too… I had seen an “update” stating as such, with a link to a German blog, but that story is dated a week ago and seems to be about the Berlin court of appeals, not the federal courts. So maybe there’s still hope after all?

      • Sebor says

        Well from what I have read (I could not find anything published in German after March 30) there is still the option to appeal to the German Constitutional Court on the ruling on the healthcare custody not 100% sure if the appeal is still open, the legalese of the ruling is very difficult to parse for me but some of the comments seem to suggest the possibility.
        In addition to that there is another lawsuit in order to transfer custody of residence from Alex’s mother to the youth office so that Alex can be institutionalized, as far as I know there is no ruling yet, but since it is by the same court (I think by a different judge though), I would place my bets on the ruling of the Constitutional Court. Giliell has been active in the comments section of the German law blog linked a while back, maybe she knows more.

        • Erin W says

          Would you mind linking me that stuff, Sebor? I’m proficient in both German and legalese. Maybe I can sort it out.

          • Sebor says

            Yes, here’s the blog where I got most of the information from and here’s the ruling of the court.
            I’m a bit confused at this point, law is really not my area of expertise so I hope I didn’t mess up to badly.

  7. christophburschka says

    Meanwhile, no comparable outcry has been raised on behalf of Alexis, the German trans girl who is now being subjected to one of the most horrific and disgusting human rights abuses I’ve ever witnessed within a “developed” democracy in my lifetime.

    Something is clearly wrong when I find out about shit going on in my own country on a Canadian blog rather than the news. :(

    I now found a few blog posts about it, but had to dig before I found a mainstream news article in the TAZ (Tageszeitung). However, the TAZ also published a correction to their own article, saying that the hospital had announced they would refuse to institutionalize anyone against their will, so I still have no idea what the situation is.

  8. Cara says

    I get angry about this too (witness the total non-discussion of ENDA or trans civil rights in the US media since, oh, about three years ago), but I see this small, silly victory in a different way than you do: fundamentally, the reason it was won is not that trans people cared more about it than about other things, but because the forces arrayed against equal rights cared less, and the pageant as an institution is much smaller and less static than courts and legislatures. Donald Trump owns half of the Miss Universe pageant (NBC’s corporate parent owns the other half) and seems to have de facto dictatorial control over it: to change the rules, all Jenna Talackova and her allies had to do was convince him. Trump is a jerk and a sexist, but he’s also an attention whore and a calculating manipulator of the media for his own benefit, and I’m sure that he saw quite quickly that letting Talackova compete would garner lots of free advertising for his property and perhaps some goodwill in t he bargain.

    Meanwhile, courts and legislatures are completely different beasts than pageants controlled by one person. My brief research on Germany’s legal system (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judiciary_of_Germany) indicates that judges are essentially civil servants, and that at least some of them have lifetime tenure. This system builds conservatism in from the beginning, making sure judges are older and hold “uncontroversial” opinions. The decision they made is both wrong and unsurprising. Changing the judicial system to support trans rights will require replacing judges, which is obviously designed to be difficult and take a long time, and focusing political pressure on existing judges. Both of these things are hard and require a substantial, dedicated, persistent political presence in favor of trans rights. This brings me to legislatures. There are, in the US and Canada both, significant organized political parties who oppose trans rights. When they’re in charge, they can and do bury trans rights issues by refusing to let them go to vote, trapping them in committees, and using other legislative stalling and avoidance tactics. Much of this opposition to trans rights is motivated by real belief and prejudice—the politicians may be opportunists, but the voters aren’t, and the latter sincerely hate trans people. Convincing Donald Trump to change his mind and moving a whole political system are tasks of completely different orders of magnitude.

    As for the cis media people who reported on and discussed Talackova and Miss Universe, what else should we really expect? Of course they’re going to report a story that features a pretty, traditionally feminine trans woman who wants to compete in a contest where she’s on display for hetero cis men over stories about the abuse of a German trans girl or a trans rights bill that’s probably not going to go to a vote. Crudely, what’s going to get more hits? From the very beginning of the LGBT rights movement, there’s always been a tendency on the part of hetero cis people to accept LGBT people who comply with almost the whole of the heteronormative patriarchal cissexist edifice save for one exception. Children are a particular trigger point in this prejudice: many hetero cis people are enormously threatened by the possibility that their children might grow up to be trans, not-hetero, or both. Alexis is probably a victim of this fear.

    I don’t think it reflects on the trans community or even much on people who consider themselves trans allies that the trivial concession was easier to win and got more attention than the hard ones. The game’s rigged, the media are mostly controlled by oblivious or bigoted cis hetero people even on the Internet, and what gets attention reflects their priorities more than ours. What they care about says terrible things about the majority of people, but not so much about us: it’s not our fault Bill O’Reilly picked up Talackova’s story and not the others.

    • says

      This makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t necessarily change the fact that the way these three stories played out, and the differences between them, is indicative of some very serious problems.

      Also, the fact is that it wasn’t simply the mainstream media that focused more attention on Talackova than on the other stories. A similar pattern still played out internal to the trans community itself.

  9. says

    While we certainly have our Julia Seranos, Vandy Beth Allens, Paris Leeseses, Sarah Browns, Sandy Stones, Lynn Conways and Susan Strykers

    In terms of transwomen who are seen as successful for more than their appearance, might I suggest Deidre McClosky as well? I could also suggest Georgina Beyer.

    You may well know of these women already, I just thought I’s point them out since they’re two successful transwomen I know of, since they overlap my professional and geographical circles respectively.

  10. says

    The reason I’ve not kicked up a fuss about the girl in Germany is I simply could not find any words to address the situation. I’m very glad that you have been relentlessly focusing upon it; I’m sorry I’ve not.

  11. Ma Nonny says

    It is disappointing that, if the focus just HAD to be on the beauty pageant to attract media consumers, the Canadian bill (being directly relevant to the Canadian pageant story) and other human rights stories weren’t at least mentioned. It seems remiss, and potentially a sign of very bad journalism, to not bring up legislation being discussed that directly effects the story at hand.
    I don’t think the media had to pick “just one” story/cause to focus on. Instead, I think they (this is me thinking cynically about how the media works) should have used the pageant story to draw people in, since that’s ultimately all they care about, but then at least mention the context surrounding the pageant, Canadian human rights, and trans* rights briefly within the story. I mean, come on, not even a tiny paragraph of context? Three sentences? Two? It’s not much to ask. And, it could make all the difference in spreading the word.

  12. Paul says

    Natalie,

    I can only imagine what you trans people are goin through.
    And I totally agree with you that people like Lynn Conway, whose a professor ermita of computer science at UMich (!!!), or Julia Serano (PhD in Biochemistry) should be spokeswomen for trans issues. Man, you tans women can be damn proud of these ladies.

    Best wishes for your future,

    Paul

  13. mal099 says

    As Christophburschka said, there is a correction in the only German source for this story, and it appears like the situation may not be as bad after all… this is the kind of problem you run into when the only source willing to cover a story is one not very reputable newspaper. Translation of the correction:

    “Correction

    On http://www.taz.de, under the heading “Alex will go into psychiatry,” an article dated 23/03/2012 in the case of a transsexual child read: “The transsexual Alex Kaminski * may be admitted to the psychiatric ward. This is the rule of the Berlin Court of Appeal, which it made on Thursday.” This assertion is incorrect. It is true, rather, that the Court of Appeal has denied the appeal of the child’s mother against a first instance decision of the Amtsgericht Schöneberg, in which she had unsuccessfully demanded the retransfer of the health care of the child.

    It went on to http://www.taz.de: “The child [...] may now be forcibly admitted to the Charité in Berlin” Apart from the fact that there is a lack of an appropriate court order for such a measure, the Berlin Charité declared in addition that they were not ready to take the child against her declared will, or against the express wishes of her mother. So the child is not forcibly admitted to the Charité in Berlin.

    Finally, the post in the Taz read: “In the, Charité, we will try to get Alex closer to his ‘biological’ sex and to ‘stop’ ‘atypical behavior for his sex’, says chief doctor Klaus Beier about the therapy.” Insofar as there may be the impression that chief physician Klaus Beier had spoken to the specific case, this impression is false. He does not know the case described in the taz. the editors”

    Translation using Google, then translated into real English as well and as faithfully to the original as I could.

  14. Ineffabelle says

    (One small correction: It’s Vandy Beth Glenn, not Allen.)

    And I kind of agree that it’s more that the stories the news media will get behind, are ones that involve cis perspectives on trans people. The news media creates public awareness and manipulates action much more effectively than the small trans community (such as it may be) would. Sad but true.

  15. Katrina Swales says

    I am the person who started the petition about Alex, and I would be very interested in the source on that last update, so I can add it to the petition news section

  16. Katrina Swales says

    Latest update on Taz.De:
    “On http://www.taz.de further was posted: „The child […] may now be forcibly institutionalized into the Berlin Charité.“ Besides the absence of an appropriate courtly decision for this, the Berlin Charité explained additionally, they were not ready to take the child in against her declaration of will or the declaration of will of her mother. The child therefore would not be forcibly institutionalized into the Berlin Charité.”
    THAT SOUNDS LIKE A VICTORY!

  17. F says

    Way to fucking prioritize, everyone.

    I rather imagine some other priority is overriding positive priorities for the trans community. I would tend to expect Miss Universe Canada is more or less a gimme from the System. (So don’t you go complaining about everyday rights and protection thereof that others get to enjoy while you do not.)

  18. says

    Does anybody know anything about this physician Klaus Beier? I’m curious because he seems to have some bizarre-sounding views, based on what I could find out about him online. Which wasn’t much. (An interview, an abstract of an article of which he’s listed as one of the authors, various media attributions.)

    He seems to believe that most boys who identify as girls during childhood grow up to be gay (rather than to be trans women) and that delaying puberty is harmful to this development. I gather he feels that all children should be forced through the puberty of their assigned gender before being allowed to pursue their own gender identities. I’m not clear what the rationale behind this is supposed to be, thanks to the inadequacy of my sources along with the inadequacy of my German.

    The paper to which he contributed is “Gender Identity Disorders in Childhood and Adolescence: Currently Debated Concepts and Treatment Strategies”. According to the conclusions section of the abstract:

    As children with GID only rarely go on to have permanent transsexualism, irreversible physical interventions are clearly not indicated until after the individual’s psychosexual development is complete. The identity-creating experiences of this phase of development should not be restricted by the use of LHRH analogues that prevent puberty.

    So anyway my question is: does anybody know anything more about this guy, or about these views? I get the impression that this group to which he apparently belongs has confused gender identity with sexual orientation. If my understanding of his views is correct, I really hope he has nothing to do with Alexis or her treatment.

    • says

      I don’t know. But it occurs to me to ask, in the context of this and legal sex changes: Why are cis people so obsessed with ‘irreversible’?

      I guess I know the answer: the binary is immutable. Oops, well if we can’t have that, then when any change is made, by definition it must be irreversible. Right? /snark

    • Brittany says

      I have never heard of this guy, but basically his entire argument assumes that “all” people with GID are attracted to the same sex as they were born as. This is certainly NOT the case with most MtF Transsexual people and I am a perfect example since I identify as Lesbian…

  19. Anders says

    What’s this therapy she will be forced to undertake? And is there any evidence that it is possible to change gender identity like that? And what’s the standard ‘conversion rate’ (i.e., going from trans to cis) at this age?

    • Dagda says

      @ Anders
      The Institut in Question (part of the Charite)
      published this paper (german):
      http://www.aerzteblatt.de/archiv/62493
      Taken from the abstract( available in english;):

      Conclusions: The types of modulating influences that are known from the fields of developmental psychology and family dynamics have therapeutic implications for GID. As children with GID only rarely go on to have permanent transsexualism, irreversible physical interven-tions are clearly not indicated until after the individual’s psychosexual development ist complete. The identity-creating experiences of this phase of development should not be restricted by the use of LHRH analogues that prevent puberty.
      Dtsch Arztebl 2008; 105(48): 834–41
      DOI: 10.3238/arztebl.2008.0834

    • Megan says

      That depends on whether you define “changing gender identity” as actually changing someone’s fundamental gendered sense of self or as just bullying some poor kid into changing their outward gender expression. Sadly, the people who do conduct research into this kind of reparative therapy (think Kenneth Zucker) usually tend to use the latter definition…

      • Anders says

        I mean “fundamental gendered sense of self.” Is there a therapy to turn trans into cis? I don’t want to imply that such a thing would be desirable, but is there even such a procedure?

        • Brittany says

          Psychiatrists/therapist/parents have tried doing that for many years using “aversion therapy” and other abusive nonsense. I was beaten throughout most of my childhood (1960′s) starting at the age of four by my own parents until I learned I had to hide everything from them. My parents were both perfect “role models” and very conservative — they damn sure didn’t do anything to “turn me” Transsexual. I am living proof that it is impossible to change someone’s gender identity.

          • Anders says

            I’m sorry if I woke bad memories in you… so not only are what they’re doing wrong, it’s only impossible. That makes it even worse in a sense, because that means they’ll never be satisfied and stop. Fuck.

          • Brittany says

            What these idiots intend to do is nothing short of pure abuse. Not only will Alexis have to endure psychological abuse, but if she is taken off androgen blockers her body will develop into a male body. This means she will be forced to undergo hundreds of hours of painful electrolysis and even dangerous/painful facial feminization surgery – and those things also COST a LOT! She wouldn’t have to endure those procedures if she was allowed to stay on hormone blockers. Also, now there will be a high risk of suicide that wouldn’t have been there before. What these people are planning to do to Alexis is absolutely horrible and it IS pure abuse!

  20. ischemgeek says

    I’m writing the CBC to express my disbelief that they could cover the Talakova situation without expanding on the fact that transgender people are not explicitly protected from discrimination under our laws and so are often victims of such discrimination.

    Would you mind if I link them to your blog?

  21. Sinéad says

    I don’t particularly enjoy the attention that the Miss Universe pageant got over Alex’s institutionalization. In fact, I’m still emotionally in shock for Alex. Her battle has just left me deeply depressed. I just see a potential loss to suicide…and it makes me sick, so I’ll in fact, I feel like vomiting. And I don’t know why this is affecting me as it is.

    As for role models, yeah…it’s really depressing to see who gets more attention, almost always the pretty passables. But really, cis role models like Madame Curie, Simone de Beauvoir or Emma Goldman are similarly relegated to the periphery.

    Ugh, I need to find a hole to crawl into

    • Sinéad says

      Ugh, iPad, please stop turning “ill” int “I’ll” please. I don’t want to turn off auto suggest.

  22. Anders says

    *sigh*

    From the prelude to the Swedish law book: “What is not just and fair can never be law.” Meaning that if something is written into the lawbook that is not just and fair, the judge has a duty to disregard it. If only more people listened to words like that the world would be a happier place.

  23. Leni says

    This is just a thought, and probably an inane one, but what about “liking” or sharing the original articles so that publishers can actually public interest? I know, I know. The dreaded slacktavism. I just don’t care. Numbers matter and FB counts us. Almost obsessively.

    Maybe, Natalie, when you link to the originals put in a little reminder or encouragement for your readers to like/share them? Perhaps through sharing the originals we can at least help make the point to the publishers that people do care.

    I know it’s not much and seems silly, but as an American who consumes very little Canadian media, I don’t have much sway over them other than offering a tiny, baby carrot they wouldn’t have otherwise had.

    • Leni says

      Holy bad! My apologies for the wretched grammar and typos. Please fill in the blanks.

      I should get a “F&^% Proofreading!” cape for that lol.

  24. says

    I sent a comment to all 4 of PEI’s MPs (3 Lib, 1 Con) on Bill C-279, as well as to a reporter at the Globe and Mail. That was a week ago, and I heard nothing from any of them.

  25. Vandy Beth Glenn says

    At the risk of completely missing your point, I don’t think I’m all that hard to look at, even though my lawsuit is the main reason anyone’s heard of me.

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