2009-08-28 08:10 pm

The "R" Word: "Made of Glass" and "Broken Goods" *trigger warning*

The "R" Word Series on Rape is a series of posts wherein individuals (not just me) describe their situations, challenging common views on healing and victim mentalities and challenging common conventions among society at large on rape.

These posts may be immensely triggering. I would advise to read with caution.

~RP

The "R" Word Series: "Made of Glass" and "Broken Goods"

~~~Trigger Warning~~~
This post deals with rape and describes a situation of rape.


Important Note: Parts of this post came from another entry I wrote a while ago in a different place. If you make the connection between that place and this place do not out me by mentioning it here. I have made some minor grammar and sentence structure corrections and I have cut out parts that might endanger me or my privacy or the privacy of others. The identities of the people written about in this post are not to be revealed. That goes for everyone. Even the perpetrator written about here. I'm looking to write this to move on, to share what I went through, not to strike out at the person who victimized me.

It occurs to me that I can't remember if I explicitly said yes or not. People tell me that a drunken yes given to an abusive partner who has coerced you before isn't much in terms of consent, but that does sort of blur the lines as to whether it was rape or just an incredibly fucked up way of treating someone sexually.

I know I didn't want it. That is for sure. I know I curled into a ball and cried and that was what stopped my ex from having sex with me. I'm also absolutely sure that curling into a ball was about all I could manage with how drunk and out of it I was, otherwise I probably would have pushed my ex away or flailed a bit. I know my ex had "good intentions", to help me with a sexual issue. But it was also one I never planned on testing and certainly never wanted to test with my ex-partner. Somehow, I don't think getting me drunk and fucking me until I cry really meshes with "good intentions."

Although my ex did start crying after I recovered my composure a little, repeating over and over that they had raped me and that they didn't deserve life or something (I was still really drunk and sort of in that haze that mental trauma causes, so I don't recall exacts). Maybe it was just a stupid mistake on my ex's part. Or does intent really matter here? The damage was still done to me. And was I really so abused that I didn't recognize what had happened? Didn't see red flags? Ugh.

I dunno. I can handle talking about it a bit more. [...] But maybe not. I don't really want everyone to know what happened to me.

Society has this really fucked up view on people who have been sexually abused, sexually assaulted or raped. Or really abused in any way or form. They see people like that as damaged goods or a victim that has to be protected and can't protect themselves. One leads to a massive lowering in self worth and the other leads to learned helplessness. Neither one is acceptable to me. I refuse to let this rule me and make me into the victimized woman stereotype.

Yeah, I may have an anxiety attack when I see a lookalike of my ex, but I can protect myself, reduce chances and learn how to fight off an assailant while learning how to handle those I trust if they turn out to be untrustworthy in that horrible way. I owe it to myself to learn these things and do them and to avoid learned helplessness. My poor judgment in letting my ex give me that many drinks or even drinking them doesn't justify what my ex did. But it is a lesson to learn from. I know not to get drunk about people who are sexually interested in me or to have a sober protector/babysitter in place for when I am drunk. I didn't deserve what happened because I failed to get those protections in place with my ex. It wasn't my fault that my ex chose to do what they did. But not having those protections was a mistake and if I learn from it I can protect myself better in the future.

The other one really bothers me a lot. I am not damaged goods. I am not somehow of less worth because I was emotionally and psychologically abused. I am not of somehow of less worth because my ex sexually assaulted or abused me or possibly even raped me (depending on what this incident counts as). It may have given me some trauma related problems but I am still a beautiful, loving, intelligent sexual being who is capable of loving another intimately and being loved intimately in return.

Handling me like I'm made of broken china because of what happened is not acceptable. I will give my boundaries and I will share what hurts and what doesn't. Honor those boundaries and then work as normal for everything else. Avoiding the topic around me or being super protective of me isn't acceptable. The more I'm handled as though I'm damaged, the less capable I'll think I am and the more helpless and worthless I'll feel. I lost my sense of control from that relationship, and I'm trying to regain it. People shouldn't interfere by robbing me of it again in their good intentions.

[My partner] has been amazing in both respects. Giving me suggestions for self protection, not being afraid to take risks with me sexually but knowing and avoiding the boundaries that I've set. I'm lucky to have [my partner], I really am. I'm not seen as a victimized person nor as damaged goods. I'm a woman who was hurt. Hurt badly yes, but I'll heal. And I am strong. I am resolute.

I refuse to be broken.


I've recovered in some ways. This was the third out of a set of writings in which I try to come to grips with what happened to me. The first was completely self blaming, denial filled and loaded with self loathing. The second writing had a lot of excuses for my ex partner and in that I had a hard time even using the word rape.

You can see that even in this third writing, I have a hard time with it. Lines like, "that does sort of blur the lines as to whether it was rape or just an incredibly fucked up way of treating someone sexually" are very telling on the state of my self blame.

In reality, it doesn't blur the lines at all. A coerced yes is not consent and it will never be consent. This is a very clear precept in how we understand the concepts of consent, sexual trauma, unwanted contact and the violence of even rapes that don't involve beatings or physical injury. Marcella from abyss2hope goes in great detail on why even just pushing a girl (or a guy) with intimidation, persistent harassment, or mind altering substances until they "give it up" is unacceptable.

The fact was, my ex got me very very very drunk. And then my ex (who had gotten very drunk too) started sexual contact, engaging in a particular sex act that was (and still is) very triggering for me due to my dysphoria. And my ex only stopped when I pulled myself into as tight of a ball as I possibly could and started crying.

I can't say if the attitudes and mental problems that created the abusive behavior in my ex (and eventually led to my ex raping me) are still present. It is possible that my ex is completely rehabilitated, feels awful about what happened in the past and is just trying to live out a regular life. Hence, my mention above. This is for closure and healing. And so my ex's privacy must be protected as well. This is partly in my interest as well. I am utterly paralyzed by fear of that particular person deciding to come after me and so protecting my ex's privacy helps protect me from retribution.

However there are some really important things mentioned there too, things that I'm happy I realized back then. For instance, society's attitude on victims of rape is all kinds of fucked up.

I'm not just talking about rape apologists, the doubters ("are you sure you were raped?", "but is such a wonderful person!") people who exclude groups from being able to be raped (the idiots who claim men can't be raped, or that sex workers can't be raped, etc, more reading on Harriet's Fugitivus blog post, it's far down in the post) and the predatory Wooers or practitioners of Nice Guyism (Marcella handled that perfectly in the link above).

I'm talking about the people who agree rape is bad for all people, unacceptable and don't practice predatory techniques to get sex but have the "damaged goods" and "poor broken victim" attitudes. (I'll handle nice guyism in another post.)

The fact is, when you shy away from someone who has been raped as though there's this stain on them, that fucking hurts. That hurts a lot and only contributes intensely to the shame that I feel in general for what happened and self loathing that comes out of it. I've thankfully only met a few people who wouldn't enter into a relationship or have sex with someone who was raped and really, they had their excuses but none of them held water.

"I'm afraid of hurting her" - She won't break if you touch her, asshole. Why don't you ask her for her boundaries and what to do if you accidentally go past one. And then if you accidentally go over one, it'll be rare and you'll know what to do to help her.

"She'll never fully trust me" - It isn't about you. No one fully, completely trusts another person. We all have at least some level of secrecy and doubt. The fact is, a lack of trust built from trauma can be overcome, if you're willing to put a little work into earning that trust. And considering how women are treated on a regular basis you would have to do that kind of work anyways, no matter what girl you were with.

And the poor broken victim attitude is debilitating. These are the folks that refuse to let me define my own boundaries based on what I need, but overshoot them based on what they think I need. I am not made of glass. There seems to be this attitude in society that people who have been raped, sexually assaulted and/or abused are going to fall into a million pieces at a moment's notice. This constant pity, this treating with kid gloves, it sucks. And it often leads to people forgetting what I actually need and breaking my boundaries in ways that they've gone out of their way to avoid (and poorly). Because they aren't willing to listen to my boundaries and my triggers (and instead think they know better) they often overstep those boundaries and end up hurting me from an unexpected angle. What sucks about this is they use it as further excuse to pity and bubble wrap me more.

In the end, I will recover. Slowly, carefully, painfully, this wound will heal into a scar. The throat closing anxiety I feel when I even see something written by my ex or a lookalike will lower as time passes. The fear I feel that my ex will find me will fade. The flashbacks will become less common, less intense and terrifying.

And writing these things is part of that process. By putting this out there yet again, I can confront my past and my wounds and continue to heal.

I went from someone who thought she would never be raped (who felt dismayed and amazed that so many people she knew had been), to someone who stayed in denial for a long while about being raped and abused, to someone who fell apart and put herself back together again (always with the help of my family and friends) to someone who now can look on what happened to her and learn things about society and herself in the process. And maybe help some other folks who have gone through that kind of trauma too.

I'll say it again: I refuse to be broken.
2009-08-17 11:04 am

For the Uninformed: Privilege, Perspective and The Little Things That Jab

I also guest posted this one on Deeply Problematic. Much thanks to RMJ for letting me rant in her space. XD

I thought I was going to wait on this one till tomorrow, but then I read through one of the most clear, beautifully written posts I have ever seen on how even caring, completely loving, well intentioned men act towards women in general at Shakesville by Melissa (Please read here: "The Terrible Bargain We Have Regretfully Struck"). After that, I realized that this post can't wait.

I truly suggest that if you have ever heard the word privilege and didn't understand it or was offended by it, you read that blog post. I truly suggest that if you feel that feminists or trans folk or any marginalized group are angry, oversensitive or dislike you because you are white, cisgendered or a man or whatever, you read that post.

Like all For The Uninformed posts, these words are built for an audience that does not have the experiences I do. For the cisgendered folk. For the guys out there. For people without a background in the science and theory that these rights and acceptance movements are built on. As always I will do my best to make those experiences comprehensible and explain the terms I am used to that you may not be.

Imagine, if you will, that you are denied things for something inherent to you. Something not only not really changeable but something you don't want to change. It isn't just big things, like housing or jobs or access to certain rights. It's little things too. Respect for your needs, not hearing words used for or related to you used as insults, and like in Melissa's post, not having the very unhelpful "those people are so and so, but not you, you're different" when you know that the so and so claim is bullshit. But responding as such will just get you slid back into the group thought to be so and so.

There are, literally, thousands and thousands of small little attacks, jabs and pokes built into our very language against women, trans folk, gay people, black folk, hispanic folk, the Rroma and countless other groups that do not possess a majority and do not possess power. Imagine if every time you spoke to people who cared for you, family, friends, even lovers, these subtle jabs showed up. Not on purpose. Not maliciously. They are just there. A joke about a stereotype that hits you hard because that stereotype has been used as reason to beat you up. A half joking/half serious claim about "those people" when those loved ones forget that you are one of "those people".

For me (on the trans side of it), it's the people making the jokes about those "ugly trannies" and then saying, "oh but not you." Yes me. That's been used against me before. It's the guys who knew me before transition and still call me "bro" and then when I complain they say, "bro is a gender neutral term, I use it for girls too" when actually, they've never once used it for girls. It's the people asking really personal questions, questions they would never ask anyone else, about my genitals, about how I have sex. It's the people who speculate on things like that when I'm around, forgetting that hey, maybe I don't like to hear about that kind of thing.

For me (on the woman side of it), it's the people using the word "rape" as a word for crushing someone in a video game or getting trounced on a test. "Man, that test totally raped me". As a person who was fed drinks by someone I trusted and then sexually assaulted by them, hearing something like that is intensely painful. But the moment I bring it up I get the arguments, the perspective lacking arguments about how it's just a word and he didn't mean it that way. It's the guys that joke about how all girls are so shallow or so pissy and then wonder why I get irritated. It's the guys that stare at my tits, eyes glazed over, listening to not a word I'm saying. Yeah, I'm attracted to girls too. I don't do that. I have self control.

These things add up. One or two of them alone? I could see how that wouldn't be a problem. And from your perspective, there's only been one joke, one stare, one problematic stereotype exploiting comment. Nothing to worry about right? Except that it isn't one comment. It isn't one joke. It is one out of thousands a day, embedded in regular language, seen as completely normal. Why is it normal for rape jokes to be funny? Why is it normal for stereotypes to be slung around about women? Or trans folk?

That's where perspective comes in. See, a lot of people get huffy with me (or other folks who say, wtf? to this kind of behavior) because they're only aware of their one comment. They don't put up with this constant stream, this wearing away of patience, defense and sanity. The erosion of self esteem, safety, and control that is created by this is awful. And you don't experience it. So you don't have perspective. You don't know why we get upset because you aren't exposed to what is upsetting us. But what really upsets me (and many others I can see) is the fact that you just don't trust us (the people you love, care about, claim to trust, want to help and/or are close with) to comprehend our own experiences and know what we need. Because you don't listen. You don't hear. You don't believe that we are hurt for a valid reason. Or at the very least, you assume your hurt is exactly the same, of the same intensity. But, it isn't. If you aren't being subjected to thousands of things in language alone every day eroding your sense of safety and control over your life, attacking your self esteem, from people you trust, then you aren't hurting the same as us. And you don't have the perspective to say that we're wrong. And when you dismiss our complaints, or requests to not make a certain joke, or call me "bro", it shows your lack of trust, your dismissal. And that's even worse.

There's a concept used to describe being in a position in which one is not exposed to or is protected from things like this. It is based on the English word describing the possession of an advantage not afforded to others. Privilege. This concept describes this complete lack of constant attack, an acceptance of one's form, structure, an actions as fine, as default, as unchallenged. It can be a component of bigotry, but it is not bigotry in and of itself. Privilege is a sparing from this constant challenging of one's existence and place in society, a sparing of the challenging of one's validity. One may have privilege in one area but lack it in another. Unfortunately this doesn't mean that a person will be able to see past their privilege in the former area just because they comprehend it in the latter. Because privilege is invisible and it is a component of a self propagating system.

Those are who not prejudiced or bigoted still defend their privilege because a lack of perspective that is so immense that those who respond to marginalization seem unreasonable, even hateful and bigoted towards them. When Melissa above says she doesn't trust men, many men would think to themselves, "but that's so bigoted! There are lots of trustworthy men!" and that would arise from their privilege of not having to be subjected to the awfulness that she is every day by people who profess to love her and care for her.

If the people you love constantly attacked who you were, without even realizing they were hurting you and were surprised or disbelieving when you said they were hurting you, would you be surprised if you stopped trusting them? And if all of those people were of a particular group, would you be surprised if you took a cautious wary tact with them from now on?

When I say that I'm wary of cisgendered guys, it may seem bigoted to a guy, but that guy lacks the perspective of hearing all sorts of awful jokes targeted directly at his group. Or of having his very existence challenged by the very language used in day to day talk. "Oh yeah, she's a trans woman. Oh I know, she looks so normal too! You'd never have guessed!"

What if that was this instead, "Oh yeah, he's white. Oh I know, he acts so normal too! You'd never have guessed!" And what if that was every day? Among thousands of other little comments that cut you from your friends. Said by people you cared for, valued the opinions of? Even a supposedly innocuous sentence like that paints me as a freak, an aberration, something to joke and express surprise over.

Another component of the self propagation of privilege is the fact that it is built into culture. You see it on television. You see it in the news. Children are taught it, if not by parents then by peers. Even the people who have kept themselves as separate as possible from the troublesome views espoused within a bigoted power system are still swimming in a sea of cultural connotations and impressions. They still use the language, with the bigoted words built in, and still operate under certain assumptions without realizing it. We all do. This is why ALL apparent white people are privileged. Why ALL apparent cisgendered people are privileged. Because these social elements are ubiquitous. They are everywhere in mass quantities. So if you are perceived as white by society, you are spared every inch of the things people of other races are exposed to by society and are denied that perspective. I have this problem too. I'm white. There are little references, jokes and things I say and do that are a part of that privilege. I guess the difference here is when that instinct comes up in my head to go, "oh come on" to a person of color who tells me to check my privilege, I push that reflex aside and go, "okay, gimme a sec to look over this and try to comprehend where I'm losing perspective"

One of the best ways to get a firm handle on privilege as a concept is to talk to someone who has shifted from privileged to unprivileged in a given area. It won't necessarily help you see past your specific privilege but it will make it easier overall to attempt to assess and comprehend privilege when you speak to the marginalized people who lack the privilege you have.

I am mtf trans (obviously from the blog title XD). I was born male bodied and I transitioned to female bodied. Unlike a lot of trans folk (who viewed things through the lens of their identities as a different gender and therefore wouldn't have had problems with how they were treated for the same reasons as others would) my identity hasn't really played a huge role in the lens I apply my own experiences. This was mostly because I came to the realization about why I hated the male structure I had very late in the game (I actually assumed it was normal to hate having a penis XD) So I consider myself formerly a guy who figured out that he needed a female body (due to dysphoria) and therefore was better off as a girl (identity and sociologically wise) for practicality sake. This is atypical, so don't expect all trans folk to have the perspective I do on gender.

Which means I experienced male privilege as male privilege (instead of being transformed into transphobia by the lens of identity) and I experienced the loss of male privilege (as I myself transformed from hormones and whatnot.)

It was a shock, I will tell you. As a person perceived as a guy by society, I was not constantly challenged, stereotyped, joked about and pushed down. There were some small things. Depictions of guys in tv were sometimes irritating. Occasionally there were jokes about the dumb guy stereotype. And there were constraints on self expression for guys that were a bit irritating. But even if I violated those rules, I usually could tell opposition to piss off or criticize my criticizers right back and everyone thought that was an utterly natural thing for me to fight the silly claims from people, even if they didn't agree.

Post sociological and HRT transition. What was an occasional flow of jokes, jabs and attacks became a torrent. I was bombarded. Television was filled with all sorts of stereotypes, attacks, mockeries of women. Pressure to conform was harsher and more persistent (instead of just guys calling me a fag for having long hair and wearing toe socks it was now everyone calling me a weird dyke or telling me that I need to femme out more for wearing guys cargos and t-shirts with a faux military jacket). And my attempts to dispute that pressure, my responses at all really (even the nice ones) were now regarded as me being a bitch, a harpy, a "feminazi" or being unreasonable. Whereas before, people disagreed and discussed with me, now, they simply dismiss it completely.

I was shown, completely (and perhaps embarrassingly) how little perspective I had on what society does to women. And that is why I understand how insidious privilege is. It is silent, it is crafty, it sneaks up on you, latches on and makes it impossible to even question it without seeming nuts. And there's the problem. We aren't nuts.

This shit is real.
2009-08-15 03:43 pm

The HBS Controversy and the Fun of Fallacious Reasoning (And For The Uninformed: GID)

For those that remember the last post about people finding cisgendered offensive based on some of the most fallacious and stupid reasoning applicable, don't forget, trans people are just as capable of fallacious silliness.

When in comes to fallacious arguments and pseudoscience, no one does it better than the Harry Benjamin Syndrome proponents. To give you a reasonably good idea of what they're claiming would require me to suspend about 90% of my biology knowledge, beat my head against my desk until it became numb and try very hard not to make the wtf face that my friends are so very familiar with nowadays.

I will do my best for you. But first, there may be uninformed cisgendered people here. Cisgendered people who (provided they haven't ran off from being so offended by the word cis) may want to know what Gender Identity Disorder (which is certainly not HBS) entails first. A point of comparison if you will. It's blindingly simple to describe so it isn't necessary to make an entire For The Uninformed post for it (but to be helpful, I will put a tag for GID and a For The Uniformed tag on this post).

For the Uninformed Mini Section: Gender Identity Disorder

Put simply Gender Identity Disorder (or GID for short) is a mental disorder wherein one exhibits a persistent (meaning it doesn't go away) urge to exhibit traits of a different sex. These traits may be the somewhat ethereal and short lived cultural elements assigned to a given sex. Or these traits may be a simple self conceptualization and involvement with the social group of a given sex. Or these traits may be the actual physical bodily structures that arise from the developmental path of a given sex (not necessarily all of them either). Or all three. GID doesn't specify, so it covers an epic shit ton (technical word) of symptoms.

GID is often characterized by dysphoria, which causes this urge and is persistent in and of itself. This dysphoria has triggers and normally the triggers are traits of one's birth sex. It's often described as a feeling of foreignness or wrongness to one's body parts and/or social and cultural roles and expectations and/or sociological group and conceptual description as assigned at birth.

Okay, maybe not so simple. My fault for being a biologist and loving technical terms. To make it a little bit less sciencetastic: Your body's sexed traits (penis, breasts, vagina etc) and/or your grouping in society (guys, chicks or androgynes), and/or your social/cultural roles and expected expressions (how society expects you to behave) causes you to hurt a lot and makes you want to change one or more of those things.

Ending of For the Uniformed Mini Section!

Transsexuality is more of a phenomenon then a disorder, it's the phenomenon in which individuals with the conditions described by GID (or other folk with different issues) seek out, attain or finish a process known as transition. This transition can be physical or it can be social or it can be both.

So what does this have to do with HBS? After all, HBS's website claims that it is an intersexual condition wherein the mind is the only section that possesses the traits of another sex (whereas more commonly intersexed folk may have genitalia and physical structures that do not strictly follow a male or a female development path alone). That doesn't sound much like GID right?

Well actually, "HBS sufferers" (you will find out why I used quotes shortly) experience dysphoria, often seek out physical and social transition and are pretty much entirely medically and conceptually described by the phrases "GID" and "transsexuality". In fact, the HBS people like to claim that HBS is "true transsexuality". Well shit. So that makes things a lot more interesting now, doesn't it?

First problem: HBS claiming "true transsexualism" (as a medical version of the word transsexuality, which is a fabrication in and of itself, as transsexualism is essentially the exact same damn thing) is a No True Scotsman Fallacy. In case you abhor hyperlinks, a no true scotsman fallacy is based around circular reasoning wherein the actual data or definition of a concept is ignored and counterexamples are dismissed as not being true so and so.

So if I were to say, "all MtF transsexuals like high heels," and then someone else were to dispute that by saying, "I don't like high heels and I'm an MtF transsexual" and I responded with, "you're not a true transsexual, therefore your example doesn't do anything" it would be circular fallacious reasoning based on misuse or complete ignorance of a definition.

Transsexual's definition does not specify a brain intersexed condition. It doesn't even really specify dysphoria or GID. So to make claims about "true transsexuality" or worse yet to attempt to pretend that transsexualism is a medical term replacing a political term, when those claims involve things that have nothing to do with its definition (while simultaneously dismissing all counter examples as not real transsexuals) is the textbook example of No True Scotsman.

And that is exactly what HBS proponents do.

Wait, it gets worse.

GID is established in the medical community for America and written into the DSM (diagnostic statistical manual, the book used to diagnose and keep track of the disorders that the psychological sciences know of). It has essential equivalents in the ICD (what the World Health Organization uses for the same purposes as the DSM). It's backed by the psychological field and biological field's research and the methodology of treatment has been tested and is detailed in the standards of care put forward by WPATH an organization of medical doctors, psychiatrists and other biology and psychology related scientists. It's also accepted by the American Medical Association (which is usually a good sign for its scientific authenticity)

What does HBS have establishing it? Well... nothing actually. It's a theory presented by a layman (an admittedly latently sexist word for non-scientist) named Charlotte Goiar and expanded on by more laymen, all of whom are transsexual and personally invested in HBS being taken as reality by the medical field. This theory is based on a flawed study that tested the brains of dead transsexuals who had already undergone hormone replacement therapy against the brains of dead cisgendered folk of the same birth sex who underwent no HRT. A study done in the 1990's I might add.

The reason why this is flawed? Because exposure to estrogen or testosterone changes the brain, as established in this study published in 2006. Oh and the fun part? They based this study on a group of people with GID and a group of people without it, took brain tests using MRIs and whatnot and then exposed the people with GID to hormone replacement therapy. Which not only tests to see whether HRT changes the brain but also establishes what a pre HRT transsexual's brain looks like.

The information revealed is pretty damning. The transsexual individuals had brains identical to cisgendered people of the same birth sex. After HRT, the transsexual individuals had brains nearly identical to cisgendered people of the same sex as their target sex. So this idea that trans people have intersexed brains? Completely and utterly unscientific. To the point where you can arguably state that the evidence used to back up the hypothesis has been scientifically disproven.

As a note: This is not to say that there couldn't be elements of the brain's structure that we can't detect with current methods that are sex specific and could contribute to or actually inflict GID on someone if they were mismatched with the external birth sex. But the only study used to back up the idea of "intersexed minds" has been disproven so HBS has been relegated back to layman unbacked hypothesis. Any attempt to claim that it is scientific, empirically proven or backed by research is at best shoddy pseudoscience and at worst outright willfully ignorant lying

So the whole HBS thing? Fallacy and a lack of scientific backing. Good times. As Laura from Laura's Playground has cautioned one should not take the HBS proponent's standards of care seriously, nor should one take what they say seriously. The fact that they continue to peddle this abhorrent pseudoscientific garbage as scientific and medical fact is a pretty good indicator of either willful ignorance or outright self inflicted delusion. Not a great bunch to be taking advice from.

There are a few people though (especially because of the note above) that would ask, "well isn't it possible that they're still sort of right? That there might be an intersexed brain condition or something causing GID?"

Perhaps. But something that is important to remember is that anyone who claims that they know the single cause of GID is either full of shit or doesn't understand how the disorder is named and defined.

You see, when I went over GID above, you'll notice that it is (basically) a name assigned to a collection of symptoms. The name doesn't yield a whole lot of idea about what might cause these symptoms and if you look around, you'll find that there's not a lot of ideas on what any causes might be. Considering the sheer numbers of substantially different experiences of dysphoria, transition and whatnot had by various trans people who still meet the definition for transsexual and meet the diagnosis of GID one would be hard pressed to make a viable argument that GID had one single unifying cause.

Like most disorders named after a collection of symptoms (like Multiple Personality Disorder was before it became DID) you really don't know if there's multiple causes. Whereas a disorder that is named including a causative agent (Dissociative Identity Disorder, same effects as MPD, but caused by dissociation fragmenting one's identity and self conceptualization into multiple individuals) can definitely be shown to have a single cause.

So to sum it up GID does not contain a cause mention, nor do scientists really know the cause(s). And people with GID have had really radically different experiences. What does this say, logically? That it is highly likely that GID is multicausal. This means that there could be an intersex brain condition version of GID (maybe called Neurological Intersexuality Disorder if it exists, is discovered and split off). This means that there could be a sociologically and psychologically induced dysphoria version of GID (after all, there's a few folks out there for whom the body is not the issue but the way society treats them is). This means that there could be a self conceptualization version of GID, unrelated to society (which would probably still be called GID if others are split off, honestly). This means, overall, that there could actually be quite a few different types of GID caused by different things (going beyond even what I listed above).

All of these versions (with the exception of hypothetical ones that defy what we do know about the brain, body and GID) are possible because nothing about what we know of GID suggests that any single cause is responsible for every case of it. So when people start talking about "true GID" or "real GID" or "the real cause of GID" they are, for lack of a better way to say it, full of shit.

Always good to keep that in mind for medical trans discussions.
2009-05-06 04:13 pm

Passing.

I'm going to have to say, I don't really understand some of the attitudes around passing.

For those not in the know, passing is a measurement of the capacity to either be recognized as a member of your target sex or alternately as a measurement of how unlikely it is for a person to know if you're trans. The former can be affected by the attitudes of others, as they can know you're trans and still see you as being a member of your target sex. The latter is more dependent on voice, body shape, facial structure, certain physical traits and in some viewpoints your behaviors.

To me, even the word itself feels off. Perhaps I'm reading too much into but it comes off like the pass/fail tests and passing as regards testing in schools. You either pass or fail at looking like a woman/man/agendered/mixture. Which is so pressuring. Like we're literally being graded by someone and that our bodies are a source of failure or something. Sometimes it feels a little sneaky too. Like passing implies dishonesty, but that comes more from the attitudes than the word.

I can understand wanting to look good. I can't think of any girls that want visible facial hair. I can't think of any guys that want boobs. I can understand wanting to beat the dysphoria too. That foreign nasty feeling of those parts of the body not fitting, it's unpleasant. And being accepted by other people as my target sex is very validating and it removes reminders of what my sex is, which helps me cope with dysphoria.

So overall the concept works. Until someone starts changing their personality, putting on fronts, changing entire behaviors and purposefully lying about their past.

I don't do this and I am by no means suggesting that a majority does this. But some do. Some trans people refer to themselves as their target sex (not gender) before anything is changed, reinvent their past, look to specifically change their behaviors so that they're accepted more. I can't understand changing how you act and do things for other people. I just can't.

My whole life beforehand was living for other people and what they wanted. I looked a certain way and dressed a certain way because other people wanted me to. I did things for my family, for my friends and for random people. And now I'm finally fulfilling my needs. I've grown up enough to take my life into my hands and improve it. Why would I start catering to other people again? I've heard some trans women talk about how they can't transition because they won't pass and all I can think is, "well who are transitioning for? Other people?"

If it was a safety issue for all of them, then that makes more sense. We do what we can to avoid dying or being hurt. But when people see passing as a contest? When they're in a perfectly safe place are fabricating their first prom dress experience, their first period, etc etc, I can't get that either. Why would someone wrap themselves in lies for day to day regular life? Doesn't that dump an unbelievable level of pressure on a person? It seems like it would negate many of the benefits received from transitioning, by dumping that extra stress on yourself. And it really kills your ability to trust people.

I dunno, passing itself isn't the bad thing. It really is just some of the attitudes. I've had it explained to me ten billion times and I still don't get them.