A saner era? Myths about trans kids in schools, courtesy of FOX News

I’ve been following the media reactions to a story from Colorado about a young transgender girl in the 2nd grade and the usual gang of clowns are doing their “moral outrage” acts. It’s all fairly predictable, but it’s still fun and somewhat illuminating to pick apart what’s being said, so let’s take a look, shall we?

For starters, if you have questions about young trans kids (and many people do) an excellent resource is the TransYouth Families Advocates FAQ. This group was started by four mothers with transgender children, and their material is written for families who are trying to deal with and understand their kids’ struggles with gender.

The story in question is pretty straightforward. The school district has been working with TYFA and is doing a pretty great job at accommodating the trans child’s needs; they’re making sure pamphlets and counselors are available for students, parents, or faculty who have questions, and they’re making two of the school’s unisex bathrooms available for the trans child to use. Sounds fairly reasonable, right?

Well of course, Neil Cavuto on FOX News doesn’t think so. (Video courtesy of GLAAD.)

I can’t transcribe the whole thing, but he starts off by calling it a “bizzare story,” then brings on a child psychologist to serve as the punching bag for the usual interruptions and “what, are you crazy?” remarks that always seem to be the bread and butter over at FOX News. Let’s see how many myths and fabrications Cavuto managed to rack up:

1. “Bending over Backwards” Part 1: Schools have to build unisex bathrooms to accommodate kids like this, costing taxpayers thousands… or millions!

Yep, he actually says “millions” at one point. Fact-check: nobody has ever actually built a unisex restroom on behalf of trans people, and I have to say it’s not likely to happen anytime soon, either. The most “extreme” accommodations that I’ve ever heard of in this regard are reclassifying one or two bathrooms among mnay as unisex or all-gender — and that’s usually in settings like colleges, or LGBT community centers. And that’s not even the case here; the NBC affiliate in Colorado that reported this story simply said “two unisex bathrooms in the building will be made available.” Of course it’s easier to whip out the hyperbole and assume that expensive construction is going on, but anyone who did a little fact-checking would realize that trans people in these situations are usually asked to use an existing unisex bathroom. In a school, that’s often a single-occupancy bathroom in the teacher’s lounge or the nurse’s office.

And let’s be clear, this is usually a compromise. Trans employees and students aren’t asking to walk to the other end of the building, or in some cases take an elevator to a different floor than the one they work on, or go across the street or campus to a different building because they want to. Trans people are forced to because institutions can’t figure out another way to segregate us from people who might be uncomfortable sharing a restroom with us. Most trans people identify as one gender or another and tend to use the appropriate bathroom in say, a relatively anonymous public place like a movie theater or a restaurant. It’s only in contexts where coworkers, bosses, or other students know someone’s trans that this kind of problem comes up, along with the “unisex bathroom” compromise.

Approximate cost to taxpayers: possibly the price of one or two extra keys to bathrooms that are normally locked. Approximate cost to trans student: segregation from everyone else’s bathrooms, and less convenience since there are only two she can use. OK, what’s up next?

2. “Bending over Backwards” Part 2: Schools are “bending over backwards” to accommodate kids like this, at the expense of other children!

This seems to really bother Cavuto, but it’s almost impossible to figure out what he’s talking about. Besides the bathrooms, the only thing the school is proactively doing is making pamphlets and professional counselors available just in case a student, parent, or faculty member has questions or wants more information. The child and her family have their own counselor.

So what else could Cavuto mean? My guess is that like far too many people, he finds the very presence of a trans person to be onerous and problematic. Why can’t the school district make this little girl just go away, force her to dress like a boy and not look or act like that? The “bending over backwards” he keeps harping actually refers to the fact that the school district is NOT acting to prevent this 8-year-old kid from attending and being herself. I suppose it would be less expensive to erase trans people somehow, huh?

3. What, but this kid is seven years old, how can this possibly be? Surely that’s too young to have a sexual preference!

This one is incredibly common, but also pretty easy to deal with. Gender identity, a kid’s preferred role, whatever you want to call it, doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with sex. Adults are just confused because they associate the word “transgender” with gay pride parades with OMG buttsex and leather harnesses! Or, as the TYFA FAQ says:

“A child’s awareness of being a boy or a girl begins in the first year of life…and by age 4, gender identity is stable and they know that they will always be a boy or a girl.” Children ‘know’ who they are, just as you did, from as early as age two. Some children don’t have the words to ‘tell’ you that they are gender variant; therefore, it is important to pay attention to cues and behaviors.

I think there’s a lot of discussion that could be had about what exactly it means to be aware of your gender, especially at an early age. Is this essentializing, positing a biological basis for gender? I don’t think that’s necessarily the case, but that’s not even the issue at stake here. Children do express transgender desires and want to express themselves in cross-gendered ways from a very early age; whatever the reason for that, it doesn’t mean they’ve been sexually corrupted by exposure to the Evil Gay Agenda.

4. How can I explain this to my kids? This is too weird! Why can’t we just let kids be kids?

Cavuto engages in a bunch of hand-wringing about his own sons, mirroring the father in the original news coverage whose daughter is going to be in the same class as this trans girl. Ironically, kids tend to be much more accepting and open-minded about trans issues than adults; it’s the parents who are biting their nails and projecting all the weirdness and sexual connotations onto the whole subject. Why shouldn’t every parent tell their kids that yes, there are some people who want to be a different gender than the category they were born into? There’s nothing necessarily prurient about that; there’s no need to get into the favorite lurid-tabloid obsession of the non-trans media, sex change operations. Again, it’s the parents who are preoccupied with that stuff, not the kids, not the trans kids. And most trans adults would rather people stop being so obsessed with the state of our genitals too, believe me.

Some parents are simply skittish about having to explain to their children subjects that they’re uncomfortable with themselves. But that’s why the school is providing resources. After all, there are a lot of things parents have always had to explain to kids. Why are those dogs humping each other? Why does that man have dark skin, did he get dirty? Why does that lady ride around in a chair? The only way to avoid having to answer these questions is to utterly isolate your kids — or try to eradicate “different” people from their view. But in public schools, kids will always run into classmates who are different somehow, or have different needs. The Douglas County school system is smart enough to see that as a teaching opportunity, not a horrible problem that has to be wiped out.

But wait, there’s more! Cavuto followed up the next day by running viewer e-mails, most of which are the “eww gross, trans people and bathrooms!” variety:

All kinds of “common sense” victim-blaming included and broadcast on national television for your viewing pleasure: trans people are delusional; people who support trans people are delusional; trans people should provide their own bathrooms and not bother the rest of us. And of course, your genitals determine who you are and that’s it, I’ve got my fingers in my ears, nah nah nah nah I’m not listening to you! You can even hear the rest of the FOX News crew laughing in the background.

When one e-mail draws an apt comparison to disabilities — apt because different kids have different needs and the school’s quite aware of that — Cavuto goes so far as to pretend he’s offended. “Are you saying that sexual preference is a disability? Now who’s being offensive? The kid has issues, not disabilities.” Way to miss the point by a mile. He wraps up by claiming that we should be tolerant of diversity… but not pay too much for it. Fascinating… so seeing as the bathrooms are practically free, he must be saying that resources about trans people shouldn’t be provided for other students and adults? Or maybe he’s just saying, as he did the day before, that a student who was male-assigned but lives her whole life as a girl shouldn’t be allowed to attend. Or maybe they should make her change into different clothes, put her hair in a cap, and use a different name than she does somewhere else. No wait, that wouldn’t be “tolerant” at all, would it? Funny how that works.

For a night-and-day contrast, check out the interview that CNN ran with the executive director of TYFA, Kim Pearson:

Of course, the conservative wingnuts didn’t like that one bit. “Americans for Truth about Homosexuality” promptly issued a screed that criticized CNN for not providing “another side” to the issue. Presumably that would be somebody from their organization or one like it, right? Who could come on and spout a bunch of factual inaccuracies and “won’t someone think of the children” statements, in the name of “fair and balanced.” AFTAH Troll-in-Chief Peter LaBarbera goes on to blame Pearson’s parenting for the fact that she has a transgender son:

Could it be that permissive parenting plays a major role in encouraging a gender-confused identity in a child? Pearson says she felt “relief” on hearing that her daughter claimed to have a male identity. Relief? A wiser parent might have sought professional help from someone not beholden to “transgender” activist ideology — to guide the troubled girl into accepting the wonderful body and sex that God gave her.

In the case of the eight-year-old boy, to what future are the politically correct adults — parents and school authorities included — consigning him with their “caring” embrace of deviance?

Of course, the professional help that LaBarbera suggests is pretty much limited to discredited “ex-gay therapy” practicioners. Most other child psychologists these days understand that gender identity issues are not the same thing as other kinds of problems with body hatred and self-esteem — although they can certainly overlap, and make figuring out the right path very complicated, for young people and adults alike.

And this says it all:

In a saner era, it would be clear to all that the child — not society — has the problem.

“Make it go away! The child with the problem!” LaBarbera would rather we go back to the very recent “saner era” when trans youth were given electroshock therapy and experimented on in sex clinics, institutionalized for long periods or forced to shave their heads, wear hyper-gendered clothing to “force” them back on the correct path, etc. At least that way nobody would have to look at them, right? Nobody would have to fear sharing a bathroom, coming into contact, exposing their own precious children.

It would be a saner era.

(If you want more bile on the same subject, Transadvocte has compiled a set of links to various disgusting blog responses.)


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77 comments for “A saner era? Myths about trans kids in schools, courtesy of FOX News

  1. Rupunzel
    February 17, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Yea, it’s pretty much the same old scare the wee out of them fear tactics by self proclaimed experts who tend to project their beliefs upon anything they don’t agree with. “What is correct and morality for them must be correct for everyone else in the world, so I have the right to force my righteousness upon all.” All based on their very narrow view and understanding of the natural world.

    Fact is, gender different children are a reality and in time there will be more of them, far more. Those stories of adults who transition later in life will be come a rarity in future years as more and more youth deal with their gender issues at an earlier age which is a really good thing.

  2. Abby
    February 17, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    This is all so, so sad. I don’t even know where to start to respond to all of this, so I’ll just make two comments (for now, at least).

    First, in the fall of 2006, the owner of
    Anderson’s Fifth Estate nightclub in Scottsdale, Arizona banned transgender women from the club based on complaints of “men in dresses” in the women’s restroom.” One of those involved filed a sex discrimination complaint with the State of Arizona. After the expected bullsh**, the owner resolved the complaint by spending $5 to buy a unisex bathroom sign for an existing single-stall restroom and dropping the ban. So, that’s the “millions” that this school will be spending to accomodate this child. (Interestingly, after being exposed to the LGBT community through this controversy, a couple of months after resolving the discrimination complaint, the owner saw a business opportunity and reopened the nightclub as a gay dance club!)

    Second, I wish Peter LaBarbera and others would listen to Kim Pearson’s interview on Ethan St. Pierre’s internet radio program from last fall. She tells a heart-rending story of her son’s depression and near suicide before he finally figured out, with the help of a counselor, that he was trans, and the incredible turnaround in his life on making this realization and realigning his gender presentation with his gender identity. I know Kim and she is nothing more, or less, than a loving mother on a crusade to protect her child and others like him. TYFA is an incredible organization. (BTW, Ethan shares quite a bit about his own story during this interview. It’s one of the things that finally opened my eyes to how much the experience of FTMs is the same as my own as an MTF.)

    Thanks, Holly, for shining the light on the cr** that Fox News and others are spewing on this issue.

    Blessings,
    Abby

  3. Gina
    February 17, 2008 at 11:40 pm

    It looks like the kid is going to have a lot of support–that’s great. I wish the family the best of luck.

  4. February 18, 2008 at 12:17 am

    Any accomodation made for this child at school would cost a fraction of how much it would cost for support groups, counseling at a community agency, and in productivity. Prevention is always the cheapest option. Of course, you can’t prevent someone from becoming transgendered, but you can prevent the stigma that goes with it by making the person feel comfortable.

    I find it interesting that Cavuto gets “offended” when someone compares accomodations for this girl to accomodations for people with physical disabilities. Wouldn’t this child be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Gender Identity Disorder is considered considered a mental disorder, so shouldn’t this girl be covered by ADA?

    You know what else I find interesting? Why isn’t anyone trying to get Cavuto suspended or fired for this?

  5. Becca
    February 18, 2008 at 12:21 am

    I could be sad at the world for the way some of these groups are reacting…

    But instead, I’ll choose to be happy about how great the school district seems to be doing so far. I hope they don’t bend and break under outside pressure.

  6. February 18, 2008 at 12:45 am

    Happily, the school district and the parents of TYFA have their own ideas about what a “saner era” would look like. I’m looking forward to it!

  7. Michelle
    February 18, 2008 at 12:46 am

    I couldn’t even watch the Faux News video through. That was such a vile bit of garbage it made me far angrier than I want to be.

    Transition is a difficult and often frightening process at the best of times, without the presuppositions of complete nitwits being foisted upon the transperson undertaking the process.

    I’ll give the school district for that young girl credit, but Faux News gets the brickbats.

  8. February 18, 2008 at 2:03 am

    I get so frustrated at how even in 2008 this is still an issue. I was 4yo when my mom allowed me to change my name and grow my hair out only to have to live as a boy again at 7yo when she was forced to send me to school in the mid 1960’s and living in Ohio. She knew what I would go through and tried to keep me from it as well as the back lash as a family we would have and moved many times to get away from all of the problems that happened each time I was found out. Suicide attempts and emotional problems became my way of life as I couldnt deal with how I felt and what went on including being raped and beaten several times.

    Now its 2008 and although we have improved in many ways my heart goes out to how children and adults are still treated and how we still dont have some of the many rights and freedoms we should have. I am grateful however that we have come as far as we have and that a better understanding and assistance is avail…. but we have a long way to go.

    Im 46yo now and own a business here in San Francisco and offer services to the LGBT community and contract with the Adult Probation Dept. to teach classes to people who are convicted of domestic violence. We may not change the world, but I can say that if in some small way each of us can give to another we can at least assure others that they are not alone…

    … maybe its our turn to make a difference for the generation coming after us

  9. manda
    February 18, 2008 at 2:10 am

    How can I explain this to my kids? This is too weird! Why can’t we just let kids be kids?

    After several months of attending a GLBT-friendly church, my family and I were introduced to a young woman named Chris who was very early in her transition and did not easily “pass” for female. My 7 year-old was a little confused as to whether or not Chris was a man or woman, so I explained. Her shocked, dismayed, and utterly confused response: “Wow, it must suck to be born in the wrong body. I’m glad I got the one I was supposed to get… She has cool hair (blonde with hot pink streaks).”

    Obviously what you say to one kid about a trans classmate depends on their age and level of maturity. I, for one, didn’t think my daughter could really comprehend sex reassignment surgery or other surgical proceedures that some transmen and transwomen recieve – and it really wasn’t essential at the time. I simply gave her enough information so that she could understand why Chris looked different from the people she had seen before. Once she got that it was really no big deal.

  10. Marissa
    February 18, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Add me to the list of those who got disgusted halfway through and couldn’t take anymore of his bull. He was comparing being transgendered in our two-gender obsessed society to his experience of not being able to climb a rope in P.E.???

  11. February 18, 2008 at 2:22 am

    Thank you so much for this story! It is good to see so much conversation going on and that the work we are doing is being highlighted.

    The child is doing well at school and as we suspected the kids aren’t having any difficulty with her being there. As you pointed out there was little or no expense to the school for this process. They printed some information and had regular staff available to answer questions. The bathrooms were already unisex and available…no big deal, really.

    I will be seeing the family this week at Gold Rush and will say hi from all of you.

    Kim Pearson
    Executive Director
    TransYouth Family Advocates

  12. February 18, 2008 at 2:34 am

    Shorter Neal Cavuto: Why all the fuss? Why can’t we just allow transgender kids to be cisgender kids?

  13. denelian
    February 18, 2008 at 3:40 am

    go them!

    its actually quite brave of that school to do this – it makes me hopeful for when i get around to adopting kids.

    and also, this is why i BOYCOTT Fox

  14. February 18, 2008 at 4:12 am

    Wow. I’m so glad this little girl has a good support system and a school that is willing to do all they can for her. I can’t believe that in this day and age people still hold their old prejudiced views, but I guess there will always be some who will allow their hearts to be filled with hate.

  15. February 18, 2008 at 4:58 am

    Holly:

    Thank you for posting this. I love how the genital correctness blowhard brigade keeps falling back on the idea that anyone who doesn’t go out of their way to make life unpleasant for this kid (e.g. by refusing to call her by her chosen name, or by harassing or punishing her for wearing the “wrong” set of clothes to school) must, therefore be “bending over backwards” to suit her delicate sensibilities. Rather than, you know, just not going out of their way to be obnoxious to an eight-year-old kid in the name of heteropatriarchal social engineering.

    ThickRedGlasses:

    Wouldn’t this child be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Gender Identity Disorder is considered considered a mental disorder, so shouldn’t this girl be covered by ADA?

    I think we’d be better off not going there.

    So-called “Gender Identity Disorder” is a basically political, not medical diagnosis. It’s been used repeatedly as an excuse for quack psychiatrists and anxious or controlling parents to inflict all kinds of torture, mislabeled “therapy,” in the name of “curing” their trans kids, or even mildly gender-deviant kids, of their “disorder”. In fact there is absolutely nothing wrong or crazy or disordered about a kid born anatomically male who wants to live as a girl (or vice versa), and I think it would be a serious mistake to reinforce and institutionalize the notion that there is, whatever short-term advantages you might hope to gain from it.

    A few decades ago, Homosexuality was considered a mental illness and included as a category in the DSM. But if that diagnosis were still on the books, I think it would be counterproductive, to say the least, for gay liberationists to try and use it to get accommodations under the ADA.

  16. February 18, 2008 at 5:31 am

    I’m happy to hear what the school and people around her are doing to help this girl! But I’m also sad that so many people think that “lalala if I just ignore this stuff that makes me uncomfortable it will magically go away”. If these hateful people actually cared to TALK to the people that they so love to hate, they might LEARN something. But no, we can’t have that. It’s much more comfortable in my bubble where I can point fingers and be ignorant (and I get to do it on TV!).

    And the “bending over backwards”-stuff. So ridiculous! All that is needed is to consider other people’s needs and feelings, but of course this is too much to ask of these “Christians”.

    Thanks for an excellent take-down on this, Holly. It’s going in my “go read this”-post that I do every Friday!

  17. February 18, 2008 at 6:44 am

    “Let kids be kids,” he says, without even stopping to wonder why he gets so freaked out by the idea of seven-year-olds using unisex bathrooms.

  18. February 18, 2008 at 7:05 am

    Unisex bathrooms are a cheap way for schools to add toilets for girls and not have wankers scream about discrimination.

    Kids are accepting, if adults show them how.

    Eight years old and gendered? Methinks you are projecting your own issues.

  19. February 18, 2008 at 8:06 am

    Eight years old and gendered? Methinks you are projecting your own issues.

    huh? Have you read any of the information about how gender is established very, very early in life? Like the quote right in the post about gender identity being stable at age 4. It comes from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

  20. February 18, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Yeah because little kids have no gender at all, right? They’re not even aware of it. That’s a good one. Regardless of where you think gender comes from, most kids have it and have to deal with it if they’re not “correctly gendered.”

    So-called “Gender Identity Disorder” is a basically political, not medical diagnosis. It’s been used repeatedly as an excuse for quack psychiatrists and anxious or controlling parents to inflict all kinds of torture, mislabeled “therapy,” in the name of “curing” their trans kids, or even mildly gender-deviant kids, of their “disorder”.

    Thank you for linking this book! I was trying to remember the title.

  21. February 18, 2008 at 11:57 am

    As you said in the original post, Holly:

    Adults are just confused because they associate the word “transgender” with gay pride parades with OMG buttsex and leather harnesses!

    I think a lot of adults in our society have this hyper-preoccupation with sexuality, sexual orientation, and sexual expression–probably because we’re not good at having sane and constructive conversations about it–and they conflate sex and gender identity with adult sexual expression.

    Children, no matter what their sex or gender identity, deserve a buffer between themselves and the “pornified” culture (or whatever we want to call it). Children should be given the space and time to grow into their adult sexuality with all the leisure and safety they need or desire. That’s really different from “protecting” them from expressing who they feel themselves to be! I think helping children find language for their sex or gender identity (not forcing it on them, obviously) is actually completely in line with creating that safe space for childhood.

  22. Karalora
    February 18, 2008 at 12:27 pm

    Why do some people find transgender phenomena “hard” to explain to kids? I don’t even have kids, but I already know how I would explain it in words even a five-year-old could understand:

    “That girl looks like a boy on the outside, but she feels like a girl on the inside. How you feel about yourself is more important than what you look like in making you who you are.”

    Of course, the problem with the fundies and other conservatives is that they really believe what you look like is more important. To me, that’s what’s hard to explain to a little kid–the sad fact that some people (far too many) will use what a person looks like against them.

  23. Hector B.
    February 18, 2008 at 12:59 pm

    Hey, if you come to my house, if you object to unisex bathrooms you can’t go potty at all.

    I don’t understand why gendering bathrooms is necessary or even reasonable any more, except perhaps for very large venues like ballparks. Requirements for ADA-compliant restrooms mean that more and more places have one-user-only restrooms. Making both such restrooms unisex prevents needless waiting for the “right” single-sex one to open up. Porta-potties know no gender either.

  24. February 18, 2008 at 1:22 pm

    As an atheist, if I was raising a kid I’d find it a lot more difficult to explain why some people believe in religious things that don’t have any rational basis, but I don’t go around saying Christians should do everything they can to pretend they don’t exist and if I did the fundies would be screaming bloody murder.

  25. Michelle
    February 18, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    A few decades ago, Homosexuality was considered a mental illness and included as a category in the DSM. But if that diagnosis were still on the books, I think it would be counterproductive, to say the least, for gay liberationists to try and use it to get accommodations under the ADA.

    What most people fail to understand about the DSM is that it is primarily descriptive not prescriptive. The presence of a diagnostic category in the DSM does not mean that it is a “mental illness”. For example, did you realize that tobacco addiction has a diagnostic category in the DSM? – it doesn’t mean that a smoker is mentally ill, but it can materially impact how the client responds to treatment for other conditions.

    There is a significant difference between homosexuality as a diagnostic category as compared with GID (transsexuality). The homosexual is not seeking specific medical intervention (e.g. hormones, GRS or FFS), but the transsexual often is. The various practitioners involved need some kind of common language to facilitate communication. There is also a matter of medical ethics involved here that cannot be ignored. I can appreciate why many doctors are cautious about dealing with transsexuals without some kind of confirmation from mental health practitioners to confirm that what they see visually is in fact rooted in a reality.

  26. Kiru Banzai
    February 18, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    annajcook, I just wanted to compliment you on a particularly thoughtful and well-stated comment. The way we deal with childhood and sexuality in this culture is so utterly fucked-up.

  27. February 18, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Part of what Rad Geek is talking about is the distinction between the “GID in Children” and “GID in Adults” diagnosis as it currently exists in the DSM. At least I think it’s current… they might have made updates recently, but whether we’re talking about the present or a few years ago, the recommendations (and definitions) for children were rather different than for adults, and emphasized “reparative therapy” to a much greater degree, i.e. “try to get the kid to stop being trans.” I haven’t looked at the actual language in the DSM for a while, but if it’s entirely descriptive and not prescriptive, I might be conflating with some other treatment guidelines, possibly the famous/infamous “Standards of Care” for trans people.

  28. February 18, 2008 at 1:53 pm

    “Could it be that permissive parenting plays a major role in encouraging a gender-confused identity in a child?”

    Yes, before Dr. Spock wrote his book, transgender people just didn’t exist.

    Ass.

  29. Rosehiptea
    February 18, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    I took an Abnormal Psychology class recently and in the section about Gender Identity Disorder the book included a long passage from a transwoman who was a psychologist (Dr. Jayne Thomas). The book definitely emphasized that treatment would potentially include therapy, hormones, and surgery — not getting the person to try to stay the gender they were assigned at birth. (I know therapists have done that to people though.) Overall I thought the article in the book was prettyy responsible from the limited amount that I know.

    (I’m not really endorsing it staying in the DSM, as I’m not a mental health profession by any means.)

  30. Michelle
    February 18, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Holly,

    The DSM-IV TR on my desk has two diagnostic codes for GID – 302.6 for children, 302.85 for adolescents and adults.

    There is actually some good reason for this, as the outcomes for pre-adolescent clients is different from that for adolescents and adults. The WPATH Standards of Care (SOC) also reflects this distinction.

    (According my copy of the DSM, around 3/4 of childhood GID cases ultimately adopt a homosexual orientation in adulthood, and only a small fraction actually turn out to be transsexual, where in adults the condition appears to be much more persistently gender identity focused)

  31. Neko-Onna
    February 18, 2008 at 2:09 pm

    The “bending over backwards” he keeps harping actually refers to the fact that the school district is NOT acting to prevent this 8-year-old kid from attending and being herself.

    Asolutely, positively right on! I keep hearing people saying how glad they are that the school is doing “so much” to help the little girl. I’m sorry, but I don’t really see them doing ANYTHING but allowing her to be herself. I think it is sad that we live in a society where allowing someone to exist is such a compassionate act. It really seems like the school’s primary focus is on making everyone else feel comfortable with the girl. I understand why this may be necessary, but still… What I really see it being equivelent to is saying , “Oh, yes! Isn’t she awful and sacry and ddifferent? But don’t worry, because there is a simple explaination for her hideousness, and really she isn’t contageous, so you are still safe and ok!” I mean, I know I’d feel pretty crappy if I thought other people needed to read pamphlets and talk to counselors just to get to the point where they felt I deserved to exist!

  32. Jay
    February 18, 2008 at 2:10 pm

    Glad that kid’s getting more help at their school than I am.

    Stupid college, I pay to be there and the profs won’t even use the right pronouns.

  33. Speck
    February 18, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    Holly, there’s a ton of things wrong with the Standards of Care beyond the veiled suggestions towards reparative therapy. Probably the biggest problem is that the SOC actually contradict themselves repeatedly when discussing the proper method of treatment for trans kids. One moment they’ll say that nothing should be done until a child is 18, then it’ll say that puberty-blockers can be started at 16, and then it’ll say that puberty blockers should be administered as soon as the child begins puberty. It’s completely inconsistent, and serves pretty much to allow doctors to just pick and choose which course of action they’re most comfortable with, which of course is usually to do nothing at all.

    Then there’s the whole dichotomy between what is sufficient for diagnosis and treatment in a transgirl (a preference for feminine things) compared to what is needed for a transboy (a complete rejection of all things feminine). It’s just stupid, and in no way reflect the lives of or serves the needs of these children.

    Gah. Frustrating. I’ve given whole presentations on this very subject – can you tell?

  34. February 18, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    In fact there is absolutely nothing wrong or crazy or disordered about a kid born anatomically male who wants to live as a girl (or vice versa), and I think it would be a serious mistake to reinforce and institutionalize the notion that there is, whatever short-term advantages you might hope to gain from it.

    I actually looked at my copy of the DSM-IV-TR before posting that, since I have wondered why Gender Identity Disorder isn’t going the same route as homosexuality. The diagnostic criteria for Gender Identity Disorder includes “The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” I don’t think the social stigma that transgendered people experience would make the “significant distress” go away. People with Gender Identity Disorder are going to be significantly distressed by being in the wrong body, even if the social stigma goes away. While the rest of the criteria is descriptive, the significant distress is what makes it a disorder. I’m sure there are plenty of transgendered individuals who are not significantly distressed and are not impaired in important areas of functioning. They wouldn’t fall under Gender Identity Disorder.
    If I ever have any transgendered clients when I become a counselor, I wouldn’t diagnose Gender Identity Disorder if depression and anxiety from being transgendered was only caused by social stigma. That’s for ethical reasons.

  35. Speck
    February 18, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Oh yeah, and the DSM is messed up, too. The whole “3/4 of kids with gender identity disorder just turn out to be gay” statistic that gets tossed around is particularly misleading. The thing is, the diagnosis in that study was not based so much on actual stated gender preference as it was on the kids’ gender expression. So a whole lot of feminine boys ended up getting lumped into the diagnosis along with the feminine transgirls, while the more masculine transgirls ended up getting left out. Furthermore, the study only tracked those children up into their teens, so it completely ignored the fact that many transpeople end up transitioning in their late teens and early twenties.

  36. Neko-Onna
    February 18, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    Does anyone remember the movie Contact? (Not a threadjack, I promise). There is a scene where Jodie Foster’s character is in a spaceship built to the specifications of an alien design with the addition of a seat for a human occupant, and is traveling through space/time. The whole ship is vibrating to the point where it seems like the ship and Jodie are doomed. At a critical moment, the seat comes unbolted, and immediately, all vibration stops. The added seat, NOT the alien design, was the problem. I see gender as society’s “added seat”. Transpeople or people with fluid gender identity are NOT the problem, society’s binary gender constructs are.

    Look to the defense of the DSM that ThickRedGlasses mounts. I cannot conceive of an instance where the “significant distress” a transgendered person would experience would NOT come from society. Even if that person lived in a home where they were allowed to express gender as they wanted to, and were never given a hard time about their choice, I can’t imagine they would ever feel anything but “different” in a world where binary gender is the norm, and is predicated exclusively on external genitalia. Society, not a different expression of gender, causes all of the “vibration” and stress.

    Short term-GID needs to be removed from the DSM, and we need to push for legal protection for transgendered people in all aspects of public life. We need to swarm people like Cavuto who want to continue the persecution of the “other”, and show our outrage at such acts. Also, is it me, or does anyone else think it is time to rename the Americans with Disabilities Act? What about the Equal Access for ALL Act?

    Long term- We need to move away from binary gender roles as a society. The best way to do this? In my opinion, we must fight patriarchy, the father of binary gender assumptions. The good people who write this blog are certianly front-line warriors in this fight.

    Big stuff, I know. I just hope I live to see the day when letting someone exist is not seen as the compassionate thing to do.

  37. Abby
    February 18, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    I find it interesting that Cavuto gets “offended” when someone compares accomodations for this girl to accomodations for people with physical disabilities. Wouldn’t this child be considered disabled under the Americans with Disabilities Act? Gender Identity Disorder is considered considered a mental disorder, so shouldn’t this girl be covered by ADA?

    Unfortunately, in passing the ADA, Congress, in its infinite wisdom (roflmao), chose to specifically exclude “transvestism, transsexualism, pedophilia, exhibitionism, voyeurism, gender identity disorders not resulting from physical impairments, or other sexual behavior disorders” from the definition of the disabilities covered under the act. So transgender people are lumped in with pedophiles and others suffering from “sexual behavior disorders” as being excluded from the ADA. As far as I know, no one has ever succeeding in establishing that their “transsexualism” or “gender identity disorder” is due to a “physical impairment” and thus covered under the ADA. Ain’t life as a trans person wonderful? NOT!

  38. February 18, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Um, lots of adult trans*people don’t want GID (at least GID for adults) out of the DSM because sometimes we can get insurance to actually cover, even partially, our medical expenses. Hopefully, since the American Medical Association has added gender identity to it’s anti-discrimination policies more insurance companies will cover medical transitions.
    (and before this turns into yet another trans* 101 thread…)

    They’re not actually being that accommodating really. If they were being accommodating she’d be using the girl’s room.

  39. February 18, 2008 at 4:57 pm

    the part i can’t get over is how this Cavuto thinks that by providing a safe place for this child that, somehow, the school district, the family, everyone is ruining childhood for all the “normal” kids…just RUINING it i tell you! it’s so sad to see how narrow minded some people can be…projecting their narrow beliefs onto their children and assuming that anything outside of it is going to RUIN them and their innocence.

    what IS ruining our children is teaching hate. by showing our children that it is ok to be “freaked” out by something outside of what we perceive to be “normal”. we take children, who are tolerant by nature, and causing them to form judgments b/c of how we, as grown ups, judge them. if we treat a transgendered child like any other child and not make a big deal out of what we are too shallow to accept, our children will accept it too.

    it is so refreshing to see a school taking steps to teach tolerance and acceptance. there is so much more they can do, but ultimately i hope for a time when accommodations don’t have to be made and this child’s life will not be big news…when we can just live as people.

    My best to this family!

    Holly, thank-you for the light you have put on this. I love your posts, and always learn so much!

  40. February 18, 2008 at 5:07 pm

    Rosehiptea,

    As Holly mentions, the major distinction in types of treatment has to do with whether the diagnosis is made in childhood or later in life. Shrinks are generally respectful enough of their adults patients’ wishes and strongly held convictions, at least on this specific point, not to simple-mindedly force them into efforts to “correct” their transgenderism. Not so for children, where all kinds of nasty behavioral therapy are commonly employed to “cure” them.

    Michelle,

    I think that when the common features of “diagnostic category” are explicitly described “symptoms,” while the thing itself is explicitly labeled a “disorder” and it is classified as an Axis I Clinical Disorder, it’s a bit odd to suggest that the purpose of the diagnostic category is primarily descriptive, rather than prescriptive. When professional medical practitioners describe a set of behaviors and attitudes in terms that are directly and deliberately taken from the medical study of disease, and describes them as causes for “clinical attention,” it is pretty strongly suggested that there’s something wrong with people who have that “disorder.”

    As for the professional ethics in sex-reassignment surgery, it has basically nothing to do with the use of Gender Identity Disorder as a “diagnostic category” in eight year old children, which was the context of the discussion. However, I think that if the sole raison d’etre for this diagnostic category is in order to pander to the prejudices of doctors who can only be persuaded to acknowledge their trans patients’ considered judgment when said patients can get another doctor to sign off on it in the form of an Official Diagnosis certifying that they’re “disordered,” that’s a pretty slender reed to lean on. I’d hope that maybe we can start talking about changes that are important for our lives without first having to get a medical label slapped on it.

    As for the study of “outcomes” in children labeled as having GID, cf. Speck’s reply. (Incidentally, last I checked, the DSM-IV TR says that 3/4 of anatomical boys diagnosed with GID end up living as homosexual or bisexual males in their late adolescence; the corresponding figure for anatomical girls diagnosed with GID are said to be unknown.)

    But, moreover, I don’t see what the point of bringing this up is in the first place. If 3/4 of GID-diagnosed kids turn out to be gay, then so what? There’s nothing wrong with being gay and there’s nothing wrong with not being gay. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live as a girl (or boy) when you’re 8 and then deciding you want to live as a gay man (or lesbian) when you’re 16. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live as a girl (or boy) when you’re 8 and then deciding that you want to continue living as a woman (or man) when you’re 16. There’s nothing wrong with changing the gender you want to live as every four months, if you feel like it. If only a few kids diagnosed GID end up seeking sex-reassignment surgery as adults, what of clinical interest follows from that? It’s certainly not any kind of argument for therapeutic intervention with the kids with strong, persistent cross-gender identification (either potential outcome–remaining trans or not remaining trans–is fine, so what’s the big deal?). Nor is it an argument for trying to get the government to treat 8 year old kids with strong, persistent cross-gender identification as if they had a mental “disability.”

    ThickRedGlasses,

    “The disturbance causes clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” […] People with Gender Identity Disorder are going to be significantly distressed by being in the wrong body, even if the social stigma goes away.

    A significant part of my point is that the criteria having to do with “impairment in social [or] occupational … functioning” are basically bogus. They’re a way of shifting the responsibility for other people’s discrimination and bullying onto the victims of the discrimination and bullying. In reality, insofar as there’s a “disorder” here, it’s because other people have a problem, not because kids labeled as having GID have a problem.

    As far as “clinically significant distress” goes, as far as I know, there’s been no positive evidence presented to the effect that the little girl in question feels that way, and I see little reason to assume that she does. Not everybody who wants to live as a member of a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth is especially concerned about the anatomical details of their body, especially not when they are still years away from puberty.

    If, on the other hand, she does feel that way, then in any case that’s a separate issue from the accommodations that the school should or shouldn’t make for her. They don’t have much control over her personal feelings about her genitals. The issue at hand is how they will or won’t deal with the questions about her immediate social environment–whether or not teachers and classmates call her by her chosen name, allow her to to come to school dressed as a girl, do or don’t harass her, etc.

    From a clinical standpoint, I’d question the utility of creating a gender-specific diagnostic category if the only purpose is to group together people who are (1) trans and (2) depressed or anxious or dysphoric about their bodies. There’s nothing wrong with (1) per se, and there’s already a ton of different diagnostic categories to cover (2), so why come up with a new one just to single out the fact that one subgroup of people who develop (2) are also (1)?

  41. Juan Stoppable
    February 18, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    As far as I know, no one has ever succeeding in establishing that their “transsexualism” or “gender identity disorder” is due to a “physical impairment” and thus covered under the ADA.

    This was probably an exception for intersex people. But yea, the ADA sucks in this regard.

  42. debra soshoux
    February 18, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    I had already transitioned fully when my daughter was in first grade. She goes to a self-styled “progressive” private school. All the teachers and staff knew about me and were very accepting. So were my daughter’s classmates, so much so that one night she complained to me that none of them believed I could be her daddy(!) When asked, I always gave them a brief, age-appropriate explanation and they all accepted me.

    But because of my daughter’s discomfiture I arranged with the school to give a short talk to the class. The school was very supportive. It was the limousine liberal parents who had a problem. Half of them pulled their children from class just before I spoke.

    But the kids themselves have never cared. They were all ok with me.

  43. February 18, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Question for everyone…

    As someone who is trans I often see media saying a person is “gender non-conforming” … as also in a local LGBT media paper here in San Francisco talking about the teenager who was just shot to death at school just a few days ago…

    How is it that we are gender non-conforming… is not a better way of saying this as … “gender self-expression” … who are we to “conform” to … its as if someone who is Gay or Lesbian being told they are “sexually non-conforming”

    As someone who is a business owner and in the public eye now and then due to the work I do, I can only ask that we understand that each of us has the right to be as “we” see ourselves and not told or labeled as not conforming to others standards. I believe it sends the wrong message. Yet if you Google the term “gender non-conforming” it is used every day. How do you feel about the constant use of this term?

    I also do violence prevention work and seminars and in most cases violence occurs as someone fees to need to correct and/or punish the other person for not conforming to so-called standards… hence hate crimes and so on.

    I am asking for our own LGBT community to look at the wisdom in no-longer using the term “gender non-conforming” but instead adopt language such as “gender self-expression”.

    Isn’t it our right to live as we see ourselves… either as a specific gender or gender spectrum and sexually as in the manor we ourselves see best for our own life. That in the media and education we provide to schools and our own community it may be best to adopt language expressing the freedom of expression and sexual identity and preference.

    I am open to your thoughts… as we go forward to assist the next generation as in the case of this child going to school and simply being who they are, is there a way we can adopt a language as a community to help educate others so maybe in some manor we can do a better job in making the changes and providing the education to the public that is so needed?

    Thanks….
    Jennie Lake
    LGBT Family Services
    San Francisco
    http://www.LGBTFamilyServices.com

  44. February 18, 2008 at 6:49 pm

    I did not know that about ADA, Abby. That really sucks.

    Look to the defense of the DSM that ThickRedGlasses mounts. I cannot conceive of an instance where the “significant distress” a transgendered person would experience would NOT come from society. Even if that person lived in a home where they were allowed to express gender as they wanted to, and were never given a hard time about their choice, I can’t imagine they would ever feel anything but “different” in a world where binary gender is the norm, and is predicated exclusively on external genitalia. Society, not a different expression of gender, causes all of the “vibration” and stress.

    I don’t think you know what “transgender” means. It’s not a choice, and it’s not simply a different expression of gender. It’s feeling like you were born in the wrong body. Some trans people might actually be disgusted with their sex organs and secondary sex characteristics. I would consider that significantly distressing. I know I’d be signficantly distressed if I believed with all my heart that I’m really a man trapped in a woman’s body. It wouldn’t matter how society viewed trans people. The personal distress would be enough for it to be considered a disorder. It would be like any other mental disorder that isn’t as stigmatized as Gender Identity Disorder (e.g., Panic Disorder) that is distressing to the individual by the very nature of the disorder.

    But I do understand how someone might consider this disorder to be only distressing to the person because of how society views it, considering that Gender Identity Disorder is sort of considered a sexual disorder (it’s classified under “Sexual Disorders and Gender Identity Disorders” in the DSM). I can’t think of any other disorder in this category that isn’t considered maladaptive based on the partner’s disapproval of it (e.g., fetishism).

  45. Hector B.
    February 18, 2008 at 7:46 pm

    I’m a bit confused now. Thick Red Glasses says transgendered people feel that they are born in the wrong sex body; while Jennie Lake seems to be saying, “Yes, Johnnie, many girls have penises,” that gender exists independent of genitalia, without the sense of trauma that I get from TRG’s comment.

  46. piny
    February 18, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    But, moreover, I don’t see what the point of bringing this up is in the first place. If 3/4 of GID-diagnosed kids turn out to be gay, then so what? There’s nothing wrong with being gay and there’s nothing wrong with not being gay. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live as a girl (or boy) when you’re 8 and then deciding you want to live as a gay man (or lesbian) when you’re 16. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to live as a girl (or boy) when you’re 8 and then deciding that you want to continue living as a woman (or man) when you’re 16. There’s nothing wrong with changing the gender you want to live as every four months, if you feel like it. If only a few kids diagnosed GID end up seeking sex-reassignment surgery as adults, what of clinical interest follows from that?

    I agree with the basic point, but I don’t think the concern is that a failure to intervene with gender-incongruent kids will turn them into homos–or even quite that identifying as a different gender is a problem per se. The concern is that they’ll physically transition as adolescents and then grow up to not be transsexual. There’s a great deal of incentive for actual younger transpeople to transition physically, at least in some ways. The earlier you change your body, the easier it is; physical changes tend to support social transition; adolescents are as capable of feeling body-dysphoric as adults. As you say, not all adolescents are even ready to consider surgery or any other element of physical transition. But some do, and it will probably become more common rather than less.

    There are already SOC protocols that try to balance the two potential problems, and they’re not much different from the ones that exist for adults. So you’re right that it’s disingenuous to pretend that kids need to be saved from their gender identity.

  47. Luna
    February 18, 2008 at 9:06 pm

    There was a kid in my daughter’s kindergarten class who was likely transgendered. Her mom was telling me (and two other moms) about it one day. Her mom said, “K. was asking me the other day where her penis is. When I told her she didn’t have one because she was a girl, she said, ‘But I should be a boy. I want to be a boy! I want a penis!'” The other moms looked horrified, and one said, “What did you tell her?!” K’s mom said, “Oh, I told her if she still wanted a penis when she was 18, we’d get her one, but until then, she had to deal. We told her we’d compromise and let her wear boy’s underwear.” I cheered and told her she was the best mom EVER. The other two moms left, looking sick. R. laughed and said, “Sheesh, the things people get hung up on. You should see it when I take them to the beach and she wears boys swim trunks. She’s 5 for godssake.”

    I really really wish more parents were like K’s

  48. February 18, 2008 at 10:08 pm

    Juan Stoppable,

    This was probably an exception for intersex people. But yea, the ADA sucks in this regard.

    No. I don’t remember the name of the guy who pushed to exclude transsexualism from the ADA, but he deliberately went for transsexualism. He specifically asked leading questions during debate to link pedophilia and transsexualism.

  49. February 18, 2008 at 11:43 pm

    A significant part of my point is that the criteria having to do with “impairment in social [or] occupational … functioning” are basically bogus. They’re a way of shifting the responsibility for other people’s discrimination and bullying onto the victims of the discrimination and bullying. In reality, insofar as there’s a “disorder” here, it’s because other people have a problem, not because kids labeled as having GID have a problem.

    It is an either/or criterion. And I said before that I wouldn’t diagnose Gender Identity Disorder if a trans person was fine with his or her gender identity but was only being affected by the social stigma. I don’t think other people who are not at least tolerating transgendered people are the ones with the problem, so I definitely agree with you there. I asked my professor, who is a psychologist, about this, and she said that the way the person is affected by the social stigma is their personal issue. That didn’t sit well with me. There are other ways of getting around diagnosing someone with Gender Identity Disorder without committing an ethics violation or insurance fraud, which I think is good.

    As far as “clinically significant distress” goes, as far as I know, there’s been no positive evidence presented to the effect that the little girl in question feels that way, and I see little reason to assume that she does. Not everybody who wants to live as a member of a gender different from the one they were assigned at birth is especially concerned about the anatomical details of their body, especially not when they are still years away from puberty.

    I did say that not every transgendered person feels clinically significant distress over their gender identity. But I was wondering if this girl would fall under the Americans with Disabilities Act, in which case it would be illegal for the school not to provide accomodations and the controversy would be over. It’s not, which sucks. If it was, any empathic mental health professional would diagnose her with Gender Identity Disorder, even if she wasn’t experiencing clinically significant distress, just so that she would get the privileges of the Act.

    If, on the other hand, she does feel that way, then in any case that’s a separate issue from the accommodations that the school should or shouldn’t make for her. They don’t have much control over her personal feelings about her genitals. The issue at hand is how they will or won’t deal with the questions about her immediate social environment–whether or not teachers and classmates call her by her chosen name, allow her to to come to school dressed as a girl, do or don’t harass her, etc.

    It wouldn’t be a separate issue if Gender Identity Disorder was included in the Americans with Disabilities Act. I thought it was, but it isn’t.

    From a clinical standpoint, I’d question the utility of creating a gender-specific diagnostic category if the only purpose is to group together people who are (1) trans and (2) depressed or anxious or dysphoric about their bodies. There’s nothing wrong with (1) per se, and there’s already a ton of different diagnostic categories to cover (2), so why come up with a new one just to single out the fact that one subgroup of people who develop (2) are also (1)?

    I wish I could visit the DSM-V website right now just to see if the American Psychiatric Association is considering any changes to the Gender Identity Disorder criteria, but the website is down. But I think you make a good point. It seems like the APA doesn’t really know where to put Gender Identity Disorder, since that disorder is classified under “Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders.” So they know it’s not really a sexual disorder and need to clarify that, but they don’t know a better place where it would fit and just stuck it with the sexual disorders. I think it might fit well in “Disorders Usually First Diagnosed in Infancy, Childhood, or Adolescence,” because that seems to be the case. Or, they can have the V-code, which is used to cover a clinically significant problem that isn’t accounted for by a mental disorder, for Identity Problem to cover gender identity issues as well. That would avoid a diagnosis and the stigma that goes with it, while still showing people that gender identity problems are recognized by mental health professionals who can help you out with it. But V-codes aren’t covered by insurance.

  50. February 19, 2008 at 12:10 am

    piny,

    I didn’t mean to suggest that adolescents never consider or make a physical transition, or to attribute to Michelle the claim that there ought to be therapeutic intervention to “correct” GID in young kids because a failure to do so would lead to them ending up gay. I didn’t infer from her mention of the “outcome” statistics that that’s what she believes. If I did inadvertently suggest that, I apologize for being unclear.

    The point I was trying to make about age is that, as I understand it, an issue that’s unlikely to come up at the age of 7 or 8 in a case like this one. A few years later, closer to adolescence, sure, but at that point we’re moving rapidly away from the diagnostic territory of “GID in Children” anyway, and towards “GID in Adolescents and Adults.” My understanding may be mistaken; if so I retract that claim, but I’d still make the more specific claim that it doesn’t have much to do with what this particular kid and her mother say they’re concerned about at this particular moment, or with the details of how the school is dealing with them. And I’d also fall back on the other argument against the basic problem with the way that the medical establishment holds medical aids to transition hostage to medicalized labels and “disorder” diagnoses.

    The stuff about “outcome” statistics wasn’t meant to suggest that Michelle personally believed that there was something wrong with adolescents being gay. Rather that if one believes that there’s nothing wrong with being gay, nothing wrong with not being gay, nothing wrong with being trans, and nothing wrong with not being trans (which for all I know is what Michelle believes; otherwise I would have been arguing about that rather than just asserting it), then that correspondingly undermines the claim that there’s anything that ought to be called “disordered” or of “clinical interest” here, and to that extent it’s unclear why you’d need a diagnostic category for it, let alone a diagnostic category that’s used to justify psychotherapeutic intervention (at least not for children who don’t actively seek it out for themselves, rather than being shoved into it by anxious adults), let alone a diagnostic category that’s counted as a mental “disability” for legal purposes.

    If I had to guess at Michelle’s motives I’d be very unlikely to guess that it had to do with personal attitudes of homophobia or transphobia, and much more likely to guess that they have to do with the tendency in our culture to elevate professionalized psychiatry and medicine as the primary or only way to understand the things that are most important to our lives, and the “mission creep” for medicalized labels that this inevitably leads to, no matter how ill-founded or inappopriate that model may be in a given area. But that’s just speculation, and I’ll happily take it all back if I’m wrong.

  51. February 19, 2008 at 12:50 am

    Although I would never say I speak for the Trans community, I am however someone in the community that knows many who identify as Transgender here in San Francisco and am one of the people who is involved in opening the a Transgender Resource Center. I also work with-in the community as I am the owner of LGBT Family Services… I have only listed this info to show I can speak with some clarity, and as someone who also identifies as Lesbian… being Trans and Lesbian has been a double whammy… hugs…

    The term … Transgender … is a catch all phrase and incorporates MANY ideas of gender and sexual expression… As a person who identifies as female and have transitioned to the extent I can… Under the umbrella term of… “Transgender” … I would be considered … Transsexual… a person who has undergone hormone therapy to allow my body to go through a new puberty ( as close as it can ) as well as some surgery, however not all people have the ability due to medical or financial problems…

    At about the age of 4yo I remember fighting my parents everyday about the fact I was a little girl, and even before I was conscious of gender, my parents said that I had always had people ask if I was a girl due to my expression and manor of thinking, speaking, acting and wants and needs. (I was lucky even as a child born at a time, 1962, when there was little known on the subject.) My mom and grandma didn’t know what to do and just allowed me to be me… even to the point at 5yo I have a pic of me on my grandmas lap in a sun dress and pig tails only then to be forced to go to school as a boy and my hair cut and then the true issues began for me… self mutilation, suicide attempts as well as later on beatings and rape and depression lasting for years…

    If people would open up there mind and see some people are born with one blue eye and one green, some have six fingers and some are born as Siamese twins… how is it then that people cant grasp that gender and the things that make us a boy and/or girl can at some point also go haywire and people can and are born with one mind yet the body doesnt match … gender is not what is between your legs…

    I will never go into what is a true person who is transgender as many people do just that… I can only speak for me and believe each person, as an individual, is the only one who would know who they are…

    I have found that there is nothing harder then doing what it takes to affirm my true gender. The road has been the toughest thing I will ever go through and every day in one form or another I am held back either in relationships or simply life its self as many people have the ability to never even think about their gender… it just is… Well for me … it just is … then add a world that makes even a little child go through what this one, as all the rest of us, have to go through to simply be who we are…. This must change!

    This is not a choice, I did not wake up one day and say hey… I think I will put myself in a position to lose friends, family and many of my human rights and be considered an outcast experiencing peoples hate, beatings and rape.

    At 46yo now I have been able to get on my feet again, be the business woman I am and give back to our community. What is so funny sad however, is that many in the LGBT community discriminate towards others in the LGBT community let alone the issues the rest of the world has with us. How many Lesbian, Gay, Bi and Trans people have lost friends, family, jobs and even their lives…

    My heart goes out to this little girl as the road ahead can have many bumps the general public couldn’t understand… yet someday she might be the next CEO or Pulitzer Prize winner… just because we may have been born this way… doesn’t take away from our talents and abilities and the love we have for others…

    Why must this be the price we pay to simply be who we are…???

  52. jacquelyn
    February 19, 2008 at 2:06 am

    Adherance to binary gender system is not limited to straight folks. I hear repeatedly from transsexuals that you must do everything you can to pass as the gender you wish live your life. The existance of fluid gender or a sliding scale of gender expression and identity is unaccepted. I have been told repeatedly that I can’t be transgendered if I choose (which I do) to not go to extremes to erase my male gendered past. Passing is the ultimate test of being a true transsexual.

    Part is the result of societal oppression that makes it almost impossible to live adrogenously. Part is “Stockholm Syndrome” that transsexuals come to agree that those who don’t pass deserve the treatment they receive. Further the emphasis on genitals by transsexuals and straights alike is most troubling. If gender is truely in the brain then if I chose not to mutilate my genitals should be irrelevant.

    As far as the child if a child boy or girl is allowed to choose from a wide range of what are now considered gendered activities society will be much healthier and far less sexist. Our bigendered society enslaves both men and women into stereotypical roles that often neither is comfortable with.

  53. jacquelyn
    February 19, 2008 at 2:09 am

    The ADA has a specific exception for gender identity written in by fundies who were concerned that the ADA would be used to accomodate transgendered

  54. Rosehiptea
    February 19, 2008 at 2:09 am

    Shrinks are generally respectful enough of their adults patients’ wishes and strongly held convictions, at least on this specific point, not to simple-mindedly force them into efforts to “correct” their transgenderism. Not so for children, where all kinds of nasty behavioral therapy are commonly employed to “cure” them.

    Thanks for the clarification. I was just glad that my textbook covered it that way since it is in the DSM, but I also didn’t mean to gloss over the problems trans children may face from mental health professionals. And I’m sorry if it seemed like I was trying to turn this into Trans 101.

  55. February 19, 2008 at 5:20 am

    It is our experience at TYFA and the experience of the doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital that children who consistently and persistently exhibit a cross gender identity from a very early age (2-5) do not change their mind…do not turn out to be ‘just’ gay.

    In transitioning a young child there is nothing being done that cannot be undone. It is a ‘social transition’, changing hair, dress, name and pronouns. Once the beginning of puberty sets in it becomes decidedly clear whether a child is indeed transgender. If the child feels no significant discomfort with the introduction of their birth gender hormones then they are not likely transgender. It is interesting to note that in the nearly 200 kids being treated in the program in Boston not one of them has ‘changed their mind’. Not one has ‘decided’ they are ‘just gay’.

    Most of the data quoted when it comes to transkids is over 30 years old and if you look at it carefully you will see that it is inherently flawed. Most of it contains no mention of female to male identified children at all.

    In our work we actually see a slightly higher incidence of FTM over MTF and in Boston they are seeing a pretty even split. So what I am suggesting is the data is old and likely very inaccurate. Only time will tell for certain.

    Namaste,
    Kim Pearson
    Executive Director
    TransYouth Family Advocates

  56. February 19, 2008 at 11:49 am

    I’m a bit confused now. Thick Red Glasses says transgendered people feel that they are born in the wrong sex body; while Jennie Lake seems to be saying, “Yes, Johnnie, many girls have penises,” that gender exists independent of genitalia, without the sense of trauma that I get from TRG’s comment.

    Gender does exist independent of genitalia. Sex is biological and gender is the social construction. I’m not transgendered, but I think someone who believes they should be a different sex would be distressed about it, at least at first. Then again, maybe some people, even children, aren’t distressed by it at all or enough to ask their parents, say, when are they going to grow a penis or breasts. Even very young children know the difference between boys and girls (social and biological differences), so I think it would be natural for them to feel kind of awkward when they realize at a young age that their gender identity is the opposite of what they were born into.

    As someone who is a business owner and in the public eye now and then due to the work I do, I can only ask that we understand that each of us has the right to be as “we” see ourselves and not told or labeled as not conforming to others standards. I believe it sends the wrong message. Yet if you Google the term “gender non-conforming” it is used every day. How do you feel about the constant use of this term?

    This is the first time I’ve heard about the term “gender non-conforming,” and I don’t like it. What does that even mean? What does it mean to conform to a gender? I don’t know. If your gender identity is male, then you’re going to conform to the gender of male, even if you weren’t born a male. So that wouldn’t make you gender non-conforming, right?

  57. jacquelyn
    February 19, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    Kim Pearson , Do you see a change in how Physicians and others are dealing with intersexuals. Are intersexuals being aloud to grow into their gender before surgery or is surgery still being performed on newborns to “correct” ambiguous genitilia?

    Gender is indeed in the mind and not all transsexuals choose surgery. Surgery is often forced on transsexuals by state and by a countries laws and by a need to find employment. As I said above also many transsexuals espouse the belief that they can only be complete if all aspects of the other gender is erased in transition, if the don’t pass 100% of the time they are a failure.

    The split between female to male and male to female is indeed 50/50 and also suprising the rate of homosexuality and bisexuality is far greater than in the general population.

  58. February 19, 2008 at 1:24 pm

    This is the first time I’ve heard about the term “gender non-conforming,” and I don’t like it. What does that even mean? What does it mean to conform to a gender? I don’t know. If your gender identity is male, then you’re going to conform to the gender of male, even if you weren’t born a male. So that wouldn’t make you gender non-conforming, right?

    RedThickGlasses … thank you for your comment, yes the term “gender non-conforming” is used time after time by our own LGBT organizations … and I can only say it is, at least in opinion, a term that is doing our community more harm then good.

    We wonder why people have issues with the LGBT community. Society says we are different, not norm etc… We are asked why we can’t be like everyone else, what is wrong with us… Yet as an LGBT community our own people who talk to the media as well as politically represent us are using the term “gender non-conforming”. If you read the very first article from our own LGBT Community Center here in San Francisco, as well as the Bay Area Reporter ( an LGBT newspaper) and The Transgender Law Center also in San Francisco, the Press release said that “King was perceived to be Gay and “gender non-conforming”. Just Google the above info as well “gender non-conforming”

    I believe we are sending the Wrong Message using this term. Violence is typically caused as one person feels the need to punish someone for not “conforming” to so called societies norm. Are we sending the wrong message using this language, I can believe so.

  59. jacquelyn
    February 19, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Recently in NYC a lesbian was refused service in a restaurant becuase the owner and some customers thought she looked like a man. This woman offered to show her drivers license that would prove she was indeed a woman . The owner of the restaurant was not interested in her ID what he was interested in was that she made his customers uncomfortabe becuase she “looked ” like a man

    Gender Non Conforming is a term that was developed to describe those who are not in any sense transgendered and do not consider themselves in any sense allied with transgendered but choose or refuse to abide by societies gender stereotypes.

    Many people undergo anti gay harassment not becuase they are gay but becuase they are perceived as gay becuase something about their persona is “gender non conforming”. Gender non conforming you don’t like the word but any man will tell you there are strict rules that must be followed to be consindered manly. Wrong color shirt, too much frill, wrong hand gestures, hair cut, wrong job type, voice and ennunciation, how you walk and sit.

    I know becuase many of these things are the things you need to unlearn if you want to pass as the opposite gender. Get one little thing wrong and you are clocked.

    Violence is caused by a “need” to punish someone for not conforming?? Violence is commited becuase another person feels uncomfortable by who you are and feels empowered to make you either change or disappear through violence. You got a better word for gender non conformance great use it but it don’t change the violence people experience for crossing gender stereotypical lines. The people who commit violence against transgendered and others don’t care if you call yourself butch, femme, nellie, drag, trans, crossdresser, nonconforming conforming, , they care that you don’t like what you are and believe they have a right to kick the shyte out of you becuase of it.

    R

  60. February 19, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    About “gender non-conforming.” The first place I heard this term used around here was at a community meeting of trans people of color — and really I should just say it wasn’t just trans people or people who have transitioned to living as another gender, but all kinds of people from our local communities. There was a discussion of what kind of word to use to describe people who aren’t trans, don’t identify as “trans” or “transgender, aren’t transitioning, etc. but who are still affected by the kind of discrimination, harassment, institutional violence, etc. that jacquelyn describes. The previous popular term around here was “gender-variant,” which a lot of people had a problem with because it sounds like a clinical term, used to label people by some kind of medical or scientific authority. Similar terms like “gender deviant” or “gender bender” are even more problematic and not suited.

    There were a bunch of terms thrown around like “gender different” or “genderqueer” (which as I understand it is more of an identity that came out of white liberal arts colleges in the northeast) but in the end most people though that “gender non-conforming” was the most apt term to describe people with all sorts of identities and genders who are all subjected to discrimination and oppression on the same grounds: not fitting into the expected or mandated rules about gender. Also, it’s a descriptive word, not something that people identify as — I don’t think I’ve heard anyone use it as an identity, which is one reason it was popular at that meeting.

    So yeah, that word is absolutely about pointing out the fact that there is a population of people who are discriminated against, harassed, subjected to violence because of how we are different, how we don’t conform, etc. And around here at least, it seems to have been adopted because there was a need to talk about that, to collectively take action around that, to band together for survival and protection and change. It’s far from being a perfect word, but jacquelyn is right — there would need to be an alternative word if you really want people to stop using it. And we absolutely cannot stop talking about how people are perscuted for being different. Just changing the words around so that they don’t point out that yes, some people are different, some people don’t conform, and they get beaten on for it…. that would never actually stop or reduce the beating in a million years, I’m afraid.

    The first European settlers of this nation were non-conformists of various kinds — and actually called themselves that proudly. So if anything, we ought to be reminding our country that non-conformism, and protecting it, is part of the positive heritage of the United States, instead of acting like it’s a bad thing.

  61. jacquelyn
    February 19, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    I wonder if people even remember that Protestant means protestor of the Catholic faith that started when one man nailed to a church door a proclamation of protest against the catholic church. And same as now being non conforming ie not catholic could be very dangerous.

  62. February 19, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    If gender is truely in the brain then if I chose not to mutilate my genitals should be irrelevant.

    jacquelyn, stating that people who have GRS are “mutilating their genitals” is incredibly insulting and is exactly the language that transphobic people use against us. I do intend to have GRS, and I and every other adult have the right to control and modify their bodies as they see fit. I don’t really want to hear that language coming from a member of the trans* community.

  63. February 19, 2008 at 7:45 pm

    Jacquelyn, that is probably a better question for Jamison Green, but I feel safe in saying that yes, those who work with intersex children want to see them be able to self determine the gender they will live in rather than it being decided in an operating room when they are infants by well meaning folks who may not get it right.

  64. jacquelyn
    February 20, 2008 at 1:53 am

    Rachel I apologize that I offended you. Those words were poorly chosen but they were not entirely my own I was some what quoting a leader in our trans community. But truthfully many FTM’s choose never to have bottom surgery becuase of the poor results and I have personally experienced the sometimes poor surgical skills of some of the doctors who work on transsexuals. The scars that were left on my breast will make it impossible to ever feel comfortable naked in front of another person. and I have heard the many horror stories of failed bottom surgery that MTF.s have undergone, from necrosis of tissue, to lack of depth less than 3 inches, to incensate clitoris to just poor aestetic results.

    Rachel I hope your GRS results are better than mine research you surgoen well. Get lots of referrals. And again I apologize for poorly chosen words.

  65. always_learning
    March 3, 2008 at 9:24 pm
  66. March 3, 2008 at 9:50 pm

    The year before, Jamie went to school, forgetting about some red polish on her toes.

    “Some boys noticed and I was really scared, so I said it was bleeding,” she said. “I got some tissue and acted like it was bleeding.”

    OMG :(

    This part made me tear up. poor kid, just six years old.
    Brings back too many memories of being totally terrified like that when I was little.

    Is it any wonder that some people bury this stuff so deep down that it takes many decades to deal with it?

    I’m really glad she’s in a good school system. And some other kids are so sweet and protective when they find out that someone might get treated meanly for being different. Kind of reminds me of my littlest sister who was around five when I transitioned, she used to yell at anyone in our family who got my pronouns wrong because she thought they were being mean to me and I’d be upset.

  67. April 5, 2008 at 9:58 pm

    I had to watch the first two videos in parts because Cavuto was making me sick…that’s all I can really say about that right now…

  68. May 10, 2008 at 2:09 am

    This is a great discussion. I am wondering, how many intersex people treat with hormones and how many get surgery, in percentage. Are there some who do both? Thanks for the update, ladies and gentlement.

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