progress!

02/04/2009

Okay, so I ended up being gone a while, but in my defense, it’s been a busy, eventful, wonderful month. March that is. 😉

I’m now legally Mina! (Well, the real name I use in real life IN PLACE of Mina anyway ~_^) After a fair bit of fighting with Home Affairs, my name change came through last week, and on top of that, I got referred for an orchi … which happened 5 days later! Sometimes it’s amazing how things can just … shift literally over the course of a day or two after months of nothing so much as bashing your head out against a wall.

So yeah, I’m over the moon … and really sore. But the sore will pass, and in the meantime, Tramaset FTW! ^_^

Probably won’t be writing regularly again for a while yet – now the next priority becomes to find a job as a matter of urgency, but once that’s out of the way …

Mina.

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Transsexual and transgender people often get accused of threatening the very survival of the human species. Groups such as Focus on the Family single us out as the last gambit in the “Homosexual Agenda of Death”, tasked with nothing less than destroying the very foundations of the family and continued human existence. By turns we’re sinful perverts, demoniacally possessed or simply pure evil. Secular critics are a bit kinder: to them we’re just nuts.

These accusations tend to be extended to chromosomally or endocrinologically intersex people as well, despite irrefutable proof that they are simply biologically different. Even physical intersex gets dismissed as, at best a deformity, at worst the physical manifestation of original sin. (Yes, I’ve actually heard that as an argument for why people are born intersex. More than once.)

At the end of the day though, we’re all disorders and deformities. When sex evolved 350-odd million years ago, male and female were mutations, disorders that seemingly threatened the very survival of their species because these individuals needed to pair up to reproduce, unlike their ancestors who basically just cloned themselves. But because sexual reproduction allowed for greater adaptability and faster spread of advantageous traits, sex proved successful and became the dominant form of reproduction in both the plant and animal kingdoms. Sexual reproduction turned out to be a brilliant survival mechanism and it became the new norm. From the point of view of asexual creatures though, every male and female on this planet is a freak.

I’m not saying that intersex conditions fall into this category – the entire spectrum of intersex and transsexualism and transgender may be developmental dead-ends. But variation is the essence of evolution, and there is no way to predict what new variations add to our species as they develop. The fact that bisexuality and gender-variant behaviour is so widespread amongst animals, especially mammals, points to there being a definite survival value to it, otherwise these behaviours would long since have died out.

As a species, we are quick to label developmental variations as disorders or even as immoral or sinful, but I would argue that the disorder lies more in our society’s inability to adapt to and deal with these variations, than in any objective assessments of value. We fear what we don’t understand so we attack it, destroy it or hide it.

Take autism for example.

Autism is still regarded by most of the general public as a horrible mental disorder characterised by severely impaired social ability, repetitive behaviour, and mental retardation. Historically, autism and other neurological variations were regarded by turns as demonic possession or punishment from God. There are a few societies where such people were regarded as holy innocents instead, but the majority view was deeply negative, as it overwhelmingly remains today.

In reality though research is starting to show that autistic people are actually hyper-intelligent, and that it is our failure as a society to communicate with such people effectively that’s the problem.

The latest understanding of Autism Spectrum (AS) disorders is that people with AS have extreme male brains. They simply have a different way of thinking, hyper-systematizing and ordering. Under this new understanding, people with AS are actually hyper-intelligent in areas such as spacial and technical ability, and this is reflected by the fact that fathers and grandfathers of AS kids are almost twice as likely to have been engineers. Students in science tend to have more relatives with autism than the general population, while mathematicians tend to themselves be autistic more often. Asperger Syndrome, a milder form of autism, has even been called the “Geek syndrome” because sufferers tend to be extremely intelligent when it comes to science, math and other technical subjects, but lacking in social and empathic ability.

And then there are the truly amazing examples of this intelligence: Savants.

Stephen Wiltshire is an architectural artist with the ability to draw landscapes after only a single glance. He has featured on various television specials, has had collections of his work published and once drew the entirety of central London after a single helicopter trip over it. Yet he only developed the ability to speak around the age of nine, having been diagnosed with autism at the age of three.

Our society simply doesn’t know how to deal with these hyper-intelligent people, how to educate and interact with them, so we label them idiots, stick them in institutions and forget about them. Their amazing technical abilities go to waste and we are all the poorer for it.

Likewise, gender-variance is a poorly understood phenomenon, and despite mounting evidence of biological causes, still regarded almost universally negative by modern society. And yet people with intersex and gender-variant “conditions” have been around for at least as long as we’ve been writing things down, and in many cultures such people often came to be valued as mediators, medicine-people and priests. Falling “in-between” in a sense was seen to give such individuals a unique perspective on both sexes, and that perspective was valued.

Many gender-variant and intersex people see their “condition” as a burden, something to be ashamed of or angry about, and I can understand the sentiment – in our world it is a burden that isolates us and singles us out for ridicule and attack. And yet, in many other societies it was a gift, and in the same way that autism actually masks genius, who knows what gender-variance and intersex really is?

Mina

This is the last of my reprints from en.gender, so I promise there won’t be any more blasts from the past. Yay!

When Taysia Elzy and Michael Hunt were murdered late in 2008, a huge amount of attention was focussed on the fact that Taysia was transgender. Reporters made sure to point out that “he” had not had “the surgery” yet, that “he was living as a woman”. Commentary by readers was similarly obsessed with Taysia’s gender, and if the fact that the two of them were murdered was mentioned at all, it was mostly as an afterthought. The Huffington Post has a good summary article detailing events around the case.

Unfortunately it’s an all too common complaint against reporters covering trans-related stories. There was a rash of murders last year of trans people in the US, especially amongst black women, and yet most of the reporting was much more concerned by their gender than by their murders[1]. Closer to home, the Sunday Times in South Africa ran a feature called “Tranny Day”[2] in October of 2008. And most recently, I came across this little gem:

from LA MetBlogs:

I went to the tranny session and out of all the minorities struggling to find their voice in the LGBTI movement, none is between a bigger rock and a harder place than trannies. Generally considered a liability – as in, “You Buffalo Bills and walking Thai surgery centres represent that slippery slope argument they keep talking about” – trannies are the black sheep of the LGBTI family. My group was stymied as to how to make their social and political challenges relevant to the movement without alienating the public and indirectly hurting the gay community as a whole. What I took away from this was: that’s how non-white gays and lesbians used to, and still do, feel![3]

Nice huh? I thought the “Silence of the Lambs” reference was particularly classy.

Journalists don’t have the greatest track record when it comes to presenting the concerns and circumstances of transgender people sensitively. Granted, there’s still alot of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge around transsexuality and transgender people, but one can only excuse so much through ignorance before the argument falls flat. There are plenty of resources out there for journalists who care to look … sadly it just seems like many of them don’t.

The Associated Press updated its style guide in 2006 to take modern terminology and common usage of language around the LGBTQI community into account. Good style guides are also available at various places online:

  1. GLAAD Applauds Updated Associated Press Stylebook Entries
  2. GLAAD Media Reference Guide: Transgender Glossary of Terms
  3. NLGJA Stylebook Supplement: T

Just in brief, some basic guidelines and definitions to follow might include:

  • Gender identity is a person’s internal sense of him or herself as either a man or a woman. For transgender people, this gender identity is in partial or total conflict with their physical gender.
  • A transsexual person is somebody who’s gender identity is in direct opposition to their birth sex. Transsexual people sometimes do not identify with the broader term “transgender”, so use the term the person you are interviewing is comfortable with.
  • An androgyne person is somebody who’s gender identity is an equal mix of male and female elements, or else is in flux. Use gender neutral pronouns such as zir/zie or singular plurals, unless the person in question uses different pronouns.
  • A neutrois person is somebody who has no sense of gender identity, or else regards theirs as a distinct third type. As with androgyne people, use gender neutral pronouns unless otherwise okayed.
  • Transition is the process by which transgender people bring their bodies into alignment with their gender identities. This may include any or all of the following: counselling, hormone therapy, surgery, electrolysis and voice training. Transgender people do not always want to transition to the sex opposite that of their physical body. This may be especially true of androgyne or neutrois individuals. Most transsexual people do, though they may elect not to or be unable to have certain treatments due to costs or medical risks.
  • Terms such as “tranny”, “she-male”, “he-she” and “it” are all deeply offensive. Avoid using them.

Beyond language usage there’s also the question of … tact. Understandably, journalists are always looking for something to make their piece stand out and draw readers, but there are certain boundaries that need to be respected:

Obviously, the first and most important rule is that you respect the person. You’re talking to an individual, a human being, not a gender. Ask the person how they want to be referred to and stick to that, and respect boundaries they set on what they are willing to share or discuss.

  1. Refer to a person by the pronouns and conventions of their gender-identity, not their physical sex, and use their chosen name. So if somebody identifies as male, use male pronouns and conventions, whatever their biology and/or gender presentation at the time. The same goes for a person who identifies as a woman, as androgyne or as neutrois.
  2. Trans people are born the gender they identify as, so don’t refer to the past in terms of “when you were a “guy/girl”. If you have to bring up the past, which is a touchy subject to most trans people to begin with, stick to “before you transitioned”, or something along similar lines. Similarly, a trans woman might have been born physically male, but that doesn’t equate to her being born a man. She was born a woman, though with a male body.
  3. Gender identity is not sexual orientation. Gender identity is who you are, sexual orientation is who you are attracted to. Just as there are straight, gay, bi and asexual non-transgender people, trans people also exhibit all orientations. Sexual orientation is expressed in terms of the person’s gender, not their birth sex. So, for example, a trans woman attracted to women is a lesbian, the body she was born with notwithstanding.
  4. Privacy. Besides the obvious that there are certain things people will not be comfortable discussing, not respecting a trans person’s privacy can have devastating repercussions. Most transgender people blend completely into society in the gender they identify as, with nobody the wiser. Publishing sensitive information can not only compromise this, but place a transgender individual at serious risk of losing a job or a home or of being targeted with violence.
  5. Do not discuss genitals. Ever. How would you like a perfect stranger asking you about yours? Whether the person has had surgery or not is similarly none of your business. The only people who have a right to know these things are medical professionals and intimate partners.
  6. Most importantly, don’t treat them differently. A woman with a trans history is simply a woman with a medical history. The fact that she had to have a birth condition medically rectified has no bearing on who she is. Treat her as you would anybody else.

Mina.

Notes

1. 2008 at TDoR

2. Tranny Day – Sunday Times ZA

3. Equality Summit or: GayCon 2009 – LA MetBlogs

In a post at Women Born Transsexual a few days ago, Suzan reposted an article that appeared in the Minneapolis News on the third of March 2009. In it was this little gem of a quote by Paul McHugh:

“Families and people who encourage young people to take hormones are, in my opinion, hurting that child, and not helping them see the reality of this world,” says Paul McHugh, a physician at Johns Hopkins and an outspoken critic of sexual reassignment surgery. “Your sex is in your cells—every cell in your body has either two X chromosomes or an X and Y chromosome.”

And allowing a child to live as the other gender?

“Well, that’s terrible,” he says. “That’s a form of child abuse.”

I was livid. Dr. McHugh tramples all over the biology of transsexualism, not to mention disregarding the entire spectrum of intersex people with his statements. He enforces the idea that humankind is purely binary and that “hermaphrodism” as intersex used to be called, is a rare and tragic medical anomaly, where people are even aware that it exists.

The reality is that intersex conditions are very common, and incidences are on the rise. Accoding to the Intersex Society of North America, up to as many as one in every 100 births exhibit some sort of intersex condition, and as they points out:

How small does a penis have to be before it counts as intersex? Do you count “sex chromosome” anomalies as intersex if there’s no apparent external sexual ambiguity?

The question becomes even more of a topic for controversy when you add transsexualism, which is a demonstrably neural intersex condition, and the question of whether gender-variant conditions such as being transgender, androgyne or neutrois are biological in origin is still up in the air, simply because there’s been so little research focussing on these individuals.

The only reason that intersex has largely fallen out of public knowledge is because of surgical intervention. This has been accepted practice since the 60’s when Dr. John Money seemingly “proved” the theory that gender is a purely social construct with his work on the case of David Reimer. In brief, he convinced David’s parents to raise him as a girl after young David’s penis was destroyed during a botched circumcision, the belief being that David would develop as a girl through social conditioning. On the basis of that work, thousands of intersex children have since been arbitrarily assigned either male or female with surgery and hormone replacement therapy, a practice that continues to this day.

But Money was wrong. He used David’s case to push his own ideological beliefs, and even after it became clear that he was wrong when David’s male gender identity eventually asserted itself, he misreported his findings or simply didn’t report them at all. He went on to fame and fortune, and for thirty years intersex people were abused. David finally came forward with his story in the late 1990’s, but Money still has his ardent followers and defenders, most of them in positions of power and influence in the medical establishment.

There is a veritable laundry-list of prominent mental-health and medical professionals that cherry-pick from biology and psychology to construct theories consistent with their own beliefs. Individuals like J. Michael Bailey and Kenneth Zucker, organisations such as NARTH and the Clarke Institute all push their ideologies as science, and because they seemingly have the credentials, people listen to them. Most recently, Dr. Joseph Nicolosi of NARTH appeared on Dr. Phil, billed as an “expert”. Dr. Phil is watched regularly by over 4.5 million people in the United States alone, and gets broadcast on over 20 major networks world-wide. Meanwhile, Dr. Kenneth Zucker, who routinely forces gender-variant children into reparative therapy in order to “cure” them has been placed at the head of the committee tasked with authoring the DSM review on Sexuality and Gender.

Of course, one might argue that these people have a right to say and believe what they want to. This is in fact a favourite argument from groups such as these, and I would agree – rights to freedom of speech and of belief are vital, and I would defend theirs as strongly as I’d defend my own. But they cross a line into malpractice and misinformation when they pass those beliefs off as science. Where their theories and statements do not reflect scientific understanding, they have a responsibility to say so.

Medical professionals and academics have positions of perceived knowledge and authority, and all too often they abuse it to push ideology. Because of that perceived “scholarly authority”, they have an enormous impact on how intersex and gender-variant people are perceived by the media, and subsequently the public. We need to start holding them to account for their statements.

Mina.

So after my post on the prevalence of gender-variance, I thought it would be interesting to calculate actual numbers of transsexual and transgender people, just to get an idea of how big a population (constituency? ~_^) we’re talking about here.

Considering the contention around who actually has the right numbers though, I decided to calculate population separately based on each individual investigation or report, listing them in descending order with the oldest report [Tsoi88] at the top, down to [Reed08], the most recent, at the bottom. I know it’s not ideal, but at least it does help to give an indication of what various authorities are saying the populations are. Unfortunately it’s still pretty-much up to each of us to decide for ourselves who we’re gonna listen to. At least until all the big brains and official types can agree.

Before getting started, just a recap of the assumptions and rules I’m using in my calculations:

  1. Overall population statistics are assumed to be a 50% split between assigned male and assigned female.
  2. Adult population aged 18-60 is estimated at two thirds of total population, 67%.
  3. You’ll notice that most of these studies focus exclusively on Male-to-Female (MtF) transsexual people, specifically post-op. This is done mainly because it’s easy – you can point to a definite, irreversible change and obtain statistical data from surgeons fairly easily. Obviously this precludes gender-variant people who can’t have surgery due to financial or health restrictions, or who do not entirely identify as transsexual.
  4. Reliable statistics for the Female-to-Male (FtM) population are much harder to come by as phalloplasty is a much more expensive, dangerous and generally unsuccessful procedure than vaginoplasty. Consequently, many transmen opt not to have surgery, and so never become part of a fairly easily counted population. Historically the ratio has been about one FtM individual for every 2.5 MtF people. Where there’s no data I’ve used this ratio to extrapolate numbers for comparison, though some more recent studies are indicating a higher ratio.
  5. These statistics tend to assume that the majority of the population will have access to information about transsexuality as well as the means to medically transition, since they are based on research in developed countries such as the Netherlands and the United States. The reality in less developed countries is unlikely to correspond to these models. Populations are more likely to be ignorant of the realities or even existence of gender variance, not to mention have little chances of ever having the resources to transition.

So all calculations are for adult populations between the ages of 18 and 60 only, with assigned male and assigned female split exactly 50-50. All population statistics are latest census or estimated figures as per Wikipedia.

I’ve done two sets of calculations, the first based on the lowest prevalence statistics quoted in each respective report, which represents people seeking to transition or already having done so, and where available, a second set based on upper estimates as being representative of total populations of all gender-variant people.


Overview

Tsoi88
Bakker93
Wilson99
Conway01
Winter02
Conway07
Reed08


Sheet 1: Tsoi88

[Tsoi88]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 5,506 1,924 no data no data
European Union 499,673,300 57,434 20,067 no data no data
United Kingdom 60,975,000 7,009 2,449 no data no data
Canada 33,558,000 3,857 1,348 no data no data
United States 305,831,000 35,153 12,282 no data no data
Australia 21,585,178 2,481 867 no data no data
China 1,321,851,888 151,937 53,086 no data no data
India 1,147,995,904 131,954 46,104 no data no data
The World 6,677,602,292 767,540 268,177 no data no data
Ratio to Total Population : 2,900 8,300


Sheet 2: Bakker93

[Bakker93]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 1,342 525 no data no data
European Union 499,673,300 13,996 5,479 no data no data
United Kingdom 60,975,000 1,708 669 no data no data
Canada 33,558,000 940 368 no data no data
United States 305,831,000 8,567 3,353 no data no data
Australia 21,585,178 605 237 no data no data
China 1,321,851,888 37,027 14,494 no data no data
India 1,147,995,904 32,157 12,588 no data no data
The World 6,677,602,292 187,048 73,219 no data no data
Ratio to Total Population : 11,900 30,400


Sheet 3: Wilson99

[Wilson99]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 2,090 522 no data no data
European Union 499,673,300 21,798 5,444 no data no data
United Kingdom 60,975,000 2,660 664 no data no data
Canada 33,558,000 1,464 366 no data no data
United States 305,831,000 13,342 3,332 no data no data
Australia 21,585,178 942 235 no data no data
China 1,321,851,888 57,665 14,403 no data no data
India 1,147,995,904 50,081 12,509 no data no data
The World 6,677,602,292 291,306 72,760 no data no data
Ratio to Total Population : 7,641 30,592


Sheet 4: Conway01

[Conway01]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 6,387 2,555 31,933 12,773
European Union 499,673,300 66,623 26,649 333,116 133,246
United Kingdom 60,975,000 8,130 3,252 40,650 16,260
Canada 33,558,000 4,474 1,790 22,372 8,949
United States 305,831,000 40,777 16,311 203,887 81,555
Australia 21,585,178 2,878 1,151 14,390 5,756
China 1,321,851,888 176,247 70,499 881,235 352,494
India 1,147,995,904 153,066 61,226 765,331 306,132
The World 6,677,602,292 890,347 356,139 4,451,735 1,780,694
Ratio to Total Population : 2,500 6,250 500 1,250


Sheet 5: Winter02

[Winter02]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 no data no data 95,609 38,244
European Union 499,673,300 no data no data 997,352 398,941
United Kingdom 60,975,000 no data no data 121,707 48,683
Canada 33,558,000 no data no data 66,982 26,793
United States 305,831,000 no data no data 610,441 244,176
Australia 21,585,178 no data no data 43,084 17,234
China 1,321,851,888 no data no data 2,638,427 1,055,371
India 1,147,995,904 no data no data 2,291,409 916,564
The World 6,677,602,292 no data no data 13,328,547 5,331,419
Ratio to Total Population : 167 418


Sheet 6: Conway07

[Conway07]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 10,644 4,258 31,933 12,773
European Union 499,673,300 111,039 44,415 333,116 133,246
United Kingdom 60,975,000 13,550 5,420 40,650 16,260
Canada 33,558,000 7,457 2,983 22,372 8,949
United States 305,831,000 67,962 27,185 203,887 81,555
Australia 21,585,178 4,797 1,919 14,390 5,756
China 1,321,851,888 293,745 117,498 881,235 352,494
India 1,147,995,904 255,110 102,044 765,331 306,132
The World 6,677,602,292 1,483,912 593,565 4,451,735 1,780,694
Ratio to Total Population : 1,500 3,750 500 1,250


Sheet 7: Reed08

[Reed93]
Region Total population Transitioning/Transitioned Population Estimated Gender-Variant Population
MtF FtM Male-bodied Female-bodied
South Africa 47,900,000 5,365 1,341 153,526 38,381
European Union 499,673,300 55,967 13,992 1,601,517 400,379
United Kingdom 60,975,000 6,830 1,707 195,433 48,858
Canada 33,558,000 3,759 940 107,558 26,889
United States 305,831,000 34,255 8,564 980,228 245,057
Australia 21,585,178 2,418 604 69,183 17,296
China 1,321,851,888 148,057 37,014 4,236,705 1,059,176
India 1,147,995,904 128,584 32,146 3,679,474 919,869
The World 6,677,602,292 747,939 186,985 21,402,571 5,350,643
Ratio to Total Population : 2,976 11,904 104 416

I use OpenOffice, an Open-Source alternative to MS Office and other packages. Try it, it’s as good as other packages any day of the week, and you can download it for free! ^_^

Mina

From Wired News …

[Brandon Keim] Beauty Affects Men’s and Women’s Brains Differently (23 feb 2009, Wired News)

Beauty is famously in the eye of the beholder; but it’s also in the beholder’s brain, and may work differently in the brains of men and women.

In men, images they consider to be beautiful appear to activate brain regions responsible for locating objects in absolute terms — x- and y-coordinates on a grid. Images considered beautiful by women do the same, but they also activate regions associated with relative location: above and behind, over and under. The difference could be the result of evolutionary pressures on our hunter-gatherer ancestors.

The findings, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are preliminary and based on a small number of people, but intriguing nonetheless.

continues…

Visit the “Causes of Gender-Variance, Transsexuality and Intersex” page for more on the biological and psychological differences between the sexes, in addition to more general studies on the origins and effects of gender-variance.

Mina.

In a post entitled “The Taliban of the GLB Movement” over at tgnonsense, Leigh Smith argues that transgender people are largely responsible for the backlash gay, lesbian, bisexual and transsexual people are currently experiencing in the US and in some regions elsewhere in the world. She goes on to explain how they provide a huge big bullseye for a resurgent Religious Right to take aim at, and consequently elicit hatred and bigotry against everybody in the LGBT “community”.

I don’t think anybody can realistically disagree with her. Transgender people are indeed singularly visible, and to an ideology so rigidly conformist as religious conservatism, gender variance is like a huge big red flag.

But to blame the target makes no sense.

I’ve been watching the whole transgender vs. transsexual thing in the US for a couple of years now, reading blogs and articles and forum posts that sometimes get so nasty (from both sides), you expect nothing so much as bloody murder.

Once you look beyond “American” shores (always loved how you guys appropriated the entire continent in naming yourselves) it seems to become something of a non-issue. The “great divide” between transgender and transsexual nearly never even occurs to most people, and with obvious exceptions, gender-variance is accepted legally and medically, and for the most part tolerated. Way-out transgender people might be seen as odd or weird or “out-there”, but most people just go about their lives with a wry grin or a sneer and a shake of their heads on the rare occasions that they actually encounter one.

It only seems to be in the United States that acceptance of GLB and especially T has become no less than a battle for the very fate of all mankind, emphasis on the MAN.

And I suppose that’s a big part of it. America seems to need enemies, to be locked in a heroic struggle of good against evil. At least if you judge by how quick it is to name them. In the 50’s the big evil was the Communist Threat. Before that, “Japs” and Nazi sympathisers were undermining the very fabric of the United States. Not too long ago we had an “Axis of Evil” knocking on the door and today the Gay Agenda threatens no less than the destruction of America in righteous hell-fire and brimstone. And let us not forget the dark threat of Al Qaeda and “Islamic TERROR”…. which the US just so happens to have created, trained and funded way back when they were fighting the Commies.

Whatever the cause, those “enemies” breed fear, and fundamentalism thrives in that sort of environment. Add climate change and an economic collapse that spells uncertainty for all of us, and fundamentalists are going to look for scapegoats to blame their woes on. If transgender people didn’t exist it would be black people or women, both popular targets in the past, immigrants or just foreigners in general, or they would invent a new group to hate. Anything rather than to accept responsibility for their part in creating the circumstances we face in this world right now. And of course, you have to be the good-guy if you’re going to be fighting the Great Enemy.

I understand the urge to be normal, to sanitise ourselves and become as acceptable and palatable as possible, but no matter what we do, whether we are “true transsexuals” or screamingly genderqueer or just garden-variety gay, we’ll never conform closely enough to their idea of what a man or a woman is supposed to be. After all, most cisgender men and women don’t either. Indulging in a bit of scapegoating of our own won’t change that.

Religious fanaticism isn’t part of the problem, it is ALL of the problem. Ignorance at least can be reasoned with, most of the time, but fanaticism has to be opposed. Because as long as we’re all busy scratching one-another’s eyes out, with transgender accusing transsexual of being deluded in their binary identity, or transsexual accusing transgender of subsuming and subverting the plight of “true transsexuals”, or GLB really not wanting anything to do with either group ’cause they’re well, weird, the fanatics will be taking the United States away from everybody, and that influence will spread beyond its shores, as is the case with everything that happens in “America”.

Mina.

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