“Dysphoria is the killer”

I will be updating this post in the near future, but a recent thread on my Tumblr blog is so good I want to share it now.

Dysphoria is a real thing. It’s unrelentingly painful and can make people feel desperate to do any and everything to fix it. But it does not follow that lifelong hormones and surgery are necessarily the cure. For a few individuals, perhaps. But why would anyone want to push the narrative that expensive, painful treatments should be the first line of treatment–for anyone?

There is a growing community of women on Tumblr who are speaking out about their battles with dysphoria. Some transitioned, only to return to life as females. Others found a way back to themselves without ever transitioning. These women are role models for our youth, far more than the trans activists who offer only two options: transition or suicide.

From the thread:

I don’t have it handy, but iirc I saw a study once that actually showed increased rates of suicide post-transition.

Frankly – and I don’t care what people think of this – I think the only responsible option we have for kids who believe they are trans or whose families believe they are trans is therapy. Licensed psychiatrists and talk therapy and finding the actual root of the problem, rather than treating symptoms with dangerous, seriously harmful*, irreversible surgeries and chemicals/pharmaceuticals.

These are kids, for fuck’s sake. If they hate their bodies so much that they would rather commit suicide than live in them for one more second, one more month, one more year, that is a sign of serious mental illness and it needs to be treated as such.

This is especially true when studies show that up to 80% of these kids grow up tonot be trans, but rather gender non-conforming gay men and lesbian women.

(* There was a post on my dash a while back about how artificial testosterone treatments given to trans men cause uterine and cervical (iirc, maybe just uterine) cancer, but nobody tells this to trans kids. It has been proven, over and over again, that the puberty blockers trans activists want every kid to be on, Lupron, has dangerous, life-long negative side effects that have destroyed the lives of many of the adults who have taken it. We don’t yet know all of the side effects of these treatments, either.)

As someone on my dash once said, very astutely, you don’t prescribe diet pills to someone who’s anorexic, so why on earth are we prescribing these surgeries and artificial hormones and shit, the majority of which we do not have any data on the potential far-reaching effects of, to literal children to treat what is, at the very root of it, a mental illness?

This isn’t just like giving diet pills to an anorexic. It’s akin to if society decided that the best course of “treatment” for anorexia was diet pills, laxatives, WLS and liposuction.

And this isn’t “transphobia,” by the way, before someone comes along to call me a “terf”. This is called giving a flying fuck about the health and quality of life of trans or potentially trans people.

It’s fucking ridiculous that being against physically healthy kids being chemically and surgically altered is considered bigotry and actively encouraging it is considered advocacy. And trans people who point out how messed up that is, even when they’ve personally experienced transitioning and the problems that come with it, are transmedicalist scum who get harassed by the supposedly progressive. I guess the only people worth supporting are the males using someone else’s condition to justify their creepy invasive misogyny?

The full text of the study talked about can be found here.

From the abstract:

RESULTS:  The overall mortality for sex-reassigned persons was higher during follow-up (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 1.8-4.3) than for controls of the same birth sex, particularly death from suicide (aHR 19.1; 95% CI 5.8-62.9). Sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicideattempts (aHR 4.9; 95% CI 2.9-8.5) and psychiatric inpatient care (aHR 2.8; 95% CI 2.0-3.9). Comparisons with controls matched on reassigned sex yielded similar results. Female-to-males, but not male-to-females, had a higher risk for criminal convictions than their respective birth sex controls.

This study has the highest population that I have ever seen in a study on transsexuals (324 sex-reassigned individuals, to be exact) and also spans the longest term I’ve ever seen (30 years – 1973-2003). It should be noted that it is a review, which means the authors gathered data from many different studies and followed up as much as possible to present the largest cohort they could. This takes primary data from many, many different studies and compiles it to look at trends. I think the controls would be much better if they were able to use individuals who experience sex dysphoria but do not transition, but we are not allowed to talk about that.

This is extremely important to talk about. The best scientific study of transsexuals available clearly shows that the rates of suicide are much higher in individuals who undergo sex-reassignment than in the general population.

Dysphoria is the killer. Medical transition is not an absolute cure. Medical transition does not stop a person from suicide if they are suicidal. 

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15 thoughts on ““Dysphoria is the killer”

  1. The successful conflation of ‘talking about dysphoria’ with ‘conversion therapy’ for gay ppl has been a priority of many trans groups. The accepted fact that ‘you can’t talk someone out of being gay, and it’s dangerous to try’ is equated with the argument ‘no point in talking about dysphoria, because GID is immutable and transition is the only treatment.’ Finding a therapist who might consider that your kid’s psych landscape and long-term history are worth exploring? Finding a therapist who actually think there might be some value in the ‘take it slow’ approach? Good luck with that. The whole “brain sex” paradigm, despite the crappy science, is pervasive, and the desirability of gatekeepers or real-life experiences are being overwhelmed with the move toward so-called “informed consent.” Ai yi yi.

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  2. I think the analogy with anorexia is apt, but an analogy with Body Integrity Identity Disorder is even more suitable. That’s the disorder where people believe that they need to be disabled, typically through amputation of a limb (weirdly enough, usually the left leg). Regardless of how much evidence you give the person that their body is healthy and normally functioning, they insist that they need surgery despite all of the risks and the reality that their life will be adversely impacted by the surgery they want. Most of the patients are males (although there is a fair number of women) and will keep wheelchairs and crutches. Some even publicly present as disabled. Does any of this sound familiar??

    There is a mental health crisis in our country that is being ignored in part because it predominately affects/involves males and in part because of political correctness. The trans community piggy-backed itself onto the gay community and is now insulated. However, the degree to which they involve children will be devastating to them.

    I want to say something about suicide. I spent many years representing people in psychiatric hospitals. I have had clients who have committed suicide and I have had many who have been left terribly disabled by suicide attempts. If someone really wants to die, they will make it happen. You might delay them or make them change their plans, but they will do it ultimately. I despise the use of suicidality to manipulate and terminate discussion. It’s incredibly irresponsible especially when dealing with youth, for whom suicide can be romanticized. Suicide is a symptom of a deeper problem, not a result of not getting one’s way.

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  3. When I read the writing in the ‘truth about transition’ blog linked on the main page here, 4thwave, I am so full of sorrow for these people. The surgery pictures, the descriptions of physical and mental pain, the scars — my heart aches so much for these fellow HUMAN BEINGS who are so filled with disgust for the bodies they’re in that they attempt these radical changes. And there is so much writing there that shows me that the dysphoria is not gone after the surgery, the hormones, the social transition. That the big depression (I do not know what else to call it) is all still there, and now these ppl have (on top of it) the realization that the promised fix did not really fix. When I look at the evidence of my own eyes, listening to these voices — I don’t have an answer, but to me it’s pretty clear that these medical strategies are not, in actuality, solving the problems. Which to me indicates that the struggles are deeper and originating above the neck, not below. (Or maybe the ppl who write sad stuff online are self-selected and there is some group of ‘hey, it’s all good now’ folks who aren’t posting? I dunno.)

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    • I have the same reaction to those posts, puzzled. Deep sadness. From what I can tell, http://truth-about-transition.tumblr.com/ is quietly cataloguing and archiving these posts, without comment–for posterity, perhaps, as a way to chronicle this destructive medical fad of the early 21st century that has seized our youth. Because the posts really do speak for themselves, don’t they? Many of them are teens, a cascade of post-op selfies which they post proudly–but which show the devastation being brought upon them by the adults who should really be protecting them from this fate–not glorifying and profiting from it. I’ve read several posts from kids under 17 years old who have already had mastectomies and hysterectomies. The reality of plastic surgery, “T,” and the ongoing dysphoria is so different from what the McLean clinic posted (http://www.ftmtopsurgery.ca/), with its picture of that happy, gorgeous FTM on the front page. The fact that so many of our girls and young women are suddenly flocking to transition should tell us all we need to know. Historically, not that many women wished they were men to the point that they sought a sex change, but it’s now gone viral. So difficult to be a parent swimming upstream against this tide.

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      • I just went through that blog too. It was very sad, but it also made me angry. I wanted to shake all of those children and call them “f**king cowards.” But I’m not a parent and you parents see and feel this differently. I feel bad for parents and the uphill battle they have with children who want to mutilate themselves to fit in. Honestly, though, I feel like all these stupid little sh*theads are gonna be our public health crisis in about 10-20 years.

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      • The problem is, all the media, medicine, and psychotherapy authorities are telling these kids they’re doing the right thing. The adults are failing them, big time. It’s unlike any other adolescent obsession before, because the adults with clout who are arguing the other side are in the minority. For now. It’s why we have to keep speaking up and out.

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      • The other striking thing about some of the posts on that blog is the bizarre, obsessive need to choose a label from the warped smorgasbord Gender Studies academics cooked up over the last decade or so. It sounds like parody, but they are dead serious. One example:

        “To some degree, it honestly depends on personal preference. For me, I identify almost entirely masculine dysphoria-wise, including social dysphoria with my pronouns being male, but my bottom dysphoria is bigender. So, I use demiguy to describe it, or non-binary trans masculine, since that’s such a wide umbrella term.
        I have a very good friend who presents masculine, even with pronouns, but has agender bottom dysphoria, too, so it’s definitely a thing. I know they use androgyne. I find that demiguy/demiboy or things like androgyne can fit that very well.”

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  4. Yeah, Oceans, I’m sure that my parental history of a kid with existing mental health issues has an effect on my view of those postings. Because behind them (or at least some of them) I can perceive mothers lying awake worrying about their daughters, and aching at whatever it is that makes these kids believe that cutting off their breasts and injecting T and paying knife jockeys for metoidioplasty is going to allow them to live in the world in peace and joy. I am not saying that all mothers feel that way, but I’d wager that there’s a pretty big percentage who’ve listened to the “expert” advice and acquiesced and are mourning. I’ll wager that there are lots of women who held their kids’ hands post-surgery, who quietly supported their injections, who helped the kids navigate name changes and the insurance industry and the whole shebang — and who later went in the bathroom and puked and stuffed their sorrow down because they were advised this is what one does to be supportive. (I can hear the kids saying, “yeah, right, because it’s all about YOU. just fuck off.” sigh.)

    The movement has its roots in eugenics experiments in Germany from the turn of the century, and over the years has been led by a group of pretty perverse (in many cases) males. These experiments continue. And the ftms you want to shake are going to be the biggest victims, because the stuff they are doing to themselves is the least studied, long-term. But … as ever … women’s lives are cheap.

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    • “I’d wager that there’s a pretty big percentage who’ve listened to the ‘expert’ advice and acquiesced and are mourning. I’ll wager that there are lots of women who held their kids’ hands post-surgery, who quietly supported their injections, who helped the kids navigate name changes and the insurance industry and the whole shebang — and who later went in the bathroom and puked and stuffed their sorrow down because they were advised this is what one does to be supportive.”

      I have a friend going through this right now. It’s awful.

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  5. the only problem I have with you saying “dysphoria is real,” is that we don’t actually know that “dysphoria” is real. We know that distress is real. We know that feelings that this distress is due to one’s sexed body or gender (or both) are real. But when you reify something like that distress into a pathologizing, faux-scientific concept—”dysphoria”—and posit it as a metaphysical entity, you lose me.

    I can’t see any way in which “dysphoria” is different than “displeasure.” Many people of color grow up HATING their hair because we are taught that white people hair is “good” hair, and any other kind of hair is terrible. But that doesn’t mean that displeasure about one’s hair should get a special, pathologizing and faux-scientific word—”dysfolicle,” anyone?—nor would it support a statement that “Dysfolice is real.”

    “displeasure about one’s sexed body” is displeasure about a specific topic, but that doesn’t mean that it has independent reality, or is in some way different, stronger, or more real than any other displeasure humans experience.Creating pathologizing and faux-scientific names for it is giving power to the wrong people and the wrong point of view. One that willfully ignores social context.

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    • I fundamentally agree with everything you’ve said in your comment, nora. The real point, I guess, is that I believe the FEELING of dysphoria is real. When I first started blogging, I tended to dismiss the whole dysphoria meme as just a product of internalized misogyny which could easily be waved away. Of course, it IS just that. However, I have a number of women followers on Tumblr who have battled the feeling of dysphoria and come out the other side to reclaim themselves as female. They have written quite eloquently about it. Some actually began “transitioning” via testosterone and “top surgery” and now regret it. They’ve taught me a lot. Several of them are now helping girls and teens who are experiencing dysphoria to find a way to deal with it without “transitioning.”

      My general position on dysphoria is that I don’t want to deny the reality of a person’s statement of their own internal, lived experience, which is, of course, subjective. What I do want to do is encourage girls and teens, in particular, to find a way to cope with or resolve those feelings without succumbing to the pressure to “transition.”

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      • fair enough. My worry is simply that if we feed into the idea of dysphoria, we are going to actually make it more difficult for women to draw those healing connections between misogyny and their subjective gender/sex-based distress. I believe that drawing those connections is healthy and healing, in addition to being true.

        I mean, of course these feelings are “real,” insofar as all feelings are real. But if we posit that the feelings are one thing, one specific thing called “dysphoria,” we are objectifying them. And in doing so aren’t we reinforcing those feelings as static, unchangeable, and having a certain stability, outside of these women and outside of the social context (patriarchy)?

        Whereas, if we conceptualize these feelings as displeasure or distress, I think that we see immediately that these are changeable feelings, that they will change if we change our values, that they are the result of one’s relationship to one’s bodies, not just the result of the this outside object, called dysphoria.

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    • The problem with dysphoria, is, that gender dysphoria is more often body dysphoria and seeking happiness in rejecting your physical self. It is considered a psychological illness because hurting themselves self with feeding into their own body dysphoria. Now people are being coached into hurting themselves for this fad that will fix all their problems? The worse thing you can do is feed someone’s harmful dysphoria.

      Anorexics can’t picture themselves as thin and go on diets when triggered. Is liposuction the solution?

      Some bodybuilders get so hooked on steroids and body building, they need heart bypass surgery at 50 years old. It seems too much like the same thing.

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      • -but kids all go through stages of rejecting their body as they hit puberty, develop and grow, that is normal.

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