This comment was submitted by a reader today. Thank you.
Thank you for your blog, which makes me feel sane again. It’s so hard to escape from a world policed along very narrow, and in my view, very dangerous lines.
I am the mother of a young adult who decided two years ago, in the wake of a series of traumatic events, that he is female. He is being supported by two gender doctors who, he says, have ‘diagnosed him as transsexual’. This ‘diagnosis’ is merely an echo of his own interpretation of his own narrative. They say that he is transsexual because he says that he is transsexual. Yet, he hears this diagnosis as confirmation of his own belief that he must transition to survive.
His belief in the absolute necessity of transitioning is based, I believe, on the trans narratives that he has encountered on the internet.
By contrast, when his adolescent sister developed an eating disorder and then self-harmed, she was supported to challenge her beliefs, support which allowed her – after a long two years – to recover. Only a belief that you are the sex that you were not born to is unchallengeable, lest you be charged with bigotry.
For my part, I have become increasingly convinced that gender dysphoria is a maladaptive coping strategy, prompted by very real distress, but not necessarily stress focused around gender. Yet our culture, which for the last century, has been obsessed with gender, cannot see the distress underlying these claims.
I think that the supposed parallel between gender transitioning and homosexuality is particularly unhelpful and misleading. Both narratives share a story of coming out, and of liberation from prejudice. But both are not necessarily the same.
Gay culture, despite – or because of — the suffering and persecution homosexuals have often faced, revels in humour, which rests on lifting taboos and telling the truth. But trans culture is humour aversive, maybe because humour threatens to crack the fragile identities, uncovering a truth which cannot be spoken, a truth which threatens to launch the self into terrifying chaos. I think it is for this reason that trans culture cannot countenance questioning or debate.