A recent study that we all should read!

I found the link to this study along with a copy of the paper at Transgendernews, a yahoo group. Here’s the link.

http://www.intersexualite.org/Zucker_boys.html

I think you’ll find it quite enlightning about Zucker’s real agenda, but you should read it and make up your own mind.

Amber

More comments on controversial trans-theory

I wanted to revisit the subject of Autogynophelia, because it seems to me that, the way it’s described, it seems to fit me as well as anything else that I’ve read.  I actually went to the link provided in an earlier post and read the information given there, and as I read the article, I started to see a lot of myself in the description.  It was actually quite depressing to realize that I fit the profile pretty well.  It took me several days to come to terms with that realization, but having previously come to terms with the fact that I wanted to be a girl and that it’s not some horrible disease, but rather, a condition shared by a lot of people, made it easier to come to terms with this description.  I must add that I don’t think that it applies to all of us, but I think it applies to some of us.

I don’t think AutoG has anything to do with early onset gender confusion, I think that would be more properly termed ” a prenatal intersex developmental abnormality”.  AutoG just doesn’t fit the conditions, in my opinion.  Neither does “homosexual transsexual”, because many early onset gender variant people are attracted to people of the opposite physical sex.

I’m still trying to figure this thing out myself, but some things I know about myself are:  I don’t remember any gender confusion as a young child, I was a sensitive little boy, but I don’t remember any confusion about my gender before the onset of puberty.  If my memory is somewhere near correct, my gender confusion started with puberty, but it took me a while to even realize what was going on in my head, probably several years.  By the time I was 15 or 16, I knew what it was, I just didn’t know what to do about it.

There’s always been a sexual connection to my cross-dressing, it did seem to get less over the years, but that may have been because I was trying to supress that part of it, I really didn’t want it to be about sex.  I have always felt more comfortable in “girl” mode, I still would rather be a girl than a boy, it makes me happy.

However, what got me to thinking about this whole AutoG thing is that I still get an “arousal charge” when I first change from the “old me” to the “new me”, especially if I’m excited about how I’m going to look when I’m done transforming into Amber.   It’s interesting that I made 2 discoveries at about the same time.  My body is no longer devoid of basic sex drive due to HRT, it seems to have adjusted somewhat to the current balance of hormones and and I now have a slight bit of sex drive.  That “thing” between my legs is still mostly dead, but not entirely now.  Of course, that’s what led to the discovery that I’m still capable of being turned on by getting dressed.  It doesn’t react very much, it’s just the nerve twinge, but that’s enough to know what’s going on.  I’d like to think that it’s just a residual artifact, but, at this point in my life, I need to be honest with myself.

So, I come to the 20 dollar question, does this mean that I shouldn’t transition?  I’m not really sure about that one yet.  I’m continuing to stay on course while I think about all this heavy stuff, in fact, I was just prescribed Provera by my Endocronologist yesterday, which made me a happy camper all day.  It’s interesting that this point, I haven’t found any reason to stop transition other then this latest injection of illogical doubt.  I realize, logically, that this latest “label” doesn’t really mean much, I still want to be a woman, I still feel like I should be a woman, and I suspect that I already think like a woman.  I’m not a mind reader so I’ll never know for sure, however, I relate more easily to women then men.

I’d be happy to read any thoughts or comments that the rest of you might have on this, some input on this might be helpful to me.

Mercedes Allen responds to accusations of scaremongering

On a post to her personal blog, and cross-posted to Bilerico and Transadvocate, Mercedes Allen reflects on the responses to her original Uh-oh post, including several that have been reported here and elsewhere.

I and others have been accused of scaremongering in the ongoing debate(s) surrounding this issue. Dr. Forstein has some excellent points for us to examine. Some of the other aspects and debates, though, I still stand behind.

Mercedes goes on to respond directly to Henry Hall’s comments:

Henry Hall accuses me of scaremongering with regard to my concerns about removing any diagnosis of GID from the DSM, without some better model to replace it…
…I am not fearmongering: I am saying, don’t cut the trapeze rope until we know that the next bar is within reach.

She also acknowledges the importance of Dr. Marshall Forstein’s statement by saying:

I can admit that my own personal panic led me to overlook the fact that the DSM itself does not recommend treatment. I was wrong and my inexperience got the better of me. This is not a small point, and we need to take some comfort in that. Scaremongering? Perhaps, though not intentionally.

Read Mercedes’ thoughtful and comprehensive response here.

Zucker: Is he a DSM-Villain or not?

If you’ve been reading any transgender blogs or journals lately, you’ve doubtless seen concern about the appointments to DSM-V working groups on gender identity disorder. (If you haven’t, here’s an example from TRANScend GENDER.)

The following isn’t written by me, but I received it in email via the Southern Arizona Gender Alliance mailing list, where it was forwarded by someone who knows the author. Dr. Stephen Russell originally sent this reply to the University of Arizona LGBT Faculty/Staff/Graduate Student Organization mailing list.

Friends and colleagues:

I have been receiving and reading the emails about Ken Zucker for the past several days, and feel that I must respond. The emails and blogs mischaracterize his work – I know Dr. Zucker, and while we do not fully agree on issues about sexual and gender orientation / identity and its development, I know Dr. Zucker to be a person who is concerned about the welfare of children and youth. My experience is that this concern is what motivates his (controversial) work.

I have been in communication with Dr. Zucker about this, because I wanted to hear from him directly, as the reports did not match with my reading of his published work and my personal experience with him. First, he has never used “aversion therapy” (which involves mild electroshock or nausea-inducing stimuli). Related – reparative/conversion therapy is a method that has been used to attempt to change adult same-sex sexual attractions to opposite-sex sexual attractions – he has not practiced or endorsed this form of therapy.

Here is what he writes about his therapeutic work:

The “gender-positive” therapeutic approach that I use with young, pre-pubertal children who have gender identity conflict is to try and help them feel comfortable with their bodies so that when they are adolescents or adults they do not feel so uncomfortable in their own skin that they need to seek out hormonal and surgical sex-reassignment. We know already from several follow-up studies of young children that the majority “lose” their desire to change sex, with or without therapy, and many develop a comfortable sexual identity as gay, lesbian, or bisexual and are comfortable in their own skin. As an important aside, when we see adolescents in our clinic who are severely gender dysphoric, we are very supportive, after a careful evaluation, in helping them transition to the opposite gender, including the use of hormonal blockers and/or cross-sex hormonal treatment.

I realize that this explanation may still be objectionable for some – but it is a far cry from the descriptions of Dr. Zucker’s work that are being circulated.

Dr. Zucker’s understanding / conceptualization of gender dysphoria in children is well-represented not only in science, but in the queer community. He is grappling with very complex questions – questions about which “we” in the queer community don’t have full consensus. We have to acknowledge that there is no solution to the DSM that will unify science — or our communities.

Finally, keep in mind that he began this work years ago, before there existed the scientific or community debate and discourse about these issues that we have now … if you read his published work, it has evolved in the last 10 years.

I worry that we undermine good research – and well-informed advocacy – in a world driven by polemic blogs.

With some hesitation, and respect,

Stephen

Stephen T. Russell, Ph.D.
Professor, Fitch Nesbitt Endowed Chair in Family & Consumer Sciences
Director, Frances McClelland Institute for Children, Youth & Families

Of Dr. Russell, the person forwarding the email to the SAGA list writes: Stephen’s field of study is GLBT youth, particularly the risks youth face when coming out, and he is well respected (and a very nice person). He’s also a gay man. So he has both personal and professional interest in the issue of Zucker’s appointment.

I don’t have a strong take on what’s right or wrong here, but I feel it’s important to provide this perspective in addition to the others that are circulating currently.

Are We Maladaptive?

Okay, so I got myself into a bit of a tiff with Abby down below. Here’s the link.

In general, the conversation is about how GID should be classified in the DSM. The tendency, obviously, is for us to want a kinder, gentler revision…one sensitive to our feelings, and easier to schlep to the public than something like “autogynephilia”. Ideally, we’d get it removed entirely.

That doesn’t seem likely to me, of course. Unlike homosexuality, transsexuality requires treatment (currently that treatment involves hormones and surgeries…hopefully that will always be the case). And as long as treatment is necessary, the doctors will need a set of diagnostic criteria…hence the DSM.

But maybe I’m wrong.

Maybe gender dysphoria is a physical ailment, as I’ve so often heard said, rather than a mental one. Maybe it’s like having kidney stones. Kidney stones often require surgery, but I’m pretty sure they’re not listed in the DSM.

Maybe we can prove that gender dysphoria is like kidney stones.

Harkening back to my undergrad days and my Abnormal Psychology class (thank you Ms. H.!), along with the help of Google, I was able to dredge up the criteria for mental disorders.

For a given behavior to qualify as a mental disorder, it must meet these four points:

  • Statistical Infrequency
  • Deviation from Social Norms
  • Personal Distress
  • Maladaptiveness

The first two are obvious…we meet those. No argument here.

Personal Distress seems obvious. Yes, the dysphoria we suffer causes us distress. The same was (and still is, occasionally) said of homosexuality. Is it the dysphoria itself that causes the distress, or the way the rest of the world treats us? I suppose that question can only be answered by the individual.

The one that really gets my goat, though, is the maladaptive piece. According to one website I looked at:

A behavior pattern or characteristic is “adaptive” when it is constructive, helpful, healthy and contributes to the person moving in a valued direction.

A maladaptive behavior is the opposite then…a behavior that is destructive, unhelpful, unhealthy, and contributes to a person moving in a non-valued direction. The site gives the example of heroin use as being maladaptive (duh).

So what behavior are we talking about here? If we’re talking about having gender dysphoric feelings and not acting upon them, then yes, I’d say that’s a maladaptive behavior. But shouldn’t we be looking at it the other way? Shouldn’t we wait until a person does act upon a feeling, then judge whether it’s adaptive or maladaptive? To use the example above, the urge to use heroin is only maladaptive when acted upon; to not act upon it is responsible, and therefore adaptive. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the same standard should be applied to all such observable behaviors. And most times that I’m aware of, acting upon gender dysphoric feelings results in a person “moving in a valued direction” (except, of course, where Personal Distress rears its head).

Is this going to be the case for everyone? Probably not. There may be people out there who meet all four of these criteria. And there’s no reason the DSM can’t include an article that addresses the needs of these individuals…they did it for homosexuality. But for the rest of us – and every successful transition is another case study the DSM crew should look at – is there a way we can be excluded from the onus of GID and still receive the treatment we need?

To be perfectly honest, even I’m not convinced by my argument. Obviously, being transsexual is not like having kidney stones. And while I think the whole adaptive/maladaptive thing is interesting, I’m sure I’m not the first person to think of it. Sadly, it’ll take more than an hour’s worth of Google research before I’ll be able to completely repudiate decades worth of mental health research, but in the meantime, there are a few people out there who can make those kind of claims.