Yesterday a woman I like and respect posted a request for people to participate in yet another survey or study of transsexual and transgender people. She vouched for the person doing the study and due to her personal reputation I will assume that the person doing the study is honorable.
That isn’t really the point of my objection although we should always question the purpose of any study of any people in the queer alphabet soup. We have a history of being fucked over by studies that are supposed to be to our benefit. Michael Bailey’s Study should have been the final straw.
Gay and lesbian parents were sucked into Mark Regenrus study, which like Michael Bailey’s fraudulent study turned out to be a tool to abuse LGBT families.
I’ve participated in way more surveys and studies over the years than most people. I came out early and was dedicated to cooperating with the doctors and scholars studying transsexual people in the belief that I was making life easier for transsexual and transgender people.
In 1980 at Johns Hopkins John Meyer and Paul McHugh did one of these survey/studies that nearly killed SRS in this country. To be rated a success in this study one had to be a perfect fembot heterosexually married housewife with adopted children. At a time when one was only able to change their birth certificate and therefore legally marry a man in twenty or so states. At a time when feminism was still in full swing and many if not most natal women were questioning sex/gender role stereotypes.
Stanford asked me to take a ten year follow up survey/study in the early 1980s. It was after I saw the movie Blade Runner and had picked up on the term Replicant, which was the respectful name for the genetically engineered clones in the movie.
Needless to say I didn’t like the study at all. I told Stanford they were treating us like Replicants, almost human but not quite. That they expected us to fit perfect stereotypes and even invent false memories to do so. We were expected to do this in spite of the barriers that were erected to keep us in our places.
At the time I felt I was doing the best I could, I had gone back to school and was employed. I was bisexual and preferred the company of women because straight men tended to be total sexist jerks.
Suddenly it seemed like people who had been really pretty open minded ten years earlier were now reborn as supporters of rigid sex/gender roles.
When I was chided for describing myself as a Replicant I mentioned how the rude label was skin job.
The point is I resented being studied like I was some sort of alien life form or someone whose life experiences were totally different from non-trans people’s life experiences.
It is dehumanizing as a class to be seen as group to be studied. It doesn’t matter if that group is a tribal culture, a racial/ethnic minority or an LGBT/T group. The very act of classifying us as a collective group suitable for study marks the one doing the study as serving the dominant culture and the group being studied as inferior.
Time to end the studies. They really don’t promote our cause, bigots remain bigots. Too many of the studies are used to promote bigotry and the whole practice is demeaning.
Too often these studies are agenda driven, particularly when they are student studies. The reality is I don’t give a shit about helping someone get their Ph.D in Psychology or Gender Studies.
We don’t need any more caring psychiatric workers, making a living exploiting us. We need equality and dignity instead and these studies help with neither.