The Transsexual/Transgender Conundrum

A post with the above title was posted to the Trans-Theory List last night,  well actually a non-inclusive version, “The Transgender Conundrum.”

This got me to thinking about the idea that the existence of transsexual and transgender people is some sort of puzzle, a mystery that needs figuring out so that people like me can be prevented from existing.  Of course psychiatrists and well meaning people aren’t as blunt about it.  Only the right wing ass holes and radfems talk about actually eliminating us with pre-natal interventions or post-natal cures.

Well actually no… Quite a few highly educated psychiatric professionals have engaged in dubious experimentation and abuse  of the sort one might have expected from Dr. Mengele.

When I lived in Hollywood I met a sister who had been lobotomized in an attempt to cure her transsexuality.

I’ve met numerous other sisters and brothers who have been institutionalized in attempts to cure them of being transsexual or transgender.

People who are appalled with reparative therapy on gay and lesbian people are perfectly okay with the same sort of therapy when it is performed by Dr. Green and Dr. Zucker.

Parents who do the right thing and give their transkids a space to be themselves, who allow them to transition as children and have as ordinary a life as it is possible for a transkid to have are looked at as though they are crazy.

After all being a “normal heterosexual man or woman” is the pinnacle of something and all those who aren’t straight men and women are somehow tainted as lesser human beings.

Its a p ity Jan Morristitled her well written 1970s memoir, Conundrum, as that has left too many people thinking transsexualism or transgenderism is some sort of puzzle with a cause that needs searching out.

To me this demonstrates how little humanity has moved beyond the Middle Ages when demons and witches were blamed for all sorts of things.

As recently as the 1940s and 1950s teachers in schools tried to cure left handedness.

You have creationists, who believe the universe is six thousand years old suddenly become “Darwinists” and speak emphatically about how homosexuality, transsexuality and transgenderism can’t be natural since it doesn’t promote species reproduction.

As though these morons think every member of the species must reproduce and multiply.

Why is it so hard for people to accept the idea that things like transsexualism, transgenderism and homosexuality happen simply because it is a natural occurrence and one in X number of people happen to be born that way.

Just as a few people are redheads or left handed.

It is time for the Psychiatric Industrial Complex to give up on the idea that transsexual and transgender people represent a conundrum that needs to be figured out.

Their actions of labeling us as having a psychiatric condition, so that the Psychiatric Industrial Complex can bleed money from TS/TG people who need medical treatment has to end.

The GID Label is harming TS/TG people.  Just as labeling homosexuality a mental illness harmed gay and lesbian people.

We, TS and TG people do not have the answers to gender, nor is our gender a key that unlocks the secrets of some sort of enigma.

We get our gender and our personal interpretation of gender the same way non-TS/TG people do.  It is as much a part of our socialization as theirs.  Gender is like a dance a team sport that requires interaction with others. We learn the steps and rules the same way anyone else does.

There is no conundrum.

Perhaps it is time for the Psychiatric Industrial Complex to move past its role in oppressing women, LGBT/T people and other minority groups for not being straight white men.  Perhaps it is time for the Psychiatric Industrial Complex to start examining the whys of real insanity like religion, racism and war.

Until the Psychiatric Industrial Complex is willing to turn its microscope upon things like greed, racism and misogyny it is part of the problem and not part of the solution.

24 Responses to “The Transsexual/Transgender Conundrum”

  1. Sharon Sinéad Gaughan Says:

    I was one of those who was terrorized in elementary school by peasant Irish nuns who thought thought my then-handicaps and left-handedness were somehow indicative of demonic possession, a sign my family had done wrong in the eyes of God. Being feminine was the last straw and added to multiple beatings.

    All of those attitudes were reinforced by an influx of East European immigrants who had all kinds of folk superstitions. Even through high school, I had teachers demanding that I stop limping.

    I evolved over time to understand that people who reacted negatively to me on those fronts — including the fact that I was born transsexual — did so because I represented a threat to their desired certainty. Many, if not most, people get their systems of belief off the shelf (like EST or something) and can’t be bothered with logic and empirical proof.

    Moreover, the less certain and secure they really are inside the more likely they strenuously overreact to external stimuli they experience as something diminishing themselves as persons.

    Psychiatrists and psychologists — and RadFems — are poorly educated barbarians and hopelessly banal. Their standard training, hopelessly pseudoscientific, withers when confronted by a world with phenomena that requires incomprehensible (to them) knowledge and discipline.

    As you say, “there is no conundrum”, only humility — a quality too often dismissed by arrogant bombasts.

  2. Brianna Austin Says:

    It may take a long time, but transpeople are breaking out into the mainstream all the time, and more so in everyday roles on the past 20 years. There have always been performers out there, but now we’re seeing transpeople achieve in all disciplines. it took gays 4 0 years to get to some sense of acceptance, and it will likely take us another 20. But every time we get a platform, like the Miss Universe controversy, ANTM, and other situations — provided the spokesperson represents us well, it is another opportunity for the mainstream to say “Hmm, wow, she seems quite normal actually; well spoken and such.” And this in time makes an impact.

  3. Ashley Says:

    I agree the psychiatric community needs to stop looking at us as a conundrum that needs ‘fixing’, however I do support the neurologists that try to find a medical reason for our existence. The more brain studies, the more MRI scans, the more research essays… they all point to transsexualism being a pre-born medical condition; not much different then being inter-sex, These studies are the only thing that will eventually grapple our condition out the tight gripped hands of psychiatrists and into the medical community. No one questions why an inter-sex person would want medical intervention, because the medical community recognizes inter-sex as a medical condition and cares more about the individual patient then social stigma. Unforgettably psychiatrists seem to care more about society and forcing conformity then whats best for the individual.

    • Suzan Says:

      I don’t believe in male brain/female brain.

      I don’t support studies of TS/TG people either medical or psychiatric.

      I don’t believe anyone should have to justify their existence. TS/TG people should no more require studying to validate their humanity than people of color should.

      No one would argue that non-white people are not born that way, yet white supremacists and racists regularly act as though the humanity of people of color is somehow lacking.

      While knowing why may give some an answer they are searching for it really has little to offer for most of us.

      Indeed in the present political climate such a cause which presumably could be screened for would cause a race for the cure.

      Already women are being administered hormones to prevent masculine girls.

      But more importantly the ethics of such a search are questionable.

      Instead of searching for the cause of such things as TS/TG or for that matter homosexuality; perhaps we would be better off searching for the causes of hatred and bigotry as they are truly life and beauty destroying as well as frequently plunging humanity into genocidal wars.

      What causes some one to be TS or TG is about as important on a cosmic scale as finding the cause of left handedness.

      • Ashley Says:

        well whether you believe it or not, differences have been proven between male and female brains, and I’m not saying trans ppl should have to validate their existence, however it does seem the best way to get our condition out of the hands of psychiatrists. Being trans isn’t something that can be ‘fixed’ by therapy. Although medical care, for example HRT, surgery, SRS does improve things a lot…. there go… it should be a medical condition, not a psychiatric disease. Like it or not many trans ppl (including myself) do need medical care to feel ok with themselves, saying it is neither a medical or a psychiatric condition would deny treatment options, or at the least insurance coverage. So the end does justify the means.

        • Suzan Says:

          Actually they haven’t found any real difference between male brains and female brains. Those who have are Bailey and Blanchard level of agenda driven with the motive of showing this is why women are inferior to men and deserve less pay.

          Their studies are very similar to ones done to show the differences between white brains and black brains. The purpose is to enforce misogyny just as the race based brain studies were to prove white supremacy.

          • Ashley Says:

            what? how is proving differences in M/F brains support misogyny? It’s only if you take those differences to support a twisted theory that one is better then the other that misogyny is spread, not by scientific facts, but by sexist maneuvering. And I wasn’t referring to Bailey or Blanchard, these men are psychiatrists and the only difference they could “prove” is behavioral, which varies from culture to culture and person by person, so really doesn’t prove anything. No, I was referring to cold hard neurology.

            I’ve included a link here:

            And here is a link to MRI results:;jsessionid=1BAAB47B54ADB49659AF748FBC640400.d02t03?

            And here….

            Really I don’t know why you are fighting me on this. can’t it be a positive thing that men and women are different? Why is saying one is different then the other automatically equal to misogyny? Why can’t we live in a world were differences in gender are supported and we are all treated equal regardless of those differences?

            We are all human beings in the end, but it sounds like your saying that by acknowledging differences we are somehow supporting ignorance, kinda like they did with the “We don;t see color” thing. pretending to have color blindness only fights ignorance with more ignorance. Pretending gender differences don’t exist is like fighting misogyny with ignorance.

            This new research can be used to slowly fight off the ignorant trans-haters that preach we are mentally diseased, or choosing to be this way. Ignorance can only be fought with knowledge, and because of that, I support these studies. .

            • Suzan Says:

              Prove what?

              I find the whole thing a total waste of time.

              There aren’t any real differences between male brains and female brains.

              The trans-obsession with this is a total waste of time. Sort of like those who obsess about really being intersex.

              I don’t care. It doesn’t matter and it won’t do anything to further our rights.

              • Ashley Says:

                yes, they may be only scratching the surface, but so far it shows trans-women have the same neurons and brain responses as bio-women. How does that not support trans rights? It totally does, and it totally validates our existence. Which BTW is instrumental at combating ignorance. I speak from personal experience,

                For example there was a man I debated on youtube who was saying that being trans is a choice or the product of nurturing, that we could all be fixed if we just went to therapy, not to mention a list of other ignorant hateful comments I however was able to show him these articles, debate him with calm logic and guess what? He totally changed his option! we sent some personal emails back and forth and he has since apologized for his statements and said he won’t bash trans ppl in his posts anymore. I have other examples, but I know that research for research sake, does improve are standings on things. especially with the religious right, who like to claim we are choosing this as “a lifestyle choice.”

                How could we ever possibly hope to challenge these kinds of statements without research? It debunks them, and the Radfems at the same time. without research we are all just screaming in the dark trying to prove a negative and crying because no one believes us.

                This research starts us on the path of changing all that, and it is working to help bring acceptance around the world.
                thank you and good-night

              • Suzan Says:

                Sorry but I don’t see it as important at all.

                Human rights aren’t based on having a certain set of genetics.

                Further the male brain/female brain stuff is really bullshit.

                I have dealt with the radfems by exposing them for what they are.

                But they are truly irrelevant. The only people that follow them are mostly really disturbed people.

                Even the woman in England realized how insane those people are.

                Now I personally think the Classic Transsexuals and HBS people are every bit as mentally disturbed as the Transgender Borg.

                Further I have far more important things to do than argue the causes of transsexualism with you or anyone else.

                I don’t care. I was just born this way and knowing a cause will do nothing for me. It won’t buy me lunch or fill the tank of my car or pay the electric bill.

  4. tinagrrl Says:

    Male brain, female brain, etc., etc. What if someone “discovers” there is a “trans brain”, and a simple test can detect it in the second trimester of pregnancy? What then?

    How about the fact many of these “studies” depend on pre-conceived notions of what men and women are good at. Perhaps reading “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine will help you see how biased so many of these “studies” really are. Mostly they serve to support the current unequal society.

    Instead of worrying about some mythic “root cause”, it might do us more good to ally with others, and work for common goals — human rights for all.

    Being stuck in some “identity ghetto” does not seem to do any of us any good. Open up, look around, as “they” say, “smell the coffee”, and embrace the fact we are ALL human, and ALL DESERVE EQUAL RIGHTS.

    • Ashley Says:

      last comment was in replay to your reply before this, this response is for the last one. .

      I don’t worry about that because it plain and simple science fiction. They cant even do MRI scans of the deep areas of the brain on living people, let along scan a deep area of the brain when we are still in the womb, and you really think we will go so far as to have all mothers come in and scan the babies brains to make sure trans women aren’t born? Thats crazy talk. They are hundreds of years away from even being able to do any kind of brain changing surgery of that magnitude on people already born. And because the brain is so complex it will probably NEVER happen, and if it ever could, hopefully we will have progressed enough as a society that trans ppl are welcomed and accepted. Look how far we’ve come in 20 years, give it another 20, or 100… we will get there long before such si-fi notions are ever possible.

      • Suzan Says:

        In 20 years we are going to be facing massive famines. In a hundred years the die off will have dropped the world population to under a billion.

        But the reality is they wouldn’t have to do brain scans all they would have to do is look for a marker.

        Brain changing surgery. How about a hormone shot give the mother or an abortion?

  5. Brianna Austin Says:

    I happen to agree that there is a difference in male/female brains, and male/trans brains, and there has in fact been papers and books published on the issue of physical differences discovered over the years, These are physical differences, not behavioral. A big problem I have seen in the community is that so many seem to be so overly defensive. The only way to truth is to search “without” the fear of what we may find. Too many transpeople cling to their idea of what trans means, and how it applies to them, and often have simply adopted someone else’s story anyway. I’m very out and content to be however I am, but I’m not challenged by the notion that there is an anomaly in us that causes our condition, Which is not the same as saying we’re sick, or broken or somehow unequal to anyone else or need to be fixed or changed. But to ignore obvious realities seems a bit delusional.

    • Suzan Says:

      I suggest you read Cordelia Fine’s book “Delusions of Gender.” These studies are as agenda driven as Bailey and Blanchard’s studies. The main purpose of these studies are to show the superiority of men and to delegate women to a secondary position in life.

      I think the male brain/female brain i.e. Men are from Mars and women are from Venus idea is a mountain of bullshit.

      Transsexual exists because male and female are more alike than different and even sex traits are more overlapping than separate.

      Sex changes are possible because things like breasts are breasts on both male and female. During fetal development male and female sex parts are pretty much the same for the first few weeks.

      Misogyny and essentialism demand this whole line of thinking of total difference and neither are terribly friendly to TS/TG people.

      Buying into this fiction is what Audre Lorde was talking about when she said “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.”

    • Ashley Says:

      thank you Brianna, that’s what I was trying to get across also, we can have differences, but that doesn’t mean we are defective. And I agree there is way to much overly defensiveness within our own community…. Suzan is a prime example of this, she is trying to turn this into a misogyny debate where non-exists. What she fails to acknowledged is that if men and women were the same, there wouldn’t be trans ppl in the first place, and if there were then they would be the product of nurture or social conditioning and not ‘born this way’. Suzan claims to be against radfems however there are striking similarities between her arguments and theirs,

      We can’t have it both ways: either we are different biologically/physically, or this is just a crazy delusion that is all in our heads. I prefer to think we are more then social constructs or delusions, I prefer to think we have physical differences that make us who we are.

      • Suzan Says:

        You know of course Dr. Benjamin believed transsexuality was a product of the shared sex traits of both male and female rather than there being some vast difference that transsexuals were magically transported across.

        • Ashley Says:

          Dr. Benjamin may have been a pioneer, but that doesn’t mean his theories haven’t been debunked, kinda like Freud, yes he was a pioneer, but most of his research has been debunked. Psychiatry is a process of ideas, and ideas change over time and are constantly being proven or dis-proven. You can take what Benjamin said a number of ways, for example transsexuality could be a product of both male and female sex traits, meaning female sex traits in the brain, inside a male body. Also there isn’t really anything magical about biology, it’s a science and nothing more.

          • Suzan Says:

            Yeah Ashley there is a lot of wishful magic thinking on the part of Transsexuals who wholeheartedly embrace the male brain/female brain.

            OTOH there is more evidence for hypothalmic disruption and hormone reuptake receptor disruption as well as hormone receptor reactions.

            At the same time your position is harmful to women and risk consigning them to a permanent role as the inferior sex.

            This is why I think the whole HBS pile of intellectual garbage is every bit as stupid as that dished out by the worst of the regurgitators of the ideology of transgender.

            In short I don’t give a damn about the root cause of transsexualism and it will not be debated here.

            • Ashley Says:

              I guess we will have to agree to disagree on this, However for someone who repeatedly claims not to care about the causes of transsexualism, you sure like to debate it to death. I was more debating that research should be done, not their current findings.

              You might not care, I however do, as do many of my sisters, we do want answers, we want to know what makes us unique and I will never support the idea that pursuing this interest is somehow harming bio-women.

  6. Brianna Austin Says:

    Susan, I don’t know what has unleashed all this rage in you: where has anyone stated that if there is a difference between male and female, and/or male/female/transsexual, in brain, biology, neurology or anything else that that implies that women are an inferior sex? There is no inferior sex: each has their own pluses and minuses. Women have been more subjugated by men through religious bull shit than anything else.

    But to say “I am what I am” but couldn’t care less why, and moreover that there is no basis for why I am as I am, is a bit silly too. If you personally don’t want to know, or care why you are as you are, you’re entitled to that. But why do you feel empowered to tell those that do want to research it that they are delusional?

    As I said before, truth comes to those willing to search without the fear of what they find, and also recognize that everything is subject to change. You seem to be saying that nothing is subject to change because you’re right and anyone wanting to investigate is “harmful to women and risk consigning them to a permanent role as the inferior sex.”

    Where does that come from?

    • Suzan Says:

      BTW my name is Suzan not Susan.

      Thank you for your concern trolling. Why do you feel so empowered to come here and insist I act as an echo chamber for the Transsexual Borg ideology, which can be every bit as inane as that preached by the Transgender Borg?

      You come spouting a bunch of misogyny that is part of the right wing anti-woman backlash. The whole idea of male brain/female brain has as an ultimate purpose the same goal as all the binary gender indoctrination. Men are to be the doers with the well paying careers and women are to to be the bearers of children, including those of rapists and fuck toys.

      If you are searching for validation from without you will never find it. Validation comes from within.

      Trust your life experiences. All this focus on female brain and yet people dismiss the feeling of being trapped in the wrong body metaphor.

      There is also evidence that TS/TG might well have something to do with hormone receptors. Many TS/TG people are androgynous prior to starting hormones or at least while they are young indicating perhaps a sensitivity to the small levels of estrogen found in all assigned male at birth people and the small amounts of testosterone found in all assigned female at birth people.

      Males and females are far more alike than different which is why it is possible for TS/TG people to exist in the first place. Sexist societies love to magnify those minimal differences to justify male supremacy and female inferiority.

  7. tinagrrl Says:

    “Each has their own pluses and minuses” = consigning women to only “certain” roles in society. after all, if men are better at math, and women are more nurturing, then we continue to support the current society and we support the “men are from Mars, women from Venus, blah, blah, blah, patriarchal bull crap.

    Falling into the “pluses and minuses” trap does not, in any way, support change, it merely supports the current paradigm.

    Again, it would do folks well to read “Delusions of Gender” — a very important, highly lauded book, that looks at many of the “studies” so many use to support untenable positions.

    Look all you will for “root causes”, but to say finding a cause, or causes, will change the hearts and minds of those who have made their life’s work hating us, and spreading that hate, is being a tad bit naive.

    I maintain that those who think finding a “root cause” will lead to an end of anti-trans thought and behavior are the folks living in la-la-land. I also think some are really hoping that the “male-brain, female-brain” stuff will allow them to say — “I was ALWAYS a WOMAN, no matter my physical makeup”. Along with that is the corollary — “And YOU were NOT!!”.

    Another way of setting apart, of actually being SUPERIOR to SOMEONE! (we’ll pick out who later). I truly understand the appeal of this stuff. No longer will we be subject to questions about why. A great way to help heal any lingering wounds from childhood, etc., etc.

    It is the total antithesis of equality. A great argument against equal rights for all. A way of (at least) slowing down the true liberation of women, a way of lessening their personhood (now, now, dear — after all, women have built in minuses in these areas – “scientific” studies have shown it – please get back in the kitchen and make me a sandwich).

    Perhaps many folks, living in a world where women have more opportunity, either have forgotten, or do not know what it was like before “women’s lib”, feminism, etc., led to massive changes in society. Our “Galtian Overlords”, Religious-Right-Wing-KKKonservatives have been working for over 40 years to undo the 60’s and 70’s, in addition to working to undo what’s left of FDR’s “New Deal”.

    What many see as “unintended consequences” are the actual INTENDED-CONSEQUENCES.

    So, continue looking in the spirit of scientific advance. Continue looking if it will give you solace and some sort of validation — just do not think it will solve all issues. Instead, work for equal rights and full citizenship for ALL.

  8. tinagrrl Says:

    Ashley Says:
    08/22/2012 at 2:39 am

    last comment was in replay to your reply before this, this response is for the last one. .

    I don’t worry about that because it plain and simple science fiction. They cant even do MRI scans of the deep areas of the brain on living people, let along scan a deep area of the brain when we are still in the womb, and you really think we will go so far as to have all mothers come in and scan the babies brains to make sure trans women aren’t born? Thats crazy talk. They are hundreds of years away from even being able to do any kind of brain changing surgery of that magnitude on people already born. And because the brain is so complex it will probably NEVER happen, and if it ever could, hopefully we will have progressed enough as a society that trans ppl are welcomed and accepted. Look how far we’ve come in 20 years, give it another 20, or 100… we will get there long before such si-fi notions are ever possible.”

    Wait, wait, let me get this — we can’t do scans, we cant do any of the “science fiction” stuff in deep areas of the brain on living people — but, at the same time, the miracles of science can find a “root cause” (if such exists).

    They’ve been trying to find a “root cause” for homosexuality and lesbianism for many years. It’s fathers, no it’s mothers, no it’s nurture, no it’s a choice, no it’s something else.

    No matter what has been disproven, folks still cling to a “gay cure”. Those who begin with the assumption, “gay is a choice, gay is evil, gay is a disorder, gay is cursed by God, etc., etc.” still cling to “studies” that support their position, defend that position, and trumpet their unproven “conclusions” to the unwary. No matter the facts, these folks still blast their hate across every media platform. They now call for DEATH for LGBT folks — all of us. We have come far – but we need to come much farther. A cause, many causes, lack of causes, will not change the minds of those who see us as worthy of death. No matter the supposed cause, we can still be culled out as disordered, as a “genetic mistake”, a “birth defect” — then you do not need scans — just look for markers in live babies, a live fetus, and act accordingly. Heck, how about all the females that will never be born in China?

    If folks NEED this “root cause” thingy to feel better about themselves, to be validated, to get unhappy children and ex’s “off their back” — go for it. Support it. Give folks grants, spend all your money, whatever you need — but, at the same time, work for acceptance of all folks, work for equal rights for all, accept all people – until they attempt to harm you, and others.

    Do not hold yourself above others. Do not attack those who disagree with you. Do not defame people because their thoughts do not align with yours. As has been said, “agree to disagree”, and at least attempt to remain on good terms in other areas. Direct ad hom. attacks can break off relations for ever — not a good thing.

    Read what is written. Do not invent “rage” where none is evident. After all, that knife cuts both ways. The extreme anger some show when others disagree is not admirable. There are times it harms you more than the person it is directed at.

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