The shame of Sheila Jeffreys’ hate

From Trans Advocate:

By Cristan Williams
March 6, 2014

Reposted with Permission

University of Melbourne Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF), Sheila Jeffreys is being called out for her racist comments by the indigenous Australian community. Jeffreys asserted on a radio show that being trans is like blackface. A genderqueer member of the Indigenous people of Australia, told the Star Observer:

There is a fear that racist, misogynistic, queerphobic and transphobic people will take her message as truth and enact these prejudices against trans identified Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. By reducing transgender identities to that of histrionic mimicry is more reflective of her prejudice than it is of my understanding and practice of gender as a genderqueer Indigenous person. I cannot change my racial configuration. I can however mold and express my gender identity as unique and valid to my culture. – Andrew Farrell

Sheila Jeffreys, a TERF who also asserts that women who get tattoos are mutilating themselves to appease the patriarchy, is an opinion leader of a branch of “feminism” that most other feminists reject. In fact, the feminist community popularized the “TERF” back in 2008 to try to distance TERF rhetoric from feminism.


Jeffreys has made a career out of sweeping generalizations supported by anecdotal, cherry picked data and more than a little equivocation. She will assert that trans surgeries are patriarchy-driven mutilations without ever mentioning the inconvenient fact that her own community – Australian lesbians – pioneered trans surgical care:

On top of that, equivocation never seems far from her lips. Jeffreys pretends that when the world speaks of gender, we only ever mean cultural rules. The reality is that when people talk about gender, they’re also talking about their subjective and innate experience of their body’s sex (which would exist with or without culture), the VERY complex and nuanced ways they conceptualize that experience (which would exist with or without culture) and the ways they communicate that experience (which would exist with or without culture). While her ontological gesticulations may appeal to her own in-group, her ideology is ultimately meaningless to practical discourse.
If you’ve noticed that Jeffreys sounds a bit like a right wing demagogue, there’s a very good reason for it:

“Now one of the things I find puzzling about it is that, when I look at the House of Lords debate on this legislation, those I agree with most are the radical right. Particularly the person I find that I agree with most, in here, and I’m not sure he will be pleased to find this, is Norman Tebbitt… Tebbitt also says that the savage mutilation of transgenderism, we would say if it was taking place in other cultures apart from the culture of Britain, was a harmful cultural practice, and how come we’re not recognising that in the British Isles. So he makes all of these arguments from the radical right, which is quite embarrassing to me, but I have to say, so called progressive and left people are not recognising the human rights violations of transgenderism or how crazy the legislation is.” – Jeffreys

Criticism of the practice of transgenderism is being censored as a result of a campaign of vilification by transgender activists of anyone who does not accept the new orthodoxy on this issue.

– The very first sentence of Sheila Jeffreys defence the RadFem2012 Conference – a conference that which was later given the boot by their event host for being an anti-trans hate group 

The practice of transgenderism? Take a guess at who says stuff like, the practice of homosexualism and the practice of homosexuality.

Despite being a Catholic, Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty of Ontario forced even Catholic schools to promote the homosexual agenda in the schools and have Gay-Straight Alliance Clubs, even though the practice of homosexuality violates Catholic teaching. (So much for religious freedom!)

– White supremacist, Paul Fromm

Framing being gay or trans as a mere practice – something that one does instead of what one is – is a favored rhetorical tool used by hate groups the world over and unsurprisingly, Sheila Jeffreys uses the same type of rhetoric. For if being trans is merely a practice – an addiction, a lifestyle, a pastime, etc – then it can be argued that one can cease engaging in that practice.

People like Jeffreys wrap their hate in the language of feminism because to do otherwise would make it immediately recognizable for exactly what it is. While one might be tempted to dismiss people like Jeffreys as harmless conspiracy theorists attempting to validate their own existence by contrasting it against a strawman of their own design, it’s not as benign as all of that.

For instance, the TERF movement played a significant role in the revocation of trans healthcare access. In fact, TERF activist Janice Raymond, authored the American government’s anti-trans position.

The National Center for Healthcare Technology was a government funded body that reviewed metadata so that Health & Human Services (HHS) would be able to make evidence-based ​judgements about the efficacy of medical technologies. In short, they informed the US government on what was and what was not medically efficacious. The NCHCT had Janice Raymond, author of The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-Male issue their position on the efficacy of trans medical care in a paper titled, “Technology on the Social and Ethical Aspects of Transsexual Surgery.” This position paper makes practically all the same assertions about trans people commonly found in far right-wing anti-trans propaganda; however, unlike other extremist group propaganda, this misleading report informed HHS’ position on trans medical care. The report was available through the Office of the Associate Director for Medical and Scientific Evaluation, Public Health Service.

Raymond asserted that trans medical care was a new phenomena, unethical, asserted that legislation should block trans medical care and that it would be best to institute a national program of reparative therapy.

Until Raymond’s HHS paper, the US government generally supported trans care as medically necessary. I want you to reread that previous sentence. This meant that poor trans people could access psychological and medical care and it also meant that public and private insurers had no basis upon which to reject coverage of trans care.

It was only after the NCHCT pushed Raymond’s bigotry in 1980 that the US government reversed course in 1981 and took up Raymond’s views and rhetoric. Raymond’s hate became the government’s stance. Raymond – a Catholic ethicist, not a clinician – was the architect of the anti-trans stance the US government adopted in the 1980s. This official anti-trans stance soon spread to private insurers and the American trans population soon found itself without access to medically necessary health care.

There’s a reason many trans people lay the death and suffering of untold numbers of trans people at the feet of Janice Raymond. In a time when employment discrimination against trans people became legal, Raymond helped dismantle the trans community’s ability to access trans health care through public and private insurance. Raymond heralded in the era in which trans people (many to most of whom were unemployed, depending upon the study) had to pay out of pocket or go without. In essence, Raymond helped ensure the future of a medical system that was unresponsive to the needs of the trans community at every level.

If you want to get a sense of just how many trans people TERF policy killed, consider the following governmental study published in 2012:

One of the most severe results of denying coverage of treatments to transgender insureds that are available to non-transgender insureds is suicidal ideation and attempts.

A meta-analysis published in 2010 by Murad, et al., of patients who received currently excluded treatments demonstrated that there was a significant decrease in suicidality post-treatment. The average reduction was from 30 percent pretreatment to 8 percent post treatment.

De Cuypere, et al., reported that the rate of suicide attempts dropped dramatically from 29.3 percent to 5.1 percent after receiving medical and surgical treatment among Dutch patients treated from 1986-2001.

According to Dr. Ryan Gorton, “In a cross-sectional study of 141 transgender patients, Kuiper and Cohen-Kittenis found that after medical intervention and treatments, suicide fell from 19 percent to zero percent in transgender men and from 24 percent to 6 percent in transgender women.)”

Clements-Nolle, et al., studied the predictors of suicide among over 500 transgender men and women in a sample from San Francisco and found a prevalence of suicide attempts of 32 percent. In this study, the strongest predictor associated with the risk of suicide was gender based discrimination which included “problems getting health or medical services due to their gender identity or presentation.”According to Gorton, “Notably, this gender-based discrimination was a more reliable predictor of suicide than depression, history of alcohol/drug abuse treatment, physical victimization, or sexual assault.”

A recent systematic review of largely American samples gives a suicide attempt rate of approximately one in every three individuals with higher rates found among adolescents and young adults. According to Dr. R. Nicholas Gorton, MD, who treats transgender people at a San Francisco Health Clinic, “The same review also noted that while mental health problems predispose to suicidality, a significant proportion of the drivers of suicide in the LGBT population as a whole is minority stress.” He continues to conclude that, “[f]or transgender people such stress is tremendous especially if they are unable to ‘pass’ in society. Surgical and hormonal treatments — that are [also] covered for non-transgender insureds — are specifically aimed at correcting the body so that it more closely resembles that of the target gender, so providing care significantly improves patients’ ability to pass and thus lessens minority stress.”

These studies provide overwhelming evidence that removing discriminatory barriers to treatment results in significantly lower suicide rates.

– State of California Department of Insurance, 2012

TERFs seem happy with these outcomes and still campaign against trans health care. To quote TERF pioneer, lecturer, and writer Bev Von Dohre, “They expect we’ll be shocked to see statistics about them being killed, and don’t realize, some of us wish they would ALL be dead.”

[Transsexual surgery] could be likened to political psychiatry in the Soviet Union. I suggest that transsexualism should best be seen in this light, as directly political, medical abuse of human rights. The mutilation of healthy bodies and the subjection of such bodies to dangerous and life-threatening continuing treatment violates such people’s rights to live with dignity in the body into which they were born, what Janice Raymond refers to as their “native” bodies. It represents an attack on the body to rectify a political condition, “gender” dissatisfaction in a male supremacist society based upon a false and politically constructed notion of gender difference. – Sheila Jeffreys

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) is requesting that you assist them in researching the TERF movement.

We’d very much appreciate any information you or your allies could provide of the major players, websites, etc., in the anti-trans world. We would like to take a look at this for a possible investigative story for our magazine, Intelligence Report. I’m especially interested in links between the groups. Any help will be greatly appreciated. – SPLC

Send your stories and experiences with the TERF movement to the SPLC:

Twitter: @splcenter #no2h8splc


Email: SPLC contact form

Phone: (334) 956-8200

Also, please sign this petition.

– See more at:

Across the left divide over sex work.

From Rabble Ca.:

By Mercedes Allen
March 6, 2014

I’m putting on my op-ed hat for this. This is prefaced at my blog with a preamble about my own experiences in sex work, and how the contrast between them informs my perspective on the issue.  I won’t burden readers with that here, but they’re welcome to look further if they want the context.

It’s important to acknowledge that neither decriminalization nor “abolition” (which is probably a misnomer, since it wouldn’t completely eradicate sex work) will eliminate risk, nor will either of them completely eliminate the fact that exploitation occurs. This is important, because abolitionists will often point to the fact that a risk still exists as evidence that decriminalization fails, while erasing the fact that the same is true of abolition… and that the risk may in fact even be compounded by abolition-focused laws.

In a decriminalized environment, there are greater options, and more unconditional support for a person if they are wronged and seek help (although social attitudes toward sex workers can still be a barrier).  Likewise, there is far less deterrent for a person to report exploitation if they are aware of it occurring. Harm is reduced through decriminalization simply by the virtue that it empowers people (well, more accurately, it eliminates much of the disempowerment that anti-prostitution laws institutionalize — it would take more to actually empower).

And an empowered person has greater freedom to choose (or create) less exploitative circumstances.

But I think where the divide among the political left and among feminists (and womens’ rights supporters under any other label) is resides in whether someone sees a sex worker’s autonomy as the desirable endpoint.  Is it enough to place people in a position where they can better determine their own destiny?  Or does government have a responsibility to eliminate all the variables, in order to save the few who might still find themselves in miserable circumstances — even if it increases the hardship and risk for everyone else?  That is the question.

My belief is that government cannot possibly eliminate those variables, and it’s far more practical to give individuals the power they need to address their own needs based on their circumstances.  What is needed is the freedom to communicate, to reduce harms and stigma, and to form independent support organizations that are worker-focused and better positioned to see and address them… something people are not very free to do in the current social climate.

The debate is further confounded (possibly deliberately) by the ever-increasing conflation between sex work and human trafficking, which are actually two very different issues.  Equating the two is a serious derailment of the issue of actual human trafficking, by exploiting a real and urgent problem to attack a tangential population, and divert the funds that could have been used to address actual coercion, abduction and exploitation, directing them instead toward initiatives that will not provide any significant help to those who are genuinely trafficked.

This conflation occurs because the language from abolitionists deliberately equates sex workers with bought-and-sold commodities, portraying transactional sex as though it is the person themselves who is for sale, rather than the service the sex worker provides.  The language that assumes that one is a traded product during commercial sex is understandably enraging.  It would be natural to be infuriated about sex work if that were really the case.  And this is often the way that abolitionists frame the discussion: as though prostitution sells people.  In reality, sex workers sell an experience, from which a they ultimately walk away, with their capacity to direct their own lives intact and their ownership still in their own hands (as much as is possible for any of us, at least).

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Let’s Call Sex Work What It Is: Work

From The Nation:

Villainizing sex workers won’t improve their lives. Basic labor rights will.

Melissa Gira Grant
March 5, 2014

This article is adapted from Playing the Whore: The Work of Sex Work, by Melissa Gira Grant, published by Verso Books as a part of the Jacobin series.

There is no one sex industry. Escorting, street hustling, hostessing, stripping, performing sex for videos and webcams—the range of labor that falls under the umbrella of “the sex industry” makes speaking of just one sometimes feel inadequate. To collapse all commercial sex that way often risks conjuring something so flat and shallow that it would only reinforce the insistence that all sex for sale results from the same phenomenon—violence, deviance or desperation.

In many ways, the sex industry is just a part of the larger “informal economy,” that shadow marketplace of workplaces with varying degrees of regulation and legality. In the informal economy, those industries operating under the most intense criminalization, in the least understood sectors, have methods of organization and convention that are kept intentionally private, discreet. The workers of these industries are confined to a “floating city,” as sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh describes it in his book of the same name, imagined as existing outside the confines of more legitimate society. But it would seem that the informal sector’s many scholars, who have mapped the labor of trash pickers and street sellers, counterfeiters and smugglers, have failed to give sex work its due—because it is criminal, because it is service work and, in many cases, because it is work gendered as female.

I’ll describe just a few of the workplaces that these observers of the informal economy have almost entirely overlooked. One is a commercial dungeon—which is in reality just a house on a residential block in a suburb of a major American city, connected by public transit to its central business district and those who work there. This is not a marginal place, nor is it a place marked by transgression. It’s only called a dungeon so that clients seeking the services of those who work there can know what to expect—versus, say, a massage studio or a gentlemen’s club. There is no one held in chains but those who pay to be placed in them, and even then, only for an agreed time.

In a dungeon a client can expect that several workers will be available on each shift, and some of these workers will want to do what he wants to and some won’t. A receptionist will take his call, or answer his e-mail and assign him to a worker based on what he’d like, the worker’s preferences and mutual availability. Some dungeons might post their workers’ specialties on a website. They might also keep them listed in a binder next to the phone, the workers each taking turns playing receptionist, matching clients to workers over their shift. After each appointment the worker would write up a short memo and file it for future reference should the client call again, so that others would know more about him. The dungeon is informal only to the extent that the labor producing value inside its walls isn’t regarded as real work. There are shift meetings, schedules and a commission split based on seniority. Utility bills arrive, and are paid. Property taxes, too. In some cases the manager would give discreet employment references. And sometimes people were fired.

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From Puritans to Ken Ham: The long history of creationism in America

From Salon:

Modern-day creationist rhetoric has its roots in the Puritan desire to make America into a “City of God”

Saturday, Feb 22, 2014

In the annals of great American nuttiness, the recent live-streamed creation vs. evolution debate between former kids’ television host and all-around mega-egghead Bill Nye and Young Earth Creationist Ken Ham will forever hold a distinguished place. Held on February 4 at the Petersburg, Ky., Creation Museum, which serves as the flagship enterprise for Ham’s Christian fundamentalist Answers in Genesis ministry, the science vs. religion smackdown showcased two competing theories about the origin and nature of life that have come to shape much of the sociopolitical discourse in modern America.

It’s unlikely that the debate ultimately changed any minds, but it did demonstrate a long-running historical theme that has made the U.S. fertile ground for the belief that God created humankind with a providential purpose. Since the days when the Puritans first arrived on its shores, Americans have believed that their nation was specially ordained by God to create a perfected society on earth untainted by the sins of the Old World. The origins of the simultaneously maligned and revered notion of “American Exceptionalism” can be found in the earliest Puritan attempts to forge a Godly society out of America’s supposedly uncivilized landscape, and this early attempt at creating heaven on earth made the U.S. susceptible to creationism.

Although Ken Ham is a native Aussie, he comes from a country spawned, like the United States, from the once-powerful British Empire. Australia and the U.S. share many cultural similarities, including a penchant for fundamentalist Christianity, and Ham’s twenty-plus years in America preaching the gospel of Young Earth creationism have made him every bit the pugnacious adopted Yankee. Ham’s beliefs are, to put it scientifically, flat-out bonkers. He contends that God created humans exactly as depicted in the Book of Genesis; that the earth is only 6,000 years old; that humans once coexisted with dinosaurs and, most significantly, that the Bible is the literal, inerrant word of God. Yep, Ham is the most extreme type of biblical literalist, and has no compunctions about using the Bible as the complete guide to history, geography, paleontology and theology all in one neat package.

Ken Ham’s beliefs don’t even represent the majority of American Christians, whether they be Evangelical, Catholic, mainline Protestant or otherwise. Heck, Ham is even too out-there for televangelist Pat Robertson, who declared on his “700 Club” broadcast that “to say that it all came about in 6,000 years is just nonsense and I think it’s time we come off of that stuff and say this isn’t possible.” But if Bill Nye the Science Guy seemed at times to be utterly flummoxed over the awe-inspiring logical fallacies that characterize Ham’s beliefs, it’s worth noting that this debate was less about evolution and more about competing ideas about the nature of human existence.

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From Socialist Worker:

Throughout the history of capitalism, the state has engaged in attempts to squelch dissent and left-wing political activism–and today is no different.

March 5, 2014

THERE’S AN old cliché about the left that we see plots by the state where they don’t exist. But the latest revelations about the Big Brother spy state via National Security Agency (NSA) leaker Edward Snowden show that an equally old joke has the ring of truth: Just because we’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get us.

Recent articles by journalist Glenn Greenwald for NBC News and The Intercept document, using evidence obtained by Snowden, cooperation between the British intelligence agency Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the NSA.

A previously unknown division of GCHQ called the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) presented classified documents to the NSA and other government intelligence agencies that detailed some of their favorite spy tactics and dirty tricks–including “monitoring of YouTube and Blogger, the targeting of Anonymous with the very same [denial of service] attacks they accuse ‘hacktivists’ of using, the use of ‘honey traps’ (luring people into compromising situations using sex) and destructive viruses,” Greenwald wrote.

The bottom line, according to Greenwald: “[T]hese agencies are attempting to control, infiltrate, manipulate and warp online discourse, and in doing so, are compromising the integrity of the Internet itself.”

Consider JTRIG’s advice on how to discredit a political activist, as explained in a Power Point presentation: “Set up a honey-trap. Change their photos on social networking sites. Write a blog purporting to be one of their victims. E-mail/text their colleagues, neighbors, friends, etc.” Other slides in the presentation include suggestions for “Identifying and exploiting fracture points” of activist groups–and “Gambits for deception” when infiltrating such organizations.

According to JTRIG, the “four D’s” of “online covert action” are: “Deny/Disrupt/Degrade/Deceive.”

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Pussy Riot members attacked with green paint and rubbish

From The Guardian UK:

Video shows men attacking Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina in McDonald’s restaurant in Nizhny Novgorod

Reuters in Moscow, Thursday 6 March 2014

Two members of the Russian protest group Pussy Riot were attacked by a group of men who poured rubbish and bright green paint over them and shouted obscenities at them at a McDonald’s restaurant.

A video, uploaded by the group on Thursday, shows at least three men attacking Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, shouting “[Go] to America!” and shooting paint into their faces from syringes in the city of Nizhny Novgorod.

“It hurts! Why are you doing this?” Tolokonnikova says, with green stains on her face and hands. “You don’t have the right to hurt me. Please don’t do that to anyone anymore.”

Alyokhina said she suffered head injuries and Tolokonnikova had chemical burns. The men wore patriotic symbols – so-called St George, ribbons which commemorate the victory over Nazi Germany in the second world war.

Tolokonnikova and Alyokhina spent nearly two years in prison for performing a “punk prayer” in a protest against Vladimir Putin in a Russian Orthodox church in Moscow.

Celebrated in the west as activists who fight for freedom of speech, they are disliked by many people in Russia‘s socially conservative provinces, where support for Putin is strong.

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‘But How Do You Know You’re a Man?’: On Trans People, Narrative and Trust

From Huffington Post:

Mitch Kellaway

When I do “Trans 101” workshops for adolescent audiences, I sometimes simplify my transition into an explanation that I think they’ll grasp: When I was born, the doctor looked at my body and declared that I was a person who would grow to become a woman. But I eventually knew in my head and in my heart that I’d grow to become a man. And I have done so, with some effort and assistance.

In these words I’m addressing an unspoken question that lingers in the air: But how do you know you’re a man?

I’ve been meditating on this query lately, and I keep coming to the same counter-question: How does any male-identified person know he is a man? And does my answer really diverge greatly from how many men, trans or cisgender, would answer?

Transgender people are often said to have a “narrative” to their lives; we’re encouraged to see our journey toward recognizing our gender as a story with an articulable pattern. The truth is, though, that everyone’s gender is a story; it’s just that trans folks are more likely to be — perhaps I could say “are given the gift of having to be” — aware of it.

The story of becoming a man, a woman, or a person of any other gender often follows aspects of that most instinctual of story arcs: the hero’s journey. For instance, my personal narrative was one of effort in seeking a transformative goal (a quest), assistance (tools provided by medicine, law, and intangible emotional support), and mentorship by those who went before me (guides).

And my manhood was ultimately achieved through what could be considered rites of passage — which is to say a similar structure to communal cultural tales of how one achieves cisgender manhood. It’s simply some details that vary.

I do see one key difference in how all this plays out, however: Trans men make this invisible process disconcertingly visible by flipping the variables. While a cisgender man may be born with certain inherent potentials to physically embody a manhood that others will acknowledge socially, he’s not necessarily imbued with the demanding drive, the internal compass, the awareness of the systems and tropes he’s drawing on, and the deep gratitude concerning the specific man he’ll be.

It’s quite possible to reach cisgender manhood externally (for instance, by reaching a certain age or displaying changes in voice, facial hair, etc.) long before one reaches an internal sense of his own unique self — and, further, before one reaches a sense of how hard he’ll fight to be that self, no matter the costs or resistance. For trans men it’s often much the opposite case.

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Greg Proops On New Cadillac Commercial

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Maryland Senate passes gender identity bill, 32-15

From Metro Weekly:

By John Riley
March 4, 2014

The Maryland Senate passed a bill Tuesday morning that prohibits discrimination in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations based on a person’s gender identity or expression, capping off an eight-year-long legislative fight to get such a measure passed in the upper chamber.

The bill, SB 212, passed the Senate on a mostly party-line vote of 32-15, the largest margin ever for an LGBT-rights bill in Maryland. It previously passed out of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, long considered the biggest hurdle to passage, by an 8-3 vote. The bill extends protections for transgender individuals that already exist in Baltimore City and Baltimore, Howard and Montgomery counties – omprising about half the state’s population – to the state’s remaining 20 counties.

Opponents of the bill had previously tried to derail it by raising the specter of several “horror” scenarios, often focusing on whether transgender people would be able to use restroom facilities consistent with their gender identity. But two amendments, offered by Sens. Christopher Shank (R-Washington Co.) and Joseph Getty (R-Carroll, Baltimore counties), sought to resolve the issue by defining gender identity more specifically. In Getty’s amendment, which was adopted by the full body, a person’s gender identity may be demonstrated by “consistent and uniform assertion of the person’s gender identity, or any other evidence that the gender identity is sincerely held as part of the person’s core identity.”

The bill was largely shepherded both through the Judicial Proceedings Committee and on the floor by the Democratic floor leader, Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery Co.), who, as he did with the marriage-equality bill during the state’s 2011 and 2012 seasons, defended the bill against detractors’ attempts to scuttle protections or use procedural maneuvers to force it back into committee. The bill now heads to the House of Delegates. If passed there, it will head to the desk of Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), who is a supporter of the bill.

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She Never Was a Boy

From Huffington Post:

Karen Adams

When our children were small, we had a tradition of going through all the toys in the house shortly before the holidays began. We would put together missing parts; drag in toys hidden in the sandbox from a summer of mistreatment; and wash, clean, purge, toss and donate until the play room sparkled, all in joyous anticipation of Santa’s additions. That year, however, things were more intense than usual. Several months earlier, our team of doctors and therapists had determined that our child was transgender, and we were in the process of transitioning to her affirmed gender. As we prepared for our annual purge, she requested that we get rid of the horrible “boy” things that had plagued her all of her young life. That year, she worked with a joyful, fevered intensity as she yanked down every single item in the house that hinted “boy” to her and dropped them with relief into the front room. The room quickly filled with books, clothes and toys that were to be shared with friends and family or donated to charity.

Our first giveaway came on Thanksgiving Day, when the family gathered at our house, including Jason, our 4-year-old great-nephew. Jason’s eyes lit up the minute he walked in our house when he saw all the treasures we had laid out for him to peruse. Dinnertime came, and we could barely drag him away from the room long enough for him to eat a few bites before he excused himself and bolted back to his newfound Wonderland. Relaxed and chatting with my niece, glass of wine in my hand, we wandered into the room to watch his joyous play. In the midst of cars, trains and plastic roadways, he had constructed his private world. For each car that moved, Jason created a new, distinct noise, until they all crashed together in a cacophony of sound. As I watched, an intense realization suddenly hit me. Out of the blue, I bust into tears. I turned to my niece and sniffled, “Oh my God! I never had a boy!” My newly affirmed daughter had never, not once, made car noises or engaged in that type of play. Quickly my mind raced through the catalog of her interests, behaviors and clothing choices, and I saw how many clues I had missed. I saw my new daughter for the first time, through the actions of my nephew.

Nearly seven years later, my 14-year-old daughter is confident and thriving. She has friends, is doing well in school and is fully engaged in developing her performing-arts talents. In a rare moment of quiet last week, we sat down to watch Piers Morgan’s second interview with Janet Mock, where he insisted that she had been a man before she became a woman, implying that only her genital surgery made her a man. In unison we screamed at the television, “She never was a man!” My beautiful teenage daughter, with her flowing hair, strong sense of style and love of gossip, has not changed her body; she has changed the world around her to reflect her true identity. We certainly can’t speak for the experience of any other transgender person, but if Janet is anything like my daughter, she was always a girl; it’s just that no one truly saw her for a very long time.

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