Detransition as Conversion Therapy: A Survivor Speaks Out

From The Medium:

Ky Schevers
Dec 21, 2020

For seven years I lived as a detransitioned woman. I believed that I had transitioned as a way to cope with trauma and internalized sexism, that I had been trying to escape the stigma of being a butch lesbian in a homophobic society. I thought I had to reclaim womanhood in order to heal and find wholeness. I was part of a larger community of detransitioned women and re-identified women, a community heavily influenced by radical feminist and lesbian separatist theory and culture. Together we worked to support each other in healing from “female disidentification” and reconnecting with being women. Many of us shared our stories online, through blogs, videos and other media.

I blogged and made videos under the name CrashChaosCats, or Crash for short, presented workshops and helped organize in-person gatherings for detransitioned and re-identified women. I was profiled by The Outline and was one of the detrans women interviewed by Katie Herzog for her controversial article on detransitioning that appeared in The Stranger. I believed I was doing important work, educating people that gender dysphoria could be caused by trauma and sexism and healed by using psychological means rather than medical transition.

Now I see my detransition as a kind of anti-trans conversion therapy, grounded in transphobic radical feminist ideology. Like all forms of conversion therapy, it was unsuccessful and deeply damaging. I have indeed been hurt by trauma and living in a sexist, homophobic society but coming to believe that I needed to give up being trans in order to heal those wounds only caused further damage. I can see now that I wasted years of my life trying to fix a part of myself that was never broken and suffering needlessly in the process. Even worse, I fear that I’ve mislead other people into engaging in similar self-destructive practices. I presented myself as a detransition success story but the truth is that detransitioning did not work for me and was an act of self-denial and rejection.

I followed the radical feminist prescription for “curing” transmasculinity. I tried living as a butch woman who was completely woman and female-identified. I worked to expand my definition of womanhood and examine the effects of living in a misogynistic and homophobic society. I did “consciousness raising” with other detrans women, where we processed our experiences through a radical feminist lens. I challenged any internal sense of gender that wasn’t female, learning how to reinterpret, disconnect from and/or suppress my feelings. I learned to emphasis any commonalities I shared with women since one of the central problems of “female disidentifcation” was feeling different from them. I sought out strong gender nonconforming women as friends, mentors and role models. I read a ton of books on radical feminism and radical lesbian culture and attended lesbian feminist gatherings. At one point, most of the people I hung out with on the regular basis were radical feminist lesbians.

At first it seemed to work, though it helped that my sense of gender had already shifted in a more female direction on its own before I ever considered myself detransitioned. I had long felt like a blend of transmasculine and butch but had spent most of my young adulthood living as a trans man, largely because I worried people would not understand my gender complexity. In my mid-twenties, I started feeling more like a dyke and wishing I could be seen as a genderqueer female person. I had never lived as a adult butch woman and was curious about exploring that possibility. I didn’t think of myself as detransitioning, more as exploring and experimenting with my gender.

After embracing radical feminism, I rejected my gender complexity in favor of declaring myself a woman who’d been so badly hurt by sexism that I’d developed a sense of having multiple genders in order to cope. I saw my butch womanhood as being my one true gender and treated any sense of being male or genderqueer as a symptom of trauma and dissociation. My sense of being other genders never entirely went away but my sense of being a woman was strong and reinforced by other detransitioned women and radical feminists. For years I managed to convince myself that I’d finally figured myself out and was on the path to healing.

Eventually though, my transmasculinity and genderqueerness came back with a vengeance. At first I interpreted this an as episode of gender dysphoria, brought on by stress in my life. In the detrans women’s community, gender dysphoria is separated from trans identity and treated like a symptom to be managed much like ex-gays draw a distinction from experiencing same-sex attraction and identifying as gay. We rejected the whole concept of gender identity. Biological sex was real but gender identity was false consciousness stemming from gender roles and sex stereotypes. We weren’t trying to change gender identity as much as we were trying to eradicate it, privileging radical feminist theory over our internal sense of self. So I dutifully treated my re-emerging gender identities as delusions to work through. Living as a woman felt increasingly wrong but I was terrified of giving up the life I had built as a detransitioned lesbian with a prominent role in the detrans women’s community. I struggled with these feelings, doing my best to keep them in check, for three years.

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Lesbians Aren’t Going Extinct- But Transphobes are Coming out of the Closet

From The LA Blade:

by Brynn Tannehill
December 28, 2020

There has been a spate of articles in conservative publications by transphobic authors like Andrew Sullivan alleging that transgender people are making lesbians go extinct. This isn’t just wrong, it exposes some of the anti-trans hatred, and fearmongering strategies, of conservatives who never really cared about LGBT people in the first place.

First off, lesbians aren’t going extinct. Neither are butch lesbians, unless every single one of them decides they’re trans men. When I asked my wife, who identifies as a cis butch lesbian, if she’d ever wanted to be a guy or transition, her response was a visceral, “Eww. No. Why would I want to be covered in hair?” The number of people who identify as trans remains tiny compared to rest of the LGBT community (1.4 million out of a community of 9.4 million adults). Indeed, that data shows that the number of people identifying as LGB has been growing for decades, and it has been driven by bisexual women.

The people who fear monger about this like to cite the “rising number of young trans men.” They leave out the crucial part where the number of young trans men seeking treatment levelled off years ago in the UK. It’s like that moment in the Simpsons where Disco Stu is trying to get Homer to invest in his academies by telling him, “Did you know that disco record sales were up 400% for the year ending 1976? If these trends continue… A-y-y-y!” It’s also worth pointing out that less than 1% of people were left handed in the 19th century, which rose to 10% and stayed there after the beatings stopped.

This line of thinking is intensely disrespectful of trans people as well. It treats most of them as if they are not members of the LGB community, and signals that the authors are revolted by trans bodies. Two-thirds of trans men and women do not identify as straight, which means that the majority of trans men didn’t start off considering themselves as lesbians.  So, where is Andrew Sullivan celebrating that the gay community is adding trans men to its diversity? Or that for every trans man who leaves the lesbian community, there’s roughly one trans woman who enters?

The answer is, of course, that he doesn’t, because he doesn’t consider trans men to be real gay men, or trans women to be real lesbians. At some fundamental level, he finds transgender people repulsive, and refuses to even grant them honorary status within the LGB community. Indeed, he would likely accuse trans women of being interlopers, and warn trans men that they need to disclose their genitals to him immediately. 

The outlets publishing these sorts of articles aren’t friends to the LGB community either. For years they published articles urging society to hold gay men responsible for AIDS, supporting “no promo homo” laws, and opposing same sex marriage. This is merely part of the ongoing right-wing effort to divide and conquer by separating the trans population from the rest of the community, destroying them, then coming back to finish off the LGB community later using the laws they just created. Supposedly “moderate” conservative commentators like David French have lamented not crushing lesbians and gays when they had the chance, and urged fellow conservatives to do the same to trans people while they can.

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Billie Jean King, Megan Rapinoe urge court to overturn Idaho anti-trans sports law

From Washington Blade:

by Chris Johnson
December 21, 2020

Lesbian athletes, including tennis legend Billie Jean King and World Cup champion Megan Rapinoe, were among the 176 women who signed a legal brief submitted to a federal appeals court Monday calling on judges to overturn an Idaho law barring transgender girls from participating in school sports.

The friend-of-the-court brief, coordinated by the LGBTQ group Lambda Legal, urges the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to rule against the law, HB 500, arguing school athletic participation “provides unparalleled opportunities to forge a sense of belonging, connectedness, and contribution.”

“The benefits of sports extend to all aspects of school and throughout life. But these benefits are diminished when some athletes are excluded because of who they are,” the brief says. “Amici’s experiences in sports and in life are a testament to the value of inclusion in building powerful teams and social, societal, and business institutions.”

The attention to the experiences of women athletes is key to the context of the 38-page brief, which is filed amid debate on whether transgender girls should be allowed in school sports.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), who had apologized for her anti-gay past during her presidential run, has introduced in her remaining days in Congress legislation that would amend Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 essentially to prohibit transgender girls from school athletics. In a subsequent video, Gabbard justified this legislation by saying biological males have inherent physical advantages over women and would compromise paths to victory and scholarships for non-trans girls.

King, who won the “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs in 1973 and was ranked the world’s number one ranked tennis player six times, said in a statement “there is no place in any sport for discrimination of any kind.” (King was ostracized after coming out as a lesbian in 1981 and lost an estimated $2 million in sponsorships.)

“I’m proud to support all transgender athletes who simply want the access and opportunity to compete in the sport they love,” King said. “The global athletic community grows stronger when we welcome and champion all athletes – including LGBTQI+ athletes.”

Other women athletes who signed the brief in the case, Hecox v. Little, are Candace Parker, who was trailblazer in women’s basketball; Phaidra Knight; a former rugby player who was a member of the United States National Team from 1999 to 2017; and Esther Lofgren is an American rower and an Olympic gold medalist. Athlete Ally and the Women’s Sports Foundation also roles in coordinating the brief.

Many of the same athletes also co-signed a letter to the National Collegiate Athletic Association in June urging the organization to nix all sporting events in Idaho in the wake of the anti-trans law. The NCAA, however, has yet to act in response publicly.

The case comes to the Ninth Circuit upon appeal after U.S. District Judge David Nye, appointed by President Trump in 2017, ruled in August against the Idaho law, conceding his order “is likely to be controversial.”

The Trump administration has participated in the case and filed its own friend-of-the-court brief before the Ninth Circuit in November urging the court to uphold the law. The efforts got a boost from President Trump himself, who retweeted a Brietbart on the U.S. Justice Department filings from his Twitter account.

Carl Charles, staff attorney for Lambda Legal said, in a statement the dozens of athletes who signed the brief “a deep understanding and appreciation of the life-long benefits that come from participation in sports.”

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They The People: The Biden Administration Must go Beyond Repealing Trump’s Attacks on Trans Rights

From The ACLU:

Access to accurate IDs reduces violence and discrimination faced by trans and non-binary people.

Arli Christian 
December 17, 2020

The federal government has not been kind to transgender people over the last four years. Trans students were put at risk when the Department of Education withdrew critical guidance explaining how schools must protect transgender students. Trans people facing housing instability were left in the cold when the Department of Housing and Urban Development rolled back rules protecting trans and gender non-conforming people from discrimination at homeless shelters and other housing services receiving federal funds. Trans military members were devastated by a single tweet from the president that put their careers and livelihoods at stake. And the list of attacks goes on.

The government is supposed to support and serve all of us, but trans folks have been intentionally and cruelly cut out these last four years, along with so many other communities. Of course, we are still here, and will continue to take care of each other no matter who is in the White House. We’ve heard Biden and Harris pledge to repeal the trans military ban and pass the Equality Act, and assure us that their administration will work to undo the harms of the last four years. Now we must must hold this administration accountable and ensure that they make a meaningful difference in the day-to-day lives of trans and non-binary people around the country.

There’s one important action this administration can take right away to show transgender people that they respect and support us: give us identification that reflects who we are. That’s why one of the ACLU’s top priorities for the Biden-Harris administration is an executive order updating the process by which federal agencies change gender markers on IDs.  s order will ensure that all transgender people have access to an accurate ID. Currently,  to update a gender marker in the social security system, on a passport, on immigration documents, or on any other federal ID or record, an applicant must submit a letter from a medical doctor attesting to appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition. This executive order would remove those burdensome medical documentation requirements so that everyone has access to the appropriate gender marker, and add an “X” option so that non-binary, intersex, and other folks have an accurate designation.

Access to accurate IDs is personally meaningful for trans folks but also practical, ensuring we can travel, apply for jobs, and enter public establishments with less risk of harassment or harm. But this update is not just about us, it’s a sensible solution for the federal government. IDs are intended to identify people, and are useless when they don’t match the applicant. Requiring trans folks to jump through hoops with doctor’s visits and medical letters to obtain updated IDs is costly, complicated, an invasion of privacy, and entirely unnecessary — and prevents many people from getting an updated ID to move through the world.

Accurate IDs are not possible without appropriate options for non-binary folks, intersex people, and anyone else for whom an “M” or “F” is not suitable. An “X” designation is used throughout the world to indicate a sex or gender other than male or female, and must be available on our federal documents. Nearly 20 states already have self-attestation and an “X” designation on driver’s licenses and state IDs, so this update is also important to ensure that people can have consistent state and federal documents.

The ACLU is excited to encourage this important step forward. In 2021, we’ll be sharing stories from trans and non-binary folks about the importance of accurate IDs, meeting with White House officials, and pushing the administration to follow through on their promises to the trans community. With one stroke of the pen, President-elect Biden can issue this order to not only provide a common-sense solution to access accurate IDs, but send a critical message to transgender people across the country: Our government sees you as exactly who you say you are, and we want you to be supported and included in this country.

Building trust between the government and trans communities is a long and hard process, but it starts with recognition. 

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Transgender Brits Struggle Against a Toxic Tide: ‘I Don’t Feel Safe Anywhere’

From Yahoo News:

Katherine O’Donnell
Wed, December 9, 2020

Almost every trans person I know tells me the same things: “I can’t read or watch the news any more” … “I’ve had to go onto meds just to function” … “I don’t feel safe anywhere” … “I’m afraid every time I leave the house” … “I’m thinking about moving” … “We’re going to live abroad.”

Opinions differ as to the exact moment that the world lurched and the lives of trans people in the U.K. began rapidly to slide into an unbearable daily onslaught of lies, hatred, discrimination and violence, yet as we come to the end of 2020 that’s where we are.

Around the time that Trump and Brexit arrived in our nightmares a culture war was ignited over the human rights of trans people, a war that trans people didn’t want and where the forces ranged against them included not just the usual ranks of the religious right, the far right and antediluvian social conservatives, but U.K. Government ministers and an astonishingly transphobic mainstream media.

British Court Ruling on Puberty Blockers Stinks of Anti-Trans Cruelty

Since 2015 the UK has slipped from being the most progressive LGBTQ nation in Europe and occupying the top spot on the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association Europe’s (ILGA) annual 49 country Rainbow Map to 10th place and falling.

The report’s section on the UK highlighted the steep rise in hate crimes and evidence of a slowing down of public acceptance of advancing LGBTQ equalities as factors in the decline—a depressing trend given the roster of equality victories, from the equalizing of the age of consent through to marriage equality that had predated it.

Now, it’s an anti-trans blitz out there, and the bombs keep falling. A week ago, judges in the High Court took away the right of families of trans children to access lifesaving puberty delaying medication.

The decision, which has been widely condemned for its medical ignorance and cruelty, hinges on children’s competence to understand and give informed consent. It has huge ramifications beyond trans lives and opens the way to a rolling back of women’s and children’s rights of bodily autonomy around contraception and abortion.

What the world beyond may not have noticed is the glee with which this was celebrated by anti-trans campaigners, the far right and newspaper columnists and editors. Katy Montgomerie, a trans woman who monitors and patiently interacts with Twitter and Facebook’s anti-trans ‘gender critical’ legions in the hope of combatting disinformation, told me that not one of her correspondents had shown any care or compassion for the trans children and their families whose lives were now devastated.

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Happy Joyous Hanukkah, Nefesh Mountain

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Friday Night Fun and Culture: 1960s Folk Music

When I started converting to Judaism in 2019, some one said to me, “Oh no, you won’t like it, you are too independent and too much of a non-conformist.” I said: “I’m converting Reform.” He said: “oh campfires and folk music, that’s different.

The people I’ve met at Temple tend to be the sort who listen to NPR and watch PBS, which is currently running a Beg-a-thon. Which brings me to Folk Music and one of their staples. The Folk Music Revival.

Here’s my version:

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Tulsi Gabbard Introduces Anti-Transgender Bill After Claiming To Be LGBTQ-Friendly

From Huffington Post:

The Hawaii Democrat has drafted a bill to bar schools from receiving federal funds if they allow transgender girls and women to compete in women’s sports.

By Dominique Mosbergen

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) introduced legislation in the House on Thursday that would bar schools from receiving federal funding if they allow transgender girls and women and non-binary people to compete on sports teams consistent with their gender identities.

The bill — co-sponsored by Republican Rep. Markwayne Mullin of Oklahoma — was met with immediate outrage from transgender activists and allies who labeled the legislation “blatantly transphobic.”

The “Protect Women’s Sports Act” seeks to clarify that Title IX protections for female athletes are “based on biological sex,” Gabbard and Mullin said in a statement.

Title IX protects people from discrimination based on sex in educational programs that receive federal financial assistance. The new bill would bar schools from receiving such funds if they permit “a person whose biological sex at birth is male to participate in an athletic program or activity that is designated for women or girls.”

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate earlier this year by Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-Georgia) and other Republicans. Loeffler is one of two Republican senators facing competitive runoff elections in Georgia in January.  

Explaining her support for the bill, Gabbard ― who’d previously claimed she supported LGBTQ rights ― said she wants to protect “Title IX’s original intent which was based on the general biological distinction between men and women athletes based on sex.”

“Title IX was a historic provision … to provide equal opportunity for women and girls in high school and college sports. It led to a generational shift that impacted countless women, creating life-changing opportunities for girls and women that never existed before,” she said.

“However,” she added, “Title IX is being weakened by some states who are misinterpreting Title IX, creating uncertainty, undue hardship and lost opportunities for female athletes. It is critical that the legacy of Title IX continues to ensure women and girls in sports have the opportunity to compete and excel on a level playing field.” 

Gabbard faced immediate backlash for the legislation.

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What If Friendship, Not Marriage, Was at the Center of Life?

From The Atlantic:

“Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1. Our worlds are backward.”

by Rhaina Cohen
October 20, 2020

Kami West had been dating her current boyfriend for a few weeks when she told him that he was outranked by her best friend. West knew her boyfriend had caught snatches of her daily calls with Kate Tillotson, which she often placed on speaker mode. But she figured that he, like the men she’d dated before, didn’t quite grasp the nature of their friendship. West explained to him, “I need you to know that she’s not going anywhere. She is my No. 1.” Tillotson was there before him, and, West told him, “she will be there after you. And if you think at any point that this isn’t going to be my No. 1, you’re wrong.”

If West’s comments sound blunt, it’s because she was determined not to repeat a distressing experience from her mid-20s. Her boyfriend at that time had sensed that he wasn’t her top priority. In what West saw as an attempt to keep her away from her friend, he disparaged Tillotson, calling her a slut and a bad influence. After the relationship ended, West, 31, vowed to never let another man strain her friendship. She decided that any future romantic partners would have to adapt to her friendship with Tillotson, rather than the other way around.

West and Tillotson know what convention dictates. “Our boyfriends, our significant others, and our husbands are supposed to be No. 1,” West told me. “Our worlds are backward.”

In the past few decades, Americans have broadened their image of what constitutes a legitimate romantic relationship: Courthouses now issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Americans are getting married later in life than ever before, and more and more young adults are opting to share a home rather than a marriage license with a partner. Despite these transformations, what hasn’t shifted much is the expectation that a monogamous romantic relationship is the planet around which all other relationships should orbit.

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