Identity Theft: The "Trans" Con
by Beth Orens
My name is Beth. I was born with a Y chromosome.
Now... there are four likely reactions to that statement.
For that last group, it means that I was born genetically male. Now you can go be in one of the other three groups.
(And you thought this wouldnít be a learning experience.)
Iím going to address a few issues here, and Iím going to answer a few questions. The way I answer them will not be the way youíre used to hearing people talk about this, because the reality of the situation has eluded both the trans advocates and the trans opponents.
In a nutshell:
The absolute onslaught of trans this and trans that in recent years has nothing whatsoever with people like me, who grew up with gender dysphoria and transitioned from one sex to another. It is a con. A con which is taking advantage of the compassion some people feel for us, and which has the goal of breaking down the whole idea of gender differences. Itís like the hippy era, but with teeth.
But before I get to that, I want to address the first reaction up above. The many people whose reaction to hearing about people like me is, "Itís a guy!" Or "You can cut off your willy, but it doesnít make you a girl; it makes you a mutilated man." Or "Delusions like yours should be treated. Not humored."
So how do I know Iím not crazy? How do I know Iím not just a pathologically confused person who needs therapy to cure my weird notions? Thatís easy: I donít. How could I? Crazy doesnít realize itís crazy, after all. But hereís what I will tell you.
As early as three years old, I knew there was something wrong. Donít get me wrong; I didnít think I was a girl. I had eyes. I had a brain. I could see that I was a boy. But it felt wrong. If youíre right handed, try only writing with your left hand for a whole day. Youíll start dreading the very idea of writing. Itís the closest youíll ever come to understanding the wrongness I felt.
Contrary to the stories youíve probably heard about trans kids, I didnít want to play with dolls or dress up as a princess. I mean, yes, when I was a Cub Scout and there was a convocation of some kind and there were Brownies there, seeing them together on the other side of the room while I was stuck with the boys on my side of the room hit me in the gut pretty hard, but generally speaking, if you put a Barbie doll and a Tonka truck down in front of me when I was little, Iíd ignore them both and go looking for a book to read.
My parents were wonderful people. I grew up with lots of love in a normal suburban home. No absentee father or domineering mother or whatever it is that people like to blame these things on. I was never scared of my parents. But I was absolutely petrified of anyone finding out how I felt about this. I never really questioned why I felt the way I did, but I knew it went against all the rules of the world around me, and the prospect of ever giving anyone a hint about it felt acutely dangerous. It didnít help that I was in therapy from the age of 6 for frustration rages. That already told me that I was the problem. The closest any therapist got to my secret was the understanding that the rages came from me repressing any and all aggressive feelings. Until something would set me off and all that repressed anguish burst free. It never occurred to him (or me) that the reason for the repression of those feelings was that my body was saying "boy" and having boy reactions, while my brain was saying "girl" and resisting those reactions. But it would be years before I worked that out.
And again, how do I know that I wasnít just crazy? The truth is, I thought I was. But over the years, I have met so many people with experiences that so closely mirrored mine that itís difficult for me to accept them as mere coincidence. The frustration rages. The inchoate sense that something was wrong and that "boy" didnít fit. And a whole lot more It all tells me that thereís a real phenomenon here that isnít just psychological.
Men and women think differently. Itís a truism. One that virtually everyone on the planet is aware of. It has nothing to do with masculinity or femininity. Macho men, sensitive guys, flaming gay boys – they all share a male way of thinking. The femmiest princesses, the most driven businesswomen, the butchest lesbian bikers – they all think like females. And neither group really understands how the others think. Whatís considered masculine and feminine changes from one culture to another. Itís determined by each culture. But male and female? Thatís innate. Thatís hardwired into our brains. And thatís where our minds – our selves – live. In our brains. Itís our brains that determine who we are. If someone loses a limb, theyíre still the same person. If a person loses their sight or their hearing or their sense of smell, theyíre the same person. But damage their brain? Change the brain and you change the personality. Change the brain and you change who a person is. You can change the way a person reacts to stimuli, but you canít change their fundamental sense of self. If you do that, itís not a change. Itís a destruction of the individual and its replacement with another individual.
I believe that male and female brains are wired differently. And that there are people who – for whatever reason, be it genetic tendency, natal hormones, or even birth experiences – are born with brains wired for a different sex than the rest of their bodies. I canít prove it, but I expect that it will eventually be shown medically to be the case.
So am I crazy? Maybe. But Iím happy. Iím healthy. Iím functional. Everyone who knew me before I transitioned and after has remarked on what a nicer and happier person I am. Itís been almost 21 years now since I transitioned. Almost 20 years since I had surgery. I have not one single regret. Other, maybe, than not having done it years earlier. And I donít worry about public restrooms, because no one ever gives me a second look when I use the appropriate one.
Iím not an "alternative lifestyle" kind of person. Iím boring and vanilla and introverted. The idea of being a "transsexual" gives me the willies when I really think about it. I donít think of myself that way. But I know itís the term that describes someone who has had a sex change. Someone like me. Still, I empathize with the people who still get the willies when they think about it. I wish theyíd behave with more kindness, but I do understand the visceral reaction.
Iíve had people ask me why I donít adopt the political positions of the "queer" community. The GLBT or LGBT or LBGTQ or TUVWXYZ folks who do the parades. After all, they point out, those people will give me unconditional acceptance. And while I can understand, intellectually, why people might change their convictions for the sake of a more comfortable community, Iím unable to grasp it in my gut. If you really have convictions, how can comfort or its lack change them?
Itís my convictions that require me to write this essay. Iíve been watching the "trans" insanity from the sidelines. The onslaught of the "accept us or youíre evil" crowd and the backlash of the "Ew! Cooties!" crowd. Iíve heard people ask – and itís a reasonable question – how the whole trans thing has erupted over such a short period of time. Iíve read articles by people who actually started transitioning because they were more masculine or feminine than is usual for their sex, but who abandoned that ship before things went too far. Iím going to link to some of those at the end of this article.
If you remember the four different reactions I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, I fall firmly into the third category. I am tired of hearing about it. But worse: Iím offended by it. I feel like the victim of identity theft. I think a lot of people feel like thereís something essentially dishonest about the whole thing, even aside from the appeal to victimhood which is so much a part of liberal culture. Well, there is. And Iím going to tell you what it is.
Back in the mid-90s, when I transitioned, I called a local gay organization in hopes that they might be able to point me in the direction of some resources. A therapist. An endocrinologist. Other people in my situation. The public Internet was in its infancy, and there wasnít much there. Their reaction was, shall we say, less than helpful. I found out quickly that the gay community, including the lesbian community, didnít like transsexuals. There were two main reasons for this. One was that they suspected we were gays or lesbians who werenít willing to accept being homosexual, with all the social penalties that came with it, and figured that by "switching sides", they could be socially heterosexual. Another was more fundamental. The idea of changing sex from one to the other reinforces the idea that there are, indeed, two sides. In the language of the left, it reinforces the "gender binary".
Over the past two decades, there has been an extreme shift in the GLB community. The embracing of "transgender" or "genderqueer" or any other challenge to the paradigm of male and female has become the "new civil rights movement." And the question is: why?
The answer, I believe, has to do with one of the reasons that they originally rejected transsexuals. Strong societal understanding of what a man is and what a woman is makes life much more difficult for gay and lesbian people, because part of that understanding is an expectation that a person will meet a member of the opposite sex, fall in love, and get married. So people for whom that is simply unnatural and wrong find themselves marginalized. Mistreated.. But how can you convince a society that gender expectations are cruel and wrong? Transsexuals were the answer to that conundrum. The percentage of suicides and suicide attempts among teens who identify as the opposite sex dwarves the already obscenely high suicide rate among gay and lesbian teens. People who identify as the opposite sex really do suffer if they do nothing about it. And that suffering can be communicated to the world and used to push the idea that demanding conformance to gender norms is cruel.
Let me take a step back again to when I was transitioning. At that time, there was a question in online transsexual forums. If a person transitioned (began living as the opposite sex to the one they were born as), but chose never to have sex change surgery, is that person considered a transsexual at all, or are they more accurately considered a form of crossdresser? Transsexuals who had undergone surgery were called "post-op" transsexuals, while those who had not yet had surgery were called "pre-op" transsexuals. Those who intended never to have surgery, therefore, were called "non-op" transsexuals. And a lot of transsexuals felt that this was a contradiction in terms. In fairness, there are people who could not have surgery, however much they wanted it. Whether for reasons of finances or health or a pathological fear of surgery, it wasnít an option for them. I see that in a very different light than those who are happy to have genitalia that donít fit the sex of the person they present as.
The term "transgender" had been proposed as an umbrella term for anyone who didnít conform to gender expectations. Transsexuals (pre-, post- and non-op), crossdressers, and drag queens/kings. The irony is that transsexuals do, by and large, conform to gender expectations, at least eventually. Every bit as much as most of society. Those of us who objected to being included in this umbrella term were shouted down as haters. Shamed into going along with it. In fact, today, many "trans" activists refer to those who advocate sex change surgery for people who identify as the opposite sex as "trans-medicalists", or "truscum" (a contraction of "true trans" and "scum").
This created a convergence. On the one hand, the new "transgender" advocates were using the experience of transsexuals as a jumping off point for the gender non-conforming. And the GLB community, which saw gender expectations as a straitjacket, saw that as an opportunity. Since then, the "trans" agenda has been given the spotlight in a big way. Now, it is GLB people who arenít on board with the full message of "gender is not binary" who are marginalized.
Last summer, a Scotland GLBT Pride event called Free Pride Glasgow, announced that they were banning drag performances from their parade. The reason they gave was that:
"It was felt that it [drag performance] would make some of those who were transgender or questioning their gender uncomfortable. It was felt by the group within the Trans/Non Binary Caucus that some drag performance, particularly cis drag, hinges on the social view of gender and making it into a joke, however transgender individuals do not feel as though their gender identity is a joke."
Even though they did this for the sake of trans sensibilities, they were immediately hit with a massive campaign of opposition, calling them "transphobic". Under immense pressure, they retracted the ban. Earlier this year, a gay male Facebook friend of mine posted the following in response to a comment I had made comparing drag to blackface, and referencing the event in Scotland:
"Drag is an essential part of LGBTQ culture. It is the artistic, cynical, and rebellious expression of the ridiculousness of gender and sexual social norms. Any Parade that bans drag is neither LGBT nor Pride, nor much of a parade."
Thatís the crux of the trans phenomenon today. It is an effort to break down one of societyís clearest distinctions between people, because some GLB people find it personally uncomfortable. Make no mistake. No teenager ever tried to commit suicide because they wanted to wear a skirt and were forced to wear trousers. Itís true that there are suicides among children who have been kicked out of their homes for being gender non-conforming, and that is a terrible thing which should be dealt with on its own, but the trauma that directly endangers trans people is the trauma of those who truly perceive themselves as members of the opposite sex, and not merely boys who like feminine things or girls who like masculine things.
Today, many women who previously identified as masculine or butch are now claiming "trans" status. Some have very publically gotten pregnant and given birth, all the while demanding that they be considered – and treated – as male. At the same time, we have seen stories of girls who grew up feeling masculine thinking that perhaps they should transition to male, simply to be true to themselves, only later to realize that there is a basic difference between being masculine and being male.
The left loves anything that can be used to break down societal norms. If you arenít breaking some norm, you arenít "progressive". And the GLBT community is overwhelmingly on the left. Itís human nature, after all. People tend to gravitate to communities that are more accepting of them. It takes a great deal of stubborn insistence on personal convictions to refuse the call of an accepting community merely because you disagree with them. Itís far easier for most people to simply adjust their principles to fit the new community. But as I mentioned above, I canít do that.
Whatís the bottom line here? You donít have to believe that Iím female. And you donít have to accept the radical trans agenda. You should refrain from being a douchebag and treating someone badly because theyíre gay, or because their gender expression looks odd to you. But if youíre gay or trans and you know that the way you look is going to make people feel uncomfortable, donít you be a douche. Show some sensitivity for the rest of the world. The kind of sensitivity that youíd like for yourself.
Here are some examples.
This is all common sense. Something which right now is sorely lacking on both sides.
References (if you really feel like reading more about this):
There are lots more stories like these, all based on the fundamental confusion between male-female, which is both innate and either-or, and masculine <--> feminine, which is a social construct that encompasses a whole range of behaviors.
Civil feedback is welcome here. As always, I will feel free to post any abusive e-mail on this site, complete with the sender's name and e-mail address (and postal address and phone number, if I manage to dig those up). That said, if you have something reasonable to add, even if I disagree with you, I may, with your permission, append it to this article.