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Friday, June 29, 2012

Obama Care is Constitutional

Last week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Obama Care is constitutional under the right of the government to tax the citizens. Personally, I was surprised that it was upheld. In my opinion, there were several areas of the Constitution that had been violated. I do not represent myself to be a very learned scholar of the U.S. Constitution, nor am I an attorney. I do read quite a bit on law and politics and I do not restrict my reading to sources that are sympathetic to my beliefs. I do interact often with the legal system and do a lot of case research for the times when I appear before the court. I am not interested in presenting an arguement about whether this legislation is constitutional. Perhaps I might write about this aspect of Obama Care in the near future.

But I want to explain why as a health care provider, I am opposed to a socialized medicine system. Personal Disclaimer: I am going to be severely financially damaged on a personal level by Obama Care. There are two reasons for this. One is because of massive raises on  individual federal income tax rates. Consider that just less than 50% of people pay federal income taxes. The second reason is because it will seriously degrade the health care system in the United States. This is what I would like to discuss.

Essentially there are two ways to have a health care plan on a national level. There is the system that we have had, mostly funded by private insurance providers for profit, along with a basic safety net of  health care that by varying degrees is funded by private insurance policy holders and the government's funding through the confiscation of an individual's wealth through taxes. There is a social contract that we as a nation have agreed upon to provide indigent people with health care. This is mostly provided by Medicare and Medicaid. My hospital also gives away millions of dollars each year for uncompensated health care, as do many health care facilities and private providers of health care.  Locally we also have the Health Department programs and a regional Free Clinic.  The other major social program for health care is that under the Veteran's Administration for those who have sacrificed so much for our freedom.

The other system is what we commonly call "socialized medicine". It includes health care systems of Canada, Mexico, and the member states of the European Union for example. Many people tend to think of these systems as providing "free health care" but the reality is that health care is not free and that the taxes needed to sustain socialized medicine come with tangible and less tangible costs and in no small measure  are the reason that the European Union is in an economic crisis that will not likely allow it to survive. We have seen the EU cast aside member states who have become too large a sinkhole of capital. One or two of the member states who are subsidizing the European Unionwill likely decide to pull out before they reach the point of no return economically. All this may become a death nell for the "Global Economy" that every president since George H. Bush supported in 1988, Bill Clinton supported in 1992 George W. Bush supported in 2000 and Barak Obama supports. Note that there are two Democrat presidents and two Republican presidents, so the idea of the world economy is pervasive across the U.S. political landscape. I can't say the same holds the same for those who identify as conservative and those who identify as liberal. There are clearly drawn lines on which group thinks one or the other is the wiser economic model to implement. There will be millions of individuals who will be irrepairibly damaged through increasing federal demands for tax revenue to move to a socialist model of health care. No government can even be described as one as benevelently as Machiavelli is referred to as a "benign despot". Then again, I believe Machiavelli first referred to himself that way, not his peers.

My objections to socialized health care is that is doesn't improve the level of health care for a nation, it actually degrades accessibility to specialized care and leads to even more rationing of health care than exists under private insurance and managed care health plans. People who participate in the present system of care who have government entitlement services, specifically Medicaid and Medicare use medical services more often than those who have private insurance and are more inclined to go the the emergency room for issues that could wait for a primary care physician. They are less likely to access primary care first.

But if you like visiting the emergency room, especially like on a Friday evening- this is going to be your thing when you go to the primary care doctor. It will be just like that every time. Bring a book or your favorite electronic pastime. It's going to be awhile.

I can cite examples of problems both from what I have personally encountered with a friend and I can tell you of two example from my professional experience of a number of others in various countries in both North America and Europe. No one talks about nationalized health care in South America or Africa or China. We only tout the best of a failing system of health care emulate. How very capitalistic of a socialist ideal. That's what sells it.

The first example comes from my own profession in Great Britain. A woman fell into a terrible post partum depression. Despite A. Beck's evidenced based research that medication AND cognitive behavioral therapy work better than either one or the other alone and also better than doing nothing at all, she was determined too ill to benefit from psychotherapy. She went to the bottom of an 18 MONTH waiting list to get psychotherapeutic treatment. This was determined by a medical review board that functions to make treatment decisions. They are a function of the government NHI plan in Great Britain.

The tragic outcome of this sorry decision making was that the woman deteriorated to the point where she needed long term institutionalization and even more unfortunate was the eventual need to subject her to electroconvulsive therapy to due the extremely agitated and highly suicidal quality of her depression. that could have been avoided with psychotherapy.  This was printed in the British Journal Of Psychiatry.

A situation I personally know of is that of a Canadian citizen who in about 1996 blew out three lumbar vertebrae. I mean, destroyed the discs with near crippling pain. She was told that she could not have any surgery until she was actually unable to walk by the National Health Service. By then, severe nerve damage would continue to develop that would result in a life time of chronic pain. This is a person who would be in chronic pain anyway, but this plan of care resulted in unnecessary misery and further permanent debilatation.

I had an interesting conversation with some medical personel at the WPATH International Symposium this past year. They were from an European Union country and were explaining how superior their health care system was because they paid for gender reassignment therapy. They seemed quite proud to tell us about their 900 patient waiting list for the surgery itself after qualifying for it. Ok, I did the math on this. Based on the average of 5 a week, I came up a 4.5 year waiting list to have the surgery. I used the number of 5 based on doing surgery three days a week, scheduling six a week and bumping one due to complications during surgery at least once a week. I factored in time off for vacation and travel for professional activities. I factored in three week days in clinic and not in surgery for preop visits, consultations and post op care.

Here in the U.S. a number of private insurances are funding more and more transsexual services. the average wait to have surgery is 6 to 9 months depending on the surgeon. Who wants to throw three years of their life away waiting to have their surgery and be whole?

Lastly, please recognize that Canada's national health care system has dropped coverage for gender reassignment surgery in some provinces due to their system collapsing under the costs their system requires. Also, please remember that even Candada's Premeir came to the U.S. for open heart surgery because in their system of care, there wasn't anyone he wanted operating on him. If that is the one of the shining examples of excellence in health care that the leader of a great nation has to seek health care outside of his country, then this example is highly tarnished.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cis Privilege and Trans Privilege

Coming home from my own therapy session with Dana, I began to think about Cis privilege and Trans privilege. I really can't tell you what made this come to mind. I'm usually fairly reflective after a session, but today I was rockin' out on the way home. I was listening to Derek and the Dominos, the Rolling Stones and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the radio going home, so I can't really say I was focused on anything particular. I was thinking about what I had written on male and female privilege earlier and that is what triggered this line of thought.

We are all aware of what Cis privilege means as people who are transsexuals. Cis privilege means that you never have to worry about how someone might react to your presence in various situations of which we are all familiar. We might not be afforded the privilege of our true gender identity even when we are going about our lives as the gender we really are. It is possible that we might not be considered to be who we are. As a result, we could possibly be deprived of the privileges of the gender of our identity. It doesn't happen very frequently anymore, but I am sensitive to that discrimination when I sense it could be a real possibility. I most often pass along life seamlessly. Either people don't know I'm a transsexual and see me as a woman who was assigned at birth or they are polite and well mannered people who understand that I am just another woman, though my life history may be apparent. That is immaterial to me. I expect to be treated like a lady. That almost always happens now. (I am thankful!)

The present vogue of conceptualizing everything as a "continuum" such as autism, gender identity and sexual orientation dictates that we look at male privilege and female privilege as a continuum too. Taking it a step farther, the predicate is that there is a continuum of Cis privelege and Trans privilege. I think the majority of us would have a pretty hard time of thinking of what in the world Trans privilege might be. I have, for the past 5 hours. My experience is that of becoming the woman publicly as opposed to being the woman I have always known I was. I can only comment on my own observations of what Trans privilege might be and I would really encourage your comments to add to this to help me on my thoughts on the topic.
I found this on an image search, it is from

It fails to factor in any reference of female privilege or trans privilege, so it fails the test of modern conceptualization of health and social problems. It does not represent a true continuum. It appears to be a representation of third wave feminist sociopolitical ideology.
So what might trans privilege include? Well as I mentioned, I am female. So, I thought of these things. Most of them are things I view as a loss in life, but females assigned at birth would most likely say: You never had a period. You never were able to/ got pregnant, give birth or nurse your baby.You didn't grow up in fear of being raped or beaten or otherwise abused. (Oh yes. Some of us did, indeed). You weren't discouraged from a professional career and you most likely did not experience discrimination in getting a job or promotion (until we lived as who we truly are).

This is an example of what Cisgender privilege looks like sometimes to members of the transsexual community. I try to keep in mind that Freud himself once said "Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar". Here is another:

Top Line:Castrated men should be denied access to battered women’s shelters
Bottom line: All the violence that real women face is at the hands of so-called “transwomen”

We see this from feminists like Janice Raymond and Mary Daily.

 Is it? What do you think?

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Updates to the Website

I just wanted to make you all aware of some good blogs I've added to my list of blogs I follow. Several have to do with wives of male to female transsexuals: The Transgentle Wife; Transmarried, Transgender Couple and Happy About It;  and Yes, She is My Husband. I hope that you will take time to consider the viewpoint of our wives who walk by our sides through this journey. It's easy to forget that they go through as much stress as we do, even when things seem to be going well in the transition process. Those who read my blog who are married to women like me, I hope will find resources of support and inspiration for their lives and relationships.

The other blog I have added has to do with the reconciliation of the Christian church to people who are trans, repairing the past hurts and embracing them to the body of Christ. It's called TransEpiscopal.

I hope you will enjoy these blogs too.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

But Enough About Us, Sherri! How About You?

Well my dears, I've had a lot of things to talk about lately, but I haven't been sharing about what I'm doing and what's going on in my life. It's time to catch up!

It's been a rollercoaster in some ways, I have been involved more with my mother and father since my father's heart attack in the beginning of May. We were told that he likely would not live more than six months and more likely two months due to the extent of his decline over all from old age and the failing of several organ systems. He has been ill for years and never recovered from his heart valve replacement which resulted in vascular dementia due to having some strokes during the operation. Because of this, I  have been grieving him for years as I watched him decline and was quite prepared for this perhaps being his last illness. That has been a rollercoaster in that it appeared he was near the end and since then he has rallied, to all of our surprise and it appears possible that he may be able to return home in a month or so. That is where the emotional ride gets bumpy for me as I become more hopeful that he will get better and be more active when he comes home, rather than slide back into his decline. It seems that perhaps being in the nursing home rehabilitation unit has given him much better care than he was getting at home with Mom. I have been making comments to my mother about how well he is doing and that he should stay there until he has gotten the full benefit of his rehabilitation potential, or at least until I return from vacation in mid July. My mother is in significant denial of his health problems and particularly of his dementia. One of the big problems for someone with dementia is apathy and she see's this as his being petulant or wanting to be catered to, which is not the case. He simply has no volition to engage in anything active and the structure of the rehabilitation unit pushes him to be active. As a result, he is more active than I have seen him in the past year. He is appetite is much improved and he is beginning to walk again when he wouldn't move out of his chair at home. I hate to have to say this but I think both he and my mother will both live longer if he stays there permanently. They tend to feed off each other and they both seem highly anxious together. Mom seems to have benefitted with him being away and being under less stress. she is more relaxed and more pleasant.

All of this has taken my full attention and much of my energy.  I have to help Mom more with her home and visit with him, which I don't do enough because after a full day of doing therapy, I have little energy to visit during the week. I do a fairly good job of keeping healthy boundaries and taking care of myself. I do enjoy mowing, being out in the sun and this is my time to meditate, enjoy the sunshine, watch wild life and pray.

What is frustrating about this situation, is it has slowed down my coming out at work, which is the most major task left to accomplish before I can transition there. My therapist Dana, who has helped me so much with managing a lot  the coming out process. She suggests that I start applying for jobs as myself and if I get a job offer then I have a bargaining chip in case the hospital decides they no longer require my services. I think this makes sense. I would like to stay at the hospital, I've been there almost 11 years and have 14 to go so I can have a 25 year pension there. I would also not wish to lose my transsexual patients. I want to be able to continue to coordinate and build upon the comprehensive health program I developed. It would be a loss for me. But it would allow me to live as who I am in that aspect of my life. That is important to me. A lot of my friends will be frustrated to see me throw up a road block delaying my journey. I do have to think about Patty who is unable to work due to disability. I bring home a majority of the income and provide the health care insurance, so it is important to me that I take care of her as best I can. We have huge medical bills.

Of lesser concern is the ongoing and growing realization that there will be a low likelihood of any kind of stealth while I live in this area for a variety of reasons. Not long ago I was introduced to a retired therapist who knew me as a male and is good friends with my department head. That was very uncomfortable to me at the time and I am concerned that my work situation could turn into another coming out at a time and on a field not of my choosing.

Interestingly, (to me anyway) was the fact that last weekend my High School had a reunion of multiple classes with many people with who I went to school. I had absolutely no desire to attend. There are only three people I care to keep up with, three women from my class. The experience of high school was very painful to me as I suffered years of physical and emotional abuse there and no one intervened to stop it, though it was quite visible in such a small school. It has taken years of therapy to deal with it. Therapy helps; I have nowhere near the guilt, shame and anger that I carried for years, nor do I suffer to the extent I have with the severe depression I've had over the past five years.

I was quite interested in the idea of going to one of the events held in a restaurant as myself so I could watch the dynamics and not have them see me. Then I decided they weren't worth it. I would most likely become angry/ sad/ depressed over thinking about what happened to me, so it would serve no good purpose for me.

Looking at the pictures posted on Facebook from the reunion, it dawned on me that if I had gone, it could have been a disaster. It turns out that one of the people from school who was a year or two behind me also goes to my church and is a member of the Vestry (that is a Deacon, for those of us with a Southern Baptist heritage). He knows me now as Sherri and not as who I was. If I had gone, he likely would have recognized me from church and then I would again be in a situation of coming out at a time and a field not of my choosing again and I find that very wearing, as I have written about in the past here.

Soon I do intend to let my three women friends know about me soon and I expect that at that point it will work its way around the alumni of my High School, and that will be ok. The difference being that I told who I wanted to tell who matter to me and if at that point, the rest of them find out, I don't care really.

What I don't like about the situation is my lack of the right to privacy, which we refer to as stealth. I become more and more aware that stealth for me at my age and situation is mostly not going to be. So I have been readjusting my thinking about how important is stealth in my life. After all, even if people do know about who I was, is it really a problem if I am treated as a woman and people interact with me as the woman I am? Is it realistic for me to expect any more given my dual professional identity and my presence in the community I grew up? I think that the expectation of my having a lifw where no one knows of my male past is unrealistic. It sets me up for feeling bad about myself, rather than enjoying the life I should have taken responsibility to have made happen literally decades ago.

The obverse of that coin is that I can't afford to dwell on the "wasted" years. Really? Wasted? No, not really. I have accomplished a lot, both personally and professionally. Rather, it is much better to be living in the moment of now, which is a much happier time in my life and look towards the future in which I will be who I always was, but hid so well.

So what about the man at church I know who went to school with me all those years ago? I think it is time to tell him. That will be good thing, I'm sure.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Autogynophilia- Breaking It Down and What it Means to You

It has taken me awhile to think through the problem presented by the theory of "Autogynophilia". Instinctively, it felt wrong, but that is not part of consideration from an academic standpoint. A theory, has to have evidence to support it's existence and it must also be useful. After a long time reading about it, I do not think it exists for reasons I will discuss, but first we must understand what the actual theory says in detail.

From Wikipedia- "Ray Blanchard's transsexualism typology (also Blanchard autogynephilia theory (BAT) and Blanchard's taxonomy) is a psychological typology of male-to-female transsexualism created by Ray Blanchard  through the 1980s and 1990s, building on the work of his colleague, Kurt Freund. Blanchard divides male-to-female (MtF or M2F) transsexuals into two different groups: "homosexual transsexuals", who are attracted to men, and "non-homosexual transsexuals", who are "autogynephilic" (sexually aroused by the thought or image of themselves as a woman). The typology does not purport to identify the cause of transsexualism in natal males, but it has some implications for the cause—specifically, but it implies that the cause of transsexualism may not be the same for both groups."
It is true that the statistically significant majority of transsexuals do see themselves having sex as a woman and becoming aroused by it, and Blanchard got as far as identifying the phenomenon at least partially, given the limits of who he sees as experiencing the phenomonen. My opinion was that this was the only thing he did accomplish. He failed to observe the phenomenon completely.
There is a lot to digest there. This is a very controversial concept and I have felt that it was flawed for quite a long time, I just wasn't clear what the flaw in the concept was. To sum it up, Blanchard sees those who homosexual pre transition are thought to have a different etiology than heterosexual transsexuals who are pre transtion. His theory is that the homosexual group is better adjusted because of their homosexuality, while those oriented towards women are sexual deviants.
To understand the implication, we need to know what is the definition of a paraphilia. Merriam- Webster online dictionary defines Paraphilia "as a pattern of recurring sexually arousing mental imagery or behavior that involves unusual and especially socially unacceptable sexual practices (as sadism or pedophilia) have a paraphilia, and therefore have a mental illness and one that if true would be every bit as difficult to resolve as any other paraphilia. What Blanchard calls a paraphilia is the idea that a transsexual who is oriented towards women, is aroused by the thought of themself engaging in sexual activity as a woman. In order for this to be a paraphilia, it must rise to the standard of being considered a deviant thought or behavior. It is something that rises to the need for treatment and it is commonly not easily treated.

Here is where his theory breaks down. How could it be that a transsexual not find the prospect of being sexual in the right body arousing, whether that transsexual is oriented towards men, women, or both? Is not a genetic woman aroused by thinking of being sexual in her own correct body?
The answer is the same for each of these individuals. They are aroused by thinking of their bodies engaging in sexual activity. Therefore, this concept being defined as a paraphilia is a non starter. Some paraphilias are as relatively benign such as some fetishes, and can range to the very serious such as Sadism or Pedophilia.
The definition of a paraphilia does not include people who like to play with power in their intimate relationships unless one partner is significantly injured physically or psychologically as an ongoing aspect of this relationship.
I would also have you note that Blanchard's theory fails to address the phenomenon of the female to male transsexual. Because these people are not accounted for under Blanchard's theory, the theory is further weakened. His model only addresses the male to female transsexual.
Another problem with Blanchard is in asking how does his theory help or is useful in some way to the individual transsexual? It does not seem to help in any form and actually relegates a significant subpopulation of transsexuals to a pathological label that is not useful in any manner. It misinforms the public who will view transsexuals as sexually deviant as a result of this concept. There is no statistical evidence to suggest that within the population of transsexuals there are higher rates of having a paraphilia than the general public is prone to experience. Therefore it fails the test in describing something that is useful.
Perhaps the biggest confounding fact in Blanchard's theory is something that is quite well known and studied. It seems that transsexuals in all of Blanchard's typology find it is not uncommon to switch sexual orientation sometime three to five years into HRT. There are a number of transsexuals who lived and were heterosexual males who find they become heterosexual women. This applies for both types of male to females and less commonly so in female to male transsexuals. This is theorized to occur due to the brain that was primed prenatally by a crossgender hormonal wash of the developing brain,  which in turn maximizes the potential of activating these neural pathways with the induction of estrogen therapy. It allows this prewired biological potential to  maximize feminization of the brain. It works in the same manner for female to male transsexuals as well. The presence of testosterone after having had a prenatal wash of androgen will experience maximizing the masculinization of the brain too. This sexual orientation shift is most frequently observed after three or more years on HRT when and if it does occur.
What are your thoughts on autogynophobia? Anne Lawrence       has a different take on the concept of autogynophilia, while endorsing the concept. I'll look into bringing some information on her view and you can decide for yourself what your opinion is on autogynophobia.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Well Cyrsti, Since You Brought It Up.......

After my last blog, Cyrsti, wrote in her blog to say she would like to hear my thoughts on identities within the "Transgender community" and tensions that exist for the various identities included within that umbrella. It actually was my intention to turn some attention to that issue soon, so Cyrsti, once again you have been a bit of a muse for me. Thank You!

Sometimes, when I hear the umbrella term "Transgender" and "Transgender Spectrum" as opposed to"transgender" as in a shorthand way of referring to themself, I start hearing Michael Jackson and the All Stars sing "We are the worllllld, We are the childrennnnnn" I can't help it. My mind just works that way. Oops, too much information........

Though irreverent, it is not meant to be disrespectful of those who are invested in the transgender spectrum concept. Many people I know well and respect  both professionally and as friends are heavily invested in this model. Based on the state of the knowlege base, I'm not ready to agree that everyone under the Transgender spectrum concept have a milder or more severe version of my identit as distinctly female. On the other hand while I make my assertion that I believe transsexuals, preop, post op or no op have a fundamentally unique identity and lies within the gender binary,I have enough of a biomedical background that I can generally keep up with the arguements and research findings. I do, as a researcher myself, have an open mind that I could be wrong and am willing to listen and redecide if necessary. It's not an ego thing for me.
Lets take a moment and define what we are talking about. If I use these terms without placing them into the context I use them I would not be communicating very clearly. When I use the term Transgender Spectrum, I am defining this as a set of people who diverse in gender identity. This list includes but may not be all inclusive of:

Gender Queers: "People who identify as genderqueer may think of themselves as one or more of the following: both man and woman (bigender, pangender); neither man nor woman (genderless, agender);
  • moving between genders (genderfluid);
  • third gender or other-gendered; includes those who do not place a name to their gender;
  • having an overlap of, or blurred lines between, gender identity and sexual orientation"
-From Wikipedia.

Crossdressers may or may not be the same as transvestites depending who you speak with. There are individuals who identify as Sissies. There are people who identify as fetishists. There are drag kings and drag queens. Intersexed people are included also. This is an area of controversy for people who are intersexed as much as it is for transsexuals, They often contend they are not part of a transgender continuum.

One purpose the transgender continuum serves is to promote a unified theory of etiology from a biopsychosocial perspective. Essentially the concept is that the same thing causes it and it lies on a continuum of relative severity. I use this term because one end of a continuum has to be the most mild in existence and the other end of the continuum has to be the most extreme example of the phemonenon varience in gender identity.

The gender spectrum concept is used also as a sociopolitical mechanism to bring diverse groups of people together for political power. This group has been subsumed in the acronym of GLBTIQ. I have seen proposals to add HIV+ and illegal immigrants to this acrocnym over the past year. This is for the purpose of political gain for each member group by bringing together groups that have not much if anything in common. They are able to exert more political power in this manner, which can be a positive thing, but the social reality is that identities become blurred at the same time. This happens in collectivist movements. This where we begin to lose our diversity again.

It seems to me that a lot of people in the Transgender Continuum camp become upset if you are skeptical of the continum model. They do not agree that transsexuals such as myself and many I know, both male to female and female to male, do not buy into the continuum model of identity. People such as I clearly identify a clear gender identity that has not varied over most or nearly all of their lifetime. Their physical body is incongruent with their sense of being a man or a woman. I have always known I was a girl and then a woman. I have never felt that gender was something that I played with. I never thought of myself as partly male or partly female with alternating unified sense of identities. Some people do. I don't believe that they are the same as a transsexuals. I have never felt that I was genderless. There is nothing wrong with having an alternating identity, or being a cd or a tv or a dq/ dk, being genderless or any permutation of what we refer to as gender.

 The existing science sometimes suggests that there is some evidence to support the continuum theory.  However there is not enough to prove it and there seems to be evidence to the contrary as well.

Politically, I don't wish to be placed in a collective of people with little in common and in some instances nothing in common, depending on how many letters you want to throw in to your acronym. They may not represent my political views accurately and they may not be the same. It makes it even more difficult for the culture to understand us. The concept that we are all equal under the law is the very basis of the U.S. Constitution. We must recognize that the lack of mention of categories of people means that there can be no denying we all have the same rights in this country. The guarantee in real life is still something that remains to be realized. It is expedient politically to have this collective, but expedient decisions come with a price tag too. Consider this hypothetical conversation:

"So you are a transsexual. Uh, when did you know you were a sissy? Did you figure out you were
gay first or did you crossdress first?"

"Um actually, I'm not a sissy. I'm not gay either....."

"But you're GLBTIQ"....., and we're off to the races!
My issue is about my gender identity. It is not about my sexuality. I haven't the experience of conflict over my sexuality and I don't feel oppressed for my sexual orientation. I do not feel I have common ground with sissies, drag kings or queens, fetishists, and I do not feel that I am part of the gay community. It is true that all of these groups have been and are being deprived of our rights, but being included in this heterogenious group blurs my identity into things it is not.

Like minded transsexuals and intersexed people see each other as distinctly different but we respect that difference and it does not impose a heirarchy at one or the other's expense. Neither should the separateness of transsexual people from others who do support the continuum model. Transsexuals are not better or lower than any of these other identities, we are different. And that is ok. Everyone is entitled to their own identity.
One reason I do not think there are parellels between some identities and that of a male to female transsexual can be illustrated in the sissy identity. I am not a sissy. I am not less than (fill in the blank). I do not feel I  need to be humiliated or forced to be who I am. One cannot rape the willing, so to speak. I do not see how they are on the same continuum as I am. I've met several over the years at conferences. Very nice people. I was glad that they were able to be who they are.
In my experience, most CD's and TV's enjoy the experience of spending some time in the opposite gender identity for the experience for a variety of reasons, but they still retain a strong sense of the gender of birth.
These examples are not the experience of a person who never has identified with the gender assignment of birth, whose true desire is to live the life of their internal gender identity outwardly as well as inwardly. Whether it is feasible or not and whether they are able to make any progress in becoming congruent with their internal gender identity, they all have that internal sense of being the opposite gender of their body.
The problem that creates rifts in the gender community is that the transsexual experience is considered unique to transsexuals while, other identitied groups are threatened by the unwillingness of transsexuals to agree they are variants of the non transsexual members' "spectrum".

I do not attempt to say which is right or which is wrong. I merely wish to point out the disparities in identities and identity politics. Each must decide for themself.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Do the Gender Police Confront You?

Sheri Berenbaum: Peers are the gender police.
Sheri Berenbaum led a thought-provoking discussion about the often-debated topic of gender differences. An inquisitive crowd kept Berenbaum on her toes as she answered questions concerning whether gender differences are innate or learned. Drawing on over 15 years of research on congenital gender disorders—and using props such as Legos and make-up kits to illustrate her points—Berenbaum challenged the audience to "think outside the box" about the mix of social and biological factors that make us male or female. Sheri can be found on the web and also at her University, Penn State.

The Gender Police have drawn hard lines on people of my experience. We have the extreme Right who would say our very existence is an abomination and we have the extreme left who insist that we must identify as some blend of gender that is neither wholly male or wholly female. I find one as constraining as the other.

I wonder where it came from that if we were free and perfectly healthy individuals that if we identify as women, we are not respected as women or if we identify as men, we are not respected as men. This is the problem of the extreme Right. We simply want to live our lives and be left alone to the right of privacy as any other American Citizen.

The other side of the equation exists from the extreme fringes of Feminism and is solely an extension of Womens' Studies professor Janice Raymond's ideology. Even today as she rewrote a foreward to her book The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the SheMale.  Even with her new forward, which is a rather shallow apology to transsexual women, she still sees us as victims of a patriarchy. She was unable to and continues to fail to recognize that we are woman who for many different reasons ended up at odds with our assigned gender. The majority of these do not involve obvious anatomical variations. For this reason being politically coerced into a continuum known as "Gender Spectrum" includes vastly different presentations because of vastly different etiologies, makes us pawns in a political struggle between Left and Right.

Interestingly, the most negative people about the realities of our lives both as individuals and in varying collectives include the extreme Right and the Extreme Left.

For one group, our very existence on the earth is anathamema. For the other group, our very right to a unified gender identity is sacriledge. I find both extremes both nullifying simultaneously.

At this time in our culture, very few who wish to fall under the umbrella  of transgender identify as gender queer. They have every right to that identity. It's not my identity. I do not consider them to have the same orientation of gender or have much in common with me other than a political desire to be left alone and become the best me I can be.

Similiarly people who feel a mix of their genders but have no burning urge to match their physical being to their identity, may be known as transgenders, crossdressers or by other labels that they define themselves by, have every right to be left alone and become the best people they can be.

Simply put, I am a woman. This is not a sociological statement, nor is it a political statement. It is who I am. There are more women who were correctly assigned at birth and individuals such as myself who were not, but sought to correct that error. I do not identify as a third gender or a fourth or a fifth. I'm just a woman.

This is a dual journey that I travel. I am the gender therapist and the gender patient, I bring my experience, professional and personal to the therapeutic alliance. All therapists do that. It is somewhat more unique for my patients as I am also someone who has been going through a legitimate process per the standards of care established by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, a body of which I am proud to me a member.

As many of you know, I have been developing a comprehensive health care system for transgender people in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. I have been instrumental in initiating the Speech and Language Department of my health care system to offer voice and communication therapy for transsexuals in order to be able to communicate in a gendered manner that is congruent with our identity.

In announcement to a health care online network, this program was rebuked with a harsh and in my opinion, unwarrented attack. The author of this attack who is a faculty member of a large institution of higher learning, stated that she found it highly offensive that such a program would state that the therapy offered would improve the ability to communicate in a more masculine or feminine style, depending on the preference of the patient. She stated that because of this, she would not wish to refer anyone there for voice therapy.

Personal disclaimer: I was involved in the initiative to develop these services, provided a number of training resources and linked them with other Speech and Language therapy professionals who are members of the World Professional Association of Transgender Health in their field who could be of further help in developing the program that we offer. In my opinion, they have developed a quality program that I myself have participated in and am so more than just comfortable in referring my patients who are interested in these types of services.

What I find to be most outrageous of this experience is the lack of forethought in the reckless condemnation of a service that person has no personal knowlege of, just a blind conviction of an ideology leading to  the same type of rigid results that the extreme right can be accused of (and rightfully so at times).

This is why I always say that I have found as much as bigotry, prejudice and hatred on the far right and the far left.

The issue at hand that I object to is that this person made a judgement that this person knows better for you than you do, therefore would not even grant you the opportunity to decide if this service would be helpful to you or not. Considering the philosophical orientation of this person, I find as much patriarchy in the Third Wave Feminist theory as they railed against in the Second Wave of Feminism. Each wants to control you, just to a different end, but neither will be the one of your own determination.

A pity, isn't it? I've seen absolutely no growth since Janice Raymond. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reflections On who Comes to My Blog

I'd like to take a moment to create a sense of community with the people who view this blog. I am always honored that people will take a little time to consider some idea I had and maybe post a comment. Some of the people who view my blog are dear friends and some are visitors I don't know from around the world.

I'm quite interested in the people who read this blog from cultures other than Western cultures. I have had visits from  Central and South America, Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Balkans, along with Eastern Europe and Russia. I often wonder about a very different culture that finds something that is of interest in what I write and how I can communicate better with them, both in asking them to comment and writing in a manner that is more clear. Sometimes I imagine when some of our North American and European visitors might be wondering what I'm talking about too! So, please tell me!

I also wonder about the experiences of our Middle East, Asian and African visitors who are transsexual or have a relationship of any kind with someone who is transsexual. I would love to learn about all of your experiences as well as other cultures represented by my visitors.