Transing children & the myth of an unbiased medical establishment

This is part II of a series on radical feminism and transgenderism. The first, The Conservative Gendered Stereotyping of Children, Radical Feminism and transgenderism’ is available here.

 

I have many concerns about the current push to medically transition children because of sex-based stereotyping as I outlined here in the case of a child whose mother was terrified he was gay – on the say so homophobic relatives. As a radical feminist, I view gender as socially constructed upon the material reality of female and male bodies. It is also, in the words of Claire Heuchan, a “hierarchy imposed by men to ensure their dominance over women’. Gender, as a theoretical concept, is inherently harmful. As a ‘reality’, it is responsible for the oppression of women globally through FGM, domestic and sexual violence and abuse, pornography, prostitution, and femicide. Women are not oppressed because they identify as female; women are oppressed because men construct women’s biological sex as ‘inferior’ and women themselves as possessions. As Marina Strinkovsky writes,

if gender is real and biological sex a social construct, if sex is not a “real” and meaningful political or economic category, on what basis did the parents of the hundreds of millions of women and girls lost to femicide know who to kill?”

This question seems perfectly reasonable: how do we decide which foetuses should be aborted and what humans to pay less if not through the material reality of biological sex. Yet, this question is considered ‘transphoic’. Any questioning of gender theory is met with abuse and threats. Suggesting children might not be capable of deciding about medical care is met with derision in cases of transgender children, but not children undergoing treatment for diseases such as cancer. There is a double standard here that needs to be explored more fully and we absolutely need more research into the way in which mental health diagnoses or suicide risks are defined within the transgender movement. However, in this essay I want to focus specifically on gender identity and the theory of an unbiased medical establishment.

Personally, I find the idea that a child born with a penis *must* be a girl if he plays with a doll or wears sparkly shoes and that a child born with a vagina must be a boy if she plays with toy cars completely insane. A 2 year old plays with toys. They have no idea what is a ‘boy’s toy’ or a ‘girl’s toy’ is without being told by their parents, extended family or peers. It is utterly ridiculous that we have now arrived at a point where a 2 year old is deemed competent to define their own ‘gender’ when we don’t allow them to operate heavy machinery, vote, or decide whether or not they are going to wear pants outside when its -20 degrees. There is simply not enough adequate or unbiased research in neurobiology and gender identity to consider a 2 year old or a 12 year old to have gillock competence over their mental health and future reproductive choices. Even if research around gender identity and gillock competence was well-established, I am extremely concerned that we are allowing children to take drugs to prevent puberty on the say so of a supposedly unbiased medical establishment and without rigorous long-term studies that assess patients according to the medical and mental health, particularly looking at how trauma harms child brain development.*

Frankly, even the research into gender dysphoria, which is real, is questionable when we remove sex based stereotypes and children who present as ‘trans’ who grow up to be homosexual. It’s not surprising that surgery to ‘transition’ an adult is considered more acceptable than being homosexual in deeply conservative countries like the US and Iran, where the penalty for being gay is death.

Since any discussion of the potential consequences of puberty blockers or gender dysphoria in general is met with cries of ‘transphobia’, pharmaceutical companies and various medical professionals  have been given carte blanche to claim puberty blockers are safe with no real research into the long-term effects of these drugs on children.

Perhaps it is my natural cynicism but I find the faith in an unbiased medical establishment deeply bizarre. This is not to say that gender dysphoria is not real. It is fairly clear that dysphoria exists and causes severe distress to many people. However, the huge growth in young people presenting with dysphoria who are given medical interventions without investigating how they came to believe they were trans is concerning.

Even if we ignore the recent scandals involving transvaginal meshes, the links between baby powder and ovarian cancer, the profit before people policies as seen in the recent price gouging in the sale of epi-pens and AIDS drugs, the well documented racist and sexist history of birth control, and the use of lobotomies to treat mental illness, it is completely unethical to push a medical ‘cure’ when there is very little research on the long term consequences of that ‘cure’ when delaying puberty or promoting chest binding in girls.

The clear history of the medical and pharmaceutical industrial complex in prioritising profit over people should have us questing the motivations of all involved – mostly how much money they will make claiming 10 year olds need puberty blockers and that surgery is necessary to decrease the rate of suicide in transgender people when it appears that the rate of suicide attempts and death remain the same both pre and post-surgery.** In the context of the US, where many people have no health insurance, and the number of people in the UK who travel to Thailand and other jurisdictions that have less over sight of the medical establishment, it is absolutely essential to follow the money.

We need more research into the rise in gender identity and gender dysphoria before assuming that pharmaceutical companies and doctors *always* have the best interests of their patients at heart. We need to investigate who gets rich through research and through medical practise. We need more research into why so many children are transitioning – and how this is impacted by homophobia from family and peers. We need more research around the links between child sexual abuse, trauma and transition. We need more research why some people regret transition, particularly those post-surgery, a question that is currently deemed ‘transphobic’.***

I have very little faith in the medical and pharmaceutical industrial complex to commit to research that does not make them rich. And, right now, the industry is making a whole lot of money off people with simply not enough evidence to support the first commandment of doctors: do no harm. This is without discussing the homophobia inherent in insisting that 2 year old boys who play with dresses have to be a girl and not a) a normal child; or b) gay  (as though we could guess sexuality on a child who has no idea what sex or relationships are). Children should not be used as medical experiments outside of strictly controlled trials – like the ones used to investigate how to manage pain in premature babies of the effectiveness of certain treatments for diseases – and never by your local GP.

People who have gender dysphoria have the right to access safe medical and pharmaceutical support. At this point, we don’t have enough evidence that ‘safe’ exists and is monitored appropriately. Call me cynical, but companies who sell drugs at hugely over-inflated prices aren’t going to be the ones who will do such research without a financial incentive.

Follow the money to unravel the myths is as true in research into pornography and prostitution, as it is in medical transition. We simply aren’t doing this.

 

*A number of high profile male to female trans women have spoken publicly about their experiences of child sexual abuse.

** This article published by The Conversation is worth reading: “FactCheck Q&A: was Lyle Shelton right about transgender people and a higher suicide risk after surgery?”.

***I would also like to see more long term studies on the rates and types of violence perpetrated by male to female trans and its relation to men who do not have dysphoria. The only real research at this point is a Swedish study that suggests trans women have the exact same rate of violence as men.

 

Bibliography

Deborah Cameron, A brief history of ‘gender’, (2016)

Delilah Campbell, Who owns gender , (2015)

Catherine Drury, ‘Gender dysphoria in children’,  (Fair Play for Women, 2017)

Jeni Harvey, The Misogyny Of Modern Feminism, (2017)

Claire Heuchan, ‘Sex, Gender, and the New Essentialism, ‘  Sister Outrider, (2017)

Claire Heuchan, ‘The Problem That Has No Name because “Woman” is too Essentialist‘, Sister Outrider, (2017)

Claire Heuchan, Binary or Spectrum, Gender is a HierarchySister Outrider, (2017)

Jane Clare Jones, You are killing me: On hate speech and feminist silencing, (2015)

Nymeses, Being Told You Have Gender Dysphoria as a Lesbian, (2016)

Thain Parnell, ‘Transition is no casual matter, and we need to talk about those who regret it’,  (Feminist Current, 2017)

Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, ‘Trans issues and gender identity’, (Sex & Gender: A Beginner’s Guide, 2015)

Rebecca Reilly-Cooper, ‘The idea that gender is a spectrum is a new gender prison’, (Aeon, 2016)

RootVeg, ‘Gender is socially constructed upon a material reality’ , (2015)

Victoria Smith, ‘Anorexia, breast binding and the legitimisation of body hatred’ (New Statesman, 2016)

#womenwrites: on gender, identity politics and VAWG

All politics is “identity politics” by @MayaGoodfellow
via @WritersofColour

Charlotte Bronte did NOT repair her mourning shoes with her dead sister’s hair! by @KatharineEdgar

‘Impunity has consequences’: the women lost to Mexico’s drug war by Nina Lakhani in Jalapa

Princesses Are Terrifying. So Is Ivanka Trump via @ElleMagazine

Maybe We Do Need White History Month or Millennials Don’t Know Shit About Slavery or Picking Appropriate Essay Topics or Being a Black English Adjunct Sucks Sometimes– via @writermrsmith

I’m Tired by @RowenaMonde  via @RoomOfOurOwn

A brief history of ‘gender’  via @wordspinster

On Optimism and Despair by Zadie Smith

National Geographic’s ‘gender revolution’ cover fails women via @FeministCurrent

Frank Maloney is not a ‘butterfly’. He is a violent man.

Frank Maloney has a history of domestic violence. Quite a few people seem keen to forget this fact in their rush to deify him since transitioning. Today’s erasure of male violence comes from Polly Toynbee in her article ‘Here’s why feminism must embrace transpeople’:

there was also the jolt of a macho boxing promoter emerging like a butterfly as Kellie Maloney.

Granted, anyone who refers to political disagreements between women as ‘catfights’ isn’t exactly practising feminism, but completely erasing Maloney’s history of violence is inherently anti-woman. Transitioning does not magically make one a better person. And, it helps no one to pretend it does.

 

The Murder Statistics of Transgender People: Sources

 

Whilst engaged in research to respond to a comment on this blog, I was sent the following sources. I don’t know how to link photos in the comments so I’ve published them as a blog post instead.

This map is from Transgender Respect vs Transphobia Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.12.36

This breakdown of the statistics in the UK was first published on Mumsnet:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.15.44

(I would suggest the statistics in the US are different due to racism and consequences of poverty and a complete lack of health care forcing vulnerable people in prostitution, which increases the risk of violence, rape and murder. Because men.)

This was on Twitter:

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 16.16.42

 

This from Parker Molloy on the 1 in 12 stat is worth reading. I would suggest reading Kay Brown on why she came up with the 1 in 12 statistic and why it’s wrong to continue using it. I also recommend this article “The Murder Statistics of Transgender People”.

 

Language does matter: menstruation is not “transphobic”

UCLA student Zoey Freedman weighed in on the global debate around taxing tampons. Normally, I’m a huge supporter of any publication willing to print this: 

Aside from some forms of birth control or medical complications, nothing will stop a woman’s period. It’s a natural part of having a uterus that just can’t be helped.

Health care currently covers services such as sexually transmitted infection testing, birth control, abortion and even access to erectile dysfunction treatments such as penile implants.

Although erectile dysfunction is a problem, it is not one that all men are inherently born with. Menstruation, on the other hand, is something almost every woman deals with at some point in her life. It’s a bit ridiculous that surgeries for sexual needs are covered before everyday feminine hygiene products.

Unfortunately, the editors felt the need to include this statement:

This blog post refers to individuals who menstruate as women because the author wanted to highlight gender inequality in health care. We acknowledge that not all individuals who menstruate identify as women and that not all individuals who identify as women menstruate, but feel this generalization is appropriate considering the gendered nature of most health care policies.

It used to be that we couldn’t talk about women’s biology because it grossed men out. Now, we can no longer talk about women’s biology because it’s transphobic. Menstruation, FGM, vulvas, breasts, birthing a child, breastfeeding, infertility, menopause, and hysterectomies have all become banned topics for fear we cause transwomen ‘violence’. Oddly, I’ve never seen viagra, something widely available on health insurance in the US whilst birth control remains controversial, deemed ‘transphobic’. Vulva cupcakes, on the other hand, constitute ‘violence’.

Women have been fighting for hundreds of years to end real gender essentialism that is predicated on a hierarchical construction of sex. Now, we’re seeing a resurgence of reifying gender through an obsession with labelling brains ‘male’ or ‘female’. Recognising that a uterus exists only in a female body makes you transphobic and guilty of the murder of transwomen (despite the fact that it’s pretty clear that men are responsible for the physical violence that results in the murder of transwomen – not women’s words).

Women have been actually dying for thousands of years because of the denial of the reality of our bodies. Childbirth remains one of the biggest killers of women worldwide. Sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise, but we aren’t allowed to point that infections pass more easily during penis-in-vagina sex or that the vast majority of urinary tract infections are caused by a penis that isn’t clean. Instead, young girls are denied an education because menstruation is considered ‘unclean’.

Viagra is a medical necessity to ensure erect penises aren’t denied sexual pleasure, including ‘female’ penises. Tampons are classed as a luxury despite menstruation being a biological necessity.

The liberation of women from male violence and other causes and consequences of the white supremacist capitalist-patriarchy will not happen whilst we are banned from talking about the biological realities of women’s bodies. Discussing menstruation is not transphobic and it will not cause the death of transwomen.

I really hope this is meant to be a joke:

because this has to be one of the stupidest things I have ever read:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 14.00.42

The province of Ontario needs to do some serious work on their social studies curriculum if this what their graduates come out with.

Kim Kardashian is a better choice than Caitlyn Jenner for the BBC Women’s Hour

This is the response the from BBC to my complaint about the inclusion of transwoman Caitlyn Jenner on the Women’s Hour Power List:

We note you were unhappy that Caitlyn Jenner featured on the Woman’s Hour Power List 2015.

This list featured women involved in a wide range of areas, from politics and fashion to journalism and entertainment. As stated on the Woman’s Hour website, “The aim of this year’s list was to identify a range of women who have an exceptionally large impact on our lives, not just because of their job title but because of their personal ability to influence others.”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1wsc6xjTph1CvN5jWzLtfzT/womans-hour-2015-power-list-influencers

The list was decided upon by a panel of judges, headed up by journalist and broadcaster Emma Barnett and including human rights lawyer Helena Kennedy QC and Radio 1 DJ Gemma Cairney. They looked at well-known women’s personal ability to influence others. You can read more about the judges here:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/articles/1YmbsbyVkMDTXgjwgn9P4Ff/the-womans-hour-2015-power-list-influencers

As the following BBC News article on Caitlyn Jenner’s inclusion notes:

“Speaking about Jenner’s inclusion in this year’s top 10, Daily Mail columnist and judge Sarah Vine acknowledged it was controversial, for several reasons.

“Initially… many of us felt that Kim Kardashian would have to appear somewhere – not because any of us felt any particular admiration for the woman, but simply because her influence on millions of women worldwide is undeniable.

“But then the Caitlyn Jenner story broke and I in particular felt that she trumped all others in the celebrity stakes.”

She added: “I understand why someone like Jenner might make people feel uncomfortable; but she is a human being like the rest of us and should not be denied the same rights – or indeed respect – as those who live more conventional lives.

“As to her influence, it can only be to the good if a wider audience can learn to understand her experience.””

Woman’s Hour editor Alice Feinstein also gave her thoughts on the list, adding:

“”The way power operates in today’s global, interconnected society is not straightforward – brokers of hard power like prime ministers, presidents and CEOs are no longer calling all the shots.

“What I wanted to examine in this year’s list of influencers is how women are operating outside traditional power structures to get things done.””

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-33344317

We hope this is helpful in explaining the focus of this list, and giving more insight into the judges’ decisions, but we appreciate that you may continue to disagree with Caitlyn Jenner’s inclusion and we appreciate your feedback.

Please know complaints are sent to programme makers and senior management every morning and we’ve included your points in our overnight reports. These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC ensuring that complaints are seen quickly by the right people.

I would have preferred Kim Kardashian be on the power list instead of Caitlyn Jenner, since Kardashian has not:

  1. Killed another woman this year with her car. Unlike Jenner who killed Kim Howe
  2. Kardashian financially supports her daughter. Unlike Jenner who failed to financially support his sons from his first marriage.
  3. Kardashian hasn’t bragged about stealing anyone’s underwear. Unlike Jenner who stole his stepdaughters’ underwear and wore it. Which is massively creepy and the type of activity sexual predators enjoy.

Obviously, the BBC doesn’t let little things like child abuse or killing women get in the way of declaring an abusive man a great woman. I can’t wait to see next year’s list. Maybe they will include a child sexual predator for funnsies.

Caitlyn Jenner makes Woman’s Hour Power List

Shall we enumerate the ways in which Caitlyn Jenner has helped women:

1. Killed Kim Howe with his car.

2. Failed to financially support his children.

3. Stole his teenage step-daughter’s underwear to wear it around the house.

4. Reinforced neurosexism and heteronormativity with his stance on ‘female brains’ and ‘female souls’.

So, Bruce Jenner makes the list for doing sweet fuck all for women. Fabu-fucking-doodle. Next we’ll see Charlie Sheen on the list for not insulting, denigrating and threatening. one of the mother’s of his children for a period of 24 hours.

 

I made a formal complaint to the BBC here.

Caitlyn Jenner, a transgender woman who has killed a woman (Kim Howe) through dangerous driving, failed to financially support her children from previous relationships, and who admitted to stealing and wearing her step-daughter’s lingerie has been placed on Women’s Hour Power List. What precisely has Jenner done for women that negate killing a woman, financial child abuse, and stealing her stepdaughter’s lingerie (which in and of itself is deeply creepy)?

Could Woman’s Hour not find any women to place on this list that haven’t committed criminal offences like financial child abuse? Or, not killed anyone recently?

Jenner’s inclusion makes a mockery of the idea of a power list.

Frank Maloney is a perpetrator of domestic violence

Frank Maloney attempted to strangle his then wife Tracey. Maloney also claims to have engaged in emotionally abusive behaviour.

According to the Daily Mail, and Maloney, this isn’t really a big deal because Maloney has since had a gender reassignment surgery and is now known as Kellie.

Maloney has admitted to committing domestic violence but we’re supposed to feel sympathy as it was a:

“toxic combination of pent-up frustration, anguish over her gender identity and booze had caused Kellie to lunge at 48-year-old Tracey.”

Because those sound nothing like the normal excuses used to minimise responsibility for domestic violence. Anger, alcohol, and mental illness do not cause domestic violence. Men, and domestic violence is nearly always perpetrated by a man, make a choice to engage in emotional and physical abuse.

Maloney is a perpetrator. I don’t care if he’s since undergone gender reassignment surgery. That doesn’t negate his choice to behave abusively.

Maloney made a choice. He should be held legally accountable for those choices; not fawned over by the mainstream media eager to minimise yet another example of domestic violence perpetrated by a celebrity.

Bruce Jenner killed a woman

Kim Howe was killed in February of this year when her car was rear-ended by Bruce Jenner and then pushed into oncoming traffic.

Kim Howe is dead because of the actions of Bruce Jenner. It would be nice if some of the hagiographies being written recently would remember that Kim Howe was a real person. That she matters too.