Transphobia: A Reasonable Response?
“Transgender” has been in the social consciousness for a while now. Christine Jorgensen provided the first tangible image of a “sex change” in the 1950s and media has further explored the idea from The Silence of the Lambs (1991) to Boys Don’t Cry (1999) to more recently Orange is the New Black (2013). As far back as our entertainment goes, opposite-dress has been a source of humor and surprise. Transgendered characters often portrayed a sense of significant mental disorder or distress and an active dishonesty meant to be used as a twist at the end of a story. Discovering that the attractive girl is actually a boy is a staple in American humor.
The DSM - 5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) in 2013 changed the condition from Gender Identity Disorder to Gender Dysphoria. This was celebrated by the LGBT (the “T” is for Transgender) community as a victory for equality.
Dana Beyer who assisted the Washington Psychiatric Society in making recommendations for the update states that the new condition implies a temporary mental state rather than a disorder. This was important in order to remove the “stigma” associated with having a mental illness. As described by Beyer, “A right-winger can’t go out and say all trans people are mentally ill…” The DSM - 5 also reports the need for this change as “Persons experiencing gender dysphoria need a diagnostic term that protects their access to care and won’t be used against them in social, occupational, or legal areas… To get insurance coverage for the medical treatments, individuals need a diagnosis. The Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders Work Group was concerned that removing the condition as a psychiatric diagnosis -- as some had suggested -- would jeopardize access to care.”
If a person wishes to complete transition with surgery, according to most requirements, including insurance coverage described in examples with Aetna and the University of California, San Francisco graduate insurance plan, that person must meet certain criteria. These criteria can include multiple written approval letters from psychiatrists, a full year of living as the opposite gender, legal changes, and hormone treatment. It seems that in order to obtain the physical transition to a new gender a person must obtain approval through APA (American Psychiatric Association) standards and the APA has manipulated psychological testing standards in order to justify surgical treatment.
What is relevant to note is the movement itself seems trapped between its original motivation and modern demands for absolute self- classification and social acceptance of that classification. As described in the conundrum above, it is difficult to both demand sympathy for a disorder needing medical treatment while simultaneously demanding respect for the personal choice in identity a person makes at face value. As this guide to modern Transgendered thinking states: “Someone says she’s a woman: fine. She’s a woman. Period.”
This same guide mentioned above argues that questioning a person’s gender is itself offensive and the moral of the story is that people should accept whatever the individual presents exactly as they present it. Former CNN host Piers Morgan experienced the consequences of this offense after interviewing Janet Mock in early February of 2014. The story states: “There were several problems with the language Morgan used. For starters, he repeatedly asserted that Mock had formerly been a boy. He also said that Mock had surgery to become a woman. Mock was a woman long before she had the surgery she felt she needed to reflect that. Part of the fight for transgender rights and justice is a fight for self-determination: to be able to proclaim who you are without anyone else adding caveats.”
There is a significant conflict of reasoning here that demonstrates how liberal thinking can be so irrational. A person born male who chooses to physically alter their body to resemble a female in order to satisfy a belief that they are female cannot later become reasonably offended when that history is merely pointed out as factual because it interferes with their preferred narrative. As much as their goal is the acceptance of a person wholly as the gender they choose to be, we cannot demand that acceptance be absolute. Gay men and women struggle to openly accept Transgendered individuals who are also homosexual just as much as straight men and women do. Gender is not some amorphous concept without meaning.
As with the utterly unnecessary creation of “Cis-Gender” to indicate a person who is comfortable with their born gender, “Transphobia” is equally as unnecessary. While violence is never acceptable, a survey entitled Injustice at Every Turn by the National Transgender Discrimination Survey in 2011 reported staggering negative experiences from Transgendered individuals including a 41% suicide attempt rate. With the fixation on absolute personal identification at any cost are we ignoring the impact this has on the individuals involved?
We live in a place and time where an individual can identify how they choose and obtain access to complete physical alteration to any level of their choosing. A person is absolutely free to transform himself into whatever he likes. But expecting the rest of us to feel shame over recognizing the distinction between their actions and normal reality is absurd. It is not wrong for a man to be uncomfortable dating a person who was born male but now physically resembles a female. When looking at violence we see it as a result of discovery rather than targeting. There is a sense of intentional dishonesty and trickery when a man presents himself as a woman in order to obtain the physical or emotional affection of another man. Even with sympathy to the personal experience of a person who genuinely wishes to be the opposite gender, it is not a “phobia” to be uncomfortable with or disapprove of it.
Unfortunately the Transgendered movement has taken the route all angry, irrational liberals take and actively bullies and shouts in outrage over the slightest offense they choose to experience. The Psychological authority is biased and motivated by political agenda rather than honest evaluation. The significant emotional damage and social distress of Transgendered individuals is used as a weapon to demand further agenda-driven goals. This is not about protecting the individual dealing with gender identity; it is about redefining gender entirely to suit the current liberal preference. By recognizing the absurdity and rational difficulty with this demand we are labled “Transphobic” and “Cissexist.”
Regardless of the opinion if Transgenderism is a mental illness, a biological error, a personal choice or an emotional and psychological imperative we are free to embrace or dismiss the concept. By demanding that all people accept gender expression as relative to the presenter, we are stigmatizing natural impulses. It is wrong to demand that a person be labeled as a bigot for not viewing another person as that person demands to be viewed. In the end liberals do not create a more tolerant and open world, they merely create new and irrational categories of people to discriminate against. Appreciating the personal journey of an individual changing their gender is equally as tolerant as disapproving of the fluid manipulation of gender in the first place.