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Sexual violence and trans people – what you need to know.

While anti-trans activists are busy painting trans people, specifically trans women, as sexual predators by cherry picking the examples of criminals who decide to transition to get an easy ride, the message that does not get across is that trans people are more likely, twice as likely as cis women to be victims of sexual violence. This has significant safeguarding concerns, especially for young or vulnerable trans people. Although there is no particular profile of offenders, predators often pick their victims for their vulnerability, their ease of access, chance that their victim would be speak out, and lack of parental or lack of other support around the victim. As such, trans people, lacking systemic support from police, friends, family and victim support services are particularly at risk.

The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found that 47% of transgender people are sexually assaulted at some point in their lifetime. Recently we released a series of tweets aimed at consciousness raising for trans people, for two reasons. Firstly, it’s important for trans people to know that they are not alone. Sexual violence is something that isn’t often talked about, especially on social media, but it’s can be just as healing to know that you are not alone, and just as empowering for young trans people, and people of any age who have suffered sexual abuse at any time in their life.

I’m going to sew the tweets together as an archive for you to read. They were made over a day, with some advice at the end for anyone needing to work through serious traumas.


Today’s numbered tweets will be about sexual violence, as it affects roughly 1/2 of trans people.

Definition: “Sexual violence is the general term we use to describe any kind of unwanted sexual act or activity, including rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse, and many others.”

Often trans people and women are socialised not to talk about acts of sexual violence.

They are silenced for many reasons including:

  • The belief that it wasn’t bad enough
  • No penetration was involved.
  • The perpetrator was female
  • It could affect their transition
  • It wasn’t violent.
  • They are socialised to think they don’t matter
  • If they try to talk, they are mocked or not taken seriously
  • They believe it was their fault
  • They are afraid of the repercussions
  • They were manipulated
  • They are afraid of approaching women’s services because of transphobia
  • There is only one trans survivors helpline in the UK, open for 2 hours a day
  • It was a long time ago
  • The perp was a family friend / relative
  • They don’t understand the definition of sexual violence
  • They believe sexual violence only affects cis women
  • They are ashamed of what happened and the way they dealt with it
  • They fear authorities and would rather just cope.
  • They were often bullied at school & view this as “worse”
  • The intersecting shame of being trans and a survivor
  • Coping with transness, and MH problems is too much
  • Finding a therapist they can trust is difficult.
  • They were often bullied at school & view this as “worse”
  • The intersecting shame of being trans and a survivor
  • Coping with transness, and MH problems is too much
  • Finding a therapist they can trust is difficult.

Like trans women, non-binary people & trans men are survivors too. Often, they are silenced because of similar reasons. Trans survivors need to be understood in a way that both affirms their identity, and how their abuse affected them as a non-binary/trans person. Finding support services which cater to this need is very difficult for trans survivors. Often they cannot explain how the sexual violence affected them because the services are more set up for cis / binary people. To get help, often you need to present as cis.

But by presenting as cis, part of your experience as a trans survivor is lost and, worse, you cannot open up to the actual trauma. You heal parts of the trauma which is identical to cis people, where other parts are largely untouched. Furthermore, LGB trans people also have the same intersections and barriers to healing as their cis counterparts. Quite often, services are set up to understand cis-sexual heterosexuals, so for me, being lesbian and trans are intersections which prevent healing.

The irony is that healing from sv can be complex and actually involves a lot of talking. You can never talk “too much” about things which affected you. No-one heals in a day or after a few sessions, unless it’s quite minor. Often people are so afraid to talk. The silencing is so entrenched that often survivors can spend many sessions just trying to get the words out. But when they do, they need to be heard, and understood and have the time to concentrate on healing rather than shutting it out to correct their listener. Trans people sometimes need to have time to explore in safety how they felt, how it related to their transness, and how and why it happened:

What were the power dynamics?

How did it affect them?

How did affect their relationships with others and with themselves?

Sexual violence can change lots of things about our relationships with others and with ourselves. But surviving abuse does not make you trans, it does not make you a lesbian, or gay. It’s ok to question, and not to be sure about things. But it is NEVER the role of a listener to deny someone’s sexual or gender identity when talking with survivors. It is your role to walk with them, to help see things from all sides, and to empower – never to project your own values and beliefs.

Another very sensitive area with trans survivors is that by its very nature, sexual violence affects our sexual anatomy. We are sensitive not only because of the abuse, but because we are trans, and as such, any significant SV should be treated as complex trauma.

One of the travesties of surviving sexual violence is that victims are often haunted by their experiences, some are very sensitive and worry that they will become the abuser. Anti-trans dialogue about trans women being rapists and abusers is, therefore, massively damaging. Furthermore, others talking about transitioning for nefarious reasons – to be a predator, is associated with self harm and suicide in victims because of such worries that they have become what they abhor. For others, who are victims of non-violence sexual abuse through coercion and grooming, there may be issues around reconstructive surgery. These are not addressed through the GIC through fear of withdrawal of care and permission for surgery.

Something which is common among all genders about sexual violence, especially historical SV, or CSA, is a disrupted relationship with our sexual self. Some people struggle so much with sexual feelings that they prefer to harm, rather than give way to them. It is this issue which causes confusion for therapists – so the complex issues around identity & abuse, takes dedication and time; therapists need to be on point for both affirmative therapy and working with survivors. Often things can be unclear for people, and that’s ok. Often the line between what is/was or wasn’t abuse is also a grey one. Not all who wander are lost – and it is totally OK to explore whatever issue – around transness or sexuality and to have those difficult conversations. Sometimes there are no easy answers. This is why supporting gender *variety* and differing expressions of gender, and agency of people to express themselves, or to experiment with gender is important for survivors of historic SV.

Section 2 – help and advice when dealing with traumatic events.

In these final tweets for the day about sexual violence, I’ll talk briefly about healing from it, what to expect and look out for in therapy, and linking in the resources that trans people already have in healing from situations where they feel trapped, and coerced – i.e. GD.

The first thing you need to do is be careful with yourself. Set boundaries that you expect from your therapist, and for yourself. Psychoeducation is both informative and helpful, and you may need to know how to stabilise, and manage flashbacks or traumatic memories when/if they happen. It’s not simply a case of going to a therapist and being fixed. Your relationship with your therapist is important, and so is your relationship with yourself. A good therapist will share their tools, knowledge and experience to help “re-program” faulty thinking. It’s ok to say no, and state any preferences for the gender of your therapist. This is really important, because you will need to trust your therapist completely.

Abuse happens when there is an imbalance of power and it is possible that you might become confused in therapy. A good therapist will notice when / if you become dissociated or react in ways which reflect survival instincts. These are: * Fight * Flight * Freeze * Faun. Recognising when you are triggered is part of the journey in surviving. Make crisis plans in advance to manage and resolve issues. Crisis planning or care planning instructs both you and those around you of the actions people need to take to make sure that you are safe. Working through trauma is hard work, and can easily become overwhelming. It’s common for things to become overwhelming very quickly. Just like transition, you need to be very patient. Your healing will hardly be noticeable at first, and it might feel like it’s impossible/too difficult/will go on forever. The more you learn / read the better. Books are invaluable, but again, be gentle with yourself. It’s ok just to buy a book and then hide it in the house (personal experience!). However, develop an enquiring attitude with yourself, and be mindful about what you need and at what time.

People often ask – can I /will I get better? Yes and no. For single trauma and experiences, EMDR can be very effective. However, just as being trans is a lifelong thing, abuse can have devastating consequences resulting in long term disability. Don’t be put off though. Even with experiences that had effects throughout a prolonged period in your life, you can’t just make that go away, but you can learn to manage yourself and those effects to recover more quickly and more effectively. Recovery is not linear!

Become inquisitive about your experiences. Sometimes it helps to think about hiccups as learning experiences, or your mind telling you that you are ready to process something. What happened? How did that happen? What can I do in future? How does this affect my crisis plan?

Take breaks from working on yourself. Do something different if you get trapped in thought, make a daily maintenance plan of things you must do to feel good about yourself. This can be as simple or complex as you need. Everyone has different comforts. If you’re housebound, make a safe space in your home. Make it special, keep it lovely! It’s ok to put yourself first when you are working through trauma. Experiment with different things and work out what feels right and comforting for you (just like transition!).

Sometimes simple repetitive tasks can be great – gaming, knitting, craft, DIY – there are many different things that you can use as tools for wellbeing. Working through trauma does not mean diving into doom and getting lost! Instead think of it as touch and go, practicing grounding, comforting, distraction, as you go. It is this routine which will help you cope with those random triggers which can be really confusing and disorientating. Maintain a good focus on the good things you have in life and practice gratitude for them. Appreciate the present, the good things and people who are in your here and now. Noticing the good things helps to train your mind to feel happy, safe and calm.

I’d like to thank my partner for her love and support, other survivors from whom I learned so much and who inspired me to write this, and my cute and adorable therapy dog, whose love keeps me sane. I’d also like to thank Survivors Network, Brighton, for helping me out when I needed a place to talk.

Resources / help:

http://www.7cups.com

https://survivorsnetwork.org.uk/  

https://www.switchboard.org.uk/trans-survivors-switchboard/ …

https://genderate.wordpress.com/svhe/support/

Debbie Hayton

All you need to know about anti-trans activist Debbie Hayton.

Debbie Hayton
Debbie Hayton

It isn’t often that I’m in the position of making analysis of people, however, it is clear that some action is required to expose an anti-trans activist whose representation has been magnified in the media, and who has, apparently been appointed as part of the LGBT+ committee on both the TUC, and in their teaching union. They have also written for or have mention in anti-trans articles Medium, The Times, The Guardian, their own blog, The Economist, numerous tweets, The Morning Star, Talk Radio and Quilette, and have featured on the BBC as a voice of a trans person – and in particular trans women and transsexual women.

Debbie Hayton’s resume.


Debbie Hayton didn’t transition that long ago, I’m guessing, from the articles I have read, that it was in about 2012/2013, and they went on to have lower surgery some 4 years later. Although this is of little relevance to Debbie’s activism per say, it’s worth a cursory mention of when she popped up as “trans” for historical reasons.

Interestingly, we also started supporting transitioning people on Facebook in 2012 – with a strong emphasis on mental health, wellbeing and positivity. Our focus is always our members, and we have learned a lot from them, and are very grateful for their contributions and unending support.

Debbie Hayton and their identity

So, let me just start off by analysing what Debbie says about themselves and how this compares to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual definition at the time. Debbie would have needed to convince clinicians, based on the diagnostic criteria in order to get access to hormones and therapy at the time.

This page gives you everything you need to know about the DSM4’s criteria for diagnosis, and therefore access to hormones and surgery for trans people. I’ll just quote the relevant part here – emphasis is my own:

“There must be evidence of a strong and persistent cross-gender identification, which is the desire to be, or the insistence that one is of the other sex (Criteria A). This cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex. there must also be evidence of persistent discomfort about one’s assigned sex or a sense of inappropriateness in the gender role of that sex (Criteria B).”

Criteria B: This cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex.  “the other set of gender norms seemed more palatable”.

Clearly, also Debbie has no profound discomfort over their assigned sex.
Criteria B:
Cross-gender identification must not merely be a desire for any perceived cultural advantages of being the other sex. 

I’m male, I’m still male, but I find it more comfortable [presenting as a woman] – Debbie Hayton

Quite ironic, yes Debbie, we do need to be honest about who we are. In the United Kingdom, trans people are often classified under the ICD – international classification of diseases, rather than the DSM, although it is recognised that the two often influence each other. The ICD classification is much more simplistic, however, it also serves a purpose. Here are the ICD classifications from the period 2012-2016:


F64.0
Transsexualism (ICD-10) 2010

“A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.

“I don’t identify as a woman, I’m not even sure what it means to identify as a woman” – Debbie Hayton.

F64.0 Transsexualism (ICD-10) 2014

“A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex.”


F64.0
Transsexualism (ICD-10) 2015

A desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex, usually accompanied by a sense of discomfort with, or inappropriateness of, one’s anatomic sex, and a wish to have surgery and hormonal treatment to make one’s body as congruent as possible with one’s preferred sex

Now, forgive me if I’ve missed something here, but repeatedly posting on your blog, on huff post, on talk radio, that you don’t identify as a woman, rationalising and stating how you are a man, and that you’re not sure what it means to identify a a woman pretty much flies in the face of both the ICD classification of transsexualism, and DSM-4 criteria of the erstwhile “Gender Identity Disorder” presently called “Gender Dysphoria”.

Having talked with innumerable trans people, one of the commonest reasons for delaying surgical treatment for people is when the psychiatrists aren’t convinced that this is necessarily the right course of action for this person, and Debbie admits in her writing that this was duly delayed for 4 years. This “thinking time”, however, wasn’t enough, it seems. When Debbie wrote “we need to be honest about who we are”, Debbie was unaware of the irony of this!

We have exclusive evidence of correspondence from Debbie, which, sadly, details their regret about having transitioned. From our experience, people who regret, often do so after surgery, when the full meaning of never being able to live as their assignation at birth comes home. I’m sorry that Debbie isn’t happy with their decisions, however, this also adds evidence that Debbie was not, after all, as transsexual as they thought they were.

When you ask for / need help from psychiatric services, it is very unhelpful if you aren’t entirely honest with the people who are trying to help you.

If I were to lie to my psychiatrist about auditory or visual hallucinations, there is a slight chance that I may be given anti-psychotics, which may well not be of benefit to me. In the same way Debbie, who is quite willing to say that they are male, and has no idea what it feels like to be a woman, might be regretful of the decision they made to permanently change their body, and be “forever dependent on artificial hormones”.

I am not saying that Debbie is not trans, or doesn’t have some experience of the feeling of being trans, however, as evidenced – Debbie does not meet the criteria for diagnosis on psychiatric terms of being a transsexual woman, or a trans woman judging by the things Debbie says about themselves.

Identity, self-ID, and the medicopathologisation of trans identity.

It is always at the back of my mind that many non-binary and indeed binary trans people might feel affronted by my use of texts which pathologise trans people, and how this has historically excluded non-binary people. I am very aware of this and would like to make it clear that this is not my intent in doing so. My point is that while simultaneously claiming to be “a true transsexual”, and therefore “acceptable” to cis people, Debbie has outed themselves as not actually meeting those criteria, and at present, nothing more. Readers will be aware that at Transiness, we support both self-ID and embrace a model of gender and sex which reflects current scientific thinking. That is: both gender and sex are highly variable, and we support anyone in their right to bodily autonomy, and that everyone deserves to have agency over their body and access to therapy and counselling services which may be of help to them. Both binary and non-binary people deserve respect, and access to services to allay bodily dysphoria should they require medical intervention to live a happy and authentic life.

Being trans isn’t a pathology in itself, self awareness of one’s transgender identity may or may not bring with it a strong need to be recognised in society as one’s actual identity, and people’s solutions to their situation are as varied as trans people themselves. This is where access to affirmative therapy helps people to feel more comfortable with themselves, their role in society, and weigh up the risks and benefits from social and physical transition. Therapy also helps us to explore what kind of trans person we are, and some people find it helpful to apply a label to that. Those labels are important, because it is through them that we are understood and judged by others. Being understood and respected forms part of people’s wellbeing.

There is no “cookie-cutter” trans person. It only becomes pathological, only needing treatment when it interferes with a persons social and/or psychological wellbeing. So self-ID is not only important for people who change their bodies with hormones and surgery, but also important for those who need recognition for who they are without having to resort to life changing, permanent and risky surgery, or having to take hormones. We need to appreciate that being trans isn’t a binary, and that there is variance in gender and identity and solutions to dysphoria are all very personal and unique.

So lets take a look at Debbie’s position on self-ID. Debbie wrote or was mentioned in articles in Medium, The Times, The Guardian, their own blog, The Economist, numerous tweets, The Morning Star, Talk Radio and Quilette, about self-ID.

This is an excerpt from Debbie’s argument which was published in the Times, arguing against the right of trans people to legally self identify, and for a medicalisation and a bureaucratic process to self identity:

Debbie Hayton on self identification

Now we’ve already established that, in Debbie’s own words, they don’t identify as a woman. Debbie’s identity does not meet DSM or ICD classifications of transsexualism as they continue to define themselves as being male.

It’s interesting that Debbie writes “throw my lot in with them” – is this a reference to trans surgery and their regret? They say they identify with women – rather than making any reference to who they actually are. Identity isn’t a case of being empathic or supportive of people, you can be empathic and supportive of anyone, human or not. Being trans is a recognition of who you are and how you fit in the world, how you perceive yourself and how you are treated socially is the cornerstone of dysphoria and why people change their pronouns, or their bodies. This is why trans people are who they say they are – it is not to be deceptive, or to make out that any of us are cisgender, it is both to resolve this conflict and help others to understand who we are and how we fit in a very gendered world. Binary trans people are valid, non-binary people are valid. Bodily autonomy is important for everyone, cis or trans. The real problem happens when others try to police our bodies and our identities.

Speak for yourself, Debbie. Trans women are women.

Elevating cisgender people’s concerns over those of trans people is cis-supremacy. Domination and control of trans people’s identity is cis-supremacy.

Supremacism is an ideology which holds that a particular class of people is superior to others, and that it should dominate, control, and subjugate others, or is entitled to do so. The supposed superior class of people can be an age, race, species, ethnicity, religion, gender or sex, sexuality, language, social class, ideology, nation, or culture, or any other part of a population.

Debbie Hayton in the Economist

Here, Hayton writes to the spectator, deligitimising trans people’s identity in favour of what they call the objectivity of dividing people not by how they identify, but by their reproductive capability. Bio-essentialism is historically the philosophy that trans exclusive radical feminists have used in order to maintain their supremacy over trans women.

Here, Hayton attempts to validate their own position, while punching down on non-binary people. This is another form of cis-supremacism – that no trans person deserves respect or is valid unless it takes the form of the dominant, cis-centric group. When we are looking at equality: and to do, say and publish things which are progressive and inclusive, this is not the way forward.

In identifying “with women”, Hayton is found to be consistently cis-supremacist in their writing – without providing nuance or balance. The key as a trans advocate, and to act with humanity and compassion, is not to explore how to exclude trans people from society, not to support a status quo which sees trans people’s identity as “just feelings” which can be ignored with impunity, but how to include trans people in society – in sports, in welfare provision, within healthcare.

Hayton declares their cis-supremacist ideas and punches down on non-binary people, and those who do not undergo medical transition.

And toward the end of the article, Hayton calls trans women and people “dishonest”. They use their own experience to talk for themselves, yet use “we” in order to signify “all trans people”.

Policing and controlling trans people is not progressive, just because Debbie Hayton does not identify as a woman, does not mean that trans women, and transsexual women, do not exist.

Debbie Hayton’s anti-trans activism, affiliation with transmisogynistic people, and hate groups.

Debbie Hayton’s association with anti-trans groups, people, and campaigns is well documented. Anyone who has been part of twitter for the last few years is very aware of what has been said, and by whom over the years. One of these campaigns, arguing for the expulsion and marginalisation of trans people through biological essentialism and cis-supremacy resulted in a billboard quoting a mantra held by the group with the dictionary definition of a woman. The argument is that by including trans women in society, it re-defines what it means to be a woman as a class, and cis-women aren’t happy with it.

Debbie in part of the campaign against trans women’s inclusion in society as women.

Here is Debbie Hayton with anti-trans campaigner “Hope Lye” (pronounced H-o-p-e L-i-e) who is well known to the trans community, and has been expelled from every trans support community in the UK, and well known on twitter for their anti-trans remarks. They describe themselves as a “gender non-conforming man”.

Debbie Hayton (center) and Hope Lye (right).
Debbie Hayton’s affiliation with anti-trans group “Woman’s Place UK” whose purpose is to maintain supremacy over and control of trans women.
Debbie Hayton’s dialogue published and supported by an anti-trans site. “Peak trans” is anti-trans dialogue for: this is when I became so anti-trans I campaigned against trans people’s rights and freedom.

Debbie Hayton has also written to the Express, and the Spectator campaigning against trans children’s services:

Debbie Hayton, doctor Debbie Hayton, lobbying Scottish Parliament to maintain a process which supports a biomedical model of segregation, marginalising non-binary people and forcing people to out themselves as trans:


Debbie’s support of well known transphobe, Julie Bindel, who recently wrote an article demonising and misgendering Rachel McKinnon, a trans woman and athlete.

Conclusion and closing remarks

Anyone claiming to be on the side of trans people, or acting on their behalf must be accountable both for their actions and affiliations. As an umbrella term “trans” includes a huge variety of people and situations. Care should always be taken by activists, by therapists, by anyone claiming ownership or belonging to such a marginalised group should not to put themselves and their own self interest above those who they purport to represent.

The acid test for those spokespeople includes:

  • Do they stand up to scrutiny, are they living by the same standards?
  • Do they listen to and respond to their community, are they part of and connected to the community – or are they part of a fringe group?
  • Do they uphold cis-supremacy, governance and authority over trans people or policing of trans people?
  • Are they using their platform to elevate the voices and experiences of those less fortunate than themselves, do they represent them?
  • Are they affiliated with any anti-trans groups, people or organisations?
  • Do they focus on how to include trans people in society, rather than exclude them for any reason?

Further reading:

Is Debbie Hayton a true transsexual or feminine man?

WPATH releases statement about ROGD

WPATH has released a statement about the faux “diagnosis” ROGD, or rapid onset gender dysphoria, urging restraint in using any term to

“instill fear about the possibility that an adolescent may or may not be transgender with the a priori goal of limiting consideration of all appropriate treatment options”

Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria – the new hoax diagnosis.

Foreword

There is plenty of cultural evidence that a variety of transgender identities have existed all over the world for a very long time. What we understand as transgender in the west has been given different names all over the globe – American Indian “two-spirit”, India’s “Hijra”, Indonesian “Warias”, the “Kathoey” – each with their own long and varied culture, customs and values based around a transgender identity. Trans people identify differently because their internal sense of self differs from their external physical characteristics. For many people, this can be hard to understand, because those who have an identity that co-exists with their physical body will find it difficult to imagine what it feels like not to have such bodily disharmony.

In our society, as transgender identities have become more established we are also seeing an emergence of groups that seek to stigmatise and pathologise trans people. It’s something that is seen by non transgender people as a pathology, there is a fear that others may “catch” being transgender. Historically, this was a group of women seeking to exclude transgender women – who called themselves “trans exclusionary radical feminists”, later this was shortened to TERF. Transgender communities recognised this community as a group seeking to prevent access to healthcare and support provision (health, welfare, social support provisions) and used the term to label people with an anti-trans agenda. Today the term TERF is outdated and innacurate – feminism has grown past this and is now intersectional and trans inclusive – it is more accurate to say “anti-trans”, or simply bigoted or hateful people.

It follows a very similar pattern to when other stigmatised people – people who do things differently or are different in some way to the cultural majority. Gay people – homosexual men and women faced similar issues surrounding a pathologisation of their sexual attraction to people of the same sex. Their identity was similarly pathologised, before, over time they became accepted as normal and integrated into society – however there still remain groups today who claim that it’s “wrong” for whatever reason, usually based on bigotry and the vehicle for their bigotry is religious belief. Up to the 1900’s people’s fear of others who are different to them meant that even people who were left handed were criminalised by society and oppressed by people who didn’t understand!

Discussion

ROGD is described by the National Review, the right-wing Alliance Defending Freedom, Robert Stacy McCain and others as a phenomenon of teenagers “suddenly” coming out, sometimes “in groups”, after “total immersion” in social media related to transitioning. The aim of the “study” is to encourage parents of children to prevent them from accessing information about being trans, prevent them from meeting other trans people and deny them access to health, welfare and social support.

ROGD was invented by and whose data was collated, interpreted and disseminated by a group of anti-trans people. Their belief that being transgender is a disorder rather than a natural variation not only colours their results, but leaves them blind to a methadology with so much bias that the “study” is of no value. Pink News published a very readable article about why this study is “bad science”, which was analysed by Florence Ashley of McGill University and Alexandre Baril of the University of Ottawa. As a point of science, the burden of “proof” relies on the the individuals making the claim – not on those critical of the study (Lilianfield, Linn and Lorh – Science and Pseudoscience in Clinical Psychology, 2004). ROGD as a phenomenon is riddled with flaws, briefly summarised here:

* The study was based on parental reporting rather than evidence from the children themselves.
* The study was advertised, and participants were collated from websites who are well known to be anti-trans and was not representative of the general population. The published research into “rapid onset gender dysphoria” consists entirely of one 2017 abstract of an online survey of 164 parents sourced from anti-trans groups!
* There are no clinical features of “ROGD” that have been identified to distinguish it from the traditional form of dysphoria.
* What appears to a parent to be a “rapid” onset may not have been rapid for their child at all, as it is based wholly on parental reports
* There is no evidence presented to support the claim that children became gender dysphoric as a result of social coercion.

It is a part of a collection of anti-trans myths and propaganda whose aim is the oppression of trans children. Certainly from experience, and from discussion with many trans people in our support group, many trans adults say they did not persist with telling their parents they were transgender simply because they knew they were up against such little understanding. The occurrence of “gender dysphoria appearing for the first time during or after puberty”, as well as the surprise of parents, is already widely recognized in literature, to the extent that it is explicitly mentioned in the DSM-5’s description of gender dysphoria (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).

The sample group from the study come from websites which:

– Advocate for “legislation making it very difficult for young people to access these treatments until they are in their late 20’s”
– Describe medical transition as “clinical injury” and “a cult based on sexual fetishism and pseudoscience”
– Condemn transgender youth on the basis of “the harm it will cause their non-gender-discordant peers, many of whom will subsequently question their own gender identity, and face violations of their right to bodily privacy and safety”
– claim that transgender people are collectively “indoctrinating” “confused fetishists”

Afterword

The goal of gender affirmative therapy is very much contrary to the scaremongering, which is the tone of anti-trans groups, and is instead based around supporting children and young people to explore their identity. It is differentiated from gender expressions, and by differentiating gender expressions from gender identities, children who are insistent, persistent, and consistent in their affirmation of a cross-gender identity are sorted from those children who are either asserting or exploring gender-nonconforming expressions within acceptance of their natal gender assignment. Family acceptance related to sexual and gender identity/expression during adolescence are associated with positive self-esteem, increased social support, and overall health in early adulthood [Ryan et al., 2010]

Resources:

The Gender Affirmative Model: What We Know and What We Aim to Learn – Human Development 2013;56:285-290
Family Acceptance in Adolescence and the Health of LGBT Young Adults – Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Medicine (Ryan et al. 2010)
Revisiting Flawed Research Behind the 80% Childhood Gender Dysphoria ‘Desistance’ Myth – Winters (2017)
Why ‘rapid-onset gender dysphoria’ is bad science
“Rapid onset gender dysphoria”: What a hoax diagnosis looks like
Fresh trans myths of 2017: “rapid onset gender dysphoria”
Everything you need to know about rapid onset gender dysphoria – Julia Serano
D’Angelo and Marchiano’s response to Julia Serano on rapid-onset gender dysphoria
“Rapid onset gender dysphoria” study misunderstands trans depersonalization, ends up blaming Zinnia Jones

There is no evidence that rapid onset gender dysphoria exists – psych central

Anti trans activists, cis-sexism and the Gender Recognition Act

Recently I’ve been drawn into analysing the current state of politics about trans people because of the reforms proposed to the Gender Recognition Act. These proposals, put forward by Justine Greening (MP) would allow applicants to achieve legal recognition of a gender status on their birth-certificate that accorded with their gender identity by a simplified process, rather than having to go through a costly, stressful, dehumanising process. This would involve sending money, reams of evidence of your life “proving” that you live your life as either male or female including letters from psychiatrists and, if applicable, surgeons delving deep into a persons private life for a panel to scrutinise and decide if you were “man” or “woman” enough for them. Often trans people do this at the end of their transition having gone through the arduous journeys of outing themselves, seeking (often difficult to get) healthcare, and having numerous psychiatric evaluations (and waiting a long time for them, upwards of two years from start to finish).

Not only is it an arduous process but it excludes people whose gender identity is neither male nor female. Such people may or may not have hormone replacement therapies and surgeries to feel more congruent with their sense of self, and may feel isolated and rejected by a society built around a western concept of binary gender and binary sex. So much so have we enforced these gender norms that, historically, anyone born outside of this sex/gender criteria have been both surgically modified (sometimes with disastrous results) or forced / socially coerced into performing gender to strict binary standards. There is increasing evidence that being trans has a genetic link, and as such is a normal variation in the human population. Furthermore being transgender is to be moved out of its present location under Mental and Behavioural Disorders in the International Classification of Diseases, into a non-psychopathological section.

Sex essentialists deny the biological reality that sex and gender are much more nuanced and variable than was once thought, and has been perpetuated by a flawed education system. Evidence suggests not only that trans, intersex and non-binary people exist, but also that they have existed throughout time, from all around the world in different races and cultures. Some “feminists” – more accurately described as “anti-trans activists” (because modern feminism is trans inclusive despite its chequered history) support this sex-essentialism, and seek to separate trans women from other women, including shelters and crisis centers. This kind of view, that trans identities are somehow less real, is cis-sexism.Modern feminism recognises the intersections of trans and misogyny.

‘if feminism has a purpose, then that purpose is to represent, support and provide shelter and community to those whom the patriarchy oppresses’.

Lemert, C. (2013) Social Theory: The Multicultural, Global, and Classic Readings, 5th Edition.

Despite this, second wave sex essentialists and anti trans activists work to maintain artificial and cultural boundaries related to sex and gender, opposing changes to the GRA and thereby policing and enforcing sex/gender boundaries which are shown to be a product of artifice and of patriarchy. This is happening in the UK today, where feminism has been co-opted as a vehicle for oppression, not only by prominent feminists such as Greer and Bellos, organising and speaking at groups such as “A womans place“, and taking over spaces such as mumsnet to police and enforce a binary culture based on a binary sex model, cis-sexism, and transmisogyny – which is dangerous for all women.

Many old fashioned “gender critical” people have based their careers around “sex based oppression” and are unwilling (or unable) to see past this myopic view. Some have a visceral dislike of women who are different to them in some way. It isn’t beyond human culture to want to exclude people who are different to them. But it goes far beyond this. These people paint trans women as predators, dangerous to women and children, mentally ill (it’s coming out of the ICD) and believe so much that they are right – that when a woman was involved in gun crime, they even claim that she’s trans – because it doesn’t fit with their sex/gender essentialist schema. They join the cooky ranks of professors in Kerela.

So where does this leave the current “discussion” around including non-binary people and making it easier for trans people to have civil ceremonies, have their gender recognised on their death certificates and get married? Well contrary to what anti trans activists would have you believe, it doesn’t open the doors to sex based violence. And it doesn’t mean that it opens the doors of the women’s loos to predatory men.

Further reading:
http://www.katyjon.com/international-transgender-day-of-visibility-as-the-political-gets-personal/

Here’s why critics of trans law reform are mistaken

“The Boy”

Sometimes I look and see,
The boy that hides inside of me,
The boy that never went away,
And eyes the woman with deep dismay.

The boy that couldn’t understand,
Why he never became a man,
The boy that wants to maim, destroy,
The woman that stopped the little boy.

And everyday, his presence near,
The woman’s sanity lives in fear,
Will he ever live and thrive,
Killing the woman who kept him alive?

By Max.

Trans day of visibility 2018

Today is TDOV (trans day of visibility) and unlike the title suggests it isn’t about trans people coming out or outing them, because actually that can be really harmful. It’s more than about acceptance, it’s about anti-oppression, it’s about saying that you care. Please don’t ever out trans people when offering your support.

Here are 5 things you can do to support trans people today:

1) Post/tweet/instagram your support of trans people. If you have a friend or colleague who is trans talk about something you like about them. Love and defend the trans people in your life.

2) Help make spaces encompassing for trans women, men and non-binary people. Support gender neutral bathrooms, support trans women’s inclusivity in women’s spaces. Think about inclusivity rather than excluding people because they’re different to you.

3) Challenge transphobia in all its forms. This might be comments like “I identify as an attack helicopter”, beliefs that people “suddenly identify” as a certain gender for malevolent reasons, referring to people as “biologically” their birth gender, or equivocating being trans to being mentally ill (it’s coming out of the next ICD as a mental illness, just like homosexuality did).

4) Google “how to help trans people” and read some of the articles. Realise that being trans can be really painful. Challenge your internal bias, empathise with what it might be like to be trans and to live in fear of rejection/hostility/violence.

5) Copy and paste this post to your wall on facebook, paste the link in your tweets!

Transiness forums are here!

It has been a while coming but we’re slowly moving forwards and to help people share information and advice I’ve made the transiness forums.  The Facebook group is great but it has a few problems – some really useful advice and links get lost over time and sometimes it’s useful to have a place where things can be stored more permanently.  Moving from one format to another might be challenging so I’m looking to the group to make the most of the new forums.  I’ve taken technical suggestions forward and you can now connect via SSL instead of unencrypted.  I’m hoping that you’ll find the structure easy to navigate, uncluttered, and of course mostly free from annoying pop-ups and advertisements.

You can navigate to the forums from the address bar above or directly here.

UK’s First Sexual Violence Helpline for Trans and Non Binary People

We’re delighted to announce the UK’s first helpline for trans, non binary and questioning people.

“We offer non-judgmental emotional support and signposting to other organisations who may also be able to offer support”, the service says. The idea for a trans related helpline has been long in development and the team have ensured, not only that the switchboard is operated by trans volunteers, but have built upon their successes and experience with survivors of sexual violence. The idea of approaching support is complicated when you are trans, especially since you won’t know exactly how much those who offer support understand the complexities of being trans is.

SONY DSC

“This is the first service of its kind in the UK to offer specialist support for trans survivors. We are sex worker affirmative, LGBT affirmative and are skilled in working with people in vulnerable situations, such as those who are homeless or living with domestic abuse”.

The service was launched to coincide with trans pride 2016 in Brighton, an event for transsexual, transgender and non-binary people to celebrate their lives in mainstream society which is often oppressive to their identities.

GP Trans Care Guidelines – Northern Ireland

We’re really pleased to announce that the royal college of General Practitioners in Northern Ireland recently produced these guidelines with respect to the care of trans patients.  Often it can be a frightening and infuriating process as a trans person trying to make some headway undergoing a permanent physical transition.  Often people know what they need from services but actually accessing them is a difficult process, having to navigate personal prejudice along with inappropriate referrals for counselling or treatment for depression.  This excellent guide encourages GP’s to treat trans people with the care and dignity they deserve.