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Posts tagged ‘integration’

What Fuels hatred of Transgender Women?

There’s a particular and profound type of stigma and derision in society aimed at femininity in men (or those who are perceived to be men).  This stigma (it could also be called hate, aversion, distaste, repugnance) is very deep and very old in our consciousness, particularly among men.  A man in a dress has historically been fodder for humor and entertainment in movies and in male-bonding rituals.  There’s both an uncomfortable feeling and a forbidden fascination among men with seeing men outwardly showing their feminine side.  Why is this so?

Let’s delve into the male psyche a little to find some answers.  At some point in early development (around ages 2 to 4), the young (cis-gendered) boy must make a developmental leap in order to identify with his Father or as ‘male’. KidPsychologically (and unconsciously) the thinking goes like this: “I’m like you (the father), I am not like you (the mother)”.  Hence there is a sort of rejection of the mother and specifically with her femininity in the nascent psyche of the young male. (Jessica Benjamin writes about this – see ‘The Bonds of Love’, 1998).  And because this rejection happens in so young a psyche, it is correspondingly harsh and rigid and with little grey area.  Femininity must be rejected in all its forms and additionally is seen as less than and dangerous.  This is a perplexing and scary phenomenon for one so young.  And as Yoda once said: “…fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate…”  One could extrapolate from this that in some cases – this kind of dilemma in one with a weak ego or mental illness could lead to violence such as gay bashing or violence against transgender women. This, I believe is the root of pervasive stigma against men showing femininity and it could be argued that it is the root of homophobia, transphobia, internalized homophobia and internalized transphobia.

Previously I mentioned a ‘forbidden fascination’ with the feminine.  This is so (I believe) because, in spite of the unconscious rejection, the young boy still loves and is bonded to his mother in the strongest possible way.  The mother was his first love, source of all love and nurturance.  In fact there was no consciousness that they were separate beings until a few months into his development.  The love, coupled with the aversion is a cause of great inner turmoil and confusion.

Certainly when a man with these unresolved issues sees a transgender woman, these feelings bubble up – often without the man even knowing why.  Hopefully things will improve with more knowledge about our own psyches and the nature of gender variance.

 

 

On someone ‘influencing’ a child’s gender identity

I’d like to offer a few thoughts on an issue of concern to many parents of  children that may be gender variant – that the child’s gender identity has been influenced by: a friend, a group of friends, cosplay, anime, the internet or some other person or group.
The basic question is can one’s gender identity (i.e. that inner feeling of maleness or femaleness or something in between) be at all influenced by an outside person or institution? My feeling and experience suggest that – no it’s just not possible.

cos2
Why then is this such a common concern of a parent who has been newly come out to?
I think one of two things are happening (or a combination of both) and those are:
1. Your child has encountered a new person who is exhibiting some level of “outness” as gender variant, and has, naturally enough, begun to ask themselves if they are similar in some way – and have found that they are.
and/or
2. Your child has gravitated towards a group of friends/city/college/group that is accepting of gender variance because they know internally (and perhaps unconsciously) that they have some gender dysphoria and they need a supportive environment in which to deal with it.
Now let’s look at two possibilities: 1. The child is truly gender variant or transgender and 2. The child is not truly gender variant or transgender.
In the first case of a truly gender variant child – I think this move toward an accepting group is a much needed step in the total journey of self-acceptance and social and physical change.
In the second case where the child is not truly gender variant – I think this can be understood as another of the many phases of self-exploration that young people go through trying to figure out who they are. And if no physical changes are taken in this case – then really what’s the harm in it? If the child is truly not gender variant then they will more than likely put it aside and move on to other things in due time.
Whenever there is doubt a general rule of thumb is to hold off on any physical interventions.

Book review: Letters For My Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect

Letters For My Brothers

Edited by Megan M. Rohrer & Zander Keig. 2010 Wilgefortis. Kindle Edition.

With writing by: Jamison Green, fAe Gibson, Cristopher Bautista, Chase Ryan Joynt, Malcolm Himschoot ,Lou Sullivan,  Reid Vanderburgh, Aaron Raz Link, Elliott Anthony Brooker, Aaron H Devor, Patrick M Callahan , Zander Keig, C.T. Whitley, Raven Kaldera, Tucker Lieberman, Lyle Blake, Keith Josephson,  Evan Anderson and Matt Kailey.

The book provides the newly-transitioning man with the wisdom of nineteen older brothers who have traveled the road before and offer their views, advice and thoughts on the trip.   As one of the editors – Megan Roher notes in the introduction to this Kindle book “Transmen, who rely solely on online materials to learn about transition, miss out on the wisdom that can only be found in a mentorship experience.”

The short, to the point chapters are a refreshingly devoid of artifice.  The standouts (for me) are Christopher Bautista’s essay which expresses the powerful impact of acceptance:

 …reading that little piece of paper was the most terrifying thing I had ever done. But the entire class of a hundred something people, all of them, started clapping for me. All of that previous frustration from the quarter melted away. I had made my declaration to the class, and they had accepted me. I had never thought this would happen. I no longer had to pour so much effort into trying to pass as a guy, to dress like one, act like one, talk like one, like I had to do in the outside world. My class was fine with who I was, awkwardness and all. And for the first time that quarter and in my whole life, I felt like I belonged somewhere. It felt like home.

Chase Ryan Joynt’s essay expresses doubt and uncertainty about what type of man he should be and will be.

…I struggled for a long time with the various versions of masculinity that were represented in my community. Upon reflection I think that I subconsciously attempted to fit myself into the versions of trans that I thought were acceptable and available…

Reid Vanderburgh gives clear advise and reassurance on various tricky points in transition, such as:

Let yourself feel lonely. You’re losing your lesbian community, and you don’t yet have community to replace it. That’s okay. You didn’t fit that identity, and now that you know it, you really can’t stay. Know that in the future, your individual lesbian friends are still going to be there, but it’s not going to be the same.

Aaron H Devor, an academic writes particularity well on discoveries about male privilege:

…everything I say now sounds more authoritative, or more ominous, or both. Sometimes that works in my favour. Sometimes, especially with women, that evokes fear, resentment, or hostility. I think that I’m just making a plain statement. They see and hear me throwing my weight around. I get tense and may raise my voice a bit in anger because I’m hurting. They perceive me as being scary and abusive.

There are more examples, but I recommend getting the book!

On the down side the writing was uneven, as can be expected in a group project and there was some subtle anger towards male to female trans folk:  “…I have quit working at [].. Felt I was wasting my time on all those male-to-females.” and  “In hindsight, not being in that group was one of the best things that could have happened to me, as it was led by a domineering transwoman who had a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude about how transition was supposed to work.”

However, that aside, there’s a lot of wisdom, comfort and inspiration to be found in these pages and any newly transitioning trans-man will want to read them at least once if not more and hopefully will also be inspired to go out and find some real-live brothers to connect with.

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