?

Log in

No account? Create an account
Please Stop Being On My Side! - Sarah, The Bringer of Tea
10th October, 2009
09:29 pm

[Link]

Previous Entry Share Next Entry
Please Stop Being On My Side!
This is a story of epic fail and woe. At some point someone somewhere, possibly in Spain but I'm not sure, came up with a nifty idea to campaign for an end to pathologisation of trans people by 2012. All well and good - who wants to be pathologised for something which we don't feel is, well, pathological? The idea seems to have caught on and a number of activist groups around the world are now making vaguely positive noises about it.

The particular focus for this campaign revolves around the diagnosis of Gender Identity Disorder, or GID. This is where things start to develop subleties. GID has often been used to label as ill people who simply don't conform to the ender stereotype of their birth sex, adding to the litany of abuse of LGBT people by some members of a medical community intent on "repairing" human diversity over the years. This is, of course, extremely problematic.

However, attempts to abolish GID as a diagnosis tend to set alarm bells off amongst transsexual people, because as things stand, anywhere that follows the former Harry Benjamin Standards of Care (now the WPATH Standards of Care) essentially requires that transsexual people have a diagnosis of GID to access treatment. This is something of a complex issue amongst transsexual people - we don't generally recognise our gender identities as a disorder and would typically prefer to speak in terms of gender dysphoria and the distress and pain it causes us.

In a world where our gender identities were depathologised, we still need to deal with the medical community because they have stuff we need (oestrogen, testosterone, urological surgeons, etc.). This is where it gets a bit complicated because excepting special cases, like pregnancy, public healthcare systems tend to shy away from treating people when they don't feel there's anything wrong with them (they start using phrases like "lifestyle choice", and tell people to pay for things themselves).

Simply abolishing GID as a diagnosis without replacing it with something else therefore has the potential to leave transsexual people up a certain creek without a paddle. In a better world we might instead focus on gender dysphoria as the cause of a range of problems which need medical attention. As with many medical issues, if you treat the root cause, the secondary problems it causes tend to go away. There is therefore often pathology present, but as a result of being denied realisation of our gender identities.

This is a subtlety which can be lost on non-trans activists who see the way other members of the LGBT community have been mistreated by doctors in the past, and start forming simplistic conclusions about how transsexual people must be similarly abused. "Being gay used to be classed as a mental illness!" an enthusiastic activist might chant, "Being trans is like that now, and we need to save the trans people from the evil medics!".

Such people often get terribly defensive when transsexual people aren't instantly grateful for their attempts to save us from ourselves.

Which brings me to the current example of abject failure to engage the brain on the part of one very vocal LGB activist in London. There's this guy called Den Hambridge who's got a reputation as being a bit of a firebrand. I met him at the S'onewall demo, and indeed, he's always up for joining in a campaign on behalf of marginalised LGBT groups that he's not necessarily part of. This can be an admirable quality - such people are often referred to as allies, but a good ally needs to be able to distinguish between the times when they're helping, and the times when they're hindering.

Den seems to have taken it upon himself to organise a demo next Saturday, in Whitehall, in line with the whole stopping trans pathologisation thing. So far, so good. However, in the description of his Facebook group thingy for inviting people to the demo, it seems he's perhaps not aware of the sublety I described above. Here's what he wrote:

Being transgendered is not a mental illness. We are simply part of the diversity of humanity. Gender Identity Disorder is therefore not a valid diagnosis. Homosexuality we removed as a mental health diagnosis diagnosis in 1987. For us to achieve true liberation and recognition we need to throw off this unjust stigma. We are not ill, just different

Here's the thing - when I was stuck in a position of trying to live as something I'm not, a man, the stress of it meant that I was ill. It was quite literally ruining my life, to the point where I couldn't see any future. I needed medical help. Sure, remove GID from the DSM and ICD, but then what? We still need treatment when we can no-longer cope with living in a body that's wrong. Tits aren't going to grow or be removed by magic - there needs to be a way by which transsexual people can interface with medical transition, otherwise we're screwed. Take away GID and fail to replace it with anything else, and you're handing cash strapped NHS trusts the perfect reason to drop funding for gender services like a hot potato.

A few of us made this point to Den. At this juncture, a good ally would have listened and revised their approach. Wanna bet what Den actually did?

He dug in and ignored what we were saying. Instead, he started patronisingly referring to trans women and transsexual neutrois people as "ladies" when talking at us, in a stunning display of synchronised misogyny and transphobia. He stated that this was bigger than any of us, that our relationships between ourselves and our doctors were our own affairs, but that removal of any classification of trans people by the World Health Organisation was "non negotiable", as apparently it's a "human rights issue".

A number of people persisted, trying to explain that while we have no love for the way GID as a diagnosis is constructed, we need something to replace it. We hoped this would move him, but were completely taken aback by the response.

He refused to accept that Gender Dysphoria can require medical intervention, instead claiming that it was a mere artefact of society. In this he's placed himself firmly in the same school of transphobia occupied by those radical feminists who campaign for medical transition to be made unavailable because it's all a plot by psychiatrists to reinforce socially constructed gender stereotypes, or some such nonsense.

A number of us realised that we were getting nowhere, and talk started to surface of a counter demonstration at the same time. I've got visions of placards with things like, "HANDS OFF OUR DIAGNOSIS" and "FAKE ALLIES GO HOME" and such written on them. The little support he had melted away, and calls to boycott the demo gained in frequency and intensity.

Den's reaction to this was to start deleting some of the comments from transsexual people, and then banning us from the group altogether.

So now we're apparently going to be treated to the spectacle of a cisgender man parading up and down Whitehall next Saturday, claiming to be speaking for the rights of trans people while ignoring us, censoring our own words, shutting us out of the dialogue, and campaigning for what amounts to the removal of access to medical transition for us. Apparently it's all about freedom of speech and human rights for him, and if we don't agree then all we have to do is ignore him while he actively campaigns to hurt us.

And he seems bemused that some of us are a bit upset about this. I wonder what we ever did to deserve an ally such as him?

Originally posted at http://auntysarah.dreamwidth.org/211887.html - you can comment here or there.

(46 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments
 
[User Picture]
From:whisperkit
Date:10th October, 2009 09:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Jesus Christ. I've seen some of this campaign, and raised the same points. I didn't realise it was all organised by a cisguy, though. What a twit.
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:10th October, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I don't know who's behind the wider campaign. Den seems to have simply lathed on to it and is running with it in London, regardless of whether we want him to or not.
From:ex_drakyn
Date:10th October, 2009 10:05 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I still love how he pulled out that old chestnut, "I'm not CIS, I'm just a person!!!111eleventyone" (his comment at 6:58 yesturday according to the timestamp).

I also think removing "transvestite fetishism" or whatever it's called from the GID would be great. As would including a body dissonance diagnosis; one that focuses on the individual's feeling about hir body that would include genderqueer transsexuals and that doesn't push the idea that you must want to "completely transition" (hate that idea; just wanting hormones is just as valid as wanting hormones & surgeries).
Mind you, I'd also like to get the mandatory inclusion of shrinks out of the picture. If someone feels the need to talk to someone about their feelings about their gender, transition choices, medical choices, discrimination, etc they should be able to, but forcing us to jump through hoops isn't doing anyone any favors.
From:ex_drakyn
Date:10th October, 2009 10:06 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Gah, that should be DSM, not GIC from the first line of my second paragraph. -_- *fails*
From:ex_drakyn
Date:10th October, 2009 10:18 pm (UTC)
(Link)
GID!!! Apparently I am having a typo-riddled night! Arrggg, I need to remember to proof-read things even when they're only a few lines. >.<
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:10th October, 2009 10:19 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*offers beer*
[User Picture]
From:valeriekeefe
Date:11th October, 2009 03:40 am (UTC)
(Link)
Ah yes, beer always helps with typos.(still a sucker for a good ale regardless)

Well, being someone who lives in a place where they put you on a one year waiting list to see a psychologist who will refer you to an endocrinologist, I'll tell you that GID as a diagnosis isn't working, because it's all about demonstrating what a good little typical waiting person you are. I want to go and get laser last week, but it won't do me much good if I have testosterone running through my veins encouraging new hairs to grow, but I'm completely stymied in getting medication that would lower my blood pressure because, well, they're just not comfortable. If calling GID gender dysphoria or relapsing remitting gender scurvy gets women their meds easier, lets it be a thing you go to your local doctor to see about and puts the patient in charge, I'm sold.

You make an excellent point, people with GID are sickened by their condition. The stress eliminates one's ability to function, and it's rather easy to remove the source of the stress.
[User Picture]
From:aumentou
Date:12th October, 2009 12:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
"relapsing remitting gender scurvy"

I am totally using that next time I have to explain this to someone. Especially if it's Talk Like A Pirate day.
[User Picture]
From:valeriekeefe
Date:12th October, 2009 12:54 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I am a big fan of the gender dysphoria as scurvy metaphor.
From:ex_drakyn
Date:11th October, 2009 06:24 am (UTC)
(Link)
It's okay, I now have some mighty tasty rum & cider. ^___^
SO it's aaaaaallll good. & this Den d00d is pathetically, hilariously, failtastic so I can at least find some humor in the fail.

(since I don't have any of my drinking icons uploaded atm, have a cupcake instead)
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:10th October, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I still love how he pulled out that old chestnut, "I'm not CIS, I'm just a person!!!111eleventyone"

Yeah - "I'm normal, you're a bunch of weirdoes, I'm campaigning to end your pathologisation, weirdoes!"

I also think removing "transvestite fetishism" or whatever it's called from the GID would be great.
...

Some good suggestions made here, but whatever the trans community may collectively think about these issues, I'm sure we can probably all agree that it's not something we want to entrust to a cis man who hasn't demonstrated any ability to engage with complexity beyond, "These go to eleven".
From:ex_drakyn
Date:10th October, 2009 10:12 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Oh yeah, def don't trust him with this (or any cis person really). Just was sort of thinking "out loud" as it were.
[User Picture]
From:amokk
Date:11th October, 2009 12:23 am (UTC)
(Link)
Not much choice, with the likes of Zucker and Blanchard in charge.
[User Picture]
From:ailbhe
Date:10th October, 2009 10:22 pm (UTC)
(Link)
That's... really scary.
[User Picture]
From:meepettemu
Date:10th October, 2009 10:30 pm (UTC)
(Link)
what date? I'll be in london on 24th, so hoping it's him, just cos I'd be interested in going to see the idiot.

ffs. do people not learn that you know, if not OF that group, you have to actually LISTEN to that group, not just decide *for* them?

:o(
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:10th October, 2009 10:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The 17th - this coming Saturday.

ffs. do people not learn that you know, if not OF that group, you have to actually LISTEN to that group, not just decide *for* them?

Yeah *le sigh* :-(
[User Picture]
From:the_hunter
Date:11th October, 2009 07:53 am (UTC)
(Link)
No no no! You are obviously under stress. Don't worry your pretty little head about it. Here, sit down and let *me* deal with it. Clearly you really don't know what is good for you...

It's that kind of thinking that gives us...well, parliament, for a start...
[User Picture]
From:amokk
Date:10th October, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Honestly, it needs to be removed from the DSM, and actual "standard" treatment options need to be set up. Because right now? The DSM is just what it says it is, diagnosis. From there, it's up to someone to decide how to treat it: transition, reparative therapy, etc.

It's not the diagnosis that's the problem, it's the treatment side of things. And that needs to be fixed regardless of the DSM, actually.
[User Picture]
From:aesmael
Date:11th October, 2009 01:45 am (UTC)
(Link)
I think I agree with that, yes. And it is not as if we will need to protect hordes of cis people from 'wasting' money on their own treatment.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:11th October, 2009 12:10 am (UTC)
(Link)
Facebook group is here:

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=147494409183

If you're not a member (I no-longer am, he banned me), you can't see the wall posts. He's added some blurb about how you're only allowed to play with him if you agree with him now.

(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:julieisfree
Date:11th October, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well written, lucid discussion of the conundrum of pathologizing GID. Sure, no one wants to be labeled as sick, but without the label, treatment becomes unavailable.
[User Picture]
From:valeriekeefe
Date:11th October, 2009 03:59 am (UTC)
(Link)
Well, perhaps not. The British Government has unequivocally stated that they do not consider trans women and trans men to be mentally ill. Plus if you look at the list of demands here at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=147494409183#/group.php?gid=120317420674 you'll see them say:

That each city can develop its own appeal but having in consideration 5 common points, the following ones:

We demand:The retirement of the GID (Gender Identity Disorder) from the International Diagnosis Manual. (their next versions DSM-V and ICD-11)

> Retirement of sex mention in official documents.

> Abolition of binary normalization treatments for intersex people

> Free access to hormonal treatments and surgeries (without the psychiatric monitoring)

> Fight against transphobia: working for education, social and labour insertion for trans people.

So yeah. We don't call cis women who want control over their own bodies sick, but abortions and birth control pills are freely available, (my American friends might disagree with that, but I'm talking about in countries with publicly funded health care.)

And hell yes, Sarah's right, the stress of trying to conform to a gender role that doesn't fit is sickening people, but an adult language regarding nutrition didn't get doctors to stop treating scurvy, and, considering the argument being made is that we need freer treatment out of the hands of the Standards of Care, I'm inclined to support it. But then, I'm inclined to support most health care going to an informed consent model for pretty much everything but anti-biotics and chainsaw arms.
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]
From:valeriekeefe
Date:11th October, 2009 04:35 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yes, precisely. This guy's an idiot, I was making the point that depathologization isn't going to mean an end to meds and surgery. His anti-doctor line sounds really painfully similar to a radical feminist I made a post about earlier. My point there was simply that the campaign itself is doing work good enough to have trans activists like Julia Serano onside and thus it's not their fault that this idiot's shown up.
[User Picture]
From:turkishb
Date:11th October, 2009 05:42 am (UTC)
(Link)
wow, uhm, ew. these pockets of reactionary bullshit in leftist circles really creep me out. please stop trying to universalize rights and deal with the practicalities of actual rights, thanks.

god preserve you with your patience for this nonsense. i don't know how you can stand to write about it!
From:ext_132916
Date:11th October, 2009 07:05 am (UTC)

Yup, STP2012 sure sucks from my POV, too

(Link)
Why can't allies work for abolishing the actual, oppressive things that happen to you if you're trans, such as having to justify your existence to doctors over and over again - medical research into TSity might help, y'know? Or perhaps tackle the transphobic violence: beatings, bullying, rapes'n'stuff? Perhaps I'm just cynical, but I seem to see a pattern here: anything that might get your hands dirty with hoi polloi (transphobic bigots, say) or having to do with getting the society at large on your side, instead of trying to disavow the whole spectacle, seems to be avoided. Telling the whole of society to fuck off sure feels nice, but if the society really does fuck off, it's not just the parts you want to fuck off that do (oppressive gatekeeping), but the parts you need go, too (such as state-paid medicine or proper ID papers).

References:

http://cartographies-of-my-interior.blogspot.com/2009/08/why-stp2012-doesnt-feel-right.html ()

http://cartographies-of-my-interior.blogspot.com/2009/04/iden-bugger-tity.html ()
[User Picture]
From:pinkdormouse
Date:11th October, 2009 08:55 am (UTC)
(Link)
Gah! Some people just need hitting hard with a mallet until they get some more sensible thoughts in their head.

Surely what's needed is for trans people to be on the same level as people with any other condition that may or may not require medication and/or surgery depending on how the individual feels about it. So change the Disorder part of GID to Syndrome and make it a med rather than a psych diagnosis.

But people with personal experience of the system need to be the ones suggesting the canges, and those with the power to make the changes need to actually listen.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:11th October, 2009 12:51 pm (UTC)

Helen mutters

(Link)
Reading the FB thread it seems people are walking away from this and DH is taking a lot of criticism and seems to have given up deleting it.

I may well be in town next Saturday. Is there a counter demo or are we just going to ignore him ?
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:11th October, 2009 12:53 pm (UTC)

Re: Helen mutters

(Link)
If he doesn't back down, there may have to be a counter demo.

I have nowhere else to be on Saturday, so I plan to at least go and monitor the situation.
[User Picture]
From:paulathomas
Date:11th October, 2009 12:57 pm (UTC)
(Link)
The history of this kind of thing goes back a long way. It was, as far as I can tell, first dreamed up over 20 years ago. It is, IMO, a trap. I don't know who set it,, but if they were trans they were idiots. It was the currency of Women's Studies programmes in the '90's.

Surgery, whether NHS or private, has to be justified on medical grounds, so maybe this campaign would also shut off private surgery too! if you don't believe me try getting a surgeon to remove your arm because you've got a Napoleon complex.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:22nd October, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Napoleon wasn't missing an arm. He's just always painted and drawn with his arm tucked into his waistcoat because that was the fashion at the time. It was a pose supposed to portray manliness. The reason everyone associates it with him is that he was basically the most represented person of the age -- we do, after all, call it the Napoleonic era.

Nelson was the one who was missing an arm...
[User Picture]
From:celesteh
Date:11th October, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Should we be writing letters to the organizations who Den says have given him backing? There's a list of contact people and email addresses on the facebook page for the STP 2012 group. http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=120317420674
[User Picture]
From:auntysarah
Date:11th October, 2009 01:35 pm (UTC)
(Link)
It might be some help, yes.
[User Picture]
From:celesteh
Date:11th October, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
(Link)
to: tinluigi@aol.com , fotrthomas@aol.com , stephenbarris@ilga.org , vmukasa@iglhrc.org , liesl@genderdynamix.org.za , asesoriaredlactrans@gmail.com , mauro@mulabi.org , john@arc-international.net , belissa@ilga.org

subject: STP 2012 Demo in London

Dear Organizers of the STP Movement,

I am writing to let you know about what is happening in London. You may already be aware of the email that has been circulated by most of our established trans activists, calling for a boycott of the protest. (In case you do not, it is below.) Unfortunately, your spokesperson here has alienated most of the trans community and left people with the impression that the STP movement is unconcerned with issues of access to medicalized transition. The goal of depatholigization seems to be prioritized over ensuring we can get medical help. Unfortunately, I cannot provide you with links to any of this dialog, as Mr. Hambridge deleted it all from the facebook event that he's created. However, I can provide you a link to a conversation where there is an assertion that the STP movement would leave non-binary transsexual people without public care. http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=147494409183#/topic.php?uid=120317420674&topic=10293

Dennis Hambridge claims to speak in your name and if he does not, it would be good to make that clear. I want to believe that your organization supports our right to transition, for both binary and non-binary transsexual people, but all I know if it now is what a few reactionary individuals have claimed as your goals. I hope this is an error.

Thank you for your time,

C. Hutchins
[User Picture]
From:celesteh
Date:12th October, 2009 12:15 pm (UTC)
(Link)
I got an email back for Gender DynamiX


Thank you for this informative letter. I was surprised myself to find Gender DynamiX on the list of supporters and followed communication last week, explaining that organisations names was taken off, from previous IDAHO press releases.


It seems he's misrepresenting the support he has from International groups.

In what way should this information be shared?
[User Picture]
From:mordantcarnival
Date:11th October, 2009 04:01 pm (UTC)
(Link)
SO. MUCH. FAIL.
[User Picture]
From:msstacy13
Date:11th October, 2009 04:37 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Mhm. The plan is to smudge us out by, on the one hand, insisting that the greater object of "gay rights" is paramount, and mustn't be obsucured or hampered by inclusion of "trans rights" and on the other, eradicating the very definition of what we are from official terminology. Or maybe I'm just a raging paranoid.
[User Picture]
From:emperor
Date:11th October, 2009 06:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
*headdesk*
From:jennyemily
Date:11th October, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Words fail me. In one fail swoop this person seems oblivious to the fact that without the ability to access treatment, most of us would descend into self destruction and be unable to cope in this world. He is helping us like having a frontal lobotomy is helping us.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:11th October, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
(Link)
Dennis Hambridge seems to say he is part of
Gay Activists Alliance intl, as is stated on
his petition.

Why don't people contact them
directly and tell them that if they want to be
good allies then their job is to listen and
support the community. Not decide for them.

That way if they don't know what he is doing
I'm sure they won't like it. Especially since
he is doing so under their name.
And he can't then stop people from making
their points.

http://www.gayactivistsalliance.org/


[User Picture]
From:cheshire_bitten
Date:12th October, 2009 03:27 am (UTC)
(Link)
Yeah. While I am somewhat sympothetic to the cause, that is moving GID or it's replacements from a mental illness "real body sick mind" to something like a developmental disorder so that HRT and corrective surgury can be mainstreamised with other similar treatments.

But my first priority is the trans people on the ground right now, particularly those who are starting transition, or who want to start transtion and so will be most hurt by and gap in, or worsening of treatment while replacements for the WARTH model are developed.
[User Picture]
From:aumentou
Date:12th October, 2009 12:42 pm (UTC)
(Link)
This is so bad that I actually find it funny. There's clearly something wrong with my sense of humour. Perhaps if his campaign succeeds I can get diagnosed as having an unhealthy sense of humour caused by my unusual gender identity, and get treated that way?

Either way, I find myself wondering if a trip to London is in order, and how many times you can slap someone before the police stop laughing and actually do something about it.
[User Picture]
From:celesteh
Date:12th October, 2009 12:47 pm (UTC)

FB Message from Hambridge

(Link)

Dennis Hambridge 12 October at 13:27 Reply

Dated 12th October 2009;-

Ref--Stop Trans Pathologization 2012 campaign 2009 (STP2012)

London, England Rally 17 October 2009

After due reconsideration and-> most valued advice from Transpersons, Intersexual persons or those who work in conjuntion with them, in majority<-it as been agreed and/or decided to cancel the above rally for this years STP 2012 campaign.

It should be noted that it is the STP 2012 campaign and under the STP 2012 criteria

*The cancellation of this Rally will be mailed to the STP 2012, as cancelled under my name, as was with the police events unit

* The facebook event for this rally will be informed that the rally will not go on-likewise

* The facebook group End Trans and Intersexual Pathologization will equally be informed


+ It should also be noted, to the above, that the police have informed me that a proposed large Tamil supporting demonstration is being held in London on the 17th October and would be going through and about the location of the proposed STP 2012 rally


Thank you
Dennis Hambridge
(Deleted comment)
Powered by LiveJournal.com