If you are a man and you think you are a woman you have a mental disorder and there are treatments to help.
Let’s talk about gender for a moment. Transgender to be exact. I think by now everyone knows just what that is. Oh, well, maybe not everyone. It’s when someone doesn’t feel like the gender they were born with and so they choose to identify as the gender they feel they are. On a very basic level someone born as a man, doesn’t feel like a man, so they identify as a woman. They may, or may not dress like a woman, or have surgery to resemble a woman. No matter what form one sees on the outside of the person the form they identify with is the one that matters. It’s not about what you identify, it’s about what they identify. That’s a very important point. Transgender isn’t about a man wearing a dress. Nor is it about a woman in trousers with a very short haircut. It’s about what they think they are, what they feel they are. These other things, the dress, the hairstyle, the makeup, the surgery, is secondary to that and done as a means to make the outer self match the inner self.
The American Psychological Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5, commonly called the DSM-5 calls this “Gender dysphoria”. It’s described like this:
- Noticeable incongruence between the gender that the patient sees themselves are, and what their classified gender assignment
- An intense need to do away with his or her primary or secondary sex features (or, in the case of young teenagers, to avert the maturity of the likely secondary features)
- An intense desire to have the primary or secondary sex features of the other gender
- A deep desire to transform into another gender
- A profound need for society to treat them as another gender
- A powerful assurance of having the characteristic feelings and responses of the other gender
- And this causes them distress and difficulty in functioning.
There are many treatments for this including psychotherapy, pharmacological therapy, and the DSM even considers gender reassignment surgery to be a treatment.
There is a very high rate of suicidal ideation among those who suffer from gender dysphoria. Statistics show that this is only slightly decreased in those who have gender reassignment surgery. Which makes me think that perhaps this isn’t the best form of therapy for this disorder. Expensive, dangerous, and mutilating surgery is extreme and if it isn’t only slightly more efficacious than non-invasive surgeries I would not feel comfortable encouraging people to have it. Some proponents may hear my use of the word “mutilate” and consider it a biased term but it isn’t meant that way, it’s simply an accurate phrasing of what goes on. That someone is willing to go through this should be a signal to everyone that something is deeply wrong, psychologically, with that individual.
Do you remember the story of Aron Ralston? He’s the rock climber whose arm became stuck literally between a rock and a hard place. A bolder pinned his arm and he couldn’t get it unstuck. No rescue was coming and, after five days, he decided to take drastic action and amputated his own arm so he could escape. That’s the level of anxiety people who suffer from Gender Dysphoria and opt for surgery, are under. To them, the anxiety is so great, they are willing to have amputated parts of their own body. This is a very powerful form of mental illness.
It is no less apparent to those around the sufferer that this is a mental illness than those who have to deal with delusional and paranoids schizophrenics. In both cases there is a tendency by society to make a bit of fun at them. So outrageous are their delusions that it’s often easy to forget that human beings are suffering.
However, just like the schizophrenic, it’s my opinion, and a strong one backed by reason and education, that we do more harm than good to the person by reinforcing their delusion. Do we tell the paranoid that “yes, someone is after you, hide!” No…we don’t. Why then should we tell the person suffering from Gender Dysphoria, “yes, you really area a woman even though you were born as a man and even though we can objectively perform scientific tests on your DNA to prove this, despite that, you are what you say you are.” We shouldn’t do this I think. It isn’t healthy.
It’s a game of make-believe and nothing more. Human beings do have a great capacity for believing a lie, believing in the fantasy but deep down we always know what isn’t real and what is. Take for example how computer generated people in movies don’t ever look quite real. This effect is known as the “uncanny valley” and it’s due to human beings incredible ability to discern what is real. Even if no one ever notices or points out that the person standing before them as a woman is actually a man the individual themselves will always know that it’s all theater. They aren’t a woman, they are a man, they only look like a woman.
In order to make this run in with the uncanny valley easier for them be bear, and for it not to cause suffering, there is a strong desire for their delusion to be real. That, in my opinion, is why they work so hard to get others to accept their chosen identify and to use it.
Take this poster recently found hanging up in the student union of a major university.
Notice what it says there. “When you ignore someone’s pronouns, it is as if you do not recognize their identity as authentic…” Yes, that is exactly what a person is doing when they refuse to use the pronoun the other has chosen for themselves. It goes on to read, “…and you are refusing to acknowledge them as who they are.” This, of course, is the key for them. Are they really and honestly that pronoun? Is that objectively true? Here, with this clause, they put the onus on YOU. It’s not that the individual, one of only a tiny fraction of our population, is wrong, or mentally ill, it’s that YOU are refusing to see them as they really are. Suddenly it is YOU who are suffering from the inability to see reality, not them. And if YOU are the problem, well, then THEY can’t be and thus the human mind eases the pain it is in from living perpetually in the uncanny valley.
Last week Dottie, that vivacious penguin, told us all she was trans-avian and was going to identify as a flamingo. She ran into reality when she tried to fly. She could not and crashed hard. No amount of wanting to be a sleek and brightly colored bird of flight could make that Dottie’s reality.
Tied into all of this is Rachel Dolezal. If you don’t remember the name you might remember her circumstance. She worked for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in a pretty high position and was quite active and well-known in the community.
She was one of them, down for the struggle as it were but the only problem was she turned out to be a Caucasian woman. She did her hair and tanned her face and wore ethnic clothing and spoke in a manner consistent with the black community. But she was white. She resigned her position. Since then she has struggled to get a job, no one will hire her. She’s been on welfare. She’s recently published a book in which she stands by her actions because she is, according to her, “trans-racial”. She identifies as a black person. Objectively, she isn’t. But she identifies that way. How is this any different from someone who is transgender? Take a moment to ponder that if you will. If a man can identify as a woman why can’t a white person identify as a black person? Wherein lies the difference? I submit to you there isn’t one.
I feel for those who suffer from psychological disorders like Ms. Dolezal and the members of the trans-gender community. I acknowledge that how you feel brings you great distress. But making the whole world play pretend isn’t going to change the objective reality of it all. It’s also not fair to others. It’s all about you and how you feel and what you want and how you think others should behavior and what things you think they should say. Your affliction, does not give you the right to afflict others. Make no mistake, it does afflict them. When a person isn’t suffering from gender dysphoria and you try to bend their will to conform with your disorder it creates an incredible frustration in them. Have you ever been in a situation where some is telling a lie and you know the truth and you call them on the lie and they insist that they are telling the truth? How frustrating was that for you? Incredibly so I imagine. Every time a trans person expects someone to accept as real something that isn’t they are creating anxiety in that person. This makes them incredibly angry. Frustration you see, is one of the most powerful human emotions that exists and one which motivates a great deal of anger in people. When you insist on your unique pronoun just know that those around you are playing a game with you but inside they are likely very mad and eventually they won’t want to play the game anymore.
For me, I won’t play from the start and so will avoid becoming frustrating at having to pretend that something is true that I know very well isn’t. I wish you the good mental health, but I also want that for myself and your pronoun interferes with me and you have no right.