Defining deviancy up, down, and every which way

Career bigot Linda Harvey is quite dismayed that Alan Chambers, Exodus International’s “ex-gay” president, admitted that homosexuality has no “cure” and he’s still attracted to men:

This shows very poor judgment as the leader of this ministry to, first of all, be experiencing this and secondly, to announce it to the whole world. Of course a person can leave homosexuality; there are thousands of people who have done it and God’s word clearly states that he can deliver us from sin. And the proud, open sinner who is publicly proclaiming it as good in defiance of God’s word? It is highly questionable that such a person is saved. […] We would not be making this exception for well-adjusted adulterers would we? How about a compassionate pedophile? What about incest like two brothers involved in homosexuality? Why not just defy God’s word on this?

Yes, it’s the old “gays are like pedophiles” angle: not just a difference of moral outlook, but a disconnect from reality so wide and deep that no distinction is made between acting on one’s desires in a way that results in raping children, and acting on one’s desires in a way that results in pissing off Linda Harvey. It’s revealing that such a false equivalence is even necessary for them to make. We don’t see them arguing the reverse – “pedophilia is just as bad as homosexuality!” – even if this is exactly what their equation of homosexuality to pedophilia entails. Pedophilia is able to stand alone as a Very Bad Thing. Homosexuality isn’t, which is why the comparison to pedophilia is needed. Its perceived Badness must be elevated.

A largely unrecognized implication of this claim is that the corollary of “Did you seriously just compare us to pedophiles?” is indeed “What the hell? You really think pedophiles are no worse than gay people?” And those who make this argument probably didn’t expect, or intend, that some people might agree with them in exactly the opposite way: that pedophilia should be considered just as acceptable as homosexuality. On one side, we have St. Petersburg banning “the promotion of homosexuality and pedophilia”. On the flip side, we have Reddit users endlessly defending pedophiles by comparing them to gay people:

If we as a society can accept that one can be born gay, why do we feel that pedophilia is a behavior which is chosen?

That’s the same kind of thinking as a anti-gay supporter. It’s not his choice to have the attraction, nor is he acting upon it.

I disagree with you. I think it is genetic, along with being homosexual. I have quite a few friends who are gay, and they have known since they were 4-5 years old that they liked the same gender as themselves. They can remember back to PE class changing in the locker room, etc.

That surely wasn’t a choice… it was predetermined.

Being gay, I tend to agree with this, and I think this is the reason why I’m so sympathetic towards pedophiles. I didn’t choose to like guys, and so I’d imagine they didn’t choose to like kids. And, I don’t think they should be thrown in jail just for liking kids (or possession of child porn, which I think is a problem with the person who made it, and not the person viewing), but, I do believe they should get help in order to manage their urges.

In all seriousness though, maybe being a pedophile isn’t a decision any more than being gay is, which would make treatment…very complicated.

Does the LGBT community accept pedos for who they are? Not child molesters but people attracted to younger people. do they accept them as being in the same boat as them since its not really their choice to be attracted to who they are attracted to?

Homosexuality is a significant deviation in ‘normal’ sexual behavior shared by a fairly large number of adults. Likewise, pedophilia is a significant deviation from normal sexual attraction shared by a fairly large number of adults, although not as prevalent as homosexuality. I think there are legitimate similarities that can be discussed as long as everyone remains mature.

Heterosexuality, homosexuality, and pedophilia to me are very comparable.

There would be no problem with pedophilia if it weren’t for that the fact that children cannot consent to sex. How is pedophilia any different that people are strictly attracted to a certain race, a certain body time, or a certain sex (same or opposite)? The only difference I can surmise is the issue of consent.

No because then it’d be putting it out there that I am one and I equate any counseling on the subject matter to “praying out the gay”. It’s who I am and there’s zero chance that I’d hurt anyone so therapy isn’t for me.

You would be right in saying it is involuntary, and the notion that people would choose to be a pedophile, like you said, is just ludicrous. For me I have no control over my thoughts, however, I have complete control over my actions. That is the most crucial and the absolute crux of my argument here. The same goes for gays, lesbians, people who are into beastiality, you name it. Sexual desire is ingrained into your mind. Only the strongest of people are actually able to block out their thoughts, something that I hope one day I can achieve.

To clear this up for you, being a pedophile is not a choice. At least for me. I can’t imagine that there are many people out there who want to be a pedophile to be honest. I would put it in the same boat as being gay/lesbian, it is uncontrollable and simply your sexual preference.

Here’s a horrible thought: Imagine that pedophiles are born that way and they are not actually cured by therapy any more than gays are. And here the world is, dragging their reputations through the mud because of a few bad eggs, and trying to ‘cure’ them.

You are right in that children cannot consent (which, in fact, many times they can. Who hasn’t fantasized about having sex as a kid?), but I chose my sexuality just as little as a gay person. I didn’t decide to become a pedophile, it’s not like I said “Hey, I think I’m gonna be attracted to children”.

Yes, I do take offense when people call it a disease, because it’s not. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me, physically or mentally, and I would need not visit a psychiatrist for this. I do have a friend, however, who is a pedophile just like me, and he had to to talk to a psychologist because he had got the impression from society that it was wrong, that who he was is shameful and evil.

Yeah, just like gays should get help for being homosexuals? Fuck you, having a different sexual orientation doesnt make you sick. This kind of shit, saying that people who has a different sexual orientation are “sick” leads to depression & suicide.

Look, if some 16 yo gay kid made a video on youtube saying how is bullied and discriminated for being gay then everyone would try to support him… While pedos have NONE of that support. Isnt that hypocrysy?

Your situation is akin to the situation of homosexuals 50 years ago (or even now) where people tried to “cure them”, to cure their homosexuality. Now people think that pedophiles are “sick” and need to be put on a mental institution. I HATE what has happened to you and I sincerely, completely give you my support, because I was in a similar situation myself. We need to keep fighting so no more kids are placed in your situation.

YOU ARE NOT SICK. YOU ARE NOT A “PERVERT” OR HAVE AN “ILLNESS”. Its just another sexual orientation.Please, dont ever give up and think you are worthless. I wish I could hug you 🙁

I think its funny when people are pro gay rights but are so ignorant about pedophiles and think they are bad people. Well yes, to do sexual things or take advantage of a child is bad but just like being gay they are born that way, I am sure most people do not want to be attracted to children.

It pains me to think that there might never be a “cure” for your “condition.” I put those words in quotes because I HATE having to use them. Like I said, your attraction to children doesn’t make you a bad person, it just has unfortunate consequences. The only reason society would want to “cure” you is to avoid those consequences. I hope I don’t sound like I think you need to be dissected on an operating table or something. I also hate having to use those words because many people have talked similarly about “curing” gays, which even if possible, would be totally stupid and unnecessary. It seems to me that both homosexuals and pedophiles are similarly wired in the brain from an early age (in most cases), its just that pedophilia comes with repercussions that being gay doesn’t.

Well, I certainly don’t consider it to be a disease. I think that the jury is still out on it being a sexuality. I think that some people are afraid that recognising that it most likely forms in the same way homosexuality does and at the same time as sexuality is determined, gives acting on it some sort of legitimacy. I don’t think this is necessarily the case. I don’t think that is an illness, no.

(I stopped here not because I ran out of examples, but because I was too disheartened to continue.)

In a world where people recognize that homosexuality is clearly not morally objectionable, dishonestly equating it to pedophilia won’t necessarily succeed in making homosexuality seem worse than it really is. It could just make pedophilia seem better than it really is. Linda Harvey and other homophobes don’t seem to have predicted the full scope of the moral chaos they’ve introduced with these ignorant claims. The problem with placing arson, murder and eating ice cream on the same level isn’t just that people might turn against ice cream. They might also side with ice cream, along with the rest of the ethical bundle – glossing over the key fact that any momentary weakness which ends in eating ice cream won’t burn anyone’s house down.

Defining deviancy up, down, and every which way
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"Why do you care about being called a woman?"

A commenter on my latest video asked:

So I’m just confused… What is the difference between being a man and being a woman? Gender stereotypes are just myths aren’t they? So why do you care about being called a woman? I’m not saying I don’t want to call you what you want to be called, I’m just honestly confused. It’s fine with me for you to dress, groom, and be labeled however you chose, but if you don’t have preconceptions about gender roles, then why believe you’re really a woman? Pardon my ignorance, I really want to learn.

First off, I should point out that I’m currently not as insistent on this point as others may be. I’ve spent a great deal of time keeping my gender intentionally ambiguous and telling people I’m fine with either set of pronouns, and I don’t think I can be all that taken aback when they continue to act accordingly. I understand that most people who refer to me as male probably don’t intend it in a derogatory sense. And the few who obviously do mean to insult me via intentional misgendering have laughably overestimated how much I actually care. So you angrily called me a man? Whoa, watch out guys, we’ve got a badass over here…

But while this may not be so important to me right now, it can still be important to other trans people, and understandably so. Unlike cis people, we’ve had to fight for our gender – for who we are, and for how we’re viewed. The process of finding and becoming who we are, mentally as well as physically, is far from easy, and even after we’ve accomplished that, being accepted as who we are by the rest of the world is a whole other challenge. Cis people have their gender served to them on a silver platter from the moment they’re born: they know who they are, and so does everyone else. Their gender is above questioning, and they aren’t required to put any amount of effort into recognizing that they are their gender, accepting themselves as that gender, and being fully accepted as their gender by all of society. But trans people are, and it shouldn’t be surprising that many of us want our struggles to be recognized in the most basic and unimposing way: by simply acknowledging who we are. We didn’t spend six years in evil medical school to be called “mister”, thank you very much.

And even without taking the challenges faced by trans people into account, recognizing and respecting someone’s gender is a basic and well-established article of courtesy. When you ask us “why do you care about being called a woman?”, you could just as well ask a cis man “why do you care that people call you a man rather than a woman?” But it’s notable that nobody really does bother to ask such questions of cis people. When cis people expect that their gender will be acknowledged by others, no one balks at this. It’s so utterly normal that no one even notices it. They only make an issue of it when trans people expect the same.

I’m sure that some people might respond, “well, no one should care about being addressed by their gender, whether they’re cis or trans”. While the validity of this sentiment can certainly be discussed, it simply doesn’t reflect reality at this time. The fact is that people largely do care about having their gender respected and not being continually and intentionally misgendered. It should not be any more questionable when, like most others, trans people care about this as well.

If it were normal for no one to be bothered when they’re addressed as a gender other than the one they identify as, and such careless and carefree misgendering was commonplace and accepted, and we were the anomalous ones for making an issue out of it, then yes, it would be quite legitimate for you to ask us why we care. But this is not the case. And as long as the expectation of being treated as one’s identified gender remains a norm, suggesting to trans people that we shouldn’t care about this essentially means asking us to expect less than cis people, who probably aren’t going to stop caring about having their gender respected any time soon.

Why do we care about this? Go ahead and ask yourself: Why does anyone? The answers aren’t all that different.

"Why do you care about being called a woman?"

“Why do you care about being called a woman?”

A commenter on my latest video asked:

So I’m just confused… What is the difference between being a man and being a woman? Gender stereotypes are just myths aren’t they? So why do you care about being called a woman? I’m not saying I don’t want to call you what you want to be called, I’m just honestly confused. It’s fine with me for you to dress, groom, and be labeled however you chose, but if you don’t have preconceptions about gender roles, then why believe you’re really a woman? Pardon my ignorance, I really want to learn.

First off, I should point out that I’m currently not as insistent on this point as others may be. I’ve spent a great deal of time keeping my gender intentionally ambiguous and telling people I’m fine with either set of pronouns, and I don’t think I can be all that taken aback when they continue to act accordingly. I understand that most people who refer to me as male probably don’t intend it in a derogatory sense. And the few who obviously do mean to insult me via intentional misgendering have laughably overestimated how much I actually care. So you angrily called me a man? Whoa, watch out guys, we’ve got a badass over here…

But while this may not be so important to me right now, it can still be important to other trans people, and understandably so. Unlike cis people, we’ve had to fight for our gender – for who we are, and for how we’re viewed. The process of finding and becoming who we are, mentally as well as physically, is far from easy, and even after we’ve accomplished that, being accepted as who we are by the rest of the world is a whole other challenge. Cis people have their gender served to them on a silver platter from the moment they’re born: they know who they are, and so does everyone else. Their gender is above questioning, and they aren’t required to put any amount of effort into recognizing that they are their gender, accepting themselves as that gender, and being fully accepted as their gender by all of society. But trans people are, and it shouldn’t be surprising that many of us want our struggles to be recognized in the most basic and unimposing way: by simply acknowledging who we are. We didn’t spend six years in evil medical school to be called “mister”, thank you very much.

And even without taking the challenges faced by trans people into account, recognizing and respecting someone’s gender is a basic and well-established article of courtesy. When you ask us “why do you care about being called a woman?”, you could just as well ask a cis man “why do you care that people call you a man rather than a woman?” But it’s notable that nobody really does bother to ask such questions of cis people. When cis people expect that their gender will be acknowledged by others, no one balks at this. It’s so utterly normal that no one even notices it. They only make an issue of it when trans people expect the same.

I’m sure that some people might respond, “well, no one should care about being addressed by their gender, whether they’re cis or trans”. While the validity of this sentiment can certainly be discussed, it simply doesn’t reflect reality at this time. The fact is that people largely do care about having their gender respected and not being continually and intentionally misgendered. It should not be any more questionable when, like most others, trans people care about this as well.

If it were normal for no one to be bothered when they’re addressed as a gender other than the one they identify as, and such careless and carefree misgendering was commonplace and accepted, and we were the anomalous ones for making an issue out of it, then yes, it would be quite legitimate for you to ask us why we care. But this is not the case. And as long as the expectation of being treated as one’s identified gender remains a norm, suggesting to trans people that we shouldn’t care about this essentially means asking us to expect less than cis people, who probably aren’t going to stop caring about having their gender respected any time soon.

Why do we care about this? Go ahead and ask yourself: Why does anyone? The answers aren’t all that different.

“Why do you care about being called a woman?”

"Gays aren't perfect", bigots argue against no one in particular

Why are “traditional-values groups” interested in the just-released report on the Sandusky sex abuse scandal? They saw an opportunity to use it as a weapon against gays:

And there are aspects of the entire case that both Gramley and Barber say cannot be ignored.

“Through all this we cannot ignore the fact that Jerry Sandusky’s victims were all young boys. We can’t ignore the homosexual aspect of this,” Gramley offers. “And through Graham Spanier’s tenure as president, he has brought more and more homosexual-oriented programming and events to the campus than ever before.”

Adds Barber: “There also is an element of political correctness run amok here,” he explains. “Anytime homosexuality is involved — even though in this case it’s a homosexual predator preying on children — people seem to have this innate fear that they are going to be crushed by the sexual anarchist lobby if they speak out against it.” Yet Barber says it is a fact that percentage-wise more sexual crimes are committed against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals.

Yeah, because “homosexual-oriented programming” includes, um… child rape.

First of all, let’s not fall for the misconception that the gender of a child molester’s victims necessarily tells us anything about their sexual orientation. Contrary to what some may expect, men who molest children are, almost universally, not primarily attracted to adult men – yes, even the men who molest boys. Many consistently engage in relationships with adult women, not men. As pre-pubescent boys lack male secondary sex characteristics, heterosexual men who are attracted to them are apparently responding to their feminine qualities.

Devout homophobe Peter LaBarbera dismisses these findings and says, “Who cares if a guy is married? If he’s into molesting boys, that’s homosexual behavior. It’s academic nonsense to talk about these people as heterosexuals.” Ironically, this takes an academic dispute about the definition of homosexuality and prioritizes it over recognizing the reality of the situation. It means ignoring the facts about what sort of people actually molest children, in favor of perpetuating baseless hate against gays. And it means mistakenly eyeing the two gay guys down the block with suspicion, while believing that the heterosexuals around you could pose no risk to kids. Apparently it’s more important to attack gays than to understand what’s really going on here.

But even if we did agree that Sandusky is gay, and even if he did have a history of relationships with adult men (which there appears to be no evidence of), so what? You know what we call it when a straight person gets caught sexually abusing children? Tuesday. Anti-gay groups seem to want to assign supporters of equality a strawman position that gay people must be saintly, transcendent angels who are incapable of any wrongdoing. I suspect this is the flip side of their inability to see us as fully human – they deeply and comprehensively fail to grasp that LGBT people actually are just like everyone else, warts and all. Yes, sometimes gay people are going to molest children. And that’s unspeakably horrifying. But this doesn’t constitute an argument against homosexuality, any more than straight people who abuse children are an argument against heterosexuality.

As for the claim that anyone would be afraid to report child sexual abuse because the abuser was (supposedly) gay and some all-powerful gay lobby will destroy anyone who tries to stop gay people from raping children: Where does this come from? What basis could this possibly have in reality, however remote and tenuous? Has this ever happened? Even for the anti-gay movement, this is an extraordinary allegation. What is their evidence of a “sexual anarchist lobby” that seeks to intimidate people from taking action against ongoing child abuse? How can they possibly justify suggesting that gay people support the unhindered raping of children? And what makes them so certain that scary, scary gays were the reason that Sandusky was able to continue preying on children for so long?

What?

If you’re looking for a real “sexual anarchist lobby”, how about the thousands of Penn State students who were so irrationally devoted to a fucking college football program that they literally rioted when Joe Paterno was fired? They weren’t rioting in protest of his failure to take appropriate action on reports that Sandusky had raped a child. They were rioting in support of him.

These aren’t the gays you’re looking for. You utter twits.

"Gays aren't perfect", bigots argue against no one in particular

“Gays aren’t perfect”, bigots argue against no one in particular

Why are “traditional-values groups” interested in the just-released report on the Sandusky sex abuse scandal? They saw an opportunity to use it as a weapon against gays:

And there are aspects of the entire case that both Gramley and Barber say cannot be ignored.

“Through all this we cannot ignore the fact that Jerry Sandusky’s victims were all young boys. We can’t ignore the homosexual aspect of this,” Gramley offers. “And through Graham Spanier’s tenure as president, he has brought more and more homosexual-oriented programming and events to the campus than ever before.”

Adds Barber: “There also is an element of political correctness run amok here,” he explains. “Anytime homosexuality is involved — even though in this case it’s a homosexual predator preying on children — people seem to have this innate fear that they are going to be crushed by the sexual anarchist lobby if they speak out against it.” Yet Barber says it is a fact that percentage-wise more sexual crimes are committed against children by homosexuals than by heterosexuals.

Yeah, because “homosexual-oriented programming” includes, um… child rape.

First of all, let’s not fall for the misconception that the gender of a child molester’s victims necessarily tells us anything about their sexual orientation. Contrary to what some may expect, men who molest children are, almost universally, not primarily attracted to adult men – yes, even the men who molest boys. Many consistently engage in relationships with adult women, not men. As pre-pubescent boys lack male secondary sex characteristics, heterosexual men who are attracted to them are apparently responding to their feminine qualities.

Devout homophobe Peter LaBarbera dismisses these findings and says, “Who cares if a guy is married? If he’s into molesting boys, that’s homosexual behavior. It’s academic nonsense to talk about these people as heterosexuals.” Ironically, this takes an academic dispute about the definition of homosexuality and prioritizes it over recognizing the reality of the situation. It means ignoring the facts about what sort of people actually molest children, in favor of perpetuating baseless hate against gays. And it means mistakenly eyeing the two gay guys down the block with suspicion, while believing that the heterosexuals around you could pose no risk to kids. Apparently it’s more important to attack gays than to understand what’s really going on here.

But even if we did agree that Sandusky is gay, and even if he did have a history of relationships with adult men (which there appears to be no evidence of), so what? You know what we call it when a straight person gets caught sexually abusing children? Tuesday. Anti-gay groups seem to want to assign supporters of equality a strawman position that gay people must be saintly, transcendent angels who are incapable of any wrongdoing. I suspect this is the flip side of their inability to see us as fully human – they deeply and comprehensively fail to grasp that LGBT people actually are just like everyone else, warts and all. Yes, sometimes gay people are going to molest children. And that’s unspeakably horrifying. But this doesn’t constitute an argument against homosexuality, any more than straight people who abuse children are an argument against heterosexuality.

As for the claim that anyone would be afraid to report child sexual abuse because the abuser was (supposedly) gay and some all-powerful gay lobby will destroy anyone who tries to stop gay people from raping children: Where does this come from? What basis could this possibly have in reality, however remote and tenuous? Has this ever happened? Even for the anti-gay movement, this is an extraordinary allegation. What is their evidence of a “sexual anarchist lobby” that seeks to intimidate people from taking action against ongoing child abuse? How can they possibly justify suggesting that gay people support the unhindered raping of children? And what makes them so certain that scary, scary gays were the reason that Sandusky was able to continue preying on children for so long?

What?

If you’re looking for a real “sexual anarchist lobby”, how about the thousands of Penn State students who were so irrationally devoted to a fucking college football program that they literally rioted when Joe Paterno was fired? They weren’t rioting in protest of his failure to take appropriate action on reports that Sandusky had raped a child. They were rioting in support of him.

These aren’t the gays you’re looking for. You utter twits.

“Gays aren’t perfect”, bigots argue against no one in particular

Because I Choose It

The most common understanding of transgender people which actually bears some resemblance to reality is that we felt we had the incorrect body from a very young age, we experience significant and debilitating distress because of our physical sex, and we need to transition in order to avoid serious long-term consequences to our well-being. For some trans people, this is certainly true: the pain of gender dysphoria can be so severe that without the necessary treatment, it can lead to depression, self-harm, drug abuse, and even suicide. And during their childhood, many trans people did have a sense that they were really the opposite sex to the one they were assigned at birth.

It’s completely understandable that many people would explain being trans in this way: as an inborn characteristic, not a matter of choice, and a cause of perpetual suffering that can only be alleviated by transitioning. For plenty of us, this really is the case, and the claim that we had no choice in this is a strong rebuttal to the people who believe we’re only trans so that we can rape people in restrooms, confuse everyone’s children and destroy the fabric of society. It’s a way of making it clear that this is a real condition, in a world that largely refuses to recognize it. But this general model of what it’s like to be trans isn’t entirely reflective of what every trans person experiences. These various elements aren’t always present in trans people’s lives in the same combination and to the same degree. It’s not always a burning red arrow of constant agony pointing you directly to another gender. I spent a long time doubting that I could really be trans, because for me, it wasn’t like this at all. And I’ve had a lot of choices about it, too.

For most of my childhood, I didn’t feel like I had a meaningful identity of any kind, gender or otherwise. Sure, I could look back and dig up any early signs of who I am today, like how I was the only boy in the local tap-dancing group when I was 4, or how I happily volunteered when our school needed someone in the 6th grade to dress as a girl and run through the gym during an assembly, or how I dreaded growing hair on my legs. But these experiences could be shared by plenty of cis people as well, and they don’t necessarily mean anything. At the time, they didn’t mean much to me at all in terms of how I viewed my gender, and I definitely didn’t “always know” I was trans. As a kid, my identity was defined by one word: “smart”.

That’s what the adults decided I was from an early age, and this was the lens through which they and the other kids always viewed me. It was solidified and made especially visible as the centerpiece of my identity when I was placed in classes two grades ahead. This effectively made being “smart” the most important thing about me, the first thing anyone would notice, and an unavoidable topic of conversation. My life was defined almost exclusively by academic obligations that I was expected to meet simply because I was able. The questions of who I was, what I wanted to do, or who I wanted to be never seemed relevant. The idea that this was up to me rarely even entered my mind. That was for other people to decide, as always.

Looking back, it’s easy to see why the situation deteriorated so badly when it turned out I wasn’t that smart after all. Everyone’s expectations had been crushed, and I felt utterly lost. I had never developed a sense of myself beyond someone whose job it was to do schoolwork, and after I dropped out of school at 14, I ended up spending years doing nothing simply because I had no idea what to do with myself. It took me that long just to get to a point where I could envision myself as someone who could have a genuine identity, let alone define it for myself. When I was finally ready, I started doing videos, and this is who eventually emerged.

Those who have been following my channel probably know that I wasn’t always like this. It took me some time, and a schedule of 3 or 4 videos a day, before I got a feeling for what I was actually doing. It wasn’t long after this that I began developing a certain presentation for myself. I started dressing up to make a distinctive image for my channel, but I kept doing it because it looked good, it felt right, and it worked well for me. Over time, as my sense of style evolved, it stopped being something that stood out for its contrast with who I was – because I wasn’t the same person I was when I started. At some point, this wasn’t “dressing up” anymore. It was just wearing clothes.

But despite finding this a more comfortable presentation, growing my hair out, taking a woman’s name and being okay with either set of pronouns, it took me a long time to realize that I might actually be trans. I’m sure some people are surprised I could be so oblivious, given that my videos over the past four years are literally a timeline of unwitting transitioning. My mistake was that I thought being trans entailed a specific cluster of features: being constantly uncomfortable with one’s body, seeking medical treatment, and receiving some sort of diagnosis. Obviously, none of this is actually a requirement to be trans, but I felt that my personal experience wasn’t sufficiently similar to other trans people I knew, and I didn’t want to be seen as speaking for trans people. I just didn’t think I was qualified. While I had no problem with people thinking I was trans, I leaned toward other descriptions, such as genderqueer.

Luckily, a very good friend of mine helped to clarify things. She told me how she thought she was bisexual for quite a long time, because she found sex with men to be tolerable rather than something that made her want to vomit, which she believed would be the natural consequence of gay people trying to have straight sex. But when she realized that sex with women was vastly more enjoyable for her, and that she pursued women and avoided having sex with men no matter how “tolerable” the experience was, she came to understand that being a lesbian was the most appropriate sexual identity for her.

This was more applicable to me than I knew at the time. But once it sank in, I recognized that I don’t need to have intense, unbearable gender dysphoria in order to be trans. I just need to prefer living as a woman over living as a man. Being uncomfortable in my body isn’t a requirement. Being more comfortable as a woman is all it takes. The old shoes don’t have to be such a poor fit – the new ones just have to fit me much better. And regardless of whatever grey areas there might be at the margins of how we define “transgender”, when you’re living as a woman, going by a woman’s name, dating a lesbian, and don’t want to live as a man despite being assigned male, the fact of being trans is pretty much inescapable.

In retrospect, I can see that there were plenty of choices available to me throughout all of this. Could I have chosen not to present as a woman, not to take a female name, and not to go by female pronouns? Yes. I could have chosen not to do any of this, at any step of the way. Would I have survived if I had chosen differently? In all likelihood, yes, but I doubt I would have truly thrived. Because of the choices I made, the world that’s opened up to me is better than anything that came before. And knowing what I know now, I would never choose to go back.

But ultimately, this wasn’t something that thrust itself upon me. When did I “know”? Not until I bothered asking that question, and got a real answer. Not until I actually tried this on, and found out it fit really well. This didn’t seek me out. I went looking for something, and this is what I came back with.

There’s a certain idea of some prevalence that dismisses our choices and fails to grasp the personal importance and value of our hard-won identities. This is the belief that people transition because society’s gender norms are excessively restrictive, and if the rigidity and narrowness of these gender roles were relaxed, there would be no need for anyone to be trans. This has been a recurring theme in some strains of radical feminist thought. In The Transsexual Empire, Janice Raymond writes:

Defining and treating transsexualism as a medical problem prevents the person experiencing so-called gender dissatisfaction from seeing it in a gender-challenging or feminist framework. Persons who think they are of the opposite sex are therefore not encouraged to see this desire as emanating from the social constraints of masculine and feminine role-defined behavior.

Drawing a parallel between being transgender and a hypothetical black person wishing to become white, she says, “it is their society, not their skin, that needs changing.” She later adds:

A society that encourages identity and role conformity based on biological sex will naturally turn to sex-conversion surgery rather than accept what it sees as a threatened obliteration of these roles.

In an article from 2004, Sheila Jeffreys says:

Feminists like myself envisage a time beyond gender when there is no correct way to behave according to body shape. In such a world, it would not be possible to conceive of a gender identity clinic. The idea of GID is a living fossil – that is, an idea from the time when there was considered to be a correct behaviour for particular body types.

Julie Bindel endorses this sentiment in a number of articles, saying:

In a world where equality between men and women was reality, transsexualism would not exist. […] We live in a society that, on the whole, respects the human rights of others. Accepting a situation where the surgeon’s knife and lifelong hormonal treatment are replacing the acceptance of difference is a scandal.

And in Woman Hating, Andrea Dworkin recognized the importance of transitioning and supported access to medical care for trans people, but concluded that:

…community built on androgynous identity will mean the end of transsexuality as we know it. Either the transsexual will be able to expand his/her sexuality into a fluid androgyny, or, as roles disappear, the phenomenon of transsexuality will disappear and that energy will be transformed into new modes of sexual identity and behavior.

The same idea has often appeared, perhaps independently, among people who would otherwise have little interest in feminism, let alone the works of Raymond, Jeffreys and Dworkin. Many of its adherents seem to think that this is a way of helping us – and to some degree, it certainly could – but this isn’t exactly the kind of help we’re looking for. While the abolition of gender policing is a worthwhile goal in its own right, and there are indeed various ways that this could make life easier for trans people, it does not follow that this would make being transgender wholly obsolete.

Yes, I’d like it if the TSA agents didn’t give me odd looks every time I go through their strip search X-ray machine. Yes, it would be nice if my voice wasn’t taken as indicative of me being “really a man” every time I’m out in public. And yes, I’d love the option to keep my hair short and my legs unshaven if I choose, without it marking me as a man rather than a woman with short hair or unshaven legs.

But relaxing gender norms only helps us from this one direction, and those who propose this solution don’t seem to have much interest in ensuring that my womanhood is not negated by a certain presentation. These are not the options they want to give me. Instead, their attitude seems to be more along the lines of, “now you can be a man instead of transitioning, because society will accept a man like you!” And while that’s fantastic for any men who happen to be like me, I’m not a man, and I don’t want to be. If I just wanted to be that kind of man, I would have stopped there – but I didn’t. And that’s not up to them.

This is the key point they appear to have glossed over. To suggest that I would revert to a male presentation and identity given the chance is to misunderstand the meaning of gender identity on the most fundamental level. Even in such a society, I would still choose to be a woman, and offering a solution where I’m expected to live as a man is no more acceptable than telling a cisgender man, “hey, you should go ahead and be a woman now, since people won’t mind how manly you are!” But that man is not a woman. And this woman is not a man.

Furthermore, the assumption that someone must have chosen to transition because society is more accepting of transgender women than feminine men would be laughable, if the ignorance it exhibited wasn’t so insulting. Being a gender other than the one you were assigned is something that the world barely understands, let alone accepts. If feminine men are largely rejected, and trans women are seen not as women but just extremely feminine men, what makes them think transitioning is about finding acceptance from society? This aspect of their solution is largely irrelevant to trans people anyway. We’re already unwilling to give up who we are in the face of significant social opposition. Reducing that opposition would do nothing to change our minds, because there would be even less of a reason not to be who we truly are.

But do they actually want to reduce society’s opposition to trans people? For all of their talk of taking apart restrictive gender roles, it’s suspicious that they feel the need to offer a solution other than simply accepting us as who we are. If they wish to enlarge the sphere of manhood until I’m comfortably situated within its walls, then why can’t the sphere of womanhood be expanded to encompass me as well? Why would they want to stop right before recognizing trans people and our identities as genuine? If this is part of “radical” feminism, then clearly it’s not radical enough. As is, advocates of this approach insist on denying who we are and giving us anything but what we’re actually looking for. I’m not a woman because I couldn’t be a man. I could. But I’m a woman, because I choose to be a woman. And that’s all the reason anyone should need.

Because I Choose It

Citizens for Community Values: Mere awareness of LGBT existence will "confuse children"

In a story on the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow site, Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values claims that training foster parents in how to care for potentially LGBT children is how “homosexual activists continue to build their numbers”:

Potential foster parents may be required to spend 40 hours in gender sensitivity training, thanks to AB 1865 — a bill that has already passed in the California Assembly. It would require an “administrator of a group home facility, licensed foster parent,” or an “extended family member caregiver” to undergo training to provide care for lesbian, “gay,” bisexual or transgender children.

Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values (CCV) does not think this will actually benefit the children.

“It’s going to continue to confuse children,” he asserts. “This is the way the homosexual activists continue to build their numbers — is to get people confused about their gender identity and start acting out.”

It’s always puzzling when people think that children can’t legitimately know whether they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and any knowledge of these concepts will only “confuse them”, yet accept without question the assumption that all children must be straight and cisgender. This is the result of a mentality that pathologizes sexual diversity and gender variance as somehow being caused by bad influences – it’s beyond their comprehension that this could actually be a natural, normal and acceptable part of who someone is.

Will increased awareness of LGBT identities lead more people to identify as LGBT? Yes, but not because such knowledge causes anyone to become anything they weren’t before. It just means that those who are in a gender/sexual minority will now have the conceptual basis to describe and understand who and what they are, instead of being confused and only knowing that they’re somehow different. That’s not a problem. It’s a solution!

And what’s with the scare quotes around “gay” only? Are the rest of us not important enough to have our identities passive-aggressively questioned? OneNewsNow previously ran into trouble with an automated system to replace the word “gay” with “homosexual”, which resulted in a story about Olympic sprinter “Tyson Homosexual”. I suppose Tyson “Gay” would at least be a step up.

Citizens for Community Values: Mere awareness of LGBT existence will "confuse children"

Citizens for Community Values: Mere awareness of LGBT existence will “confuse children”

In a story on the American Family Association’s OneNewsNow site, Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values claims that training foster parents in how to care for potentially LGBT children is how “homosexual activists continue to build their numbers”:

Potential foster parents may be required to spend 40 hours in gender sensitivity training, thanks to AB 1865 — a bill that has already passed in the California Assembly. It would require an “administrator of a group home facility, licensed foster parent,” or an “extended family member caregiver” to undergo training to provide care for lesbian, “gay,” bisexual or transgender children.

Phil Burress of Citizens for Community Values (CCV) does not think this will actually benefit the children.

“It’s going to continue to confuse children,” he asserts. “This is the way the homosexual activists continue to build their numbers — is to get people confused about their gender identity and start acting out.”

It’s always puzzling when people think that children can’t legitimately know whether they’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and any knowledge of these concepts will only “confuse them”, yet accept without question the assumption that all children must be straight and cisgender. This is the result of a mentality that pathologizes sexual diversity and gender variance as somehow being caused by bad influences – it’s beyond their comprehension that this could actually be a natural, normal and acceptable part of who someone is.

Will increased awareness of LGBT identities lead more people to identify as LGBT? Yes, but not because such knowledge causes anyone to become anything they weren’t before. It just means that those who are in a gender/sexual minority will now have the conceptual basis to describe and understand who and what they are, instead of being confused and only knowing that they’re somehow different. That’s not a problem. It’s a solution!

And what’s with the scare quotes around “gay” only? Are the rest of us not important enough to have our identities passive-aggressively questioned? OneNewsNow previously ran into trouble with an automated system to replace the word “gay” with “homosexual”, which resulted in a story about Olympic sprinter “Tyson Homosexual”. I suppose Tyson “Gay” would at least be a step up.

Citizens for Community Values: Mere awareness of LGBT existence will “confuse children”