So some while back I wrote a reply of sorts to many of the talking points put forth by Dr Debra Soh regarding the legitimacy of trans people, the concept of gender Identity, and the intersection between trans identities and orientation.
Today I find myself sharing the article below, since it does a far batter job of similarly criticising the work of Professor Kathleen Stock, recently awarded an OBE by the British government in the New Years Honours list, than I ever could.
I heartily recommend you spend a half hour or so looking through it. The UK is becoming a very perilous place in which to be openly and unapologetically trans. Bell vTavistock has brought the idea of 'a trans identity' into the legal arena. It has done so specifically via means of positing it as a mental health condition. And now we have a singularly transphobic, single issue academic Honoured by the establishment.
Yet much of what I hear from friends and from family is, "surely its not that bad?"
Well yes. Yess it is that bad. And it's set to get worse. As my recent work suggested, people need to pay attention. And trans people need, and will continue to need, support.
Long time no scribbles. I recently completed my Masters Post graduate research in Social Science and figured it was about time I wrote something on this here blog.
The first thing I thought I'd do is share my scribbles with people who might be vaguely interested. Why you might ask? Well because it occurred to me that all my thinking across the course of the last year reads much like a book with 7 chapters. So if I was to share the 7th chapter (my dissertation thesis) without the preceding 6 then readers aren't really getting the full story.
And what story is that you might ask? Well its very simple. This whole Masters research project is my attempt to highlight the multiple situational factors that, when combined, constitute both causes and propagation of the systemic dis-enablement of trans people in the UK. Including me.
The ways in which trans people navigate this shifting morass of societal quicksand are as varied as any other human behaviour. Each of us making negotiations with our identities and their meanings for our selves and for others. That this effort is occurring against a back drop of cis-normative exclusion and dismissal often results in trans people being forced to take actions that, whilst absolutely necessary, place us at even greater risk of exclusion and harm. (Essay 1)
So what now?
Currently in the UK there is a move to discredit and dis-enable the affirmative treatment of younger trans people. Whilst the Tavistock clinic's procedures appear to have been left open to criticism, that criticism is based on two very simple principles.
1) Trans-ness doesn't really exist except as a pathology.
2) Being a cis gendered person is better than being trans gendered one, even if it causes someone harm.
Obviously a quick glance at the second point reveals that it depends on the truth of the first in order to be ethically acceptable. What my entire work shows is that arguments of medicalisation as a controlling power, and the societal pathologisation (wrongness) of trans-ness go hand in hand. Both of which deny any autonomy to trans people whatsoever, and do so under the guise of 'objective' binary 'true sex' narratives. In other words they assume trans must be bad, whilst failing to adequately explain why this might be so. Their only argument being to point to the effect that their assumption (of bad ness) has historically had on trans people. (difficult lives) and other groups that may be at risk if we did recognise non pathological trans ness. (slippery slope "what-about-isms")
As long as simply being a trans person is deemed to be 'less worthy' than being a cis gendered one, then trans people remain second class, "sub humans". Defective, and delusional. The Current UK government is paving the way for a move towards the American DSM-5 classification of mental health conditions, and away from an impending Jan 2022 implementation of WHO ICD-11. The DSM5 was used in the recent Tavistock judgement, yet the UK currently uses the WHO-10 classification in the treatment of trans people. Thus creating a worrying legal precedent.
Why do this? Because implementation of the ICD-11 would oblige the the UK healthcare system to recognise the trans phenomenon as something other than a mental health condition. That recognition would be the first step along the road to redistribution of, and thus access to, rights and privileges that any person might enjoy by being a full member of society, rather than excluded from it by means of spoiled identities.
In other words, for trans people, it would be the first step on a path that recognises us as legitimately human, rather than pathologically so. Of course the systemic changes to how we think about gender in society that come about as a result of this recognition would be far reaching, hence the reluctance from some more conservative quarters, or those that depend on trans peoples marginal status for their own gain. However, if you're of a mind to read my scribbles below, then consider the following question whilst doing so:
If some humans are trans-gender, regardless of whether they recognise themselves as being so at a young age or later in life, then why would this be bad?
The Tavistock judgement is based in the (erroneous) idea that it would be. Those who brought the case against the clinic suggest that they base their arguments in rationality and objectivity. Yet I hope, if one reads all the essays below, a reader might begin to see that this so called objectivity is merely subjective conformity. Conformity to an extant bio political narrative that has been used in medicine to deem trans bodies and trans people "wrong" for at least the last 120 years. Even further back in history this same thinking was the underpinning principles in the writing of St Thomas Aquinas, and what GE Moore would come to call "the naturalistic fallacy". Medicine is attempting to correct this error, through ICD-11. Society it seems, may take a little more convincing. (If you're interested in looking at medical thinking, essay 4 is the one for you!)
I've numbered the essays as a suggested reading order, so if you've a mind, pull up a chair, get yourself a brew and spend a few hours delving into to the social sciences. After all, that athenian beggar was on to something:
"wisdom begins with I wonder"
Heres hoping my research continues: stay tuned for more updates to follow.
Sarah Ellis BSc Phys, GradDip Adult nursing, MSc Social Sciences, CMgr MCMI
Recently the directors or the Matrix trilogy have confirmed what the trans community long suspected: that the story is, at least in part, a tale of gender, dysphoria and transition. It gave me cause to revisit the films. I'd been planning to for a while but like any thing in life other stuff just got in the way.
One of my long time favourite parts is in the second film when Neo, Morpheus and Trinity meet the Merovingian, an information program who knows everything and has been around a long time (six iterations of the matrix no less)
It is brilliantly played by Lambert Wilson, with a delicious irony in that the point about causality is the very undoing of the character. (or was it?) Since if everything has a purpose in the matrix then presumably Persephone (played by Monica Bellucci) also has a a singular purpose.
Persephone is the name given to the queen of the underworld. Zeus had given Hades permission to to abduct Persephone, since her mother was unlikely to allow her to live in the underworld. He made her his Queen and she grew to love him. Although she returned to the surface world at the behest of her mother, she was obliged to spend one third of the year in the underworld having tasted the food of the dead. (Hades had tricked her into eating some seeds before she returned to the surface)
Cause and effect.
One might call into question then if Hades actually loved Persephone, or merely wished to possess her. I mean one wouldn't seriously expect honourable conduct from the god of the underworld right? But c'mon... tricking her..? Not cool bro, not ...cool ...at ...all...
In any event the Persephone of the matrix uses the Merovingians repeated infidelity and dismissal of her as cause for allowing Neo access to the key maker. The subtext in this one single little section is intriguing. Not only does it cast the merovingian as an irreverent Hades, and the couple as the keepers of the computer program underworld, but also that she knew her husband would behave in such a way. She knew that he was only able to view the effect of his actions though the lens of of his own "playful" manipulation of others, forgetting in the process that those others will react to said manipulation....
"It is nothing.. it is a game it is only a game"
She plays him right back
"So is this... have fun my love"
The beauty of this scene (for a sociologist at any rate) is the complexity of causality that it highlights. Actions will have reactions, some anticipated, others not so much. Occurrence 1 as Cause has an effect (2), and effect has consequence (3), which of course is just the effect being a causality in and of its self thus 1,2 and 3 exist simultaneously in past present and future at any given moment.
Not sure? think back to episode one of the matrix...the oracle says "don't worry about the vase.."
Still wondering if Neo would have broken it if she hadn't said anything?
theres ya consequence of Cause and Effect.
So what is my point in all this inane rambling? Simple. The matrix of the film is a dream world, the subjective idealism of the mind, writ large to enable control of the human race. The writers suggest this is allegorically representative of the Gender Binary. Moreover the chocolate cake is a metaphor for the matrix AI's interpretation of determinist heteronormativity.
To exist within in it is to play a game built on rules, preconceived ideas, and crucially, predetermined logical outcomes. To exist within in and yet attempt to subvert those rules is to be no less dependent upon them.
Its odd then that in the years since the matrix was written, trans conversations have returned to this point of physicality and so called determinism or essentialism. Greater knowledge of biological diversity re writing the collective knowledge of our own existential programming language. In so doing somewhat paradoxically creating freedoms of expression once denied on the basis of limited knowledge of the very same causalities.
The Merovingians game continues of course, played via perceptions of who should be what, how so, and in relation to whom. However, as Morpheus correctly points out: "everything begins with choice" for a human being at any rate, and of course one has to be aware of such a choice, if even at only a subconscious level (Hello foreshadowing of the architect much)
It seems therefore to be the case that this choice that faces us is
"what does one value, and what cause would one wish to fight for?"
The game? Autonomy? People? Knowledge? Wisdom? Truth? or Peace? Because each cause will visit an effect upon the others:
"I never desired to please the rabble. What pleased them, I did not learn; and what I knew was far removed from their understanding"
It is case of player beware, because just like the unfortunate Merovingian, the outcome may not be the effect you yourself logically predicted you might cause.
Why? Because Anomalies.
Time for me to log off. Have fun...