Updated: Apr 16
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
Footnote April 2022: In the concluding chapter of my thesis I make reference to the historical context of oppressions faced by those of minority orientation. Some have mis represented This element of my work, suggesting that I posit trans - ness of gender as being a sexuality. Far from it, my comments in concluding the work recognise that the incidence and prevalence of trans gender within Human populations is being treated as a sexuality - The socio-political consequences of which are being played out in the Uk parliament, and indeed globally at time of writing.
The tavistock won its appeal of the judgement the case brought by Bell et al, and yet treatment of trans youth is still under review. Legislative policy is being re structured to exclude, not include.
Make no mistake Fascism is intimately tied to the type of bio essentialism that I describe in the works below. The current UK government is actively pursuing this path. Trans people challenge that ideology - by means of their very existence.