Tuesday, March 15, 2016

LIBERATION VS MUTILATION

UK's youngest M2F SRS patient who has sought public funding for reversal (F2M)

As the transgender-rights debate reaches a crescendo in the Massachusetts Legislature, I have continued to work out my own thoughts on sexual reassignment surgery (SRS), which is still a controversial method of dealing with gender identity issues. For example, no U.S. medical school offers specialized training in this surgery. As far as I can tell, no U.S. medical insurance covers this procedure, unless the procedure is used to correct hermaphroditism. Some state medicaid insurance has covered isolated optional cases of this surgery. See the linked articles at the end of this post for some more information. 

I support a society in which anyone can peacefully dress and behave however they wish without fearing violence. I do not support a society in which thought police try to enforce a conformist ideology about anything. This is called "fascism", whether it is based in political correctness or the lowest form of racism. I feel there are those in the LGBTI political class who would support this kind of regulation of thought, opinion and speech. I believe this is dangerous and wrong-headed.

The explosion and exploitation of SRS in mainstream media is unavoidable. The overt motivation on the part of human rights activists is understandable. By demystifying transgendered people, they hope to reduce public hostility based in fear. Well done. But aiming for promoting acceptance of a behavior can sometimes be seen as promoting something which is unnatural as normal. Homosexuals have been accused as being unnatural for centuries until recent research has indicated that homosexuality lies on a sexuality scale which is based in inherited characteristics. In other words, homosexuality. bisexuality and heterosexuality are simply natural manifestations of human sexuality.  

Decades of investigation and debate have clinched the argument that homosexuality is most likely based in brain chemistry and structure, formed by genes (DNA). This is where homosexuality and transgenderism part ways at this time. Part of the reason for the uncertainty about the causes of gender identity disorder or gender dysphoria is due to LGBT activism. Research into gender identity issues has been curtailed in U.S. academic circles due to the acceptance of optional surgery as a primary treatment. Similar to stopping a search for a viral vaccine because a pharmaceutical company found a pill to cure the symptoms. These surgeries are unnatural violent interventions. 

I would find this acceptable as an ethical person whose background is in psychiatric nursing if the "cure" was not the physical mutilation of healthy human bodies to soothe a disturbed human mind. Castration, hormone imbalance and mutilation are the treatments of choice in SRS. Whether or not the patient wants these procedures, they are drastic and unnatural. Cosmetic surgeons have no ethical limitations in this matter. They make fortunes by enabling narcissism and denial of aging in the general population of those who can afford the surgeries. I believe the medical and psychiatric establishments have abandoned patients with gender identity issues in favor a a quick fix. In part, I believe this has happened because the quick fix not only removes the difficulties of dealing with these patients from the realm of therapists, but it makes many in the medical establishment a lot of money without a lot of supervision of and accountability for their practices. 

I find it interesting that the supposedly erudite medical professionals who prescribe and execute SRS are in line with the most machismo cultures. In these cultures, deeply prejudiced and intimidated by dogmatic religions, it is more acceptable to become transgendered than it is to simply be naturally homosexual. I begin with a quote from the Human Rights Campaign web site on religion: 

As early as 1988, gender reassignment surgery was declared acceptable under Islamic law by scholars at Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the world’s oldest Islamic university. In Iran, in 1987, Ayatollah Khomeini declared transgender surgical operations allowable. The basis for this attitude of acceptance is the belief that a person is born transgender but chooses to be homosexual, making homosexuality a sin. Nevertheless, many transgender Muslims after reassignment surgery suffer rejection, socially and culturally, in their own communities due to their remaining in their place of origin.  If one is unable to relocate to another region where they are not known, they often suffer verbal and physical violence.

So, the medical and political establishments in developed nations have adopted a philosophy consistent with the most homophobic religious ideologies on the planet and on ancient superstition. The allowance of transgenderism in some cultures is based in an ancient belief that anyone who is attracted to someone of the same sex is obvious born into the 'wrong' body. Meanwhile, there has been absolutely no identification of a consistent biological basis of transgenderism in someone born with normal genitalia. In other words, transgenderism, as far as we know, is based in the psychological disorder, gender dysphoria, discomfort with sexual characteristics of one's natural body.

What am I on about? I believe encouraging body mutilation as a primary method of dealing with internalized, gender-confused homophobia in an unexplored and uneducated mind is unethical and barbaric. I believe it is a form of gay-bashing in the extreme. It actually makes some heterosexuals feel their dehumanizing of homosexuals is justifiable. 

My objection is not addressed to the victims of what I see as rationalized and politicized malpractice by cosmetic surgeons, endocrinologists and pharmaceutical companies. My heart is with anyone who feels uncomfortable in his/her own skin. I know that pain to some degree. However, I also know what it means to suffer the after-effects of mutilation. I suffered major internal and external radiation damage from cancer treatments over a decade ago. This damage is permanent, and I am no longer the physical person I once was. I know the toll this taken on my consciousness, even though it saved my life. 

My changes came in my 50's. I have adapted. However, the thought of a physically normal young adult committing to irreversible gender reassignment surgery disturbs me as a gay health care professional. I do not believe a troubled young mind, no matter how tortured by an obsession with its body image, is capable of making a fully mature and informed decision to be castrated or otherwise mutilated by a physician. Quite the contrary. I think it is easier for medical professionals to cede to the obsessive yearnings of that mind rather than to take the time and commitment to offer extended treatment without immediate surgical intervention.

I have personal reasons to advocate for better therapy services for those with gender dysphoria and other disorders. In my childhood in the 1950's, I displayed symptoms which would now most likely put me on an autism scale. My early education was extremely difficult, but several patient teachers and other adults guided me out of my dysfunctional behaviors to more functional behaviors. They took the time and care. Later, I was seen by many in my working-class community as effeminate because I was gawky, shy and uninterested in physically aggressive team sports with other boys. With some encouragement here and there from adults, I managed to find my peace with myself and a path to a more enjoyable young adulthood, which included activism and working with people impaired by mental illness. 

I would not support any full ban on gender reassignment surgery. However, I also do not support the current large-scale surgical reassignment industry which yields millions of dollars to potentially unscrupulous medical providers. I advocate for mental liberation, facilitated by compassionate and skilled therapists,  over physical mutilation at the hands of those who stand to profit from it. I find this article from a feminist web site very interesting: How Sex Reassignment Surgery Works in America. This article about 8 people seeking to reverse their SRS is also informative.


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