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Fatguy Jr. Questions Thread (1 Viewer)

I've been having some random thoughts about trans stuff when reading threads here.  The other threads are moving too fast and are too angry, this one seems perfect for the kind of discussion I'm hoping for.  I think Peter might have some interesting thoughts about it when he comes back from his trip next week, I'll force him (read: bribe him) to return here and post again. Maybe other people have thoughts too.

In one of the threads we were discussing what it meant for someone to "believe transgenderism is real."  A lot of the conservative posters pushed back on that framing, because they said that they believe transgenderism is real, they just disagree about some policies.  I tried to define what I thought it meant but it was admittedly hard and I wasn't very satisfied with my definition.  The right-wing posters seemed to say "there are people that believe they are trans." That felt different to me than "there are people that are trans."  But untangling those two concepts was tricky.

But later I thought about a post I had made last week that compared transgenderism to left-handedness.  It didn't really gain any traction and it confused some people but the more I thought about it, the more compelling I thought the analogy was.  And I thought it could be a good way to try to explain why I love that analogy and to link it to the "believing transgenderism is real" thing. Here goes.

For a long time in the Western world, and apparently even today in some cultures, left handed people experienced severe stigmatization and discrimination.:

So much cultural bias was attached to left-handedness because many people just couldn’t understand how a person would be inclined to use his left hand over his right hand.
Because people just assumed that righthandedness was natural and correct, people considered left-handedness to be a defect that needed to be cured:

During this time, several attempts were made to suppress left-handedness.

Within the educational system, punishment was administered to any child that prominently used his left hand. Some children had their left hands tied behind chairs to prevent them from using it. Otherwise, they were subjected to other forms of punishment.
These attempts to get left handed people to switch hands had a poor track record of success and caused all sorts of psychological damage.  Eventually people were like "wait, this is stupid.  They're not hurting anyone.  We should just give them some different desks and scissors and let them be left handed." 

Now nobody tries to convince left-handed people that they're confused.  Nobody thinks lefties are really right handed but are suffering from some mental illness that forces them to use the wrong hand. Nobody worries that a kid is too young to know that he is left handed. Everyone I've ever encountered just sees it as a natural variation in humans that should just be accepted.  Everyone seems to agree that left-handedness is "real."

To me the parallels with being trans feel very obvious.  Cis people just can't understand how anyone can be trans, the same way that right handed people couldn't understand lefties.  So there is an inclination to see if the trans person can be "fixed."  Instead of just saying "they're not hurting anyone" and letting trans people get hormones and new wardrobes.

Anyway, that's my thought for today.  Peter, you should respond to this and also I think people here would be interested in hearing your perspective about why the population of people that identify as trans is growing so quickly.

 

IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
To me the parallels with being trans feel very obvious.  Cis people just can't understand how anyone can be trans, the same way that right handed people couldn't understand lefties.  So there is an inclination to see if the trans person can be "fixed."  Instead of just saying "they're not hurting anyone" and letting trans people get hormones and new wardrobes.
FWIW, I see this as more like both/and as opposed to either/or.  If there were some way to make trans people be happy in the bodies that they inhabit without resorting to surgery or hormones, that seems obviously like the optimal course of action.  A magic pill that "cured" left-handedness would very slightly improve the lives of left-handed people, and a magic pill that "cured" gender dysphoria would improve the lives of trans people.  

I don't see this as controversial.  I have asthma.  When low-dose inhaled corticosteroids came out 30 years ago, it was roughly the equivalent of giving me a magic pill that cured my asthma.  It was a huge, massive increase in my quality of life both because I could do stuff that I couldn't do before and because I no longer had to take toxic medicines like theophylline.  I'm strongly in favor of low-impact interventions that head off the need for high-impact interventions.    

Where I think I differ from you is that I would tend to put a little more weight on the "let's try to make the mind fit the body" side of things before moving on to "okay, that didn't work, so now let's make the body fit the mind instead."  But I'm not opposed to hormone therapy or surgery for adults.  I certainly don't have any issue with non-medical conversion. 

(We also disagree in the sense that I see GD as being something undesirable in the same way that asthma is undesirable.  But neither one has any moral weight to it -- I picked asthma as an example because it's one that I know, and obviously because nobody could possibly think that I view "having asthma" as some sort of personal failure or something.)  

 

Maurile Tremblay

Administrator
Staff member
To me the parallels with being trans feel very obvious.  Cis people just can't understand how anyone can be trans, the same way that right handed people couldn't understand lefties.  So there is an inclination to see if the trans person can be "fixed."  Instead of just saying "they're not hurting anyone" and letting trans people get hormones and new wardrobes.


I like the comparison to left-handedness as a thought experiment, but it could pull in both directions.

I suspect there are plenty of people who'd say "girls who identify as masculine aren't hurting anyone" and let them get new wardrobes. Just like people are happy at this point to let left-handed people use weird scissors.

But if left-handed people wanted corrective surgery, that wouldn't seem ideal. Can't they just use weird scissors? Surgery is expensive and dangerous and ominously permanent.

I think if kids adapted to being left-handed by taking exogenous hormones and getting surgery, a lot of people would probably go back to being uncomfortable with acknowledging that left-handedness is perfectly natural.

 
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AAABatteries

Footballguy
I've been having some random thoughts about trans stuff when reading threads here.  The other threads are moving too fast and are too angry, this one seems perfect for the kind of discussion I'm hoping for.  I think Peter might have some interesting thoughts about it when he comes back from his trip next week, I'll force him (read: bribe him) to return here and post again. Maybe other people have thoughts too.

In one of the threads we were discussing what it meant for someone to "believe transgenderism is real."  A lot of the conservative posters pushed back on that framing, because they said that they believe transgenderism is real, they just disagree about some policies.  I tried to define what I thought it meant but it was admittedly hard and I wasn't very satisfied with my definition.  The right-wing posters seemed to say "there are people that believe they are trans." That felt different to me than "there are people that are trans."  But untangling those two concepts was tricky.

But later I thought about a post I had made last week that compared transgenderism to left-handedness.  It didn't really gain any traction and it confused some people but the more I thought about it, the more compelling I thought the analogy was.  And I thought it could be a good way to try to explain why I love that analogy and to link it to the "believing transgenderism is real" thing. Here goes.

For a long time in the Western world, and apparently even today in some cultures, left handed people experienced severe stigmatization and discrimination.:

Because people just assumed that righthandedness was natural and correct, people considered left-handedness to be a defect that needed to be cured:

These attempts to get left handed people to switch hands had a poor track record of success and caused all sorts of psychological damage.  Eventually people were like "wait, this is stupid.  They're not hurting anyone.  We should just give them some different desks and scissors and let them be left handed." 

Now nobody tries to convince left-handed people that they're confused.  Nobody thinks lefties are really right handed but are suffering from some mental illness that forces them to use the wrong hand. Nobody worries that a kid is too young to know that he is left handed. Everyone I've ever encountered just sees it as a natural variation in humans that should just be accepted.  Everyone seems to agree that left-handedness is "real."

To me the parallels with being trans feel very obvious.  Cis people just can't understand how anyone can be trans, the same way that right handed people couldn't understand lefties.  So there is an inclination to see if the trans person can be "fixed."  Instead of just saying "they're not hurting anyone" and letting trans people get hormones and new wardrobes.

Anyway, that's my thought for today.  Peter, you should respond to this and also I think people here would be interested in hearing your perspective about why the population of people that identify as trans is growing so quickly.


I think you replied to me about the lefthanded analogy.  I think I'm with MT in my not really "liking" the analogy because nobody is saying to (for example) cut off both your hands and sew them on the opposite arms to "fix" left-handedness.  Or probably ignore my post and read what MT said.

*I should point out that I'm not someone who doesn't think transgenderism is real.  Rather my position is for any adult who feels this way we should just let them do whatever;  for kids we should spend time understanding the root cause and best "fix" (to use your word) - I think that for some % the "fix" is not transition but rather something else.  

 
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AAABatteries

Footballguy
And just to be clear - my double negative in my prior post may be confusing - I do think transgenderism is real, I think the only debate is what causing it and what do we need to do for individual cases to "fix" it.  I keep putting fix in quotes because I do think it's debatable whether anything needs to be done.  But seeing as physically transitioning is doing something then I'm assuming that everybody who transitions also feels like something needs to be "fixed".  

 

AAABatteries

Footballguy
A question I would have for Peter or anyone else who knows.

Is the relationship between transgender people who transition and those who choose not to contentious at all?  I could see a scenario where a transgender person who transitions is outcast by "real" transgender people.  Meaning, once you've transitioned you are then now seen as the opposite sex and no longer qualify as a transgender person.

 

-fish-

Footballguy
It's an analogy.   It doesn't have to be perfect.   I think it makes sense on a basic level to help have a conversation with someone that otherwise might be getting wrapped up in details.   Once you create a dialog based around an understanding of common concepts, you can add more depth and nuance.   

Our language also needs to evolve.  It is unnecessarily confusing to try to use common words in ways they aren't meant to be used.   I had to argue in court on behalf of a trans kid that I've known for a while, and I blew the pronouns at least a couple times.   "They," in particular, is a fairly ridiculous use of a pronoun for an individual.   Just agree on some new vocabulary and what it means.   Then maybe some of the conversations wouldn't seem so alien.

 

IvanKaramazov

Footballguy
 "They," in particular, is a fairly ridiculous use of a pronoun for an individual.   
I happen to know a person who decided to start going by they/them just a couple of years ago.  The person is question is female, looks very obviously female, is married to a guy, has kids, etc.  Just decided on new pronouns for some reason known only to her, and obviously none of us have asked.  We all tried to use "they" for about a week and then everyone went right back to she/her out of force of habit.  

Now obviously a person might suspect that I didn't try very hard, but I can promise you that most of the folks I'm talking about here are squarely in the pro-trans camp.  If they couldn't pull this off, I doubt many people can.  It's like trying to write left-handed.

 

-fish-

Footballguy
I happen to know a person who decided to start going by they/them just a couple of years ago.  The person is question is female, looks very obviously female, is married to a guy, has kids, etc.  Just decided on new pronouns for some reason known only to her, and obviously none of us have asked.  We all tried to use "they" for about a week and then everyone went right back to she/her out of force of habit.  

Now obviously a person might suspect that I didn't try very hard, but I can promise you that most of the folks I'm talking about here are squarely in the pro-trans camp.  If they couldn't pull this off, I doubt many people can.  It's like trying to write left-handed.
Yeah, it's really awkward, and it just isn't how language works.  You don't take an existing word and then apply it in a completely different way, but in the same context.   "xe" was gaining some traction for a while.   Something like that would have been simpler.

 

urbanhack

Fight The Power!
I’d just like to wish my good buddy @fatguyinalittlecoat a happy birthday, and if Peter comes back to this thread I just want to say that I think your dad is a pretty awesome person and has been a role model for me on how to prioritize the things that matter in life. 
:goodposting:

Having met him (and you) in person a few times I have to agree wholeheartedly. Some of the best people in the world.

 

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