It is often suggested that being trans is a personal choice, that is to say one we make, and effect for ourselves.
This viewpoint is often trotted out about lesbian, gay and genderqueer people too. The operative word here is about. It is interesting to note that I have yet to hear many gay and lesbian people themselves describe their sexuality as a choice, much less subscribe to the view that indeed it is one.
Indeed, I myself have always said that the only choice I had with regard to my own sexuality and gender was to either do something about it. Put another way, the choice we face is to either live, or indeed to die a slow, painful, and incongruent inner death.
That said, I did watch a very disturbing and chilling documentary entitled “Gay to Straight”: Stacey Dooley in the USA.
All the men featured here had one thing in common, they believed that it was a choice for them to be gay. But it was where this belief came from that made me more chilled than a bag of frozen peas in the Antarctic
They were all engaging in so called reparative therapy. The crux of reparative therapy is that it claims to “cure” homosexuals of their “problem”.
Now in order to attach any sort of credibility to reparative therapy, one has to engage with the idea that it is a psychopathology, that it is debilitating to the individual, and needs to be cured.
There are also wider indoctrinal forces of Geography at play here. Reparative therapy is most widely practiced in the so-called Bible belt area of America, where right wing Christianity is God, and there is no room for compromise. Also true here is that the fundamentalist belief system of parents has a disproportionate amount of influence over their offspring.
Actually, do you know what, dear reader? Fuck it. Belief system is too polite. Let me say instead that it is extreme social conditioning and indoctrination at the hands of parents has a disproportionate amount of influence over their offspring.
Coming out and calling a spade a spade puts a rather different complexion on things. Two things about this documentary filled me with doom and dread. Firstly, the way same sex attraction was couched as a negative label, and something cold and clinical and therefore best avoided. Secondly, one of the parents who saw fit to compare being gay with being a terrorist. A different scenario altogether I feel. This dubious “counselling” seems to be led by men who are attempting to be hypermasculine, and who purport to have “recovered” from their homosexual pasts. Harmless you might say. It is no different from ex drug addicts helping others to kick their habits at Narcotics Anonymous, for examples. But the difference between the two scenarios is palpable. In the first scenario there is little doubt that help and support is needed to kick life threatening addictions, and ex addicts are good people to do it since they have empathy, and have lived experience of addiction. But the formula of asking ex gays to “counsel” Bible belt boys seems at best risky, and at worst dangerous and abhorrent.
Yes they wil tell you that those who seek their guidance are not being forced into it. But they blatantly are, by their Bible belt parents. The “counsellors” seem to be seeking atonement for themselves, with the boys being used as unholy pawns in this malaise.
But the real heart of the issue is this. Any intervention provided ought to be for the purpose of allowing people to come to terms with their sexuality, not block it, as attempts at blockage will only result in trauma or hypermasculinity later. The trope of ex gays having families and getting married quickly is becoming a common trend.
But the thing is, someone’s sexuality is nobody’s business but their own. People can dislike, even hate it, but to support the cause of reparitive therapy is…well I can only say that I think there are better and more worthy causes one can support.
The medical community has de-pathologised homosexuality, and transsexuality. To allow reparative therapists to re-pathologise it would be a massive retrograde step backwards, and one I would personally loath.
It has to be said, it takes a massive amount of strength to withstand parental disapproval, but also it takes a high level of personal power, especially in the case of trans people.
Through or ears, we are fed in information. Personal power is a bit like this. Every challenge I meet, or every piece of parental disapproval I encounter, makes my personal power stronger as even though I am used to this being the default setting in my world.
I mean,all my life I have had what a former counsellor called a metaphorical rod running through my back. I have never been used to normalcy in my life.
But for those who find themselves in a minority group suddenly, as the majority of trans people do, that can be a very difficult adjustment to make.
Take for example, the recent vilification of Ria C0oper in the press, it was even suggested that she wanted to become a boy again at our expense. The our expense line is a myth since taxpayers in no way directly responsible for the funding of trans surgery.
To me, Ria was just experiencing a wobble. She faced profound rejection from her family, and particularly Ria’s relationship with her father was at stake, something that she seemed to want to rectify at all costs.
You see, most people want to be loved and accepted. This need occurs from the moment we are able to walk and talk, manifesting itself in environments such as the school playground. It takes a lot of personal power to say, fuck this I’m doing it my way suckers!
Ria, at the time the media interested peaked regarding this latest development, was sleeping on a friend’s floor. The fact that she expressed the sentiments she did does not make her weak, nor strong, just human.
I am glad I do have the personal power I have, for without it I would be well and truly puckered. I am glad that I do not live in the grip of a Bible belt state.
But the greatest thing about personal power is that you can use it as you wish. Currently, I would like to use it to secure better outcomes for myself on my trans journey. Outcomes which are more akin to those which other people experience, plus the interventions that go hand in hand with producing those outcomes.
Recently, I have noticed a lot of others making headway and progress on their own trans pathways, and of course, I am happy for them. But I want to be happy too and make headway, in my own transsexual journey. So, in order to do so, I need to overcome some obstacles, which I do not believe are insurmountable, though some well meaning people may caution against me even trying to do so. But my personal power makes me all the more determined. For I too am able to pursue surgery under the same criteria as others. It will just take more effort on my part to enable me to do so.
For a long time now, I have experienced stasis on my trans journey. Of course, I am happy for friends, but I have always wanted surgery to be the objective. Of course, I am happy for my friends as they move forward. But I want to do so as well.
It would be very easy to project, and blame it all on my disability, and say that life is hard because of it, and that I have extra obstacles. It would be fair, as it is true. But this truth does not quench my desire for surgery. Rather, it amplifies it.
We all have obstacles, as this blog has proved. Whether a battle of wills between the homosexual man and the Bible belt of America, or whether we are somebody desperately trying to do the right thing, we all have obstacles.
But extra obstacles necessitate extra solutions.
When I first went to Charing Cross, I was younger than I am now. I was so crushed by the refusal of surgery that I failed to think rationally and practically. I failed to see the refusal as a challenge, and became depressed and despondent.
But over time I have come to see the refusal as a pendulum I can swing if I so choose. Basically it comes down to this, I want a vagina, not a penis. As a self identifying lesbian this is extremely important. I can control this pendulum if I choose to do something about it, right?
I want electrolysis too. I grasped control of the emotional roadmap when I was young. I am so glad of my personal power. So glad because I need it now more than ever. It is my personal power that keeps me believing that surgery may be possible if I make a few changes. Yes. That is right! Me! Not the policy of the GIC, nor its clinicians but me. I may need other surgery first but I am so determined. I refuse to let my disability write me off from becoming the woman I should be.
I am so glad of my personal power, because I need it now more than ever. If I want help from clinicians, I need to help me too.
Not only will it help me achieve my personal “gender objectives” but it will more than likely ensure a better quality of life and longer life expectancy too. This is no joke. This is life.
No projection, but instead personal choice and personal power have bubbled to the surface, and are powering me and encouraging me along the right path.
Carpe diem. The time, is now.