Today we are going to take a brief look at what kind of advice is not allowed on online transgender forums. A 14 year old posts in AskTransgender, asking “Is this real?”
Hey guys, So, currently I identify as MtF. However, I keep thinking that I may not actually be, or that I am exaggerating, or that I simply want to be, so to not be “common”, or to be special/unique. I know it sounds silly, but I have OCPD, so these thoughts are constant 24/7, and I get very worried that I may not be trans. When I see a pretty girl, I wish I could look like her, not just be with her, and ever since I was a kid, I would often play online as a girl, and would Identify well with the character (not sure if relevant). It is getting annoying. I am 14 years old, and I don’t think I can get to a gender therapist soon. I don’t know what to do or think, as I have exaggerated “symptoms” before, and I also think I am a hypocondriac (not saying trans is an illness) which has lead me to believe I am gravely sick before, even though I am not, and I worry that this is what my mind is doing to me, any help?
There is a removed comment:
What did the deleted comment say? Must have been pretty bad, judging by the aggressive reactions, right? Luckily, since one of the replies mentions the username who made the deleted comment, it’s possible to find out. Clicking on the username of “pyre105” reveals the following comment:
So that was the comment, downvoted by other posters to -1, and then deleted. “Allow yourself to grow up as you are, away from labels and expectations. There’s really minimal difference between boys and girls in terms of personality, behavior, things we like, etc. Identifying with a girl character doesn’t make you a girl.”
These words were so offensive that the other commenters tell the author to “get the HELL away”, and that what they are doing is harmful, and then the comment is deleted. These are the words the posters on AskTransgender do not want 14 year old kids to read.
Meanwhile, comments urging them to obtain medications illegally, hide them from their parents, and go to the houses of 42 year old men, are not deleted. Food for thought for parents whose children are questioning their identities. Be extremely skeptical of the advice they are getting online.
Young people who for some reason feel dissatisfied with their sex often go to reddit’s various transgender communities to ask for advice.
A 14 year old kid asks for advice on twodifferent subreddits about how to talk to family members about gender issues and about medications like estrogen.
On one of the posts, an adult invites the 14 year old to take contact privately.
In the other post, concrete advice about how to obtain prescription medication illegally is given, complete with dosages:
Or how about this 13 year old, who writes:
Hello all, I’m thirteen today (yay!), and I’m kinda confused about my gender.
For my entire life, I’ve been happy with being a guy. I knew I didn’t fit in with other boys however, and surrounded myself with girls as my friends. I’m rather feminine, you can blame my sisters for that.
So, just turned 13, and is feminine boy.
About a year ago, thoughts passed through my head such as “if only I was a girl”. These thoughts were rare and I pushed them aside, not thinking anything of them. Roughly six months ago, I joined an online forum. I noticed that more than a few people were transgender. I knew what the term was before this, but, again, I didn’t think anything of it.
This story sounds familiar to anyone who’s been paying attention to the stories many newly trans teenagers post online. An intense period of bingeing on social media accounts of being trans leading to the teen suddenly identifying as trans themselves.
Two months ago, I started thinking about this. What if I was female? I liked the idea of it. I changed my gender on a few sites to female. One month ago, I started really reading up on it. I was a bit obsessed for one night, then I stopped thinking about it. Because I stopped thinking about it, I dismissed it again. Even though I thought I stopped thinking about it, three weeks ago I came out to my boyfriend, and then one week ago, my sister. They both took it very well. Last night, I was thinking and reading up on this like crazy, I was obsessed. I saw that most people realised at a young age, and so I thought I must be doing this for attention, or forcing myself to think this, or it might just be a phase which will go away.
I apologize in advance but I am desperate for insight and am feeling hopeless!! I’ve been considering if I’m a trans boy for the past two months (thinking about gender for almost a year) I am 14 and hopefully any of you can help.
It all started with my best friend and I talking about our characters (we dream of writing a series one day together haha) and I proposed if one of my characters was transgender and while exploring the character it was as if they way i saw them changed, that they were happier in the end and it was as if I was supposed to create them as a trans character to begin with (it’s strange and probably hard to understand)
After this I became uneasy, like something had shifted and when I asked my friends about my feelings they said maybe physiologically I identified as that character and was actually trans myself. This at first seemed unreal but also made sense in a away.
I have a obsessive personality and continued to research the hell out of the Internet, watched hours of youtube videos and began looking back at my self as I grew up. It seemed I was okay with being a girl as a child nothing really struck me as typical trans story of knowing at a young age(not trying to invalidate other people’s transitions whatsoever) but as a child I often enjoyed portraying the boys in pretend, years even. When I started puberty I became very insecure about my body (breasts and starting my period) I was always humiliated when people brought things even if it was my mom and it was just us. It seems I tolerate being a girl but I know I’m something other than that. Now more than ever I think about my gender for hours at a time, during school, while bathing and before I go to bed. I seem to be more comfy able with male clothes.
It’s again a similar story. Being obsessed with transition videos on YouTube. Feeling uncomfortable during puberty. Feeling more comfortable in “male” clothes.
Not a single person who replies to this child mentions that most of the experiences being described are 100% normal and common. Which young woman has not felt embarrassed about getting breasts and a period? Nobody tells this child that which clothes you wear don’t make you a man or a woman.
The poster goes on to post again a month later, still confused:
Need some insight. I’ve been wondering about my gender for a year questioning If I’m trans for 3 months and have been in gender limbo since. I’m a indecisive, awkward and sensitive person which I believe relates to the fact I can’t make a decision on who I am. I believe being on t would make me happy but I’m terrified of loosing hair and being overly hairy, im uncomfortable with my chest and hips as well. Im not very masuline but neither am i feminine, it’s hard for me to imagine myself as a woman in the future but a man just seems like a far off dream. I can’t seem to imagine myself with anyone or having children and I believe that may relate to my gender issues. I feel like a fake and a phony and am terrified of realizing this is a phase. I’m only 14 but I’ve been obsessively researched everything (hours and hours, while in bed, sitting in bath, during class) and am in this exhausting gray area where everything is awful and just ‘exploring’ my identity isn’t an option. Am I maybe in denial or just confused ? (I understand people can’t tell me exactly who I am but still) Please any advice would be lovely.
Teenagers have always been struggling to fit in, to figure out who they are, to label themselves. But it’s not until now that discovering your true self involves taking hormones and getting surgery. And it’s not until now that questioning whether it is wise for teens to be getting medication advice online is bigoted.
This blog has previously covered the “cotton ceiling” – the idea that having a preference for partners of a specific biological sex is bigoted and transphobic. The idea is particularly often used against lesbians. This piece on the website “Feministing” explains why women are wrong if they have a preference for only dating people with vaginas.
The author admits that some women do not want to date bepenised individuals because of traumatic experiences. Don’t worry though, your trauma isn’t reality-based! Sex also isn’t about bodies.
I get why a lot of female assigned folks exist in this frame for reasons that aren’t overtly about undermining trans identities.There’s a ton of gender based trauma out there, and I understand that folks associate this with cis men, and not with trans men. But that’s not a reality-based approach to gender. A lot of that trauma gets easily linked to genitals, but this isn’t about bodies, it’s about patriarchy.
The author then goes on to explain that it’s not okay to process trauma in a way that excludes people with penises:
My trans brothers deserve better than sex in a frame that undermines their identities. This doesn’t mean queer cis women and gender non-conforming female assigned folks can’t fuck trans men, but then they owe it to these guys to reframe their sexuality in a way that’s not undermining – to recognize that they sleep with men, and to question why they’re OK with sleeping with trans men and not cis men. I just don’t think it’s OK to process your sexual trauma in a delegitimizing way through the bodies of folks who’ve often faced tons of trauma at the intersection of gender and sexuality.
The author then goes on to blame female people (trans men) for the fact that male people (trans “sisters”) are being “pushed out”, that it, excluded from some people’s dating preferences.
I do put a little more responsibility on trans men for letting this frame push their trans sisters out. This approach to sexuality totally erases trans women by excluding us from the group of sexually existing queer women.
Finally, the author concludes, people disagree with having their sexual preferences questions because they are “puritanical”.
There’s a lot of resistance to thinking about the politics of sexuality in this way, which I totally get. Our sexualities are our own, they’re personal, and in such a puritanical world any critique of sexuality can seem messed up. But our desires are absolutely influenced by our cultural context. When you really look at the way patterns of desire map onto what bodies are privileged and what bodies are marginalized, it becomes obvious that our desires are political. I am absolutely not about critiquing the way one person falls for another. The problem is with a community trend. When we leave sexuality trends unexamined, sex becomes a space where privilege and oppression run amuck.
Some people not wanting to fuck some other people = oppression.
And it’s not just one person saying this. Here is a blog post by someone explaining at length why it’s not okay to have sexual preferences when those preferences do not include penises:
-A person should never experience a total loss of attraction to another person after learning their genital status. That’s a clear, and inarguable sign of transphobia at play. Simply knowing a person’s genital status is no excuse for such a monumental loss of attraction to a person.
-Being solely attracted to genitals is transphobic. Requiring engagement with specific kinds of genitals is fetishistic.
So, basically, being homosexual or heterosexual is fetishistic. It is not allowed to prefer people of one particular sex when looking for a sexual partner, according to this (and many other) transactivists.
Then there is the other side of the coin: some cis women might have an issue or feel uncertain about hooking up with a woman who has different genitalia than her own. First of all, you should never feel pressured to do anything you don’t want to do or that you’re even unsure about. If you aren’t comfortable or you just aren’t into it, say no.
That having been said, if genitalia is the one and only reason for not being into someone, I do think it is worth thinking through that.
Are you a women who does not want to be sexually involved with penises? You should think about this. You’re not allowed to simply say no, according to the (male) author. You have to really think about why.
Many young teens come to the realization that they are transgender through watching videos online, particularly on YouTube. There has been a dramatic increase in young people being referred for treatment because they are transgender. The increase is so large that many people, especially parents of young trans people, are beginning to ask the question if we are witnessing the phenomenon of social contagion.
Source: The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust
Many parents of young people tell similar stories about kids who go on YouTube binges, and end up identifying as transgender, and then go on to wanting to transition medically. This is especially common for girls. So what are they being told in these YouTube videos? Let us have a look at one example:
[1:09]: Do you feel uncomfortable with yourself in some way? (…) There must be some sort of discomfort with yourself currently. Look inside yourself and think about the times where you may have felt discomfort from hearing your birth name, from being referred as though your assigned sex, or simply feeling discomfort on wearing the clothes off your back. Those are just general examples but really look inside yourself and think back on to the past of situations that really should have been taken as no big deal but they were taken as such and you never really knew why.
[1:42]: Have you tried experimenting outside your assigned sex? Maybe if you have an inkling that you’re trans, but you don’t know where to go from here. Try experimenting by wearing things that are not typical of your assigned sex, you know like wear T-shirts if you’ve been used to wearing dresses or something like that. (…)
[3:43]: Have you seen or are familiar with other stories of transgender people? If (…) you’re still somewhat on the fence, ah, I would definitely check out some other people’s narratives or stories, and find if you’re, if there are some that are relatable to you. Find like you identify, or you’re finding like, similar struggles with other people who are going through somewhat the same, similar struggles as you. (…) They will definitely be helpful to you, to help you figure out whether or not you are trans
There are three points about this video that should give you pause. One, viewers are urged to comb through their memories for any discomfort they recollect, and such memories are to be taken as signs of trans-ness. No other options are even acknowledged. Two, superficial preferences like clothing are taken as proof of trans-ness. Feeling comfortable in a T-shirt is a diagnostic sign. Three, the viewer is encouraged to delve into the stories of people with “similar struggles” to find experiences that are similar to their own. The video goes on to mention the video blogs of other trans people. This means that the viewer is encouraged to seek only confirming evidence. What if there are stories by people who felt the same way but were not actually trans? Such people certainly exist, as seen here, here and here (just a few examples), but these stories never come up in the types of videos shown here.
These YouTubers are giving young people bad advice. They mean well, but the results have chilling consequences when young people go on to medically transition based on the type of advice presented here.
Is there such a thing as “autogynephilia”, that is, sexual arousal at the thought of being a woman? The transgender community online adamantly assures each other there is no such thing:
Both screenshots above are from this thread, in which a poster wants to know why his therapist is asking questions about his desire to transition to a woman. Note how the second comment tells the original poster to ditch the therapist who is asking questions, and find someone who will go along with the desire to transition.
There is a great reluctance in the trans community towards the concept that some male people can feel arousal at the thought of themselves as being women. Considering that there are a plethora of different fetishes, people are aroused at pretty much anything from rubber boots to trees, it seems odd to claim that such a thing as autogynephilia does not even exist.
The assertions that AGP does not exist pop up in any discussion where someone is questioning whether they are actually transgender or are experiencing a sexual fetish, like this one.
Denial that AGP exists, together with encouraging physical violence towards the researcher who described it, and implications that he should not be able to get work because his research is unpopular with transgender people.
With one exception, the comments are all about how taking hormones will decrease the poster’s libido. It is not brought up how this young person’s extreme porn consumption might have affected his sexuality and identity.
Finally, let us close this already long post with this post, wherein the poster describes arousal at being called a female name:
“I just get hard for some reason”. We will let those words stand for themselves, and the readers can make up their own minds regarding the existence of autogynephilia.
In an article about a child who wants to be a boy, the parents talk about how the child “began taking on names commonly used for boys during playtime and displayed ‘male role modeling’.” They talk about how the child was happy when allowed to wear “boy clothes”. They talk about taking their child to a pediatrician and then to a psychologist.
Their pediatrician recommended visiting with a child psychologist who, after a three-hour evaluation, determined the child was gender variant. The psychologist explained it could be a phase or the child could later affirm a male identity — either way, she recommended that Ann support him by letting him play and dress as he wanted.
Then two years later:
When Ben turned 7, the child psychologist formally determined Ben was transgender.
This is eyebrow-raising (or should be), because according to research, most children who are “gender dysphoric” go on to become regular adults satisfied with their biological sex. From the WPATH (World Professional Association for Transgender Health) guidelines: (note: link goes to a pdf file)
most cases of childhood gender dsyphoria do not persist into adulthood
Gender variance in childhood is normal. Risks of a GI-Childhood diagnosis include: Stigmatizing children with a diagnostic label when there is no disorder; diagnosis can become iatrogenic, instilling a sense in the child that “there is something wrong with me”; and a poor predictive value – 80% of children diagnosed with GID do not continue to have GID of adolescence or adulthood.
4 out of 5 children who experience gender identity disorder do not persist. They grow up to become well-functioning adults. Often, they grow up to be gay or lesbian. Furthermore, as the WPATH document points out, giving children a diagnostic label can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What is even more worrying is that so often these diagnoses are given to children that have been heavily policed by their parents regarding how they are allowed to express themselves. This story of a conservatively religious parent is a good example:
For Shappley and her family, it all began with a hair bow.
“I want a bow like Daisy,” her then-three-year-old son Joseph Paul begged of her. Shappley knew the big red bow, ponytails and princess dresses were things almost every little girl wished for. However, these weren’t for a daughter — Shappley reminded herself these were the requests of her son.
So a child with a penis asks for a hair bow. Instead of just letting the child wear a hair bow and not making a huge deal out of it, the parents tell him he can’t have them because they are for girls. They make him do “boy stuff”:
His desire to dress in little girl’s clothes is a secret Shappley has kept from the outside world since Joseph was just a toddler. As an infant, she put him in blue clothes. As a toddler, she made him do what shes says is ‘typical boy stuff,’ like fishing, playing football with his siblings and throwing little boy’s birthday parties.
“We tried to make this kid be a boy,” said Shappley. Still, Joseph kept seeking out what the girls had and, by the age of three, he was telling everyone he was a girl.
Of course the kid is telling people he’s a girl! You’ve been telling him that the thing he wants, that his female peers have, are only for girls. Why wouldn’t he try to get access to the pretty bows by saying he’s a girl? Three year old children do typically not have a good understanding of what it means to be a boy or a girl, most commonly understanding the terms by using stereotypes.
Shappley sought out more help, turning to pastors and her faith. Her hope was that her young boy would act like one.
The mother is hoping her child will “act like a boy”. What do boys act like? Why does this child have to act in a certain way?
“So Christians are not gay, OK, that’s the mindset that I had.”
Having a gay child would of course be difficult for a person belonging to a religion in which being gay is seen as wrong. And children who strongly identify with the opposite sex in childhood do often grow into homosexual adults. This mother will now have a straight daughter.
A recurring theme on this blog is the relationship between transgender identity and gender roles and stereotypes. We have seen over and over and over again that when trans people talk about how they experience being transgender, they rely heavily, if not exclusively, on gender stereotypes. From wanting to wear specific clothes as toddlers to wanting specific hair cuts as teens, to wanting specific fashion choices as an adult, all kids of superficial things are taken as evidence of some innate identity.
However, since most people agree that gender roles are not actually progressive or good, but actually restrictive and bad, there is also a rush to assure people that being transgender does not actually have anything to do with gender roles or stereotypes: