Mercedes Allen

Scaremongering

Filed By Mercedes Allen | May 19, 2008 8:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: American Psychiatric Association, APA, autogynephilia, DSM V, gender identity disorder, Kenneth Zucker, Marshall Forstein, Ray Blanchard, trans youth, transsexuality

Dr. Marshall Forstein, Chair of the Work Group on Practices Guidelines on HIV Psychiatry for the American Psychiatric Association (not to be confused with the American Psychological Association), has written a reply to the drive to have Drs. Kenneth Zucker and Ray Blanchard removed from the Work Group developing the revisions for "Sexual and Gender Identity Disorders" for the planned DSM-V. In it, he writes:

"I hope that what I have written makes us pause a bit before we do something to alienate even our supporters and friends in the American Psychiatric and the American Psychological Association who have been very pro-gay and pro-trans in their deliberations so far. There will always be a vocal minority that claim otherwise, but the process is vetted by many people committed to scientific integrity and evidence."

I and others have been accused of scaremongering in the ongoing debate(s) surrounding this issue. Dr. Forstein has some excellent points for us to examine. Some of the other aspects and debates, though, I still stand behind.

In the later part of the discussion on "Uh-oh," along with the article on "Destigmatization Versus Coverage and Access: The Medical Model of Transsexuality," Henry Hall accuses me of scaremongering with regard to my concerns about removing any diagnosis of GID from the DSM, without some better model to replace it. He writes:

Those who claim that an end to the GID pathology will mean an end to treatment of transsexualism are merely scaremongering. trying to frighten people into a continued acceptance of being abused and controlled.

Medicine is evidence-based and patient-satisfaction driven. Perhpas there was a time when psychiatry was needed to justify endocrinolgy and surgery for transfolk. That time has passed. It is now well-accepted medicine that hormones, surgery and change of legal sex work as treatment.

They are not going to go away merely because some shrink's teory is debunked at last.

Instead some other justification will be found to continue treatment that have proven their value and are known to be highly successful. We have nothing to fear from the removal of transgender diagnoses from the DSM except fear itself.

I don't mean to single out Mr. Hall specifically -- there are a number of similar thoughts circulating in discussions elsewhere, including those that have taken place at Gender_ID_Coalition. His comments, however, are the most direct ones to respond to.

As a "baby activist" (that is to say, relatively new on the scene, roughly about 2 years as a trans advocate), it has quickly become apparent to me that the current DSM diagnosis is a powerful and underused tool in our arsenal. While addressing the medical community, for example, in a bid to widen both understanding of transgender people and to widen the pool of "transgender-friendly" resources, the diagnosis becomes a firm foundation to build upon. Scientific breakthroughs in the study of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and other biological validations of transsexuality would provide a better basis, one that stands firm outside the realm of "mental health" issues, but they're not conclusively proven, yet. So for now, I have the DSM.

I'm also fortunate to live in an area where there is coverage of genital reassignment surgery by public health care. It exists because of the DSM, and with talk of funding possibly being delisted here in the next few months, the DSM provides the most stable basis upon which we can fight such an action. Similarily, the DSM has provided bases for cases which have fought for funding in the military, in prisons, in other situations in which medical care must be provided, and it provides the potential (however remote it might seem) for battles for coverage in any public health care system, including ones that are being postulated for a potential national health care program in the U.S. The recent restoration of funding of gender reassignment surgery (GRS) in Ontario simply underscores this point.

I am not fearmongering: I am saying, don't cut the trapeze rope until we know that the next bar is within reach.

Hall later says that:

To suggest otherwise is mere scaremongering and an attempt to perpetuate bogus mental illnesses for financial and power gain.

As a transgender advocate, I have no reason to want to "frighten people into a continued acceptance of being abused and controlled" -- in fact that is the very thing I would logically fight. I also have no means to gain financially and in terms of power from the continuance of the current diagnosis. AlbertaTrans' budget continues to be my pocket, and with not enough people interested in forming a board of directors, I don't expect to be able to fundraise any time in the near future, either. My motive continues to be the betterment of the community that I care about, and nothing more.

What I will grant Mr. Hall is that treatment options would likely remain available for those who are able to pay for them. Trans-friendly doctors and therapists will still be out there to be found (although it sometimes takes some searching). GRS surgeons would continue to provide GRS -- hell, it's a good living for many of them, and they will face the same criticisms for providing this service from others in the medical community, regardless of if GID is in the DSM. The status quo would mostly remain, perhaps somewhat reduced (especially in terms of financial coverage, where it exists), without the GID diagnosis.

Maybe it's just me, but I'm not content to stick with the status quo. Which is why I appreciate having the DSM to stand on.

As mentioned earlier, though, Dr. Forstein has a stronger statement to make about the larger issue of Drs. Zucker and Blanchard being involved with the revision of the DSM classification.

Now I admit to being more than a little panicked, myself, right from the first moment I'd read in Lynn Conway's updates that these two doctors were potentially charting the future of GID treatment. The only thing that I could think of was, "uh-oh" (hence the title of the crossposted blog article). That, of course, was "uh-oh" to the same understated degree of Egon Spengler's "bad," from "Ghostbusters:"

Dr. Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Dr. Peter Venkman: What?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Don't cross the streams.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Why?
Dr. Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Dr. Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Dr Ray Stantz: Total protonic reversal.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Drs. Zucker and Blanchard are persons with controversial and chequered reputations in the transgender community. The fact that treatment of transsexuality in the province of Ontario is filtered exclusively through their clinic has resulted in the Province's restoration of funding for Gender Reassignment Surgery being considered by many to be a bittersweet and "hollow" victory, rather than what should be a massive win. While we acknowledge that they may feel that they have our best interests at heart, historically, their practice and writings have been a source of great anxiety to transgender people. The American Psychiatric Association needs to realize that giving these personalities any degree of authority and validation will invariably stir up a significant amount of consternation and apprehension within the transgender community.

That said, Dr. Marshall Forstein has made an important statement:

Sexual orientation is NOT even an issue for the DSM committee to consider. Transgender Identity is a bit more complicated, especially in childhood. The DSM work group will struggle with these issues in coming up with criteria for what to diagnose as a true gender identity disorder. I WANT TO EMPHASIZE THAT TREATMENT RECOMMENDATIONS ARE NOT A PART OF THIS ENDEAVOR.

Any treatment recommendations that the American Psychiatric Association makes are the result of significant process of creating EVIDENCED based research.

I am currently the Chair of the Work group on Practices Guidelines on HIV Psychiatry for the American Psychiatric Association, and so am intimately aware of the process. Guidelines go through rigorous research review for controlled studies in order to make recommendations. Hundreds of people review these guidelines before publication, and the same will be true of the criteria set forth by the work group on the DSM gender identity subcommittee.

EVEN if there is literature out there that disturbs those of us who are comfortable with the concepts of transgender identity, unless it meets peer review by legitimate journals ( i.e. non religious based periodicals) it will not be considered in the development of criteria for diagnosis or treatment.

I can admit that my own personal panic led me to overlook the fact that the DSM itself does not recommend treatment. I was wrong and my inexperience got the better of me. This is not a small point, and we need to take some comfort in that. Scaremongering? Perhaps, though not intentionally.

I do, however, remain concerned about what I repeatedly admit is a projected model of what Drs. Zucker and Blanchard are likely to propose based on their history, on four counts:

  1. The possible transformation of the definition of the paraphilia "Transvestitic Fetish" into Dr. Blanchard's theory of "autogynephilia," even if not in name.
  2. A likely diagnostic division made between "homosexual transsexuals" (male-bodied androphiles and female-bodied gynophiles) and "autogynephiles" (which include all other orientations). The current treatment at the CAMH (Clarke) in Toronto, where Dr. Blanchard is Head of Clinical Sexology Services and where Dr. Zucker practices, distinguishes between transsexuals based on their sexual orientation, and considering point #1, there is a potential for this seperation to affect a great number in our community, redefining them as paraphiliacs ("autogynephiles" / "transvestitic fetishists") by diagnosis, rather than as persons with GID.
  3. A possible division of diagnosis between transsexual youth and transsexual adults. I do still wonder if Dr. Zucker's appointment in the first place is a fearful response to the public controversies surrounding revolutionary new treatments of transgender youth in recent years.
  4. Even if they do not write treatment into the DSM-V, being the authorities behind the diagnosis can be seen to legitimize them as being authorities on the treatment. Perception speaks volumes.

Taking the panic out of the equation is crucial to moving forward and conversing with the medical community. But I still do feel that this dialogue is necessary. It is reassuring that the process is designed to be screened carefully. Some of that reassurance seems iffy to us simply because we really have no idea if we have allies within the APA to advocate for us, or how many. It would also be reassuring if the American Psychiatric Association's position on "reparative therapy" could be expanded to specifically include transgender persons.

Dr. Forstein closes with: "Please let me know how I can help to keep the issues clear." I would be interested in further discussion, and appreciate whatever involvement he is willing to have in the conversation, as I would any other moderates and allies within the APA. I also do believe that he would find me -- and many other trans community advocates -- to be reasonable, and as willing to listen as to talk.

(crossposted to The Bilerico Project, Transadvocate, TransGroupBlog DentedBlueMercedes and by email to Dr. Forstein)


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Mercedes,
We, as a community, have been abused by the medical and psychological professions since the early 60s. Some still exibit the scars from those days. Is it any wonder why we have a difficult time in trusting the AMA and the APA to finally do the right thing for us?

The US has a hell hole of an excuse for health care compared to all other developed countries. Canada will protect their trans military people both in and out of the service. Here, some get thrown in the brig for exibiting trans tendencies while in the military and the veterans get sub-standard care, below the bad care all veterans are getting.

We could easily get universal care one day, but trans people will not be included because certian Congress people act like gate keepers to our equal rights. We get eliminated in one piece of legislation and it is a domino affect of keeping us out of other legislation.

So, if we are a bit skiddish because of these horrible excuses of doctors being put in charge of our future, the APA has no one to blame but their arrogant selves for thinking they and ONLY they know what is best for us. You beat a dog enough times and it will never understand anything but fear. This dog is ready to bite back.

Mercedes, I think of it as part of the process and regret not a whit of it. Do you think they would be responding now, clarifying now, or the Blanchard backpedaling now if we as a community had not turned it into a big stinkfest? No, their intent was to slip this quietly past folks until the things you mention had been inserted into the DSM as catagories, and at that point the diagnostic stuff would have become fait accompli. These kind of tactics are no longer working--which is really the shock to the system that is happening now--BECAUSE the T is no longer silent; because we react and react well(this time!) as a community. Expect to see additional divisive tatctis being used to try and balkanize our community in the comming months. They clearly did not expect the magnitude of this reaction, and it is a credit to interpersonal connections that the internet has provided to the trans community to create a reaction like this. Is some of what has been said hyperbole or even wrong? Yes. That is part of what happens when you have a large group of people involved. The real point for us now is that they ARE involved and to a limited extent those with the credentials and access to both of the APA's need to be using that power to make changes to how we are perceived NOW.

This moment in the sun will not last. My humble suggestion is that those of us who have helped create this response with postings, emails, and personal contacts need to be asking how we advise those who's attention we have gained on the issue to stay engaged in creating productive change from this opportunity.

In case it was a little unclear what I was suggesting as routes to positive change, I suggest the following as one example we need to look into:

"Transgender Europe (TGEU) emphatically refuses this pathologisation and will assist the next reformulation of the APA list in a critical manner, when this is carried out in 2011."

This is from Dr. Stephen Whittle as qoted in PinkNews.

Mercedes,

Please forward Dr. Forstein's contact info to me: danamd@danabeyer.com. He sounds like a reasonable fellow with whom to dialogue.

Right now I simply want to point out a red herring. The distinction between diagnosis and treatment is not the issue. Outside of the way children are and will be treated, and excepting the ever-shrinking fundamentalist mindset in a few aging practitioners, the treatment will continue to be what is, and it is 98%+ successful. The problem is with reimbursement.

In addition, the diagnosis itself plays a significant role in cultural perceptions, which bleed into the courts and have a profound impact on our lives. The gay community knows this very well.

There are alternatives out there already for coding, and we can probably create better one. I'm a believer that no diagnosis is better than this pathologizing one, but already we have the development of "Disorders (I would much prefer "Variations")of Sexual Development, as well as other, more limited diagnoses used by creative clinicians.

This mental illness diagnosis keeps us on the margins of society, and dogs us everywhere we turn. We start with one foot in the quicksand before we even get the opportunity to present ourselves as sane, let alone rational and productive, citizens of this nation.

PS. The endocrine disruptor hypothesis is slowly gaining ground, with Wal-Mart and Toys R Us banning bottles made with BPA. The data is finally gaining some traction, and an Obama administration will probably fund the studies necessary to deliver the goods.

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Play nice.

Countdown to banishment. 10 . . . 9 . . .

Dana, don't respond. I'm betting it will be erased shortly.

I am not sure just how comfortable I would be, were I trans-(anything) in having a retired medical practitioner whose new career move is HRC based activism advising the APA on trans-issues. I can only draw a parallel with the HRC advising Health and Human Services on LGBT health needs, where Lesbian health needs routinely are ignored, submerged behind HRC's Gay Male oriented agenda in that regard.

I support NCLR for a reason, they can be trusted.
I feel that following Ms Rose's principled resignation from HRC, anyone who hops onto their bandwagon now has tainted integrity.

I do not in any way mean to be offensive and I honestly have little invested in this issue as the only "T People" that I know are a few women of operative history and only know one well, and she identifies as a Lesbian. It is just a matter of my discomfort with HRC imput on anything critical to any component of the LGBT community in general and women within the community in particular.

Maura,

I hate to disappoint you, but I'm not an "HRC anything." I don't represent HRC on this blog, and have never even been asked to speak on the organization's behalf.

I also didn't jump on any bandwagon after Donna resigned. I was a board member before she resigned, discussed the issues with her and supported her decision for the reasons she used to make it. She's a friend and an ally. We follow our different paths, which cross frequently.

I've been an anti DSMer for many years now. I see it more as a hindrance then a help.

I can see and understand why people fear the removal of this, it's something that for some has always been, but for others it was something that came after they themselves began living as they always should have been.

Imagine what it would be like to be fine one day then listed as having something mentally wrong with you the next, and yet nothing had changed from one day to the next.

It's always scary to step out into the unsure or unknown. You think everything will end, all sorts of horrible results will happen and life will get worse.

Remember that feeling the first day you said, enough I'm going to be who I know I am? Remember that fear first time in the correct bathroom?

Yes there might be some teasing pains, but over all things will remain the same. In fact the more I look at this the more I know it to be so, other wise imagine the potential in law suits?

Yesterday you funded so and so and today you won't for me? Why because I'm not crazy? That's called (reverse) discrimination no a days.

The problem with the old DSM model was like it was for people who had those back pains years before we had the technology to actually see it wasn't in their heads. Or for those with migraine when we learned it was in their head, just not the same way as they thought.

As more science comes out each year to give reasons why a person may be born transexual, and that sure is the big step from the 80s when they were not saying "born", the more it becomes clear that we are talking medical.

One can even say these scientists are doing a great case for us and we aren't even paying them.

Will some companies or organisations try to squirm out of their deal to fund? Sure of course there will be some, we are talking about organisations that like to hold on to their money, but in the end I expect they will let go of it once a challenge to them has been made.


And Cathryn I find it interesting that you attack Dana for her opinion, but are you not doing the same thing then?
"A note.....we have a problem, we get diagnosis, we get the treatment, we are cured.....who is marginalized by this?"


And that's the misnomer. If you accept the DSM, then there is no such thing as cured, just as there isn't for a pedophile, instead just under treatment.

"Frankly, I'll take Zucker and Blanchard over you anyday."

K that says alot. I met/dealt with both men and there isn't anything you could do to get me to wan them at all in my life, but he if you do.....

Dr. Beyer;
I assume then that you are comfortable with the EDNA version that has token protections and leaves vulnerable many members of the Lesbian community as well as parts of the gay male community and the entire trans community in a sacrifice of the concept of fundamental human rights to political expediency?

A member of the board of anything always is considered as representing that organization when she addresses issues covered by that board. If she takes a position embarrassing or at odds with that organization poubically, she is expected to resign.(A little thing that I learned in business law ages ago).

I can only draw the conclusion that you support a piece of legislation that leaves far too many of my sisters exposed. There in the end some moral absolutes and bargaining away the rights of others violates the code that those absolutes are drawn from.

Human rights are not to be the subject of a political concession, and certainly not a concession made to the social prejudices of the day.

A right delayed is a right denied. Senator Frank, the HRC and whatever political bedfellows that have crawled into this unholy matrimonial bed of expediency on LGBT rights may engage in whatever exercise in intellectual sophistry that they choose to engage in to attempt to justify it, but it remains immoral. If you lend your name to legitimize an organization engaging in this behaviour, you are harming others, including my sisters as well as your own brothers and sisters.

I could not live with doing such a thing. I cannot say thatt I admire your ability to do so.

Maura,

I respectfully disagree with you. I didn't learn that in business as you apparently did. There would be no evolution in institutions if what you prefer became custom. Instead, we would have Stalinist Russia or Castro's Cuba.

I serve on ten boards, and when I speak I don't represent any of them unless I explicitly say so. That you infer that I do is your issue. As a matter of fact, if I represented them all simultaneously I would never be able to say anything coherent. Each organization has distinct, unique values for me, and I use them for different purposes, as they use me.

I did not, nor do I, support a trans-exclusive ENDA. Ask any HRC board member, Barney or Tammy.

In the past year I have received death threats and hate mail from Christian fundamentalists, and many nasty letters and phone calls from certain trans women and rich white gay men. I've had jealous gay men and women try to derail my advocacy and political career. Even some HRC Directors have been very cross with me.

But I have only once taken it personally, and I've worked through that, and I continue to try to reach out and communicate with those who disagree with me, however futile it may seem.

And, of course, if anyone disagrees he or she is welcome to get out, do the work and state the case. Nothing is stopping anyone from doing so.

Well Dana
Godspeed to you then.
I still disagree with your remaining on the HRC board and lending it legitimacy, but that is your call with you taking the risks.

My experience with boards has differed as they were corporate and European. Disagreements stay in the room and you speak with one voice or remain silent even in your private capacity.

Again, best to you. I still disagree, I still loathe the compromising of rights involved in the HRC's actions but good luck with it all.

Stand up for those with no voice, Dana. Far too many of the comfortable will not do so.

Maura,
Ah, it's "Congressman" Frank, as in the House. (grin) It's bad enough the sitting Senators in MA are transphobic. We don't need to promote Barney to that status. I just had to giggle to see you put "Senator" in front of his name.

Dana and I have had some extensive discussion on her status with HRC. I just hope she watches her back, which I see she can do rather well. We all have to follow our hearts on what path we will take to do the work we see as necessary, even if that path is filled with IEDs.

This long comment session extended because Dana offered to talk with Dr. Forstein, peer-to-peer. I see nothing wrong with that. Doctors have a tendency to listen to others who have taken a similar long path to their medical profession. I don't see that as a problem. Anything can help.

I know he is a congressman; I just do not do east to west time changes well at all and yesterday was one....sigh...

Maura,

Just a few more comments, though not all specifically directed at you.

I worked to pass the Montgomery County trans civil rights law, now under attack, for those who don't have a voice. I've been blessed; I freely and publicly admit it. I have a beautiful home, lovely children, a job, many friends and supporters, and I have never been denied public accommodation. I did the work for those who are not as fortunate as I.

The hatred, fear, and jealousy just come with the territory when you stick your neck out.

As for the DSM revision, I'm not the leader of the team. That would be Kelley Winters, Ph.D., of GID Reform. But as a physician, and as the physician who presented the paper that links DES exposure (and by extension, other endocrine disruptors such as phthalates -- already proven -- and BPA, in the news a lot lately) to feminization of male fetuses and hence to transsexualism, I have a certain credibility that others do not in this battle. I know Ken Zucker and Ray Blanchard and Michael Bailey and Alice Dreger personally, and, unfortunately, I have been mistaken for Anne Lawrence on occasion. I have challenged them in private and publicly as well. I am trying to move gender variance into the somatic category with all the other intersex conditions such as AIS and CAH, because that is where it belongs, and it is then that insurance companies will be unable to deny payments. To say nothing about the destigmatization that will yield for us all.

Dana, do you seriously think for a single minute that AG as a diagnosis is going to go away.....and that by extension there is even a remote possibility that fetish based gender variance will be moved to a somatic category?

AG is already established as part of the DSM IV revision and with Zucker and Blanchard on the committee is not coming back out.

Have you considered that endocrine disruptors in no manner addresses the hardwiring of gender identity that takes place pre-natally neurologically? That the somatic variations resulting from endocrine disruptors cannot be shown to have any neurological connection?

Psychiatry is not going to let go of GID, that will not be allowed to happen because there are still significant behavioural issues regardless of neurological causalities and historically whenever a class that is shown to have physical causality is accompanied by behavioural issues, the classification remains within Psychiatry.

I'm not sure what brand of snake oil you are trying to peddle here, it might look good to those who don't know better but it does not pass my sniff test.

And, you have a medical or psychology degree in what area, Cathryn?

I realize this will come as a surprise to you Monica since you think you know all about me...

As a teenager I took and passed the Indian medical boards. For more than twenty years I have had very good friends in both psychology and psychiatry as well as astro physics, lawyers, education etc all doctorate level. I worked for two years in the mid seventies in the field of psychiatry, minored in psychology with a major in sociology at Ohio State.....acted as an outside consultant to the Ohio State Psychology Dept. also in the mid seventies.

I am one of those people who has continued studying a wide range of subjects my entire life...and I'm getting up there in years. In Europe my work on ancient history is widely respected and has been part of course requirements at several universities as well of part of at least one thesis.

And as you know, Caillean McMahon is a dear dear friend of mine and we discuss these very issues on the average of three or four times a week...in depth.

Further, since I am well aware of the turf mentality that runs rampant in the field and there are TWO actual practicing psychiatrists, one in the field of gender, the other at the top of the profession and both women of operative history it would make a hellva lot more sense to let them take this on rather than a retired doctor, field of specialty unknown with political ambitions.

Now before you accuse me of tooting my own horn, you asked, I answered. Some of us with Mensa level IQs actually use them.

Cathryn,
The question was a legitimate one. It just shows that you have the proper credentials to question Dana's direction. I sure don't. And, it's not tooting your own horn. You should be proud of your accomplishments.

". . . use them." As do I.

Cathryn,

You have a very impressive resume and sound like a well-educated woman. If that's the case, then why the hostility? If you have a particular factual issue you'd like to discuss, feel free to do so. If you can convince your trans psych friends to get involved, then all the power to you. No one person, and certainly not I, is going to have an impact on this task force.

For the record, I'm a retired ophthalmic surgeon, and I've studied sex and gender for forty years. I've also done research on endocrine disruptors and presented, along with Mickey Diamond, to the International Behavioral Development Symposium. And, yes, I am a politician, and I am out working every day to secure rights for the entire trans community.

How about you?

Dana,
I no longer give a damn about the entire "trans community"..I fight for women's rights being a feminist woman myself. While I don't believe anyone should suffer discrimination for non threatening or destructive personal behaviour I have watched for 15 years the steady erosion of actual civil rights of transsexual women due to two factors. One is the pathological ego defense need of TGs to "educate" politicians. If they had just kept their mouths shut about what was between their legs and concentrated on letting the policitians and general public have their understanding based on the sort of sound bite knowledge contained in the old phrase "woman trapped in a male body" instead we would have achieved basic civil rights already that would have covered everyone. You do not convince John Q Public, Larry Legislator and Sally Everywoman you are a woman by insisting on talking about feminine penises, they live in a bi-gendered world. They can grasp classic transsexuality because it conforms to the bi gendered world they live in, gender deconstruction rocks their world too much.

The other factor is HRC. HRC hasn't passively opposed trans civil rights, it has a LONG history of actively working against them, literally undermining efforts towards those ends by buying off trans leaders to betray the efforts and lobbying AGAINST them outright. I have sat across the desk from legislators who have openly discussed and revealed this to me. Not aides, the legislators themselves. In both 1997 and 1999 I was one of those who caught HRC with a red hand holding a smoking gun in the cookie jar doing exactly this. This is not changed because HRC is controlled at the top by neo-Mattachines and if you are the insider you have told the press you are, you know this already. And yet you work for them and do so after the latest and most open example of the real agenda.

As for "getting my professional friends to weigh in"....what makes you think I haven't? Some of us work quietly behind the scenes to avoid the sort of personal attacks the "trans community" is well known for. It's pretty damn hard to defend a group who insists on using psychotic behaviour both to argue against being included among mental disorders and against each other. That ship sailed. Some of us are trying to salvage proven treatments for those who absolutely need them and real science is needed for that rather than "what ifs" and "maybe some days". The "trans community" has one of the shortest attention spans imaginable. In three to six months they will move on to the next "outrage", forget this is playing out over a period of years and once again be totally blindsided in 2012 (ironically the year the world is supposed to end) when the DSM V is published.

Zucker and Blanchard aren't the real enemies here, they are being used as pawns in a bigger game to cut off all treatments by taking away any medical justification for it. Think Paul McHugh instead. My problem with you is you are playing right into this as well.

Dana,
I no longer give a damn about the entire "trans community"..I fight for women's rights being a feminist woman myself. While I don't believe anyone should suffer discrimination for non threatening or destructive personal behaviour I have watched for 15 years the steady erosion of actual civil rights of transsexual women due to two factors. One is the pathological ego defense need of TGs to "educate" politicians. If they had just kept their mouths shut about what was between their legs and concentrated on letting the policitians and general public have their understanding based on the sort of sound bite knowledge contained in the old phrase "woman trapped in a male body" instead we would have achieved basic civil rights already that would have covered everyone. You do not convince John Q Public, Larry Legislator and Sally Everywoman you are a woman by insisting on talking about feminine penises, they live in a bi-gendered world. They can grasp classic transsexuality because it conforms to the bi gendered world they live in, gender deconstruction rocks their world too much.

The other factor is HRC. HRC hasn't passively opposed trans civil rights, it has a LONG history of actively working against them, literally undermining efforts towards those ends by buying off trans leaders to betray the efforts and lobbying AGAINST them outright. I have sat across the desk from legislators who have openly discussed and revealed this to me. Not aides, the legislators themselves. In both 1997 and 1999 I was one of those who caught HRC with a red hand holding a smoking gun in the cookie jar doing exactly this. This is not changed because HRC is controlled at the top by neo-Mattachines and if you are the insider you have told the press you are, you know this already. And yet you work for them and do so after the latest and most open example of the real agenda.

As for "getting my professional friends to weigh in"....what makes you think I haven't? Some of us work quietly behind the scenes to avoid the sort of personal attacks the "trans community" is well known for. It's pretty damn hard to defend a group who insists on using psychotic behaviour both to argue against being included among mental disorders and against each other. That ship sailed. Some of us are trying to salvage proven treatments for those who absolutely need them and real science is needed for that rather than "what ifs" and "maybe some days". The "trans community" has one of the shortest attention spans imaginable. In three to six months they will move on to the next "outrage", forget this is playing out over a period of years and once again be totally blindsided in 2012 (ironically the year the world is supposed to end) when the DSM V is published.

Zucker and Blanchard aren't the real enemies here, they are being used as pawns in a bigger game to cut off all treatments by taking away any medical justification for it. Think Paul McHugh instead. My problem with you is you are playing right into this as well.

What about the trans men? I saw no mention of them. They are involved in the scheme of things. They have actively fought for trans rights. They have stood up against legislators and HRC. They have done a lot to secure rights for ALL transgender people.

Only 5% of the US population was covered by rights for ALL transgender people. Today, its nearly 40%. So much for this illusionary errosion of rights. And, HSB-identified women are also protected by the rights obtained for ALL transgender people. A lot has happened to in the 21st Century. A lot still needs to be done, for ALL transgender people.

Monica.....

Your "40% rights" came at the cost of:

Recognition of legal marriages throughout the US of heterosexual women and men of operative history leaving untold numbers of them with their legal status now in limbo when it once was secure.

Surgical requirements for changing gender on all official federal documents ie Social Security and Passports where it was not required before directly harming TGs.

Surgical requirements for driver license gender marker changes in the majority of states when a simple court order usually worked before, directly harming TGs.

Long time transitioned women post and non-op being outted due to document mismatches and background checks.

Targeting by the religious right of post ops as "the" agents of the homosexual agenda regardless of orientation when prior to that even Pat Robertson "got" transsexuality and gave us a pass.

And most importantly an acceptance of the womanhood or manhood of post ops by the general public who switched from assuming you were post-op and quickly getting over it when you were outted to assuming you are a she-male and treating you as such.

........these among other costs due to blacklash. You didn't "win" your rights, you traded them for ours while making non-op transitions more difficult. You also made federal gender protections almost impossible for the foreseeable future.

Frankly you are your own worst enemy in my opinion. Also you personally have probably done more to widen the divide between the HBS/TS and TGs than most and as a victim of your efforts in that regard I can personally attest to that. You have done everything in your power to make sure my opinions are not heard, my voice silenced, my efforts ignored. And BTW, I'm in the 60% area and heterosexual so it was all losses for me personally.

Pardon me for not being all that fond of you. I have never understood your insane hatred of me, but it's pretty damn hard to ignore.

I feel compelled to add that none of the above would have happened if you and those like you had at least tried to act like ladies and women and refused to discuss your genitals.

Cathryn,

You and I are clearly on different pages.I wish you well in your approach, and I will continue with mine.

I have been working with Kelley Winters on the DSM for years, and will continue to do so. I have also been in contact with Paul McHugh since 1992, however unpalatable that has been. You might recall that it wasn't until 2005 and the appearance of Bill Reiner's paper in the New England Journal on cloacal exstrophy that he finally accepted the existence of gender identity. So even he can change, however glacially.

Oh, and I also fight for women's rights in my position as Vice President of Maryland NOW and my work in the County with the mentally ill and victims of domestic violence.

I don't do gender deconstruction, and get plenty of grief from those who oppose my primarily biological approach. I also don't work to add cross-dressers to legislation when it is not appropriate; most of the legal and legislative issues relate to identity, and that is only relevant to those who socially transition full-time, most of whom do so physically as well, when medically feasible.

Implying that others and I are psychotic is not going to advance your approach on this list.

Dana,

It is especially nice to know you are involved in NOW as I am. Perhaps we even met at the 2006 national convention in Albany. I've always found it very discouraging that almost no women of transsexual history take an active role in NOW.

Regarding psychotic behaviour. You say you have received death threats, so have I along with having been turned in as a terrorist to Homeland Security, being magazine bombed with over 200 subscriptions in my name, slander, libel, even an open attempt to destroy the religious group I lead and leave me personally homeless when I had been taking in disadvantaged transwomen for years......all from the community. You know as well as I do that Zucker and Blanchard will receive similar treatment.......that is psychotic behaviour.

Currently I lead the Cybeline revival having founded it and maintain a Pagan convent that doubles as a women's spirituality center.

Cathryn,
You are wrong and you have no proof that the rights we got caused any of that. None. Zero. Zippo. Again, I point out that this is the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY, a time when the concept of stealth is no longer technologically possible. Peter Pan and Never-Never Land has more validity than stealth has in the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. To think you can link all of those things you mention to one and only one reason is like trying to link the Dark Ages to rats. It don't fly with the reality of the TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY.

But, why should I even try mentioning this to you? Your world has not been one that accepts anyone elses opinion, work, efforts, pain, suffering and concerns. It's why you have been ostersized by all. We would listen to you easier and show you the respect you deserve if you showed everyone else respect as well. It is and has always been a two-way proposition. I get the impression that you don't want people to show you respect, even when you get upset when they don't. Why?

After 10 years of hearing the same things out of you, I do not hold out any hope you will ever change. If this is the life you wish to lead, then don't expect the rest of us to change our attitude toward you, or listen to your concerns. It's the "honey and vinegar" anology. As you stated, you do have a Mensa IQ, after all.

I'm going to let those last few comments between Monica and Cathryn stay on the site, but it's getting rather borderline in the TOS area.

Play nice ladies. No one cares about your personal blood feuds except possibly the Hatfields or the McCoys. If there's enmity between you, take the sniping off the thread.

The comments section on Mercedes' last few posts have remained awfully darn civil. I've been proud of all of you for discussing important differences politely. Don't fail me now!

Monica.

Those weren't just my opinions. Do you have any idea how many hundreds and hundreds of times I have heard what I related from other "stealth" women? Bitching about this is one of the first things discussed among us when we get together. We might disagree on politics, feminism, you name it but we all agree on this. TG activism has had a very very negative impact on our lives. Not one of us expects what you call stealth, we call it being who we are, women.

Bil.....I am trying to remain civil.

Yes, Sheriff, I know that you gots that law of no guns in town. Me and the girls were just havin' a little fun. Sorry.

Okay, girls. Give the Sheriff all of yer hardware. That includes those derringers you gots in yer silk stockings. Come on. That mean you too, Lilly.

Does that help, Sheriff? Now, let me buy you a shot of whisky at the saloon, the one run by Tequilla Mockingbird. I understand they have men dress as women in their show? Have you ever heard of such a thing? But, it sounds like fun.

Cathryn,
I think that we have all been dealt a lousy hand from the beginning and each are trying to make the best of it. I know that you have been beaten down more time than most and if you weren't angry, we would consider you a saint. Is there such a thing as Pegan saints? That's an honest question, by-the-way.

We disagree on many things. We always have. But, we both have done some good over the years. I guess it can be considered the shotgun affect. If you do things long enough, something is bound to be right. Even the most cynical of trans people would admit that, and I can be rather cynical.

So, truce?

(Please note that in all of these comments on this and recent postings lately, I have not abbreviated your name. At least give me credit for that.)

Cathryn,

You bring up an interesting issue which has concerned me for years. I had a partner who had been stealth for twenty years before she met me and began to come out. I became very sensitive to the stealth choices of many trans women, and realized that we each have a choice to make. I chose not to enter a new closet. I transitioned simply to be a woman in all aspects of my life in addition to my mental life, but I have stepped up to help those less fortunate.

I understand your concerns, but Monica is correct -- this is the 21st century. We didn't create your difficulties -- the digital revolution and Republican takeover did. I also don't see how a woman who transitions with college degrees and job experiences in one name will not be outed when applying for work. I suppose back in the olden days for those women who transitioned, disappeared, got married and never had to work there might have been little problem. But surely for a professional the lying that would be necessary would not only be morally consequential but ethically and possibly legally as well.

It is also, I believe, naive to imagine that we could have simply remained under the radar while the gay revolution proceeded apace. Certainly someone would have come out, been interviewed by People, appeared on Oprah, got a show on LOGO, etc., and the box would have opened. Instead, we have hundreds of folks who have been working for many years to make life better FOR ALL OF US, and I truly believe that includes you as well. Admittedly, I don't know you at all, but I simply don't see demanding the movement remain stealth as a viable alternative. That train has long left the station.

Dana,

The "box" was opened in the mid eighties. Many classical transsexual women did the talk show circuit between then and the mid nineties and the result was the general public was starting to "get" transsexuality. Then some asshole got the bright idea of replacing them with crossdressers, introducing the concept of "non-op transsexual" to replace Charles Prince's "transgenderist" and using "transgender" as an umbrella term. The results were predictable and now the general public confuses fetishistic crossdressers with classic transsexuals and no longer believes that for classic transsexuals surgery is no long more than a mere choice some make....... "She says she's a transsexual and she doesn't need or want SRS" is something you hear all the time now. It was literally the creation of a third sex and if you are a social historian or sociologist you know what happens to third categories.....they are totally marginalized.

Stealth to TGs is a dirty word, stealth as you use it has been impossible except for those who transitioned in the seventies and earlier since the early 90's.....today the word to those who use it means avoiding TGs like the plague and not running around announcing their backgrounds and discussing their genitials. It means you live as an actual woman not a faux one. I was attacked for participating in NOW as a woman rather than an out transsexual, that pretty much sums it up. We view transsexuality as a condition we had, sought treatment for, were cured of and now go on.....that is todays meaning of "stealth".

I fought for years the "inclusive" use of transgender, tried to get the "community" to use "transgender and transsexual" so that some small amount of respect of identity would allow some of us to stay active in the civil rights movement and was turned into what I jokingly call "the evilest trans in America" for my troubles. The umbrella term and the deliberate confusion in the public mind it caused was to coattail legitimacy from a medical condition to weekend women and not ready for full time players. The resentment it has caused among those of us who are starting to use HBS or other terms to replace "transsexuality" due to the total loss of meaning for that word, is staggering.... And just look at the resentment and anger extended towards those who use HBS. On some blogs you are not even supposed to mention it. The TGs are pulling out all the stops to combat use of the term because they still want the "legitimacy" of classic transsexuality while they have done everything they can to erase it as distinct from themselves.

Cathryn,
Why do you insist on complaining on what happened in the past when nothing can be done about it now? It's like being upset that Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner and President Kennedy had affairs. What's the point?

You were around back then. How come you didn't prevent this from happening? Seems you're just as much to blame as the rest of us. If you are insisting that we could have stopped this, then so could have you. But wait. Like the rest of us, you couldn't see what would happen in the future. Could you?

You're stuck in the past and you seem to think that by complaining about it will make your life better. You have been complaining about the past for 10 years now. Ask youself if your life is better because of it. If your whole goal in life is to remain angry and unhappy, then I guess you have done a great job of it. So, carry on.

I'm 57 and life is rapidly coming to a close. I personally want to have a happier life with what time I have left, and it seems to have moved in that direction. I have a love in my life that I could not have imagined would be so fantastic. If I could change the past, I would maniplate the chromosomes in my mother's womb so I would come out a female. But, that's science fiction. We live in the world of today, not 1951 or even 1990.

Monica....I wasn't talking to you.

I was asked about stealth, the history is important to understanding the use of the term today as well as yesterday and history matters.

As far as trying to change things then...I did and you and your buddies attacked the hell out of me for it then and you continue to this day by now invoking my being a dinosaur and little shots about me being "angry" and your speculations of my life. So much for your truce.....

I'm sick and tired of your pathetic need to comment on every thing I say.....you really know nothing of my life day to day, what I do, my satisfaction with it. Periodically I pop up in places like this so revisionist history being sold is countered.

I am a historian by nature and know full well those who keep putting history down do so almost always from an agenda. I suspect your agenda is trying to forget your role in the current mess. Yes, I spend a lot of time "in the past" but not as you see it.....rather on a scale where 3000 years ago is yesterday to me...

TODAY we are seeing a huge huge backlash from those events you keep telling me to "get over"..

Soon, largely as a result of that "ancient history" of the 90's as you refer to, YOU will be legally and officially considered a man which was the subject of this thread to begin with.......the revision of the DSM. Frankly I see no other outcome possible because you can sign petitions until the cows come home, write all the angry letters you want but AG is going to be at minimum the "official" designation of at least everyone not HBS or out and out fetishistic transvestite. That would mean you..... believe it or not I would not like to see that happen. It will end once and for all any chance of legislation not extremely classic transsexual specific which will screw over all gender non-conforming lesbians, intersexed people (of which I am one) and others, not just you TGs.

And I told you and your buddies back then what would happen today, and I was right. Now I'm clearly telling you the future for the next three to four years. Scroll up and read what I said in comment #21, print out the second to the last paragraph and save it until say.....2011. If I'm still around then I'll tell you "I told you so" once again.

I often wonder why I'm even bothering....my legal identity and life is securely as woman and female as is that of those of us who transitioned before "transgender" became an umbrella term. We fight our legal battles when they arise on that basis, not as trannys. But you see I have an adopted trans niece.......perhaps you remember her, Aurora, she's a teenager now. I hear all the time from those trying to navigate the mess TGs made on their way towards congruence and a life afterwards, so I keep trying. Nope, you'll never see me again at crossdresser parties like Southern Discomfort etc., I'll never again lobby for trans rights along with a bus full of drooling, crack addicted street girls as happened in Albany in 2002..... But I will continue to remind people that classic transsexuality is a totally different condition from being a TG and probably remain a thorn in your side until I die, which I realize will be a day of celebration among your crowd.

You want a truce?......then stop commenting on me and my life and stick to the damn topics at hand. I am beyond sick and tired of you trying to take every issue I try to discuss to the personal. If you cannot contribute on the topic......try giving your keyboard a rest for a change.

Cathryn and Monica-

As Bil said earlier- please keep discussions civil and on topic. Please refrain from personal attacks on one another.

-Waymon Hudson
Editorial Team, The Bilerico Project

Waymon....I am sincerely trying to do so and wish only to discuss the topics without being personally sniped at.