Tuesday, 19 July 2016

So Just What Is Gender Dysphoria?

Afte I wrote this, I found loads of people has done similar things but much better, which I wrote about here: http://gendercriticaldad.blogspot.co.uk/2016/08/challenging-dominant-narrative-of.html

Gender Dysphoria is a recent term, when I was a kid it had not been heard of. Its become the latest trend in diagnoses to be applied to troubled young people, hot on the heels of anorexia, autism, bi-polar and if you can remember that far, Recovered Memory Syndrome

A friend asked me if there really was such a thing?

Talking about how we feel is difficult, its a bit like describing cookery using interpretive dance. When we talk about our feelings we mainly do one or more of several things:

We describe the physical effects of the feeling. "I'm sick with worry", "My heart was in my mouth", "I was crapping myself", "My flesh crawled at the thought.."

We tell the story of what has lead up to the feeling, we try to make sense of it. "I was devastated when I heard about...", , "I felt so betrayed, I had nothing left", "The bastard ran off with the gold digging slapper"

We say what we want to need to do to make things better. "I'll get the git", "I need to find some peace", "I need some space",  "I need somewhere safe"

We describe how we react. "I went off on one", "I burst into tears", "I stormed out the house".

We have a pretty small vocabulary for feelings. Hurt, despair, jealous, grief, joy, anxiety, boredom, resentment, rage, betrayal,  frustration. We have music, dance, acting and maybe art that allows us to communicate feelings without using language and falling back on the stories.

We have a special word for the ability to understand feelings. Empathy. Its a skill that takes practice to develop.

People can different physical effects when facing similar things. Some  people react to heights with sweating, hyperventilation or a racing heart. I get a strange twisting feeling in my groin.

People react to similar feelings in different ways. Some people react to anxiety by becoming withdrawn or crying, I tend to bluster or become very terse. To some degree these must be learnt behaviours or coping strategies.  They can be culturally linked. Middle class English people grieve in silence but in the middle east they ululate.

So when people describe gender Dysphoria what are they saying?

There is the constant repetition of the same phrases learned from tumblr or trans advocacy , "I always knew I was a boy/girl, I feel so much better when I can be the real me". This is a learned story, a cultural artefact not a feeling. It is a way of making sense of a feeling

There are physical effects, but they are individual reactions to the feeling, not the feeling. There seems to be a common, strong but vague unease about gender or sex.  In our kids there may be an anxiety about the changes that puberty brings. There may be anxiety or fear caused by the way sufferers are treated by other people as they become adult men or women. There may be an anxiety that the sufferer is unable to play the roles associated with their sex. The world of sexual relationships may seem fraught with danger, repulsive, or just not something that moves us in the ways that seem to be expected.

I don't think any of this is new. I can recognise stuff that I went thru 30 plus years ago. Many women say that these feelings are experianced by most women at some time. I think what has changed is the stories that are told, the boundaries of the stories that are allowed to be told, the stories people have to make sense of it all.

I had David Bowie, Marc Bolan, Suzi Quatro, Donna Summer, Tom Robinson, The Slits, The Clash, The Jam, Buzzcocks and Debbie Harry, I had Germain Grear and Shere Hite, I had punk rock telling me that I could dress and dance and sing how I liked.

I had feminists and gays and lesbians telling me that love and sex was about discovery and negotiation. It was something you and your lover could invent for yourselves, because old people couldn't even find a clitoris and only did it at Christmas and birthdays, in the dark with their PJs on.

Nowadays so many pop stars are tribute acts.  They are sex stereotypical, or a bit gender queer, somewhere precarious on the gender line, but still defined by the line and the end points. Feminism is just a marketing  tactic, using empowerment to sell make up. Everyone is supposed to be Sex Positive, Prostitution  is a career choice, porn is free speech and harmless or just a laugh, BDSM aka beating up women to get a hard on, is a personal choice, no-one else's business. The old double standard is still strong so female desire still has to be rationed.

Porn is available on every phone in seconds and it depicts a relentless, pounding story of women submitting to male desires. Male desires has nothing to do with sensuality but is  a serious, grim, competitive performance of set pieces and positions working relentlessly to the money shot.

There is no option to say "Fuck that, I'll do what I want, with who I want, and how we want and you can fuck off you creepy old perv". You can accept the roles, or swap the roles, or be gender non binary, gender fluid  or whatever trans light hybrid is trendy today. You are still skewered on the gender line, everything is still judged against gender.

The transgender story is not new, its the same old story that ruled the world when the suffragettes fought for the vote, when womens lib was alive and kicking, when gay men rioted in Stonewall and when Thatcher bought in section 28.  Its been picked up and dusted down for a load of pervy old men to crack one off in the ladies and flash in the girls changing rooms. For sad old men with dodgy prostates desperate to relive their youth.

Our kids need a new story, not a rehash and rebrand of the same old crap.

Wow that came off a bit vitriolic didn't it?

1 comment:

  1. [ Gender Dysphoria is a recent term, when I was a kid it had not been heard of. Its become the latest trend in diagnoses to be applied to troubled young people, hot on the heels of anorexia, autism, bi-polar and if you can remember that far, Recovered Memory Syndrome ]

    This paragraph kills the rest of your argument before it even starts. The increase of disorder diagnoses and for what comes from psychology and psychologists applying ethics in their cases. Anorexia, gender dysphoria, autism, and bipolar disorder are all very real and need to be taken seriously. Back then, the diagnoses were either guesses or quackery. But now we know better. The increase of diagnoses of people with autism is one such example. Just because you didn't hear about them then doesn't mean they're fake.


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