Monday, February 18, 2008

At 8, I couldn't even spell "transgendered"

On the "WTF Is The World Coming To" front ... an elementary school in Colorado is planning on accommodating an 8-year-old boy who says he's "transgendered."
He's an 8-year-old boy who wants to attend second grade here in the Douglas County Public Schools, but with an unusual stipulation: He wants to go to class as a girl.
That means wearing girls' clothing if he likes, being addressed by his teacher with a girl's name, and using the school's two unisex, family bathrooms instead of the boys' room.
School district officials are preparing to accommodate the transgender child and his family, but not without public fuss.
Other parents at the school have gone public with their objections, citing concerns about exposing their own children to the sensitive subjects of sex and gender identification, and questioning the wisdom of the school's accommodation of the boy.
"I don't think a [second-grader] does have the rationale to decide this life-altering choice," said Dave M., who told Denver's KUSA-TV that his daughter will be in the same class as the transgendered boy.
I distinctly remember being 8 years old and ... the very concepts "transgendered" and "transsexual" would have been absolutely beyond me. And not because they would have been beyond my comprehension (I was pretty smart as a boy ... and I probably could have spelled them, the 5-time School Spelling Bee champ says). And not because I didn't know, at some pre-sexual level, that I didn't "fit in" amongst the other boys. But who knows what I might have thought at that time had I had "Comprehensive Sex Education" or otherwise had my mind fucked with by the sexual revolution and the sensitivity police.

This is a large part of what we opponents of sexual revolution mean when we say it is corrupting. Where, in the name of Whatever, could an 8-year-old even get the notion that he's "really" a girl or should be called by a girl's name? What competence does he have to even decide on the matter? I should note that I'm really not commenting exactly on moral matters per se. I could very well believe ... this is experience talking ... that an 8-year-old boy might have some latent issues and they might later morph into full-blown same-sex-attraction ... and, if so, his post-pubescent body will tell him that in about 5 or 6 years. And when he's an adult, he might be competent to decide what to make of such a fact. It is actually possible (gay men assure us repeatedly) to believe that homosexuality be moral and that there's no need to prematurely sexualize children.

And why the hell are his parents accommodating what would once have been understood as simple malingering, childishness (in an 8-year-old ... imagine that) or an excessive fantasy life? An 8-year-old might not even have made his first confession yet and certainly doesn't even have his adult voice yet, and his parents are going along with some declaration on a lifelong matter like "gender identity"? Children have no attention span and no concept of time or lifespan. I remember wanting to change my name when I was 10 ... it lasted a day. The fewer adult concepts you introduce into a child's head, the less chance he has to screw up.

As our Courage chaplain once wrote (keep in mind that he's writing explicitly about high-schoolers, but that was back in the Dark Ages, the Unenlightened Era of 2005. We've made so much progress among the youth since.):
Rather than struggle through the difficulties of adolescence, a high-school freshman or sophomore can now, with official support, profess to be gay—and he instantly has an identity and a group. Now he belongs. He knows who he is. Gone is the possibility that adolescents might be confused, perhaps even wrong. Adults typically display a wise reserve about the self-discoveries of high-school students: they know adolescents are still figuring things out, and they recognize their responsibility to help sort through the confusion. So why is all this natural wisdom somehow abandoned these days—in the most confused and confusing area of adolescent sexuality?
Of course, the phrases are tempting because of their convenience and efficiency. They are common, close at hand, and make quick work of a difficult issue. But they also identify an individual person with his homosexual inclinations. They presume that a person is his inclinations or attractions; he is a “gay” or is a “homosexual.” At some point adults have to admit that a fifteen-year-old who claims to be “a questioning transgendered bisexual” is really just confused.
In fact, it used to be the case that we believed an 8-year-old was not competent to make decisions on sexuality, whatever they may be -- that's the presupposition of all age of consent laws. And that analogy goes to the heart of what is evil, not just laughable, about this Colorado case. By giving an 8-year-old his way on this matter, and trying to make others accommodate him using the power of the state, this boy's parents and the school district are treating him as a sexual agent. This undermines the "age of consent" presupposition and thus does something as violating, as evil as anything NAMBLA does, even though nobody is being touched or fondled or "messed with." We used to understand the difference between adults and children. I don't think we do any more. In this case, both because a child is trying to be too adult and adults are succeeding in acting like children.

Pretty soon, this won't be satire ...


Michael J. Bayly said...

Do yourself a favor and watch the French film, Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink).

Better yet, screen it at your next Courage meeting. It should make for interesting discussion and perhaps even some enlightenment.

You and your Courage chums are open to enlightenment, aren't you? Or do you think all questions and issues regarding human sexuality have been settled?



Heather said...

I remember wanting to be a boy when I was around 5 or 6. It was summer and THEY only had to wear the bottoms of their bathing suits, where I had to wear a TOP, too!
Such was my logic.

CourageMan said...

Do yourself a favor and watch the French [sic] film, Ma Vie En Rose (My Life in Pink).

It's a Belgian film.

Saw it a decade ago and thought it creepy even at the time, turning a pathology into a sentimental fairy tale. I hear the boys at NAMBLA love it though.

Better yet, screen it at your next Courage meeting. It should make for interesting discussion and perhaps even some enlightenment.

What would be the point? I don't know about you Dignity-types, but we don't have 7-year-olds at our meetings. Our goals are different from yours though.

Do you actually have an answer to what I said about how the very category "trangendered children" prematurely sexualizes children ... by presupposing that an 7-year-old is a competent sexual agent. To put it crudely, if a 7-year-old has competent agency in the matter of what "gender" to "identify with," regardless of what fantasies Belgian art films or whiny American pressure groups can spin, why isn't he competent in the matter of whether or whom to fuck? Seems to me, one has agency in both or in neither.

You and your Courage chums are open to enlightenment, aren't you?

As you define the term "enlightenment," probably not. That is a good thing, BTW ... the surest way to have an open mind is for it to be empty, and you lot have the most open minds in the world (actually, jest aside, you really don't. You just have closed minds on different matters.)

Or do you think all questions and issues regarding human sexuality have been settled?

Some are; some are not.

This is exactly what you think, BTW. We differ merely on which ones we think are and are not settled. The difference being that the ones you think are settled, you think are settled in a way completely incompatible with Scripture, Tradition and right reason.

You and your Dignity chums are open to conversion, aren't you?

Kasia said...

I knew someone as a child who was sure from a very, very young age that she wanted to be a boy. As she grew up, she came out as bisexual, then lesbian, and eventually got the sex change.

I can't speak competently to the morality of my childhood friend having gotten a sex change as an adult; but I do think CM is correct about the essential issue: an eight-year-old is not competent to make that kind of decision.

Heck, an eight-year-old isn't considered competent to vote, smoke cigarettes, drink alcohol, drive a car, work for wages, or whatever else. He or she isn't considered competent to drop out of school, get married, or sign a contract. Why is this eight-year-old being accommodated in his public gender-bending?

If he goes through another 15 years (in my friend's case it was more like 20 or 25) of being sure that he's transgendered, then he and his doctor (and hopefully a spiritual director) can help him wade through this. But

Michael J. Bayly said...

Dear CourageMan,

You seem to be conflating issues of gender and sexuality. Just because a child (or anyone, for that matter) identifies with the opposite gender doesn't mean they want to be sexually active.

So your mentioning of NAMBLA is misleading and, quite frankly, rather bizarre. Then again, perhaps it's an attempt to demonize and silence any opposing viewpoints. "Oh, you watched that film so you must be supportive or aligned in some way with NAMBLA!" Sorry, but that's a ridiculous and false assertion, and I for one won't be cowered by it.

And what am I closed-minded about exactly?

I fully support you in living a life of celibacy if that's how you feel called. Yet you can't say to me that you support me in building and sustaining a loving and committed relationship with another man. Why is that? Similarly, I'm fine for Courage to exist and help people. Yet you can't seem to say the same thing about Dignity. So who's really being closed-minded here?

As to my "questions and issues" not being compatible with scripture, tradition, and right reason, that's very much open to discussion and debate.

Do we really know exactly what scripture is condemning with regard same-sex relations? Most reputable biblical scholars would say that its exploitive sex that, more often than not, is being condemned. And rightly so. But what a about loving and committed relationships? Where are they condemned?

As for tradition, that's a living thing, and accordingly should be informed and shaped by new insights and knowledge - including insights and knowledge related to human sexuality.

That's not happening in the Roman Catholic Church. Accordingly, to suggest that the Church's sexual theology is supported by "right reason" is a joke, and the vast majority of Catholics - gay or straight - know it.



Anonymous said...

When I was six, I claimed to have a crush on the catcher Johnny Bench because I wanted Johnny Bench fan merchandise. I knew how to do this, because there'd been an episode of The Brady Bunch in which Cindy had a crush on someone. And sure enough, it worked. My relatives gave me a bunch of Johnny Bench stuff.

But of course, they never learned to see me as a sports fan, and the remorse I felt about the deception put me against sports in the end. I almost never watch baseball now, and I still feel bad about the whole big lie. Especially since I successfully ran another big lie in junior high, and once again was not caught or disbelieved. (Headaches are great for malingering. And it was close to true; I had headaches a lot -- just not as often as I led people to believe.)

Anyway, the moral of the story is that adults are stupid and will believe any crazy story that kids tell them. As long as you're consistent and act broadly enough, they'll buy anything. Then you either have to break it to the adults that you lied to them, or go on with the deception, hoping to find a stopping point where the adults will get bored with it and you can drop the game.

DP said...

"Similarly, I'm fine for Courage to exist and help people."

Which is why, of course, you posted on this blog in such a profoundly condescending manner--"enlightment" and "chums" being natural terms of respect. An odd way of displaying how "fine" one is with another.

"[R]eputable bible scholars" is nonsense phrase which invariably translates as "scholars who agree with me." Scholars who, in this case, have to engage in question- begging gymnastics to establish the point. It's more intellectually coherent to take a supercessionist approach and argue that the zeitgeist has rendered scripture moot on this and myriad other topics. Of course, that pretty well totals all Scriptural authority, but you can't make an omelet...

Pat Hannagan said...

Mr Bayly, you are confused about gender and sexuality.

Gender has always been a grammatical term denoting if a noun belongs to either the masculine or the feminine.

It is a fairly recent occurrence that the term has been misappropriated to refer to an individual's sex.

The reason for this is, just as you have classically exhibited here, to confuse people into creating a mental distinction between their sex and their sexual behaviour as if the two were somehow separate and unrelated.

It was the feminist movement that promoted the use of the term "gender" to replace the traditional word "sex" to further their political goals.

"Do we really know exactly what scripture is condemning with regard same-sex relations?" Yes, we do, and it has nothing to do with your answer.

Your argument is pure sophistry for we may just as easily say "Most disreputable biblical scholars would say that it's exploitive sex that, more often than not, is being condemned. This assertion is obviously ridiculous."

As for "loving and committed relationships", they are not condemned. Should they involve sex outside of the marriage between a man and woman they are categorically condemned. If this really needs pointing out to you then you're being so disingenuous as to not warrant any further discussion.

However, to be kind to you I will further assist you by pointing out that tradition is a living thing rooted firmly in the past. Should the past be entirely thrown over then what you have is no longer a tradition but a fad. Keep it up for another few hundred years at least and you have a tradition.

As for your last paragraph, the vast majority of Catholics that I know or read would disagree vehemently with your statement. You waste your time making such a wild and unsubstantiated assertion. You are merely reflecting how you would like them to think, that is all.

And finally, I am puzzled by this notion of yours that there are "new insights and knowledge - including insights and knowledge related to human sexuality."

Sodomy is as old as the Bible and is addressed in its very first book. I can only wonder what these new insights into sodomy may be?

Adultery, fornication, pedophilia and all the other permutations of our "sexuality" are also as old as Adam and addressed in the Bible. As the man said "there is nothing new under the sun." Not even our excuses.

Pat Hannagan said...

Whoops, sorry. Just read your reply to Mr Bayly. I came here by way of a link and commented before reading further posts.

CourageMan said...

No need to apologize.

You made some points I didn't and one with which I actually don't agree with ... I do think Mr. Bayly, some rhetorical exaggeration aside, is right that at least a majority of current-day U.S. Catholics do not agree with Church teaching. (Not that that's relevant to anything about right, but ... )

Brendon said...

I can remember being little and wishing I could be a girl, but I'm glad now my parents didn't encourage that. Things ended up confusing enough. I couldn't imagine how things would have been had I been allowed to grow up believing and thinking of myself as a girl. I think at some point the thought of bodily mutilation would probably have come about (afterall, how can you TRULY be a girl if you have a penis).

But I think you're absolutely right. No eight year old is mature enough to make such a decision with all the consequences. Parents should know better than to just go along with such things.

Zoe Brain said...

I'm going to commit what, if not a mortal sin, is up there with the worst of the veneal sins.

You see at age 8, I was covered with bruises, had a hairline fracture of the skull from being bashed with a crowbar in the fights - really gang beatings - I'd endured. All at grade school. Because I "smelt funny", I "vibed wrong". Not as a "sissy boy", I had the build of a wrestler. Just that I didn't think like "other" boys did, and so was an outsider, a pariah.

The only fun I had was playing hopscotch with my girlfriends - those who thought like I did. But we did that out of sight, well away from school.

Gender Identity has nothing to do with sex, at least, it doesn't at age 8. And it's true that many kids who exhibit signs of gender dysphoria at that age just become gay or lesbian, conditions far more acceptable than transsexual. In fact that's the aim of many psychotherapists specialising in the area, to try to make the kids gay rather than TS.

Now for the sin : really, really bad poetry. Fortunately it's short. But it accurately describes the feelings I had at age 9. At age 8 I knew I wasn't a boy, just hadn't figured out that I was psychologically female. That came later, and by age 10 I'd picked my name - Zoe.

Pardon Me.
I need to see someone.
I don't know who decides these things.
But you see, there's been a silly mistake.
I didn't complain before
But I'm now nearly 10.
It's getting really late.
I don't mind being in Loddon House
Though Thames or Kennet are OK too.
If I have to change
To either, I don't mind.
And as for A Class well,
I'm good at maths.
No complaints.
But you see
They put in me in the Boys
And Boy things just aren't me.
The Boy clothes I wear
Mean Girls won't play with me.
I'm so alone,
I spend my playtime
In the Library
I don't fit in
At all.
There's been a mistake, you see.
I know my parents
Wanted a Boy.
Maybe that's why it was done
The assignment incorrect
To Boy and not to Girl.
A Natural mistake
To make
No blame.
But haven't I been good?
Done everything required?
Never been naughty
Over much.
I think I've earned the right
To go in with the Girls
And soon
Before my teens begin.
I need to see
Someone in charge
Who decides these things.
Please help.

Now as it turns out, I'm Intersexed as well as (formerly) Transsexual. It was decided by medical authorities in 2005 that I was more accurately diagnosed as a very Intersexed female rather than a mildly Intersexed male, which had been the previous diagnosis in 1985. But psychologically, I'm exactly the same as other late-transitioning transsexual women, same sort of experiences at school, boringly stereotypical in fact.

The fact that you didn't experience what we did, that you can't even conceive of it, just proves that you're not transsexual. For which you should be grateful.

Now as to what this condition is - whether it's some form of mental illness or what - here's some data:

My own necessarily over-simplified views can be found at ts 101 on my blog.

Further views on the subject from a more political perspective are in Neural Dimorphism and Discrimination.

I'll give links to some primary sources, which have led me to my conclusions. You no doubt will come to your own.

Zhou J.-N, Hofman M.A, Gooren L.J, Swaab D.F (1997)
A Sex Difference in the Human Brain and its Relation to Transsexuality. (PDF here)

Kruijver F.P.M, Zhou J.-N, Pool C.W., Swaab D.F. (2000)
Male-to-Female Transsexuals Have Female Neuron Numbers in a Limbic Nucleus (PDF here)

Radiologists can now confirm what transsexuals report - that they feel “trapped in the wrong body” - on the basis of the activation of the brain when presented with erotic stimuli. There is obviously a biological correlation with the subjective feelings.
Original at ArzteZeitung, peer reviewed translation from the German and critique here

From the Deakin Law Review detailing "Significant findings of Justice Richard Chisholm in respect of the expert medical evidence in that case as to the causation of transsexualism and as strongly affirmed by the Full Court on appeal"
At paragraph [248]: ‘In my view the evidence is, in essence, that the experts believe that the brain development view is likely to be true, and they explain the basis for their beliefs. In the circumstances, I see no reason why I should not accept the proposition, on the balance of probabilities, for the purpose of this case.’

At paragraph [252]: ‘The traditional analysis that they are "psychologically" transsexual does not explain how this state came about. For example, there seems to be no suggestion in the evidence that their psychological state can be explained by reference to circumstances of their upbringing. In that sense, the brain sex theory does not seem to be competing with other explanations, but rather is providing a possible explanation of what is otherwise inexplicable’.

At paragraph [270]: ‘But I am satisfied that the evidence now is inconsistent with the distinction formerly drawn between biological factors, meaning genitals, chromosomes and gonads, and merely "psychological factors", and on this basis distinguishing between cases of inter-sex (incongruities among biological factors) and transsexualism (incongruities between biology and psychology)’.

At paragraph [272]: ‘In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much “biological” as those of people thought of as inter-sex’.

From Kerlin, Prenatal Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) in Males and Gender-Related Disorders: Results from a 5-Year Study
This paper contributes three areas of important research on DES exposure in males: (1) an overview of published literature discussing the confirmed and suspected adverse effects of prenatal exposure in DES sons; (2) preliminary results from a 5-year online study of DES sons involving 500 individuals with confirmed (60% of sample) and suspected prenatal DES exposure; (3) documentation of the presence of gender identity disorders and male-to-female transsexualism reported by more than 100 participants in the study.
The study has numerous flaws, but it's still the best data we have. The number of DES-exposed transsexual women in various support groups I'm in tends strongly to confirm the study's conclusions.

Then there's my own case - as weird as the natural sex change those with the 5ARD or 17BHDD mutations get. They violate "common sense" and "what everyody knows" too.

My apologies for the length of this comment. But "extraordinary claims require extraordinary proof", and not to be very sceptical about the whole matter would be most unwise.