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AGP Personal Testimony

As Transgender People, We Need to Be Honest with Ourselves and Our Therapists

If born-in-the-wrong-body ideology is unnecessary as well as unprovable, it can never offer a solution and it needs to be jettisoned – painful that may be for those trying to cling on to the notion that they are really the opposite sex.

From my earliest memories I struggled in a society delineated by sex. The rules were different for boys and girls, from what we could wear to how we related to society. Certainly, the expectations placed on me, as a three-year-old boy, were very different to those experienced by three-year-old girls.

Some of this was external – I was told that I would grow up to be big and strong – but we are all curious combinations of nurture and nature, and much was driven from within. I longed to be a girl from before I could speak in full sentences; without the capacity to explain my reasons, even to myself. But, at the same time, the taboo against wearing clothes marketed at girls was already hardwired into my mind.

The struggle waxed and waned over the years but imperceptibly the bad times became worse and, as it consumed my mental health, I learned to call it gender dysphoria. Four decades after those early memories I transitioned socially, medically and surgically to find relief, and I now describe myself as transsexual.

Transition certainly worked, but why it worked is not so clear. Initially, I clung to the rather simplistic idea that I really had been a girl who had had the misfortune to have been born in the wrong body.

Layla Moran MP espoused this theory in Parliament when she was asked if she would be happy sharing a changing room with someone who was born male and had a male body. She told her colleagues that she saw ‘someone in their soul and as a person’ and did not care whether they have a male body.

However as the physicist and Nobel Laureate Richard Feynman said: ‘It doesn’t matter how beautiful your theory is, it doesn’t matter how smart you are. If it doesn’t agree with experiment, it’s wrong.’

The born-in-the-wrong-body concept wasn’t even a theory: it was a metaphor that became a diagnosis. Supposedly it describes the situation where someone’s gender identity differs from their biological sex. Gender identity, however, introduces further problems because it cannot be defined without resorting to circular reasoning or sexist stereotypes.

Even legislators have failed to avoid those traps. The State of Massachusetts fell at both hurdles when they defined gender identity as: ‘a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behaviour, whether or not that gender-related identity or behaviour is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.’

Gender identity has become ingrained in our thinking and in policy, but just because people believe in something does not make it true. We need look no further than astrology and homeopathy for proof of that.

Current ideology insists that everyone has a gender identity and it trumps biological sex, so people are the gender they feel they are and not the sex that was ‘assigned to them at birth’. Trans people are those whose gender identity is inconsistent with their assigned sex. This ‘gender incongruence’ – as it is called – is the supposed cause of gender dysphoria.

That might be a neat theory but it is based purely on feelings. Trans people following it are therefore forced to build their lives on a fantasy, and not only must they believe it but everyone else must believe it or at least pretend to believe it.

Unsurprisingly, the experiment is failing horribly. The law can regulate actions and even compel speech but, short of an Orwellian-type dystopia, it can never force people to believe that a person born with male sex organs is any sort of woman. Increasing numbers of people are expressing disbelief but, because feelings cannot be verified, disputes can never be resolved objectively. Arguably the current toxic and divisive debate around trans rights is not only regrettable, it was inevitable.

Trans people need better than this; we need to build our lives on facts, evidence and objective truth. Some people do suffer gender dysphoria, and gender reassignment (or gender transition) can bring palliative relief. However, the causes of gender dysphoria need to be understood, and that starts with trans people being honest with ourselves and our therapists.

The American-Canadian sexologist Ray Blanchard hypothesised that male transsexuals (including me) could be divided into two groups according to their sexual orientation. Homosexual male transsexuals – those attracted to men – changed their social presentation to make themselves attractive to men. The others, he suggested, were autogynephilic – they had an erotic desire to be women themselves.

But if there are two causes of gender dysphoria, there could easily be more. Recent research by Lisa Littman catalogued the phenomenon of Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, which is affecting mainly adolescent girls who are coming forwards in huge numbers and overwhelming Child and Adolescent Gender Services in the UK and elsewhere.

Justice cannot be done to this work in any essay: research needs to be conducted by clinicians, free from political lobbying by vested interests. Both Blanchard and Littman have suffered dreadfully from trans activists fearful, presumably, that their research shows that we do not need to be born in the wrong body to be dissatisfied with the bodies we were given.

If born-in-the-wrong-body ideology is unnecessary as well as unprovable, it can never offer a solution and it needs to be jettisoned – painful that may be for those trying to cling on to the notion that they are really the opposite sex.

Only when we as trans people accept that truth can we hope to find reconciliation with ourselves and with society. Adults may decide after counselling that they really do need to change their bodies in order to make themselves more attractive to their own sex, find relief from autogynephilia, or for other reasons.

But the fact remains we have a sex and – apart from a vanishingly small number of intersex cases – it was the one that was observed when we were born. That is the truth and to paraphrase 2000-year-old wisdom, it is the truth that will set us free.


Dr Debbie Hayton, a physics teacher in the UK, transitioned male-to-female in 2012.

* This article was first published by Psychreg on 11 January 2020: As Transgender People, We Need to Be Honest with Ourselves and Our Therapists.

By Debbie Hayton

Physics teacher and trade unionist.

8 replies on “As Transgender People, We Need to Be Honest with Ourselves and Our Therapists”

very well done for talking WILL HELP LOT OF OTHERS . peoples views .judgements are all ways very Snotty Nosed
you your self have been their .HOW Amazing .i am disabled have m.e .long list health issues .i take part in a lot lot
research..
my blog.http;//mark-kent.webs.com
twitter,supersnopper
Linkedin,AutismDad ..i sent you a connect

mark

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Purely silly. You echo the anti-trans activists again, this time their obsessing with “sex” and “science”.

We observe that people transition. They have done so for millennia, in all sorts of cultures. Just as Kepler described the movements that the planets make before Einstein theorised why they made them, so it is possible that there is no clear understanding why people transition; but that does not mean that transition vanishes in a puff of logic, or that it is wrong to transition, or even wrong to treat a trans woman like any other woman. Layla Moran knocked David Top Cat Davies out. That debate is worth reading, as all the women MPs made mincemeat of him and his trans-excluding hatred and nastiness.

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No, you need to educate yourself. Julia Serano debunks “autogynephilia”. If you really believe you had no gender dysphoria before you started indulging in a paraphilia, go ahead and write that, but don’t impugn anyone else.

Or you could read Miranda Yardley’s piece. There is a huge amount of propaganda claiming that autogynephilia exists. Why add to it? What can you say that she hasn’t?

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Thank you for this article, for your thought and the thinking about your thinking. Sharing your unique take on this phenomenon. Is difficult to understand why there is no room for dialogue or respect or gentle inquiry in this arena of the public square.

Sharing a cultures based on love of self and other, seems so straightforward, although not simple by any means.

If you are born with xx chromosomes, you most likely have a vagina and a uterus and you will develop from a baby into a woman with boobs. You might have options of different skin colors, hair textures, heights, weights, mental or emotional or spiritual gifts or personality, and the culture might deem you along any point of the beauty scale from stunning to plain or ugly – perhaps based on your inside vs. your out. Unless disease or dysfunction or poor health interferes, you will have the ability to have sex, conceive, gestate for 9 months, and birth a baby into this world.

If you were conceived with the xy chromosomes, then you will have a penis. After puberty, your body will most likely be larger, stronger, faster than the females your age. You could also be formed with the rainbow of skin colors, hair, gifts, talents, and varying traits that all humans share. Your breasts will not grow (unless you have a biological dysfunction or you smoked excessive amounts of pot as a youth) or lactate. You will not bleed on a monthly basis. You will not experience the pains of childbirth. Although you might witness it, in a most intimate way.

All human beings are worthy of respect and dignity and safety. Each person has the right to certain personal freedoms, which may be limited or expanded based upon the society or country in which he or she lives. These are to be protected by people of goodwill.

If you are a man who feels trapped in the wrong body, you have the right to dress as a woman or partake in hormonal treatment or surgery to adapt as female a body as you can attempt to achieve. You should be able to walk on the street or go to work and not be beaten up. However, you are still a man. And you do not have the right to erase the female bodies and experiences of other women and their private spaces in this world.

If a woman is in a bathroom and a man enters who makes her feel unsafe, she has the right to be protected. A man in a dress should be able to walk into the men’s restroom and pee without being accosted. Young women girls in schools should not be required to allow a boy with a penis to enter their showers or locker rooms. Should a school decide to add a “unisex” private single bathroom or changing room – this should be viewed as valid accommodation and not “hate.”

If women are competing in athletics, they have the right to compete against other women. If a man of any age has chosen to “transition” then he should still compete as a man who embraces or presents his “feminine self” – in men’s sports. Or seek to build a new TransAthlete division.

And parents should have as much right to seek good mental and emotional health for a child or teen experiencing dysphoria as they would for a loved one with anorexia, depression, severe anxiety, or other.

And that child or teen (and later, the adult) has the right to seek a mental health practitioner who is ethical, compassionate, wise, and dedicated to the tenets of dignity, wholeness, health and the best practices which enable the patient to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Adults should protect the innocence of children by not confusing common decency with hyper-sexualization. A man presenting as a woman could very well be an excellent teacher or author (case in point here) and should not be equated with the frantic movement to invite Drag Queens into libraries or classrooms. Why the race to normalize bearded men in makeup and fishnet hose and read literature that is far more sensitive than what an elementary age child should hear? (Unless being shared by a parent or mental health advocate chosen by the parent)?

Demanding that women or men be erased, that biology be disregarded, that common sense be traded for some complicated global Emperor Has No Clothes worldview – does not empower men or women. It only destroys the dignity of our common humanity.

Be well, be free, be thoughtful of others. Protect kids. Seek truth and aim to live it. Ask questions and consider the answers from those different than yourself. Honor women and men, your own genetics and the vast differences in physiology and psychology.

To your own self be true is true for you. But is also true for your neighbor.

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