This is an important blog for therapists to read. Socialized Trans
This was a brave post for many reasons. This issue is one of the reasons I began writing this blog on regret and detransition. I believe that there are natal females who are male. I also believe that there is pressure in the queer women’s community to explore masculinity and for some people, that means using testosterone and for others chest surgery or breast reductions or mastectomies. There are certainly natal females who began testosterone and then changed their minds. The reasons they started were complex. Some people transition for reasons that are far afield from the stereotype of born in the wrong body. Gender identity is more complicated than that. For some of those folks, it’s the right decision and for others it is not. We need to embrace complexity. We also need to do a better job of supporting masculine girls and women and gender nonconforming people across the board.
I do not agree with the frame crashchaoscat places on what she says. I don’t believe we can socialize a person to be trans, but I do agree that that her experience is absolutely legitimate and crashchaoscat is speaking about an experience many women and particularly young women are having. crashchaoscat states that being trans can be a phase. Like many other things, people experiment and there should be space for people to accommodate gender experimentation and exploration. Technology and science have changed the nature of that exploration for good or bad.
We need to start talking about this in a responsive way. I agree we need to provide support and listen to the voices of women who detransitioned and women who are gender non-conforming and don’t want to change themselves, rather they want to simply be safe to be in society. As gender specialists, we need to be working to make the world safe for everyone’s gender. If a person doesn’t feel they fit into the box that women are permitted to live in, in the binary, it is wrong to assume they must be male. They might be but not necessarily. This is why the binary is problematic. As we know, most gender non conforming kids grow up to be cisgender.
Patriarchy, politics and practical issues effect some people who move in this direction.
I also agree that misogyny and patriarchy cannot be underestimated. Further, I would posit that the abuse of the concept of feminism among many young women and men make being female undesirable. That’s another issue, though.
As a parent, it has deeply disturbed me that both girls and boys read books about boys, but boys generally do not read books about girls. Boys are apparently inherently more interesting. It even continues in adulthood. The Countis fascinating. It looks at major journals and the percentage of stories by men and by women and who the editors are. For instance, Harpers reviewed books by 54 men and 11 women. 65-75 percent of what we read is written by men. Women are socialized to appreciate and value men and men’s thoughts much more than men are socialized to appreciate and value women. (By the way, women read more so it makes no sense.)
Women are socialized to not like their bodies. More than 90% of girls want to change at least one aspect of their body. Women see on average 400-600 advertisements a day. One study showed that 69% of girls reported models influenced their beliefs about the perfect body. Boys are not immune to this either, eating disorders are increasing in boys. Advertising that sexualizes women has increased and advertising that sexualizes men has decreased.
What if you are a young women who doesn’t want to be sexualized and it is part of our culture that you should be? What if you have interests that are stereotypically “boy” interests? There was the viral story about the man who ripped off a little boys pink headband. Boys should not wear pink. Girls can wear blue. Pink is bad. Pink is for girls. It is all around us. Men run the country. Women’s control over their body has been under attack. There are many reasons a woman might think being a man is better. Male privilege is real.
Large breasts are practical issues that arise for many active women. http://espn.go.com/espnw/news-commentary/article/9451835/female-athletes-biggest-opponents-their-own-breasts-espn-magazine; http://jezebel.com/out-of-control-boobs-are-keeping-female-athletes-down-733592839.
Sports bras crush breasts to keep them in place so that a woman can play tennis, run, etc. Women with breasts who run are often uncomfortable and wear two bras or do whatever they can to simply move. Women with large breasts have to buy incredibly expensive bras to be comfortable. Further, they are the targets of male hostility in the form of sexual harassment. Again, this is a feminist issue of men controlling access to public space and thus controlling women’s activity. The more harassed women are, the less space they take up outside. If women don’t feel blessed by large breasts, they are constantly told they are not regular women.
Then there is crap like this: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/386180-the-20-most-boobtastic-athletes-of-all-time
So if a woman doesn’t want her breasts because they get in the way, they hurt, or she hates what they bring to her in her life, what does that mean about her?
The world has changed. Women can use medicine and surgery to alter themselves. When I was younger, people got upset about youth getting tattoos because they were seen as irreversible. Now people can modify their body in a variety of way.
CrashChaoscat also says that transsexuality isn’t one thing. That is very true. People transition for a variety of reasons. There is no one size fits all. The other thing is there is no one trans community. There are people who try to represent the voices of the trans community and they cannot. The trans communities are varied. There are people who say ridiculous and stupid things everywhere. Being trans identified doesn’t stop people from being wrong or insensitive or scared or insecure or racist or transphobic or sexist.
As I said, there are many important ideas in that blog. There are several more I want to address in the coming posts.