#FeministFriday No. 26

As I am on vacation, this week’s #FeministFriday is by guest blogger and fellow Time Lady, Marie Mikhail.

 

I’m certainly not even close to the first person to think it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t emphasize what thousands of us are thinking and saying at this very moment:

Taylor Swift is AWESOME.

Why is she all-caps worthy awesome? Let’s talk about it.

Tay-haters beware, this is about to get praise heavy, and if you’re feeling any negativity you’ll just have to shake it off.

While I couldn’t possibly list all of the reasons why Taylor Swift is AWESOME, here are a few:

  • She supports strong women: The music video for “Bad Blood” features an insane cast of kick-ass women who — in the span of a four minute music video — put the women’s roles in feature-length, blockbuster hits like Avengers: Age of Ultron to shame.
  • She loves her fans: Prior to the release of her newest album, 1989, Taylor invited several groups of fans (1,989 to be exact) to her home for the 1989 Secret Sessions” to preview the album, eat cookies, and play with her cats. If that isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
  • She reads her fanmail: (Do people even send fan letters via snail mail anymore?) A longtime Superfan of Taylor invited her to her bridal shower and wedding, and she attended the bridal shower with presents and homemade treats in tow.
  • Her dad is your dad: Seriously. He makes photobombing appearances in several Instagram shots that make you feel slightly embarrassed for Tay, while still laughing because your dad makes that same face when he photobombs your selfie.
  • She’s relatable: If you’re like me, you grew up with Taylor. No, but actually we’re only a few months apart, and — unlike most celebrities my age — I can relate to Taylor not just in her music, but her current stage in life.  Her music has clearly evolved since the days of “Teardrops on my Guitar” and “Love Story”, and she’s living the life of the average 20-something: moving to the big city from a hometown, balancing a career and personal life, attending multiple wedding and baby showers, facing the realities (sometimes horrors) of real world dating,  posting endless videos and pictures of her pets — she’s experiencing life at 25, just like everyone else.

tswift3

In addition to all of the awesomeness listed above, the biggest reason-for-awesomeness I want to focus on is her latest album. 1989 sets a new tone for her music, her lifestyle, and her followers with songs that shift from the break-up and lovesick-heavy anthems of past releases to songs of empowerment and independence. Musically, she’s done a complete 180, as 1989 marks her official shift to Pop Music, and collaborations with artists such as Imogen Heap and Jack Antonoff giving her album a dynamic that illustrates her transition and growth as an artist.

I shamelessly praise 1989 on musical value alone — the 80’s pop vibes, the addition of synth, the nod to early ‘80s New Romanticism movement in the aptly titled bonus track “New Romantics” — and the lyrical content only adds to its absolute fantastic-ness.

Taylor expertly eased us into this album with the release of pop anthem “Shake It Off”. It’s is a jab at her haters in a fully pop voice, and sets the tone for the rest of the album. With each song from 1989, Taylor Swift makes a bold statement about being her own person and not letting that person be defined by the world’s opinion of her. “They take their shots, we’re bulletproof,” a line from “I Know Places”, illustrates this point perfectly. There will always be people “whispering as they pass by,” and she’s not going to let it affect her anymore, nor will she blame herself for the way others have hurt her; in fact, she “could build a castle out of all the bricks they threw at” her. Taylor effectively challenges all the haters and all the bulls*** in serious “come at me bro” fashion, and it’s awesome.

tswift1

“If you’re upset and irritated that I’m just being myself, I’m going to be myself more” – Taylor Swift, from an interview with Billboard

She goes one step further to discuss relationships. Unlike the break-up ballads for which she has become known from past albums, Taylor establishes from the get-go that “we took our broken hearts, put them in a drawer,” effectively determining the course of this album as something new and different. Instead, she discusses the different facets of relationships; “Style” touches on physical attraction, while “Clean” touches on the deeper part of love and the difficulty of moving on. In “All You Had To Do Was Stay”, she states that she won’t go back to someone who has wronged her, that “people like me are gone forever, when you say goodbye.” Her latest single, “Bad Blood”, is among my favorites. While the video shows a girl-on-girl conflict, the lyrics could easily translate to a romantic relationship as well, and I appreciate the versatility.

“Blank Space” is the most drastic difference from her previous work. Taylor pokes fun at the media’s view of her failed relationships with lines like “you look like my next mistake” and “they’ll tell you I’m insane”. While using public opinion to create a caricature, she also sends important messages through the song, including that people make mistakes — it’s part of this roller coaster called adulthood — and one of empowerment: if you want to date someone that is likely a mistake, play the field, or get wrapped up with a bad boy, you do you!

tswift2

Though maybe consider investing in waterproof mascara.

Despite the maturation of her lyrics and musical evolution, this album is familiar territory for Taylor. 1989 is still autobiographical; she is sharing her personal feelings with her audience just as she’s always done, only this time, she’s taken a new tone. It’s a tone of strength and empowerment, one that dares the negative-minded to challenge her and at the same time, encourages listeners to do as she does: ignore those who put you down, don’t blame yourself for how others hurt you, and ultimately, don’t be afraid to be your own person. Taylor’s voice is one of the most honest and universal of our generation. There’s a certain maturity and strength behind 1989, and I appreciate the message it sends to listeners. Mostly, I admire her bravery to be herself in front of the whole world. All in all, I’d say she’s pretty AWESOME!

A special thanks to Lindsay for allowing me to guest blog this week…I enjoyed it immensely. Now, I’m off to listen to 1989 on repeat. Thanks for reading!

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#FeministFriday No. 25

I’m going to try to make this quick because as I type, I’m getting ready for vacation.

This week’s #FeministFriday is further explaining the pro-choice movement, mostly because I’m still getting asks about why I want to force women to kill their babies, and also because this is a thing that actually happened:

Last week, Ilyse Hogue announced she was pregnant with twins, due in July. This caused mass confusion in the anti-choice community.

Why?

Ilyse Hogue is the president of NARAL Pro Choice America, an organization dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive rights in the United States.

Her pregnancy has apparently proven confusing for the people who argue with her for a living, to the point that when she walked into a hearing on Capitol Hill, an anti-choice advocate pointed to her swollen belly and asked, “Is that real?”

They literally thought she was wearing a fake baby bump to a federal government hearing just to mess with them.

Most anti-choice organizations haven’t publicly commented on Hogue’s pregnancy, because if we’re being honest, that would be almost ridiculously tacky. Unfortunately the emphasis of that last sentence is “most“.

The American Spectator, a conservative magazine, published a piece by Esther Goldberg, who speculated that Hogue had used fertility treatments to get pregnant, as if that were in some way shameful. She went on to remark that the pregnancy, “marred her perfection as a lib-fem” and sarcastically commented that now Hogue realizes how important choice is:

“Rest assured, readers, that she received ‘nothing but support.’ Whew! And then she had yet another epiphany: NARAL was all about choice. Hogue wasn’t obligated to abort her twins. She could choose to have them. Lucky babies! How much more wanted and loved they will feel when she tells them that they were chosen, that they are alive because she chose not to kill them.”

That’s all just in really excellent taste, Esther.

It’s clear that Goldberg may not realize that NARAL doesn’t advocate for mandatory abortions, insofar as it almost seems impolite to point out that the words “pro-choice” are literally part of the organization’s name. Additionally, their mission statement — which I’m sure someone at the Spectator could have figured out how to Google — reads, “NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation’s mission is to support and protect, as a fundamental right and value, a woman’s freedom to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices through education, training, organizing, legal action, and public policy.”

“It’s like, ‘What don’t you get about choice meaning choice?'” recalled Hogue to the Washington Post. That’s the thing about the Pro-Choice movement: choice. No part of our agenda includes mandatory abortions for all pregnant people, because that wouldn’t be the best fit for every single pregnant person in the country.

Much like mandatory birth isn’t a viable option for every single pregnant person in the country. 

Pro-Choice

Are Pro-Choice activists pro-abortion? Absolutely. Being Pro-Choice means protecting pregnant people’s access to safe, legal abortion, but that’s not the only part of being Pro-Choice. We’re pro-birth. We’re pro-parenting, and pro-adoption, and pro-choosing-the-best-option-that-fits-your-own-individual-and-unique-needs. We’re pro-birth control and pro-sex education because it will reduce the need for abortion and give teenagers the information they deserve to make good decisions for themselves. We’re pro-healthy pregnancies because the people who choose to carry their pregnancies to term should get all the support they need.

Meanwhile, the activists claiming to be pro-life are actually pro-violence to intimidate doctors and patients, pro-abortion bans that block safe abortion procedures, and pro-restrictions that limit insurance coverage and make it nearly impossible for low-income women to access health care. They’re pro-Crisis Pregnancy Centers that intentionally mislead women, pro-distorted science to instill fear, and pro-laws that jeopardize the safety of young women.

Even supposed pro-life politicians who talk about “respecting life” in their effort to ban abortions can’t be bothered to be pro-life for born persons, opposing the Children’s Health Insurance Program — a federal program that provides millions of children with access to basic health care — and refusing to support laws that would help pregnant people who choose to continue their pregnancies.

As for Goldberg’s point that Hogue’s future children will feel much more wanted and loved when she tells them that they were chosen, I get that it’s supposed to be sarcasm, but she isn’t wrong. Why wouldn’t a child feel happier and more loved knowing their parent truly loved and wanted them when the parent willingly chose to give birth rather than being forced because they had no other option?

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week.

#FeministFriday No. 24

I powered through because sleep is for the weak, and the whole post was still rattling around in my head. 

As the temperature on the thermometer rises, so does the chances of strange men yelling unwarranted comments at women and girls everywhere.

Street harassment is not a compliment; it is harassment. 

Street harassment includes cat calls

“Damn, girl! You’re looking fine!”

Unwarranted sexual advances

“You got some sexy legs! I’d tap that.”

Invading personal space

“Hey girl, where you going?”

Rude gestures, whistling, honking…you get the idea.

Every single woman reading this has experienced being harassed by a stranger on the street. What’s worse, is most of the women reading this post have probably experienced it so much, all the incidents kind of blend together into a perpetually uncomfortable outdoor experience.

my-name-is-not-hey-baby

For the men reading this, you probably have a few questions, if not several indignant objections. Let me take a swing at some of the general ones that typically come up:

“I’m just trying to pay a nice compliment!”

Based on most of the comments I’ve received in the last ten or so years of my life, I feel the need to ask where the hell you learned how to compliment people. A good general rule is if you wouldn’t say it to your grandmother, kindly refrain from saying it to a complete stranger on the street. Unfortunately, this rule does still leave a bit of gray area for more innocent comments like, “You have such a pretty smile!”

While that particular comment isn’t rude or uncalled for per se, you still probably won’t get a positive response. From a woman’s perspective, 9 out of 10 strange men are probably completely innocuous, if not nice and polite. However, since we also have virtually no way of discerning if you’re #10 or not during whatever brief social interaction you’re trying to force with us on the bus, we’re probably going to come across as cold because aloofness tends to be an excellent defense.

This may seem unfair, but if I handed you a bowl of M&Ms and told you 10% were poisoned, how eager would you be to eat a handful?

I never cat call.”

If you also raised the previous objection, I don’t believe you.

However, if you actually never ever throw unsolicited comments (no matter how well-intentioned) at women you’ve never met, that doesn’t mean that other men aren’t. Additionally, you don’t get brownie points for being a decent human being.

“You probably love the attention.”

Oh yes, I love it. I love not being comfortable enough to run outside at certain times of day, and feeling the need to have an app on my phone that allows me to immediately alert police if I’m in trouble, and that I’ve Googled the most effective way to punch someone with keys between my fingers.

Love it.

“The way you dress probably invites it.”

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA no.

Also, get your victim blaming ideologies off my blog.

I have been objectified at high volumes in business casual attire on my way to work, in remnants of a cosplay after spending all day at a convention, and in grubby work-out gear with no makeup while loading groceries into my car and desperately needing a shower.

My friend has been harassed on the street in layers of over-sized sweat pants and sweat shirts, shapeless jackets, and scarves. Another friend was inside a car at a gas station, with the doors closed and windows rolled up, while a man tried to hit on her from another pump.

This woman was cat called while wearing an ankle-length puffy winter coat.

I’ve also received comments while wearing shorts and tank tops in the summer or little dresses when going out with friends, but don’t for one second tell me that those situations were any more my fault than any of those previous examples. It’s my body, and my wardrobe, and my choice to avoid heat stroke or rock a sexy party dress, and nowhere is an open invitation warranted for anyone else to comment on those choices, particularly if I have never seen you before in my life.

You can tell me that “men are visual creatures” or “men are more sexual and can’t naturally control themselves” or any other rape apologia bullshit you want to promote, but if you have issues with what I’m wearing, that is your problem, not mine.

Furthermore, if women wearing shorts on the street are so distracting that men can’t help but make lewd comments, why on earth are men allowed behind the wheel? There are women in form-fitting yoga pants in full view of male drivers everywhere that could very easily cause them to crash! Why hasn’t Lulu Lemon been sued for promoting reckless driving???

car crash

It is not the responsibility of women to sacrifice our comfort or choices to avoid the arousal of men. Our bodies are not inherently sexual, nor are they a public commodity, so stop treating them as such.

The overwhelming majority of my male readers will never experience what women do walking down the street, so let me tell firsthand that it isn’t fun. In some cases it can be downright terrifying.

The best way I can think to explain it is those kiosks at the mall. You know the ones I’m talking about, not the tacky phone cases being sold by bored college students, but the overzealous living infomercial trying to convince you that the lotion he’s selling will change your life.

Those guys are super annoying, right? You’re probably at the mall for a specific reason, and on your way to the Apple Store or Anthropologie, there’s that guy obnoxiously doing everything he can to get your attention and insert himself into your path.

Now imagine that the things he’s saying make you uncomfortable, and he’s several inches taller than you and outweighs you by at least fifty pounds. Imagine that as you avoid eye contact and keep walking, you know in the back of you mind there’s about a one in five chance he’s going to just keep following you. Imagine that as you consider telling him you already bought lotion just to see if he’ll leave you alone, you know he might not like that and may just decide to stab you.

Now imagine that’s what happens every single time you walk outside in any area populated by humans.

It’s frustrating that many men have to actually project themselves into a situation before realizing that they shouldn’t put women in the same position, rather than accepting that women are human beings and deserve respect. At the same time, if it gets men to stop cat calling it’s at least a step in the right direction.

Just about everyone was taught, “Don’t talk to strangers!” at some point. This clearly isn’t working on the street harassment front, so I’m going to drop some wisdom that my mom imparts on her kindergarten class every year. This should be especially helpful for the “more visual” men in the audience:

“Keep it in your thinking bubble.” 

If five-year-olds get it, hopefully the general male population can figure it out.

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

#FeministFriday No. 24: Technical Difficulties

The day has sadly come where I am unable to deliver on my promise of bringing you a Feminist Fun Fact each and every Friday.

I realize that it’s Monday, bear with me for just one second.

After a bit of delay, I finished a post about street harassment, at approximately 11:52 PM CST this evening, at which point I clicked Save, and WordPress proceeded to delete the entire post.

Bad words were said.

Because I live by the “write dangerously” standard of blogging, this was my first and only draft, written without notes or an outline.

I know, I know, and if I hear one “that’s what you get” I will find you.

Under normal circumstances I would go about trying to recreate the post to the best of my ability; unfortunately, I simply do not have time to do that this week with my work and personal schedule.

This isn’t the end of the series; I will rewrite and publish #FeministFriday No. 24 as soon as I possibly can.

Regularly scheduled blogs will return this Friday with #FeministFriday No. 25.

#FeministFriday No. 23

The average life expectancy of a transgender person in the United States is 30 to 32 years.

Just hang on to that for a minute.

Unless you literally live in a cave, I’m sure everyone here has seen the Vanity Fair cover released June 1st, featuring Caitlyn Jenner. #CallMeCaitlyn began trending world-wide, and there was an enormous outpouring of love and support on social media.

caitlynjenner

*Flawless plays in the distance*

It is amazing that when a trans person can present her authentic self to the world for the first time, that it can be celebrated so universally. There’s no question that Caitlyn is beautiful, which led to many people commenting on how gorgeous she looked in the photo spread, which as Jon Stewart pointed out on The Daily Show, quickly spiraled into objectification:

“It’s really heartening to see that everyone is willing to not only accept Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, but to waste no time in treating her like a woman. You see, Caitlyn, when you were [Bruce] we could talk about your athleticism, your business acumen. But now you’re a woman and your looks are really the only thing we care about… So Caitlyn Jenner, congratulations. Welcome to being a woman in America.”

The incredible Laverne Cox released an encouraging statement for Caitlyn wherein she commented, “Yasss Gawd! Werk Caitlyn! Get it!” then went on to reflect critically on what it truly means to be transgender today. She notes that in addition to Caitlyn’s newly revealed outer beauty, her heart and soul and ability to let the world into her vulnerabilities are the most beautiful things about her.

The actress and spokeswoman then spoke about representation. “I have always been aware that I can never represent all trans people,” Cox said. “I am able to embody certain cisnormative beauty standards…there are many trans folks who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly, many trans folks don’t want to embody them…I started #TransIsBeautiful as a way to celebrate all those things that make trans folks uniquely trans.”

She also emphasized that transgender people come from all races, gender expressions, abilities, sexual orientations, classes, immigration statuses, employment statuses, and transition and genital statuses, hoping that Caitlyn understands that the current support she is receiving can translate into “changing hearts and minds about who all trans people are, as well as shifting public policies to fully support the lives and well-being of all of us.”

Cox brings up several good points, including the fact that there are several acceptable problems to have with Caitlyn Jenner as a mainstream narrative:

  • As a wealthy, white celebrity, the experiences of Caitlyn Jenner are not representative of most trans women
  • Many trans people do not conform to cis beauty standards, which often affects their acceptance by society
  • The narrative of visibility as a goal is problematic for many trans people who are placed in danger by hypervisibility
  • “Trans Media Moments” such as the Vanity Fair spread don’t help very much by focusing on one successful trans person instead of the systematic oppression they face
  • Caitlyn has described herself as conservative, which, even though she hopes to make the Republican Party more trans-inclusive, implies some other oppressive views

All of those issues are legitimate, thoughtful critiques of an imperfect system.

Unfortunately, most of the problems being raised around the Internet are of the transphobic, transmisogynistic, and generally shitty variety. Many people have continued to misgender Caitlyn, and make extremely offensive and distasteful comments about her and her experience.

Apparently any prior achievements she achieved are now void.

Apparently any prior achievements she achieved are now void.

Perhaps the worst displays I’ve seen of this are of the op-ed pieces that attempt to invalidate the unique and varied experiences of transgender people all over the world, typically with unsupported claims and pseudoscience. Most notably is this article, which I’ve seen posted on several social media platforms and in one case created a literal firestorm of comments on my Facebook newsfeed.

The article, titled “Sex Change” Surgery: What Bruce Jenner, Diane Sawyer, and You Should Know, was published over a month ago after Caitlyn (still referring to herself as Bruce at the time) sat down with Diane Sawyer to discuss what she was going through.

The author, Walt Heyer, who “suffered through ‘sex change’ surgery and lived as a woman for eight years” tells a tale of “the dark and troubling history of the contemporary transgender movement, with its enthusiastic approval of [sexual reassignment surgery (SRS)], [leaving] a trail of misery in its wake.”

His claims are mostly founded in his experience, where the surgery fixed nothing, but instead amplified and hid deeper psychological problems. He also cites the history of the movement, which was founded by three men — most notably Dr. Alfred Kinsey, a biologist and sexologist — who believed all sex acts were legitimate and were activists for pedophilia, bestiality, sadomasochism, incest, adultery, prostitution, and group sex.

Heyer also tells harrowing tales of SRS gone wrong and unethical doctors, such as the case of David Reimer. As a two-year-old, David’s parents brought him to Dr. John Money to repair a botched circumcision. Instead, Money decided to experiment with his theories of gender, and surgically changed David’s genitalia from male to female, ordering his parents to raise David as a girl. Unsurprisingly, David — called Brenda — was suffering from severe depression at age 12, and at age 14, after learning the truth, chose to undo the gender change and live as a boy.

The rest of the article is peppered with similar horror stories and suicide statistics, claiming that SRS does not alleviate severe psychological problems, and that choosing SRS is a disastrous decision that leads only to danger.

It’s clear that Heyer has led a life full of traumatic experiences and possibly quite a bit of internalized transphobia. However, his own experiences, while valid, cannot pretend to represent every trans person in the world without causing harm.

If the sole point he was trying to make is that SRS does not wholly fix the years of psychological trauma caused by gender dysphoria, I could get on board with that. It’s actually an important message to know; SRS isn’t a magic cure for all of your problems any more than any other surgery could be. It’s certainly a step towards healing, but there are other factors involved that must be taken into consideration and treated independently.

However, if that was the message Heyer was attempting to convey, he did a fantastically horrible job.

Bringing up that the founders of the movement were also proponents of things like pedophilia and incest not only isn’t relevant information, but mis-categorizes the transgender movement and perpetuates false stereotypes that trans people are choosing a life of perversion.

Heyer maintains that “it is intellectually dishonest to ignore the facts that surgery never has been a medically necessary procedure for treating gender dysphoria and that taking cross-gender hormones can be harmful.”

Interesting that he brought up medical facts, as I decided to do the same thing with much help from EM Orstad, current PA student at the University of Iowa, co-author of this post, and generally excellent human being.

Everybody hang on, we’re about to talk crazy science.

@Heyer

@Heyer

A 2014 study on psychosocial adjustment to sex reassignment surgery of six transgender individuals in Croatia found that despite facing numerous social and medical obstacles throughout their transition process, the transitions were ultimately successful:

“Despite the unfavorable circumstances in Croatian society, participants demonstrated stable mental, social, and professional functioning, as well as a relative resilience to minority stress. Results also reveal the role of pre-transition factors such as high socioeconomic status, good pre-morbid functioning, and high motivation for SRS in successful psychosocial adjustment. During and after transition, participants reported experiencing good social support and satisfaction with the surgical treatment and outcomes. Any difficulties reported by participants are related to either sexual relationships or internalized transphobia.”
(Jokić-Begić, Korajilija, Jurin 2014)

In addition to successful adult transitions, another 2014 research article discusses the rationale behind the current standard of making individuals suffering from gender dysphoria wait until age 18 to undergo SRS, as evidence supporting waiting until 18 is weak from a scientific standpoint. Currently, the main reason to wait is to prevent postoperative regret as illustrated by Heyer; however, there is not a large enough sample size of people who have experienced SRS before age 18 to provide enough support for that argument.

Based on this study, there are many reason trans girls desire SRS before age 18, particularly centered around being able to continue “passing” as girls after puberty and fear of peer reactions. From an anatomical standpoint, girls who start hormone therapy before puberty would be unlikely to have the standard penile inversion surgery to create a vagina due to the penis being pre-pubertal sized, but there are alternatives available, such as taking a portion of the sigmoid colon to create the vaginal canal.

The David Reimer case, which is fully evident of postoperative regret in a minor, is not representative of a typical trans experience. Money’s actions were completely unethical and took place in 1967, long before any regulations had been put in place:

“They changed his external genitalia before he was old enough to even have a concept of gender. They essentially gave him gender dyspohria; statistically speaking, [he] was more likely to have matching external genitalia and gender identity, so to reassign his sex at such a young age and then say that SRS for trans individuals is bad is such a flawed argument. This was not SRS chosen by a trans individual, this was SRS on a baby who had no autonomy in this choice. It would never happen now. Some babies do undergo genital remodeling surgery, such as in cases where they are born with both male and female genitalia, but that is not what happened in [David’s] case, and not analogous to trans SRS.”
(Orstad, 2015)

Today, people who identify as transgender — particularly minors — need psychological evaluation by multiple professionals to ensure that SRS is appropriate.

As for Heyer’s claim that SRS leads solely to misery, while there is a statistically significant proportion of the trans community who do not feel that SRS improved their quality of life, the main majority feel a significant improvement:

“We systematically reviewed the literature to determine the benefits of hormonal therapies given to individuals with GID as a part of sex reassignment. We found 28 studies with fairly long follow-up duration that demonstrated improvements in gender dysphoria, psychological functioning and comorbidities, lower suicide rates, higher sexual satisfaction and, overall, improvement in the quality of life. Individuals with early onset transsexual manifestations and those with homosexual tendencies may have better prognosis. Individuals with pre-existing psychopathology tend to have worse prognosis. Limited data suggest that [male to female] transsexuals may have worse outcomes than [female to male] counterparts… It is also important to recognize the impact of cultural factors and treatment availability on the outcomes of reassignment therapies. Cultures that reject gender atypicality would subject transsexuals to more victimization and social stigma, which may worsen pre- and posttreatment social and psychological functioning levels. Individuals in countries without access to treatment may also have worse outcomes. Therefore, cultural differences should be considered when applying the results of this review, mostly derived from European studies, to other populations.”
(Milrod, 2014)

It is important to note that the study quoted above was based more on observational studies than clinical trials or case control, meaning the level of evidence garnered is weaker; nonetheless, the studies do not find that transitional therapies are overall harmful, rather the opposite.

This concludes crazy science with EM Orstad.

You may be wondering what the point of all this is, or if I have any plans of a conclusion in the near to immediate future, but I’m bringing it all back around, I promise. As you may recall, I told you earlier that the average life expectancy of a transgender person in the United States is 30-32 years. For some perspective, during the Dark Ages, even during the time of the Black Death, a person could expect to live a couple of years longer than that.

While support of transgender people like Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox may offer evidence that society is a more hospitable environment today than it has been in the past, the fact remains that a transgender person is still 20 times more likely to be assaulted than their cisgender counterparts. They are 16 times more likely to be murdered, often legally due to “trans panic” being an actual legal excuse for murdering a human being in broad daylight.

Source: Montreal Gazette, 2014

Source: Montreal Gazette, 2014

Eight known transwomen have been murdered so far in 2015 in the United States, the first seven of which occurred before March. The figure may be even higher, as trans and gender-nonconforming victims often get misgendered in news and police reports.

According to a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National LGBTQ Task Force, 41% of trans respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population. Rates were particularly high for trans people who reported job loss due to transphobic bias (legal in most states), bullying or harassment at school, or surviving physical or sexual assault.

The same report notes that the combination of structural racism and transphobia severely hampered the lives of trans people of color, who fare worse than their white counterparts across the board.

The trans community is facing deadly levels of social and institutional bias and the staggering numbers of trans women of color being killed and other trans people committing suicide makes it clear that there’s a larger problem that can no longer be ignored.

We need to stop debating the existence of transgender people and the why’s and the how’s of the transgender movement. Instead, we need to start paying attention to and valuing trans lives — all trans lives.

Leave any questions or comments below, and see you next week!

 

Works Cited:

Nataša Jokić-Begić, Anita Lauri Korajlija, and Tanja Jurin, “Psychosocial Adjustment to Sex Reassignment Surgery: A Qualitative Examination and Personal Experiences of Six Transsexual Persons in Croatia,” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2014, Article ID 960745, 12 pages, 2014. doi:10.1155/2014/960745

Emily Orstad, “THIS WOULD NEVER HAPPEN TODAY: A Modern Medical View of David Reimer,” Time Ladies, vol. 2015, June 2, 2015

Milrod, C. (2014), How Young Is Too Young: Ethical Concerns in Genital Surgery of the Transgender MTF Adolescent. Journal of Sexual Medicine, 11: 338–346. doi: 10.1111/jsm.12387

 

HUGE thanks to Emily, I could not have written this article without your research prowess and understanding of all things medical and sciencey.