This is the remainder of the questions for ‘TERFs’ that I began answering here.
From what I have read, you seem to believe the following about gender dysphoria:
Gender dysphoria is caused by internalized gender stereotypes and norms, often combined with homophobia.
(a) Is this an accurate representation of your beliefs?
(b) If so, do you believe it applies in all cases? Why (not)?
I think that in many cases people believe they are the opposite sex because of internalized gender stereotypes and homophobia. The reason I believe this is because trans people display it all the time. There is an endless supply of articles and videos where people say they knew they were trans because they liked things that are stereotypically associated with the opposite sex. In fact, even the DSM lists sex stereotypes in the diagnostic criteria for gender dysphoria. If these are the reasons people keep giving for being trans, then this is what people are going to assume.
However, not all trans people have internalized sexism and homophobia. There are lots of different reasons for being trans and these are only two of them. There are tons of teenagers identifying as trans now, and some of them have other conditions such as autism and PTSD. MtF transitioners often have autogynephilia.
Most of the people who responded to my “questions for FtMs” post did not display any signs of sexism or homophobia. I have been learning from what they wrote and they have explained sex dysphoria really well. This has been leading me to realize some important things, which I want to explain in a post of its own, but I will introduce it here.
The respondents to my questions didn’t talk about being uncomfortable with a feminine role, but with their physical bodies. At least one of them mentioned their dysphoria being a neurological condition. This is very different from what we keep seeing in the media—this is actual sex dysphoria. What we keep seeing in the media is people who provide a list of silly sex stereotypes as proof they were trans, and who don’t necessarily feel uncomfortable with their sex organs. I’m starting to see that we need to differentiate between gender dysphoria and sex dysphoria, and I’ll explain that further in another post.
I am open to believing that some people can have a neurological condition that causes them to feel a disconnect from their bodies that is not rooted in cognitive or cultural causes. However, I think this is really rare, and it’s a medical condition, not an identity. This is a really complex conversation that will require a post of its own another day.
c) What do you think about trans people who do not conform to gender stereotypes about the gender they wish to transition to or have transitioned to?
Generally, I think it’s fine for people to express their personalities at any time, so even if someone transitions, it’s still fine for them to express their personality. People should feel free to be any kind of man or woman they want to be, as long as they’re not hurting anybody.
In some particular cases, I might call bullshit to someone transitioning even though they are comfortable with their sex organs and their gender role. Take Fallon Fox for example. He claims to be a woman but he behaves exactly like any violent male. If he actually had sex dysphoria, he wouldn’t be a father, because a male who feels hatred and revulsion for his genitals wouldn’t use them to impregnante a woman and become a father. He is a violent misogynist, which means he is comfortable with the gender role of masculinity, which is the role assigned to him based on his sex. He has absolutely no claim to either femaleness nor femininity. In a case where someone supposedly “transitions” but maintains most of the qualities of their birth sex and assigned gender role, I call bullshit.
I can think of someone who transitioned who is a nonconforming member of their desired sex who I definitely support, and that is trans man Chase. Chase is FtM and is rather effeminate like a gay man, and that’s totally fine with me. I find Chase adorable actually. As with anything in life, it depends on the individual situation, but as a general rule, trans people, like anybody else, should feel free to disregard gender roles and be themselves.
II) Gender dysphoria can be cured by working on finding, dismantling and unlearning these internalized beliefs.
This is where we have to distinguish between sex and gender again, so that we can distinguish between sex dysphoria and gender dysphoria.
Sex is whether you are biologically male or female, and gender is the behaviors, mannerisms and appearance that signify your sex in a social situation. Dysphoria is a feeling of intense discomfort.
So if someone has gender dysphoria, then presumably they are uncomfortable with the behaviors, mannerisms and appearance that people expect from them based on their sex. If someone has sex dysphoria, then presumably they feel an automatic sense of revulsion toward their sexual organs.
The “cure” for these conditions is very, very different. What gender critical feminists are constantly saying is that if you are uncomfortable with societal expectations about what clothing you should wear and how you should behave, that is a cultural problem and it doesn’t require changing your body. The people who have sexist expectations of you should be disregarded, and if possible, told to fuck right off. However, if you have a neurological condition that is causing you to not identify with the person you see in the mirror, that is more of a medical problem rather than a cultural or cognitive problem. I don’t think we even have a cure for that, which is why transition is the best solution we’ve come up with so far.
Unlearning internalized sexism and homophobia is the cure only for those people who believe they should be the opposite sex because they identify with the stereotypical behaviors and appearance of the opposite sex. We’re seeing a lot of those people lately, but that’s not everybody.
III) This (II) is preferable to transitioning.
In cases where someone’s desire for transition is based on internalized sexism and homophobia, working this out in therapy is preferable to transition. These are the people who, if they do transition, often end up detransitioning a few years later.
d) Do you believe that that transitioning and dismantling internalized gender stereotypes/homophobia are mutually exclusive, or that transitioning is detrimental to the latter?
It’s different for everybody, and these things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Some of the people who we’re hearing from who are detransitioning understood their situation much better after they began transitioning and realized it wasn’t helping. Going through that experience gave them more perspective and understanding of their motivations. So in some cases, transition might actually help with dismantling internalized gender stereotypes/homophobia. As much as possible, people should take the time to explore these things before beginning transition.
For other people, transition might be a coping strategy that helps them avoid dealing with underlying cognitive issues. It depends on the person.
e) Some (or even many) trans people express high satisfaction with their decision to transition. What do you think about that?
Of course some of them do. If people want to transition, and then they do, they’re going to be happy about it. When you get what you want, you’re happy. However, some people remain dysphoric after transition, and some of them detransition. So it’s not everybody who is happy. Also, we don’t have much information about trans people 10 + years after transition, a lot of our information is short term. There have been people who transition and are happy for 10 years and then become unhappy after that. We need more research on that.
IV) Gender non-conforming people are pushed into transitioning.
Yeah, a lot of them are. Some lesbians get people asking them when they’re going to transition and calling them by neutral or male pronouns even though they are women. A lot of trans kids are being transitioned by their parents because they are playing with the wrong toys.
b) Some (or even many) trans people claim that this was not the case for them, and often even that – in contrast – their environment strongly pushed them to remain in their assigned gender. What do you think about that?
People probably pushed them not to transition because they knew it wasn’t right. Family members care about them and don’t want them to make drastic changes to their bodies and become life-long medical patients who may never actually pass as the opposite sex. If someone is in a lot of pain and they are fixated on the idea that transition will solve their problems, they’ll do it at any cost, even if it means going against their family’s wishes.
Thanks for the questions, Skepto!