Here is the text of an interesting letter from one Max Blair of Kelvin Grove, Queensland, published in today’s Sydney Morning Herald under the title “Stereotypes reinforce male-female confusion”:
Richard Hill (Letters, May 6) tries to draw a comparison between homosexuality and gender dysphoria, accusing critics of sex realignment surgery for young people of a prejudice similar to homophobia. But his letter suggests he has his own prejudices.
Mr Hill says gender identity is "a persistent and innate psychological condition". This essentialist idea of the psychological "female" and "male" is not only sexist, it is the subject of harsh criticism in scientific circles because it pathologises gender in much the same way that eugenicists and racists pathologise race.
Gender dysphoria is discontent with one's biological gender. This has nothing to do with "females" in male bodies and "males" in female bodies. There is no such phenomenon because what is "female" and what is "male" are cultural inventions.
People with this condition are discontented with the cultural experience of their biological gender. Boys don't want to be "boys" (for example, aggressive) and girls don't want to be "girls" (e.g. subordinate). Children with gender dysphoria have been conditioned to accept gender stereotypes as gospel. To subject these children to sex realignment surgery only reinforces sexist ideas about what it means to be male and female.
Were indigenous children seeking to change their race because of discontent with the colour of their skin, it would be seen as eugenic madness to accommodate their will. Mr Hill asks: "Why should any children have to hate their body longer than necessary?" Why should children have to hate their body at all?
I reproduce this letter here because it’s interesting to hear from someone from the ‘gender as a social construct’ crowd who opposes so-called ‘sex change surgery’ (or, as it is increasingly called, ‘gender affirmation surgery’—destroying the gender in order to affirm it?). So I share Ms Blair’s conclusion, but not, of course, the premise. What I find particularly interesting about Ms Blair’s letter is that she expresses well the thought that had occurred to me after my discussion with transgender defenders at this blog last year: if gender is just a construct, then why do something as drastic as destroying a perfectly healthy system of the body in order to live up to the expectations, whether one’s own or those of others, associated with a mere construct? Given the great advances made in social gender equality (to use the language of feminist propaganda), what does it even mean for someone of one sex to live as a member of the other sex? Indeed, one might have expected to hear regular rebukes from the feminists in the ‘gender studies’ crowd (I’m only familiar with a couple such rebukes; in addition to Ms Blair’s objection, the self-styled “feminazi” blogger has challenged the transgender agenda on the basis that it contradicts feminist theory).
So what really is the rationale for not treating gender dysphoria/gender identity disorder as a mental illness? In a nutshell it’s this, apparently, judging by MgS’s approving quotation of it:
In Schizophrenia, there may rarely be delusions of belonging to the other sex. Insistence by a person with Gender Identity Disorder that he or she is of the other sex is not considered a delusion, because what is invariably meant is that the person feels like a member of the other sex rather than truly believes that he or she is a member of the other sex.
(her bold type and italics,
MgS highlights the part before the comma, but it’s the part after the comma that I find remarkable: G.I.D. is not a delusion because its sufferers feeeeeeeeel, not think, that they belong to the opposite sex. Got it.
Feast of St. Stanislaus, Bishop, Martyr, A.D. 2009