Friday, December 11, 2009

Dear Mr. Gold: Shut Your Pie Hole

I was traipsing through The Bilerico Project, and found what has to be one of the most offensively ignorant things I've ever seen posted about transsexuality posted by Ronald Gold.

Given that Bilerico is a GLBT forum, I'm more than a little surprised to find something so blatantly ill-informed about transsexuality posted there. I would have thought that any writer for that site would at least do a smidgen of research before yammering on in a manner I would normally expect from the likes of Peter LaBarbera.

Let me state it categorically. There is no such thing as a male or female personality. Personality is not a function of gender.

So where does that put the concept of transgender? In my view, down the tubes! And that leaves the further questions of how transsexuals got to think the way they do, and what to do to resolve their dilemmas. I hope I'll be forgiven for rejecting as just plain silly the idea that some cosmic accident just turned these people into changelings. What happened, more than likely, is that, from an early age, when they discovered that their personalities didn't jibe with what little boys and girls are supposed to want and do and feel, they just assumed they mustn't be real little boys and girls.

Unfortunately, Mr. Gold is playing armchair therapist here - and disappointingly has absolutely no idea what he's talking about.

When a transsexual talks about 'feeling like a woman' (or vice versa), that is an articulation of something that comes from the same fundamental aspect of our being that makes up personality. It's not about "a male personality" or a "female personality" per se - it's about the relationship we have with our bodies, and more subtly how we experience our interactions with the world.

Mr. Gold's misunderstanding appears to be rooted in the notion that personality (in its core) is some kind of monolith, rather than a series of discrete attributes which intersect and interact with each other.

He gets even more ignorant though:

As for adults struggling with what to do about their feelings, I'd tell them too to stay away from the psychiatrists - those prime reinforcers of sex-role stereotypes - and remind them that whatever they're feeling, or feel like doing, it's perfectly possible with the bodies they've got. If a man wants to wear a dress or have long hair; if a woman wants short hair and a three-piece suit; if people want romance and sex with their own gender; who says they can't violate these perfectly arbitrary taboos?

This reads like it comes from someone with no experience at all with therapists, much less those rare specialists that care for transgender people. Mr. Gold's understanding of transsexualism is rooted in the physical and external and does not address the devastation that living with severe cognitive dissonance can cause. Transsexualism goes far beyond such a simplistic, externalized perspective. Transsexuals don't have GRS just so they can have sex with someone "in a socially acceptable manner" - it is far more important that body and soul be congruent. What happens between the sheets is a completely different discussion.

About all that this proves is that the GLB community is just as baffled by transsexuality as the straight world is. It is disappointing indeed that Mr. Gold could not be bothered to engage in dialogue with one of the many trans writers that contribute to Bilerico. Many of whom could have set his thinking straight long before he published such an ill considered screed.

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