Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Quack Attack!

Quack Attack! Sounds like an old arcade game, doesn't it? Perhaps one of those old ones you used to play at the shop while waiting for your school bus in the mornings? You know the type, the multi-level adventure with stunningly lifelike cartoon characters and annoyingly simple sound effects, presented in the latest hi-tech 2-d format of the time. Yes, it sure does conjure up memories.

But no, I am not talking about arcade games, but the games people - specifically medical professionals, are playing with the lives of other people - their patients. There are a few of these in this spectrum, from the shrinks out there referring gay people to the fallacious "ex-gay" movement which falsely claims to turn gay people straight, to the quack surgeons who perform long-outdated gender reassignment surgery using bits of the victim's colon to form a vagina instead of the modern penile inversion technique - to the quacks sitting at the head of the DSM-V revision committee and doing their level best to screw it all up for everybody depending on it.

The keystone of this gripe for me is the revision to the classification of transsexuals from transsexuals to "HBS" - or "Harry Benjamin Syndrome".

Up to this point transsexual patients have been classified internally simply as Type A and Type B - which simply differentiates between basic differences in when you came out and started living as a woman, or whether you tried to fit in and live a part of your life as your born gender. Type A would be the type who acted from the start on their self-knowledge that they were transsexual, while Type B would the group that comes out later in life, most usually due to external pressure to conform, even engaging in experimental behavior - such as having relationships and even marriage etc.

Sexual orientation has NEVER up to this point been used to gauge whether or not a transsexual is a "true" transsexual - simply because sexual orientation and gender identity are separate matters entirely and have no bearing on the subject. In other words these "experts" shoot themselves in the foot by going against the directives that specify the CLEAR difference between sexual orientation and gender identity.

Harry Benjamin's own scale - specifically states that the subtypes of transsexual cannot and should not be sharply separated - and yet this HBS policy represents just that - a radical departure from the foundations of treatment for transsexual people - and then to add insult to injury, sullies the memory of this humanitarian and benefactor to the transgender community by applying his name to it.

But wait, hold on to your hat now - because HBS is going to turn everything on its ear.

HBS is a school of thought - ie an OPINION - that argues a TRUE transsexual is for eg a man who wants to be a woman - and as such will only be attracted to male partners. In other words they are saying if a transsexual woman identifies as a lesbian after surgery they are not "true transsexuals" - ie HBS - and are somehow lesser and are to be classified separately.

Add to this the confusing liturgy that on one hand groups HBS separately as "true transsexuals" and renames them "HBS" - and then labels others who do not identify as heterosexual "transsexuals" as "Gender dysphoric" - and then on the other hand, still calls HBS "transsexuals" albeit "true".

HBS trannies are also supposed to be genetically proven. In other words, patient: "Doctor I feel like a man trapped in a woman's body." Doctor: "That's okay, your gene test came back - you are. And since you are not attracted to women you are HBS, or a "true" transsexual."

The significance of this is that a person who is classified HBS according to new genetic tests therefore is not "imagining" his or her condition - and therefore cannot be seriously classified as having a mental condition - but rather a physical one. This presumably is why HBS is supposed to be grouped with the Intersex patients, because their condition is clearly physical. (Silly me, I thought that was the point of surgery in the first place.)

This of course leaves us with the other people who turn up at the shrink's door - the "depraved sexual deviants and perverts" such as myself who will probably not pass this HBS elite test, identify as pansexual or lesbian - and are therefore classified as being "mentally ill, but treatable" - having GID (Gender Identity Disorder). Oh, so there is hope yet. Phew. I am so relieved. Pass the electrodes, please.

This HBS classification is brand new and has not even been made DSM policy yet - and already there are bitter feuds taking place on online forums around the world. Certain trannies - I use the term in its plainest form because this misogyny prevalent there angers and disgusts me beyond words - now view themselves as being "superior" to others. That's right, they had their surgery and now have massive attitudes and chips on their shoulders. They look down on and indulge in hate speech against less fortunate, less passable and more obvious transsexual people. They hate the post-ops who identify as gay or lesbian, never comprehending the concept that gender identity and sexual orientation are separate issues. I'm sure you know the type, just as you know the hype.

Post-op, passable and full of shit. Suddenly they are not the common or garden variety of tranny, they are now magically "straight heterosexual women" and are too good to be associated with the rest of us "deviants". It must be a dream come true for some of them.

Some even go so far as to argue that a tranny who doesn't have the funding to have surgery is also not a "true" transsexual! Aside from the short-sightedness and blatantly obvious idiocy in such a claim, the bigotry and hatred such a concept generates is staggering - as well as the legions of willing followers flocking to be classified - or to classify themselves among them. On closer inspection you will find these idiots are nothing more than elitist flim-flam artists with internalized homo and transphobia issues. And I couldn't be less surprised.

I often wonder at the hypocrisy in our pink community - how a transwoman can dare to show the temerity to point a finger at her sister and say "I'm a 'true' transsexual - and you're inferior to me". Because that is exactly what this HBS policy is saying. I have a right to say I am a genetic heterosexual woman - and you are just a freakish homosexual deviant who gives me a bad name.

Breathe in, breathe out. Right, sweetie - now, put down the hammer...

Before you start slamming me for jumping the gun, I have read the draft version of this policy and while there is one little thing in there I find encouraging - the inadvertent recognition of genetics in determining gender identity - the rest to my mind is a nest of pseudo scientific misogynistic bullshit.

Let me state for the record that sexual orientation has diddly squat to do with whether or not a transwoman should have surgery or not - or should be classified a "true" anything. Any shrink worth his degree will recognize that. If that is what identifies a so-called HBS, being "heterosexual" - then that is precisely what "rubbishes" it.

What is a "true" transsexual anyway? How can you tell if somebody is not a transsexual? Are they going to turn around after surgery and say "Hehe - I was just kidding, can I have it back"? The simple fact is, regardless of sexual orientation, and funding - if you go through with surgery and do not regret it - THAT is what makes you a transsexual. Period. There is no "true" about it. What is an "HBS"? No more and no less a common or garden transsexual like the rest of us.

How anyone can think that they are a so-called "true" transsexual - and therefore "superior" to me simply because I happen to be in a lesbian relationship, pushes the limits of my patience. That is the same kind of bullshit argument that says lesbians are not "real" women and gay males are not "real" men. And making it policy is no less than institutionalized bigotry.

In either case, this whole HBS nonsense is getting out of hand, with people acting like a self-appointed tranny "elite" and spreading animosity within the community. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this is their intention. Remember that "ex-gay" was also once an official view, touted by fairly respectable psychiatric voices in the profession until common sense raised a worried hand and said "...ummm... ''scuse me?"

I can see no quantifiable reason why there should be a NEED to distinguish between people on grounds of their sexual orientation if they are consulting these "professionals" for a problem with their gender identity. How is sexual orientation in any way relevant to a condition which makes a person's gender identity inconsistent with their own physical gender? Any such differentiation is irrelevant and of no consequence.

It complicates things, because every transwoman has expectations of looking beautiful and passing as a woman when transitioning - and these are not always met. Truth is, the passable ones usually fade away and hide in the same closet they came out of - it has just been painted pink and reupholstered... The visible ones are the ones who do not have the luxury of being able to hide - and do most of the fighting for the trans community and are unfairly singled out by the passable ones as "giving the rest of us a bad name" and being "bad for our image" - but are they any less woman than the passable ones pointing fingers from the sidelines? Very often the re-closeted transwomen will conveniently claim how superior they are, forgetting how fortunate they are to be passable, and that it was through no effort of their own, but just blind luck.

In fact, it is no coincidence that those claiming to be "HBS" bunnies also happen to be passable, anonymous, ashamed of being transsexual - and even closeted. Does this argument not decisively prove the old saying - "beauty is only skin deep"?

I think it does.


If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.


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