A Response to the Lies of “A Sacred Androgen”

Recently, the Antioch Review has published an article full of hateful lies, stereotypes, and absolutely incorrect medical information about transgender people titled “The Sacred Androgen” (link marked as “nofollow” so as not to boost the page’s rank).

In response to this, Brynn Tannehill wrote a scathing condemnation of the article and The Antioch Review itself, titled “Antioch Demonstrates Why Mid-West Kills Queers from the Inside Out“.

And in addition to Brynn’s article, I sent the following email to Christina Check who is listed as the contact for The Antioch Review. I encourage all of you to do likewise. The more they hear from us, the more they may realize they have done something ugly and horribly wrong, and perhaps retract and apologize for that piece of garbage they published.

My letter to the editor lies below this line


 

Really?

If you had published such a pile of garbage laden pile of tripe about black people, your offices might have been buried under angry responses from across the nation already.

If you had published such a garbage laden pile of tripe about gays, you would have been dragged through the major press and rightfully pilloried publicly destroying your reputation.

Yet you think you can get away with it against transgender people?

Your author uses every bad stereotype, ignores all the current medical evidence including neurobiological evidence that has led the American Medical Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Association of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association all to conclude that:

1. Being transgender is not a mental illness (and it’s no longer listed as one in the DSM)
2. Being transgender is a neurobiological medical condition caused by in utero hormonal ratio variations during early pregnancy.

Your article goes on and paints trans women as sex obsessed fetishists which couldn’t be further from the truth and which theory has been totally destroyed. Bailey’s work on “autogynephelia” has been refuted because what he thought was solely trans obsession turns out to be common natal female behavior as well.

Your author asserts that transgender people are mentally ill while mental health professionals say that being transgender is not a mental illness. Your author then goes on to support reparative therapy which has been proven to increase suicidality, and never ever “cures” anything.

Your author cites the 41% suicide attempt rate as proof of mental illness and ignores that mental health professionals cite that as proof of the deep systemic hatred and oppression our culture has displayed towards transgender people. Mental health professionals say YOU need to change your attitudes towards trans people, and not that trans people need to change.

Your author launches into rape culture objectification of women and then tries to use that as a reason to see trans women with disgust.

Your author tries to assert that trans women are just gay men but ignores actual biological evidence that trans women are as different from gay men, in the brain, as they can possibly be.

The above microscope slides are just one of many studies demonstrating that trans women have brain structures very similar to cisgender women and nothing at all like gay men.
In short, your article, “The Sacred Androgen”, is hate speech targeted at a minority group that is being actively attacked and oppressed today in popular media and by right wing politicians and churches for being different. Yet the medical community, across the board, supports trans people and who they say they are. There are only a few old fossils, like Paul McHugh, Bailey, and others who get regularly trotted out by the right wing to support these hateful views.

With the publication of “The Sacred Androgen”, The Antioch Review demonstrates that it is not a rational nor respectful publication and that anything it publishes should be ignored, discarded, and that the Review itself should be driven into the ground as a purveyor of hate speech.

You should be ashamed of yourselves but bigots never are. Just like racists have been hiding in the closet for the last 40 years until Trump came along, bigots never give up their ugly ways and we now know that The Antioch Review is a publication of bigots and bigotry.

Cara Ramsey

The Real Story Behind Middle Class Wages

ShareOfGDPFrom 1950 to 1970, the percentage of US GDP devoted to wages, salaries, and other compensation, in other words, what the vast majority of us call “income” hovered near between 50% and 52% of GDP overall (see St. Louis Federal Reserve chart for more information).

Beginning in 1970 that number began to decline. Under Ronald Reagan and the GOP’s union busting antics, it accelerated.

Today, in 2016, the percentage of GDP that is devoted to income of the middle class, that is wages, salaries, etc., has fallen to about 42%, a 10% decline from its peak. According to the US Census Bureau, this works out to $50,740 per family, not separating by race, which shows further problems (See Table 1, Page 3 of Incomes, Earnings, and Poverty Data from the US Census Bureau). In practical terms, what does this mean?

We have a GDP of approximately $17.947 trillion in 2015. That 10% the middle class has lost amounts to $1.794 trillion dollars. That $1.794 trillion, divided by 320,000,000 people works out to $5608.43 per capita, which means the average family of four in 2016 should be earning $73,173.75.

You hear activists saying that the rich have gotten richer? They have, amounting to 10% of GDP per year every year and this is at your expense. The numbers are right there in the charts.

Imagine what every family could do with $22,400 more per year. Imagine the extra discretionary spending this creates. Imagine how many more jobs are created by that discretionary spending due to new and increased demand.

If you want to understand what has happened to the working class in America since 1970, and especially since 1980 and the dawn of “supply side” voodoo economics, this is the core of it right here. Look at which politicians have fought hardest to make the rich richer and to bust unions, making you poorer. And if you look at that, there’s one overwhelming answer, over and over again – Republicans. Republicans have fought for tax cut after tax cut for the wealthy. Republicans have fought to allow jobs to be shipped overseas. Republicans have fought against unionization and for “right to work” laws which are really union busting laws intended to put the power in the hands of the employer, and not the employee.

And when you look at this data, right there in front of your face, ask yourself why you vote for Republicans when they consistently do this to you. And if you vote Republican, ask yourself that while you look in the mirror and hit yourself with a bat at the same time, because that’s what you’re doing when you vote for the GOP – you’re hurting yourself first and foremost.

Who Are The Real Sexual Predators?

The right wing has been on the warpath against transgender people using the bathroom of their expressed gender, as opposed to the gender assigned at birth. In that entire discussion, I’ve seen the conservatives find one single incident in Canada several years ago where a man pretended to be transgender to get into a women’s homeless shelter and assault them. One incident.

Conservatives are notorious for telling us that criminals don’t obey laws, and point to gun free school zone laws as proof. Yet now, somehow magically, criminals are going to obey a law that says to not enter a women’s restroom? And that’s the justification for violating the rights of transgender women, because some non-trans man will maybe do something wrong?

I suggest they focus on an area where there is proven sexual assault. I suggest they pass a law mandating that women and children are not allowed in churches since pastors and church staff have a proven record of being sexual predators of both women and children.

Here’s a list of recent stories in the last few months. This is just a few months of quick stories collected together. Imagine how bad it must be for a full year! Imagine all those women and children being violated by religious authority figures! So if Republicans want to really protect women and children, pass a law barring anyone who works in a church from having contact with women and children. (I say this in jest, in case anyone is stupid enough to believe I mean it, but I say it to show how stupid these laws are.)

And here’s that list.

Man accused of sexually assaulting 6-year-old girl at Raleigh church | abc11.com

Cedar Hill youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting 3 young boys | | Dallas Morning News

Update: Former Atkins Youth Pastor Charged with Sexual Assault –

Cedar Hill youth pastor accused of sexually assaulting 3 young boys | KDFW

Maryland Baptist Bishop Arrested, Accused of Sexually Assaulting 22-Year-Old Woman | NBC4 Washington

NC pastor charged with indecent liberties with a child | myfox8.com

Monroe pastor charged with indecent liberties with a child – | WBTV Charlotte

Teen rape accusation: Ex-pastor’s return to U.S. expected, police say – CNN.com

Pastor accused of sexually assaulting youth member | KXAN.com

Former Mesa pastor accused of sexual assault arraigned in Pennsylvania

Texas Youth Pastor Beaten by Witnesses Who Caught Him Sexually Assaulting Kindergartner: Report – The Root

Pastor who warned of “transgender predators” sexually harasses and assaults women | The TransAdvocate

Trinity Fellowship sued over accusations of sexual assault of child by volunteer pastor | KVII

Pastor, a convicted sex offender, charged with sexually abusing child – Aurora Beacon-News

Pastor Accused Of Sexually Assaulting Woman During Exorcisms | News One

Jury convicts former Las Vegas pastor in sex assault case | Las Vegas Review-Journal

TX pastor accused of sexual assault; given leave of absence

Shevlin Pastor Found Guilty Of Sexually Assaulting 2 Boys « WCCO | CBS Minnesota

Fort Worth Pastor Accused of Sexual Assault | NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Former D.C. Police Officer, Pastor Sentenced To 18 Years For Sexually Assaulting Minors : DCist

Teen claims local pastor sexually assaulted her | www.ajc.com

Greenville County Pastor Arrested on Sexual Assault of a Minor Charges

Canaan youth pastor accused of sexually abusing young girl — Mid-Maine — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine

Greenville County Pastor Arrested on Sexual Assault of a Minor Charges | WCBD News 2

Cumberland County pastor pleads guilty to sexually assaulting child | Local News – WGAL Home

Youth pastor at local church facing local sexual assault charges | Picayune Item

Texas Youth Pastor Sexual Assault

Pastor Arrested for Sexually Assaulting Church Member | NBC 6 South Florida

Pastor charged with sexually abusing child at North Aurora church | WFLD

Suffer The Little Children: Almost 12 Cases Of Christian Pastors Sexually Assaulting Kids In Just The Last Month | Left Wing Nation

Some of My Personal Trans History

This needs to be recorded so I can easily relay it to others, and for those interested in parts of the background about this. There will be additional blog entries about this history, different aspects of it, but this is the first.

I was born in 1957. The 1950s were the era when PSAs ran on black and white television, sponsored by the government itself, about the perversions of homosexuality and how early “help” could “turn” a child away from these “perversions”. Further, my father was a steel mill worker and I grew up in eastern Ohio – coal mine and steel mill country. Being “queer” in that region and that era could literally get you killed. That was the atmosphere in which I grew up, just so we understand that as reference, ok?

I apparently showed girlish tendencies from early on. My grandmother initially indulged these, according to reports, until I was about 3 years old and my mother and father didn’t want that. There are surviving photos (that I’d love to get copies of) that showed me with bows in my hair and frilly dresses on. But that ended and unfortunately, I currently don’t have any copies of those photos.

My first crude understanding that something was “wrong” with me came again, at the hands of my grandmother, though I am sure she intended no harm. Up until I was about 5 years old she would take me with her on her regular hair dressing appointments. It was a family ritual. Hair dresser, Elby’s Big Boy restaurtant, then a bit of shopping in downtown Wheeling, West Virginia, always concluding at the LS Good and Company Department Store. We always finished there because that was where she had worked when her husband divorced her during the Great Depression. She started in sales there and became a regional buyer, which she loved, because she got to regularly travel to Chicago and New York to view fashion shows and decide what LS Good would carry in their seasonal lineup that year. So even though this was 20 years after she had left, her name was still known there, and her younger sister had succeeded her there as a regional buyer and senior saleswoman.

We were in the children’s clothing section and I must have been about 5 years old or so. My grandmother saw this navy blue boy’s summer dress outfit. Navy blue shorts and jacket, white shirt, bow tie, for a child. She picked that up off the rack and knelt down to hold it up to me and said “This would be so cute on you!”

I distinctly remember pointing across the aisle at a yellow sundress with flowers and saying “I want that.”

My grandmother, bless her heart, reacted as you might expect someone in that era. She didn’t raise her voice, and truthfully my memory of her voice was her trying to be calm, quiet, and loving, but the look of sheer horror on her face didn’t leave despite her trying to talk to me as if I had not just done something completely evil. She explained, softly, almost in a whisper, that I was a little boy and little boys didn’t wear dresses.

We didn’t buy the navy blue outfit that day. And that was my last trip with my grandmother to the hair dresser. You can see from the results how my words caused a reaction – she wasn’t going to risk “feminizing” me any further lest I turn out to be a “queer” stain on the family.

That was my first inkling that something was wrong. I was pushed by my parents to play with the boys in the neighborhood, Charlie, Greg, Steve. But truthfully, I preferred playing with Virginia, Cindy, and Linda. I remember being embarrassed as others made fun of me early in school for getting in line with the girls. I quickly stopped, because of the ostracism but that’s where my initial reaction led.

Now I had no language to describe how I felt. I didn’t identify as a girl because I was constantly reminded that I was a boy, but it didn’t feel right. By the time I was 9 years old, I’d begun wearing some of my mother’s clothing whenever I could get away with it. We lived with my grandmother after age 9 when my father divorced my mother and left my life never to be seen again so consequently, I could slip into my grandmother’s extra bedroom where she kept entire wardrobes of dresses and clothes (she was a clothes hound) and play there. I never dared try on her clothes though. For some reason I feared her retribution more than my mother should I be caught, but I wanted to wear those clothes. And I played with her scarves, her jewelry, etc.

My grandparents ran a motel they had built themselves back in the early 1950s. Because of that, we had a regular maid staff who cleaned the rooms daily. And we had regular guests among the random guests. Those regular guests were traveling salesmen on regular trade routes. They made up maybe a third of my grandparent’s motel’s regular occupancy. And many of them read porn. These magazines would be gathered up by the maid staff and placed in the large industrial trash bins. I would raid these bins to get these magazines.

I would take these magazines deep into the nearby woods and sit and read. Or I would read them in my grandmother’s extra bedroom, often hiding them under one of her beds. This was “safe” because no one but me regularly went into those woods or those bedrooms. My younger brothers turned out to not like the woods, at least at that age and they had no interest in those bedrooms full of clothing.

I read these magazines to try to understand sexuality, and why I felt as I did. I admired those women and really didn’t lust after them at all, at least at that age. And I read the articles. Yes, I really read the articles and that’s what also got me in further trouble.

You see, I found a magazine with an article about “sex change” operations and I was fascinated. There were pictures of women who had been men. I had no idea up to that time that this was even a possible thing.

Normally, I read with all ears alert, because I didn’t want to get caught. The few times my grandmother had walked in on me, I’d heard her coming, hid the magazines and began reading a sci-fi book. If she ever questioned me, I told her I liked the quiet of those bedrooms to read because nobody would bother me there. She accepted that.

Until the day I was reading that article about sex change operations. I must have been about 12 or 13 years old. That day I became so engrossed that I didn’t hear her coming. I didn’t even hear her enter the room until she was standing over me. She snatched that magazine from my hands, glanced at it, and began yelling me at me about perverts and degenerates, and how only evil, vile people did this, and I wasn’t an evil, vile abomination, was I?

I was totally cowed. My grandmother was the matriarch of the family. My grandfather bowed to her will as did my uncle and everyone else. When she spoke, we listened. When she yelled, we all cowered in fear.

The psychological impact of that moment stayed with me for years. I could not even intellectually conceive of engaging in a “sex change” operation because it was burned into my mind as something totally aberrant and evil.

Between that moment and bullying from many of the “jocks” at school (which is an entirely separate discussion), I began to try to force myself to be the male that everyone expected me to be. And I largely succeeded for two reasons – I was exceptionally fast, which made me stand out in football and track, and because one of my best friends was one of the best athletes our high school ever saw, before or since. Those two things got people off my back about being “queer”, but they still whispered behind my back, just not in front of me or my friend who was defensive of me about that.

I only began to shake off all that negative early cultural imprinting about trans people in my early 20s while in the Army (yes I joined the Army partly because they “make a man” out of you and partly because I needed a job with a pregnant wife at that point) and taking college sociology courses at night.

I vented my frustrations by reading sci-fi with strong women characters, and later by playing video games with the option to play as a woman. It took me clear until 2004 to admit to myself who and what I really was but I was then convinced that if you didn’t transition early in life, you never could, so I kept on soldiering as a male through life, being a father and husband.

That lasted until 2010 when I experienced what I called the “mother of all dysphoria” episodes that simply would not stop. All the time prior, I always found a rock that I could shove my dysphoria under, an obsession that would take most of my free time so I wouldn’t obsess over my dysphoria. That always worked before. In 2010, starting in September, that didn’t work anymore and culminated with me planning a suicide that would look like an accident so my spouse would get the insurance money in February 2012. Fortunately, a friend realized I was depressed and pushed me towards therapy.

And the rest, as they say, is herstory. 🙂

An Update For April 2016

I’ve not had a lot to write about here on my blog this year. Life as me is settling down quite nicely. There’s no change on the family front. My eldest son remains estranged, by his own choice. My youngest son remains distant. My daughter and I grow closer, or at least it feels that way to me. She’s also undergoing some trying times in her life, as her husband has finally received the heart transplant he’s needed for so long. They’re on a long road back to a reasonably normal life but that process has begun, with all its fits, stops, starts along the way trying her patience and strength. Yet she perseveres as the amazing and strong young woman that she is. I am proud of her.

My siblings continue to not speak to me or respond to attempts to communicate. Their failure to respond tells me all  I need to know about how they feel about me. That’s their choice, not mine.

I continue to watch with anger and sadness as the Republican party actively scapegoats transgender women, trying to paint a series of lies as the basis for denying out civil rights. What boggles my mind even further is that there are trans women, almost all older, who still cling to their conservative Republican politics despite their own party trying to disenfranchise, dehumanize, and scapegoat them personally. It must take a really special form of lying to yourself to make yourself believe that being a Republican makes any sense whatsoever as a trans women in 2016. It’s delusional. And it appears, to me, to be symptomatic of our pre-transition lives and our desire to lie to ourselves. This will likely piss off some right wing trans women. Don’t like it? Stop reading or pull your head out of your ass. The GOP is the party of hate, bigotry, lies, and scapegoating others. There’s no way around that fact. A trans woman supporting the GOP in 2016 is like a Jew supporting the Nazis in 1936. It’s stupid and it goes against your own self-interest in the extreme.

The last “medical” thing on my transition list was also my first – facial hair removal. That process continues and we continue to make progress but it’s also not done yet. I’m at 81 hours in the chair at E3000 up in Lewisville, Texas, and I expect several more sessions yet though they continue to get shorter and shorter, and cost less and less each time.

I bought a bathing suit and I think it looks great. Yes, it’s a one piece. No, I don’t know if I’ll have the nerve to try a bikini. It’s OK! Laugh at me. I’m laughing too at this topic!

And finally, my tax liability for the crazy 2015, in which I pulled money from a retirement account to complete my surgeries, appears to have been less than I expected. I thank the experts at H&R Block for that assistance. Next year I can return to doing my taxes myself as they’ll be much simpler again.

There are still things on my plate for this year. Julie and I are talking about a road trip, maybe, to see some friends this summer. Ren Fest will be next fall again and I hope to see people there too.

Life goes on, and for me, finally, it’s a life that doesn’t have thoughts of suicide and worthlessness every few days the way I did for decades before facing my own truths. Here’s to hoping that each of you can find that level of peace too.