A Lesbian Psychologist Speaks Out

Originally posted here:

https://youthtranscriticalprofessionals.org/2016/07/22/a-lesbian-psychologist-speaks-out/

A Lesbian Psychologist Speaks Out

By: Saye Bennett

I am a lesbian, and I am a psychologist.

Those two facts have been inextricably linked in my mind as I have observed, with increasing dismay, both the mental health community and the medical community unquestioningly accept the current transgender trend as fact.

As a psychologist, the most urgent and obvious concern I have about this uncritical acceptance of the transgender trend is our ethical mandate to “Do No Harm”. How can we, in good conscience, happily send our clients down a long and dangerous path of cross-sex hormones and invasive surgeries?

(If you don’t think there are dangers in these interventions, please take the time to research very thoroughly, making sure to scratch beneath the shiny surface veneer of the relentlessly positive trans propaganda).

Our goal as mental health professionals should be to empower our clients to become their healthiest, best, authentic selves.

To believe that a client’s true self can only be achieved by changing everything true about herself is ludicrous.

And yet that is exactly what the mental health and medical communities are wholeheartedly endorsing.

The current political climate is increasingly limiting professionals’ choices in this matter, and is now even squelching our right to speak out with questions and concerns.

Questioning is now deemed hate speech, and refusal to simply automatically submit to client demands is now deemed unprofessional and “transphobic”.

When it comes to the transgender trend, differential diagnosis is forbidden, yet how can professionals adequately diagnose or recommend treatment without getting the full picture?

Instead of blindly accepting our client’s diagnosis of herself, we should be doing what we do for ALL clients, which is to actually find out what is going on that led the client to this point.

There are many factors that may need to be considered when a client reports she is transgender, including, but not limited to: sexual orientation (more on this below); trauma; general body image; eating disorders; medical history; autism spectrum disorder; mood issues; anxiety; family relationships; and social dynamics (including social contagion).

In other words, a thorough assessment of all relevant factors and a comprehensive background history are needed to get a full picture.

The mention of sexual orientation leads me to my next point, because, as I mentioned above, the transgender trend concerns me greatly in my professional role, but it affects me even more saliently as a lesbian.

As a lesbian, I can say with firsthand knowledge that lesbians often do not meet society’s stereotypical notions of “femininity”. Even though I am a so-called “feminine-presenting” lesbian myself, there are still significant differences in how I process and approach the world in comparison to my heterosexual cohorts.

Therefore, because lesbians often do not fit into society’s narrow definition of alleged “appropriate” femaleness, I have been witnessing many lesbians being ensnared into the trap of thinking that they must be transgender.

Because lesbians often don’t see others like ourselves in the world around us, we often feel we are different than other females. This is likely to be even more true during childhood and adolescence, before we have the independence and the means to get out and explore the world.

Many lesbians have interest in activities, peers, toys, items, hobbies, colors, clothes, books, movies, TV shows, games, etc. that do not fit into society’s narrow view of “stereotypical femininity”.

So if a female reports she “does not identify with/as”, nor feel similar to, other females, it does NOT mean she is “really a male”, it just means that she is a different, unique, and equally valid, type of female.

Similarly, if a female reports that she likes sports, or the color blue, or wearing pants all the time, or wants to play with trucks instead of dolls, (etc.), it does NOT mean she is “really a male”, it just means she carries her femaleness in a way that is different from society’s rigid expectations.

Females who do not fit into the traditional “feminine” stereotype do NOT need hormone blockers or cross-sex hormones; they do NOT need to “socially transition”; and they do NOT need unnecessary surgeries.

Female bodies are not the problem here…society’s expectations are the problem.
There is no “right way” nor “wrong way” to be female.

What girls/women who carry female differently do need is unconditional acceptance and support, in order to become comfortable navigating being different in a critical and rigid society.

Mental health and medical professionals owe it to our clients to think critically about all information being presented to us.

We owe it to our clients to delve deeply to find the truth, and to always strive to “Do No Harm”.

Bottom line, we owe it to our clients to critically question an ideology which is based on John Money’s already discredited gender identity theory; and which is also based on stringent, faulty notions of what it means to be a female.

**Note: The focus of this post is based on females, so that is the term used for simplicity and clarity. However, please note that the same general principles would be relevant for males who do not fit the stereotypical notions of “masculinity”.

09/09/2016:  Edited to add:  I did not discuss dysphoria in the post, primarily because this post was intended to be a general overview of my concerns as a lesbian psychologist regarding the trans trend, rather than an in-depth exploration of the diagnostic process. Basically, dysphoria is a term that is very often misused and overused. For more information about true dysphoria, please read this post.

21 thoughts on “A Lesbian Psychologist Speaks Out

  1. Saye, I always appreciate that you speak from your heart about your passions, but include your mind’s logic. This is the first time that I have heard/ transgender posed like this. Thank you for sharing your insights. My husband doing the majority of the cooking and cleaning in our home doesn’t make him more feminine. Me fixing things with power tools or building something doesn’t make me more masculine. Thank you for presenting the first article I’ve read about transgender identification that makes sense to me. I appreciate your insights. Thank you.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Thanks so much for your comment & feedback, Genealogy Jen! I totally agree with your statement about roles; yes, you’re right: neither women nor men should be bound by ridiculous stereotypical notions of “appropriate” behavior/activities/likes. Thanks again!

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Pingback: Live and Let Live…? | Saye Bennett

  3. I agree that psychologists, therapists, counselors, ought to do due diligence in listening to and assisting their clients -that’s kind of their whole job description.
    That being said though, I definitely have a female body, but I definitely do not like my boobs. I definitely have every intention and plan to have them removed. They’re huge, heavy, and cause me pain (physically and emotionally). Is it ok, according to your line of thought, that I have them removed? How would it matter in the slightest if I don’t like them vs. I’d prefer a masculine chest? I completely understand that they are a part of my bod, however, would it be (is it) acceptable to you if I had tiny breasts and wanted to undergo (painful and *gasp* costly) surgery to enlarge them? How is augmenting my physical shape to make myself the happiest I can be harming myself?
    I agree that people ought to accept others and accept a variant/spectrum to the societal norm of boys vs. girls because we are a varied and different people… Isn’t it our job then to extend that acceptance to those we do not understand? The kid with Downs just wants what everybody wants, to be valid & accepted. The short guy wants what everybody wants, to be valid & accepted. The amputee victim wants what everybody wants, to be valid & accepted. Those unable to bear children, those with mental deficiencies, those with mental disorders, those with thyroid issues, those with diabetes, those with breasts that don’t want them -they want what everybody wants, to be valid and accepted. How is the tearing down of the trans* community helping, validating, or accepting them?

    Like

    • Hi, thanks for commenting, but I must respectfully disagree with your point and your analogies.

      There’s a huge difference between the type of situation you are talking about regarding yourself: having a breast reduction because your breasts are literally causing you physical pain and significant discomfort, versus undertaking unnecessary and dangerous medical interventions because you incorrectly believe you are a man because you don’t fit into society’s gender straight jacket…medical interventions which include cross-sex hormones not meant for your body and surgeries which attempt to make your body into something is it not meant to be by tampering with healthy body parts.

      It is not true “acceptance” for us to tell people that they need to initiate dangerous hormones and surgeries to “be their true self” and to fit into society’s gender straight jacket.

      All of the examples you gave are not in the slightest bit comparable. The “amputee victim” doesn’t want all of his remaining limbs cut off so he can be “whole”, the kid with Down’s Syndrome doesn’t want you to pump him full of hormones and subject him to numerous surgeries in order for him to gain society’s acceptance; he just wants to BE. Etc.

      Is it our job to simply accept the anorexic’s need to starve herself? Is it our job to simply accept the suicidal person’s intention to kill himself? Is it our job to simply accept the client with Body Integrity Identity Disorder as he cuts off all of his healthy limbs? Is it our job to simply accept our paranoid client’s delusions in order to support him?

      Clearly not.

      As professionals, our job is to first Do No Harm. Our job is to find out what is really going on and to support the client in progressing to true self-acceptance.

      It is not “tearing down the trans community” to use critical thinking skills that extend beyond the naive and ultimately harmful live-and-let-live-let’s-just-accept-everything philosophy you are suggesting.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. HLG: Sorry, but I agree with Saye that you are off base here. Your examples do not compare at all and your idea that as a society we should just accept anything or that professionals should just blindly (stupidly) accept this dangerous trend is scary and shows how the trans trend has gained so much traction. People with your attitude are as bad as the people pushing it. You think you are being nice but you are part of the problem.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad I am not the only one to see the problem with the attitude that we should all just live-and-let-live.

      While people are sitting around lecturing others, feeling all warm and fuzzy about their lovey-dovey acceptance of everything, real lives are being harmed irreparably.

      HLG might not be harming people directly by cutting into healthy organs with a scalpel, but this lackadaisical and passive attitude is certainly allowing harm to happen.

      Thanks for pointing out that responsibility is not limited to those who perpetuate the atrocities, but instead, those who allow it to happen without attempting to intervene are culpable too.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Obviously I do not want people with suicidal thoughts to off themselves. I do not want those with eating disorders to starve themselves to death. I’m pretty sure the majority of people don’t want those things to happen. That isn’t live and let live. That’s neglect.
    I cannot equate though suicidal tendencies and anorexia with those wishing to transition. Those two examples lead to death, transitioning leads to living a fuller, more accepting (and likely extended) life. Also, you’re right, the amputee victim doesn’t want all their limbs cut off… but they very well probably wish they still had the limb and they very well probably wish people would stop staring at them/their prosthetic limb. The point I’m trying to make is that they want to be accepted for who they are without pity. You’re also correct that the Downs person probably doesn’t want surgeries, etc. and just wants to “be”. I wasn’t trying to correlate those people with Trans people. What I’m saying is we all vary, so, so much but the thing we all have in common is we want acceptance -no matter our issue. I mean, I doubt women driving their kids to practice in their uber-safe and economical minivan wish to be referred to as “soccer moms”. I bet they’d prefer to be called by their names and stop being pigeon holed into this socially acceptable idea of themselves and their lives.
    You’re right that labels suck. They do. Societal norms of binary also suck. But I have to respectfully disagree that living the life of a Trans* person is wrong or harmful. I have to eliminate the societal construct of binary when talking about Trans people. I just seriously doubt that Trans* people change their bodies because they don’t want to play with Barbies/G.I. Joe and the only want to play with trucks and wear camo is to have boy parts. I just don’t think that is the mindset anymore of educated peoples. Sure, there are people who show up in droves because heaven forbid Target joined their boys & girls toy sections into one section. (Which is weird b/c when I was a kid, we went to KB Toys and they were all mixed together and none of us cared or noticed). But the majority of people I know do not bow to the binary. The majority of people I know and have interactions with and are accepting of girls playing “boy” toys and boys playing “girl” toys. Granted, I concede that in general it’s WAY more accepted when girls play “boy” games than when boys play “girl” games but that is a different discussion.
    The surgeries are expensive and invasive -just like any and all other surgeries. But I wouldn’t deny anyone that chance to be happier with themselves. The hormones cause changes to the body, true, but they don’t harm the body. They cause acne and hair loss/gain (speaking to FtM transition b/c that’s the leaning of this blog). I personally don’t find those things harmful. It is my understanding that people transition purely and simply because they don’t like their look and feel trapped/disassociated with their bodies. Disregarding the societal construct, I find people want to change to suit themselves; binary be damned. Have you found otherwise?

    Like

    • If you really think that cross-sex hormones and dangerous surgeries are healthy and lead to a happier, longer life, then clearly you haven’t looked at the long-term research.

      I don’t mean the short-term research being done by trans researchers themselves which is often based on self-report and inherently biased, but, rather, the solid, long-term research that shows (and remember these are subjects who already are “sex-reassigned”):

      A. Sex-reassigned transsexual persons of both genders had approximately a three times higher risk of all-cause mortality than controls, even after adjustment for covariates.

      B. The Kaplan-Meier curve suggests that survival of transsexual persons started to diverge from that of matched controls after about 10 years of follow-up.

      C. The cause-specific mortality from suicide was much higher in sex-reassigned subjects, when compared to matched controls.

      D. Mortality due to cardiovascular disease was moderately increased among the sex-reassigned subjects when compared to controls.

      E. The increased risk for malignancies in sex-reassigned subjects was found to be borderline statistically significant when compared to controls.

      F. Sex-reassigned persons had a higher risk of inpatient care for a psychiatric disorder other than gender identity disorder than controls matched on birth year and birth sex, even after adjustment for prior psychiatric morbidity.

      G. Female-to-male sex reassigned subjects had higher crime rates (including violent crimes) than female controls but did not differ from male controls, indicating a shift to a male pattern regarding criminality and that sex reassignment is coupled to increased crime rate in female-to-males.

      H. Male-to-female transsexual subjects in this study had a significantly increased risk for crime, including violent crime, compared to female controls but not compared to males, indicating that they retained a male pattern regarding criminality after sex-reassignment surgery.

      I. According to the authors of this study, the most striking result of the study was the high mortality rate in both male-to-females and female-to males, compared to the general population.

      J. The study found substantially higher rates of overall mortality, death from cardiovascular disease and suicide, suicide attempts, and psychiatric hospitalizations in sex-reassigned transsexual individuals when compared to a healthy control population.

      K. According to the authors, Post-surgical transsexuals remain an at-risk group that need long-term psychiatric and somatic follow-up.

      These results are over a 30 year period, not a 3 month period. It’s not the rosy picture that trans activists want to believe themselves and want everyone else to believe too.

      So, no, I don’t agree with you, and I will never agree that it is all just fine to support doing this to people.

      Source: http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchObject.action?uri=info:doi/10.1371/journal.pone.0016885&representation=PDF

      Liked by 2 people

  6. To HLG: I deleted your 3rd comment last night because your tone left a lot to be desired.

    Even though I deleted the comment, I can basically remember what it said, so I will attempt to address your points here.

    1). You said I had an agenda. If you call pointing out the problems I see with the trans trend and other issues “an agenda”, then yes, sure I do. I might add that you obviously have an agenda too. Everybody who has strong opinions and expresses them has an agenda: to put their information out there.

    2). You said that I had not addressed your points in the previous comments, and my reply to that is that I did try to cover the gist of what you said. As I said, though, in my Comments Policy post, I may or may not address every single point depending on whether it is relevant to the conversation, and depending on the tone.

    3). You critiqued the study I provided, saying it is over 10 years old, and that it included some buffering language in it, something like, even with all the difficulties noted in my reply above, perhaps the sex-reassigned persons were better off that they were if they hadn’t transitioned.

    All studies provide buffering language like that. They have to. Researchers never speak in absolutes; they can’t. Who knows what would have happened if they hadn’t transitioned? Obviously, nobody knows, and it’s a moot point; we cannot go back in time and untransition them.

    Re: the study being over ten years old, that is a good point, and I would also love to see an updated similar, truly long-term, comprehensive study. However, just because the study is older, does not mean it is invalid. It covered 30 years of data, and it covered it well.

    4). I am not sure how anybody could look at that study, even with the obvious buffering language, and still come back and say that medical transition is a good thing, and the fact you can do so tells me that you really don’t want to consider evidence pointing out the negatives of medical transition.

    5). One reason your comment got deleted is that you were snarky about other commenters and also criticized that I had liked what they said. I won’t allow anyone to insult other commenters here. They are entitled to agree with me (or not), but regardless, what they say and what I like are not things you need to concern yourself with.

    6). I later felt bad about deleting your tweet (sorry!). I deleted it because I was tired and fed up and annoyed with your tone, so I wanted to address your comments here.

    However, please note that I don’t intend to keep having this conversation. I am not going to back down and agree to anybody’s arguments that we all should just accept the trans trend, and I am never going to agree that medical transition is a good, healthy thing.

    7). I do agree that everybody should receive support, respect and kindness, and I would never suggest that anybody, professional or otherwise, ever treat trans people with anything less than that, so at least we can agree on one thing. So, this is a good place to leave this conversation on a more positive note.

    Thanks for listening and best wishes.

    Liked by 1 person

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