Sunday, November 2, 2008

Detransitioning and Genetic Tests

Hi all,
Well, unless you track this sort of stuff, you may have missed a couple of interesting stories related to transgender life.

One: You might not have known that, last year, April ‘07, one of the name sports reporters for the LA Times, Mike Penner, came out and publicly declared that she would begin living life as Christine Daniels (“Old Mike, New Christine”). The LA Times was very supportive, she continued to work, posted a blog for a while called “Woman In Progress”. Then, she fell silent around the beginning of this summer.

It was recently revealed that she would be “de-transitioning”, and returning to life and the LA Times as Mike Penner (Bilerico write-up and another here). There has been no real explanation, nor are we owed one. Mike’s life is his own.

Why this is big news in the trans world in a moment. First, the other news story.

Two: Researchers in Australia have evidence of a “transsexual gene”. The researchers found that male-to-female transsexuals were more likely (not guaranteed, just more likely) to have a very interesting long gene. This was hailed by some transsexuals on their blogs as “validating” them. The rationale here is worth talking about a bit.
Now, this is my understanding – I’m no psychologist, I’m just one of the thousands of trans folk out here with access to a computer and some proficiency in speling.
Those of us who consider transitioning, and those that go further and choose to do so, usually worry at some point whether we “need” to do this. Different folks are convinced by their internal state to different degrees. For some, it literally becomes a matter of life and death. For others, it becomes a matter of significantly improving their quality of life. We get comments and criticisisms like “are you nuts?” It can be a difficult path. Many of us have been discriminated against, beaten up, killed, because of our choices. Luckily, I have not had these negative reactions (yet), and I owe this good fortune in no small part to the fact that these others have gone before and sacrificed so that the rest of us will have an easier time. Many non-trans folks (“cis-gendered” as opposed to “transgendered”) see our actions as a “choice”, many trans folk do not see it as a choice, more of a life necessity.
So, if one were to prove that transsexualism (or homosexuality) was “caused” by a gene would make some people feel “validated”. This is exactly the word I’ve seen used. I would guess that in some folks, there is a need for them to say in essence, “see, it’s not my fault! It’s genetic, I can’t help it!”. And, as valid as this may be, it also seems to have an aspect of abrogation of responsibility. The other avenue of argument is that a genetic cause would then be a basis for getting insurance companies to cover transition expenses, as well as additional legal ammunition in defending against discrimination.
So, some folks were really glad to see the transsexual gene research.
Odd Thoughts and Connections:
Now, here’s where my fevered brain starts wondering about a connection. When someone “de-transitions”, there’s a little cold spike that can go thru a trans-person’s heart. It’s like if anyone changes their mind and goes back, it de-ligitimizes the rest of us a bit. I don’t feel that way, but it sure was apparent to me that those thoughts at least ran through folks’ minds.
There has also been an air of almost sadness around this news, and that I don’t understand really. There is the aspect that Mike/Christine has been going through a lot of turmoil. I do hope, as do we all, that he finds a good road for himself, whatever that may be. Although I can see that transitioning and de-transitioning would be extra difficult, the experience would be incredibly unique and his viewpoints might be completely fascinating, should he ever choose to write about them.

So, does de-transitioning invalidate the decisions made by the rest of us? I’m getting the feeling that that is what some folks think. Me, I don’t think so. Our paths are very unique, and some of our paths are, by chance, more complex than others. So be it, respect it, observe it, and don’t judge it. It’s very tricky, actually, for us human beings to simply observe and not judge – we’re so used to jumping from the observation to the “story” (the story we make up in our head about what’s going on that we just observed).

I think a lot of us T folk get very enmeshed with having external justifications. For me, there was a stage of self-acceptance where I didn’t care anymore about the causes. I used to care a lot, I worried a lot about what could have caused this. It was like I couldn’t give myself permission to keep going unless I could find external justification – some outside authority or reason that would make it okay for me to transition.

I don’t think I ever would have found sufficient external justification. So, I would have been forever miserable. As it is, something happened about 3 years ago – if you want my guess, I think the acupuncture treatments on the Spirit/Mind level (as opposed to the Body level) helped in some way. It was a few days after the first ones where I began to realize that I was okay with being trans. It’s developed to being more than okay, I’m prouder of myself now than I’ve ever been in my whole life.

And, I don’t think I’d have achieved this level of self-acceptance had I still been depending on external validation.

So, that’s a hell of a long rant. It was actually written over several days (multiple events interfered, more on that later). If you’ve stayed in this long, wow, well, thank you very much.

Hugs to all

1 comment:

  1. A very interesting and well-formulated blog. I don't believe in the idea of being born in the wrong body because of a genetical mistake. And actually I am not interested in finding the cause. My biggest problem is that I cannot accept myself and it makes me sad and even depressed! I really hope that some day I will succeed to go through the same evolution as you.