Hey Suggestive, Would love to get your perspective on this. I’ve been working on orienting my thoughts around transgenderism and what it means to be transgender, particularly because I do not currently have a friend or even acquaintance group that contains a trans person, at least that I know of. Obviously it is quite a hot button issue with the North Carolina and Mississippi laws, and I’d like to be able to discuss it on a level greater than just attitudes. The chief arguments I see in the anti-trans-accommodation/Matt Walsh camp center around the idea that straight but ill-intentioned men would take advantage of accommodation rules to harass women and children, which further distills to the argument that transgenderism is a mental illness, not an valid identification, and society accommodating this mental illness opens the floodgates While I feel intuitively that that argument is incorrect, I was attempting to leave a facebook comment and realized that I was unable to articulate a convincing reason to believe the opposite. I suppose chiefly I am wondering about the justification for the argument that differentiates transgenderism from other psychological issues, like hoarding for instance. Appreciate any and all thoughts! Thanks, John
Thanks for the submission John! Given that I am not trans* and have only had minimal coursework and trainings on transgender issues, I thought it best to reach out to one of my trans* friends to answer your question. I hope that it provides some valuable points to continue pondering over.
Thank you, Khai, for sharing your story.
We’ve all heard that being trans is a mental illness, akin to schizophrenia, depression, narcissistic personality disorder, or whatever the diagnosis du jour is. And while many of us know instinctively that trans people are no more mentally ill for being trans than cis (non-trans) people are for being cis, we often aren’t sure exactly how to articulate why we know that.
As a trans man, I spend a lot, and I do mean a lot, of time educating people about what it is to be transgender. As a trans man who also has been diagnosed with major depression, generalized anxiety, and an autism spectrum disorder, I feel uniquely qualified to tell you the difference between my experience of being trans and my experience of living with a neurodivergent brain. It basically comes down to which treatment leads to the best quality of life.
What that means is, as a trans man, if my identity is respected and I am interacted with as the man I am, then I am a happier, healthier, more productive member of society, less likely to harm myself or suffer severe mental dysfunction. This has been proven not only through my own personal experience, but also through about a hundred and fifty years of psychological, sociological, anthropological, and biological research. Trans people are healthiest and have the best quality of life when we transition or present as and are interacted with as the gender we are, rather than being forced to try to be the gender we were assigned at birth.
Conversely, we know through empirically sound science in all those fields mentioned above that treating the root causes and behaviors associated with true mental illnesses leads to a better quality of life for that individual. No one gets healthier because they are supported in their hoarding habit. No one can face tomorrow because their family acknowledges and encourages their delusions. No one is more equipped for making sound choices because their distorted and intrusive thoughts of suicide are encouraged. These are not realities.
What is pragmatic reality, though, is that trans people and the people around them are happier, healthier, more creative, more engaged, and better equipped to handle their lives when they are accepted as their true gender. It is also pragmatic reality that people are born intersexed (defined here as having characteristics of both male and female or neither male or female chromosomal make up) about 1 in every 100 live births. In other words, intersexuality is about as common as redheadedness, genetically. Now I am not arguing that every trans person is intersexed; I’m merely pointing out the idea that “two and only two separate and distinct and opposite sexes which align with predictable gender roles and presentations” falls apart at the merest inspection, let alone scrutiny.
And as far as bathroom bills go, they’re a violation of the 4th, 14th, and 1st amendments, and they’re about cis people’s discomfort with the idea that trans people might not always “look” trans (whatever that means). No one arguing for bathroom bills like HB2 really cares about the mental or physical health of trans individuals. Any fears other than the one I just outlined have already been addressed in laws that don’t target trans people. These “bathroom” laws exist solely as a political ploy to demonize trans people who are just trying to live authentically… and have nothing to do with anyone’s safety. Anyone who claims differently might just be a pathological liar, and they should really get some help for that–for their own good, of course.