Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Being transgender is a product of mental illness? So says right wing writer...

There's a fascinating disgusting article at Townhall written by mental health expert right wing bigot John Hawkins. Hawkins, among other things, runs Right Wing News, which shares informative stories with taglines like this (actual) one: "You will NOT believe what this business owner is doing for his customers that makes LIBERALS crazy! Story below."

Aside from clickbaiting his million-plus proud hatriot followers, Hawkins is a champion for those afflicted with mental illness. And by mental illness, he means "transgender people". And by champion, I mean, writes that they're mentally disturbed self-mutilators. But, you know, before we go further, you should know that he really cares. Deeply.
There’s nothing shameful about having a mental illness. If you break your leg, you go to a doctor and get it fixed. If you have some form of mental illness, you go to a psychologist or psychiatrist and get it treated as best you can. Sometimes you can be cured. Sometimes it’s a lifetime struggle, but all of us have different challenges to deal with and that’s okay.

Now, you might be about to ask "what are John Hawkins' qualifications, to diagnose how many thousands of strangers with mental illness?" Since you ask, I can only assume you're one of those people who likes to "rant about 'bigots,' 'gay pride' and 'civil rights'"...so at this juncture, it's right to advise you:
...that encouraging troubled people to permanently disfigure themselves instead of working through their issues with a mental health professional is a thoughtless, cruel, and monstrous act.
(And, no, it doesn't look like he has any qualifications to make that kind of judgment call.) But to the specifics of what, let's say, Dr. Hawkins has to say about transgender people. It's more or less the standard transphobic stuff. First, a comparison with people who hear voices and want healthy limbs amputated, people who see mental illness as a "super power" or "dangerous gifts". Then we get to "something just as ridiculous." Which is, of course, "the idea that you can change your sex." Now, the good doctor seems to miss any of the nuances between gender and sex, but he does feel that the recognition of transgender individuals is a lot of nonsense: just people deciding to "cater to a pathology instead of treating it."
If you are born a man, you can mutilate yourself and take female hormones, but you can’t become a woman. If you are born a woman, you can mutilate yourself and take male hormones, but you can’t become a man.
 Regardless of surgery, "you’re not going to actually be a woman." But it's much worse than that; and this is where Dr. Hawkins heartfelt concern bubbles through again.
You’re also probably not going to be the attractive fantasy you imagined yourself being because you’ve had male hormones pumping through your body for a lifetime. 
You know, back when transgender people lived in the closet, this would be an easier point to make, if only because you could play off of people's ignorance. But with so many lovely trans people, like model Geena Rocero or writer Janet Mock, in the limelight it seems kind of absurd. It's been done, people have seen it, case closed. Right? Still, it's not just looks that the good doctor is concerned with; he also fears for transgender folks' relationships. Because, let's face it, they
 ...are probably going to be screwed up because most men are going to view you as another man. 
I'm not sure how this is an argument against gender reassignment surgery. If a potential partner is going to view a transgender woman's sex based on the genitals she was born with...how is having a penis going to improve matters? At worst, the partner's views will be exactly the same.

But there's more...
Even if you do somehow meet a guy you like who isn’t using you to fulfill some forbidden fantasy for a night, what happens when he finds out? The relationship is probably over. 
In the good doctor's view, trans women are either so masculine in appearance that men recognize them as "really" men from a mile away, and so will only use them for a night of "forbidden fantasy"...or the transition is "somehow" compelling enough to fool a man, just long enough for his trans partner to lure him into bed. You know, because that's what trans women are trying to do. (At this point, I had started to wonder if Dr. Hawkins was deriving his medical insight from actual medical sources, or a "stereotypes about people who aren't just like me" handbook).

But the ever concerned doctor delved deeper into the troubling implications of this "pathology;" because he's not just worried about how trans people are going to get lucky. He's also concerned that getting lucky might not be as much fun as it should be.
The sex probably isn’t going to be good either because your groin has been cut to pieces and refashioned. 
I would say the comment surprised me...but is there anything surprising about right-wingers worrying about other people's sex lives these days? It's practically a tenet of conservatism (I hear tell that not contemplating [with attendant mortification, of course] some sex act you deem illicit or forbidden at least three times daily is somewhere on par with thinking that children deserve healthcare. You know, squarely outside of "real America"-ville.) At any rate, I don't hear transgender people complaining about their sex lives post-surgery. Neither does Dr. Hawkins, apparently...seeing as how his best source is "probably." So his musings aside, this seems like a complete non-issue.

 We're getting to the real kicker, though.
Additionally, your mortality rate will be 51% higher than the general population because of suicide and all the female hormones you’ve pumped into your body en masse. In fact, the suicide rate for people who are transgender is 25 times that of the general population according to the American Psychological Association.
Well hello Dr. Clueless, I'd like you to meet Part-of-the-Problem! Here's a wild and random idea. Maybe treating transgender people like they're suffering from mental illness; maybe perpetuating the harmful idea that trans women are just trying to lure unsuspecting men into their clutches; maybe insisting that your ideas regarding another person's gender forever define that person's gender; maybe, just maybe, those things contribute to levels of depression that could boost a suicide rate. This is the same line that anti-choice zealots use: "we're so concerned about the mental health of women who have abortions, that we're going to ceaselessly hound, badger, bully and demonize them. Because we care!" And it's the same pack of lies. This example of harm (rather crucial to his comparison of gender reassignment surgery and limb removal) is far more logically attributable to other causes -- namely, people like Hawkins -- than gender reassignment surgery. And yet, like the anti-choice crowd, he contributes to the demonizing of trans people; and then points to depression and suicidal tendencies, not as evidence of the harm that can come of demonizing people, but as a cause to further demonize them.


  1. Where did he get his Medical Degree?

    1. Sorry, that was sarcasm that obviously didn't come through clearly enough. :) He's just an opinionated bigot proclaiming medical opinions with no basis to do so at all.