Sex Work, Suicide, and Hatred of the Hips
Another excellent post. Thank you.
You are doing singular work, and it is enlightening and affecting. I love it.
Thanks Rhyd, many women of my generation (50) have noticed how the teenage trans gender movement reflects and follows our bulemic/anorexia teenage years.
At my all girls boarding school, (a perfect melting pot for brewing body dysmorphia -very similar to a primitive tictoc world ) around 70% of the girls in my year had a serious eating disorder. I feel like I avoided it because at the time I was distracted by the death of both my parents.
It was actually that bad.
This reveals so much about the root issues of why we have so much body dysmorphia and one of the main reasons- lack of initiation.
Contrasted to the majority of spoilt middle class girls, (who didn’t even really know that we were thus), I was suddenly dealing with a tragedy far beyond what I could imagine for myself, the sudden loss of both parents. This galvanized me to focus on myself in a context defined by events, rather than my teenaged up desire/despair and also, most importantly it gave me motivation to make it through, because honestly I was scarred shitless about how I was going to manage that. Finally it was a natural disaster. It was death, not social or human maltreatment. It was an honest foe.
I think this last issue is most important and a key reason why, for thousands of years, adult initiation was done within the wild.
I believe most of us can identify some sort of initiation event that pivoted us out of suicide/self harm/destruction. However it’s really messy (takes years of recovery) without the framework of culturally held and supported initiation. I support and applaud those of us who work to try and facilitate this in culture for our youth.
It’s great to see you holding space for this Ryhd, and I look forward to see where it takes you!
And what the hell is going on it that ad? A perverse snail? Or some weird marketing sigle? Certainly feels sticky!
I also echo the other comments; this is really interesting work and a necessary critique.
What you are dealing with here in this valuable post is how dualism works its way through U.S. culture. Radical dualism is what U.S. Protestantism (now on kinduva downward plunge) is all about. The old Platonic ideas of a separable body, mind, and soul end up ruining lives.
I have had some suspicions about what "transgender" means since I ran across a series of essays in which the writers made assertions along the lines of: "I didn't want to be gay." "I knew I wasn't gay." "I didn't want to be a lesbian."
Oh? I sez to myself. What have we here?
I also think that "trans," which is spatial is a poor metaphor. In the Mediterranean world, the phenomenon is hermaphrodism--the union of two powerful divinities, the seductive Hermes and the irresistible Aphrodite. Joined. Not spatially--no journey from one gender to another.
Likewise, the Native American idea of the two-spirited person. Union.
So one can have union, which seems powerful and productive. Or one can have analysis and dualism--which seems flimsy and hurtful.
And here we are, collectively. Collectively thinking that having a gender is optional and somehow hurts us--instead of thinking that the economic system is what has to be reformed and made for the benefit of human beings and the other sentient beings on this planet.
Really interesting post - thanks! Re the comparison between gender ID and eating disorders: I think it fits well - the body hatred, the will to control the body and present it in extreme ways.
One thing I don't hear discussed often enough is that a lot of teen girls who want to be "trans guys" are going to look like little, cute teen boys for a while. But when they're 30, 40, "little and cute" isn't so appealing any more, if you really wish to present as a man.
Even more troubling to me is how (unlike eating disorders) gender ID is applauded, encouraged, promoted right down to kindergarten curricula about "exploring your gender" and how you can "choose" to be a boy or girl.
Not really. Your _body_ is how it is. You can "choose" to decorate yourself any way you like. You can "choose" any toys, interests, friends, clothes, hairstyle or activities you like. But people can't choose their sex, even if they start using the word "gender" to include "sex" and confuse the terms (seemingly on purpose). They can undergo really extreme surgeries and life-long medicalization that compromises their health in order to cosmetically look sort of like the opposite sex. Is that anything to be excited about? Is that really a big advance? Is that in any way "being yourself" or "accepting yourself"?
It's very regressive to suppose that a feminine boy might "really be a girl" and vice versa. I'd love to see the self-acceptance and societal acceptance of gender-nonconforming people.
The social class points are on target too. Trans is all over the media, it's celebrated so intensely, because it's big, big money. In 2007 we had one gender clinic for kids. A couple years ago it was more than 50 and I stopped keeping count.
This is difficult to read, but it is good you wrote it. I have so much compassion for those you are writing about. No answers, just a wish for relief for people who seem so terribly unhappy.
I know people who "can only function in the realm of the Idea(l)" in terms of gender and witness their unhappiness and desire to control the uncontrollable world around them.
Someday perhaps more folks will come to accept our animal nature and find some peace.
Thanks for that. Of course, even with the easy access of today, it's still true that virtually all media fare is dominated by a media mentality, whether it emanates from the MSM, online stuff, or social media outlets and individuals. The 'boob tube' - how deliciously dated is that? - has been working on the populace for 70 years now, the constant source of marketing/propaganda that never goes away. So a lot of people have imbibed the Kool aid. And they've matabolized it in the damndest ways.
I'm a high school teacher and have spent most of my (too) long career working in SoCentral LA. I've probably had that Ecuadorian kid in my class at some point. I try to communicate to kids who are struggling that I'm not going to lean on them to be anyone other than themselves. It seems to work most of the time, though, as an older white guy, it takes time for me to get that across. One kid in particular stands out. 'Nathan' was originally 'Valerie'. Sharp and funny and shouldering a heavy load as the oldest of 3 or 4 kids. The family was essentially homeless, the dad incarcerated (not in Cali but Mexico) and their situation was fragile at best. Meanwhile Nathan/Valerie was in the throes of an ID crisis. In that school she was well-accepted by friends and didn't seem to be dealing with terrible peer pressure. But she was also missing many days when she stayed home to care for young siblings while mom worked a crap job. I told her to hit the brakes with her transition - there wasn't any complete medical resolution on the horizon anyway, for obviou$ reasons. She was good in math and wanted to become an engineer. I told her to see to that first - getting that far under her circumstances wasn't going to be easy but it was within her reach - and take care of her gender ID issue later. To that end I told her she'd face a lot stigma as a trans guy but would have doors opened for her if she was a female engineer. She'd also be able to help her fam if she got that far. She seemed receptive to that. It's been a few years and I've lost track of her, but thought of the situation while reading this piece.