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Yes, it is a diagnosis

  • Posted on December 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm

‘Diagnosis?’, she queried.

‘You say it like it’s a disorder.’

How do you reply to this? Actually it is a disorder, if the opposite is order. Certainly it is a condition, but we all have conditions. Who defines order, who defines a normal condition and a less usual condition and a rare condition, and in all of this, when is treatment enforced, when is it an option, and what (and who) is treatment for?

I explained that being transsexual is a diagnosis without which you don’t benefit from prescription hormones, let alone elective surgery. It was a very ordinary conversation in a way, and I reassured her that I don’t ever mind talking about the way I was born, if it helps another to understand it as normal, if variant. But I guess that her understanding has been that for me to live ‘as a woman’ is a choice, not that I am a ‘real’ woman.

It comes across in the way people treat you. As we left the party, we women hugged and wished each other a happy Christmas. The men shook hands with each other. Those with a little more wine inside, or who like to feel the ladies like them, hugged the (chosen) women, and shook hands with the men, or slapped a shoulder. One of the latter held a hand out to me … OK. Right. The second hand, I refused, hugged him, and said, ‘No, don’t do that!’ (I mean, one doesn’t flirt with a transsexual woman, does one?) So how does it feel when a transsexual woman flings her arms around you, pecks your cheek and wishes you a happy Christmas? It must be worse than sitting on Santa’s knee.

This week there was a news story of mixed origin but a sufficient reminder that transsexual women not so long ago were admitted to mental health departments and administered electro-convulsive therapy.

This week Uganda enacted draconian laws against homosexuality. An African academic delivered a lecture on homosexuality being part of very old African culture. Somewhere between the two, Judaeo-Christian doctrine and dogma has planted hatred with ideas of what is natural, divinely-ordained and ‘normal’.

This week Alan Turing, convicted of homosexuality and ‘chemically castrated’, and subsequently taking his own life, was ‘pardoned’. What?! He committed a crime, and has been forgiven? Because he (not the many thousand others) was still famous after 60 years?

And in the week since my last blog about ‘parental controls’ to protect children from the evils of the Internet, many voices have been raised, because children questioning or discovering their own gender or sexuality might discover that this is something bad that they should not know about. And if they come close to taking their lives, Samaritans may also have been blocked.

Also this week, I read a blog by someone born intersex. In respect, they used the term ‘hermaphrodite’, and at birth parents and doctors decided to allocate their choice of genitals. A lifetime of surgery later, this person feels abused and mutilated.

This stuff happens. This is humanity.

We do not all develop in utero to a societal dictat, and we are not deformed if we don’t fit it. Some are innately attracted to others with similar genitals. Some have ambiguous genitals, or none, and some have no thought about sexual relations at all. Some like to have sex with people with different genitals. Some have brains of one gender and bodies of another. Some of these desperately want to match them up, whilst others just want to be accepted.

You might expect a degree of anger. In one scenario I am calmly explaining how the centre of self and the brain knows your own gender – whatever that is felt to be – to someone understanding, and in the next I am facing a society that tells me I am inappropriate, disordered, a mistake of birth, not to be found online by children, and in some places a criminal.

People are kind; sometimes they offer help, to talk, or to express my difficulties. It’s lovely; really. But I don’t need help as a ‘problem person’. The only help L and G and B and T and Q and I and whatever people need, is to be allowed to live as ourselves without question, without a second thought, defined only by our own self-awareness, not by false conformity. I mean, who said or defined that human beings are binary heterosexual unless deformed or corrupted in some way? I lay much of this at the door of Western religious monopoly, which tainted philosophy for centuries, and psychology, and even the background to other medicine. And it is this which infects so many countries of the world where non-binary-hetero people are vilified, imprisoned and killed.

So who said that the human race is ‘meant to be’ binary-heterosexual? Have you ever regarded this as a condition you suffer from? Because if you aren’t grandiosely-lettered by LGBTQIA etc., this is your condition. You were born this way. Accept it. Take the label, if you want to label anyone else. And hey, if you could see this clearly, you might not limit yourself to your declared label either.

Christmas brings families together but also divides them. It is a complex time, not least for families where someone non-binary-hetero is excluded, treated differently, rejected, anything but accepted and loved. If yours is a family with someone who does not share your non-binary-hetero condition, and who is not fully included, think about how you feel about them, and above all, why. Maybe your condition is causing you real and unnecessary problems.

‘Yes, it is a diagnosis’, I said, removing my party hat. I didn’t say: ‘It’s just that society decided I needed one and that you didn’t.’

What’s your diagnosis?