In our work in UK universities and schools and in our own lives we see ‘transgender’ as an identity receiving widespread support and increasingly incorporated into mainstream liberal culture. Television programmes, films, magazines, and newspaper articles promote the idea that girls and boys can be ‘born in the wrong body’. A life-time of injecting hormones is decreed to be a necessary part of transitioning, and children and young people are being assigned for surgical intervention. It is popularly thought that these medical interventions help match the sexed body with the individual’s true ‘born’ gender. In addition, changes in the law, in combination with medical truths, are instrumental in defining transgender as an equality and human rights issue. On the whole society is steered toward being receptive to the moral claims of transgenderism; although there are dissenting views these are relatively seldom heard.
Even though there is no evidence that gender identity is innate, in the UK wherever we look, politicians, policy makes and practitioners are indoctrinating the public with this view.
Government recommendations include expansion of trans acceptance training programmes for teachers and for children in schools. We have Head Teachers imposing ‘Transgender Day’ for four year olds against the wishes of parents. Professionals and young people we speak to fear questioning the experience of children claiming trans identity is indicative of transphobia so that ordinarily occurring explorations of the ‘truth of trans’ are firmly squashed. No wonder youth are at the mercy of the internet and deeply confused. We are a Philosopher of the body and an Education Professor working out of the UK wanting to challenge the ‘truth’ of transgender. We want to examine transgender not through the lens of ‘truth’ but through the idea that transgender is a discursive ‘truth’ made up of a number of discourses and it goes along with this that the case for unhesitating, uncritical medical intervention is neither safe nor appropriate. In our circles this critique is widely regarded as heretical and to date we are working anonymously to avoid facing personal tyranny and professional diminishment.
Resisting trans orthodoxy
We are keen to extend our contact with other youth trans critical professionals and to use this blog as a space for those of us currently seeking to examine the norms, knowledges, politics and ethics that make up transgender identity. We want to urgently examine counter-discourses which problematize the truth of transgender and which are currently unheard because we are hearing from young teens identifying as trans that they ‘know the truth’; they feel armed with a logic shored up by intensification of a culture of transorthodoxy and are unable, even if willing, to discover an alternative truth. We hope that this blog and wider activities planned for the coming year will help cohere the voices of youth trans critical professionals to bring counter-discourses to public consciousness for the purposes of productive dialogue that will liberate children and young people from a currently stifling climate of trans orthodoxy ~ ‘Children taught in schools to either adhere to strict gender stereotypes or view themselves as the opposite sex’ @cwknews
In our view, medical intervention with regard to the re-assignment of children and young people’s gender is a political scandal. We empathise with parents who are reluctant to accept the phenomenon of their child being born into the wrong body and who do not regard medical and psycho-therapeutic intervention as valorising love, tolerance and acceptance. Gender confusion or gender fluidity is a component part of childhood, and medical intervention violates children’s human rights rather than upholding them.
‘Let’s think first about doing no harm’.
Emboldened by this website We hope to organise the first meeting of YouthTransCritical Professionals.org in the autumn of 2016.
Watch this space.