Posted by: Shula Asher Silberstein | 5 July 2010

Scientific Bigotry and Self-Destruction

Last night Gavi and I both had stressful dreams about the past. Mine involved trying to find the right nail polish colour, which just refused to appear, while at the same time dealing with a letter from a former colleague and friend. I was excited to hear from her, but when I reread her letter I realized she was actually quite judgmental. She said things like, “I see you are no longer putting your heart into everyone else but are selfish and put yourself first. I am sorry you are in so much pain that you have decided to do this.” Gavi’s dream involved arguing with a relative of an abusive ex.

I can only hope that these dreams mean that we are both about to move forward in a big way. Forward…away from the pain of the past, from all the abusive people, from all the people who did not and do not understand.

I am thrown off tonight in a major way by a couple of discussions going on in some of the forums I frequent. One discussion revolves around an organization that offers “therapy” to help people become heterosexual/gender-conforming. I usually try not to think too much about these types of organizations. But someone responded to the discussion by saying that as a mental health professional, s/he has an obligation to hir clients to provide them with such therapy if they desire it, because a therapist must give the client what s/he wants.

That disgusts me and angers me to the point that I am shaking a good hour after my nice, calm response. I take these kinds of ideas VERY personally. Those people who know me and Gavi well know that I was there for her when she wanted to kill herself because of her sexual orientation. Those impulses were fueled, in part, by well-meaning bigots who encouraged her to fight who she was.

How dare someone who calls themselves a mental health professional say that their professional obligation is to encourage someone to self-destruct?

While there are people in the world who want to “reform” LGBT people (including Transgender people), there are others who want to do much, much worse. They want to stop us from developing the way we are in the womb. Another blog I read tonight was about a new drug that could stop fetuses from being intersexed–having sexual characteristics of both sexes. This new drug could also potentially be used to stop female fetuses from displaying masculine behaviors. In other words, both Lesbians and Transgender men could be eradicated from the world using drugs or perhaps genetic therapies.

I have long been against knowing precisely what makes people Transgender or non-heterosexual for this very reason. Just as I do not want to be “cured” of my Autism, I do not want to be “cured” of my Asexuality or Gender-Neutrality. I also am afraid that women will abort their babies because genetic tests show they may be Transgender, Autistic, Gay, or whatever else society deems as “bad”.

It’s funny (in a non-humourous way) how much of the discrimination most LGBT people face does not affect me personally. I may never have to deal with the whole marriage thing because it is so damn unlikely I will find a suitable marriage partner before 2012, when hopefully the US Supreme Court will rule that denying marriages to LGBT citizens is unconstitutional. Gavi and I don’t deal with the fear that many Transgender people have because we are so damn determined to be ourselves that we do so without thinking about it–and so far all that’s happened is we’ve become more confident. I am not ready to have children and don’t want to do so without a partner, anyway, so the adoption issue is not an issue for me yet. The area of discrimination that affects me most–and the area I’m dedicating my life to working on–is suicide prevention. And when it hits me how far we still have to go in order to guarantee that the majority of LGBT children are safe from self-destruction, it REALLY hits me.

Gavi and I are two normal people trying to live normal lives. We just happen not to fit gender norms. For the most part we succeed at living our lives. Yet who we are as people is under attack from the world, and the world almost claimed Gavi a few years ago.

It is time for this to end. Transgender people are just people. We love each other and take care of each other and have dreams for our lives. Bigots don’t care, just like murderers don’t care, that we are good people who try to made the world better and enrich the lives of everyone we meet. Or maybe they do care and are jealous that people like us succeed. Who knows.

The point is: nobody should ever have to read about how in the future, people like them may be stopped from existing before they are even born. Bigotry under the guise of science is a scary form of bigotry in my opinion, because it sounds so rational.

And nobody should have to die at their own hands because of who they are, nor should “mental health professionals” help them down that road.

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