Saturday, December 11, 2010

To be confused or not to be confused that is the question

For those that have not figured it out I love Shakespeare thus the play on words.

I received an email from someone I have not heard from in a very long time the other day.  It came out of the blue really. We communicated for  while and actually talked on the phone and I cannot remember if she disappeared before or after I had my own major medical scare but I believe it was during it in the 2004-5 time frame.  No big deal but I am a very cautious person and rarely give out enough information for anyone to know everything about me that could give my id away and certainly told her just minimal parts of my past and actually almost nothing of my situation at the time not that she was really interested.

She knew I had interest in helping kids that are transsexual and similar to me and she is an activist in England for transsexual children rights so she is to be commended for that. I gather she has been reading the blog and had worries which are not her concern but mine.

I found the comment baffling to be honest because this is confusing when you are a child and there is no information available and you honestly have no idea what is wrong but you know you are a girl. Now I know from personal experience there are not a whole lot of kids like this based on numbers Harry mentioned in multiple letters. The numbers are debatable according to some but intense child transsexuals are almost always type VI and they may come forward and they may not as we all know but in my time in the 1950's before I met Benjamin it was difficult because there was no information. Heck it is not that easy today for any kid with gender issues of any kind and I find it disturbing that some bureaucratic idiot does not realize kids are both scared and confused by this until they get help.

I do not believe I have emphasized confusion on my blog but if I have it is directly related to lack of available information and the confusion the Medical Profession deliberately threw at me as a child from Psychiatrists that said "you are not a girl and will be a transvestite or sexual deviant or worse" to a surgeon when I was 11 that deliberately scarred my arm when it was totally unnecessary and said "you will not be a bathing beauty now will you" after my grandmother put him up to it. Confusion was primarily because the Medical Community in my time was ill equipped to handle a kid like me so many kids in my era internalized it and buried it inside because they feared what could happen to them.

After I met Benjamin the confusion went away except who hasn't asked why was I born this way? That is very confusing to a kid who just wants to be normal. I was never and I repeat never confused about whether I was a girl because I always believed I was a girl and not even severe trauma changed that and I mean trauma where they tried to make me think I was not a girl which I have never written about but probably will have to now. They did things to me in a hospital that is so infamous in Massachusetts Psychiatric lore they closed it down and conveniently lost all the records because I tried to get them and they disappeared.

In my opinion if there is not some confusion then the child is probably not truthful or mommy and/or daddy have coached him well. In order to push this as a child the pain and intensity needs to be high but that does not mean every kid is transsexual. If the child tells you they are a girl trapped in a boys body then they have been coached.  If they simply say "I am a girl then be worried because the child needs help now. This is my opinion only and based on some friends and now 9 children 1 have been involved with from early ages that a friend and I have shepherded through this nightmare to young women and hopefully successful lives.

Just as a warning not one of the 12+ kids and adults that had this intense gender confusion ever demanded to be allowed to dress as girls at the age of 5 and had a tantrum because we were not allowed to.  Now this may piss people off but that is my experience and only my experience and may be different today but all of us had severe issues starting around 10 and got worse as puberty approached. Some of us got help before testosterone damage and some did not.  Hopefully today the policy is to not let that happen.

I know they put MTF and FTM kids on blockers but I know for me personally watching my body grow as a girls body should develop was soothing and wonderful.  Waiting to 16 is too old which is the current policy but again this is my opinion.

In conclusion I have heard about this issue with the NHS before where they expect the patient to be calm, cool, and dedicated but they do not understand children. They are thinking of late transitioners.  If you find a kid that is cool, calm, and dedicated you better check again because this is emotional, frightening,


Anne said...

Hi Liz.

I think the misunderstanding on the part of your old friend in this case is that you are speaking of your own personal experience.

In my case, I was pretty stunned and surprised to "discover" that I ws NOT a girl. One has to remember that at age 3-4 children are not all that aware that other children have other "bits". I think that all we are aware of is that some of us are dressed and possibly, treated differently than others but I am certainly not convinced that a child is really aware of the social ramifications of that difference.

It was not until I was physically segregated in kindergarten that I became fully aware that I was "diiferent and/or that something was wrong.

I am not sure 'confused' is the right word, but I suppose it could work. I do know that while I did not consciuosly "act out", I did bring this to my Mother's attention.

What I do consider to have been a life changing blessing is a dream or vision that I had, possibly brought on by the emotionl trauma of learning that I was not "just a normal little girl".

My guess is that there must have been other observable anomolies about my behavior that caused my parents to bring me to UCLA "to be looked at".

This had to he been in the mid-fifties, so from what I have learned my parents were told basically that this was just a "phase" that would most likely
pass with time.

So I guess what I am saying is that not all of had the kind of access to world class treatment that you had, but at least in my case and apparently in some others. We managed to turn out just fine.

Hope this helps.


Suzan said...

The language police, who have taken it upon themselves to tell others exactly what words they should use to describe their experiences are just as oppressive as those who argue so and so can't possibly be a real transsexual since they didn't experience exactly what I did.

We aren't an archetype, we are individuals. We had different families, different childhoods etc.

Further we view what we are doing in different ways.

I can look at someone else approach and say, "I would never have done what she did and I don't look at life the way she does" without following it up by condemning her.

My big example are people like Nina Arsenault or Amanda Lapore.

Not in a million years and yet they are cool for not conforming to the ideology.

I like your blog because you don't let the HBS people use you.

Also because we were both patients of Dr. B.

Elizabeth said...


I guess I do not quite understand the comment about access to world class treatment. My only access to anyone that gave a shit whether I lived or died was Benjamin and he was in NYC.

I saw Psychiatrists left and right and all they did was hurt me. I was lucky to find Harry and without him my self destructive suicidal tendencies might have won out.

What I had was a mother that wanted me "cured" as in be a boy but a mom who never once denigrated me because of what I was and she knew from 4-5 I was a girl because I told her that. She cared enough and finally listened to Benjamin and let him meet with me after 16 months of communication.

There are no two kids that are the same. My confusion was based inn the bfear I would turn out to be what quack shrinks said I would be which was terrifying and confusing.

In all honesty I am confused a little by the last paragraph. I am not sure I understand what it means in reference to this post.

Anne said...

H.B. is IMHO World Class. He brought an open mind and a scientific approach to a very difficult and complex issue. You were extremely fortunate to have been brought to his attention.

Despite the fact that many of us were not so lucky as to have make the acquaintance of H.B. we muddled through the darkness and survived to live happy and fulfilling lives.

Elizabeth said...


True but it was an adventure getting to him which was my good fortune but blind luck because mom thought I was physically sick and took me to CHildrens.

Life is weird at times. Fate I guess.

Suzan said...

That's a presumption that is common.

In the late 1960s Dr. Benjamin was some one people tracked down vis the book and 411.

I went to NYC looking for him and learned that he had an office in SF.

I met someone in the Village who was a pre-transition sister and she told me in SF transsexuals were organized and "drag" wasn't a criminal offense.

My high class care for transition was mainly Dr. Leibmann at SF Center for Special Problems. I saw Dr. Benjamin for surgery advice and a letter.

People sometimes think we had different advantages than we did.

Public health clinics and cheap rent rank high on my list of advantages.

Anonymous said...

How can a little girl help but be confused, when everyone around her tells her that she is a boy?

How can she help but be confused when she is punished (in my case, beaten with a belt) for insisting that she is a girl?

How can she help but be confused when boys tease her and beat her up just because she isn't like them?

Anne said...

So I guess "confused", works pretty well.

Elizabeth said...


Pick a word I guess. Confused, don't understand why, hurt, pain, or anything one wants it just hurt and "back in the day" who knew half the time.

Just not pleasant or easy for anyone.

Suzan said...

I used to say I wasn't gender confused, I caused gender confusion, which was a sort of wise ass way of saying I generally had a better understanding of being transsexual than a lot of people I dealt with.

What irks me is having people down on me for using the metaphor about feeling trapped in the wrong body.

Anonymous said...

I agree with what Anne wrote in her first comment. Your story is what it is. You can't change it to conform to someone else's political agenda. I also agree with Suzan. We are individuals. How could it be that individuals would all experience something the same way? That just wouldn't make sense.

Anonymous said...

As I read the quote, her fear was an incautious use of the word "confused" plays into the hands of those who intentionally, or through poor understanding, confabulate the existence of confusion about other issues with personal confusion about who we are.

Given there are also young ones, transexual and not transexual, who are genuinely confused about who and what they are, I doubt excision of the word "confusion" from your dialogue would make any substantive difference to the confabulation or improve the clarity of thinking for government wonks.

- old timer

Anonymous said...

One of the features of this subject that has always struck me as odd is how deeply "politics" and political thinking have become embedded in what is surely, solely a medical issue. You look around the people writing about this subject and the nature of the debates are really not medical at all but political. One has to question why?


Anne said...

Must be the influence of those "Students for a Democratic Society".

Anonymous said...

There are few fields as political as medicine.

- old timer