WPATH’s Incongruous Response to “Gender Incongruence”

May 27, 2010

The World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) recently released its official reaction to the proposed changes to diagnoses related to gender identity in the upcoming fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of mental disorders (DSM-V). Their report can be found at this link.

In this post, I explain why the report is a pleasant surprise. The post turned out to be longer than I expected, but some readers might be able to skip the “background” sections with little or no confusion.

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Marriage is Still Not Assimilation

February 17, 2010

I recently updated this older post for publication in Consider Magazine. Here is my revised version.

Marriage is Not Assimilation

Some activists have resisted the push for marriage equality by arguing that marriage itself is patriarchal or heteronormative, or that many leading figures in the marriage equality movement exhibit oppressive social attitudes.

But marriage is not assimilation, and even if it were, it would still be a right worth fighting for. Read the rest of this entry »

Scott’s Potshot

February 17, 2010

It’s story time!

Paul Scott was a spunky young conservative politician trying to realize his grand ambitions in the Grand Old Party of Michigan. He wanted so very badly to be Secretary of State, but he knew that he needed to be nominated before he could ride the party ticket to victory. Poor Scotty! Despite his good looks and his clean manners, he wasn’t receiving any media attention — probably because of that gosh darned liberal stranglehold on all forms of mass communication. What was a busy dude like Scott supposed to do to quickly earn his face a spot in the papers? Read the rest of this entry »

Filibuster, Schmilibuster

January 22, 2010

Obama and the Senate Democrats should have ignored the threat of a filibuster on health care reform from the beginning–and they should be ignoring it now. A sixty seat majority is totally unnecessary, and would have been unnecessary for any version of the bill. Obama’s promises, especially the public option, should never have been sacrificed in the name of pragmatics as long as there were at least 51 Democrats on board. Read the rest of this entry »

Evening People are Productive, Too

January 17, 2010

Advice-givers love Ben Franklin because he accumulated a vast array of pithy quotables. “Early to bed and early to rise,” he and many others have claimed, can help make us “healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Dominant classes in our society have certainly imposed such a schedule by arranging for important opportunities and appointments to happen early in the morning, but is there any intrinsic reason why mornings are better? Read the rest of this entry »

Homophobia and Transphobia

January 14, 2010

A recent post by Brian McNaught describes David Letterman’s now-infamous skit about Amanda Simpson, who Obama recently appointed to be Senior Technical Adviser to the Commerce Department. McNaught summarizes the skit:

On the program in question, announcer Alan Kalter ran from the stage in horror when Letterman announced that Simpson was born male. The humor was supposed to come from Kalter realizing that he had been intimate with a woman without knowing that he had been with someone born male.

Jokes like this one are old staples of sexual comedy, and they probably remain the most common examples of transphobic humor. The audience is expected to laugh at the pathetic man who has discovered that the gender identity of his sexual partner, and by extension his own heterosexuality and masculinity, have been challenged. Read the rest of this entry »

Psychology, Science

November 4, 2009

People are frequently surprised when I refer to psychology as science. This surprise reveals some common misconceptions about what “science” and “psychology” mean. I am piecing together this post out of snippets of two old rants in order to address those misconceptions for future reference. Read the rest of this entry »

Marriage is not Assimilation

November 4, 2009

Marriage is not assimilation, and even if it was, it would still be a right worth fighting for.

Some inflexible activists have resisted the push for marriage equality by arguing that marriage itself is patriarchal and not worth fighting for. I noticed such arguments especially in response to the battle over Proposition 8 in California, first running across the idea in print on Facebook and a sparsely-formatted website. It always pains me when folks with their hearts in the right places adopt such warped, narrow ways of expressing legitimate criticisms. Read the rest of this entry »

A Hellish Chorus: Social Criticism in Thick as a Brick

October 31, 2009

December 8th, 2008

At first exposure, Jethro Tull’s 44-minute song Thick as a Brick may seem to be filled with nothing more than a bizarre and incomprehensible string of lyrics. Ian Anderson called it a “spoof” of other concept albums, and the album insert is a mock newspaper whose articles make ridiculous, seemingly accidental references to the song. The fictional back-story of the lyrics—that they were written for a contest by an eight-year-old boy named Gerald Bostock—further downplay their significance. According to the newspaper insert, Bostock’s poem actually won the contest at first, before a “hastily reconvened panel of Judges accepted the decision by four leading child psychiatrists that the boy’s mind was seriously unbalanced and that his work was a product of an ‘extremely unwholesome attitude towards life, his God and Country’” (1).[*] The comically severe traditionalism of their assessment highlights the poem’s atmosphere of satire and self-ridicule. The same article indicates that some who were exposed to Bostock’s work “felt that it was not one poem but a series of separate poems put together merely to appear impressive” (1). Their complaint feels superficial, as does most of the article, because disjointedness is precisely the point. Thick as a Brick expresses generalized social alienation: the semblance of a unified narrative is elusive because Bostock’s disaffection has no monolithic source. Read the rest of this entry »

High School Policy Changes to Improve the Experiences of Sexual Minorities: An Educational and Psychological Analysis

October 30, 2009

April 16th, 2009

High school can be a challenging time for students who deviate (or are perceived as deviating) from the heterosexual norm. As with many other culturally marginalized groups, non-heterosexual kids often feel isolated from and rejected by their high school peers, an experience which can have serious implications for their health and success in school (Morrison & L’Heureux, 2001). They are disproportionately likely to experience depressive or suicidal thoughts (Espelage, Aragon, Birkett & Koenig, 2008), and to actually attempt suicide (Morrison & L’Heureux, 2001; Mufioz-Plaza, Quinn & Rounds, 2002; Uribe & Harbeck, 1991). They are at higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse as well as homelessness (Espelage et al., 2008; Mufioz-Plaza et al., 2002). More specific to school outcomes, they are more likely than heterosexual students to exhibit declining school performance over time (Mufioz-Plaza et al., 2002). Educators who are concerned about the health and performance of all students must pay attention to these negative outcomes, their causes, and their possible solutions. Read the rest of this entry »