Monday, 2 October 2017

The trans children's conveyor belt and the banal production of ignorance...

I was a trans child. I knew I was a girl just before I started primary school and my gender identity is still female now, despite society's best attempts. My school, however, was on a rough council estate and was not the sort of place someone assigned male would ever have dared to admit to being trans, even if there had been a word for it available to me at that time, which, in the middle of the last century, there was not. 

So unlike most of these people who have plenty to say about trans kids but actually know nothing about them, I can speak from the point of view of actual personal experience. I ached to be acknowledged as a girl when I was a child, but, because the word "transgender" did not exist then, I just thought I was a freak, the
only one in the world, a sad person who didn't deserve to be happy. I grew used to putting on a brave face while hating myself. In effect I was put through a kind of Conversion Therapy by default, which tried to force me to be a boy. It became more confusing after puberty because, although my feminine nature and interests resulted in extensive homophobic bullying, I only fancied girls. If I could have lived as a girl then, I would not have spent my twenties and most of my thirties nervous and lacking totally in self-esteem. If the normal, accepted treatment for trans children today; simple, unconditional acceptance in my true gender, had been available to me in those days I would have grabbed it with both hands and never let go. Instead I grew up in a body that hurt me so much I literally wanted
to throw it in front of an Intercity 125.

In spite all this, and in spite of some serious self-harm, I somehow, but only just, made it to adulthood and on the way I found out a new word; "transsexual" which I looked up in a local library, only to find a vile, disgustingly transphobic hate-text called "The Transsexual Empire". Before the internet it was the only thing I could find out about myself, and it told me I was horrible and should be "mandated out of existence" which I almost did to myself. 

So hearing that the number of trans children contacting Childline has doubled in a year to 2,796 does not surprise me. The stories of fear, isolation, terror, self-hatred and abuse that this figure conceals are incalculable and things I know about from personal experience, except that Childline did not exist back in the 1970s. It was a time of shit cars, boring TV, crap wallpaper and wall-to-wall homophobia, a bit like the wall-to-wall transphobia we are being subjected to in the current media onslaught against trans people.

One of the main targets of this onslaught has been, of course, trans children. The obvious target for the transphobic bullies; a group that cannot answer back and whose parents dare not answer back either for fear of outing their kids to face more transphobic bullying or being accused of child abuse. Those "brave" media voices are raised time and again in the Murdoch propaganda rags, the Mail, the Express, New Statesman and on TV. Bravely these individuals have a go at a group whose members are, in many cases, barely clinging to life and most of whom are self-harming or cowering terrified of being exposed and bullied out of their schools.

These "brave" journalists not only know nothing about trans children (but still have the arrogance to think that they can pontificate about them at length) yet they bring up, time and again, the old trope about a "conveyor belt" to surgical transition. They raise the fear that cisgender kids will somehow, on a whim, end up, many years later, unwillingly on a surgeon's table because, once they have started, it is argued, they will "inevitably" have to proceed to this end.

The ugly mind of Julie Bindel provided an early example of this baseless fabricated fearmongering;

"If I were a teenager today, well-meaning liberal teachers and social workers would probably tell me that I was trapped in the wrong body. They might refer me to a psychiatrist who would prescribe fistfuls of hormones and other drugs. And terrifyingly, I might easily be recommended for gender re-assignment surgery… just because I didn’t like the pink straitjacket imposed on girls."

Well let me confirm that there is a conveyor belt for trans kids, but it is moving in the opposite direction from the one these people tell us it does. It is constantly moving away from the direction of transition, constantly moving towards the social ideal of cisness. Trans kids grow up continually fighting for their right to exist (and let's be clear being forced to exist as a person you cannot be, is no existence, which is why so many trans kids attempt - yes ATTEMPT - suicide, and almost all self-harm). There is a unceasing social pressure to conform to your birth assigned gender, this is a conveyor belt that is impossible to get off, and trans children constantly have to fight against it. The paid hate-mongers of the fourth estate are just trying to make it harder for these children to do so. 

Let's just revisit that point again. 

Cis journalists, comfortably well-off, who have almost certainly never knowingly encountered a trans child in their lives, write reams of material that harms (yes HARMS) trans children, drives most to self-harm and some to suicide, and most of them get paid for it! This is the modern-day version of the Banality of Evil so vividly identified by Hannah Arendt. A huge propaganda machine dedicated to producing damaged children, from these "brave" journalists' MacBook Pros, sitting in their comfortable living-rooms, heated offices or local, trendy, wifi-equipped cafes alongside a Fairtrade Americano, Cappuccino or skinny latte. These people will never experience the sheer terror that their bullying causes, by proxy, every day in schools up and down the country. You too can participate in industrial-scale oppression from the comfort of your own home! 

So let us be clear; every time a privileged TERF or entitled semi-celebrity attempts to spout ignorance about trans kids, they are engaging in child abuse by proxy, they are making it harder for trans kids to be accepted, for their parents to accept them, for schools to counter the bullying that arises as a result of these "brave" writers' precious exercise of "free speech". Trans children have become the subjects of the industrial-scale production of ignorance, a banal production-line of misinformation and hate that has real consequences for real children, but none for its comfortably distanced operators. 

Enjoy your free speech.

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