A Spring Offensive

| Feb 25, 2019
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During the winter, I was pinned-down finishing my latest book—The Handbook of Transgender Medicine and Health; due out in June. Although I already knew most of the science to be included, it took me a few months to learn about what providers actually do and how they think, so I got a little behind on the actual writing. I learned about terms like “chief complaint” and about taking medical histories. Along the way, I had to invent some new terms to depathologize the process, like “categorization” instead of the odious “differential diagnosis.” You cannot do a differential diagnosis if one or more alternatives are not pathological and being transgender is not pathological. I dropped everything else I was doing, limiting social engagements and travel; vacation was totally out. This was at the beginning of what proved to be a rainy, dark, dismal winter here in Atlanta. The focus paid off because I actually got the book done three weeks early. There is some more proofing to do and I will have to put an index together once page numbers are set, but it is on the way.

The flowers are on the trees down here now in Atlanta and the winter is over. It’s time to plan a spring offensive. For those of you who have some military background, you know that the term “spring offensive” occurs often in military history. That is because the winter rains and winter weather often make military operations impossible, literally getting bogged down in the mud. I cannot count the rainy days this winter which kept me inside. However, they were conducive to book writing.

Let us be clear, we are in a war. It is not a war that can be won with guns and bullets. It is won with handshakes, kindness, competence, and smiles. The war is not against any political party or politician, it is against the culture. The culture consists of well-learned and well-practiced behaviors which are passed down from previous generations and from one person to the next. The behaviors continue without much thought until something new comes along. People defend the culture because challenges to it requires them to think and feel new thoughts and emotions. And people hate being forced to think. They hate even more changing their habitual behaviors.

Some of these well-worn behaviors in Western culture result in rejection of transgender people. Some call it “transphobia” from the root words that mean “fear of transpeople.” But I am not so sure that is an adequate description of their emotions. Psychologists know that the physiological changes occur, in this case from seeing something new (a transperson), and we tend to apply labels to emotions later. No doubt transgender people, because of their novelty evoke strong physiological reactions but how people label those reactions and deal with them can be influenced by oneself and others. We cannot let the hate-mongers, those who stir up hate for profit, be the only people who label these reactions. Most of them are ignorant of science and the experiences of transgender people and, if they do know anything, they do not care. The money and the power blinds them from the damage that results from their telling people who to hate.

To continue the military metaphor, I cannot be an “Army of One” as featured in the military recruiting commercials. Aunt Dana needs you. And, as I wrote in my book, there is no organized transgender movement. A couple of my ancestors, father and son, fought in the American Revolution. At least they had some semblance of a government and army to work with, admittedly pretty sketchy. But transgender people do not even have that amount of organization. (I am still pondering the issue of whether I am eligible to join the Daughters of the American Revolution, as my mother did, or the Sons of the American Revolution. Neither of them would probably want me, though.)

As the military would ask, what is the “way forward” for me this spring? Hopefully you will join me in some of these initiatives.

1. Objective 1: Get out, be visible and meet people. We know that the best way to change the culture is to get to know cisgender people and convince them that you are sincere and not toxic. Yes, some transgender people picket and stage street demonstrations and that is their right. But the work of cultural change for the most part occurs in quiet places. Only 10-20% people know a transgender person and the situation is worse among cisgender senior citizens. Studies have shown progress in changing attitudes with even short periods of contact with people in door-to-door survey situations.

So, for me, I am no longer avoiding social gatherings to get my book done, and I have already started to get out there. Last night I went to a meeting at the Alliance Française of Atlanta for a presentation on being transgender. I did not even know that there was such an organization but it has been fostering the French language here since 1912. It was a relief not to have to present, I was just an audience member but I know my being there provided support to the presenters. I also ran into a fan of my blogposts and podcasts. I hope my being there encourages her to work in her community.

I have plenty more places to go here in Atlanta but you need to get out and reach out too. You have to believe that “wherever you are, you are entitled to be there.” But be on your good behavior, remember that you are always a representative of the trans community, whether you want to be or not.

2. Objective 2: Keep up and enlarge communications on transgender science. I have been told that my blogposts here on hormones are big hits, so there will be more of those. And I will keep applying science to things in the news. You and I need this information to answer questions that come up in Objective 1. For example, last night the question came up as to why so many teenagers are coming out as trans. The science tells us that the population frequency of being transgender has not changed as far as we can tell. I have given you the best estimates as at least 1% of people are trans and survey data is creeping up to that level, now at .7%. What is different is that culture has changed to be more tolerant and that we now actually have treatments that can postpone the body ravages of puberty. In the past, such children may have gone stealth or stopped their transgender behavior because of rejection. But, as we have seen, many trans folks emerge later in life, so being transgender may not ever go away. Being transgender, like diamonds, may be forever.

As for me, I am also ramping up my podcasts which can be found here. Until now, I have tried to keep them short (<15 minutes) and not go into a lot of detail in each one. But I have changed arrangements with my podcast provider. I will now be able to do longer podcasts and I will be able to interview people via phone during primetime hours. I also will be able to take questions and answer them in real time. I will still do short podcasts as well, for playback in cars during those quick commutes.

I am also exploring doing a video blog on YouTube. I have the account and all the equipment set up, just need to learn all the technical procedures. If you are a YouTuber, you may already have guessed the reason for doing this. There are discussions of transgender issues going on there and most of the talking heads are ignorant of transgender science. Some are hate-mongers, but others are just uninformed. An important reason for going on YouTube is that it reaches a different demographic from my blog and podcast. Most of the YouTubers are young cisgender males. Admittedly, most of the males on YouTube are there for gaming videos but there are examples of raking off some of these by people such as Jordan Peterson, Joe Rogen, Camille Paglia, Sam Harris, and Dave Rubin onto more intellectual topics. Not that gaming isn’t acceptable or unimportant, it’s just that it appears that young men cannot live by gaming alone.

3. Objective 3. Screenplays with non-stereotyped transgender characters. Deep breath. I have been educating myself on how to write screenplays since the USPATH science meeting in Los Angeles in 2017. At that time, my friend, Ann Thomas, told me there was a real need for TV and movies with transgender characters that do not exploit sensational transgender memes or tropes. We have all seen the boudoir scenes with trans women putting on lingerie and makeup. Likewise, we have seen the trans men working hard in the gym to build their muscles and flexing them. Nothing wrong with those activities but we need to move on to more important aspects of being transgender. Since my trip to L.A., I have taken a few courses and even did a little improv to see what it was like for actors. It is a big switch from science writing to fiction, so I am likely to fail. But it is important to try to influence the emotions of people with transgender characters in movies and TV. I have a couple of stories in mind.

So, there you have it, plans for a spring offensive. As the flowers start blooming, you will know what I am about. Again, please join me. Get out and about and arm yourself with facts about being transgender. Support movies and TV with realistic, diverse transgender characters. If I fail in screenwriting, there are others out there who will succeed. If you have some questions or topics you want me to address here, please let me know.

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Category: Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

Dana Jennett Bevan holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University and a Bachelors degree from Dartmouth College both in experimental psychology. She is the author of The Transsexual Scientist which combines biology with autobiography as she came to learn about transgenderism throughout her life. Her second book The Psychobiology of Transsexualism and Transgenderism is a comprehensive analysis of TSTG research and was published in 2014 by Praeger under the pen name Thomas E. Bevan. Her third book Being Transgender was released by Praeger in November 2016. She can be reached at [email protected]

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