|Posted on June 20, 2019 at 2:20 PM||comments (22)|
Harry Benjamin, MD was a pioneering transgender researcher in the mid-20th century. He was the first to understand the true nature of what it means to be transgender. Dr. Benjamin is considered a hero by many in the field, and by many transgender people. He worked tirelessly to shed light on the condition and to define effective treatments. His work has been carried on by hundreds of other medical and mental health professionals since his death.
The international medical association that deals with transgender issues was once known as the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, but later changed its name to the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. (www.wpath.org) WPATH is officially recogized by the American Medical Association and therefore has excellent professional credibility.
On the internet, you may find older references to "Harry Benjamin Syndrome" and the HBS Fact Sheet and HBS Standard of Care. None of these are officially sanctioned. All were created by a group of older transgender men and women who wanted to end the use of mental health designations (gender dysyphoria) and substitute a purely medical diagnosis using the term Harry Benjamin Syndrome, treating it essentially as a medical birth defect.
While the effort is laudable and has the support of many in the trans community, it has little support from WPATH. That's not to say that WPATH's own Standard of Care (SOC) doesn't have a lot in common with the proposed HBS Standard of Care. The general trend is toward the HBS group's ideal, but the mental health and medical communities are slow to change. Still, you will find a few older transgender people who prefer the term Harry Benjamin Syndrome (or HBS) simply because it lacks the mental health stigma associated with Gender Dysphoria.
|Posted on January 10, 2015 at 7:40 PM||comments (35)|
On Sunday, December 27th, 2014, Ohio transgender seventeen year old Leelah (Joshua) Alcorn took her life after years of psychological abuse and neglect by her evangelical parents. But before she did so, she penned a powerful note to her friends, family and the world, asking them to "fix the world" that drove her to end her life.
One of the things her parents did was to send her to a "reparative" or "conversion" therapist, who essentially tried to brainwash and bully the "trans" out of Leelah. These so-called therapies have been roundly criticized by the American Psychological Association, the American Counseling Association, and the American Psychiatric Association, among others, as being extremely harmful and having no therapeutic value at all. All are based on conservative religious principles and have no basis in science or research.
The public outcry was immediate and powerful. Major figures in the gay and trans communities called for her parents to face criminal charges for what they put her through. In addition to the "therapy," she was being given illegally high doses of anti-depressant medications, ones that include warnings about their use for adolescents, given that they increase the likelihood of suicidal thoughts.
The other immediate demand was for a national law mirroring those already in place in California, New Jersey, and Washington DC prohibiting the use of reparative/conversion "therapy" for minors. Two petitions were started, one on Whitehouse.gov and the other on change.org, calling for the creation of "Leelah's Law" in her memory. The Change.org petition was the fastest growing petition of 2014. Please support the creation of this badly needed law, and help save more transgender teen lives. Write your legislators and let them know how you feel about it.
Some may object to my use of Leelah's "dead name," but I feel that having that might help readers search and locate more information about her life and death, especially in postings from family and their church leaders.
Watch the many videos about Leelah Alcorn on You Tube, and do a Google search for additional information.
2019 Update: Since this blog entry, many states have enacted laws that provide at least some prohibitions on conversion "therapy" for minors. Unfortunately, most have exceptions for "pastoral counseling" that allow religious people to continue damaging kids. No progress has been made at the federal level because this is widely understood to be a "states' rights" issue under the US Constitution. None of the states in the "bible belt" region have enacted such legislation, nor have other politically conservative states like Idaho and the Dakotas. The fight has a ways to go.
|Posted on June 20, 2010 at 1:40 PM||comments (16)|
Transgender people aren’t like gays and lesbians – coming “out of the closet” doesn’t mean the same thing for them. For a gay or lesbian person, it means telling the world (or at least those closest to them) that they want to have open relationships with persons of the same sex. They want these relationships to be considered normal and acceptable.
But if you are transgender, you are simply trapped in the wrong body: a male brain in a female body or vice versa. Coming out means telling the world that you have what amounts to a controversial and little understood (by the public and many medical professionals) birth defect. Once you’ve done that, even if you transition to a completely congruent body, you will always be seen as “different” by those who know the whole story.
The problem is that unlike many gays, transgender people usually don’t want to be seen as different. Gays have a different sexual orientation – most transgenders are heterosexual in accordance with their brain gender. They just want to live lives as typical heterosexual men and women. “Coming out” for them is seen as heading in the wrong direction.
Many transgender people I’ve gotten to know have wanted to make the physical transition to a “new” body as quietly and quickly as possible, without the world knowing. That’s not easy, but a common ploy is to substantially complete the transition, then move to a new job and community for a fresh start. This works best if they “pass” well in their new body.
The move from high school to college is a popular time to make the change. Some students begin as soon as they turn 18, assuming they have the financial resources and necessary family support, often during the last year in high school. They might even take a year off to complete the transition, then it’s off to college with their new identity and the chance to build the life they’ve always wanted.