Wednesday, April 18, 2018

The Empath Spectrum

I’m coming out of the closet.   I’m kind of queer, in the original sense of the word, meaning “peculiar, eccentric.”  I’m neuroqueer — on the spectrum of highly sensitive people with acutely attuned nervous systems.

I thought that I had coined the term "neuroqueer".  Then someone posted an excellent blog using this term!  It's in the collective mind now.  

I believe we used to play a respected role in society, but now, in the harsh glare of honky-tonk modernity, the extroverts’ world, we feel like aliens.  Bright floruescent lights, noisy traffic, strong smells, and large crowds are our kryptonite.  But in our element, by the honest light of the moon, we lunatics live and breathe magic.  

It’s a spectrum of sensitivity, which has to do with how many nerve endings you have.   Elaine Aron theorizes that 20% of people across all cultures — and even many animals — are highly sensitive.  We’ll be the ones to notice the cheetah while the others are chit-chatting by the watering hole.  It’s a superpower — supersonic sight and hearing — but in the modern world it’s become a curse.  I believe that in ancient times we were respected seers, inventors, scientists, healers, artists, storytellers, philosophers, engineers, priestesses, and shamans — probably the human computers that calculated the Mayan and other calendars.  We were whispering in the king's ear, not getting bullied.

Some may have lived slightly apart from the village and intervened for the people with the spirit world.  Even 150 years ago before electric lights and motorized traffic and chemicals, we may have thrived.  Now, we suffer from nervous disorders.  The more sensitive, the more gifted, but also the lower the threshold for stress and overstimulation, and the more challenging we find social norms.  It seems to be a zero-sum game between how gifted we are and how well we fit into a world of extroverts.

We are the canaries in the coal mine.  The more chemicals, pollution, and noise, the more that even normals suffer from autoimmune disorders.  

I see sensory stimulation like a cup.   Too much stimulation, even good stuff, and the cup will spill over into neuropathic stress.  Bright lights, loud noises, strong smells.  Heat, cold, wind.  Social interaction, especially small talk and eye contact.  Stress.  Hurry.  If my cup starts to get full, I’ll need to empty it before I experience symptoms like joint pain.  For some, it’s digestive disorders, asthma, or migraines.  Wherever in your body your nerve endings are most abundant is your Achilles heel.

When the cup of sensory overload gets full, I can act a little strange.  Out of it, spacey, forgetful, or irritable.  My social graces may be less graceful.    Like, if I realize that I’ve maxxed out on social exchanges, maybe I’ll have to ghost on the party.  Or I can be a bit blunt.  Sometimes I can be awkward with eye contact, especially if there are bright lights in my eyes.  I have a hard time having a conversation when there are too many people talking at once or loud music.  All these things are more true if I’m in an altered state of consciousness, as this amplifies my sensitivity, but makes music or nature even better. 

But when I’m not overstimulated, being an empath is a blessing, not a curse.  Joy, beauty, music, sex, nature, and mystical experiences are more intense too.  If you can put up with our honesty and quirks, we can be very loyal and helpful friends:  excellent listeners, funny, and interesting.  My disability makes it impossible for me to be cruel or to lie.  Although, if you’ve been cruel to me or to someone else, or gaslighted someone, you’ll cease to exist for me, unless you acknowledge you did it and promise never to do it again.  I wear my heart on my sleeve. I'm might cry if I see someone stub their toe, or a tied-up dog.  Which means I have to really summon my courage to speak unpopular truths.  The conflict takes years off my life, but, I'm compelled to call out injustice.

When I need to empty this cup of overstimulation, I can do it with deep sleep, time alone, or laying down in a quiet dark room.  I can also do it through accessing the trance state.  All people do this instinctivity, although, like most instincts, it has been repressed by a society that demonizes intuition.  We access the trance state through repetitive rhythmic movements and/or breathing, allowing us to silence the logical ego-mind and tap the deep subconscious and its infinite wisdom.  

There’s a spectrum of these kinds of trance movements, from the most universal to the ones seen as highly pathological.  The most universal are rocking (rocking a baby to calm it, or yourself in hammocks or rocking chairs);  sex (with orgasm being the ultimate in releasing neuropathic stress);  and running or dancing.  Rhythm is the key:  finding the rhythm that wants to come through you, and using it to drown out your thoughts.  Walking can be all you need, as long as it’s on flat terrain, and you concentrate on the rhythm of your steps instead of on your thoughts.  Kundalini yoga may be the most effective trance therapy ever invented, because the movements are in a 1-2 rhythm and synchronized with the breath.  

Next on the normalcy spectrum of stress-reducing techniques is what is referred to as “stimming” by autistic people.  People higher on the empath spectrum, those with high-empathy aspergers and full autism (autistics are extremes, and can be either extremely high in empathy, or extremely low), instinctively “stim” to reduce their neuropathic load when overwhelmed.  This can be on the normal end — drumming fingertips (a rhythm), or tapping a foot.  Some can be normal or weird depending on context and intensity:  like fidgeting, knuckle cracking, or humming.  The far end of the spectrum of socially unacceptable might be hand flapping, catatonic rocking, or head banging.

Empaths have contributed enormously to humankind.  People like Mozart, Steve Jobs, Van Gogh, Lewis Carroll, Robin Williams, and Michaelangelo.   But the stress can manifest as digestive issues, bipolar, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia, arthritis, insomnia, and pain.

Empaths are bully magnets.  Bullies are usually insecure sociopaths who either feed off fear in others, or who want to prove dominance or keep themselves safe from bigger bullies.  Sometimes they are empaths who have been bullied themselves or are afraid they will be.  Bullies may also be envious that the empath has inner resources and intelligence that they themselves lack.  The bully feeds off the fear that happens when domination causes the dominated individual's stress hormones to spike.  This happens in the animal world, too.

I believe that there have been empath-friendly eras where cooperation was valued over domination, but in dominator cultures, alpha males dominate beta males who dominate females and animals.  The insensitive bully is valued over the sensitive empath.  Sensitivity is valued in females, but females are seen as subordinate because of it.

I think one reason empaths and neuroqueers are bullied is that we often don’t understand the language of dominance.  An empath may not realize that crossing his arms, sitting higher than the bully on the bleachers, or making long eye contact, can be seen as threatening. Tragically, getting bullied creates a vicious cycle of trauma, post-traumatic stress, shame, low self-esteem, and illness which attracts more bullying and ostracism.  The empath can turn to the dark side, like Kylo Ren, the emo empath from the new Star Wars movies.

Empaths tend to believe passionately in fairness and justice, and hate to see cruelty win.  Many of us are allergic to dominance hierarchies and unjust authority.  Therefore the empath on a strong day can tend towards the avenger, standing up against bullying and injustice.  It’s no accident many of us are into superhero stories.  I’ve had fantasies about poacher hunting.  I also hate roosters, mosquitos, and vicious bark-y dogs, because these are bullies.

Not all natural leaders (alphas) are bullies.  The secure ones lead for the good of all.  We neuroqueers tend to be not alphas or betas, but omegas:   lone wolves and quirky artists.  Unhealthy alphas are often threatened by us because we won’t bow to their authority, but healthy alphas may see our gifts and want to leverage them for the general good.  That happened to me in high school, when the most popular girl, a healthy alpha, decided it was cool that I was smart and took me under her wing and into the party crowd.  Before that, I wasn’t bullied, but seen as different, the smart kid.  When I started hanging out with the cool kids I got bullied by one mean girl, who seemed to think it wasn’t right for a smart kid to be in their midst, but she dropped it when I responded with humor and refused to get upset.

Me, I’m more in the range of normal high sensitive rather than Aspergers, so I can relate to both the normal world and the aspie world.  I’m not a seer;  I’m a philosopher and writer whose gift is to see patterns and analyze them.   I’m very frequently misunderstood, like many empaths.  Some resent me for questioning their dogmas (like about marriage or religion).   Some project on me.  Some interpret my shyness or my need to conserve energy for snobbery. Some think that I'm trying to call attention to myself or start fights when I dare to speak my truth.

 It used to be believed that only men are aspies, but now it’s known that women go undiagnosed because we're more social and focus our intelligence on imitating social norms, while Aspie males focus on their special interests, like, say, penguins.  Aspie females may feel invisible and rarely see themselves in represented in literature or on the screen.  At least there is Lisa Simpson from the Simpsons!   

Many empaths aren’t born naturally relating to social norms, but those of us on the normal end of the spectrum can pretend and blend in most of the time.  It can feel like wearing a mask.   One of the social norms I perform is the gender norm.  The reason there's enormous overlap between neuroqueer and genderqueer is that many of us naturally feel genderless.  I may find myself performing the stereotypical feminine, a pleasant, submissive, “oh yes” face.  But I don’t relate to gender norms at all, which is why I’m confused at being called “cis”.  I can seem feminine when I dance in a long skirt, or masculine when building things.  I don’t see why we need to choose.  But then, I fail to see why normals do so many things they do, like act cruel for no reason, adopt popular opinions that have no rational basis, or obsess over money and status.  Or enjoy having sex with someone who is only doing it for the money. Or, most mind-boggling of all, cut down ancient forests for the profits of a few.  I can't even.

Another social norm I perform is that I tone down my reactions to things.  Even positive emotions like enthusiasm are socially frowned upon.  I’ve learned to be more cool, internalized it even, until it’s automatic.   

Some of my impairments are:  following verbal directions (this is a common aspie trait, and drove my ex crazy), talking when loud music is playing, casual touch with strangers.  I have a truly awful memory (some empaths seem to forget everything, some can remember every single thing). I don’t think I’ve ever done anything really weird like had an outburst.

Sometimes I can climb higher on the spectrum, that is, when I’m either very overstimulated, like if I stay at a festival too long, or when I enhance the sensitivity by taking a journey.  I have a regular practice where I take an herbal medicine and then induce trance by quieting the rational mind with trance techniques.  I do this at least once a week, more if there’s been a lot of stress or stimulation, and it has kept me sane.  Preferably I do it in nature, in a place with a temperature between 55 and 75, as far from other humans as possible unless they're doing it with me, with minimal light and noise and manmade objects, and in comfortable natural clothes.  If these conditions aren’t available I do it inside using kundalini yoga, shaking, or toning.  This is why I live in the forest, and when I travel I stick to places where I can do this ritual.  If I have to talk or to handle money or to drive a car in the middle of it, it will derail the effects. I’ve actually done this trance therapy with clients, and find that it works on normals too, helping them to feel relaxed and meditative and in touch with their intuition.

On the other end of the spectrum are the sociopaths, people with antisocial personality disorder, who experience little to no anxiety. They lack the neurological ability (nerve endings) to respond to criticism or to empathize with others.  

Most people believe that aspergers and autistic people lack empathy. Perhaps some do, as it is neurotypical people who are all similar, while aspies vary widely.  Some are highly sexed while others asexual;  some are dyslexic while others hyperlexic (super-readers), for example.  It may be the same with empathy.   Or some may feel others' emotions but not be able to show it.  Often,  we feel peoples' emotions so much that we are overwhelmed and forced to shut down. 

I truly believe that if society becomes more accepting and we create spaces safe from overstimulation, empaths will suffer far less and contribute even more to society.  It’s the lack of understanding and acceptance that leads to the suffering, not our biology.   I don’t fully understand why so many normals hate empaths so much.  If I indulge my empath tendency toward fantasy, I might imagine that in a world long ago when magic was more powerful, empaths were the ones that wielded it and normals felt inferior and insensitive. Another of my weirder ideas is that empaths haven’t incarnated many times during the recent years of war and hierarchy, so, we are especially clueless about, and angry at, the injustices that go along with that.  I also hatched a theory that empath traits were strong in Neantherthals (like the gelflings in the film The Dark Crystal), and so those of us with more of their DNA have more empath traits.  Then I stumbled across a whole bunch of people taking about this theorized Neanderthal-Aspergers link!

Right now, talking about autism and aspergers seems to be a trend. I keep coming across it.  The recent film Temple Grandin, about an autistic woman who invented humane ways of managing cattle, was popular.  Perhaps the public is sensing that empaths have something to offer.  Normals and empaths have much to learn from each other.  Empaths aren't really that weird, once you understand us;  we just speak a slightly different language.  I think we've been ostracized and shamed only because it’s a barbaric age in which people have been taught to fear and shun what’s different. 

Therefore, we empaths learn to be ashamed and to hide our differences instead of talking about them, which perpetuates the cycle of misunderstanding.  For example, I caught myself standing with some friends and noticed a bad smell in the area which others didn’t seem to notice, but which I couldn’t handle.  I muttered an excuse to wander away instead of explaining.  Yet I think that people really wouldn’t think it was a big deal. 

 So let’s raise awareness about the challenges we face as empaths. I’ve long accepted that as a minority, I don’t ask people to not smoke while I’m eating, to stop talking loudly and incessantly in a quiet place, or to not wear perfumes which make me nauseous.  I just move.  And I’m not suggesting that the rest of the world tone down their bright lights and noise for our sakes.  But a little understanding of how it affects us would be great.

Can we call it “neurotypical privelege” then?  Us empaths have to fit our round pegs into normals’ square holes.  There is no talk of meeting us half way, even though the empaths’ native ways, our long attention spans and passion for our special interests, is more conducive to learning and getting things done in the world.  Is the persecution of empaths because the culture fears that if empaths had power and influence, we would never stand for being ruled by a hierarchy of bullies?

The statistics on suicidal thoughts for Aspergers people is around two-thirds.  This is on par with that for transgender people, seen as the world’s most marginalized minority.  With more awareness and education about this, we could make the world a safer place for empaths.  (In addition, since many transgender people are on the spectrum, we can treat them first for this before going to much more dangerous and permanent methods).  Also, we can recognize the signs early and help empaths understand themselves and minimize the negatives.   If I had understood this early in life I would have saved decades of suffering.  

Some people talk about a cure for autism.  But others think that eliminating autism is akin to eugenics.  We need autistic minds.  We should put them on the problem of saving the planet, instead of bullying them behind the bleachers.

If you suspect you may be the spectrum, contact me for ideas on how to hack your system to maximize the joys and minimize the downsides.  I’ve finally figured it out for myself and my life is awesome.  I wouldn’t trade my empathic nature for anything.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

We are Not Allowed to Talk About Transgender Misogyny

I consider myself gender non-conforming and I love gender non-confirming people.  I have no problems with trans folk.  Probably the person I have shared 

I am a person who has studied cults.  I wrote an article about Tantra cults for Rebelle magazine.  My cult alarm bells first went off about the transgender community when the Beltane gathering in my progressive town, was torn apart when a trans woman asked if she was welcome to join the women’s circle portion of the gathering.   Beltane is the pagan Celtic gathering that celebrates sex and fertility, and the gender-separated circles were only a small part of the weekend-long event.  There was also a third circle for people that didn't identify as men or women.  This trans woman claimed, however, that she had to be welcomed in the womens circle.

The decision was yes, she was welcome, but there was some disagreement as to whether wombs were a necessary part of the womb magic.  She declared she would not come when some people felt that way.  My intuition told me that she had no interest in pagan ceremony and magic, as she had made some disparaging comments about it.  I wondered if she was just interested in making a point.  On the event page, she personally insulted the priestess who had worked hard for a decade to make this gathering happen.  What really bothered me was that no one objected.  The priestess and the other organizer quit, the gathering was strained, and it probably won’t happen again.  In my discussions with the trans woman, she repeatedly tried to get me to answer the question "Are trans women REAL women?".  Saying that trans women aren’t “real” women, she claimed, is akin to saying that they aren’t real people, and that this is “literal” violence against them.

I did research.  I found this ideology all over the internet, with the exact wording, including liberal misuse of the word “literal”.  This argument makes no sense to me.  We can disagree on the meaning of the word “woman”, and still believe trans women are real people who deserve full human rights.  “Literal” violence are blows, not words.

I have deep compassion for the literal violence, discrimination, and hate that trans people encounter.  I deplore violence and hate with all my being.  This violence is committed by men, and is part of the umbrella of patriarchal hatred towards the feminine.  But I have found no evidence that women saying we are different from trans women is a cause for male violence.  Do we really think that the kind of vicious asshole who beats up trans women care what women think?

It's because of this violence that we aren't allowed to say anything about this.  But yet when you look at the actual statistics, you find that per capita, men murder men more than women, and women more than transgender people.   In 2016 for example 19 transgender people were murdered in the whole year, of which 16 were african-american sex workers;  of course that's tragic, but it's also the case among the same category of females.  Across the board, natal females are murdered at a higher rate per capita than transgender people. 

I wouldn't bother to say anything at all, though, except the stakes are very high.  Legislation is on the table to make it so people can just change their legal sex at will, and we have been seeing a rise in men posing as trans women in order to access rape shelters and prisons and other female spaces.

The Myth of Innate Gender Identity

There are many women, especially feminists, who are questioning the idea of gender identity.  The new dogma states that gender identity is innate and fixed, which is exactly the notion that has been used to oppress women for millennia . Women, the theory goes, have “female brains”, meaning naturally inferior. Feminism, on the other hand, holds that gender roles are socially constructed.  What does it mean to have a “female brain” in a male body? What does it mean to “live as a woman”: you carry a purse? Wear lipstick? Act demure and submissive?  Let’s not confuse patriarchal stereotypes for reality.

I enthusiastically accept anyone’s expression of gender.  I love men in dresses.  Me, my “gender expression” changes from moment to moment. If I do construction, I wear Carharts. If I dance flamenco, I wear long skirts. Sometimes lipstick seems like a fun idea. I carry bags, which I am told is a feminine thing, but to me it just seems useful. All of these traits are arbitrarily assigned a gender. That assignment may change from culture to culture, or even individual to individual. 

Back when the internet was young, I designed an internet experiment: I put the BEM sex roles inventory online. The BEM sex roles inventory is used by psychologists to assess how well someone conforms to western gender roles. There are a number of traits which have been judged by American college students to be feminine, masculine, or neutral. Then you, the one taking the survey, rate yourself on each trait: On a scale from 1 to 7, how likely are you to be: Submissive? Creative? Nurturing? And so on. In the end you get a masculine score and a feminine score. You can be high on both, meaning you have a lot of both masculine traits and feminine traits (as defined by our particular culture); or you can be low on both, meaning you mostly identify with neutral traits. You can be high masculine and low feminine, or vice versa.

I got thousands of people to take this test (by asking my famous (late) friend Robert Anton Wilson to link to it from his site) and graphed them on a graph with one axis feminine (the XX axis), one masculine (the XY axis). I used pink dots for women and blue dots for men. Well, the vast majority of dots were in the middle. There was a cluster of blue dots in the high masc, low fem area, and a cluster of pink dots in the high fem, low masc area. So women are slightly more likely to display these so-called feminine traits, and opposite for men. But we are all somewhere along a spectrum. And even these traits are arbitrarily determined by a culture, and largely a result of conditioning.

If gender is arbitrarily constructed by societies and individuals, and exists along a spectrum, why do we need to make up these limiting boxes for it? How many “feminine” traits do I need to exhibit to be considered gender-conforming? 10? 100? 60 percent? No one can say. So why not just say that we all exist along a gender spectrum which is changing all the time? Only biological sex exists. The vast majority of humanity are male(XY) and female(XX), with about 1.7% intersex (XXY, X). Almost no trans people are intersex.

I am all about accepting each one of us as the unique, ever-changing snowflake of personality that we are. But biology matters. Every one of my cells is stamped with an XX. I bleed, and when I do, I feel the extraordinary power of this — it can confer strength, intensity, poignancy, pain. I practice chi gung, and feel the reality of the chi from my ovaries and uterus. My orgasms are different from mens’. I possess the potential to grow new life; I experience the terror of potential pregnancy. My hormones create a very poignant reality for me. These things all matter. Energy is real. Biology is real.

Besides my biology, the only other thing I have in common with other women is the experience of growing up female in a male world. My consciousness arose at a time when I saw no role models that showed me that women could be presidents, CEOs, comedians, or carpenters. Mainstream movies and novels were always about men and boys, with girls and women merely objects to be won.  I was forced to ignore hideously misogynistic jokes by boys. I didn’t even know women had orgasms until I was 21; sex was all about the blow job and the male orgasm. I internalized society’s fear and hatred of women and of feminine men (“pussies”).

I don’t relate to any of the stereotypes of femininity — extreme emotionality (actually i think men are the emotional ones), submissiveness, nurturing, etc — but my female biology is a strong reality, as is my social conditioning to defer to and serve men.

Male and female brains? This study and this study  found no difference between them. Male and female nature? What does that even mean?  This is what women have been fighting against for 100 years. What does it mean to “feel like a woman” or “treat someone like a woman.”? In any case, a man saying he feels like a woman is really saying that he feels like he imagines what a woman feels like. 

If gender identity were hardwired in the brain, identical twins would have the same gender identity 100 percent of the time, but only in 20% of cases did both twins turn out to be transgender.

People who believe in the innate gender theory often cite the Russo study showing that transgender brains are more similar to the brains of the opposite sex.   But closer looks at this study reveal that the slight differences found related to sexual orientation.

I do not relate to this “cis” label applied to me.  I do not believe in binary gender, but a gender spectrum, as I have said.  My gender identity is free and fluid, though if I had to describe what I feel like, I would identify as a gay man in a woman’s body.  When I see gay men, they feel like my people.  But they don’t recognize me as one of them, and no one expects them to.  They have no interest in sex with me, and no one expects them to.

Yet, many people believe that lesbians who refuse sex with a person with a penis are transphobic bigots.  There was a conference, closed to women, of trans women confronting the “problem” of lesbians refusing to have sex with them. They call this the "cotton ceiling" -- the cotton underpants of lesbians. This enrages me.  Anyone has a right to refuse sex with anyone, for any reason.  Sadly, too, lesbians and gay folk are being erased by the pressure to transition to the opposite sex.  

There is nothing gender conforming about me.  I reject this label of cis and the idea that it gives me privilege.  My female biology has been the source of oppression for 5000 years.  So forgive me if I don’t accept a man’s assertion that he is a woman, without the biology and conditioning that have shaped my reality.  All of that stuff matters.  Women have a right to define ourselves.

A Safe Sex Guide issued by the Human Rights Campaign asks us to say things like "pregnant people" because "mothers" may offend trans people; "menstruators" instead of "women".  Who cares if actual women are offended?  And it gets worse: vaginas are something that post-op transwomen have, while women have "front holes."  The awesome play by Eve Ensler, Vagina Monologues, is no longer allowed!

The very existence of women, and womens’ oppression as a class, have been supplanted by the trans rights movement.  If women don't exist except as an idea, how can we be oppressed?  And how can we fight our oppression?  Womens’ studies programs have all been replaced by gender studies programs that are centered around transgender people.  

An African American woman reflects, "But what if, instead of wanting to be white, I wanted to be a man? What if, instead of crying to my parents that I was really a white person, I told them that I was really a man and that I desperately wanted to change my body to match my mind? If, in this scenario, you think that my parents should applaud my courage, accept my new gender identity, and run to the nearest surgeon, please ask yourself: “Why?”

What are the limits of the idea that it is a basic human right to affirm someone's identity?  Should people who identify as Cherokee be accepted by the tribe? 

Female Spaces

Based on the core ideology that trans women are literal women, trans women are insisting that they be allowed into female spaces: locker rooms, homeless shelters, athletic competitions, and most tragically, rape shelters.   

We are seeing the end of womens’ sports.  How can women compete against male strength?  A transgender woman named Fallon Fox won the Womens’ Mixed Martial Arts competition, beating her competitor to a pulp in two minutes flat.  

Personally, I'm fine with trans people using whatever bathrooms they like.  No one spends much time in bathrooms, and everyone has her own stall.   Although it IS true that there are plenty of incidents of predators accessing female spaces to spy on or video women, that accessing female spaces is a huge fantasy for sexual deviants, and, there is not a single reported incident of a hate crime against a transgender person in a male restroom.  Not one.   Ever.   But whatever.  And most transgender women retain their penises, which mens' bathrooms are built for.  But whatever.  Let's sacrifice some women to make some other people happy.

What I'm concerned with are spaces where women and girls sleep and undress publicly.  While I understand that most transgender women are kind, peaceful people who just want to undress, the new laws are making it possible for any male predator to access womens’ spaces.   A man doesn’t have to do anything but show up and say that he identifies as a woman.   When our feminist grandmothers won the right to separate spaces safe from male predators, women could finally take a place in public life.  

I am concerned with the women most at risk, survivors of assault, women in prison, homeless women.  I know I am privileged.  They are not.

This is especially crucial for the most vulnerable women who need rape and homeless shelters.  A rape survivor could be traumatized by seeing a penis in this situation.  And while of course most transgender women would never harm anyone, now that the laws are changing, we are starting to see numerous news stories about molestation, voyeurism, and violence against women by men claiming to be transgender.  

This article documents how half of transgender women prisoners are sex offenders or violent offenders.  Here a just a few examples:  In 2014, Jessica (Christopher) Hambrook molested women at two Toronto womens’ shelters, having previously molested women from ages 5 to 53. In 2016, a man making no attempt to present as a woman undressed in front of young girls at a womens’ locker room in Washington state, saying he had a right to use the locker room that corresponds with his identity, according to a state law. When a transwoman named Luis Morales brutally raped, beat, and murdered a 13-yr-old girl and set her body on fire, transactivists came to his defense!  Last November in Oakland, a transwoman, Dana Rivers, was charged with killing a lesbian couple and their adopted son. In January 2017 in Berkeley, queer activist Pablo Gomez Jr. was charged with the stabbing death of one woman and the attempted murder of another woman. Here is a list of more news stories (scroll down).

None of the sweet peaceful trans women you and I know, who just want to be left alone, would never molest anyone.  But that doesn’t stop anyone from using the laws to do so.  Google it.  You will find numerous examples of predation in female spaces.  Look up the facebook page This Never Happens.  Bathrooms too.

Womens’ spaces have also been crucial for women to gather for empowerment, to organize, and to discuss the ramifications of our biology.  It has always been threatening to the patriarchy for women to organize to gain independent from men.  Losing our spaces means the end of that ability to organize.

So women are told that we must sacrifice our own safety to accommodate men --  both feminine men who are attacked, and the men who do the attacking -- because male violence is inevitable.  A true social justice warrior would turn their attention to the men doing the attacking, not to the women who are forced to turn over their spaces.

There was a female music festival in Michigan, MichFest, that was a haven for women for 40 years. Although they did not exclude trans women, they believed in the need for womens’ spaces in a patriarchal world. There, a woman could get as drunk as she wanted without fear of rape or harassment. Trans activists surrounded the festival and slashed tires, cut waterlines, stalked the perimeter with illegal weapons, and blanketed the festival with pictures of their dicks inscribed with the phrase “A hot load from my monstrous tranny-cock embodies womanhood more than the pieces of menstral [sic] art your transphobic cunts could ever hope to create”.  That was the end of this festival.   Women who played music there were banned from playing in other places.

Violent Threats

While most transgender women would never threaten rape and violence like the protestors of this festival, there are transactivists who do.  The site shows examples of people online who threaten repulsive violence against “TERFs”, which stands for Trans-Exclusive Radical Feminists:  women who believe it’s important to have our own spaces.   If you do a google image-search on “Punch a terf” or “kill all terfs” you will find examples of this:  ““Wipe them from the earth” “prepare your pathetic, dough faces for a sweet, sweet pummeling”, “literally kill all TERFs”, “enjoy my ladydick in your mouth cuntwipe”, "slowly and horrendously murder terfs in saw-like torture machines and contraptions".

I came across this clip from a TV show with a panel to discuss transgender:  trans woman Zoe Tur placed her hand on editor Ben Shapiro’s shoulder and threatened to send him home in an ambulance.  What was shocking to me was that none of the other people on the panel objected to this.  Is threatening violence in the name of transgender people now totally acceptable?

If anyone finds any examples of women threatening violence against transgender people, please let me know.  

We are told that we need to accept everything transgender folks say because they are the most oppressed, therefore they are always right.  Speaking the truth, that is, that men can’t magically turn into women, is now considered bigotry and violence. We must agree with everything because trans women are beaten up and harassed more often than women are (according to their own statistics and self-reports).  (Is this the Oppression Olympics?) This phrasing obscures an important truth: the ones doing the beating and harassing are MEN. It is men who beat women and feminine men.  

A feminist commenter says: “Men who do not properly perform masculinity are bullied and it is awful. Many of these men are gay, others are simply seen as effeminate. It must stop. But the solution to that bullying and homophobia is not to claim that these men are ACTUALLY women, it is to challenge the notions of masculinity and femininity themselves, as well as to challenge homophobia. Extreme violence against transpeople is a serious problem, but it is not perpetrated by feminists. It is a manifestation of violent misogyny.“

And there is misogyny in some transgender rhetoric, as well.  One website on Why You Should Get A Transgender Girlfriend, which has now been taken down, says that men should choose trans women because biological women are fat, shrill, masculine, stupid, bitchy, and entitled!  YouTube videos with affirmations to help trans women believe they are women include affirmations such as “I am submissive”.  

The Ideology is Failing to Serve the Needs of Trans People Themselves

Not only is trans politics threatening to disappear women as biological identities, opening up women’s spaces to male predators, and shutting down feminist discourse, but, it is also harming trans people themselves.  Studies show that trans people have higher than average levels of depression, anxiety, and mental illness that aren’t always relieved by transitioning. 
A Dutch study showed that major mood disorders, dissociative disorders and psychotic disorders were reported in 79%.  A Swedish study showed that sex-reassigned persons also had an increased risk for suicide attempts and psychiatric inpatient care.  It is now politically incorrect in the US to question a person who thinks they have gender dysphoria, to look for other treatments for the depression and anxiety they are experiencing. So we see trans folks who, despite the expensive, dangerous, and irreversible surgeries, still feel suicidal.  Yet they are silenced (by the same threats used to silence feminists) when they try to speak out about this.  Do we treat people with anorexia with liposuction?  This is dangerously failing to meet the real needs of people who are suffering.

I have deep compassion for anyone who is suicidal.   While I understand that the deplorable discrimination trans people face is a huge factor, it may not be the only one for some, and we need to address other potential reasons for this.  They are pressured by the community to think that transition is the only therapy they need.  When in fact, there is no evidence to suggest that transition reduces suicide, in fact the oppositeWebsites coach teenagers on the ways to use the threat of suicide to convince their parents to bless their taking hormones, and tell teenagers that friends and family that caution them on the risks deserve to be slapped ("self-defense") or disowned.  Many parents report that their teens developed "rapid-onset" gender dysphoria after a social media binge, and that whole peer groups came out at the same time.

The high levels of trans suicide is given as the reason why we must uncritically accept every aspect of the transgender ideology, and avoid saying anything that might trigger them.  The threat of suicide has become emotional blackmail that is repeated at every possible moment to silence feminists.  Ironically, the activists borrow from feminist and anti-racism movements, adopting the language to position people as oppressors.  This forces well-meaning social justice supporters to “affirm transgender peoples’ identities” and to make them the center of the conversation, to stop them killing themselves.  The intentions are excellent, but avoiding the truth is not doing them any favors.  The world is a harsh place, and we can’t be protected from all triggers (the Black Mirror episode where an implant in a child scrambles her vision when she sees something upsetting doesn't end well).  It is best to face the truth, and to love and accept ourselves and each other as we are.  And to make sure we treat all the root causes of suicidal feelings.  There need be NO stigma in mental illness.

Human Rights Violation of Children

Most disturbing of all is giving children dangerous hormones.  Children have always played with different identities, but 60-90% of children who express transgender feelings grow out of it. Tragically, doctors are pushing hormones on children behind their parents’ back. Do you start to see the enormous amounts of money that doctors and pharmaceutical companies are making on this phenomenon, and how that plays into the silencing of discourse around it?

Beloved, well-respected psychologist Kenneth Zucker was fired from his job as head of the Child, Youth, and Family Gender Identity Clinic after extremists petitioned for his removal because he tried to help children who believed they were trans to feel comfortable with their bodies, instead of instantly putting them on hormone blockers.  All he was advocating for was to spend a year counseling them to accept their bodies before starting on drugs!

This is not the first time Big Medicine has experimented on a generation;  the long term effects of ADHD drugs were not well known before giving them to so many children.  We do have one example of children taking estrogen who were followed up later:  in the 50s and 60s tall girls were given it to stunt their growth (another sad manifestation of patriarchy, men have to be taller than women), and now are dealing with severe health consequences, including cancer at a young age.  We might theorize that male bodies, not intended for estrogen, would have even more side effects over the years.

A documentary called Transgender Kids: Who Knows Best which questions the safety of immediately putting children on hormones was shut down by CBC after transactivists complained.  It was a balanced discussion, but is now banned in Canada.  It talks about how autism is 7 times higher in trans-identifying children, and many have anxiety, depression and OCD.  It mentions one child who started identifying as a boy when she saw her mother murdered.  

In the end is an interview with a woman who has de-transitioned after hormones and surgery.  She says that she received a lot of pressure to transition in her youth.  She was basically told transition was the only cure for the hatred she felt toward her body.  "Transition or die", she was told.  She will never have her breasts back and will always have a beard, and now she is facing death threats from trans activists for telling anyone she has de-transitioned.  (The interview is anonymous).  She says:  "If a young girl came to me saying that she hated her body, I would tell her, climb trees, dig in the dirt, find peace with your body."

Another woman who de-transitioned did it because she really didn’t feel like a man, or relate to male bro-talk.  Looking back, she thinks that she first transitioned because she was attracted to women and because of internalized misogyny;  her friends said she must really be a man.  Now years off the testosterone, she will always have a beard.  She talks about how embarrassing it was to de-transition after asking her friends and family to accept the change.  Her de-transition support group, which gets new members each week, has been helpful.  Perhaps more people wish they could de-transition but don’t because of cognitive dissonance, or the threats from people who want to pretend that de-transition doesn’t happen.

Another person spoke of how she transitioned back to female because on T she could not relate to other people’s emotions or feel things deeply.  Both de-transitioned women have not been able to get rid of constant vaginal infections and other intense side effects years after stopping T.

But activists convinced Canada to justify intervention by the government to medicate children if their parents do not agree.  How could young children really know who they are?  If children say they want to eat cake for breakfast every day, do we let them? 

Girls as young as 14 have had their breasts removed.  The CEO of Mermaids took her son abroad to have his penis removed when he was just 16. 

As I’ve said, children who identify as the opposite sex have always existed in patriarchy.  But now this trend is so popular that kids find it on the internet and wonder if gender dysphoria is the cause of their problems.  Maybe they’re too smart to fit in, they're gay, or bipolar, or just going through the usual hell of puberty, but trans identity is offered as a solution:  a special identity, an instant group of friends, an end to hating their bodies.

Does anybody know how much information kids are given about the real consequences of making this choice?  Do counsellors tell them:  we know these drugs have side effects but we really don’t know how dangerous they might be;   even if you stop taking them that you may never be able to have children;  you may never be able to have sex in the usual ways;  you will be dependent on these expensive drugs for the rest of your life.  That if you eventually take the final step to surgery, you will have to pump your penis or penetrate yourself for the rest of your life.

I know these topics are off limits, very sensitive topics.  But .. we need to talk about it. This is an extremely serious choice.  The stakes are very high.  For adults too, but can a child really make a choice whether or not they want to have kids of their own someday?!?

Statistics are that only 35% of girls transitioning to transmen receive ANY counselling about the risks.  Diabetes, endometrial cancer, breast cancer, neurogenerative diseases ..  these are the known risks.    Somehow people who avoid dairy treated with hormones think it's totally fine to take opposite sex hormones?  Did you know that cross-sex treatment with sex hormones is an off-label use, not approved by the FDA?

It seems that the small number of people with genuine gender dysphoria will identify with the opposite sex from a very young age and will continue to do so in puberty.  For them, it may be true that all of the extreme and extraordinary risks associated with this treatment are worth it. (Although, there still has not been a scientific attempt to study gender dysphoria to find less risky treatments.  Now, these studies are politically impossible.  Suicide is still just as common in transitioned youth with full support from family and friends, and, there have never been studies of suicidality in youth whose gender fluidity is supported but is not supported in transitioning.)

I think about myself in puberty.  I come from a family of estrogenic disorders, so puberty was especially hellish.  I was depressed, had debilitating menstrual cramps, and covered in acne on my face, chest, and back.   I hated my body as it developed curves;  self-hatred began as I examined each body part through the male gaze and realized that I did NOT resemble a Victoria Secret model.  I began hating my body and became anorexic (could it be related to the fact that my dad had a bad habit of ogling super super skinny young girls, and now that I had grown thighs, I wasn't in that category?).  Is this not body dysphoria?  I had girl crushes, which I realized later were not sexual, but just intense friendships.  I hated makeup, dresses, shopping, and babies;  I loved computer programming and sci fi.  I hated the female role;  after extended family dinners, I was expected to join the women in cleaning up, even though I was much more interested in joining the men to talk politics.   What if someone had told me I could turn into a man?  Hell yeah!  What if I had started taking hormones only to later realize that I was exclusively attracted to men --- how many gay men would want someone with a vagina, or straight men someone with a beard?    And then, I would have transitioned back, to find that I would always have a beard, health problems, and be infertile.  Needless to say, I am intensely grateful this was not an option.  I was suffering so much, I might have gone for it.   Fortunately I came to acceptance of my body through medicating with plants, and reading feminist theory.  

Parents are told that they must support their childrens' identities and give them the drugs, even though the majority of them will not grow up to be trans.   If parents still try to resist, social services can intervene.  As Debra Soh for CBC news says, “The issue is no longer about what's in the best interest of these children, but about winning, at any cost, the ideological war.”

So why is it so important to the ideology to prove the existence of transgender children? Because this would prove that gender identity is real, inborn, and unchangeable.  For many, yes, I can believe there was never any choice and there never will be.  But there are many others who will change their mind.  De-transition video diaries abound.

I’ve seen heartbreaking clips of young children torturing themselves with choosing their genders, saying, I like dresses but I like football.  They're torn apart, thinking they have to choose.   Why can’t we have it all? The dresses AND the football.  We can support our children’s identities by loving them exactly as they are, encouraging their explorations.  We can tell them that they can do anything in the world they want (aside from reproductive functions of the other sex.)

How does this new ideology not support a rigid binary?   Now kids can choose their gender and suppress all the traits that don’t fit with it.  We’ll end up with a bunch of people on the far poles of the two-dimensional gender spectrum, a world of Kens and Barbies, only now those binaries will be chosen and not just assigned.  Personally I have little interest in Ken and Barbie.  In my perfect world, we would all strive for balance of the masculine and feminine in ourselves.

Parents who speak out are, predictably, accused of transphobia and being overall horribly people. Many lose their jobs.  Many are threatened with losing custody.  But doctors (even though they are making a killing), nurses, and therapists are starting to whisper about the insanity of what is happening.  Referrals of children to gender clinics is skyrocketing exponentially. 

I would venture to say that in a non-patriarchal society, gender-nonconforming children would simply be seen as human beings along a spectrum of gender, and nothing would be thought of it. They would not be bullied, and would not suffer. Only patriarchal societies punish males who express their feminine sides, which creates the need for a third sex. From my research I found that in Native American societies that were patriarchal, mostly in the Plains regions, there were more than two sexes. Non-patriarchal Native groups, tolerant of androgyny, did not seem to need this.

The third sex is common in patriarchal Asian societies, such as India and southeast Asia. As I sit here writing this, I am in Thailand, where the cathueys, called “ladyboys” in English (which as far as I can figure is not a slur), are common and well-accepted.  They are considered a third sex. Legally in Thailand they must check the “male” box, and in India the “other” box. This is important for statistical purposes, since Mens’ Rights groups are trying to claim that women are almost as violent as men. (While statistics show that 90.3% of murderers are male).   Allowing trans women to check the "woman" box legally would make it impossible to have reliable census data about men and women.

The New People Identifying as Transgender

So this small number of people whose gender dysphoria has always existed are now being joined by a much larger number of people.  The number of SRS has increased by 400% since 2010.  Some of these are people with other types of dysphoria who are misdiagnosed, as I said.  Some of them are cross-dressers who transition later in life.  Since transgender people are now considered brave, popular, and trendy, who can blame them for preferring to identify as transgender than to identify as crossdressers?  Here is one woman’s story about how her 40 year old husband started wanting to transition after he started watching porn featuring trans women.  

This is not an isolated incident:  there's a whole community of women called “trans widows” whose heterosexual cross-dressing husbands transition late in life.  The wives are expected to do all the supporting and receive no support.  They are often gaslighted and abused.  When they reach out, they are gaslighted by their communities, told that only the partner’s needs matter because he is the most oppressed creature to walk the planet.  These men claiming to be trans have done trans woman a huge disservice, and the backlash is here.

The Censorship

And so the meme spreads.   Those who speak out are called transphobic and threatened with rape and violence, even death.  By silencing feminist voices, this has all but destroyed the movement to liberate us all from the patriarchy.   Extremists are dictating to women what we are and how we should behave.  Anti-woman slurs have become commonplace, accepted, and even celebrated in a community that claims to be about social justice.  

Any time you see suppression of discourse, or insults used in place of logic, this should be a sign to pay attention. A researcher in the UK decided to study the phenomenon of de-transitioning after he met a doctor who had performed 7 de-transition surgeries in the past year. His study was approved, but then cancelled by the university because it was politically incorrect.  Gender-critical websites and blogs have been shut down.  

We can be sensitive and compassionate AND retain our critical thinking skills.  We can support the rights of all people to full human equality, and to gather with others of their kind.

A book by UC Berkeley psychology professor Margaret Singer, “Cults in Our Midst”, exposes the deceptive mind control techniques of cults. Some of these are being used by transactivists. This article, written by a trans woman, talks about how billionaires from the medical and cosmetic industries are behind the cult, and says “It appears as if the creation and promotion of trans cult activism and ideology is part of a larger social engineering agenda, and one that requires everybody’s attention….It thus becomes incumbent upon freedom loving citizens to speculate on the reasons why our leaders are supporting the mass delusion that is transgender activism.”

She goes on to say: “The Gender Identity Clinics are a new phenomenon that are busy indoctrinating and conditioning children as young as three, thus we can expect a totally new and totally different generation of trans to emerge in the near future, all chemically dependent for life, all likely to seek out surgery to alter their bodies, and all likely to be all-in members of the radical trans cult….It would be tempting to simply regard all of this as merely absurd and comical, were it not for the fact that it is currently putting grown men in swimming pool changerooms with women and young girls …”

Besides the medical and pharmaceutical industries, billionaires such as George Soros are pouring huge amounts of money into the movement.  Slick, hip, high-budget propaganda videos routinely insult women, feminists, and gay people.

When I wrote the original article, I got messages from women all over the world thanking me for voicing the concerns that they knew they would be ostracized or threatened for voicing.  One woman from New Zealand said that a vagina festival to encourage women to love our bodies was shut down by transactivists who said vaginas are triggering to trans people.  A woman from Ireland, where abortion is still illegal, said that transactivists shut down the pro-choice movement saying that abortion is triggering to them.  A woman from Canada said that the homeless shelters in her city have been infiltrated by male predators pretending to be transwomen, so now women are back on the street.

Proposed Solutions

Again, I feel great compassion for trans people, the discrimination and violence they face, and how sensitive that makes them to triggers.   But we need to be able to talk openly about these very important issues.  Here are some possible solutions for discussion:

1.  The trans movement is in the public eye and is prompting a massive discussion around gender, which could be good.  Right now the movement is focused on forcing everyone to pretend to agree, on pain of physical violence or loss of livelihood, that trans woman ARE women. However, critical thinkers really, really, really don’t like being forced to believe something that doesn’t make sense to them.  This is causing a backlash among some of the most radical justice defenders out there, like me — and we are not bigots.  

Instead, why not have the movement focus on the message that trans people are human beings who deserve full human rights?   Let’s spread the message that discrimination based on gender (or race) is illegal and wrong, and that violence or threats of violence are utterly unacceptable (whether towards trans people, or by them).  Triple the criminal penalties for discrimination and for assault.    Have criminal penalties for those who witness or even hear about assault without taking action — therefore, few guys will want to high-five their bro whose bragging about beating a trans person.  By making it completely unacceptable to commit acts of violence, we can change society within a generation.  After all, 20 years ago in Italy men constantly harassed women but they never do this anymore.  They changed so quickly!  It can happen.

2.  For public spaces, like I said, I am suggesting that bathrooms be for anyone, but for spaces where women undress and sleep, that trans women be required to get a certificate saying that they have been been diagnosed with genuine gender dysphoria, and that they have been telling people they are women for a minimum of 2 years.  This is a step that few predators would be willing to meet.  This is actually what is currently done in the UK, although trans activists there are saying that the certificate is demeaning.

I also support the right of women to gather to talk about vaginas, womb magic, abortion, or anything else related to our biology, and besides that, that all public space be open to trans people.

3.  For children, I am in favor of waiting till 25 years of age to start on hormones, and ruling out mental illness.  Given the statistics that the majority of children do not persist in gender dysphoria, overall, I think this is the decision that will minimize the suffering for the most people.

Let us put aside divisions and unite on the things we all agree on.   An end to violence and violent threats immediately.  An end to discrimination in jobs or housing. 

Let no person stand by while another is harassed, bullied, or personally insulted.  Ever.  Let’s accept everyone exactly as they are.  Let’s encourage people to love themselves as they are before taking huge risks with healthy bodies.  

 We can create a culture of kindness and compassion.  And do away with stereotypes and boxes of all kind.  We are free!

Here are some links for more information:

This Never Happens facebook group, postings about men posing as trans women who have harassed women or worse, in womens' spaces

I Know Who's Going to Be On The Wrong Side of History, and it isn't me. Brilliant.

  A detransitioned woman questions the ideology, saying that no other condition allows you to start on life-changing medication without any questioning, that the trans / cis binary makes no sense, and that the de-transition population is growing exponentially to the point where the trans activists will soon no longer be able to ignore them.

More links on violent crime against women by trans women:

A woman who was married for many years to a man who eventually transitioned in his 40s after getting into “tranny porn” tells her story in a talk to a Dutch audience (she is American but is not allowed to tell her story in the US).

4th Wave Now about the tragedy of trans-ing young children