3 weird new myths about transgender people debunked

3 weird new myths about transgender people debunked
I’ve written a lot of article busting myths about transgender people.  This includes myths about transgender youth, surgery, suicide, and transition regrets. In a post-fact era of fake news, an even nuttier than usual crop of anti-transgender myths have sprung up in the past year.  They don’t seem to be linked by much of anything at all, except serving an agenda designed to drive transgender people underground.  For that reason alone, this is perhaps the most dangerous bunch yet.

Myth #1: Gender dysphoria can be cured with pimozide, an antipsychotic drug

This myth can be traced to a single case study from 1996, where a schizophrenic man had symptoms mimicking gender dysphoria. The dysphoria was alleviated by the use of pimozide, an antipsychotic.  From this single case, some web sites and individuals are pushing the narrative that pimozide cures gender dysphoria, and that liberals and the medical establishment are engaging in a conspiracy to hide this.

Expanding a conclusion based on an anecdote to an entire population (the vast majority of whom do not have schizophrenia) is not supportable. Nor is concluding that all transgender people have schizophrenia: the two are separate pathologies.  The psychiatrists who did the case study did not conclude that gender dysphoria can be cured with pimozide; they arrived at the more supportable conclusion that people presenting with gender dysphoria should be screened other co-morbidities.

Additionally, there have been attempts to “cure” transgender (and gay) people with antipsychotics in the past, and they did not work (because they are separate etiologies). To make a comparison, it would be like observing that a person with acute abdominal pain was cured by having his appendix removed, therefore everyone with abdominal pain should have their appendix removed.

The only reason this has any traction is that anti-LGBT media outlets and commentators have promoting the false narrative that transgender people are inherently delusional, and need reparative therapy.  The fact that they believe there is some sort of cover up by a cabal of liberals and doctors puts this in conspiracy theory territory as well.

Note: Zinnia Jones published a long form analysis of this myth on her blog as well.

Myth #2: Abusing transgender people is good for them

A number of conservatives, including Milo Yiannopolous, anti-LGBT think tanks, popular conservative websites, and promoters of religious based reparative therapy, have been telling their audiences that they should abuse, mock, humiliate, and discriminate against transgender people for their own good.  If this sounds both awful and ignorant, it is.

There are plenty of actual peer-reviewed studies which inform us that transgender people do better when they live in places which are more affirming and have legal protections.  Transgender people, both youth and adults, have better mental life outcomes when they have supportive families. Rejection, discrimination, and abuse are among the best predictors for suicide, drug use, homelessness, and other bad outcomes for transgender people. Other longitudinal research suggests that as a society becomes more accepting over time, the rate of these bad outcomes falls within the normal range for the population.

The (flawed) logic being employed by people advocating abuse and discrimination is that if transgender people are treated badly enough, they’ll self-deport to the closet and stop being transgender.  And if they’re not transgender, then they will be better off. This makes as little sense, both logically and morally, as advocating for society to abuse autistic people until they decide to stop being autistic.

Which is to say: absolutely none.

Myth #3: Gender nonconforming people do not herald the end of civilization

If we lived in a rational world, most people would realize this is as hyperbolic as it sounds.  Unfortunately, of all the myths in this article, this one has the strongest backing by religious organizations and conservative media.  The Federalist has argued that transgender people destroy everything in their wake, and will end “the concepts of male and female entirely.” Conservative outlets have also argued transgender people will destroy feminism, the Democratic Party, and “Greek life” on college campuses (seriously).

Leaders at well-funded anti-LGBT legal organizations went as far as claiming transgender people will “destroy marriage, morality, and objective truth.”  Pope Francis denounced transgender people as, “the annihilation of God in man.” Pope Benedict compared the destructive powers of transgender people to nuclear weapons without a hint of intentional hyperbole.

The problem is, they’re pretty fuzzy on the details one how this will happen or why.

Transgender people date back to the earliest parts of recorded human history.  Other cultures have traditions of gender nonconforming people for millennia. For example, the Kama Sutra mentions transgender people.

And yet, human history marched on despite the continued presence of transgender people, and the Earth’s 7.5 billion inhabitants are strong evidence that transgender people did not cause cisgender people to forget how to get married and procreate.

Many of the reasons proffered as to why transgender people will destroy life, the universe, and everything seem to be based on religious beliefs. They worry that accepting transgender people will destroy religion in America (never mind the fact that two-thirds of American transgender people identify as Christian), or that God will smite America in retaliation for accepting transgender people.

The fears often closely mirror those expressed during the debate over same-sex marriage. Many similar organizations also promised a good smiting over Ellen DeGeneres, Lawrence v. Texas, the repeal of DADT, the end of DOMA, and the Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriage.

So far, no smiting; even if 2016 felt like it.

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