Here’s the poster I presented at this year’s WPATH Symposium:
You can also download a PDF version here.
The magnet is a metaphor for anticipation, which is both a product of and shapes feelings, emotions and experiences of time. This process is mediated by both trans community discourses and medical systems.
It’s very important to note that the majority of research participants had good things to say about the health professionals who helped with their transition. However, there is also a high prevelance of transphobia and cisgenderism within medical systems and clinical pathways. Anxiety and mistrust of practitioners within the trans patient population is endemic, and this is compounded by long waiting times.
My wider research looks critically at how discourses of trans health are differently understood within and between community/support spaces, activist groups and the professional sphere; however, the purpose of this particular poster was communicate some of the difficult experiences that current patients have with waiting. It sparked some productive conversations and I hope that further work will follow from this.
Transitional Demands (Jess Bradley and Francis Myerscough)
Experiences of people from , and working with, transgender communities within the NHS – summary of findings, 2013/14 (NHS England)
Current Waiting Times & Patient Population for Gender Identity Services in the UK (UK Trans Info)
Regular readers (hi!) will have noticed that I’ve not been posting on this blog much at all over the past year or so. Between part-time jobs and my PhD thesis, I’ve been pretty busy – however, I’m nearing the end of thesis writing, so hopefully that might change in the near future. We’ll see!
One thing I’m hoping to do after I hand in the thesis is to talk about my findings in the public domain as much as possible. So, here’s an initial step towards that – a video from the re:publica TEN conference on Internet and society, where I was invited to talk about trans health.
The talk was aimed at a very general audience, many of whom weren’t familiar with trans issues, so there’s an extensive introduction to some of the basics as well as a discussion of one small area of findings and some related studies.
This morning it came to my attention that notorious child psychologist Kenneth Zucker has co-written a chapter on trans issues for the new (6th) edition of Rutter’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The chapter, entitled “Gender dysphoria and paraphilic sexual disorders” effectively draws upon flawed and outdated research to promote reparative therapy for trans children. You can read most of it via Google Books here.
Abusing children – for science!
This is a big deal because Zucker draws upon harmful theories (including Ray Blanchard’s deeply reductive typology of transsexualism) to promote the idea that issues faced by gender variant children are due to a problem with the child, rather than societal gender norms. He therefore promotes a form of treatment that (to quote his new article) encourages parents to “set limits with regard to cross-gender behaviour, and encourage same-sex peer relations and gender-typical activities” in an attempt to cure them of difference. This is the kind of treatment that leads children to internalise the idea that non-normative gendered expression is shameful or wrong.
Rutter’s Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, meanwhile, is a widely-used textbook and can be found in university libraries and on reading lists in many countries.
I’m not sure what the best way is to stop this article from influencing practice. However, some ideas could include:
- Write to professional organisations and ask them to explicitly oppose reparative therapy for trans youth
- Write to University libraries and courses, asking them to consider sticking with the 5th edition of Rutter’s
- Write to University departments and ask them to teach critical texts alongside the 6th edition of Rutter’s, and/or avoid putting the new edition on reading lists
- Borrow the book from a local library if it becomes available, and write critical comments in the margins
- Write to the book’s editors and/or publisher and question why Zucker has been given a platform for his outdated ideas
- Comment on this post and/or join this new Facebook page to discuss possible ways forward.
The new edition isn’t yet widely available in libraries, so now is a good time to act.
If you’re writing letters or raising awareness of this as an issue, here is some useful information on opposing the article:
- Zucker’s approach to treatment can seriously harm children
- Zucker’s Gender Identity Service at the Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health was recently suspended pending investigation in the wake of a large number of complaints – his approach to treatment is now also arguably illegal in the province of Ontario
- Zucker’s new article represents poor academic practice. He cites himself 17 times, relies upon papers at least 20 years out-of-date to make many of his arguments, and also draws strong inferences from statistically insignificant quantitative findings
- Zucker’s considerable academic position is based in part upon a small “invisible college” of academics who regularly peer-review and cite one another, thereby gaining many publications with a high profile whilst avoiding external criticism
- There is a considerable evidence-based case to be made against Blanchard’s work. See for instance “The Case Against Autogynephilia“, a peer reviewed article by Julia Serano.
Thanks and respect to Peter Le C for raising awareness of this issue, and to oatc for suggested edits.