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View Diary: When homosexuality was mental illness (134 comments)

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  •  I'm not wild about medicalization (1+ / 0-)
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    Transactivist

    of anything having to do with sexuality. Sure, having homosexuality classed as a mental illness brought an end (mostly) to the days of queers being burned or buried alive (or having red-hot pokers shoved up our asses), or sent to rot our lives away in prisons. But it also opened us up to shock therapy, hormone therapy, castration "therapy," and being sent to rot our lives away in mental institutions--little better than prisons, really--and with the added stigma of mental illness that is the subject of your diary.

    But at least as this society and this culture are presently instantiated, some kind of acknowledgment that there is a medical issue involved in situations where the externals don't match the internal gender identity is about the only way I see for it to be possible for anything close to a majority of that 0.2% to be able to do much (if anything) about that dysfunction. Otherwise, SRS is almost certainly going to be classed as elective surgery à la face lifts and breast augmentations--meaning only the very wealthy or the well-connected will have access.

    Now, in a society like those of those Native tribes that recognized the two-spirit people and valued them for what they were (I've read Walter Williams's classic book on the subject, though it's been a decade at least since the last time), that wouldn't be so troubling an outcome. But our society doesn't look anything like those that Williams described--in so many respects. Ultimately, I think the better solution is to change the culture. But that's a process that occurs on a time scale that makes glaciers (well, before global warming, anyway) look like sprinters. I have trouble finding it in me to say to all those who would have to live with that decision--and on that time scale--"Hey, sorry about that, but you're going to have to deal with it while we try, gradually and very, very incrementally, to bring society around to a place where, in ten or a dozen generations, it won't hurt so much." Sure, as a gay man, I can stand in solidarity with the Ts in the LGBT Brigade, and I can do so from a place where I have at least some level of similar experiences of discrimination, closets, and the like. But I'm not the one that has to live in a body that doesn't fit who I am--so, really, who the hell am I to make that call on your behalf and on all those in similar situations who will have to live out their lives with all of the bad consequences that I only ever really hear about? We've got ourselves the makings of a thoroughgoing case study for an ethics course--but, much as I like philosophical debates, I also have to worry about the flesh-and-blood people that represent the reality behind those airy concepts and highfalutin' words that we toss around in having such debates.

    I guess on this one, I've got to come down on the side of the people. You guys and gals need to tell us what you want and how you think it should work. And then all of us need to get to work on making it that way--and taking care of each other along the way.

    I hate to orate at you and run, but it's late in my time zone, and I've got to get up and go to work later today. I'm happy to pick up the discussion later in my day, though.

    •  I don't think the process of cultural change (2+ / 0-)
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      Transactivist, musing85

      is necessarily glacial. Rapid cultural change can occur when there are highly disruptive drivers of change at work -- and we have more of those now than at any other time in history... technological change, climate change, information exchange across cultural boundaries etc.

      Look at the Egyptian revolution. It would not have happened but for these drivers of rapid change.

      No, we are not living in the paleolithic nor the middle ages, when change required generations of people to live and die. We live in a time in which it is normal for each generation to have a very different attitude about what is "normal".

      I am not worried that humans cannot change their culture. I am worried that that there are powerful forces working right now to change the culture in very repressive ways.

      •  Can occur, but won't necessarily do so (0+ / 0-)

        I don't think the Egyptian revolution is a good example. At least for right now, it's looking more like a political upheaval than a truly cultural one.

        I am not worried that humans cannot change their culture. I am worried that that there are powerful forces working right now to change the culture in very repressive ways.

        This, we are in total agreement on. And it saddens me that at least some of those powerful forces are trying to pass themselves off as our friends and allies.

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