Welcome to Gender Analysis

Gender Analysis is a web series launched in 2014 exploring transgender science and life experiences in depth, and revealing the many insights to be found at their intersection. We take a closer look at fields such as sociology, public health, psychiatry, cognitive science, and more, weaving these diverse perspectives into a deeper understanding of gender-related phenomena. Gender Analysis goes beyond the 101s to educate both trans and cis viewers on some of the most fascinating dimensions of our lives – and the pressing issues we face in society.

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New episodes of Gender Analysis are published several times a month and are backed by our generous supporters on Patreon. Want to learn more? Check out our instant index for a quick introduction to the wide range of topics we cover:

Curious about…?

Gender dysphoria Self-discovery
How hormones work Bathroom bills
Finding a doctor Treatments for trans youth
Passing Sexuality
Transness and autism Paul McHugh
Regret and detransition Sex chromosomes
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Medical professionals increasingly agree: Trans women are female, trans men are male

Zinnia Jones

“Trans women are male” is one of the most well-worn attacks leveled against trans women – a straightforward assertion that gender-variant identity itself is not possible, and by extension neither are we. It is delivered with the self-assured smugness that this truth is so obvious as to need no explanation, grounded as it is in the particulars of sexed anatomy, X and Y chromosomes, or some simplified folk notion of “biology”.

 

Words, labels, and concepts

Taken straightforwardly and purely in terms of content, such statements are tautologies that prove nothing. What they do illustrate is that this is not a disagreement about physical facts or the state of the world in reality. This is a dispute over the application of labels like “male” and “female”, and in this case, the recognition of trans people’s genders as valid. For example: If “male” is construed to mean “has a prostate” and “female” is construed to mean “has a uterus”, the statement “Trans women are male” simply communicates the fact “Trans women have prostates” or “Trans women don’t have uteruses”. Those facts are not disputed by anyone, so the statement is simply redundant.
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September 2017 State of the Gender Address

Heather McNamaraBy Heather McNamara

September has been a hell of a month here in the United States and abroad; if you survived it, count yourself lucky. That’s a good start. Most of the news roll I share here will be gender politics related, but it would be impossible to discuss any situation without taking into account the surreal volume of natural disasters to hit North America this month, so I will include those as well. Continue reading

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Depersonalization in transgender autobiographies: Jamison Green, Imogen Binnie, and more

Zinnia Jones

(Depersonalization is a dissociative symptom experienced as sensations of feeling “unreal”, distant from one’s emotions, separated from the real world, and robotically going through the motions of life as if acting out a script. Learn more about depersonalization in part 1.)

 

“Much closer to the surface”: In search of Eve

In the 1988 book In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage, several trans women who were interviewed about their medical transition reported changes in their emotions upon starting hormone therapy (Bolin, 1988). One described estrogen as “a tranquilizer”, but only in the sense of a “quieter” to her nerves, without being sedating.

All cited evidence of the tranquilizing effects of the hormonal therapy. In this regard, Eunice, a preoperative transsexual who had been taking hormones for six years, stated,

“From the beginning I’ve noticed that estrogen acts as a tranquilizer, not to the point of a soporific, but merely a quieter to my nervous system. I do not become agitated as easily as before. Of course I assume part of the effect is psychosomatic. Also, my emotions are much closer to the surface.” (p. 130)

This sense of being closer to one’s emotions was shared by other trans women, who felt their emotions became much more prominent than before and that they had “increased access to feelings”. These women were not disturbed by this, but rather appreciated these new emotional changes. Continue reading

Posted in Awareness building, Depersonalization, Gender dysphoria, Psychology and psychiatry, Transgender medicine | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Depersonalization in transgender autobiographies: Christine Jorgensen

Zinnia Jones

(Depersonalization is a dissociative symptom experienced as sensations of feeling “unreal”, distant from one’s emotions, separated from the real world, and robotically going through the motions of life as if acting out a script. Learn more about depersonalization in part 1.)

 

“I have never been such a real person”: Christine Jorgensen

Christine Jorgensen transitioned in 1951, making tabloid headlines the following year as one of the first trans women to come out about her transition. Her 1967 autobiography features extensive notes on how her feelings changed when starting and stopping hormone therapy, as she discovers greater self-confidence and a feeling of finally being “a real person” (Jorgensen, 1967). Continue reading

Posted in Depersonalization, Gender dysphoria, History, Psychology and psychiatry, Transgender medicine | Tagged | 2 Comments

Themes of depersonalization in transgender autobiographies: Jan Morris

The nature and impact of depersonalization

Zinnia Jones

Depersonalization is a dissociative symptom that encompasses certain feelings and experiences of oneself or the world as “unreal”. While the perception of reality remains intact, it is subjectively felt to take on a distinct character of flatness or lifelessness. The world is experienced as having a “dreamlike” quality, blunted and drained of vividness, and separated from oneself as if by a skin, veil, glass, or fog (symptoms collectively known as derealization). A sense of distance from one’s emotions is a core feature of depersonalization: sufferers are aware of their feelings, but may not experience them as “real” (emotional numbing – “I know I have feelings but I don’t feel them”). They may describe themselves as emotionally “dead” or feeling like a “zombie”, and perceive themselves as having a lack of agency in their own lives. There is a feeling of existing as a detached observer of one’s own thoughts, emotions, and actions, with a sense of “going through the motions” of life (detachment from self). For some, this is perceived as a kind of disembodiment, such as a feeling of seeing oneself externally in a kind of “out-of-body” experience (anomalous body experience) (American Psychiatric Association, 2013; Steinberg, Cicchetti, Buchanan, Hall, & Rounsaville, 1993; Sierra & David, 2011).

These feelings and sensations are noted to be particularly difficult to describe or convey to others; this fundamental alteration in the “texture” of conscious experience can generally be explained only by metaphors or “as if” statements. Some may not necessarily realize that they are experiencing a distinct and genuine symptom, believing that this is simply the normal feeling of life. For many, they’ve never experienced anything else.

This is not an innocuous condition. Sufferers find depersonalization to be highly distressing, not in spite of their alienation from their emotions, but because of their alienation from their emotions: “the distress is described as arising from the unpleasantness of the depersonalization experience itself” (Medford, 2012). The pervasive sense of disengagement from one’s life can result in what might be expected from perpetually feeling that life has little purpose. Those who experience depersonalization have elevated rates of depression, anxiety, and social and occupational impairment: they may feel that there is no point to career or academic pursuits. They are more likely to be unemployed, more often single, and more likely to live with their parents (Michal et al., 2016). Students with depersonalization show greater rates of academic underachievement and unhealthy avoidant coping strategies (Michal et al., 2015). Most worryingly, sufferers of depersonalization show a highly increased rate of suicidal ideation, active suicidal desire, suicide planning, and previous suicide attempts (Michal et al., 2010; Tosić-Golubović, Žikić, Slavković, Nikolić, & Simonović, 2017).

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Posted in Depersonalization, Gender dysphoria, History, Psychology and psychiatry, Transgender medicine | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments