avia: A beautiful artistic phoenix raising their head to the sun. (phoenix of rebirth)
[personal profile] avia
(This is a public post, in case anyone wants to link to it. I thought it needed to be said in a wider space.)

Sorry for another post being grumpy about jarandhel, but I think this is something that needed to be pointed out.

I don't try to look at jarandhel's posts any more, but I do look at the Tumblrs of other therians/otherkin, and sometimes they reblog him. This discussion got my attention, and, particularly this part of it:

Look at the transgendered for a moment - they didn’t come along saying “I believe I have a neurological condition which results in me experiencing gender dysphoria”. They said they felt trapped in the wrong body. Scientific and medical language was applied to their condition later, after proper study of the subject had been made. Not by trans individuals playing armchair psychologists and diagnosing themselves.

You know, I don't know much about how the trans* community started, but I'm pretty sure that they didn't do this because they wanted to play nice and sit around and wait until the Proper Medical Authorities noticed them. They didn't talk about things using the phrase "gender dysphoria" because they didn't have that language available to them. Not because it wasn't "the respectful thing to do".

I'm willing to bet most trans* activists didn't care about being respectful to the mainstream, because, when did it ever respect them? I'm sure those activists would feel sick, if they knew that they were being used as an example now, of how people should just wait politely to be recognized. They knew something was wrong, and they fought to be recognized. Fought.

And if trans* people didn't do some self-diagnosis, then probably they never would have been understood. Does jarandhel really think that the whole acceptance and understanding of trans* people was based on the medical community's work? I'm sure that trans* people actually did most of the work about understanding their selves, and the first time (and probably the 20th time, and the 200th time, and I'm sure it still happens today) that a trans* person went to a doctor or psychologist and explained their feelings, the doctor or psychologist looked at them strangely and said, "I don't know what to do about that". And so they were forced to find their own way, to understand their selves and then go back to the medical communities and say, "Doc. This is how I feel. This is what I need."

And say it again, again, until people listened.

Self-diagnosis is a tool of knowledge and empowerment. Do some people make mistakes in self-diagnosis? Of course, but a lot of doctors make mistakes in diagnosis too. And even if there are some false experiences with self-diagnosis, that's a small price to pay for the ability-- the right-- to educate our selves about our own bodies and our own health and to say, "I am the one who knows best about what is going on in my body." To use doctors and psychiatrists (who often like it when people come in knowing what's wrong with them! It makes their job easier) as assistants to help us get onto a path of wellness (or whatever path we want), not as gods who we are following blindly. To be able to understand our bodies without needing to pay the fees of doctors that many people can't afford. To be able to understand our bodies even before medical science cares about understanding them, which can often take many years after we notice something is wrong.

Look at transgender people for a moment - they didn't come along saying "I believe I have a neurological condition which results in me experiencing gender dysphoria". Because they didn't have those words and that power.

Don't we wish they had? In what world, in what totalitarian nightmare, do we think that it was a good thing that transgender people didn't have the words to describe their bodies and their experiences from the beginning?

And, now, in a world where those words exist, it doesn't seem sensible to start again from scratch.

Imagine a tornado is coming for your house. In days before people understood tornadoes, people might have said, "Huh. That's a big swirly pattern in the sky. I wonder if it means anything." Then, as time goes past, they might think, "It's getting closer. I really hope it isn't dangerous." And finally, while it is destroying their neighborhood, they think, "Okay, when that big swirly pattern happens, it's bad"... but of course, then, it's too late.

But that was before we knew about tornadoes. Now that we know, isn't it better, if we see a tornado, that we can think, "oh, that's probably a tornado, better get my family and run!" Even if we turn out to be wrong? Or, is it better to just stand there and think, "Well, that's a swirly pattern in the sky. I guess it could be something bad, but instead, I'm just going to stand here and wait until the weather service tells me. They know best, after all."

And then watch, as your house gets destroyed?

Date: 2013-04-21 08:46 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
About the history of the trans community: for the most part, trans people have historically spent their time trying to carve out space where they can be themselves despite the constraints of the societies they've found themselves in. This used to be a lot harder than it is today, though it also used to be the case that the trans community was a part of the gay community - the latter through the former under the bus when they saw the chance to be seen as more respectable without those "damn drag queens" around.

Language like "trapped in the wrong body" was popularized for strategic reasons: it was what the medical establishment found the most convincing, and the medical establishment had ended up being the gatekeepers for hormones, surgeries, legal gender reassignment, and so on. Word got around that describing yourself this way to medical professionals would help get results (and, knowing how badly medical professionals react to hearing patients' self-diagnoses, it was a very understandable strategy) even though it reinforces a simplistic trans narrative that has never applied to as many trans people as one is likely to get the impression is the case.

I realize that I'm jumping into an unrelated conversation, but the history of trans people (well, in the US and in the 20th century) has been a subject that's been coming up a lot lately in my circles, and I wanted to share some of what I've learned.

Date: 2013-04-23 05:03 am (UTC)
cereus: Hot Spring in Yellowstone with a Rainbow of Microbes (Extremophiles)
From: [personal profile] cereus
Yeah, some people do feel "Trapped in the wrong body" but a lot of trans people (myself included here) feel like it... isn't reality. It's not that simple. But it seems to have gotten a life of its own (Maybe because it's something Cis people can understand or think they can).

But a lot of times it's something to use to explain to someone who's not getting it. Or to get the treatment you need.

I guess even the "non-medical" terms can be influenced by the "good Dr.'s" >.<

Also, in general - like you were saying - When trans people in history didn't use medical terms, it generally wasn't because they were respecting the "learned medics" it was because that wasn't part of their life and their vocabulary. And in many places, it *still isn't*. Sometimes the medical terms aren't even super accurate to real life experience.

On the other hand, I've found "dysphoria" to be an incredibly useful term to describe certain moments. And I wouldn't want to not have that. And i didn't get the "right" to use it from some doctor.

(although I've found having the words "dysphoria" *and* "dissonance" to be even more useful)

Date: 2013-04-21 09:46 am (UTC)
househesson: (Shaynin - Sims)
From: [personal profile] househesson
Yes yes yes.

Also, allowing doctors to be gatekeepers only works if they are honest. Before brain imaging became a thing, doctors generally believed that prosopagnosia (aka face blindness) was only ever the result of brain injury. People who had never been able to recognize faces went to them and said they'd had this problem since birth and doctors assumed they were lying. It was only when they could study the brain functioning of people who had never had a brain injury that they accepted prosopagnosia could happen naturally.

But we've been to doctors who will look at test results and keep repeating their false assumptions about what must be going on with us. If the whole culture's value is "always trust the doctor" then it becomes easy for them as a group to simply dismiss anything that doesn't match up with their beliefs. Same with any highly technical profession.

And not many have access to the resources necessary to do an independent inquiry, with many of these professions including medicine. How many times have people said that it would be great to have some high-quality neurological or psychological studies about Otherkin? Having been a psych research grunt, I can tell you it's hard to even get a population sample that will yield a proper analysis if one doesn't have both training and a research institution (college, pharmaceutical company, government agency, etc.) to back one up. If the medical profession, or some relevant slice of it, decides simply to ignore a minority that's inconvenient to its established ideas or simply not profitable enough...well, that's back to what you said about waiting quietly and obediently.

Also, it's hard for an individual to not just accept, but admit to everyone that ey is wrong. How much harder is it as part of a group that benefits from the appearance of wisdom and authority? Someone could say, "Oh, it's only those isolated, bad doctors; the medical profession will keep most doctors honest." But an entire institution can go bad if it's not scrutinized enough, and how many people understand the capabilities, limitations, and interpretation of brain imaging technologies?

My system doesn't, but mainly because we've never taken the time...and we feel secure in trusting certain experts, like Neuroskeptic, because we've checked them against our educated criteria for which science writers we will trust. We could get up to speed in maybe a day or less if we blew spoons on doing so, because we're working from the foundation of a good science education. Many struggle to even understand the head start we already have on the subject, and on evaluating whether a study is well-designed and says what the researchers conclude it says.

I have a feeling I'm horribly rambly today, but don't have the brainpower to put it together any better. ^^; Apologies if that detracts at all. (But I had to respond, because SCIENCE, and watching the watchmen, and those things are Nautilene bait really.) French fries and thanks for you, for putting this out there.

Date: 2013-04-21 04:02 pm (UTC)
mfb: (i exist!)
From: [personal profile] mfb
People who act like people who are both transgender and otherkin don't exist -- people who would be able to compare the sensations without 'appropriating' anything -- are one of my 'favorite' things. e_e I don't know anything about this jarandhel fellow, but wow, them.

Date: 2013-04-21 06:05 pm (UTC)
silveradept: A kodama with a trombone. The trombone is playing music, even though it is held in a rest position (Default)
From: [personal profile] silveradept
How weird to assume that legitimacy only comes from medical professionals deciding to evaluate others and apply labels and diagnoses. More often than not, the impetus to do such work comes from patients describing things on a big enough scale to get someone interested. What kind of person insists that you wait for your doctor to say you have an issue?

Date: 2013-04-21 06:41 pm (UTC)
yourdeer: (kikimora)
From: [personal profile] yourdeer
What's really confusing me here is that I have no idea what Jarandhel's actually trying to say, but regardless of what he's trying to say, the delivery is making me think I disagree.
Is he saying that therianthropy can't be psychological? And that we're all stupid and should admit it's a spiritually-caused thing? Because that is kind of what it's coming off as, and on that I will call bullshit.
Also, no one (that I have seen) is claiming they know exactly what brain-thing is causing therianthropy. People have guesses, they have theories they like, but... that's about it. And since we have not been able to organize brain scans and medical studies yet, that is actually the best we can do for the moment. There have been experiences described that definitely sound like they might be related to neuro-atypical things to me, as an average person who has no more than a layman's knowledge of psychology. Still, I can observe; I can process information; I can say "Well, this looks a bit like that, doesn't it?" even if I can't prove it, I can speculate and say, "well, maybe that's what it is." It would be wrong for me to say, "That must be it! There it is for sure!" but guesses and theories aren't hurting people when they are phrased as such.

Anyway, it does seem raaaaaaather stupid to be saying, "You need medical validation," because trans* people still have their experiences before they are necessarily diagnosed with them. Those experiences still existed and such before being medically recognized, so what the hell is the point in saying that it doesn't exist until it's diagnosed? Speaking to the "trapped in the wrong body," thing, that isn't true for all trans* individuals. Hell, not all trans* people hate and are depressed by their assigned-gender-body - they just feel like the other would fit them better or the existing one is not quite right. Problems arise when people who only know the tip of the iceberg regarding trans* issues (for example, when people thing that "trapped in the wrong body" is the extend of it) compare otherkin experiences to trans* experiences on the whole, but then, the best thing would be to correct politely with educating, rather than jumping down people's throats anyway.

I'd conclude that in general, arguing about using the word "dysphoria" is unfair to the subtlety and variety of experiences that both therians/'kin and transpeople feel, and arguing about the cause of feeling nonhuman is one of the most foolish and ignorant arguments to have, exactly because of the subtlety and variety of people's experiences. Until some neuroscientist interested in therians/otherkin comes along and does a study, and then many more studies, no one can say there is one cause for all of us.

Date: 2013-04-21 09:09 pm (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
And this person deserves our salutations.

Jaran tried to make a poll on the Werelist asking how many people had species dysphoria. In an attempt, I have no doubt, to show that it was uncommon.

The current percentage is over 50% once you include headmates.

Oh, and since Jarandhel's shit at science--real science--he missed that body dysphoria covers things like skin tone. Do people who experience body dysphoria over skin tone have the brain of a person with tanner skin? What about weight? Or hair color?

Date: 2013-04-21 11:41 pm (UTC)
sonne_windsoul: (sparkling killer)
From: [personal profile] sonne_windsoul
I read that post Citrakayah linked to and reblogged it with a brief response for its awesomeness. I actually started making a journal entry related to that Jarandhel post a few days ago but haven't finished it due to wrist problems. Goddamn shitty understanding of various scientific things and his misuse of the pseudoscience term while trying to pass himself off as knowing so well about the science and pseudoscience stuff he's talking about. --pet peeve--

Date: 2013-04-22 03:59 pm (UTC)
elinox: (Medieval)
From: [personal profile] elinox
This. Yes.

In point of fact, his "science" reminds me of WolfVanZandt's ramblings which sounded okay, until you dug deeper or had been in the community for more than 2 years. Wonder if they're related?

Date: 2013-04-22 12:01 am (UTC)
yourdeer: (kikimora)
From: [personal profile] yourdeer
Regarding dysphoria without being trans - hell, I've had it. I have never really wanted to have a male body or be socially male; I'm comfortable being somewhere in the realm of female/androgynous, but I have felt enough discomfort about having a female appearance to have kept myself unhealthily thin in the past, in part so my breasts would stay small, and so forth. I believe that would fall under "dysphoria" and yet I am not FTM. Perhaps my brain fires somewhat differently from both men and women, but then (as the person in Citrakayah's link mentioned) what would that make me, medically? And would my ambiguity there invalidate my experience? I think not.

I'm in an online support group for partners of FTMs and I have only heard a few instances of "trapped in the wrong body," though "dysphoria" gets mentioned very often as an experience. Granted, most people in that group are between about 18 and 35, so the experiences of older members of the trans community may not be represented... but that's what I've experienced in a group of about 200.
Agreed that Jarandhel's "science" seems mostly to take into account his experience or selective opinion rather than the broader truths concerning a community, as (again) evidenced by the commenter in the link.

Date: 2013-04-22 02:30 am (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
I thought he was trying to prove that belief in past lives was more common than belief in species dysphoria. Of course, they aren't mutually exclusive, and the number of threads discussing the concept isn't necessarily a sign of how many people believe in it.

Date: 2013-04-22 02:36 am (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
Indeed. And two threads can be posted about species dysphoria compared to past lives if people keep making new threads. Or if one is more controversial than the other.

Another example of Jarandhel being shit at science.

Date: 2013-04-22 03:00 am (UTC)
sonne_windsoul: (sparkling killer)
From: [personal profile] sonne_windsoul
Totally agree. And I never got the real point and value of those stupid statistics Jaran posted multiple times, different ones, because due to all the flaws in them and factors not controlled or accounted for they are essentially meaningless. He's just been waving around pointless statistics, possibly in place of good arguments sometimes and maybe to show off his access to and knowledge of a bunch of otherkin sites, mailing lists, etc., especially older ones, which isn't even important to his argument's point.

Date: 2013-04-23 12:26 am (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
Yes, well, heaven forbid that Jarandhel not mention how he was around at old mailing lists.

The point of the stupid statistics is simple: They look good. Jarandhel doesn't know how to make a real argument or conduct a real debate, he knows how to make propaganda. Marketing. It's actually quite similar to what I've seen in really bad arguments on Debate.Org, and in political campaigns.
Edited Date: 2013-04-23 12:26 am (UTC)

Date: 2013-04-21 11:52 pm (UTC)
yourdeer: (kikimora)
From: [personal profile] yourdeer
Cheetah, you best me to posting that link! I just read that (from Sonne's reblog) and was mentally applauding as well.

Obviously also noticed the Werelist poll as well as Felkes' poll on Facebook, each trying to prove that species dysphoria is uncommon or common enough to be criteria for being a therian, respectively. My reaction to both was, "Oh brother." I don't experience species dysphoria myself, but I do believe that it's a real thing and that it's a term that can be used - it bugs me that people assume from tumblr things that all therians must have it, but then, I guess I am always one of those in-between folks on most things.

See comments on dysphoria outside of the trans context in reply to Avia below.

Date: 2013-04-22 01:51 am (UTC)
yourdeer: (midsummer)
From: [personal profile] yourdeer
So I think really, we shouldn't assume that any person in the therian or otherkin community does or doesn't have dysphoria, and definitely we shouldn't use it as "criteria for being a therian". But I think we definitely need to acknowledge that it exists in some people in the community.

Whether it's a lot of people or not, shouldn't matter.

Yes, exactly this. *nods*

Date: 2013-04-22 03:04 am (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
Wait, Felkes was trying to argue that it's common enough to be a criteria?

Date: 2013-04-22 05:01 pm (UTC)
yourdeer: (kenn monster)
From: [personal profile] yourdeer
(Avia, apologies for commenting here as this somewhat outside the topic of your original entry. If you think this is inappropriate, please let me know and I will PM my answer to Citrakayah instead.)

I don't know about Felkes arguing it, but definitely implying:

"How many people experience body dysphoria and/or significant discomfort relating to being a nonhuman animal (or being for the otherkin here) trapped in a human body?
I ask because for all of the people I've known this is true, and my understanding of it has been that this is pretty much a given for any therian, dare I say even a part of the definition itself."

This was from a facebook group topic that she started and made mention of over on tumblr. I did comment, pointing out (politely but maybe a little coldly) that she might want to sample broader groups of people before coming up with generalizations, and that saying one must experience dysphoria to be a therian is drawing some lines in the sand, there, and alienating non-dysphoric therians. She responded about the sample base and clarified that most answers she was getting were that "therians experience more often dysphoria and discomfort with their human bodies than otherkin, and are more inclined to desire to transition, but a minority of those people are actually willing to seek out medical procedures to do it," but totally ignored my cautioning her on the whole "dysphoria is part of the definition" thing.
*shrug* It bothers me that this is getting heavily polarized. In this case both sides are arguing poorly, waving around their confirmation-bias statistics, and saying "you can't" or "you must." Both are making generalizations that alienate those of us who can see both sides of an issue, or reside in an in-between state, or have a complex opinion.

Date: 2013-04-23 12:29 am (UTC)
citrakayah: (Default)
From: [personal profile] citrakayah
*grimaces* Where Tumblr resides, polarization is sure to follow.

Date: 2013-04-22 12:13 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
If he replies to that reblog I'll eat my own feet.

Date: 2013-04-23 12:48 am (UTC)
epsilon_pegasi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] epsilon_pegasi
So... Is he unaware or just uninterested in the fact that the term "dysphoria" is used in a wide range of communities, not just in terms of gender and species? The eating disorder community uses it a lot, along with the lesser known "body dysmorphia," and so does the body positive movement and even some communities that don't use it to refer to identity so much as a feeling of displacement. The trans* community doesn't "own" the term just because they're the ones doctors assigned the word to first.

I'm not even going to bother engaging him, but I have seen neurologists and psychiatrists who have used those terms when discussing my experience /even before I've used the term myself/ and it's really only a matter of time before more medical professionals start using those terms for us as we become more widely known anyway. There's an official therianthrope research group being formed now, who are already using that vocabulary, is that not "permission enough" for him? Because at this point my only response to his lopsided logic is "tick-tock bitch."

Date: 2013-04-23 01:13 am (UTC)
epsilon_pegasi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] epsilon_pegasi
Yeah, it looks like he's got a case of "grey muzzle syndrome" here, he thinks of his seniority as a virtue that gives him authority and the power to force his "superior" opinions on newcomers, looking with disdain on any progress in the community because it challenges his position as an expert on it.

Date: 2013-04-23 01:02 am (UTC)
epsilon_pegasi: (Default)
From: [personal profile] epsilon_pegasi
It just occurred to me that my own essay on my experience of dysphoria doesn't use any of his search terms, there are no references to "wrong body" or "dysphoria" but just an account of the raw experience of my feelings, so his attempt at statistics falls flat on its face, because just because his narrow search criteria doesn't bring up content doesn't mean it's not there. *headdesk*

Date: 2013-06-16 11:33 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
On the one hand, I agree that waiting for something you're experiencing to be described and validated by modern science isn't how one gets results - science and our understanding of our world (and our brains and bodies) is evolving all the time, but it needs impetus from individuals and communities to determine what areas are explored and in what order.

On the other hand, though, I find it extremely unlikely that you - and the segment of the kin community that shares your views - are ever going to get the result you want, and no amount of pushing for recognition will change that. Regardless of how much right you have to live in a way that meets your psychological needs, unless the medical community's attitude changes in a drastic and, IMO, DANGEROUS way, there will never be any procedure that will make "species reassignment" possible. First of all, our current understanding of the universe indicates that genetic modification on that scale is impossible. Second, even if it were possible, the ethical issues involved in changing someone's species (possibly changing their mental faculties and ability to give informed consent in the process) would prevent it from ever being put into practice.

I'm just saying, there's what would be ideal (a world where everyone can make their body match how they feel inside, without that science being abused and without risk of harm to those making use of it) and then there's reality.


avia: (Default)
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