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We Happy Trans
July 24, 2012 11:11 AM   Subscribe

We Happy Trans is a place to share positive trans experiences. The site features a project called 7 Questions, where trans folk discuss their lives. Notable contributors include site owners Jen and Noah, as well as "glittery hot pink polyamorous unicorn" Ira, Moose, who just started testosterone treatment, and Stephen, whose charm proves that not all celebrities' kids are screw ups. posted by roger ackroyd (35 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite

 
Stephen seems like an awesome guy. I've not had a chance to watch the other videos, but I saw his and Happy Trans is right. He certainly has the gift of gab.
posted by inturnaround at 11:21 AM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like to think I have my personal hang-ups and insecurities mostly in check, but I'm pretty sure I'm not cool enough to read Stephen Ira's blog (the awesomely named Super-Mattachine)

I guess I'm kidding about that. I guess. For the most part, these are further examples of kids today making me feel pretty good about kids today.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 12:12 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's little doubt that happy trans folk exist -- they're pretty out about it, when compared with the baseline "out and happy" rate in the general non-hetero/cisnormative population. What worries me, though, is that we don't get to see the post-treatment trans folk that regret it -- or, in fact, the effectiveness of treatments in a Turing-type test. For values of treatment = {hormones, operation}

These are the numbers I need to form an opinion about whether to encourage or dissuade a friend that comes telling me he's trans in his mind already and considering treatment:
  1. The mean treatment duration, conditional to whatever can be observed and predicted beforehand (hormone levels, psych test scores, etc.). I realize the treatment may bring temporary unhappiness as you're neither-here-nor-there.
  2. During-treatment quality-of-life assessments as contrasted with quality-of-life assessments of pre-treatment self-identified trans folk.
  3. Global post-treatment quality-of-life assessments, including psychological, assorted health risks, increased hazard rate for being a violence, etc.
If we define thresholds for "happy enough", soon we'll have population estimates of the number needed to treat. If the NNT conditional to his observables exceeds 10 or, pushing it, 15, I'll campaign for disuasion.
posted by syntaxfree at 12:18 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


they're pretty out about it, when compared with the baseline "out and happy" rate in the general non-hetero/cisnormative population

This is almost certainly not true.
posted by muddgirl at 12:23 PM on July 24, 2012


Wait, now I just confused myself. What does "non-hetero/cisnormative population" actually mean?
posted by muddgirl at 12:24 PM on July 24, 2012


(Also, I would recommend that maybe your friend turn to professionals for helping with guidance on the transition process, including options with regards to reversibility, rather than their non-expert friends).
posted by muddgirl at 12:26 PM on July 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


These are the numbers I need to form an opinion about whether to encourage or dissuade a friend that comes telling me he's trans in his mind already and considering treatment:

Spend some time with Google Scholar. Those numbers are out there. I don't have the time or energy to write this out for the 9,000th time on Metafilter right now.

Might I also politely suggest that you should butt out of your friends' medical care?
posted by hoyland at 12:33 PM on July 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


syntaxfree, you're missing a pretty significant item on your list: how crappy your friend is feeling now, and how well they could handle trying to deal with gender dysphoria for the rest of their life. I'd encourage you simply to support your friend and refrain from trying to convince them to follow a particular path that you calculate to be optimal.
posted by Corinth at 12:33 PM on July 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


I was going to say skip Google Scholar and read the standards of care. But, honestly, save yourself the energy (the SOC is pretty long) and don't judge your friends.
posted by hoyland at 12:34 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Wait, now I just confused myself. What does "non-hetero/cisnormative population" actually mean?

I think the meaning is that trans people are mouthy, even compared to other queers/freaks. So, like, double-ignore their self reporting.
posted by fleacircus at 12:36 PM on July 24, 2012


I would second hoyland's Google Scholar recommendation (aka there is tons of research on this, so maybe you might like to read some of it),

except I would recommend Psychinfo or Pubmed/Medline, because Google Scholar is hella-frustrating when trying to do any kind of systematic literature search.

What does "non-hetero/cisnormative population" actually mean?

I read that as not-heterosexual (aka gay/lesbian/bi), but still cis-gendered (identifying as the gender closest to your biological sex).
posted by jb at 12:39 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's getting so confusing now, maybe we should just get rid of gender and identify only when necessary based on the actual parts we have to doctors so they can correctly help us take care of our health (such as needing to know if you have ovaries to check for ovarian problems or visa versa with a prostate or testicles).

We could do like some cultures do and introduce/greet people as "my friend."

Instead of, "Hello ma'am", it could be, 'Hello, my friend!"
posted by Malice at 12:43 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sorry, I initially read it as "trans people are more out than hetero/cisgender", which was way off. Then I read it as "Trans people are more out than non-hetero/non-cisgender" which was just confusing. I guess there is some argument that people who are transgender are more outspoken in popular culture than people who are gay, but I think that's an argument one would lose.
posted by muddgirl at 12:49 PM on July 24, 2012


It's getting so confusing now, maybe we should just get rid of gender and identify only when necessary based on the actual parts we have to doctors so they can correctly help us take care of our health (such as needing to know if you have ovaries to check for ovarian problems or visa versa with a prostate or testicles).

We could do like some cultures do and introduce/greet people as "my friend."

Instead of, "Hello ma'am", it could be, 'Hello, my friend!"


Are you seriously suggesting that, or are you being satirical/facetious? I ask because it sounds like a perfectly reasonable proposal to me, and I'm all in favor of it, but I can also imagine how someone would say that out of a misguided attempt at parody. It's a weird sort of reverse Poe's Law situation.
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:56 PM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Are you seriously suggesting that, or are you being satirical/facetious? I ask because it sounds like a perfectly reasonable proposal to me, and I'm all in favor of it, but I can also imagine how someone would say that out of a misguided attempt at parody. It's a weird sort of reverse Poe's Law situation.

No, I'm serious. My husband made a comment a while back how he enjoyed how some cultures would use "my brother" or "my sister" to speak of people, even strangers. I just went a step further and thought "my friend" would be nice.
posted by Malice at 1:01 PM on July 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Well, we used to have Comrade but then McCarthy ruined it.
posted by muddgirl at 1:04 PM on July 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


We could do like some cultures do and introduce/greet people as "my friend."


"And I says, friend, I don't have a ticket, I don't even know where it is that I'm a-going!"
posted by Melismata at 1:10 PM on July 24, 2012


"I think the meaning is that trans people are mouthy, even compared to other queers/freaks."

The body alchemy that goes on during medical transition can be nothing short of miraculous for a trans person. When I was a kid, I prayed every night I'd just, *poof*, turn into a boy... and by God, that magic is motherfucking real, albeit imperfect. You can't help sometimes but want to shout from the rooftops.

Speaking for myself (though I've seen this sentiment shared by many others) -- What's interesting about the trans community, is, unlike other queer spaces, it tends to feel more like a support group than a lifetime club. The comraderie I've shared with fellow trans folk has been one of "I'm a survivor"; after a time, as our lives settle down and we've realigned our default emotional state from "crushing despair" to "hey, everything is ok", we drift apart and become less visible, even to each other. Many of us go "stealth", and while we don't regret our previous active participation in the community, it no longer fulfills the needs we tend to have in a tumultous period of "firsts" (first time dressed in public, first time passing, first shot/pill, first documented name change, etc.) I will be interested in the longevitiy of this site, having seen so many similar lose steam as their contributors "outgrew" it, for lack of a better term.

On another topic, I think the visibility of happy trans people is not only important on its own merits, but also helps combat the misconceptions that transition, especially hormone therapy, turns us into people that we're not. (Well, aside from helping to turn most of us from depressed to happy people; That's always a good thing.) When I started testosterone, I had more than one friend concerned the hormone would make me into an angry person, etc. Videos of positive, funny, happy trans guys went a long way to assuage their fears.
posted by Wossname at 2:08 PM on July 24, 2012 [15 favorites]


I read that as not-heterosexual (aka gay/lesbian/bi), but still cis-gendered (identifying as the gender closest to your biological sex).
I'm kinda surprised that was ambiguous. I'm not saying it reflects badly on your reading skills, but rather on my writing. I was lazy, I tried to stick a "normative" to reflect an awareness that hetero+cis is seen as the formula for "normal" but this need not be the case.

I meant not[heterosexual or cisgendered] = non-heterosexual OR non-cisgendered. Basically, everyone who isn't "normal" in the sense above.

While we're on this matter, I'm not blocking out the Kinsey scale and a possible extension to cis/trans. Deleuze says the majority is no-one -- it's a concept, but it's not populated. There isn't really a Powerful White Hetero Man, there's a concept of "majority" putting this idea forward and saying everyone that doesn't fit this is a minority. (Which is why "homosexuality" is a historical concept; there was always sodomy, but you could engage in sodomy and not have this pink triangle on your neck. Homosexuality exist as an opposition to non-populated ideas of "majority" and "normality") You can strive to be the majority, you can bleach your skin and rip out your hair like so many early Hollywood bombshells, or you can explore your becoming-minority and do what Blur encourages in "Boys and girls".

I just want my friend to be sure of what the frell he's doing before he goes through irreversible changes.


I'm also very judgmental of tattoos; I'm pro full-on schemes for "closing up" your arms and such with intricate multiplicities of designs reflecting countless choices, and I like it when someone is so sure of something they can use it as their one tattoo, even it's a big phrase. But the scattershot arrangement of discrete designs of varying style and meaning reads like a museum of a person's mistakes.

If I was absolutely sure about Deleuze, I might get "rhizome" on my left upper wrist, right where a watch would be. But I was wrong about Kant, and I might just have to study Badiou enough to know for sure his criticism of G.D. is sound.

posted by syntaxfree at 3:19 PM on July 24, 2012


I just want my friend to be sure of what the frell he's doing before he goes through irreversible changes.

And this is why I recommend your friend talk to a therapist who specializes in transgender issues. Because "transitioning," as implied by the name, is not generally a go/no-go decision. Rightly or wrongly, very few surgeons will perform an irreversible surgery without intensive counselling before-hand.
posted by muddgirl at 3:23 PM on July 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


TL;DR: It's about 100x easier to get a tattoo than to 'transition,' even if one does not elect to get any surgery, which is an option.
posted by muddgirl at 3:24 PM on July 24, 2012


syntaxfree, you're missing a pretty significant item on your list: how crappy your friend is feeling now, and how well they could handle trying to deal with gender dysphoria for the rest of their life. I'd encourage you simply to support your friend and refrain from trying to convince them to follow a particular path that you calculate to be optimal.
I'm thinking of the prior information here. It's simple as that; it sucks not to have a car, but you might still advise someone against getting a Pinto. (Bonus joke: "pinto" in portuguese means "newborn chicken", but it's the equivalent of "dick" for male genitalia)

If most people don't feel better after treatment, it'd be ill-advised to recommend him one. Did you read the link about NNTs? A NNT of 10 means you have to talk to 10 people before you know that it's more likely that their happiness improvement is due to treatment and not, say, having their gender dysphoria accepted by society and experiencing the personal growth that comes with having to decide pro/con severe body modification.

Think by analogy of an antidepressant. A NNT of, say, 19 (that would be Effexor) means you have to evaluate 19 people to know that their improvement was due to the drug and not just the whole process of having your depression validated as a legitimate issue, educating yourself, interacting with doctors and so on.

Effexor is just a pill, but I would try and dissuade my unhappy friend of doing something that's irreversible when it's the process of acceptance and societal integration that makes him feel better. If such is the case -- if we have a large NNT -- then the solution is not to go chopping dicks as a cure for gender dysphoria, but to push for societal changes (and antidepressant treatment, likely) so pre-treatment trans folk can feel as happy as current pos-treatment trans folk. And then get data again to see what's the evidence for treatments in this new scenario, if there are cluster groups that can get even better with sex change (for example), others that will improve with hormones, etc. I'm not saying this is the case, I'm saying you need to look down before you jump. I need this data to encourage my friend, because first-do-no-harm

The identity politics pomos may say I'm adhering to the medical model for an issue that's about societal acceptance of something that's de jure. Well, I was talking about a friend, not about public policy. My day job is all about discussing and researching and writing position papers about public policy. That's not something I do on my free time easily. But if you want to stick that to me, guilty as charged. Yes, couchgrass is also rhizome.
posted by syntaxfree at 3:43 PM on July 24, 2012


Finally, it might be necessary to mention there is no trans friend, and I was thinking (conceptually) of a friend that's continually getting a second or third opinion with me despite being with a psychiatrist, a CBT-based therapy and a psychoanalyst. Everyone who starts on a psych meds comes to me for advice since I'm so adamantly in favor of drug therapy. Lithium saves lives.

When a psychiatrist comes across someone who can actually understand the statistics in the studies (most can't) and has enough insight to cooperate on treatment, you get used to making your epistemic needs open. "How do I know this is true? What questions I can ask you that will reassure me?". I was prattling on my epistemic needs in the hypothetical case of a friend asking me what I think of him getting irreversible treatment. Because the original link begged the question -- it's a naïve approach, to just say "look at all these happy post-long-term hormones (or post-op) trans folk". That's the equivalent of the Abilify ad with the pretty lady in a yoga position.
posted by syntaxfree at 3:59 PM on July 24, 2012


syntaxfree, your car analogy doesn't make sense and is borderline insulting. I don't feel any need to get into this with you over an imaginary friend that you've conjured up to be contrary. The calculus for individuals isn't as simple as your (also imaginary) numbers make it appear to you, and denying anyone a shot at true happiness because the odds are long (though not so long as you imagine, I assure you) is unconscionable.

Furthermore, you have an incorrect idea of what it means to be trans. Transition isn't done for "acceptance and societal integration," "antidepressant treatment" has little to nothing to do with dealing with gender dysphoria (nor does intense psychotherapy - trans people are not mentally ill), and the data is already in. Transition is the way to solve this problem.

I encourage you to use some of the resources mentioned above to do more reading on this subject before wading in with your current preconceptions, and especially before attempting to offer advice to any non-imaginary persons.
posted by Corinth at 4:20 PM on July 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


it's a naïve approach, to just say "look at all these happy post-long-term hormones (or post-op) trans folk"

Okay, I think this a weird preoccupation, but tabling it, the site isn't trying to convince people to pursue medical treatment like some sort of weird Trans Agenda. It's an anti-memorial in a culture and society that are deeply violent for transpeople and that are filled with tragic stories of transpeople who are attacked, maimed, killed.
posted by liketitanic at 4:23 PM on July 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm also very judgmental of tattoos; I'm pro full-on schemes for "closing up" your arms and such with intricate multiplicities of designs reflecting countless choices, and I like it when someone is so sure of something they can use it as their one tattoo, even it's a big phrase. But the scattershot arrangement of discrete designs of varying style and meaning reads like a museum of a person's mistakes.

Tattoos saved my life. They have saved other people's lives. Your kneejerk offensive bias about other people's choices, stories, and lives mean that I would never, ever, ever ask you for medical advice. Hopefully you warn your friends as well as you've warned me.

signed, A Museum of My Mistakes.
posted by liketitanic at 4:25 PM on July 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


Thanks for posting this uplifting link, roger ackroyd. Sorry the comments seem to have been stopped short by a derail.

As a happy trans person, I do want to say that when a friend comes out to me as something--gay, trans, interested in converting to Judaism, whatever--I thank them for feeling close enough to me to want to share that information, and congratulate them on having reached this point in their self-understanding. Then I ask if there's anything I can do to help them on their journey.

What I do not do is to tell them that I've seen data that LGB youth are more depressed than straight youth so I can't support them at this time, or that I won't support their conversion because of medical risks attendant in circumcision, or that someone has to show me more rigorous studies proving that "chopping dicks" makes people happy before I'll get behind them. (I really do object to that phrase, and I must point out that (a) many of us happy trans people are happy with no surgical alterations, and (b) the whole "mutilation" line is a classic transphobic trope.)

In any case, the very title of that Tumblr makes me smile.
posted by DrMew at 4:31 PM on July 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


Ignoring the nonsense upthread, I love We Happy Trans. It fills in the holes that the It Gets Better project had for trans people, which was that while for LGB people It Getting Better was often a matter of getting out of toxic situations and having everyone around you become an adult, the process for trans people involves a lot of hard work and can actually make things worse for you in the short term. People at all points of transition talking about this stuff helps to make it clear for trans kids that yes, even though you've got to make yourself highly visible while you change, and even though you're probably going to have to rag on your friends for ages about pronouns, and even though you're going to have to deal with whatever regressive bullshit your local authorities force on you to change your name and legal sex, it's fucking worth it, so keep on keeping on!

To the extent that I get involved with trans community stuff online these days I throw out education and encouragement and try to give and be an example of what happens after transition. Your life can get pretty boring if you want it to!
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:40 PM on July 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


My roommate has spent the nearly two years since I came out as trans trying to educate me and make me aware of the risks and give me all kinds of unsolicited medical advice and basically, well-meaningly, acting like syntaxfree is talking about upthread, and as a grown adult human being who can make my own decisions (and I did my own research and am better-informed about trans medical issues than her; that sort of information gets linked around in online trans* communities more than it's common knowledge in the genpop) I really don't appreciate unsolicited medical advice even from one of my closest friends, so, like, maybe syntaxfree might want to consider that, too, in case they ever get a non-imaginary trans friend
posted by titus n. owl at 5:00 PM on July 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


(I regret the mutilation/chopping dicks trope; I was using flippant language to describe statistical methodology for fun, but it was a bad idea that should have disappeared in revision before submission. Going over the top in the attempt to enrich the conversation with contrarian thinking is a common mistake, but it's no less of a mistake than that.

I don't regret the car analogy -- or anything else, for that matter. (People should know better than taking the tattoo stuff seriously, it was a kind of self-parody, in small font) I know this is a sensitive issue to your politics, but you should be open to people trying to expose differing analytic points of view -- not "this is my gut feeling" but "there is this whole framework and the way it seems to be applicable here is this".)
posted by syntaxfree at 5:05 PM on July 24, 2012


[syntaxfree please do not make this all about you and just discuss this topic in good faith. Others, please do likewise, thank you.]
posted by jessamyn at 5:07 PM on July 24, 2012 [8 favorites]


syntaxfree: "Lithium saves lives"

As someone who was misdiagnosed as bipolar and spent a completely miserable mudminded time on said medication, I will agree to disagree.



Circle takes the square for the win!


posted by Samizdata at 5:42 PM on July 24, 2012


[syntaxfree please take a walk from this thread, this is not the place to have the discussion you seem to want to have. Talk to us on the contact form if you have questions, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn at 9:50 PM on July 24, 2012 [1 favorite]




What a fantastic site! It passed me by earlier. Thanks for posting it, roger ackroyd.
posted by Kattullus at 7:27 PM on August 10, 2012


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