Guest post: A demand to believe the impossible

Originally two comments by Seth on Fair and includey.

If you believe that he really does have gender dysphoria

See, this was the first step on the road to getting where we are now, this notion that someone having “gender dysphoria” makes them “really trans”, as opposed to a faker. But in its own terms, “gender dysphoria” is a mental illness, a delusion, either very starkly akin to or actually the same as the body dysmorphia which afflicts anorexics or compulsive exercisers.

The proper treatment for the latter two expressions of body dysmorphia, you’ll note, is not to completely reform society to give the stick-thin girl the “validation” that she is “in the wrong (obese) body” and is a hero for making radical changes to show the “real authentic” waif she is “on the inside”, nor the muscle-bound boy the “validation” that he is “in the wrong (shrimpy) body” and is a hero for making radical changes to show the “real authentic” hulk he is “on the inside”.

It is highly unlikely that the proper treatment for the former is to reform society to the extent being done now in order to indulge their delusions. Of course, someone being delusional is not in itself a moral failing, and it *is* worth treatment, with compassion and respect and empathy. But compassion and respect and empathy are sorely lacking by the TRAs and their “allies”, even (or perhaps most especially) for and toward the very dysmorphic people whose mental illnesses were exploited to catapult us into where we are in the first place.

So, even if one does believe that Hubbard has gender dysphoria (or body dysmorphia expressed through secondary sex characteristics), the appropriate response is almost certainly not to humour him in his delusions for the rest of his life. And it’s certainly not to turn people who refuse to humour him into thought-criminals and pariahs simply because they cannot pretend to believe in the impossible.


gave away the ballgame when we collectively allowed TRAs to recategorise gender dysphoria as indicative of something like a physical birth defect rather than a mental illness. That seems to me to have been the first step over the line, imperceptible as it was for most of us at the time, which has led us to this cultural moment. And most of us were more than willing to nod along with this at the time, in the hope of being good and supportive and decent people if for no other reason.

This is, I believe, the “root” of the trans issue, the floodgate-opener that precipitated the deluge which has swept away the skepticism and thoughtfulness of so many self-professed free-thought-loving skeptics. This is the “radix” which the original trans-exclusionary radical feminists excluded from their feminism, and which set them up as the assailable Other for all right-thinking progressives circa 2014 or so. It is a demand to believe the impossible, a leap of faith, a mental hurdle so high that every subsequent demand is all the easier for having already surmounted it. In hindsight, we should have listened more to the radical feminists, and less to the faith-based activists.

7 Responses to “Guest post: A demand to believe the impossible”