Guest post: Time to break out the decoder ring

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on Specialists.

In the therapy room, therapist and client draw on these different vocabularies and matrices of meaning, and our task is always to resist speaking one dimensionally; this is the reflexive work of therapy. The decision to recommend physical treatment for young people is then a genuinely shared but imperfect decision, involving the client, family, other professionals in the context of a wider cultural world, in which the meaning of trans is constantly shaped and re-shaped, but which rests on no foundation of truth. The therapist is not burdened with needing to be right or certain, but to offer a reflexive and thoughtful space to help clients explore the architecture and borders of their gendered world view. [Thinking postmodern and practising in the enlightenment: Managing uncertainty in the treatment of children and adolescents, Dr Bernadette Wren]

Time to break out the decoder ring again. Here’s what I get out of this:

We really don’t know what the fuck we’re talking about, but if we notice that we’re in danger of drifting towards concepts of “truth” and “fact”, we’ll move swiftly back to confusing obscurantism that cloaks our ignorance in a smokescreen of esoteric, multisyllabic verbiage. We might be making this shit up as we go along, but at least it will look like we’re doing something.

In the meantime, we’re going to screw around with drugs and “surgery” that might not even help you feel any better about yourself, but we’ll have made you and your family complicit in your own mutilation and permanent medico-psychological dependency. We’re making sure there’s plenty of blame to go ’round, and lots of others who aren’t us to share in it.

There is no end-point or goal in this process beyond the process itself. We don’t know what “transness” is, but we’ll leave no stone unturned in our search for whatever we end up deciding it might be, for the moment. Then it might mean something else, and we’ll chase that fleeting idea too. After all, it’s the journey that counts, and who better to travel with than those of us who’ve helped shape your entire self-image and world view. But if things go south, you’re as much to blame as we are.

And aren’t “reflexive” and “thoughtful” opposites? Are they being hastily deliberative, or are they cogitating immediately? Perhaps she was reaching for “reflective”, but thought it sounded to ordinary and inactive, and so grabbed for the next word in the “matrix of meaning.” One word’s as good as another when you’re making shit up, right?

H/t Night Crow

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