Guest post: That body is not a shell or a husk

Originally a comment by Your Name’s not Bruce? on Seen using a loud hailer.

To be fair, events like the one “Dr.” Ikharia* was protesting do indeed represent a threat; a threat to her credibility and livelihood. Not that anyone claiming to be “trans, nonbinary” should have much credibility left to defend, let alone a “doctor.” But she is right to see this conference as a direct rebuke of what she’s doing. If the tide is indeed turning, then “gender affirming” clinicians are at risk of being left high and dry, without the institutional support to which they have grown accustomed.

Dr Ronx, 40, presents alongside twin doctors Chris and Xand van Tulleken on the popular children’s health show Operation Ouch!

Last night, Stephanie Davies-Arai, of campaign group Transgender Trend, said: ‘A CBBC presenter should not be involved in protests against evidence-based medical care for children. That Dr Ronx led a protest that prevented attendees from accessing the conference is a serious public order infraction.’

Back up a moment; what’s a “trans, non-binary ‘doctor’” doing on a show dealing with children’s health care in the first place? She has invested herself in a delusional ideology that causes harm to children. There are thousands of doctors you could have chosen instead; why is she being given this platform at all? Would they put an anti-vaxxer on the air as a host? How about a homeopath? Would they allow an anorexic person who is not undergoing treatment to present to children? What about a cutter? If you’ve got a show aimed at children designed to get them interested in health and medicine, it would behoove you to make sure that your on-air personalities are not going to undermine your putative core mission of children’s health.

But then again, being the BBC, it’s possible the rot is deeper than one presenter. If the execitives in charge of the show believe in the efficacy of and need for “gender affirming care,” then there’s clearly more than one person needing to be sacked.


Imagine a world where, very recently, influential lobbyists have made back room deals wherein arson was made legal. It wasn’t called “arson” of course. It was called “pyro-renewal,” “incendiary remodeling,” or amongst the trendy, a “hot makeover.” Surprisingly, many fire departments and fire-fighters jumped on this burning bandwagon, offering their services to torch people’s homes. Soon there was lots of media coverage about “hot makeovers” and how they were revoltionizing urban life. Movies and television series had storylines devoted to it; advertisers used burning buildings in more and more of their pitches, with happy, cheering crowds gathered around the blazes, dancing in the firelight.

Not everyone saw the benefits of this move, and some even protested against it, but those who had brokered the arrangement, and those who benefitted from it, were able to paint these critics as unenlightened fossils who lived in the past, who were holding back development, and were doomed to be on the wrong side of history. Many who doubted the wisdom of these new developments, who had always thought that this strange mixture of fire and architecture was not a good idea, were nonetheless cowed into silence. Those who never wavered in their vocal opposition found themselves threatened, bullied, and dismissed from their jobs.

Reports would crop up now and then that threatened the happy, burning narrative; people whose homes had been burned down by mistake; others who had been pressured into it, still more who now regretted the decision to burn it all down. Some who had been silenced by fear found their voices again, and joined with those who, though silenced and sidetracked, had never remained silent. More began to question what they’d been told, having never thought about the issue before they themselves were affected by it. Studies were undertaken, inquiries launched. Pointed questions were asked about the fire service’s involvement in burning buildings down when, traditionally, their role had been to promote fire prevention, and to put fires out, rather than start them for money.

The above is a fantasy, and a far-fetched one at that. But not as outlandish as it would seem on first reading. How many people twenty years ago would have predicted that we would have descended into a Swiftian and Kafkaesue nightmare, where the mutilation and sterilization of children “for their own good” was promoted and celebrated? Our society might not be eating its children, but it’s doing what amounts to the next best thing.

Dr Ronx said: ‘To see people who are ‘professionals’ tut, frown and take pictures of us as if we are the enemy whilst accessing the conference was not nice. The intellectualisation of trans bodies frames our existence as debatable.’

In the fable above, Ikharia would be an arsonist defending the value and honour of her profession at a time when both were being questioned. It’s natural that she should feel threatened by the sudden scrutiny of her practice in this world; on the other hand, it is right that she should be put out of business. It’s not about being “nice” to her, it’s about safeguarding. Is it too much to think that that uneasiness and discomfort might be a tint bit of guilt trying to be heard above the amplified bravado of your self-righteousness? As far as children’s health care goes, she is indeed an “enemy.” A pious, deluded enemy, but a danger to children regardless. To ther person tied to the stake, it makes no difference if the Inquisitor truly believes that they are saving their victim’s immortal soul; the fire still burns.

If she can’t see the harm in her patient’s flattened breasts, displaced ribs, and breathing difficulties, then she has no business being a doctor. She herself has already intellectualized away the injury she is causing to the body in front of her in favour of the well-being of the “gender identity” it supposedly houses. It might be mind over matter, but it’s the body that suffers. That body is not a shell or a husk, she is her patient, whole and entire. She is not a project for Ikhaira to try to turn into something she is not, and never can be. She can’t stop her patient from being female any more than she can stop her from being a mammal. But she’s willing to burn that body down in order to “save” the imaginary “identity” she believes is trapped inside. Perhaps being “trans non-binary” herself, she finds it hard not to take the criticism personally. She might feel her own “identity,” ,and not just her practice, is being questioned. But Ikhaira’s critics are not debating her “existence”; they’re just asking her to put down the torch.

*Since Ikharia has put scare quotes around the “professionalism” of the conference attendees, I’ve extended the same courtesy by putting scare quotes around her “doctorhood.” Sauce, goose, gander.

6 Responses to “Guest post: That body is not a shell or a husk”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting