Celebration of Mutilation

In a Dutch study of 55 transgender people who were given puberty blockers during adolescence, however, none changed their minds and none regretted treatment.

And women who were subjected to FGM tend to insist it was a great thing for them and go on to mutilate their daughters in the same way, so what? People make do with what they’ve got, and it’s easier to celebrate mutilation than to place parents under critical scrutiny.


6 thoughts on “Celebration of Mutilation”

  1. I don’t want to discuss trans folks, as I don’t know enough about the issue and cannot personally relate, but from what I have read, these puberty blockers are not a panacea and they appear to have serious effects on the underdevelopment of some major body systems (e.g., the urinary tract, skeleton, etc.).

    However, I know that many (most?) circumcised men will jump to tell you that they haven’t lost anything by being circumcised and how dare you imply that they have, and they go on to circumcise their sons. I will never NEVER understand wanting to inflict bodily harm on your unsuspecting and perfect infant, I don’t give a $hit what the reason is, because all the supposed “medical” reasons for it are bull$hit and it’s all social. For example, a colleague and his wife had twin boys; before they had the kids, they asked us if we had circumcised our boys, to which I said, “No, of course not, never. The foreskin serves an important purpose and I would never remove healthy body parts.” It came down to the fact that the father (circumcised) believed high-class folks circumcised and low-class people didn’t, so it’s a marker of class in his eyes. What can you say to that other than that this is completely nuts. I sent them a few links on the importance of foreskin, but didn’t push it. We never followed up, but I am betting they circumcised their boys. Poor kids.


  2. So I think there are pitfalls involved in not separating out the differences. Both FGM and circumcision (and surgeries performed on infants with ambiguous genitalia) are performed at the parent’s indication, for the parents. Puberty blockers are done at the urging of the child, for the child. This is a crucial difference. The former is performed on the child (though there are significant sociological and physiological differences between them), while the latter is administered to the child at their behest.

    There’s been a lot of ink spilled about children’s agency and ability to consent. I don’t think there’s a magical universal age at which all children become able to consent, but I also think that 10-12 year olds are human beings with complex emotional lives, and some of them experience very strong and explicit desires around their own gender. Yes, this is specific to subject formation in the late 20th and early 21rst centuries, and is inseparable from the technological and the sociocultural–just like children’s desires to diet or wear specific clothing, and parents and doctors administering biochemistry altering drugs to children.

    On the one hand I know a lot, as both a scholar and a person with several transgender friends and acquaintances, about how gender works in the 19th-21rst century, on the other hand, I am personally very uncomfortable around any body modifications done on anybody. But I also know that in the vast majority of cases, puberty blockers prevent, or at least mitigate, teen depression and suicide. It’s usually enabled by parents who initially resist mightily. Putting children on strict diets and giving them ADHD and anti-anxiety medicine is done by parents who consciously believe they are doing the best for their child, but may be projecting their own desires, and/or be unknowingly manipulated by the diet and drug industries. Yes, there are unknown risks involved in all of these body and biochemical modifications. Yes, I am personally uncomfortable with parents enabling or forcing body and biochemical modifications. But I also see significant differences between parents fighting children over something they feel they desperately need, something difficult to access, and parents imposing their normative standards on children through dieting and administration of different medications. And, yes, I think everyone would benefit from a great psychoanalyst, but that’s a privilege for an ever reduced minority. Drugs is how we get access to mental “health” in most places, and I don’t like it, but I don’t want to judge my fellow humans (well, I kinda do, but I try to resist the urge!), without also acknowledging the ways of the world we live and participate in. There are enormous barriers to accessing psychoanalysis or good psychotherapy, on top of the relative scarcity of good providers.



    1. What if a 10-year-old “strongly urges” to have sex? Alcohol? Cigarettes? Or has an explicit desire to end their education? Or to take out a line of credit?


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