To finish up what I started yesterday, I wanted to continue on the discussion of working with trans youth. I mentioned the binary theory of gender yesterday and, oddly, the same facilitator who was critiquing this mode of thinking found a lot of success with an assessment too utilizing this method. Admittedly, she is looking for another way to do this assessment with a less cut and dry definition but it is hard.
When clients come to her questioning their gender identity she has them work on a graph. Male is at one end and female at the other. They place themselves on the graph in various ways including where they want to be, where they think they are now, and what aspects of themselves they think push them one way or another. Some things she found often were that people who feel their minds do not match their bodies often hate the secondary sex characteristics that develop during adolescence. There are even treatment options that include hormone therapy that delays puberty so that the client will have more time to decide where they want to be on the gender scale. However, this therapy is rather expensive and not often utilized so there have not been many studies that talk about its effectiveness. She also has clients do a line graph where they evaluate their happiness with themselves in other aspects of life including: physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual, and sexual. She always uses 10in lines because they are easily translatable into percentages. Genius. They use two colors to denote where they are and where they want to be. The assessments are redone periodically throughout sessions to help bring people to their personal goals.
Something I found fascinating was the discussion of the development of gender identity. Using typical stages of development it is commonly in the psychological community accepted that gender identity is formed when a child is between three and five. Yet, for a trans youth, they are not allowed to affirm their identity until they are 18. Even though they have probably known who they truly are for over a decade by that point. I can understand when you are talking about something like sexual reassignment surgery that you want to be sure. However, the process is so involved already (you have to have “passed” for a certain period of time (1-2 yrs I think), have been through a series of psychological evaluations, and some other stuff that is on my handouts at home) that you would think if a person had been through all those things at a younger age that some exception could possibly be made. The steps to getting hormone therapy also include having “passed” for sometime which seems like it could be hard particularly since the hormones are often needed for someone to pass effectively. So many youth have turned to the black market to get hormones and therefore aren’t properly monitored in dosage and risk factors that it seems almost too much to me.
There was also some discussion of how indigenous cultures tend to revere people who display characteristics of both sexes. Various names for what can often be translated as a “two-spiritedness’ exist in many cultures across the globe. These people were often celebrated and seen as blessed. However, as the level of colonization increases there is virtually a direct correlation in the decrease in the visibility and celebration of these people. One of the attendees from Hawaii said there is a long standing tradition of trans behavior and virtually every family has someone who has adopted that way of living. It makes so much sense to talk about this as a natural part of life and celebrate differences than to categorize and label and diagnose people simply for being who they are.
I will now segue in a completely disjointed manner to a talk of thanksgiving. I am really looking forward to tomorrow. Last year was the first year that I cooked. It was only for Tony and I. This year we have a flock of people scheduled to come by. I think it is the main meal for only 4-5 of us but many are planning to stop over after they eat with families. I am a little nervous when I think about it. I have butterflies. I hope they bring beverages. I hope I can find enough things to put food in. I hope that everything works. I think it should. I started cooking my Turkey Tofu (that’s what my never eaten meat self eats) last night and froze it (because it is supposed to give a better texture) for the first time. I hope it works. Dave will be bringing a ham for the meat eaters (that eat ham) and Monica or Brian will be putting together a turkey. We’ll gave roasted garlic mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce with a little orange, challah, green bean casserole (cause it’s funny), mushroom spinach pie, mac n’ cheese, collard greens, and some sort of dessert that has yet to be figured out. Tony wants pecan pie I don’t and Monica will die if she eats it. I think Dave may be making a gravy cake. Monica wants a pumpkin loaf with vanilla ice cream. I don’t care. It will be an interesting time. I hope all of your holidays are as fun filled, unpredictable, and exciting as I hope mine will be.
To ring in the holiday cheer, let’s listen to some classic holiday tunes of thanks and love.
Pale Purple, Ani DiFranco- Well the song is a little depressing but has a feeling of honesty about the lack of community ties in modern America. I guess that is kind of what Thanksgiving is about getting over. It’s about bringing people together in a celebration of our uniqueness and our differences.
Disarm, Smashing Pumpkins- Huh, I’m a little stumped on how to relate this one to Thanksgiving. Well, let’s talk chorus. It talks about the trails and tribulations of growing up and facing the world and reaching out for someone you care about and maybe having them reject you. This is the poor guy who is eating a hungry man dinner all alone. Let’s invite him over.
Stutter, Elastica- Man, this keeps getting harder and harder. I don’t think I am going to try with this one, partly because I can’t really understand enough of the lyrics to pull something out of my ass. I’ll just say the 90s are awesome.