Transgender

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  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    ... we at least read the banns of marriage several times, and have a couple meet with the priest or minister, and we also wisely ask them to attend premarital courses and counselling. Why should this be so quick?

    Our culture does not yet have banns for changing gender. How long do you think it took, in human history, for banns of marriage to be developed? If you were transgender, do you think such an announcement process would be helpful or detrimental?

    It sounds like your relative has some complications, which makes it more difficult to comment on. And in some cases of children questioning their gender assignment, it can be complicated too. In complicated cases, I think my attitude would be neither 1 nor 2 but maybe 1.1 or 1.2.

    In all other cases, when the person is an adult, my attitude is a solid 1. Someone who has been misgendered all their life does not need my self-appointed role of Inquisitor nor my pompous judgment added to their transition. I liked, and winced in recognition, of Ruth's description of cis people flailing and occasionally making asses of themselves when coping with this cultural transition toward acceptance.

    To quote a trans acceptance meme: "Fix your hearts or die."


  • RuthRuth Shipmate
    In the US we don't have marriage banns. People are allowed to keep their weddings low-key and quiet. In California there is even the option of acquiring a confidential marriage license, which is not open to public inspection and doesn't even require witnesses. This is available for couples who already live together; the original idea was to protect the good name of couples who had been shacked up and were belatedly getting married when everyone they knew thought they were already married. This happened a lot in the early years of statehood because judges and clergy weren't universally available.

    If the reaction to someone announcing they're trans is the same as the reaction people get when they announce they're getting married -- "How wonderful! Congratulations!" -- the comparison might be more apt.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Leaf wrote: »
    ... we at least read the banns of marriage several times, and have a couple meet with the priest or minister, and we also wisely ask them to attend premarital courses and counselling. Why should this be so quick?

    Our culture does not yet have banns for changing gender. How long do you think it took, in human history, for banns of marriage to be developed? If you were transgender, do you think such an announcement process would be helpful or detrimental?
    Banns are antiquated rubbish. Don't see how they would be any less so with gender.

  • But who says it is quick, and why is it your place to undertake an inquiry?

    The trans folks I know spent at least several months figuring out what was going on with them, and didn't go public with any of this until they had it figured out. Until they came out, nobody knew anything except for their trusted confidantes and advisors. For the rest of us, it was very sudden.

    That's not the experience we're having. It's perhaps difficult for you to understand that there are very likely different patterns and processes. I'm happy for you that the people you know have different experiences than we are noting. I wish the young person to whom I refer had confidents and close people. Supports.

    Ah, the passive voice. Such a convenient tool.
    This is rude and dismissive, so perhaps I've hurt your feelings. If so I'm sorry. This thread isn't meant to be personal that way. It's probably unavoidable. I started it because of trying to understand the process of it and also out of grave concern that there's something odd about the info we're getting that says don't ask questions, just accept. Immediately. Both from some here and elsewhere.
    But let's settle a few other things. A person asking to be called by a different name and to have different pronouns used for them is not the end of a process of exploration - it is a part of it. Most people, by the time they reach that stage, don't go back. Some do - and that's OK. A name and pronoun change is completely reversible. Hormones have not completely reversible effects, depending on how long you take them and which ones. Surgery is obviously permanent. Although at this point I should also mention that not taking hormones (and so continuing to age under the influence of the hormones that accompany your biological sex) also has long-term effects, particularly in adolescents and young adults whose bodies are still altering. You don't get a time-out.
    We're not finding other than testimonial information about this. Perhaps too new for systematic data.
    And yes, I quite firmly believe that the first step in interacting with another human is to believe them when they tell you about how they are feeling.
    Let's try a parallel. A child of divorce says in the presence of one parent that They wish to live only with that one. So you go with this? Or is it best to talk to the child about it alone, with the other parent?

    Do you allow a teenager to not get up in the morning and go to school? Have sleepovers with a boy or girlfriend? Do you go with others' feelings and started desires in all cases?
  • This all seems obvious in a way. How can I tell someone else what they are feeling, or what their identity is? It's both absurd and tyrannical. But then prejudice and bigotry are not too fussed about interfering in this way; and the bigots often dress up their negativity with fake concern and a forest of straw men.
    Why can't we talk to each other? I learned to do this at a very young age. And continue in my older adult years. So I know why my nephews call themselves "nigga" and their experience of being mixed race in big city Ontario. And my closest living childhood friend about being gay in a STEM field (though I knew he knew I knew he was gay before he told me).

    I get the feeling that because I ask I'm considered a dick on this thread. I can go with that and don't think I'll stop asking and talking.

    And additionally I'm not going to agree that within any identifiable group that there aren't individual differences pertaining to age, developmental and health history, other things.
  • Hello everyone,

    I’m a bit cautious about my first proper post on the new Ship (and I was only in double figures on the old one) being on a controversial topic, but I think the points are interesting enough to be worth making, and I hope that anyone who thinks they are insensitive or just silly won’t think that I’m a bad person in the absence of a posting record showing otherwise – as Ruth says above ‘Without discussions, though, I'll remain a fool’. My thoughts are:

    1) Many people’s response to transgender issues will surely be not hostility or acceptance, but bafflement. It’s not part of most people’s experience or detailed knowledge, and the concept that someone with a male body may actually in some sense be female, or vice versa, is quite hard to get one’s head around, at least if you're not used to it. The people most closely affected have presumably had many years to get used to the concept, but most people have only been dimly aware of it, and I find it bemusing to see people making accusations of bigotry in arguments (not thinking of this thread particularly) where I’m not even sure what’s being argued about.

    2) At the risk of making things even more controversial, what does anyone think of the comparison with race? I understand that Rachel Dolezal identifies as trans-racial. To the outsider who hasn’t studied either issue in detail, there do appear to be similarities – as I understand it, in both situations, someone has a deep inner conviction about their identity which is at variance with the externally verifiable facts. A significant part of society seems to be moving rapidly towards the view that if someone says that they are of a different gender to their body, that statement is always correct and never a mistake, but my impression is that although Ms. Dolezal has her supporters, the general response has been much more condemnatory, with her being seen as not only factually wrong, but morally wrong as well. What do people think are the good reasons for accepting transgender-ness but not transracial-ness? Are there any good arguments for the opposite view, or for the view that both phenomena should be seen as equally valid or invalid?
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    2) At the risk of making things even more controversial, what does anyone think of the comparison with race? I understand that Rachel Dolezal identifies as trans-racial.
    Nope. Not the same in any way, shape or form. Colour doesn't work that way. Not physiologically and definitely not experientially. She is mistaking an affinity for culture with being. It fails the logic that transgender passes.
    I think it harmful to the trans community for people to mistake these things as the same.

  • LeafLeaf Shipmate
    It's perhaps difficult for you to understand that there are very likely different patterns and processes.
    It's perhaps difficult for you to understand that there are very likely less condescending ways of expressing yourself.

  • Leaf wrote: »
    It's perhaps difficult for you to understand that there are very likely different patterns and processes.
    It's perhaps difficult for you to understand that there are very likely less condescending ways of expressing yourself.
    Instruct me.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    What implications has the acceptance of trans-gendering and gender self-determination for the future of programmes based on gender-balance, or activities based on differences between two sexes?

  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    What implications has the acceptance of trans-gendering and gender self-determination for the future of programmes based on gender-balance, or activities based on differences between two sexes?
    Given the very small percentage; very little
  • RussRuss Deckhand, Styx
    I can go with that and don't think I'll stop asking and talking.

    Absolutely. Let's all keep trying to understand.

    Seems to me that dysphoria - a male brain in a female body or vice versa - is a real phenomenon with a biochemical cause explicable in terms of genes and hormones. Even if we don't yet have the details of that explanation.

    And there are also real psychological phenomena which could conceivably cause someone to claim to be of different gender without that biochemical cause being operative.

    I'm guessing you want first for your relative what many would want for everyone - a sound diagnosis from a mental health professional who is competent to tell the difference.

    And then for the patient - with their parents if they are not yet adult (whatever you consider adult to be) - to take an informed decision as to the likely benefits, costs and side-effects of the available treatments for the disorder that has been diagnosed.

    Or was your concern something else ?
  • jay_emmjay_emm Shipmate
    It's interesting that homosexuality was considerably medicalized for a period, and various gruesome remedies given, but there are obvious differences from trans. I suppose people have largely stopped trying to cure gays, although not in some countries.

    One would be that (as far as I know) 'curing trans' (even in quite repressive countries) is by (in theory) taking them to where they want to be. 'Curing gays' in that manner would involve providing sexual health services and devices, marriage licences, etc... so they don't feel repressed or whatever.

    The one element that does irrationally annoy me is when the papers make a big deal of a FtM becoming pregnant or MtF a sperm doner. Obviously I'm happy for the family, and from their point of view things are totally different, it's their baby who cares about the details. But the actual news news would be the other way round (or at least focus on how many opposite sex features they took on while still keeping the childbearing characteristics of their original gender as the record, rather than claim to be first 3000 years after Hatesecheput).
  • Well, yes, but if curing gays in the reparative sense meant converting them to straight, then I suppose the equivalent for trans might be convincing them that they're delusional, or refusing to accept the notion of trans, refusing to use the correct pronouns, and so on.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    2) At the risk of making things even more controversial, what does anyone think of the comparison with race? I understand that Rachel Dolezal identifies as trans-racial.
    Nope. Not the same in any way, shape or form. Colour doesn't work that way. Not physiologically and definitely not experientially. She is mistaking an affinity for culture with being. It fails the logic that transgender passes.
    I think it harmful to the trans community for people to mistake these things as the same.

    Thankyou, but could you or someone else who knows more about these things than I do explain in more detail what 'that way' or 'the logic that transgender passes' are? It appears that in both cases all the physical evidence (and documentary evidence in the case of who someone's ancestors were) that we currently have points one way, but the person concerned has a deep inner conviction that their identity is not what the other evidence indicates. Until we discover the brain structures or biochemistry involved, all we have to contradict the other evidence is their report of how they feel. So what are the grounds for concluding that in the case of gender they actually are the gender that they feel they are (in some cases if not in all, but we'll leave that question on one side for the moment), but in the case of race they are always mistaken?

    Clearly there are great differences between gender/sex on the one hand and race on the other, but it's not obvious to me how these differences automatically lead to the different conclusions; I can think of some possibilities, but I won't risk speculating in public at this time of night. Perhaps from your point of view I seem very ignorant, but I'm sure many people share my ignorance.
  • Because race doesn't exist. Sex does.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Clearly there are great differences between gender/sex on the one hand and race on the other, but it's not obvious to me how these differences automatically lead to the different conclusions; I can think of some possibilities, but I won't risk speculating in public at this time of night. Perhaps from your point of view I seem very ignorant, but I'm sure many people share my ignorance.
    Black is inherited. Skin colour passed on by one's parent(s) and there are cultural components as well. Neither of which "transracial" people have. Dolezal can wash off her dark makeup, and go back to how she was raised. A white woman.

    Transgender people cannot. Whilst it is not inherited, it is biological. Humans are sexually dimorphic. People who are born one gender, but feel* another, have measurable traits associated with the gender they feel they truly are.

    The science supports transgender. There is nothing that suggests transracial is a thing.

    *I know it is not just a feeling. Trying to explain this as simply as I can.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    mousethief wrote: »
    Because race doesn't exist. Sex does.
    Well, kinda. Race exists. It is a social construct, often based on superficial biological characteristics or or cultural characteristics. One cannot grow up black, but just on the inside.
    Another way to put it, race doesn't exist in an objective way, but the affects of its attribution are certainly real. Something "transracial" people won't have felt.
  • lilbuddha wrote: »
    The science supports transgender.

    Would you please post links to this science. I've not successfully found it.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    lilbuddha wrote: »
    The science supports transgender.

    Would you please post links to this science. I've not successfully found it.
    Wiki link containing references to studies. Similar from Scientific American.

  • MarsupialMarsupial Shipmate
    Here are links to two summary-type articles (with references to original studies) that I have found helpful:

    gires.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Atypical-Gender-Development.pdf

    gires.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Biological-Correlations-in-the-Development-of-Diverse-Gender-Identities-A-Synopsis.pdf

    The second article refers back to the first one, so it is helpful to read them in order.

    I don't mean to suggest they are definitive proof of anything. I very much doubt the kind of proof you are looking for is available, given the nature of the subject matter. The current standards of care, as I said before, are based on several decades of clinical experience, including a fair amount of experience of what doesn't work.

  • I found this which isn't impressive either. Small numbers, associations versus causation.

    So there is evidence at rudimentary levels. Not persuasive at all presently. The standards of care are entirely different things.

    Perhaps this doesn't really rest on science? It's considered social justice and honouring something felt as true? Which cycles me back to consider adults and children as not comparable.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    I found this which isn't impressive either. Small numbers, associations versus causation.

    So there is evidence at rudimentary levels. Not persuasive at all presently. The standards of care are entirely different things.

    Perhaps this doesn't really rest on science? It's considered social justice and honouring something felt as true? Which cycles me back to consider adults and children as not comparable.
    Dude. You realise that it is not that you are raising questions, but the way you phrase them that has people a bit on edge about your posts?
  • You can say that again.
  • I find gender interesting, and there are many aspects of it which seem unexplored, but many threads on trans people become polemical, and unpleasant. And of course, trans people themselves are often unheard and drowned out.
  • How would the questions be better asked in your view?
  • MarsupialMarsupial Shipmate
    The problem isn't that you're raising questions; it's that you're not listening to the answers. No one on this board is in a position to prove the scientific validity of transgender (or, for that matter, probably of anything else) to you. If you have a serious interest in the subject matter, you're going to have to do some of your own research, and stop summarily dismissing everything everyone says on this thread who is trying to help you.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    quetzalcoatl I find gender interesting, and there are many aspects of it which seem unexplored, but many threads on trans people become polemical, and unpleasant.

    Couldn't agree more. The question that most comes to my mind is "Who is to decide the sex of an individual?"
  • And who is to determine their identity? I would rather not do it for someone else.
  • CaissaCaissa Shipmate
    Google Scholar provides over 4200 hits for articles on the topic transgender for 2018.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    How would the questions be better asked in your view?
    What Marsupial said. And stop implying that the responses given are questionable.
    I do understand this is something that straight, white cis-people have trouble connecting to; the harm/stress/annoyance that constantly questioning of who one is. Because their identity has never been challenged. Doesn't excuse not hearing, though.
  • Yes, I was chewing over this recently, and it struck me that we live in a period when many traditional categories are being eroded. Thus, marriage has been extended to gays and lesbians, ditto parenthood and adoption, and there is much questioning of gender categories, and also sex. I guess that all this is threatening or frightening to some people. I remember when equal marriage was being debated (UK), and people kept saying to me, but you'll be able to marry your son or your dog, and other trash talk.

    But I think there is a difference between somebody being puzzled and asking genuine questions, and somebody being hostile. A crucial issue in the case of trans people, is, can you listen to them and hear them?
  • Forgot to say, that you can have your identity challenged if you're white and straight. I think mine was thrown in the air, and shredded multiple times. Details unavailable on request. But it gave me an instinctive sympathy/empathy for people who are interrogating identity, or the identity they have been assigned.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    edited June 2018
    Gatekeeping. The straight, white, cis majority act as gatekeepers to what can be accepted. Imagine how fun it is when one isn't in that majority.
    Forgot to say, that you can have your identity challenged if you're white and straight. I think mine was thrown in the air, and shredded multiple times. Details unavailable on request. But it gave me an instinctive sympathy/empathy for people who are interrogating identity, or the identity they have been assigned.
    Some sympathy, I'll grant. But careful with that. A friend of mine claimed he knew what discrimination was because some people in a particular situation thought he and his brothers were gay and wouldn't associate with them. Thing is, they could produce images of their wives and children and become "normal" again. It is not too far from white people in a neighbourhood of colour feeling out of place. Anyone can feel discrimination in a given situation. Not everyone can walk out of it.
  • Of course, some people whose identity is challenged, can become more conservative.
  • At the risk of oversimplifying an important and complex reality, I think for many people who are responding poorly to transgenderism, it's really just about the willingness to suffer discomfort for someone else. It has to be acknowledged: transitioning creates some discomfort for those around you. It's awkward retraining your thinking/automatic ways of speaking to a very different paradigm. In a case like No Prophet's, you also have apparently long-established patterns of understanding disagreeable behaviors/ "acting out" (he's attention-seeking, he's a problem, he's a brat) that now are challenged by wholly different possibilities (it's a cry for help). My own experience was much simpler: I had a student in the middle of transitioning, it was unclear to me if it was a male-to-female transition or vice-versa, or if the student was cisgender but nonconforming to gender norms. That created awkwardness and discomfort about pronouns and fear of offending.

    But the bottom line for me was: am I willing to experience some discomfort/awkward conversations to serve someone who is managing a far greater discomfort? Is my dislike of having to retrain my language/have awkward conversations more important than what this student is experiencing?

    It would seem to me that the ring theory is helpful here: where you remember who is at the center of the crisis, and remember that compassion and understanding should flow from the "outer circles" inward, and to turn to our own outer circles (but never the inner ones) for the support we need. In that theory, No Prophet's relative (sorry, can't remember which way the relative was transitioning, so don't know which pronoun to use-- again, awkward) is in the center ring. Someone in center ring doesn't owe anyone any explanation, has no obligation to make those outside the center ring feel more comfortable or less awkward about the transition, just as someone with stage 4 cancer doesn't have an obligation to make us feel less anxious about the mortality issues that might raise for us. No Prophet and others in the outer circle have an obligation to give their relative/ transgendered friend their love and support, without trying to 2nd guess their experience.

    The hitch that maybe is missing here is that No Prophet or others in the middle rings (close to the center ring but not the identified person) should have outer rings where they can express their feelings-- people who are further removed from the center ring but are related to No Prophet or whoever is in that middle ring. The genius of the "ring theory" is to be aware of which direction you are facing at any point in time, particularly for those in the middle ring. If you facing inward (toward center ring) your job is to offer compassion and support. You bring your own feelings-- discomfort, fear, anxiety, whatever-- out only when facing outward to your own outer rings, but should have those outer rings you can turn to. Ideally, the Ship could be an "outer ring" where No Prophet could express feelings of discomfort. But that would fit better in heaven on a prayer/support thread rather than here in purgatory where it's being raised as a point of debate, indicating a lack of support for the person in the center ring.
  • Cliffdweller, nice post, but do you exclude those close to a transitioning person from ever expressing frustration, annoyance, grief, to that person? This is a genuine question, as I have heard people say to a dying relative or friend, you fucker, why are you leaving me? Obviously, said in anger and grief. Of course, it depends on the relationship, probably not appropriate for some.
  • I suppose I meant, your job is also to be authentic, with provisos, of course. I don't think I would say similar to a three year old, but I've seen people sobbing by a dying person, and begging them not to leave. Should they suppress this?
  • And what feelings are being dumped on a dying person when they are asked not to die?
  • And what feelings are being dumped on a dying person when they are asked not to die?

    Well OK, you are saying hold it in, fair enough. I think a lot of love is in the grief.
  • What about: I am sad to lose you, I am going to miss you? Rather than: don't leave me?
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    At the risk of oversimplifying an important and complex reality, I think for many people who are responding poorly to transgenderism, it's really just about the willingness to suffer discomfort for someone else.
    A lot of it is a threat response. We can perceive challenges to what we think is real/right/correct as threats. it is a massive source of the cognitive dissonance that is politics.
  • KwesiKwesi Shipmate
    quettzalcoatl It struck me that we live in a period when many traditional categories are being eroded...... and there is much questioning of gender categories, and also sex. I guess that all this is threatening or frightening to some people

    The reason why I asked the question: "Who is to decide the sex of an individual?" is because "the erosion of traditional categories" and the "questioning of gender categories," has significant consequences for the feminist movement's emphasis on "gender balance," which is premised on a binary categorisation of sex. If the categories of male and female are questioned then how can gender balance make sense, let alone be justified? And if the categorisation is to be sustained, then doesn't there have to be some third party confirmation of an individual's sex? What possible reason, for example, could there be for the bifurcation between women's and men's competitions in sport? One might conclude, therefore, that the current discussion has important implications for the concept of female emancipation, assuming the idea is at all valid.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Kwesi wrote: »
    quettzalcoatl It struck me that we live in a period when many traditional categories are being eroded...... and there is much questioning of gender categories, and also sex. I guess that all this is threatening or frightening to some people

    The reason why I asked the question: "Who is to decide the sex of an individual?" is because "the erosion of traditional categories" and the "questioning of gender categories," has significant consequences for the feminist movement's emphasis on "gender balance," which is premised on a binary categorisation of sex. If the categories of male and female are questioned then how can gender balance make sense, let alone be justified? And if the categorisation is to be sustained, then doesn't there have to be some third party confirmation of an individual's sex? What possible reason, for example, could there be for the bifurcation between women's and men's competitions in sport? One might conclude, therefore, that the current discussion has important implications for the concept of female emancipation, assuming the idea is at all valid.
    Again. The number of people who fall into a category where this is an issue is going to be small.
    And a second point is So, the fuck, what? I don't want my disadvantages resolved at the expense of anyone else's.

  • Kwesi wrote: »
    quettzalcoatl It struck me that we live in a period when many traditional categories are being eroded...... and there is much questioning of gender categories, and also sex. I guess that all this is threatening or frightening to some people

    The reason why I asked the question: "Who is to decide the sex of an individual?" is because "the erosion of traditional categories" and the "questioning of gender categories," has significant consequences for the feminist movement's emphasis on "gender balance," which is premised on a binary categorisation of sex. If the categories of male and female are questioned then how can gender balance make sense, let alone be justified? And if the categorisation is to be sustained, then doesn't there have to be some third party confirmation of an individual's sex? What possible reason, for example, could there be for the bifurcation between women's and men's competitions in sport? One might conclude, therefore, that the current discussion has important implications for the concept of female emancipation, assuming the idea is at all valid.

    It's about numbers, isn't it? I've seen estimates that non-binary sex/gender identity applies to about 1% of the population (probably a guess). But if that is the case, sex/gender are going to remain fairly stable, I would think. If that figure rises to 20 or 30%, that would be a different kettle of fish.

    This has come up with those women's colleges which started to admit trans women, as you seem to have a paradox, that it's because sex/gender are binary, that you can have women's colleges (also because women weren't allowed into any college at one time), but then the presence of trans people seems to subvert the binariness. But numbers again.

    Thinking about trans as a threat, I suppose those feminists who are hostile to trans women, are protective of the category 'woman', which they feel they have reclaimed, and now they find men invading again. Is that right? As Greer says, a woman has a vagina, end of. I think she said a big hairy smelly vagina, but there you are. Some people call this biological essentialism. But I think this is identifying woman via sex, whereas some trans women identify woman via gender.

  • What about: I am sad to lose you, I am going to miss you? Rather than: don't leave me?

    I don't want to start sub-editing what people say in intense grief/anger over death. When I heard my best friend was dying, I burst into tears, and swore at him. He laughed, the twat.
  • lilbuddhalilbuddha Shipmate
    Thinking about trans as a threat, I suppose those feminists who are hostile to trans women, are protective of the category 'woman', which they feel they have reclaimed, and now they find men invading again. Is that right? As Greer says, a woman has a vagina, end of. I think she said a big hairy smelly vagina, but there you are. Some people call this biological essentialism. But I think this is identifying woman via sex, whereas some trans women identify woman via gender.
    Feminism should be about inclusivity. Greer is trying to maintain it by exclusivity. She employs the same tactic that feminism fights. Hardly a new thing in feminism though.

  • It's odd though, isn't it, to use biological criteria as the linchpin?
  • Thinking about trans as a threat, I suppose those feminists who are hostile to trans women, are protective of the category 'woman', which they feel they have reclaimed, and now they find men invading again. Is that right? As Greer says, a woman has a vagina, end of. I think she said a big hairy smelly vagina, but there you are. Some people call this biological essentialism. But I think this is identifying woman via sex, whereas some trans women identify woman via gender.

    And what about transgender people? This kind of essentialism vernichts* them.

    ____________________________
    *Makes them as to not be. Destroys them. Denies their existence. Denies their right to exist.
  • And yes, I quite firmly believe that the first step in interacting with another human is to believe them when they tell you about how they are feeling.
    Let's try a parallel. A child of divorce says in the presence of one parent that They wish to live only with that one. So you go with this? Or is it best to talk to the child about it alone, with the other parent?

    Do you allow a teenager to not get up in the morning and go to school? Have sleepovers with a boy or girlfriend? Do you go with others' feelings and started desires in all cases?

    If a child of divorce consistently says that they want to live with only one parent, then yes, I'm going to take that as a serious statement of the child's feeling and wishes. And sure, I'm going to ask why they feel that way - does the other parent abuse them? Is the other parent stricter than the one they want to live with? Do they want to live in the house with the better bedroom? Closer to friends? Do they just not want to schlep their stuff back and forth
    twice a week, and never have the thing they want because it's in the other house? Depending on what the problem is, perhaps there's a better solution.

    The sleepy teenager? Are we talking about a one-off "I was up till 5 and don't want to get up" or a systematic desire to not do school in the morning. Presumably the latter, to match the other examples, and in that case, I'd hear the kid telling me that getting up in the mornings was hard for them, and ask them what proposal they had for their continuing education.

    Sleepovers with a boy/girlfriend? Presumably sleepovers of the naked gymnastic variety. Is it legal? Have they thought seriously about it? Have they thought through the consequences?

    Do I "go with" others' feelings and stated desires in all cases?

    I'm not sure I even know what this means. The kids tell me they don't like clearing up after meals, but they still have to do it. But when they tell me they don't like dealing with dirty dishes, I'll accept that as an accurate statement. Sure - dirty dishes aren't very pleasant. But they still have to be cleaned, or we don't have anything to eat on tomorrow. I accept their feelings about washing dishes, but they still have to do it. I'm not going to pretend that actually, dish-washing is lovely.

    In all these cases, we're casting me as either a parent or a close confidante of the child in question. In all these cases, my role is clear - to be supportive of the child, and to help them figure out what they really want.

    If I'm not in that inner circle - if we're talking about my nieces and nephews, or my neighbour's kids, for example - then I'm probably not going to be in on the "figuring out" discussions. I'm going to be told "Johnny lives full time with his Dad now" with perhaps a sentence or two of explanation. And the last thing Johnny needs is for all of his relatives to ask him, one by one, "how come you're not staying at your Mum's any more?"



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