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Sunday, December 16, 2012

A De-Transition Story

When I was in my teens, I began reading everything I could get my hands on regarding sex change, transvestites, drag queens, and gender variants in general.  I knew that I felt female, but was in a male body. I didn't know why I had these feelings and why I was born this way.

I continued to read, year after year, anything that would help me to better understand myself.  When the Internet came of age, it opened up a whole new wealth of information.  Most of the information I was able to gather was clinical, rather than personal.  Once in a while, I'd read a biography of a transsexual, but those books were few and far between. 

When I discovered some of the early blogs, written by others like myself, it was like a dream come true.  I remember reading many of the old Yahoo 360 blogs in the early days of blogging.  Later, one of the first really quality blogs I came upon was Zagria's, A Gender Variance Who's Who.  I became a big fan of Zagria's blog.  The quality of her writing, the attention to detail, and the broad spectrum of "gender variants" featured had me coming back for more, year after year.  In Zagria's words, her blog is about....."Essays on trans, intersex, cis and other persons and topics from a trans perspective.......All human life is here."
One of Zagria's recent posts featured a rare de-transition story, the "changeback" of Gary Norton.  It's a very interesting piece, which includes some interesting commentary from Zagria. Click on the link, below, to read this blog post.

 Gary Norton (1937 - ) RAF, architect, changeback


  1. I have to disagree that the piece is well-written. It isn't. Zagria, as usual, is highly critical, languid (at best!) in her dismissive and demeaning characterization of the chap and, as is also usual, not in the least bit interested in anything but her own opinion.

    As is far too common, Zagria simply applies her own experience to the lives of others, and finding them not to her standards - dismisses their experience. Any thinking Zagria applied to this moment of gossip is best described as shoddy. The fellow is 75 - he's certainly earned the right to decide he made a mistake, for whatever reason. (Reasons that are, by the way, of no concern to Zagria.) It is, after all, his life and not hers.

    What does she demand of people: perfection, or simply the ability to not make mistakes?

    Carolyn Ann

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    1. Your list was sordid. Look up the definition of "sordid" and you'll notice that list of yours fits.

      Here, allow me:
      Sordid |ˈsôrdid|
      involving ignoble actions and motives; arousing moral distaste and contempt:

      I thought your list to be morally distasteful. Most of the people on that list had been involved in, or perpetrated, ignoble actions. Hence, sordid. (I have no idea if your intent was to evoke sympathy or not? I was sympathetic to some on your list.)

      "Languid" and "highly critical" are not mutually exclusive; indeed, I've often noticed that they are joined with alacrity and enthusiasm. Frequently, you'll find they've been glued together and become the same thing - the evidence being right there, in a gossipy, poorly considered critique of someone's life, for instance.

      Mr Norton is like the rest of us. His life is also his affair. You weren't there when he made the initial decision to have a sex change, and you weren't there when he decided he'd made a mistake. You might want to consider the "23 years ago" part of his story; you clearly did not stop to think about his state of mind back then, or that the information someone could obtain about sex changes and gender in the late 1980's was scarce and often dangerously uninformed. You might also want to consider that the next time you feel like blasting someone for making a decision with their life that you can't, or won't, take the time to understand. While Mr Norton's story is newsworthy, the gossip it promotes is not above, or immune to, its own criticism. You assuredly do not convey the idea that Mr Norton is "like the rest of us" in your post; quite the opposite - you set an unreasonable bar and then deride him for not clearing it. I'll even go so far to say that I think you deliberately hold Mr Norton to an unreasonable standard because you don't like his most recent decision about his life. The comparisons you employed imply nothing else. If you were intent upon showing that Mr Norton is "all too human", you would not have been so highly critical of his decision and would not have mentioned, because it would be unnecessary, what he should have done by your lights.

      If you took the time to read a little about me, you'd find that I read widely, am very fond of political gossip and go by masculine pronouns.

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    3. I used the New Oxford American Dictionary; perhaps Google uses the same dictionary?

      Considering that I wrote the critique of your list, I am the one who gets to decide which of the various definitions applies. You, as the reader, can decide which definition you prefer; that you employed your preconceptions to select the wrong one is neither here nor there to me. I can't control, and have no wish to control, how you perceive my writing. You, on the other hand, have an almost desperate need to control how your list, and perhaps your writing, is perceived. Neither of us can do anything about how our essays are read. That's just the way it is. Shrug.

      As for the rest of your reply, all I can offer is: Wow, I don't think I've ever come across such willful misreading! While I don't care if you read my previous reply or not, I will observe that it's fairly obvious you didn't!

      Are you mad at me because I'm not falling over myself vis-à-vis incarcerated transgender and transsexual individuals? Or because I don't agree with you on whom is deserving of sympathy? Well, excuse me for perceiving right and wrong in a more clear cut fashion, for having a moral standard that differs from yours, for understanding that morality is often complex and for not having a simplistic, situational, morality such as yours.

      To be honest, I generally don't read your blog. Please be assured that I'm not going to get into any silly "who's the better atheist" or theological debates about morality with you.

    4. Zagria,

      I'm sorry you didn't like my characterization of your list, nor have much affection for your writing in general. I'm not going to stop commenting on ideas I do not like and fancy writing about. The day an idea becomes sacred is the day it becomes a trite conceit; no idea, no expression is above critique. (Even that one.) You can't expect everyone to like your list, which I'm quite sure took considerable time and effort to put together. My criticism of it also took time and effort, albeit not as much as you put into the list; such is generally the way with criticism. My criticism wasn't whimsy; it is an honest expression of my thoughts about your list; I certainly wasn't going to laud it, but I did consider it worth pointing out.

      Perhaps I could have been kinder in my critique; I'm not known for being especially considerate of the feelings of those I argue with. Perhaps I should work on that, and perhaps I will. I have been told I am extremely opinionated; it is true I have, often strongly held, opinions. I write about those opinions and I do not ask that people like them or even read them. I write for myself, no one else. (That's not to say I don't appreciate the readers I do get. I do, greatly!) I described your list as I did because the words, the ideas expressed by the words I chose, fit my thoughts about your list. You disliked those words and the ideas I expressed, and I can't say I blame you. I do not retract them or apologize for them. That's not to say it's a "bad" list; it's a list. Some of the people on that list have reasons to be in prison, some don't. That you and I disagree upon the validity of those reasons is, ultimately, not going to be resolved either amicably or with one of us being persuaded about the other's reasoning. At some point we should agree to disagree. And while I'm not going to promise to never comment or read your blog again (I try to never make a promise I can't keep!), I'm not inclined to continue this particular argument any further; if you disagree, you will not find much response from me.

      I bid you a good day, and a pleasant holiday season.


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