Patterns of Power

I came across an in-depth psychological profile of a well-known world leader that has been in the news a great deal lately. I encourage you to read it.

Jenn Burleton

Detailed Analysis of X’s Personality

There is little disagreement among professional, or even among amateur, psychologists that X’s personality is an example of the counteractive type, a type that is marked by intense and stubborn efforts 1) to overcome early disabilities, weaknesses and humiliations (wounds to self-esteem), and sometimes also by efforts 2) to revenge injuries and insults to pride.

This is achieved by means of an IDEAL EGO REACTION FORMATION which involves 1) the repression and denial of the inferior portions of the self, and 2) strivings to become (or to imagine one has become) the exact opposite, represented by an ‘IDEAL EGO’, or image of a superior self successfully accomplishing the once-impossible feats and thereby curing the wounds of pride and winning general respect, prestige, fame.

This is a very common formula, normal (within limits) and widely admired in Western cultures, but is X’s case all the constituent forces of the patter are COMPULSIVELY EXTREME, and based on a WEAK NEUROTIC STRUCTURAL FOUNDATION.

The chief trends are these:

  1. Counteractive Need for Dominance, Superiority;
  2. Counteractive Aggression, Revenge;
  3. Repression of Conscience, Compliance, Love;
  4. Projection of Criticizable Elements of the Self

Counteractive Need for Dominance, Superiority:
The developmental formula for this is as follows: 1) intolerable feelings of inferiority (partly because of yielding to the will of a harsh and unjust person), leading to 2) contempt of own inferior traits (weakness, timidity, submissiveness) and the fixed determination to repress them in oneself and to condemn them in others, accompanied by 3) admiration and envy of power in others and a vision of self as ultimately superior (Ideal Ego) leading to 4) repeated efforts to become superior (counteraction out of wounded pride), encouraged by moments of extreme self-confidence in which one believes oneself the equal of one’s vision.

In X, the trend is so intense and the commonly balancing forces (affection, conscience, self-criticism, humor) are so weak that we are justified in speaking of MEGALOMANIA (delusions of omnipotence), despite the fact that the man has succeeded in getting a large proportion of the [Nation’s] people to believe that he is superior: i) that he has been divinely appointed to lead them to power and glory, and ii) that he is NEVER WRONG and hence must be followed with blind obedience, come what may.

Admiration of Brute Strength, Contempt of Weakness:

X has always worshipped physical force, military conquest, and ruthless domination. He has RESPECTED, ENVIED, AND EMULATED THE TECHNIQUES OF POWER, even when manifested by a hated enemy. From first to last, he has EXPRESSED CONTEMPT OF WEAKNESS, indecision, lack of energy, fear or conscience.

Paranoid Symptoms:
X’s dynamical pattern, as described, corresponds closely to that of paranoid insanity. Indeed, he has exhibited, at one time or another, ALL OF THE CLASSICAL SYMPTOMS OF PARANOID SCHIZOPHRENIA: hypersensitivity, panics of anxiety, irrational jealousy, delusions of persecution, delusions of omnipotence and Messiahship.

How has X escaped veritable insanity?
1) He has gained LARGE MEASURE OF CONTROL OVER HIS HYSTERICAL AND PARANOID TRENDS by using them consciously and successfully in the achievement of his aims; 2) He has IDENTIFIED HIMSELF WITH AND DEDICATED HIMSELF TO A SOCIOCENTRIC PURPOSE, the creation of an ideal [Nation], which has served to diminish the pains and perils of an isolated egocentrism, and 3) he has been SUPREMELY SUCCESSFUL IN IMPOSING HIS VISION AND DELUSION (conforming as they did with existent trends) upon the [Nation’s] people, and so convincing them of his unparalleled superiority.

Thus, his [unreal] world has become real, insanity is sanity.

To find out who X is and read more of this analysis, click on this link.

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Message In A Bottle


I’m 14 years old and I live in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with my Mom. I’ve been wanting to write this message to someone for a really long time, but never did because I’m scared of what will happen if I try to tell people how I feel. I’ve tried before a bunch of times, but nothing good ever happens and I just get sadder and sadder every time.

Even though I look like a boy on the outside, I’ve always felt like a girl inside. When I think of myself, it feels like I’m hiding who I really am so other people don’t make fun of me or say mean things. I try really hard not to think there is something wrong with me, but sometimes I just wish I wasn’t even alive.

Depression_02I’ve tried to tell my Mom how I feel, but I get too ashamed and scared of what might happen after I tell her so I just don’t say anything. It’s been like this for my whole life. There isn’t anyone I can talk to, so I’m writing it down now because I really hate my life and feel so lonely and sad most of the time.

When I was a little kid I knew I was a girl, but I don’t think I told anyone. I don’t know why I didn’t, but it probably wouldn’t have made any difference anyway because they would just think I’m crazy or something like that. When I was about 8 years old I started playing with my Mom’s makeup and stuff when she wasn’t around, but was always afraid I’d get caught so I tried to hide what I was doing.

Sometimes she would know I had been doing it and yell at me for it. I didn’t know what to do so I just told her she was wrong and that I wasn’t doing anything weird like that. I wished I could just tell her the truth, but I didn’t know how to explain my feelings and why I was doing girl things, even though I was a boy. I think she knew I was lying, but I just couldn’t tell the truth about it even though I wanted to.

Every Halloween I would say I wanted to go trick or treating dressed as a girl, and most of the time I got to do it. I was so happy then, I can’t even describe it. But I had to pretend it was just like any other costume that my friends were wearing and sometimes I even had to act like I wasn’t happy about being dressed as a girl, even though I really, really was.

I never wanted Halloween to end.

$_35Sometimes I would see stories in the grocery store newspapers about people getting sex change operations and that is how I feel most of the time, but it also makes me feel like a freak or sick because of the way they make fun of them. I never see anyone my age though and that makes me feel like there is something wrong with me.

Sometimes it’s confusing, because there are boy things I like to do, like baseball and football. I also like girls and even have a girlfriend. Her name is Nancy. I’m really happy when we’re together, but I never stop feeling like a girl inside.

Last year I decided I couldn’t take it anymore and I dressed up in my Mom’s clothes and went to see the doctors at the hospital. I had this book I found about people like me (they are called transsexuals) and it was written by a doctor. I thought maybe I could make them understand and they could explain it to my mother, but they didn’t understand either and just called my mother to come pick me up. They told her she was a bad parent and that I needed to have counseling or something.

Do you know what it feels like when everyone tells you that how you feel inside is wrong? When you just want them to try and understand and they make you feel like you are crazy or just ignore you? I’ve always felt this way but no one cares when I try to tell them, even though it’s a really scary thing to do. Why is it so bad to feel the way I do? Why does everyone hate me when I tell them how I feel?

I know there are people who think that how I am is OK, but everyone in my life seems to only want to listen to people who think that a boy feeling like a girl is sick or weird or perverted. I’m not that. I’m just me.

It hurts so bad and sometimes I just want to kill myself. I hate the way my body is changing, my voice and all that. It makes me feel like I’ll never get to be myself and that people will always make fun of me.

I can’t wait until I can do what I want and no one can stop me, but a lot of the time I just don’t think I can wait that long, or that it will be too late by then. People need to stop being so stupid about kids who are different or who feel different than they did when they were young.

It’s my life, not yours. Why can’t you just love me or even like me the way I am? Why does it matter so much to you? Can’t you see how much happier I would be if I can be myself?

I don’t feel like a bad person, but I think my Mom and other people think I am because I feel like a girl. I wish the world wasn’t so messed up.

I hope this makes sense to anyone who finds it.


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No Child Left Behind

MetroWeekly, the online LGBTQ news and features magazine based in Washington, D.C. just posted an article with the title “Transgender Forward: A Timeline of Significant Moments in the Transgender Movement”. It features events from roughly the last 200+ years that impacted the lives of people we now consider to reside somewhere on the ‘transgender spectrum’. The timeline itself was compiled by the staff at another online magazine, San Diego LGBT Weekly.

While it is a lovely and no doubt impressive list of people and events, it left me feeling somewhat unsatisfied. There was something missing…but what could it be? All the stars and icons were present, Christine Jorgensen, Laverne Cox, Chaz Bono, Renee Richards, Oregon’s own Stu Rasmussen, Lana Wachowski, and of course, the single most significant transgender person to ever walk the face of planet Earth, Caitlyn Jenner.

Hmmm…seems to be pretty trans-feminine heavy. But that’s a subject for another post.

In addition to the people, most of the known events were represented; Dewey’s Coffee Shop Protest, 1966 publication of “The Transsexual Phenomenon“, the Stonewall Riots. All absolutely important stuff! Yet…something was missing…what could it be?

Oh yeah. Children. Adolescents. Teens. You know, ‘our most precious possessions’, though seeing them as “possessions” is a big part of the problem. But I digress.

In a way, the exclusion of kids itself is a testament to equality. Even those dedicated to LGBTQ social justice have the human right to practice and enjoy adultist privilege by assuming the only people and events that matter are those that involve or impact other adults. It’s what I call the “transgender, gay, lesbian and queer people get to be narrow minded and self-centered  just like cisgender and straight people do” doctrine.

Yes, the list does mention several events that involved transgender youth – but they were all unspeakable tragedies. The murders of Brandon Teena, Gwen Araujo, and passing mention of fifteen-year old Leticia King, who the article refers to only by her male birth name. Even with that, the article leaves out significant tragic events from recent history.

Eighteen-year old Angie Zapata was murdered in Greeley, Colorado by Allen Andrade in 2008, after he discovered she was transgender. This resulted in a first-degree murder conviction for Andrade – the first time someone had been convicted of a bias-motivated hate crime against a transgender person in the United States.

Leelah Alcorn was a seventeen-year old transgender girl who tragically took her own life near Columbus, Ohio in 2014. While she was certainly not the only child we’ve lost to suicide, her death had a major impact on raising awareness of the evils of “conversion” and “reparative” therapy and indifference to the needs of transgender youth.

One of the primary reasons we see so much trauma experienced by and inflicted on transgender people is that adults representing every gender identity, sexual orientation, political and religious ideology and geographic location treat the needs of children and youth as afterthoughts.

Here are just a few of the SIGNIFICANT events that have involved or impacted the lives of transgender spectrum children, adolescents, teens and their families…most of whom are cisgender and heteronormative.

  • Early 20th century: gender variant patients of German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld related their experiences of feeling like a gender other than the one reflected on their birth records or suggested by their physical anatomy SINCE CHILDHOOD.
  • 1948: Alfred Kinsey introduces Dr. Harry Benjamin (author of The Transsexual Phenomenon) to a transgender child who makes it very clear that they are a girl despite their male anatomy. The child is supported by their parent, and Dr. Benjamin provides them with whatever assistance he can.
  • 1980: Inclusion of the “Gender Identity Disorder in Childhood” diagnosis in the DSM-III, where it remained as part of the DSM-IV until 2013 and the release of DSM 5 and the more accurate diagnostic classification of “gender dysphoria”. The addition of GIDC to the literature in 1980 was seen by many as an ‘end-around’ move to appease those upset with the removal of homosexuality as a mental disorder from the DSM in 1973. GIDC gave rise to deeply damaging theories and sketchy research from people like Richard Green, Kenneth Zucker, George Rekers, Joseph Nicolosi and others.
  • 1990’s: Physicians, therapists and researchers in The Netherlands begin using pubertal suppression treatment in transgender adolescents to prevent development of unwanted secondary sex characteristics like voice deepening, breast growth, menstruation, facial hair, masculinization of musculature, etc. It was the first proactive rather than reactive medical approach to affirming transgender identity in youth, resulting in greatly reduced psychological and physical trauma and reduced need for corrective surgeries or treatment later.
  • 1998: Dr. Edgardo Menvielle, a child-adolescent psychiatrist at National Children’s Hospital in Washington, D.C.  starts a national listserv for parents of gender variant children. By 2006, it has over 200 participants.
  • 1999: TransFamily of Cleveland creates a Yahoo! group for parents of transgender individuals, and soon more and more parents and caregivers of transgender children and youth begin discussing their experiences, feelings of isolation and ‘being the only ones’.
  • 2006/May: Former transgender child and early self-advocate Jenn Burleton (sorry for the lack of humility) stumbles across the Yahoo! group and for the first time sees a group of parents not only discussing their gender diverse and transgender kids, but voicing their unconditional support for their children.
  • 2006/July: News story breaks about a Florida transgender child starting kindergarten in fall of that year. The parents of that child belong to the Yahoo! group mentioned above. The media response is sensationalistic and the loudest voices responding to it come from the anti-gay extremist religious and conservative right wing. There is virtual silence from national LGBT civil rights/human rights organizations.

    Jenn Burleton (again, sorry) is disturbed by the lack of significant non-Internet only support mechanisms and organizations  available to transgender children and their families because it seems remarkably unchanged from her experience as a transgender child in the 1960’s. She is inspired to suggest to the members of the Yahoo! group that an organization that would serve as a champion, advocate and education resource for transgender children, youth and their families is needed. Her idea is met with enthusiasm, and very quickly 4 parents of transgender children agree to help with establishing such an organization. They reach out to PFLAG national for support, and are received enthusiastically, thanks in great part to the help of Dave and Joan Parker and Jean-Marie Navetta. The organization goes through several iterations as it develops, incorporates as a non-profit, eventually settling on the name Trans Youth Family Allies (TYFA). Ms. Burleton, a transgender woman, becomes its inaugural Board President and Executive Director.

  • 2007/April: ABC “20/20” airs a Barbara Walters special in which she interviews families of transgender children. Trans Youth Family Allies plays a small part in advising the producers of that program and for the first time audiences see transgender kids and their families as real people facing real challenges.
  • 2007/Summer: Transgender man Aidan Key and advocate/author Stephanie Brill create the first conference directed specifically to affirming gender diverse identity in children and youth in Seattle, Washington. It’s called the Gender Odyssey Family Conference, and it is hosted (at that time) by Gender Spectrum, a non-profit based in the San Francisco Bay area. Trans Youth Family Allies founders played a consultative/early development role in the conference planning.
  • 2007/Summer: TYFA founder and executive director Jenn Burleton departs that organization and co-founds Portland, Oregon-based TransActive Education & Advocacy, which later changed its name to TransActive Gender Center. She is joined in this endeavor by transgender individuals Kaig Lightner and Hayley Klug. TransActive is also dedicated to serving the needs of transgender and gender diverse children, youth and their families, but seeks to expand their work to include influencing policy change through education of legislators, improving collaborative relationship and understanding of childhood transgender identity within LGB and adult T organizations. The organization also establishes a full-service counseling program that will provide integrated services to children, youth and families.
  • 2010: The U.S. State Department announces new policy of issuing passports to transgender individuals that reflect their current gender rather then their birth gender.
  • 2011: The U.S. Department of Education releases a “Dear Colleagues Letter” to every school district in the nation clarifying that transgender and gender diverse students attending public schools are protected under Federal Title IX equal opportunity and civil rights legislation. That sex discrimination includes harassment and bullying based on gender identity and expression even if that gender identity or expression does not correspond with the gender assigned at birth or the student’s physical anatomy.

    The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division begins responding to claims against school districts nationwide for transgender discrimination under Title IX.

  • 2013: Transgender first grade student Coy Mathis wins the right to use girl’s restroom at her Colorado elementary school.
  • 2014/January: Maine transgender student Nicole Maines wins the court case against her former school district for denying her access to the restroom corresponding to her gender identity consistently expressed at school. The decision came from the Maine Supreme Court after a long struggle that included opposition from extremist Christian elements. It is the highest-level court decision ever issued in support of transgender student rights, and sets a nationwide legal precedent.
  • 2015/January: Oregon becomes the first state to cover pubertal suppression treatment for transgender adolescents under it’s state Medicaid plan. This was accomplished as result of testimony and education provided by TransActive Gender Center staff and healthcare advisory team. Oregon also covers a broad array of transgender healthcare needs, including gender confirmation surgery, and under existing state consent laws, these procedures are available to Oregonians age 15 and older.
  • 2015/July: “I Am Jazz” premieres on The Learning Channel network. It is the first major television network reality show about a transgender girl and her supportive family. Coincidentally, Jazz is the same child that entered her Florida kindergarten at age 5 in 2006.

So, yeah…they left a few things out. But then again, it’s all just kid’s stuff.

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Piled high.Deeper

Standing downwind from the horseshit “science” that has come out of the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto (Kenneth Zucker‘s House of Horrors) has never been a pleasant experience. Listening to the braying chorus of Zucker-accolytes repeating the GIGO (garbage in-garbage out) so-called “data” about persistance and desistance of gender dysphoria in adolescents and teens has passed through what I’m calling the 7 Burleton Stages of BullShit…or BSBS.

Stage 1: “Well, it’s the only data out there, right?”
Stage 2: “Well, it seems pretty over-generalized, but maybe it’s right?”
Stage 3: “Wait a minute, they lumped gender nonconforming kids with transgender kids?”
Stage 4: “They say putting kids in therapy to ‘avoid a homosexual outcome’ is OK? WTF??”
Stage 5: “I smell an extremist religious, conservative bias here.”
Stage 6: “I smell a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) bias here.”
Stage 7: “Ok, this would be funny, if it wasn’t dangerous to children and families.”

Freelance writer and PhD Candidate in Sexual Neuroscience Debra W. Soh is one of the more recent voices trying to make a name for themselves by writing ‘scholarly’ articles in places like that Wall Street Journal and the Pacific Standard with titles like “Why Transgender Kids Should Wait to Transition”, and this drivel is pinging the 7BSBS like a hunchback in a bell tower.

Ms. Soh lists as part of her resume one year working as a Research Analyst at the previously mentioned CAMH in Toronto, Canada. While I have not found any evidence she worked directly on Zucker’s team, I would be willing to bet Donald Trump’s life on speculation that she drank Zucker’s Kool-Aid.

Let’s just start by dismantling her version of this bullshit at the very top of her article…or to be specific, at the subtitle to her article. She states:

“Most gender dysphoric children outgrow their dysphoria, and do so by adolescence.”


That statement reflects research conducted at CAMH that “oversampled” their study cohort of youth; it lumped, A) actual transgender kids in with, B) non-transgender kids who just happened to not conform to gender stereotypes. And when the B group ‘outgrew their nonconforming behaviors and self-expression’ or later identified as ‘gay’, the researchers (Zucker and his clown car) announced to the world that ‘gender dysphoric kids outgrow their gender dysphoria and most of them become gay!’

Gender dysphoric children are most often transgender-spectrum children, and remain so (to greater or lesser degrees) through adolescence until the sources of their gender dysphoria are gradually identified by the child/adolescent/teen themselves and addressed. This can include some or all of the following: Freedom to self-express, opportunity to transition social gender role, opportunity to suppress unwanted, ‘wrong gender’ pubertal changes, cross-sex hormone therapy to induce ‘correct gender’ pubertal changes and for some, medical interventions to further bring physical anatomy into alignment with gender identity.

In other words (for Ms. Soh’s benefit), being gender nonconforming is not an indication of gender dysphoria in a child, adolescent, teen or adult, though it certainly can trigger transphobia and homophobia in those observing the gender nonconforming child or adolescent.

Experiencing symptoms of gender dysphoria is a STRONG indicator of falling somewhere on the transgender spectrum and those symptoms of gender dysphoria will almost always persist into adulthood, unless they are addressed through affirmation, empowerment to live in their own truth and healthcare intervention when necessary to relieve the gender dysphoria.

Yes…it’s a much longer explanation, and not as SNAPPY and SOUNDBITE READY as Ms. Soh’s statement, but it does have the virtue of being effing’ accurate.

Ms. Soh states that she was “your typical, gender atypical little girl” that played mostly with boys and engaging in “rough-and-tumble play and running around the house while waving my he-man sword high in the air.” She also states that she “insisted on using the toilet while standing up” and “hated the dolls and the color pink”. Then, by her own admission “something bizarre happened – I reached my late teens, and for the first time on my own volition, I fancied putting on a dress. The idea of appearing feminine no longer repulsed me, so I grew my hair long and began carrying a purse.”

Ergo…all transgender kids should wait until adulthood because transgender boys might suddenly want to “grow their hair long and carry a purse” and transgender girls might suddenly want to put on a codpiece and jackhammer their way through a concrete wall.

Or, and I’m just spitballing here, maybe Ms. Soh was just the kind of girl who liked to do those things in her youth, and then liked to do different things in her adulthood. All the while identifying in her own words as “your typical, gender atypical little girl.”

You were not transgender, Ms. Soh…so while the narrative of your awesome tomboyish-ness was lovely to read about, it has NO FUCKING RELEVANCE to the lives of transgender children, adolescents or teens. Neither does Mike Huckabee’s pervy speculation that he would have gotten in touch with his “feminine side” in high school and pretended to be transgender just so he could ogle and become aroused by girls in the female restroom or locker room.

Personal experience is not a universal translator for how other people experience their own being, or the world around them. Some people are gender nonconforming tomboys, and some people are transgender boys and some tomboys become lesbians and some tomboys don’t become lesbians…and none of those outcomes is the WRONG outcome.

Some people are gender nonconforming ‘sissies’ (there is no non-pejorative word for feminine boys) and some people are transgender girls and some ‘sissies’ become gay men and some ‘sissies’ don’t become gay men…and none of those outcomes is the WRONG outcome.

You know, sometimes I feel like certain evil SOB’s in the world need to be taken down by a well-placed sniper shot…that doesn’t make me Dick Cheney or Chris Kyle. And sometimes I feel like knee-jerk political correctness and oversensitivity to satiric commentary has destroyed intelligent discourse and the field of comedy in America…but that doesn’t make me Donald Trump, Paula Deen or Nathan Bedford Forrest.

To Ms. Soh and all other Zuckerite minions, professional and lay ‘experts’, TERFS, ‘former’ transgender hate mongers and bullies, extremist Christian/Islamic/Jewish oppressors and theocrats and the ever present, underinformed and willfully ignorant general public who believe what they HEAR, rather than trusting what they’ve LEARNED through independent and objective examination, I say the following…

Stop hiding your overt/covert emotional and psychological abuse of children and their families behind sketchy research, political or religiously motivated ideology, ignorance-driven intolerance or hate disguised as ‘righteous’ radical feminist outrage. Stop inciting others to inflict these harms, including physical violence against transgender people, particularly transgender women of color.

Debra Soh reveals her bias in the following comment from the article:
“Outgrowing my discomfort resulted from the realization that gender does not need to be binary…We can have the best of both worlds.”

DUH. Of course it doesn’t, and of course we can. The arrogance inherent in Soh’s suggestion that parents, caregivers, advocates and trans-affirming professionals are promoting gender binary-only outcomes is revealing of her trans-exclusionary radical feminist leanings.

While there are certainly some healthcare providers still stuck in the DSM III/IV, “Harry Benjamin Standards of Care” time warp that was heavily dependent on binary gender expression, most of the voices supporting children and their families today reject those archaic ways of approaching gender…though TERF’s and TERF sympathizers like to accuse people of enforcing binary gender stereotypes (without any evidence) because it suits their agenda.

Our children are not, as Debra W. Soh put it, “candidates” for mental or medical healthcare intervention. If anything, our gender nonconforming, transgender and gender diverse children provide us with the opportunity to learn something about ourselves, about how adults have over the course of time forgotten the value and perfection of individuality, rather than conformity.

There is no “research” or “science” that shows “most gender dysphoric children outgrow their dysphoria”. That is bullshit. Repetitive, often shoveled and widely used to fertilize oppression, abuse and malpractice B.U.L.L.S.H.I.T.

Kenneth Zucker’s research does show that kids subjected to disapproval or stigmatization from researchers will eventually learn to suppress, conceal and ultimately deny their gender diverse feelings and identity. It appears that alone constitutes ‘proof of desistance’ for those like Ms. Soh, Zucker and others.

“Waiting until a child has reached cognitive maturity” as Ms. Soh writes, before affirming a transgender child or youth’s desire/need to transition gender or access pubertal suppression treatment does not, as Ms. Soh says, “[make] the most sense.”

Waiting causes uneccessary emotional, psychological and physical trauma, suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and death.

You want to know how to tell a gender nonconforming child/adolescent from a gender diverse child/adolescent from a transgender child/adolescent? It’s pretty simple…Shut the fuck up and listen to what they are telling you about their gender experience. Then, do whatever you need to do to make THEM more comfortable living their lives.

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“Becoming Nicole”: A Book for Every Generation

Source: “Becoming Nicole”: A Book for Every Generation

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“Becoming Nicole”: A Book for Every Generation

51Nxl1SGRsL._SX336_BO1,204,203,200_As something of an ‘elder’ in the third generation of 20th century transgender individuals, I have experienced and benefited from the information revolution that began with the popularization of television in the early 1950’s and the Internet in the 1990’s.

The first modern-era generation included people like Karl Baer, Dr. Alan Hart, “Dora” & Lili Elbe. These individuals were true pioneers for the fields of science, psychology and sociology. They were fortunate enough to live in a time where some degree of rudimentary medical assistance was available to them and enough enlightenment about human diversity was present in the professionals from whom they sought relief. Most of their stories have never been told or publicly acknowledged, with the exception of the upcoming film “The Danish Girl” about the life of Lili Elbe.

The second generation consisted of people like Christine Jorgensen, Hedy Jo Starr, Micheal Dillon & Reed Ericksson…the most famous of which is Ms. Jorgensen. She stood tall on the shoulders of those before her and elegantly and intelligently used the cultural media explosion of the 1950’s to tell her story, giving hope to millions of my generation struggling with the isolation of being different and invisible.

The ‘Jorgensen generation’ and my subsequent generation were the first to mass market our own stories, and to have exploration of gender diverse identity become relatively commonplace in the literature of the time. It was rather hit and miss. For every thoughtful and literate biography, such as Canary Conn’s obscure and underrated “Canary” or Mario Martino’s “Emergence” there were exploitative stories in The Enquirer and other trash rags.

I have read them all…and have experienced being deeply moved, energized, inspired, reassured and angered as a result. In each book I looked for correlations to my own life, often finding them, but only in the most fundamental of ways. As an early gender transitioner, I have been deeply dismayed by the lingering descriptions of clothing, make-up, stereotypical femininity and flirtations with men as things that define one’s journey to gender truth.

None of those narratives completed the circuit of my experience of childhood gender certainty, navigating parental and family response, living a shadowy life in school, identifying sources of help and hope and crossing over into adulthood.

And then I read “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” by Pulitzer Prize winning author, Amy Ellis Nutt.

Reading the prologue of “Becoming Nicole” not only let me know that I was in for a literary treat, it caused me to physically put the book down before proceeding.

“Am I ready for this?”, I asked, because I suspected this story of one family’s truth was going to take me down a road to self-reflection in a way that might change me forever.

A father’s video entreaty to his son to “show me your muscles”, when all the child wants to do is enjoy his own reflection wearing his pink tutu was shattering. The economy of words and abundance of information contained in that paragraph told me all I needed to know about what I would do next. I turned the page.

“Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” takes you through the roughly 15-year  expeditionary struggle of the Maines family. It is the story of Kelly and Wayne Maines and their twins, Wyatt and Jonas. When they were born, the world believed they were identical twin boys, but Wyatt soon made it clear to everyone that assumptions make an…well, you know how that saying goes.

This is the story of one mother’s undying commitment to a universal, eternal truth – this is my child and they came to me as a perfect individual human being. It is also the story of a father’s journey to reconcile his deep love for this child with his own stereotypical upbringing and concern for what others will think, and a genetically identical sibling’s search for that sweet spot of being a loving brother to his transgender sister, while still carving out his own place and identity in the family and the world beyond.

There are many heroes throughout this story, and they include every member of the immediate family, as well as allies from their community. There are also villains, including the Christian Civic League of Maine, a school official named Bob Lucy and an individual named Paul Melanson, a Christian extremist who used his own grandson as a tool to harass Nicole and her family, driving them unnecessarily into an eight-year battle that tested them financially, emotionally and spiritually.

I am not giving too much away, because there is so very much in “Becoming Nicole” that is worth experiencing. It is a book for every member of every family because “Becoming Nicole” acknowledges the struggle that many families experience when a child is gender diverse or transgender.

Wayne Maines’ effort to accept his son Wyatt as his daughter Nicole lights the path for other fathers of trangender daughters to examine their own internal struggles with what it means to be a loving father to a unique child first, rather than simply a father to “boy” or “girl”.

In reading about Jonas Maines’ parallel maturation beside his sister, you will come to know a thoughtful, resilient and talented young man who, in many ways, took the lead in helping the family understand his twin’s true identity.

Kelly Maines is a warrior Mom is the best sense of that word. Her prime directive is protecting her children and ensuring they grow up to enjoy as many opportunities, with the fewest obstacles possible. She is far from a one-dimensional figure in “Becoming Nicole” however. A career woman, juggling work and holding her family together, Kelly is the epitome of what feminism is all about.

And then, there is Nicole. The book makes it clear that she was far from the perfect child, and in many ways, that is what makes her personal story even more moving, admirable, courageous and immensely readable. She is just a regular kid, fighting as hard as she can to live in her own truth with the support of her family against unimaginable odds. She is not a transgender girl, she is a girl who had to overcome some biological, familial, societal and medical challenges in order to survive.

As she writes in “Becoming Nicole” when facing the fear of undergoing surgery for the first time:

“It’s not for me, I feel like I have to do this for Wyatt. I need to do this to make up for everything that he had to put up with. I need to do this to apologize to him. I need to do this to show him that it was all worth it. I need to do this to thank him for not giving up and for giving me a chance…”

“Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” gives us all a chance to open our hearts and our intellects to make whatever journeys are necessary to support ourselves and our loved ones in living in their truth. I waited almost 60 years to read this book. It was well worth the wait.

“Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family” by Amy Ellis Nutt is available online in hardcover and Kindle versions from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and through retail bookstores nationwide. ISBN-10: 0812995414

Disclaimer: Dr. Wayne Maines is a member of the Board of Directors for TransActive Gender Center, and personal friend of the blog author, Jenn Burleton. There has been no compensation offered to Ms. Burleton or TransActive Gender Center in exchange for her review of “Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family”, nor would such be accepted if offered.

Posted in Americana, Biography, Civil Rights, Equality, Family, LGBT, Medicine, Society, Transgender | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

First Things First: I Can’t Swim

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately (that I clearly do NOT have to spare) sharing my opinions, observations and psychological outbursts on Facebook. It’s been cathartic for me and, much to my surprise and dismay, of some interest to others as well. So, I figured what the hell, I’ll start a blog and see how that works out and leave my Facebook activity to things like cute pictures of puppies, favorite movies, and reading about friends various journeys through the cesspool of human relationships.

I can not swim… so do not be fooled by the photographic header here. Nor is it indicative of my favorite ‘fishin’ hole’… I’d rather not touch a fish in the final throes of fighting for its fishy little life… but I am MORE than willing to eat it once it has passed on to its Neptunian afterlife.

I’m not sure how often I’ll be writing here, but I am feeling particularly opinionated of late, so who knows?

Finally, for all who know me through my day job as an advocate and administrator at TransActive, this blog has NO RELATIONSHIP to that agency or any individuals working there. This is just me “goin’ rogue”…

Have your life preservers ready to throw to me… I’m diving into the deep end.

Posted in Introduction, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments