Information and Resources on Gender Equality and Gender Research in Norway

Grasping diversity
(14.08.2008)
Gender - if we allow the idea that there is one, two, or many - is felt and experienced differently by everyone. We are all constituted somehow in relation to the artificial binary. There are surely people presenting with "traditional" narratives like "man trapped in woman's body", the MTFs and FTMs. But there are also many who flux within the binary narrative. Those who exhaust the binary and say "I am both, and then some". Some step out of it, refuse it's legitimacy and relevance. For all the latter ones there is no help to be found if one's life and perceptions are incorporated, written on one's body, developed and established firmly to the degree of necessary bodily alterations.

The issue boils down to treating only the people that meet the so called objective criteria of F64-0 Transsexualism, the criteria pertaining to a "consistent gender identity" of the "opposite sex" versus understanding bodies and needs as more diverse than either/or and meeting individually experienced and expressed needs.

Dr. Pirelli Benestad disregarded national guidelines when ordering Caro's mastectomy from a sympathetic plastic surgeon. The good doctor has performed similar acts of civil disobedience on several other occations as well, challenging both problematic diagonostic criteria and rigid guidelines.

Esben Esther called Caro earlier this summer asking for a letter of support. The accusations made by The Norwegian Board of Health Supervision were not false per se, but the acts needed to be put in context and the motivations looked at. Clearly "wrong" does not always equal «bad».

We launched an online campaign, Støtte til Esben Esther - kritikk av GID-klinikken (Support for Esben Esther - critique of the GID-clinic).

The media picked up on our campaign quickly and for a while the topic seemed to be everywhere. Caro wrote an irate letter to The Board and we encouraged and coordinated similar critiques from others, both organizations, health professionals and private persons. Our shared goals are to get Esben Esther's charges dropped and to have The GID Clinic investigated, it's practice exposed and redirected.

One organization pulled it's initial support at the last minute. LLH, the national organization for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people found the issue too controversial. Their board was divided. It is a liberal humanist, civil rights oriented organization, with a history of biologically informed binary thinking. It was too hard a pill to swallow for most of them to support people's needs to "de-gender" or "re-gender" their bodies on individual terms.

Oh well.

June 26th the Government approved a new plan of action based on a report on the situation for LGBT people in Norway. It states that the T has been neglected far too long, particularly the T that falls outside the social and medical arrangements funded and offered now.

Now both the public and the Government require it. Changes will be made.

Personally I want the Minister of Justice to apologize on behalf of the Government to all those who have been treated poorly by The GID Clinic and all the ones turned down and left to survive and deal on their own. Suicide is not at all uncommon. For professionals commited to the Hippocratic oath to turn away deeply frustrated people who have no other offer, is so unethical that it should be severely punished.

The GID Clinic defends it's practice by hiding behind directives and guidelines, circularly informed by their own conservative psyciatric binary "knowledge" of body and gender.

This is a very, very silly thing to do.

Esben Esther, Caro and I are among many who think that the monopoly must be dismantled, and that psychiatry should have little or no legitimate relevance in "gender" issues.

The clinic should be ordered to recall all the patiens so far turned down: Please come back. May we help you now? We will do better this time. We were wrong. Sorry about that.

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