As the euphoria continues surrounding Bruce Jenner’s transition from male to female and subsequent pre-released photos via the magazine Vanity Fair’s online edition for June 2015, a firestorm of sorts has also erupted here in Jamaica regarding gender identity, misplaced or conflated cross dressing with homosexual intent and supposed imposing foreign values. Sadly when these topics are made to collide or being lumped as one the fear of the unknown comes to dominate rational thinking and all kinds of statements, unqualified diagnoses and pronouncements including psychiatric ones are made that persons who either are transgender or transsexual are mentally ill despite the fact that the guiding instrument for qualified professionals who can make such diagnosis has removed gender dysphorphia (linked to the former Gender Identity Disorder, GID) from the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, DSM now in its fifth dispensation. "Dysphoria" is a feeling of dissatisfaction, anxiety, and restlessness. With gender dysphoria, the discomfort with your male or female body can be so intense that it can interfere with the way you function in normal life, for instance at school or work or during social activities.
Gender dysphoria used to be called “gender identity disorder.” But the mismatch between body and internal sense of gender is not a mental illness. Instead, what need to be addressed are the stress, anxiety, and depression that go along with it.
Gender nonconforming (GNC) is a broader term that can include people with gender dysphoria. But it can also describe people who feel that they are neither only male or only female. Informally, people who identify with both genders or with neither gender might call themselves "genderqueer."
Gender dysphoria is not homosexuality. Your internal sense of your gender is not the same as your sexual orientation.
Jenner after opening her new Twitter account has broken the record for most followers in a short time as her handle gained over one million followers in less than an hour beating the previous record holder President Obama’s personal handle POTUS just some weeks before. Jenner is a former Olympic athlete of Kardasian parents formerly known as Bruce made her debut as a woman yesterday; goodbye Bruce hello Caitlyn was how some media outlets opened their coverage of the story, Jenner had revealed earlier this year his transition status after years of contemplating and the relevant engagements required for such a life altering activity. In April in that now infamous interview with Diane Sawyer revealed the issues he faced then.
I can understand some of the ignorance and the difficulty for locals to digest this new information for some as the lack of understanding of sex and sexuality (remember the HFLE fiasco?) gender identity and sexual orientation and the exposure for some Jamaicans is limited to the eyes of Hollywood, celebrity gossip and the almost glorification of cosmetic surgery which is not the same as a gender re-assignment surgery for proposes of addressing gender dysphorphia. The comments on social media suggest there is a lot of public education work that is required that our school systems have failed to do hence the resistance.
Nationwide New Network, NNN devoted some forty five minutes of prime time yesterday evening to discuss the issue and help listeners to at least begin to process some of the information coming from the most public declaration exercise as done by Jenner. Guests on the show were Dr Karen Carpenter Board Certified Clinical Sexologist and Psychologist, ‘Satiba’ from Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E Jamaica of which I am affiliated and Lecturer (Sociologist) and host of Every Woman on the station Georgette Crawford Williams (sister of PNP member of parliament Damian Crawford); one of the first questions thrown at Satiba by host Cliff Hughes was why has Jenna waited so long at 65 years old to make such a life changing decision?
Satiba responded that many transwomen have to hide their true identity in life .... given her life when she was younger she was a star athlete she would have been under tremendous precious to stay in from the expectations by the public and her team etc, also owing to the fact that she had a family as a man with children one may not want to upset the flow at that time until the kids are old enough. There is a lot of burden of guilt that some persons carry in weighing the decisions of coming out or transitioning so suppression of one’s true self is the modus operandi.
Dr Carpenter cautioned:
“We really must remember as professionals we must stay in our lane I will never pronounce as a Sociologist cause I am not a Sociologist ............When we have an opportunity to speak publicly we must be careful of what we say unless it is extremely well informed......”
Satiba also spoke to her support from her father the most unlikely of persons as she thought he would have been less accommodative and her mother more so however things played out the oppositely; she claimed the devil was in her and so on but Stiba managed to win her over somewhat by presenting research data and so on the subject and it was not about homosexuality as most persons misconstrue gender non conformity to be a gay issue .. She outlined how difficult it was losing family friends and the changes wrought due to the decision to come out.
“I was completely alone, I only had the support of my father and that was a big surprise for me cause I thought he was gonna punch me in the face and tell me get the hell outa my face and he didn't he turned around and said to me you know; you only have one life, if this is gonna make you happy do it, just make sure it’s the right thing and from that I have never looked back, he has been in my corner ever since.”
Intersexuality, Ambiguous Genetalia & Psycho-social issues Discussion on Nationwide Radio Jamaica 11.09.09