“Are you really though?” When your trans spirit guide knows you better than you do

This post is about 2 short films from Momentum Studios – a small social justice film studio in Australia.

Masked‘ deals with a young woman’s journey of discovery that she is ‘trans’. The follow-on film ‘Still Me‘ deals with a young woman finding the courage and support to claim her non-binary identity.

Both films present a stylised discomfort with gender stereotypes and both young women are rescued by a spirit guide character who brings them to the trans pathway, thus solving their discomfort.

Masked

By Knox City Council and the ‘Free To Be Me’ Knox LGBTQIA Youth Group. The youth group is for 11-14 year olds.

MASKED follows the story of High Schooler, Zoe, struggling to come out as a trans man. After knowing who they truly are for a while, Zoe finds themselves fatigued by their fear of whether others will accept them or not. MASKED was created in conjunction with the 15-18 year old’s from the Knox ‘ Free To Be Me’ LGBTQIA Youth group. The project is proudly supported & funded by Knox City Council, YAC Vic & the Victorian State Government.

Masked blurb on YouTube

Zoe is miserable. It is her birthday.

Her mum gives her a nice dress – “pretty, but not too pretty”. Over family breakfast there’s an awkward conversation about a friend who has a non-binary partner. Dad makes some ham-fisted jokes about non-binary robots. Non-binary geddit? The clumsy parents are trying but trying in the wrong way. How dare they?

At the party, Zoe is dissociating and looks sick as she beholds the pink gift wrapping and fairy bread.

Across the crowd Tahlia is watching.

Tahlia: “You bummed out? All that girly shit? Your presents.”
Zoe: “I liked my presents”
Tahlia: “C’mon…”

Tahlia is the reason I am writing this blog.

Tahlia is the only one to notice Zoe’s distress and the only one to see the evidence of her self-harm: a bandage on the wrist. All the other party guests and even the parents are oblivious.

Tahlia is Zoe’s magical spirit guide. She has a special knowledge that even Zoe cannot yet access: Zoe is trans. Tahlia must bring forth this realisation in Zoe.

Later Zoe watches Ash Hardell’s trans coming out** video on YouTube.

Zoe is looking outside herself for validation. Without YouTube, where would she have looked? Stick-thin women in magazines, perhaps. Or the cat-dragged-in riot grrl empowerment?

She admire’s Ash’s ability to claim the ‘trans’ identity. However scrolling into the comments reveals the condemnation of strangers. The real Ash Hardell seems quite happy with the video stats: 35k thumbs up, 1.8k thumbs down and plenty of cutesy positive comments.

Zoe, on the other hand, is devastated.

It’s too bad that Zoe didn’t make it to Survival Lilly’s YouTube channel

Mum comes in and asks to chat and tells her “your problems aren’t real“. She means that Zoe’s distress is part of growing up, it is discomfort that will resolve when Zoe finds her place in the world. She means that problems around fitting in are magnified for teenagers but have no material basis.

Tahlia senses a disturbance in The Force. She is walking up toward Zoe’s house, only to see the flashing light of an ambulance. Tahlia has come too late.

Without external validation, Zoe attempts suicide.

Mum and Zoe fail to connect emotionally on Zoe’s exit from hospital. But Tahlia is waiting at home with a pair of used doc marten boots and a garbage bag full of grey ‘boy clothes’. This is the talisman with which Tahlia rehabilitates Zoe from the edge of death. If Tahlia is a spirit guide, Zoe is in a liminal state between life and death. Once upon a time a shaman would starve themselves for days, drink poison and spend time in isolation to induce hallucinations that open the door between worlds. For Zoe, it is a bottle of pills and a pair of Doc Martens.

Tahlia now helps Zoe to cross over, to transition, into another state of being.

Tahlia knows. She gives a speech “I’ll always be here for you… if your mother and your father …if they do care [about you being trans] then who cares about them?”. Abandon the family, abandon what you know and rely on to be real. Transition rituals demand a sacrifice.

Tahlia performs trans a makeover ritual and then presents her new creation Zach to the shocked parents.

This is quite important.

Zoe struggles in isolation. She believes she knows the source of her problems: she doesn’t like pink, or dresses, or all that girly stuff.

The parents aren’t able to help her. She just has to muddle through somehow to the other side of adolescence. Instead, Tahlia assists her to cross over to the other side of gender.

It is only through watching intimate videos of strangers that she glimpses a solution. It seems impossible to grasp until Tahlia makes it real for her. Bibbity bobbity boo! You’re trans. The answer is trading in a grey hoodie for a different hoodie and getting a side part. No more self-harm.

Zoe, now Zach, goes on to perform the same miracle for Emily/Bailey in the sequel Still Me.

Still Me

Still Me is the younger non-binary sibling to Masked.

The film opens with Emily/Bailey hyperventilating in front of the public toilets. This is the universal symbol for non-binary angst. She is (they are?) working through an anxiety attack by rehearsing a coming-out speech. “I’m still me. I’m just more comfortable”. Because nothing says ‘comfortable in my own skin’ like hyperventilating in the toilets before school.

The school bell rings, Bailey pulls a non-binary grey beanie over her forehead and exits the toilet. The camera pulls away – she exits from the disabled toilet. She is non-binary and could not choose either the male or female convenience. Too bad if a wheelchair-bound student had needed a wee before class.

Yes, I’m snippy about these invented enby problems. In the search for meaning they take ordinary tasks – choosing a toilet – and make them unbelievably emotional and difficult. They take joyful dressing up and transform sang froid it into anxious greys, bad fringes and poorly cut men’s shirts over restricted female chests. Nothing says “I’m more comfortable” than being badly dressed over special torture underwear, and desperate not to be found out.

It’s a joyless celebration of the worst aspects of the liminal.

Anyway.

Back to Bailey. She struggles. The teachers don’t validate her. The students ridicule her. She looks around for help but finds no quarter. Bailey is a lone ship in anxious waters. Except for the very supportive text messages from mum. They don’t count.

At the apogee of her suffering, Bailey is crouched in an empty classroom, sobbing uncontrollably. She is approached by a trans spirit guide. It’s Zach!

Zach/Zoe: “My name’s Zach”
Bailey: “My name’s Emily”
Zach: “Are you though?”
Bailey: (sobbing) “Nooo!”

Zach/Zoe has a special knowledge. She sees into Bailey’s suffering and can discern the reason for it. Unlike everyone else, Zach sees Bailey. She looks past Emily’s feminine features. She sees Bailey of the grey beanie.

Bailey asks “I’m not a girl, I’m not a boy. I’m still me. Why does my gender matter?” Such a profound question for a young woman who is in tears because she can’t find others to validate her desperate need to wear a beanie and a tie. Why does her gender matter to her? Why does she hyperventilate about choosing a toilet to enter? Why does she feel less non-binary (more binary?) in a skirt than in a tie?

What if Zach had not come past just now? Where would Bailey have gone for solace? Perhaps to the enthusiastically supportive mum who would help her ride out adolescence and grow into herself as a young woman. Or perhaps to the girl she spoke with briefly at the bus stop. Maybe she’d even find something in common with the yobbo boys who yelled at her from a car window (assuming they grow the eff up).

Zach isn’t one to let a chance slip by. There’s something oddly intimate about the way she calms Bailey down. “Tell me 4 things you can feel”. Bailey’s defenses are down and she enters the liminal state, ready to transition.

Zach tells Bailey she will eventually find people who love her. Not her mum, obvs. Again, the sacrifice. Leaving the past, the material and the trustworthy behind.

Then she pulls out a pamphlet! Not quite “have you hear about Amway” but very close. There’s a meeting tonight. Game, set and match. Bailey is on her way to the LGBTIAQ+ club.

The Knox Youth LGBTIAQ+ HQ

Bailey seems to be whimpering as she introduces herself to the club. “I’m Bailey. I’m non-binary. I use they/them pronouns”. The rite is complete. Zach whispers “you cool?” and trots off to join friends.

This tribe of kids is self-replicating.

Next it will be Bailey’s turn to watch and wait for an opportunity to help out a distressed friend.

These are teenagers preying upon distressed peers. It is easy to offer freedom, confidence, friends and belonging, in exchange for a small sacrifice. For someone who feels devastated, this offer seems like a bargain.

In the beginning it’s hairstyles. In this middle class suburban settings, it’s just pink-haired kids getting together to play Uno and chat. But there is a deal made with the devil.

The journey to the other side of gender will never take them to the other side of adolescence. It will never help them to grow up. The options are to desist – what, give up a truly held identity? Or re-commit. First hormones, then mastectomies, then hysterectomy because the hormones have poisoned the uterus.

The self harm does not stop. It changes form and focus.

As they age out of the youth groups, the effects of transition won’t be seen by the cool teenagers. As they age into the workforce, the cold reality of being the only trans in the village begins to hit home. Everyone has a job and private struggles are just that: private. Dating is a nightmare. No youth groups, no pink hair, no mum and dad to blame life on.

Growing up happens to all of us. Some of us escape adolescence burdened with ill-advised tattoos, car accident injuries, heroin additions, STDs or worse. Some don’t escape.

These rainbow children, recruited by their friends, will be bound to a medical pathway for life.


Notes

** Ash is a twee non-binary woman who, with her twee female non-binary partner Grayson, are together living their best top-surgery lives. Ash Hardell and partner Grayson Hardell talk top surgery and the power of becoming

Finding our way out of the gender forest

HNE Kids Health is a NSW Government Website.

Maple Leaf House is their clinic for trans-identifying minors.

You can find printable pro-formas to encourage GPs to refer children to the service.

There are a number of videos affirming the trans child identity. Parents, older trans individuals and young people describe the importance of an affirmative approach. There is no mention of desistance as an option for a child presenting to the clinic.

A linear path is presented to children

Navigating the ‘gender forest’ (oh please) is done in a straight line toward the GP Tree festooned by gender transition leaves. Your entry to the ‘forest’ leads directly and only to medicalisation.

HNE Kids Health

The referral proforma presents linear flow charts to describe the steps for treating youth with medical gender issues.

Source: HNE GP referral pro forma for children / adolescents
https://www.hnekidshealth.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/425939/GP_appointment_resource_for_a_child.pdf
Source: HNE GP referral pro forma for children / adolescents
https://www.hnekidshealth.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/425941/GP_appointment_resource_for_young_adults.pdf

Alternatives

There is NO mention of desisting from a trans identity.

There is NO reference to detransitioners, and their voices are NOT HEARD in any of the videos.

Harmful treatments

They present puberty blockers as ‘reversible’ (they’re no).

They present binding and tucking as ‘harmless’ (they’re not).

Deciding your goals

The ‘gender forest’ directs children to “decide on your goals”. This is an enormous amount of pressure to put on a child. Or on an adult. What are YOUR life goals? Do you want to cut your breasts off one day? C’mon we need an answer.

Trans away the gay

A lengthy video features 2 adolescents – a male and a female – talking about their transitions. The male relates how he initially ‘came out as gay’. The female adolescent talks about transitioning to escape “glitter and sparkly princess dresses”.

This is a medicalised gay conversion.

Who has it worse?

This man was a POW in Bakli Bay camp, Hainan during the 1940s. He is malnourished, suffering from dysentry, and is part of a work gang.

Many of his comrades have perished. He was probably tortured. If he misbehaves, then he can be executed or transferred to somewhere much worse.

Collection Item C329864
Australian War Memorial

This is one of many images and stories available to read at the Australian War Memorial site. I don’t glorify war. Studying these stories can gives an insight into the horror without the glory.

But if you want to see real suffering

This is Eric.

Eric

She hasn’t started uni yet, and also hasn’t experienced any attempts at conversion therapy.

Eric imagines that parents asking their distressed teenager to see a therapist is actually abusive.

Eric is is convinced that seeing a therapist is the first step toward a “troubled teen camp” and regularly references this as a negative outcome of seeing a therapist.

Eric is going to reveal 9 “tips” that POWs use to resist torture so that you can use these tips to resist getting mental health assistance.

Nevermind that the tips include “going to the toilet” and using long pauses to waste time. If you read the stories from POWs – any POWs – they rarely mention toilet breaks.

Eric is comparing a child whose parents are paying a licenced therapist $200 an hour with a solider who is tortured, raped, mutilated, starved and worked to death.

This is the most offensive thing I’ve seen in this movement.

If I wasn’t already peak-transed, I would be peaking right now.

Please share Eric’s video with as many parents as you can. They deserve to know who is scaring their children,

The Good Fairy Comes When You Are Older

Jazz Jennings, Transgender advocate and the most famous trans kid, came out to his parents at age two.

Here’s what he said to AC Nightline. Note the reaction from the interviewer.

Jazz Jennings

When I was 2 years old I went up to my mom and asked her “when is The Good Fairy going to come with her magic wand and change my penis into a vagina?” (ABC Nightline)

An actual 2 year old

What’s your name?

Dyay

How old are you?

Two!

What does your Dad do for a living?

Dada. Dada eew Dada. Niegha Dada!

(The Daily Davidsons)

Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where a person or group makes someone question their sanity, perception of reality, or memories. People experiencing gaslighting often feel confused, anxious, and unable to trust themselves.

Medical News Today

Jazz believes he asked at 2 that the Good Fairy would come and exchange his penis for a vagina. At an age where most children don’t yet have a grasp on word formation, let alone talking in fill sentences. At 2 it is common for children to talk in their “own language” of babbles.

He must have been an exceptionally advanced child.

Or his mother may be Ret-Conning the story. Jeanette Jennings says “we weren’t encouraging, we were supportive“.That way she can deny that she guided him his journey, both to the media and eventually to Jazz. If it turns out that this was a mistake, a decision taken too young, the Jennings parents can tell Jazz that it was all his idea. She won’t have to take responsibility for the way they committed a young child onto a pathway of living on a reality show, enacting ‘feminine’ stereotypes, taking drugs and undergoing multiple genital surgeries.

When asked if she’s a “Stage Mom” Jeanette Jennings makes it all about her. “I don’t enjoy being on television” she does it for the kids. Won’t somebody think of the children? But not the welfare of her own children.

Mum appears to be in charge, but Dad is fully on board with this gaslighting.

Stereotyping: An article in the American Sociological Review states that a person using gaslighting techniques may intentionally use negative stereotypes of a person’s gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality, nationality, or age to manipulate them. For example, they may tell a female that people will think she is irrational or crazy if she seeks help for abuse.

Medical News Today

Or they may tell a child they cannot play with stereotypical “girls” toys or that “boys don’t wear dresses”. Children trust their parents. The child wants to wear a dress, only girls wear dresses, so the child must be a girl. It’s logic you might expect from a child under 5. Guess what, these children are under 5.

Rather have a straight daughter than a gay son

Which 2 year old knows that a penis prevents them from playing with sparkly toys?

Which 2 year old knows that a penis can be swapped for a vagina?

Which child is told that they need to swap gender in order to wear what they want to wear and play with their toys?

This child – Son of Brandon Boulware

I did not let my child wear girl clothes … I did it to protect myself.

She asked me if she put on boy’s clothes could she go out to play.

My daughter was equating being good with being someone else.

We allowed her to be who she is – to grow her hair, to wear girl’s clothes.

Perhaps he picked up on the parental anxiety that “girl clothes” were inappropriate. Brandon had an escape plan that allowed his on to wear dresses and go play: he could become a she.

This Child – Kai Shappley

I thought this kid might be gay… Googling conversion therapy. … spanking her, really spanking her, for saying she’s a girl … my child was praying to die.

Perhaps because he gets beaten whenever he wants to play with girl toys, he insists he is a girl.

Mother, Kimberley Shappley, is another stage mom. Kai stars as the trans character in The Babysitter’s Club reboot for Netflix.

This Child – Jackie Green , Son of Susie Green (CEO of Mermaids)

I thought I had an effeminate, quite sensitive little boy who was probably gay.

But Jack’s Dad did not approve.

His mother went on to lead the UK’s foremost charity for ‘trans kids’, gaslighting parent’s and children into believing that wearing a dress makes a child ‘trans’.

The Good Fairy Comes When You Are Older

Think of Jazz Jennings, waiting to be old enough so the Good Fairy can come and take his penis away. He tells ABS Nightline that “confirmation surgery” is the final step in transition so he can finally be the woman he really is.

He seems tired.

Transing children is emotional abuse.

Me

Your homework, should you choose to accept it

Go and read this blog post about transing the gay away – An Unspeakable of the Oscar Wilde Sort 

Bans on ‘Conversion Therapy’

Conversion Therapy. The backwards notion that you can “pray away the gay” in someone. Horrific practices have been recorded where people were subjected to fasting, extreme physical exercise, starvation, electric shocks and more. Also mild practices are recorded – counselling, group therapy and support groups.

These practices have an association with some religious groups who view homosexuality and homosexual acts as contrary to God’s teaching. I will point out that sometimes these practices are forced or coerced. As Douglas Murray points out in his book The Madness of Crowds, it is possible for some people to voluntarily seek out counselling to suppress their homosexual nature. They might be motivated by religion, a wish to live a ‘conventional’ life or desire to have a family without adopting. (NOTE: There are some people who voluntarily try to become straight. I’ve mentioned it here because it’s their right as adults to try, not because I believe it’s what they should be doing.)

What’s happening in Australia

Australia is facing the systematic introduction of near-identical bills to ban conversion therapy at a state level. For gay men, lesbians and bisexuals this seems like great news.

However the bills go much deeper. They criminalise the “conversion or suppression’ of a person’s gender identity.

How Gender Identity is going to be protected

Gender identity means a person’s gender-related identity” and may include “other expressions of gender, including dress, speech, mannerisms, names and personal preferences”

In other words – the bill protects a characteristic that has a circular definition. It adds on transient characteristics that express gender – presumably acting in a manner stereotypical of the opposite gender.

What does that mean?

It means sex will be legally replaced by gender identity. Your sexed body will not be as legally important as your self-image. The self-image for gender identity is grounded in stereotypes.

Image may contain: 2 people

When Elliot Page announced in December 2020 that he is trans (clue: used to be an accomplished actress). Memes appeared with the ironic caption “there were no signs” above images depicting Page wearing stereotypically masculine clothing: a check shirt. Page dressed in male fashion, therefore Page is a man.

In the same month we received news that transvestite comedian Eddie Izzard has announced that he will now be permanently “based in girl mode”. Izzard achieves “girl mode” by adopting feminine characteristics such as wearing makeup and heels.

When ‘woman’ and ‘man’ are defined by clothes and not bodies, there is no longer a basis for women’s rights.

What practices are banned?

The range of activities that are banned is very broad. It could range from physical torture to checking on a friend to ask “are you sure it’s not a phase”?

The bills bans “practices” that aim to “change or suppress sexual orientation or gender identity“. It lumps sexuality in with gender identity. This is logically inconsistent.

Changing a person from a male-attracted-male to a male-attracted-female converts him from homosexual to nominally heterosexual.

Not to mention that the process of transitioning from a male to a female is literally attempting to convert the male into a female.

Practices means:

  • “psychiatry or psychotherapy, consultation, treatment or therapy, or any other similar consultation, treatment or therapy;
  • “carrying out a religious practice, including but not limited to, a prayer based practice,
  • “giving a person a referral for the purposes of a change or suppression practice”
  • which can be done “remotely (including online) or in person

This means that any person – therapist or not – can break the law by

  • providing counselling that doesn’t affirm gender identity
  • prays with a person in a way that doesn’t affirm their gender identity

Bear in mind that a gender identity is “a person’s gender-related identity” and relates to clothes and mannerisms.

What about voluntary participation?

These activities are banned when carried out “with or without the person’s consent“.

A therapist cannot counsel a person who desires to avoid homosexual behaviour. They cannot counsel a person who wishes to desist from being transgender.

Penalties

There are penalties for breaking these laws.

A commission is established by the bills to investigate and compel evidence to be produced.

Whether actively participating or simply ‘negligent‘ about knowing whether the practice is occuring, the penalties are stiff. 10 years maximum imprisonment and/or $10 000 fine.

What does this bill mean for homosexuality?

The bills abandon the traditional definition of sexuality to include homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual in favour of gender. It is now the vague statement that:

“sexual orientation means a person’s emotional, affectional and sexual attraction to, or intimate or sexual relations with, persons of a different gender or the same gender or more than one gender“.

The Victorian bill amends the definitions of sexual orientation and gender identity in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010. Amends the act! Sexual orientation is now gender orientation.

State of play

Queensland – bill passed

Victoria – bill passed lower house and introduced upper house 10 December 2020

ACT – bill passed 

Update 7 January 2021: consultation period in Tasmania

Who is fighting back?

Holly Lawford-Smith is a feminist academic who is vocal on this issue. Support her!

So far the party opposing these bills is the National-Liberal Party. Louise Staley MP (VIC) and Senator Claire Chandler (TAS) have spoken passionately in parliament about women’s rights and the harm that gender ideology (not trans people!) will cause to women. They are fighting for us.

You might feel uncomfortable supporting the NLP. But please support these brave and capable women.

David Southwick MP (NLP) (VIC) proposed that the bill be paused until consultation was undertaken. This wasn’t carried.

Who isn’t fighting back? The Labor party has introduced and carried these bills.

What can you do?

WRITE TO YOUR STATE MP and tell them you oppose this bill that:

  • undermines the rights of parents to support their children who may be questioning their gender or sexual orientation
  • takes away the right of people to support if they want to question their gender identity and/sexual orientation
  • it erases homosexuals by redefining sexual orientation
  • reduces womanhood and manhood to stereotypes and ‘mannerisms’

WRITE TO THE LABOUR PARTY. The Labor party has introduced these bills. Let them know you aren’t happy.

WRITE TO A SENATOR – especially if you are in Victoria. Tell them what you told the MP.

SHOW SUPPORT FOR THOSE WHO ARE FIGHTING BACK. Write to these women, support them on YouTube, support them on Twitter and Facebook.

JOIN OR START A FEMINIST FACEBOOK GROUP

START A CONVERSATION

  • with your friend
  • with your hairdresser
  • the parents at the PnC
  • with anyone who will listen
  • with other women in your area

Tell them sex-based rights are going away and they will be left trying to respect rights based on feelings and mannerisms.