Maxwell Zachs, a participant in the current UK Channel 4 television documentary My Transsexual Summer, talks about how the participants’ discussions, experiences and identities that challenge or fall outside of the gender binary were edited out or glossed over, along with other queer and intersectional identities:
I spent a huge amount of time over the last few months talking about why I think the show is going to be brilliant and in many ways it has turned out really well. However, having now seen episodes 1, 2, and 3 my frustrations have increased and some of my initial fears about the show have come back to haunt me.
What I see is the inevitable privileging of narratives that do not challenge dominant paradigms of normative gender. What I see is programming that will make you think “oh I feel so sorry for them, maybe I might think about how those people get a tough ride”. What I don’t see is anything that is going to make people think or feel any differently about what gender is or how it limits us all in one way or another.
What we see are lovely endearing transsexuals (who I still consider to be my good friends) struggling though ‘typical’ transitions and don’t get me wrong these stories are hugely important, I do not underestimate how important these stories are but where are all the queers!?
These narratives are totally valid but I believe they need to be seen in context and juxtaposed with a more diverse representation. A representation that was there in the house but somehow didn’t make it to our television screens.
Where is Fox talking about being mixed race, about his art and about how he sees himself as two spirit?
Where is the exploration of Donna’s male and female identities as she navigates the personal relationships that mean so much to her?
Where is the discussion about how I reject gender binary and sexuality and still live an observant Jewish life at the same time?
I think what we have is a hard hitting critique of the injustices trans people are forced to face, I wanted it to be that and more. I wanted it to show the complexity of our gender identities so that people could start to see that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, that it isn’t one or the other.
The new broadly nonbinary-friendly Standards of Care came into force in September. If you’re accessing transgender medical treatment or services, have you seen any sign of the new SoCs affecting policy?
The ‘Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders’, the document used to justify the gatekeeping of transsexual and transgender people’s treatment and historically used to bar nonbinary, genderqueer and gender nonconforming people from access to hormones and surgeries, is to become considerably more progressive. The new document will be called ‘Standards of Care for the Health of Transsexual, Transgender, and Gender Nonconforming People’ and features a number of revisions:
Some key revisions:
• Psychotherapy is no longer a requirement to receive hormones and surgery, although it is suggested.
“It used to be a minimum amount of psychotherapy was needed. An assessment is still required but that can be done by the prescribing hormone provider,” Bockting explained.
• A number of community health centers in the U.S. have developed protocols for providing hormone therapy based an approach known as the Informed Consent Model. These protocols are consistent with version 7 revisions of WPATH’s standards of care.
“The SOC are flexible clinical guidelines; they allow for tailoring of interventions to the needs of the individual receiving services and for tailoring of protocols to the approach and setting in which these services are provided,” Coleman explained.
“Access is more open and acknowledges transgender care is being provided in community health centers. This certainly makes it easier to access hormones,” Bockting added.
• There are now different standards for surgery, as well. For example, a transgender man who wants a hysterectomy no longer has to live one year as a male in order to receive the surgery. Likewise, a transgender woman who wants her testicles removed does not have to live one year as a female.
For people who want genital reconstructive surgery, however, the standards of care recommend living a year in the role of the gender they are transitioning.
• Another major change, Bockting explained, is that the standards “allow for a broader spectrum of identities – they are no longer so binary.”
“There is no one way of being transgender and it doesn’t have to mirror the idea of a change of their sex,” Bockting explained.
“These standards allow for a gender queer person to have breasts removed without ever taking hormones,” he said.