Years ago, after finally beginning to listen to trans voices and heeding the pull of mounting scientific evidence, the clinic consensus shifted and trans reparative therapy was finally deemed unethical under the World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Standards of Care, version 7.
That was in 2011. Seven years ago.
I thought the question had been laid to rest. As an academic, my thesis work focuses on the legality and ethics of trans reparative therapy. At times, I feel like I’m beating a dead horse, that only fringe practitioners whose views are impermeable to scientific consensus would dare support such a practice. It would appear I am sorely wrong.
Last week, it was with horror that I wrote the first draft of an open letter opposing the then-impending election of Dr. Baudewijntje Kreukels to the position of treasurer of WPATH. Her election was decidedly undemocratic, as she was presented as part of a slate which the membership had to approve or reject as a package deal.
WPATH, the largest and most well-recognized professional organization on transgender health, elected someone as treasurer who argued that the Standards of Care should reverse its opposition to trans conversion therapy when it comes to consenting adults.
That same Dr. Kreukels who argued just two years ago that practitioners should revive the now-defunct notion of autogynephilia and transvestic fetishism. In other words, she thinks there is a place in our psychological world for the view that queer trans women are misguided heterosexual men who are trans primarily because of their sexual attraction to the image of themselves as women.
I thought that, too, had been laid to rest by the tireless work of Julia Serano, Talie Mae Bettcher, and Charles Moser. Two theorists, one scientist, criticizing the theory from panoptical angles.
I am scared shitless at the world of tomorrow. Across the world, trans people are facing a recrudescence of violence as far-right movements are garnering support. In the United States and Canada, trans rights are under relentless, impetuous attack from conservative groups, many of whom see us as sexual deviants, a plague to be eradicated.
I wrote this poem a few hours after learning of this article from 2016, naked on my chair in my apartment, the heat of the supercharged Montreal weather taunting my air conditioner. It felt all-too-suited for my emotions. The heat, my rage, combining with the oppressive humidity that filled my lungs and made my breathing heavier than usual—a physical metaphor for the anxious apprehension that too filled my lungs.
An association with such weight and mainstream legitimacy as WPATH has is crucial to our fight for access to healthcare. It plays a pivotal support role in the fight for trans liberation. We cannot trust that an organization that has someone such as Dr. Kreukels will fervently advocate for trans communities.
We cannot. So we shed a tear for our future.
the suffocating humidity
and heat, in my small apartment
would be a fitting metaphor for how I feel tonight
any day now they’ll announce that someone
who thinks I get boners from wearing lace
who thinks that’s why I’m a woman
will take her place atop our pile of jewels and gold
I figure she’ll look a bit like Smaug
atop her treasure, the treasurer
and like the Dwarves
we’ll spill our blood as she protects it
that treasure was meant to be ours
it was our future
our bread, our wine
no, we’ll be taught
we are not who we are
we’ll be broken instead
we didn’t trust you
never should have trusted you
and we never will again
but it won’t matter
because we won’t be there
Image via Getty