August 6, 2013

ABC News producer Don Ennis was happy you accepted him in transgender form as Dawn Ennis, but he's back to being Don again.

... and hopes you understand:
“I accused my wife of playing some kind of cruel joke, dressing me up in a wig and bra and making fake ID’s with the name ‘Dawn’ on it. Seriously” Ennis wrote....

“It became obvious this was not the case once I took off the bra — and discovered two reasons I was wearing one,” he said, referring to his hormone-induced breasts. “I thought it was 1999 . . . and I was sure as hell that I was a man,” Ennis said...
He claims to have had amnesia at that point:
“Fortunately, my memories of the last 14 years have since returned. But what did not return was my identity as Dawn.... I have retained the much different mind-set I had in 1999: I am now totally, completely, unabashedly male in my mind, despite my physical attributes.... I’m asking all of you who accepted me as a transgender to now understand: I was misdiagnosed...."

“The new change I’m revealing to you today did not arise because I couldn’t hack it, or people wouldn’t accept the new/real/female ‘me,’ or I had trouble finding shoes that fit...”....
Let this be a lesson to... whomever the shoe fits.

Read the whole article at the link. There's some weird stuff about his mother giving him female hormones when he was a child to preserve his acting career, playing young. There are also photos of him as a man and in his female guise. I don't know his whole story, but I suspect there are males who have some effeminate traits that they ought to just accept as part of their individual identity. Maybe we should put more conscious effort into embracing men like this so they don't get the idea that drastic measures are needed to get to some stereotypical notion of normal. Let both males and females partake of masculinity and femininity in whatever proportion and balance feels normal to them. To regard an unusual balance as a problem is to reinforce stereotypes, as if stereotypes are good. But elsewhere in life, we reject stereotyping.

39 comments:

Amichel said...

Amnesia huh... it's almost like giving massive doses of feminine hormones to a man might have some unexpected side effects. What happens in 3 more months when he wants to be Dawn again? Will they just put him back on the hormones?

I mean, how can we take seriously the claims of transgender people trapped in the wrong body when one of them can so easily want to transition back? Or was Don never really transgender in the first place?

Matthew Sablan said...

I think it would be interesting to be in his head, especially during that weird transition time. I think we could learn a lot about how the mind works [assuming that this is legit and not just him yanking people around, though it -sounds- legit judging just from this one linked article. Strange, but potentially true.]

It makes you think though: How could doctors have missed the part about his mom pumping him with hormones and not that: "Hey, why don't we try to balance that out FIRST before we do anything else?"

surf-ed said...

Nonplussed.

AaronS said...

I love the notion that getting to normal is what motivated someone to do something that was abnormal. This is really an important insight into our society. We are so obsessed with science and the concept that a person does not add any choosing to their sexuality that we have arrived at a really bizarre spot.

Consider 5-ARD. 15 years ago science was certain these boys were girls and made sure the genitals agreed. Now science ain't so sure. But a remote village in the Dominican Republic that has a very high incidence of the disorder had no recourse but to just observe and live with the effects. And lo and behold when puberty struck it was pretty obvious they were boys. No scalpel necessary.

Deirdre Mundy said...

This harkens back to the elementary-school-aged transgendered kid from a few months ago.

His parents were sure identified as a girl b/c from babyhood he liked the color pink and played with dolls.

At the time, I think someone brought up "Billy wants a doll" and the fact that it used to be the 'tolerant' position to say that boys could like lots of things.

Now we seem to be shifting back towards very defined gender roles, and the idea that someone who doesn't act stereotypically needs to be put into a third gender.

I wonder why the pendulum's swinging that way? Have advances in technology removed the need for open-mindedness?

Jane said...

I always worry, when I read stories of "transgender children" that a large part of their insistence comes from the very binary worldview that children have. If you like pink and pretty things, that is what makes you a girl. Short hair, action figures = boy. That was what my kids understood of the world when they were small.

And when adults reinforce it -- when we've left William Wants a Doll behind and when adults seem more comfortable with the idea of a transgender child than with a boy who likes stereotypically girl things, or the reverse, that's even more troubling.

At the same time, I just spent a part of my afternoon yesterday telling my 10-year-old that, no, he can't have pink shoes. Was I wrong?

(Sigh -- I ought to blog about this, and then link to my blog, and everyone reads it. But I only have enough time to comment before getting back to work, and then by the time I do have time, in the evenings, all the interesting posts on the blogs I follow are already commented-out.)

Moose said...

...and they wonder why we have problems accepting LGBT people as serious.

SGT Ted said...

It indirectly showcases the incoherence of the Progressive gender assertions. When it comes to being "gay" they claim its immutable and inherent at birth and is NOT any sign of a disorder or illness. They make the same claims about the transgendered.

They also make the contradictory claim that heterosexuality (hetero-normative) is a social construct that can be changed through ideology and brainwashing. But being gay is not.

They want sexual re-education indoctrination for heterosexuals to not be heterosexuals, but they want to affirm an unchanging status of sexuality for those *not* heterosexual.

Then some guy like this comes along and provide the ultimate proof against their assertions.

Incoherent. Contradictory. Entirely emotionally based, driven by nothing but their emotional and political desire. Its how the left rolls.

SGT Ted said...

Autogynephilia is what remains unexamined and not spoken of, because it's "hate" to point out that some of the male to female transgendered may just be mentally ill. I suspect the same in some female to male conversions.

"Those I met after surgery would tell me that the surgery and hormone treatments that had made them “women” had also made them happy and contented. None of these encounters were persuasive, however. The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women."

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2009/02/surgical-sex--35

Scott M said...

Let both males and females partake of masculinity and femininity in whatever proportion and balance feels normal to them. To regard an unusual balance as a problem is to reinforce stereotypes, as if stereotypes are good. But elsewhere in life, we reject stereotyping.

Simply labeling an activity, feeling, or other thing a person might partake in is stereotyping, isn't it? Why do we feel compelled to look at an activity and call it masculine or feminine?

Because as human beings operating in a society mostly peopled by people you don't know personally, we error on the side of caution and that caution is based on a set of expectations. There's no ill will involved. It's just the way we appear to be wired. Attempts to buck that always seem to end up in either frustration or a commune, or both.

I have no idea where this "guy" is on the spectrum of gender-benders, but it seems to me that the main problem with it is that "he" has externalized a personal problem and is, as a result, inflicting expected behaviors on those around him. He compounds the problem by being in media and thus is exposed to a greater number of people than the average "Joe", inflicting those expected behaviors on a much larger swath of humanity, most of which are pretty damned well sure whether they should sit down or stand up to take a leak.

Lyle said...

Oh, the things we don't fully know about the human brain.

Terry said...

There are psychologists who believe that 'transgender' men (most of them, anyhow) have a mental disorder.
Good luck not being stoned to death for holding that professional opinion.

Bob Ellison said...

Terry, Oliver Sacks, a neurologist, has written against gender re-assignment. I've never found an online citation, but he did, probably in The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat.

I've had a few bouts of craziness, induced by extremely low blood-sugar levels. It's difficult to understand or deal with craziness. Laypeople and professionals alike should step back and think about how and why they draw the conclusions they do.

n.n said...

Perhaps there should be an extended period of gender identity settlement and not coerced integration, which is disruptive and causes collateral damage to innocent bystanders.

Perhaps the expression of uncorrelated gender identity should be considered for evaluation in order to distinguish between natural and induced confusion.

This state of flux is, among other reasons, why there must be objective standards, especially for efforts to normalize behaviors. Most behaviors may be tolerated, but there is no legitimate reason to normalize or promote their exhibition. People must understand that normal, as with ambient temperature, is not a single number. That authentic diversity is of the individual and not of incidental features or behaviors, and realign their goals accordingly.

The mom knowingly and intentionally gave him female hormones (i.e. drug). She is guilty of disrupting this man's physiological identity, which must be classified as an abusive behavior. We know the consequences of these drugs, both concentrated and cumulative. We know the consequences of indoctrination. This is no different than the tobacco (or pharmaceutical) companies producing and marketing a processed product which is a gross distortion of the natural product in order to emphasize its more "desirable" traits.

bpm4532 said...

I'll wait for the book to come out.

Deirdre Mundy said...

I once worked with a guy who went from being a gay man to a transgendered lesbian woman.

But he had major issues. He used to claim his dad was refusing to pay his tuition "because he didn't want a gay son." It turned out the dad's objection was that this guy was cutting class to go to gay rights rallies, and getting arrested for throwing things at cops.

I sometimes wonder if the sex-change happened because being gay just wasn't getting him enough attention. (Since most of us reacted to his 'out and proud routine' with a 'that's nice. But there's a customer waiting at the register.' I mean, this was a big University in the late 1990s in a big city. The only reason anyone CARED about someone's sexual orientation was if they were interested in romance.

Freeman Hunt said...

Maybe we should put more conscious effort into embracing men like this so they don't get the idea that drastic measures are needed to get to some stereotypical notion of normal. Let both males and females partake of masculinity and femininity in whatever proportion and balance feels normal to them.

This!

I think people in the future will look back on the medical profession's complicity in the sex change business as an abomination.

If you are an effeminate man, you are fine as you are. It's fine to be an effeminate man. Don't let people tell you some nonsense that you are really a woman. If those people can't accept effeminate men, shame on them.

Same if you are a masculine girl. It's fine to be a masculine girl. Don't let some fool with an agenda to feed tell you that you're really a man. That's just backwater narrow-mindedness in fancy dress.

Don't listen to those who would mutilate you.

You are wonderfully made.

madAsHell said...

That is one creepy looking dude/dudette.

Someone should check the crawl space under his house.

Freeman Hunt said...

You know which country carries about more sex change operations than any other country in the world?

Iran.

Leading people to sex change mutilations is not a form of tolerance.

Richard Dolan said...

Odd story and stranger spin on it by Ann. Taking them in order:

"Maybe we should put more conscious effort into embracing men like this so they don't get the idea that drastic measures are needed to get to some stereotypical notion of normal." Who is that mysterious "we" and what suggests that "we" have anything to do with this guy's weirdness? The idea of "embracing them" so they can realize their inner selves is embarrassing feel-good blather. As for that "stereotypical notion of normal," what is the contrast you are drawing between competing notions of "normal" (stereotypical vs accurate, or something else)? In your telling, are stereotypes the new "narrative," offered in a fake-but-accurate way, versus some more reality-based, arithmetical notion of "normal"? But stereotypes and "normal" aren't conflictiong concepts. Stereotypes arise from common perceptions -- they don't work if they don't resonate at some level of truthiness.

"Let both males and females partake of masculinity and femininity in whatever proportion and balance feels normal to them." So who's stopping anyone from acting according to whatever "proportion" works for them? If that was supposed to be a comment about the common culture, it's been a long time since Ozzie and Harriet went off the air (for good reason).

"To regard an unusual balance as a problem is to reinforce stereotypes, as if stereotypes are good." Most people just regard an unusual balance as unusual, i.e., not the norm and not normal. And stereotypes are neither good nor bad; instead they are generalizations that often oversimplify reality. That can be a problem depending on what they are being used to do. But I don't see how invoking stereotypes in this story adds anything useful -- this guy certainly didn't seem to be inhibited at all in his Don-to-Dawn-to-Don adventure.

"But elsewhere in life, we reject stereotyping." Sometimes yes and sometimes no -- recent political campaigns have often been all about selling stereotypes to the public. O's last campaign was a case study in how that can work. Stereotypes are rejected (in the law anyway) because the law focuses on the individual and the specific evidence relating to the conduct at issue -- generalizations about what 'people like him' tend to do are antithetical to that inquiry. But in that regard the law is hardly a mirror to all of life -- it all depends on the particular generalization, the purpose at issue, and who is doing the rejecting/accepting.

Ann Althouse said...

"Simply labeling an activity, feeling, or other thing a person might partake in is stereotyping, isn't it?"

Yeah, I'm not saying label it, then disregard it. I'm encountering people who already have these labels and telling them to accept whatever balance they find that they have.

Saying don't put the labels on in the first place is another option, and it could be more efficient if people can get outside of the place where they find themselves.

Either approach is good, in my view, but I think we're seeing men who feel bad about being men while feeling drawn to attributes that other people count as feminine. So they already feel bad, and other people already have those opinions. The question is what to do next, for the individual who feels bad.

cubanbob said...

Being chemically altered and surgically mutilated isn't something done on a lark. Presumably otherwise normal people wouldn't do this unless they truly felt they were opposite sexed trapped in their bodies. All the same this is one weird story.

Terry said...


Ennis had previously told friends that he suspected his sex mix-up happened because his mother gave him female hormones as a child that made him look and sound young to prolong a bit-part acting career, but he ended up developing breasts and started thinking he was a woman.


This is something a fabulist would say.
Why is it so difficult to say that this man is not mentally well?

Sam L. said...

So, who is this person, and why should I care? Not to mention, who/what does he think he is, and why...?

Broomhandle said...

I don't really have an opinion about the larger issue of gender change but there doesn't seem to be much doubt that this guy had an extreme nervous breakdown.

LordSomber said...

Isn't it just cheaper to be a transvestite?

jr565 said...

Deirdre wrote:
I sometimes wonder if the sex-change happened because being gay just wasn't getting him enough attention. (Since most of us reacted to his 'out and proud routine' with a 'that's nice. But there's a customer waiting at the register.' I mean, this was a big University in the late 1990s in a big city. The only reason anyone CARED about someone's sexual orientation was if they were interested in romance.

That's interesting.
I actually was thinking that a lot of lesbianism is women needing attention and getting it from their gfs at an early age.

For example I know someones daughter who I knew liked the Jonas Brotheres,Zac Efron and host of other boys. THen she went to high school ON her face book page she is putting up pictures and all of her girl friends say "You are so beautiful". and every time they put up a picture they all say "You are so beautiful" back and forth. It's so narcisistic. But I recently saw a link that she posted where she is apparently now dating one of those girls. And my though is - is it the positive reinforment at a young age that makes girls go gay? It also seems to be what makes many girls go into porn. Or be sluts. Someone has to say "I love you" Or "Youre so pretty" and they need that so badly that whoever says it to them at a key momemnt in their life dictates where they are going to get that effection in the future.

And perhaps womens sexuality is more malleable than men (as in they might date their gf in highschool but not give up on guys later in life and become full on lesbians).

But this might be true for gay dudes as well. My mom knew a gay couple in the early 70's. She lost track of them and saw one of them about 10 years later. She asked how his bf was doing and he said they no longer were together. HE then said, he was married with a kid to a woman. My mom was shocked and said she thought he was gay.

And he made the pint that he started dating his lover when he was in high school and that his lover was the only one offering what he considered affection at the time and he confused wanting that with being gay. My mom then asked if he was bisexual and he said, no, heterosexual.
Now, he could be one of thos gays who keep trying to be cured of their gayness and pretend to be straight. But by the same token, maybe some of the people who think they are gay may not in fact be gay. Or gayness may be more malleable than we think.

jr565 said...

Men thinks he's a woman, gets a sex change, then hates himself as a woman and gets another sex change to go back to being a man.

A VERY peculiar engagement

And this guy (Robin Goldstein )changed his sex to a woman, then back to a man, then back to a woman.

Some sex changes change back again

"Asked what she identifies as now, Goldstein describes herself only half jokingly as "a straight, white, Buddhist, vegetarian, lesbian fraternity boy trapped in the body of a recovering transsexual patent attorney with a bizarre sense of humor, and a master’s degree in city planning."

She also says:
"The first time I transitioned," I felt I needed to ask permission to those around me. Some people freaked out." The second time, "I was still concerned about it, but had more of a sense of power." By the third time, "It was like, dude, whatever. I am who I am. If you love and support me, great -- and if you don’t, fuck you."

YOu are who you are? And what is that? Do you even know? IF you did you wouldn't need to keep having sex change operations.

Doctors are doing these people a great disservice accomodating their insanity. One of the worst things is they are pumping them full of hormones, in ways that we don't fully understand which may have long term physical ramifications becuase they think they are a different gender. Even after they have their genitals removed they are still the same gender, they just mangled their sex organs.

Scott M said...

So they already feel bad, and other people already have those opinions. The question is what to do next, for the individual who feels bad.

I would certainly agree with this, but the problem in this case, at least in regards to his peers/co-workers, etc, is that there is a characteristic that is almost universally abhorred...the flip-flopper. The wishy-washy.

He went forth, made this dramatic statement that blew a lot of people's minds (I'm guessing here, but I'm probably correct) and they appeared to have dealt with that mind-blowing in a mature way. Then, he comes back, changes his mind. THIS is the aspect that most of us, if involved, would simply check out and never check back in, so to speak. Nobody wants much to do with people that can't be relied on for, if not normality, consistency.

I have a more interesting social question in mind. When "Dan" made his original decision public, I imagine he made a lot of new friends in a hurry, if for no other reason than mutual support of so-called non-traditional lifestyles. We, the non-anything vanilla Americans, are called to avoid or, indeed admonish judgemental behavior when someone flips genders or comes out.

I wonder how tolerant his new friends were when he declared he was crossing the Rubicon and going back to being a dude.

Scott M said...

Isn't it just cheaper to be a transvestite?

It's far cheaper to simply stick with the plumbing that was originally installed and buy jeans accordingly.

Birches said...

This reminds me of an article Taranto highlighted where a feminist mom gushes over her daughter's rant at Target's rows of pink dolls and blue legos, "Why don't they just put a penis or a vagina on every toy so you can be completely sure you're getting the right one?"

My son loves his older sister's My Little Ponies. But I don't take it as a sign of his sexuality or gender identity. They're colorful and pretty and different. We did a coop preschool a few years ago and one boy (who only had another brother) always picked pink for his color, because it was different from everything else he had. No fuss.

It seems as if the hardcore leftists are the ones that are painting people into corners because of their desire to be tolerant. "OMG! My son is really a woman. Look how tolerant I am!" Let people be.

Terry said...

RJ565 quoted:
"Asked what she identifies as now, Goldstein describes herself only half jokingly as "a straight, white, Buddhist, vegetarian, lesbian fraternity boy trapped in the body of a recovering transsexual patent attorney with a bizarre sense of humor, and a master’s degree in city planning."

OMFG. A ''master's degree in city planning'.
This person is trying to make a career out of deciding where you shop, what kind of transportation you should use, where you should live, and what kind of neighbors you should have.
Because market forces and human freedom result in irrational, indefensible choices.

TMink said...

Jane, good point. I had a friend who was sure her son was gay because at 4 he liked pink. Really.

But this story about Don Ennis is sad to me. What in the world was that like to go through? Poor guy. I hope he has a good therapist.

Trey

MaxedOutMama said...

But most people are missing the obvious clue that this guy has a severe psychiatric disorder. When he writes this: [i]"I accused my wife of playing some kind of cruel joke, dressing me up in a wig and bra and making fake ID’s with the name 'Dawn' on it. Seriously," [/i] a reader of even average perception should immediately grasp that he's confusing his wife with his mother, which at this point in his life is just not sane.

Now the mental disorder may be organic or it may be primarily in his personality, but the guy's TRULY MESSED UP IN THE HEAD.

And then our dear moderator assumes that this guy's problems are due to some social intolerance? Not a bleeping chance. Look around. Men and women are pretty much free to dress as they wish, and they DO. Not every woman with a man's haircut is doing it to troll for hot lesbian sex. I know quite a few in GA who do it because it's convenient and comfortable, and they are at the point in their lives where they just don't care what other people think.

This man was always free to cross-dress or be however he wanted. Instead he's enmeshed in some sort of internal psycho-drama, and his mental stability will not be enhanced by everyone else assuming the responsibility for that.

I live in the bleeping Bible belt. No one's going to freak even here at women dressed like men or highly androgynous men. They exist here, many of them are in fact heterosexual, and no one bothers the ones who aren't.

This problem has nothing to do with society and everything to do with one man's internal conflicts, and one has to be fouled up in the sexual-political cant of the day not to see that from the content in the article.

No adult without a severe mental problem assumes that someone else dressed them up, gave them breasts, and got fake ID. Come on now.

Carol said...

his lover was the only one offering what he considered affection at the time and he confused wanting that with being gay.

well, and there was practically a tradition in the upper classes of having gay flings while away at some exclusive college, Wellesley or Oxford, whatever. And boys were set upon in British public schools...

but later on all but the most dedicated queers went on to get married, have kids and forget all about it or become downright homophobic.

People take this orientation stuff way too seriously now.

Terry said...

Carol wrote:
People take this orientation stuff way too seriously now.

'Orientation' is a term of art. There is no biological test or psychological test that can definitively determine a person's sexual orientation.
Back in the 50's the military tried all kinds of tests to keep gays out of the armed forces, including weird devices to measure bloodflow to the penis in various scenarios. Nothing worked well. Orientation is self-identified, i.e., behavioral.

This is not an 'anti-gay' comment, it is an 'anti-witchdoctor' comment.

acm said...

All I can get out of this is a bunch of pity for Ennis and his family. What a mess.

Kimberly Ellen Sedala said...

I'm a TS (transsexual who transitioned from male to female). To all who lack understanding i can only say that if you believe in God you should get on your knees and thank him for that fact daily. In truth we have very little in common with the gay community so please do not judge the LGB's based on our behavior. I contend that it has become too easy to transition or just make body modifications. There is little need for doctor approval if all you want to do is get hormones. However, the main issue this very public situation illustrates goes to the long term trauma normally associated with gender dysphoria. The other issue is illustrated by most of the comments above. Most consider this a political/social issue as opposed to a condition. We tend to see this and for that matter LGBT issues in general in terms of morality. I suggest there are enough flaws to go around and much of the problem rest in the 'T' community. We tend to over react to our detractors by making it almost socially unacceptable to say there is a wrong choice. When all this is put together we have an environment that down plays that there is a persons life at the center of it all. This is one person, not the entire community of transgender persons. Form my community there have been a lot of talk concerning the damage he has done. From other quarters we hear of definitive proof so called trans-issues are nothing more than indulgence run riot. Lets be realistic, this one example has changed nothing i doubt any one was swayed in either direction. He has at most created a ratings boost for pundits. To get back to my point we all tend to forget that he is a real living breathing person and one i suspect with issues unrelated to gender identification. No one actually believes he had amnesia, but if that's what it took for him to justify admitting his decision was wrong so be it. The absolute wrong choice was continuing to transition. Let's hope he gets the real help he needs.
Kim @>--->------>-------------

seebs said...

I know a lot of trans people. I have never met one who reached a gender identity conclusion based on being "feminine" or "masculine".

Many people appear to have an experience of self-as-gendered which is not particularly tied to social roles and whatnot.

Mostly, though... Consider how many thousands of trans people there are. Consider that the number of them who commit suicide in any given year because no one believes them is a heck of a lot larger than the number of people who "change their minds". Even granting that this may apparently happen, I am not sure that using it to justify being even more abusive to the rest of the trans people reflects well on many of the posters here.