April 9, 2018

"Despite the physical changes wrought by the hormones, Abby continued to suffer from a profound self-consciousness about her face."

"She felt that when she was seen from the front she looked persuasively feminine, and even striking, with abundant hair that framed her face, and wide-set eyes. But when she turned her head she looked far more masculine: the bossing of her brow showed in profile, as did the length of her jaw.... Abby’s self-consciousness in the company of others was nothing compared with the unhappiness she felt when faced with her own reflection. Whenever she passed a mirror, she saw the ghost of her former self, and it appalled her. Though [the surgeon] Ousterhout had developed his [face-feminizing] procedures on the premise that his trans patients wished to move through the world without attracting unwelcome notice [and 'gradually came to believe that he should try to make his patients look not just like average women but like beautiful women'], Abby’s desire to undergo the process was more interior. The person whose reaction to her face she most wanted to change was herself."

From "The Story of a Trans Woman’s Face/For one patient, facial-feminization surgery gave her what she needed to just be herself" by Rebecca Mead (in The New Yorker).

Consider the argument against face-feminizing surgery that comes from a transgender activist, the actress Laverne Cox:
“There are many trans folks because of genetics and/or lack of material access who will never be able to embody these standards. More importantly many trans folks don’t want to embody them, and we shouldn’t have to to be seen as ourselves and respected as ourselves.” A few years ago, Cox launched the hashtag #transisbeautiful, explaining on her blog that she wanted to “celebrate all those things that make trans folk uniquely trans.” She has spoken of being grateful that, by the time she could afford facial-feminization surgery, she no longer wished to undergo it.
If you assume that it makes sense for individuals to say that their true identity is different from what their body actually looks like, would you necessarily have to go along with the idea that the true identity of a person born with a man's body and face is not just a woman's body and face but a beautiful woman's body and face (or an unusually-feminine-looking woman's body and face)?

63 comments:

Ann Althouse said...

Please focus on the specific point raised here. Don't repeat the kind of comments on other posts about transgenderism. I will remove comments that don't do more than simply state that you disapprove of the whole idea of transgenderism, that you think it's a delusion and shouldn't be catered to, etc. etc. There has been plenty of commentary like that on old posts, and it would be completely boring to provide another platform for people to say that. So please address the specific problems of facial feminizing surgery.

tcrosse said...

...would you necessarily have to go along with the idea that the true identity of a person born with a woman's body and face is not just a woman's body and face but a beautiful woman's body and face (or an unusually-feminine-looking woman's body and face)?


rhhardin said...

The way the neck joins to the shoulders is different for men and women. That's going to make you look wrong sex. The body looks like the body you started with.

Beautiful sounds like a futile effort to get around that.

rhhardin said...

There's a huge need for a pronoun convention that says what the original sex was in order to understand trans stories. Otherwise you never know what you're talking about.

Freeman Hunt said...

I know lots of people who've had plastic surgery. I don't know any who adopted the pretense that it made them more authentically themselves.

mccullough said...

We are all heroes in our imaginations.

I saw the movie Ready Player One this weekend with my 12 year old son who had read the book.

Not giving away any spoilers here, but there was a deft exploration of identity in the movie. Most of the movie takes place in a virtual reality world called The Oasis. There, all visitors pick and use their own avatar, which is a somewhat idealized version of themselves or who they want to be or feel like they are.

The parallel to this transgender movement and, lets be honest, burgeoning trans race teen is interesting.



mccullough said...

“Trans race trend”

YoungHegelian said...

The problem with feminizing a post-puberty man's face is that the blast of testosterone in adolescence shapes the male face from the bones outward. The forehead, the cheeks, the chin bones are all thickened & made more "angular". Thus, to feminize the face of a post-pubescent male involves pulling up the skin & muscle of the face & cutting back & thinning the bone underneath.

None of which is easy for the doctor or pleasant fro the patient. In fact, many trans-advocates recommend starting male to female transitions before puberty for just this reason. This, of course, brings up other ethical issues, such as can a minor or their parents actually give informed consent to such radical medical procedures.

rhhardin said...

I figure, owing to a lifelong interest in physics, I'm a guy trapped in a guy's body.

As a guy, I don't care how I look.

That gives you a guy look.

Rigelsen said...

Is the judgment substantially different if you remove trans- from the equation? Do you have to go along with the idea that anyone’s true identity is not the face they were born with, but something else created by cosmetic artistry/craftsmanship, whether surgical or otherwise? How about the person who believes his true identity involves being tattooed all over, including the face? Isn’t there often an element of “uncanny valley” that goes along with cosmetic surgery? If the impact is dramatic enough, as often with facial tattoos, can’t the response go to revulsion?

The thing is, few people would find everything about their body or face to be perfect. We generally consider it psychologically healthy to learn to live with that, at least within normal parameters, such as that changeable with diet and exercise. Now if any person, whether trans or not, feels themselves perfectly normal with a different face, or even skin color, that’s no skin off my nose. If it makes them look funny, well, I can’t promise not to be puzzled or even repelled. Of course, there might an underlying crazy that’s harder to hide.

Sebastian said...

"would you necessarily have to go along"

If transgenderism depends on the axiom that people can should be able to decide what their true self is in a purely subjective manner, regardless of biological reality, and if the rules of logic apply, then yes.

But if progs impose new limitations on the extreme subjectivity they champion, for example by treating some forms of trans-subjectivity as illegitimate lookism, and if progs, as is their won't, sidestep the rules of logic for the purpose of achieving their desired outcome, then no.

They'll tell you what "you necessarily have to go along" with, whatever it is. It's what progressivism is all about.

holdfast said...

Cox's celebrity and identity is pretty much all derived from being Trans. And bluntly, being an outrageous freak - and making the squares squirm. That's the source of the show, media coverage, etc. That's Cox's deal.

Abby just wants to be a woman - that's Abby's goal. Not to be a Trans icon or Trans trailblazer. Just to be a woman, or at least as close to that as can be achieved through cutting-edge medicine. I dunno if that's right or wrong, logical or crazy, but it's about re-making Abby to feel ok, not about re-making the world.

My sympathy is with Abby. I hope that all the surgery and hormones bring Abby peace and happiness.

Cox is just another camera wh0re in an era full of them - of all sexes, genders, colors and stripes.

mockturtle said...

Some plastic surgeons will do anything for the money. Witness the late Michael Jackson and many Hollywood stars gone overboard in search of perfection. Sad.

YoungHegelian said...

@holdfast,

My sympathy is with Abby. I hope that all the surgery and hormones bring Abby peace and happiness.

The only problem is that the parts never really work. They can't. It's just too complicated.

Think about how complex the enervation of the female genital system is. It's impossible to re-create that, but without it, no orgasms are possible. In male to female transitions, surgeons can now fashion realistic looking vulvas, but the vagina itself is a different matter. Every cell in a trans person's body is genetically coded as male, & seeks to maintain & repair a male body. Thus, the vagina is treated as an open wound which the body seeks to repair. If a tran-woman doesn't use a "dilator" (essentially a dildo) to keep the vagina open, it will close up over time.

Needless to say, the self-cleansing, sexual lubrication, & bacterial biome functions of the natural female's vagina are right out the window, too. I'll leave to the imagination the issues that follow, as I've already been graphic enough.

Bay Area Guy said...

I will re-offer the data I have provided in other threads.

According to the NIH longest, most recent survey or "sexual orientation" in the US, we have:

96.6% -- straight
1.6% - gay or lesbian
0.7% - bisexual
1.1% - "something else"

So, with using Spock-like logic, homosexuality in general is a tiny minority phenomenon. It is like focusing on male breast-cancer cases (there are a few).

Now, to dig down deeper, the numbers of trans-sexuals, is a tiny minority of this tiny minority.

This would be like focusing on male breast-cancers in gay men.

The point is, Yes, of course, we need to treat folks different than us with dignity and respect and compassion. But don't lose sight that this is a tiny, tiny minority of a tiny-minority.

Krumhorn said...

Once the conclusion has been reached that the body God me does not reflect who I think I am, then I hardly see any logical or ethical impediment to carving up that body in the attempt to meet my, rather than God’s, expectations....which is why I now look a lot like Derek Jeter. I was going for Oscar Peterson Jr and missed by a wide margin. My piano playing hasn’t improved a bit, but I do get laid more often so there’s that.

- Krumhorn

Rob said...

The pursuit of facial femininity often seems misguided. As a young man, Bruce Jenner was a good-looking guy. Once she became Caitlin and feminized her face, she became an ugly dame.

traditionalguy said...

Their struggles to be something they dream will fulfill their needs is terribly sad. Acceptance of themselves as is seems a bridge too far.

Trumpit said...

Why are you "re-offering" some bullshit data to make an asinine point? I already knew you were a homophobic bigot a la Archie Bunker. Hate-filled heterosexuals like you should be locked in a closet, after being neutered. I said neutered not murdered. Make America Hate Again.

gg6 said...

ALTHOUSE: "...Please focus...Don't repeat the kind of comments on other posts about transgenderism..... it would be completely boring .... please address the specific problems of facial feminizing surgery."
Right. Got it. Pls leave a comment as long as it is a comment that suits the purpose, tastes, POV, attitudes, preconceptions, boredom, mood, frustrations and foibles of the comment commander....Ja, das ist die Liechtensteiner Polka mein Schatz! Polka mein Schatz! Polka mein Schatz!
Sigh.

YoungHegelian said...

Why are you "re-offering" some bullshit data to make an asinine point?

Why is the data "bullshit"? Other previous polls have come up with similar numbers.

Just because you don't like someone's sociological data doesn't mean it's "bullshit". And even if the person who points out the data is a "homophobe", how does that change the fact of the data being wrong or right? Whatever BAG may be, he wasn't the guy who paid for or performed the survey.

Jupiter said...

"So please address the specific problems of facial feminizing surgery."

OK

"If you assume that it makes sense for individuals to say that their true identity is different from what their body actually looks like,"

If you assume that gender is unrelated to chromosomal expression, then in what sense is it possible for surgery to be "feminizing"? Are you trying to say that my big, swinging dick doesn't look "feminine" to you? Well, bigot?

gg6 said...

"...would you necessarily have to go along with the idea that the true identity of a person born with a man's body and face is not just a woman's body and face but a beautiful woman's body and face"
Would I logically, much less "necessarily", even give a damn or care a twit?

Bay Area Guy said...

Why are you "re-offering" some bullshit data to make an asinine point?

Well, I enjoy seeking the truth. Sometimes directly, sometimes indirectly. But it's not bullshit data, it's just data. And there isn't a big point to make, let alone an asinine one.

I already knew you were a homophobic bigot a la Archie Bunker.

You know nothing of the sort. But, I did like Archie Bunker! Are you Meathead? Those...were..the..days

Hate-filled heterosexuals like you should be locked in a closet, after being neutered.

No, too many hot women would object to this.

I said neutered not murdered.

Yes, you did!

Make America Hate Again.

You used "hate" twice in one screed. Ya gotta vary it up a bit. I don't hate anybody, but Nazis and Communists and KKK-types.

Ann Althouse said...

"...would you necessarily have to go along with the idea that the true identity of a person born with a woman's body and face is not just a woman's body and face but a beautiful woman's body and face (or an unusually-feminine-looking woman's body and face)?"

Right. I'd thought of that too. At what point is one's sense of really being other than what one is a matter of profound concern to other people and when is it ordinary longing to have something other than what one has got?

One answer could be: When you're making a lateral move. Going from male to female or female to male is changing to something different but not better. Becoming more beautiful is just wanting more, not the same thing that many others have.

The surgeons are highly gifted, but people get plastic surgery to become more beautiful. What's wrong with wanting more beauty? Well, you could say, it's fine, but don't tell me it's your true identity.

But there is some confusion around the idea of the extra-feminine face. It is perceived as more beautiful. Someone with the naturally male face needs particular modifications to get to a female-looking face, but there's a question whether the surgeon should go for the average female face or the more female than average face, so that the patient goes from looking more masculine than the average woman to looking more feminine than the average woman (and, because of that, is more beautiful).

If the patient says I want my face to match what I feel like inside, a very feminine woman, then that is what this doctor is going for.

But in the case of the patient discussed in the article, this person was always attracted to women and that was still the situation after the hormones and the surgery. For all the added femininity, this person did not feel attracted to men (we're told). Whether a person who feels especially feminine could be a lesbian (or a very masculine mane could be gay) is a question I wouldn't purport to know the answer to.

n.n said...

And for those with a homosexual or bisexual orientation, they would wear a two-face to reflect a juxtaposition of feminine and masculine genders. Would this apply to otherwise heterosexual males and females who indulge in transgender acts?

Also, there is the case of environmental distress (e.g. burn victims) who undergo facial reconstruction to recreate a known visage. However, that is not a transgender performance, but a mitigation of memory dissonance.

Trumpit said...

He's a bigot with an agenda. Are you in the same category? I'm calling him out on it. Why is he thrusting some poll in out face. Any dummy can read the Conclusion that he did. Whether it is true, relevant, or meaningful is an entirely different story. But it takes a special asshole to throw his own feces at us. He needs to thrust on his own, unless he can find some dumb girl to thrust. Good luck to both of them. There are nearly 7 billion humans destroying the earth. Heterosexuals are the problem not gays no matter how unfortunately small their percentage of the population is. If I believed in eugenics, heterosexuals should be euthanized to save mother earth. The alternative of mass sterilizations of heterosexuals is also a possibility to stop the human race from destroying everything of value.

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

I hear they're going to institute a sort of "Rooney rule" in dating that says out of every ten dates you go on, at least one of them has to be a transsexual.

robother said...

Reminds me of Frances Mcdormand's character in "Burn after Reading," who was appalled that plastic surgery wasn't covered by her medial insurance. She assumed medically necessary was any procedure she really, really wanted and thought necessary for her economic and social well-being.

Once you start down the road of funding sex change operations/treatments as "medically necessary," who's to say what is not?

n.n said...

Make America Hate Again

Diversity or color judgments that deny individual dignity.

Abortion rites and Planned Cannibalism that deny and recycle lives deemed unworthy.

Political Congruence ("=") that selectively excludes disfavored classes, orientation, etc.

Social justice adventures that are a first-order cause of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Immigration Reform.

#HateLovesAbortion

n.n said...

A transsexual would have to undergo chromosomal replacement. There are no transsexual. From homosexual to bisexual to transvestite to physiological ambiguity or dissonance, there is a transgender (i.e. divergent) spectrum of of physical and mental traits.

Etienne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mockturtle said...

Is it too late for me to become Japanese?

buwaya said...

Its rather fetishistic to insist on a certain look, no?

I grant that some people want to improve their appearance for the sake of professional or mating success, but that is an external-purpose-centered act, not a pursuit of a personal ideal. That is self-centeredness beyond the usual - into the extremity of the eccentric.

Yes I know that there are mad people who tattoo or pierce themselves into grotesques. And others who do similar strange things with plastic surgery - make themselves look like snakes or Barbie dolls. That all is mad. So is this.

YoungHegelian said...

@Trumpit,

He's a bigot with an agenda. Are you in the same category?

From your point of view, yes.

I'm calling him out on it. Why is he thrusting some poll in out face. Any dummy can read the Conclusion that he did. Whether it is true, relevant, or meaningful is an entirely different story.

Because a great deal of what passes for the struggle of Identity Leftism is based on making sure that folks never really know true demographic & sociological data because it ruins the narrative. Do you know that many millennials think that 1/4 of the country is gay? That a majority of blacks think that 1/3 of the country is black? If you believe things like this that are just empirically wrong, it's easy to get overwrought when you look around you & don't see a social reality that matches your incorrect assumptions.

BAG made the point that transgender individuals are a very small percentage of the population, & he backed up that assertion with data from a fairly neutral source. Why that should cause anyone heartburn speaks more to your issues than his.

Ann Althouse said...

"Thus, to feminize the face of a post-pubescent male involves pulling up the skin & muscle of the face & cutting back & thinning the bone underneath. None of which is easy for the doctor or pleasant for the patient."

The linked article has detailed graphic descriptions of the surgery, which involves a incision from ear to ear across the top of the head and peeling the face down and folding it over the eyes. And that's just to do the brow. Other cuts had to be made to do the jaw and chin line, and a nose job was thrown it. Plus as much filing down of the adam's apple as possible before there's danger of messing up the voice. It's very expensive and very painful.

LarsPorsena said...

The big Adam's apple is a dead give-away.

mccullough said...

Might be easier for makeup artists to do it. Less pain and a better creation. Of course, it’s not permanent. But this could be a good outlet for cosmetologists. Waxing, spray tan, professional make over.

Most guys will like like Tootsie or Mrs Doubtfire

mccullough said...

“Look like”

Jerry Young said...

I can see you as you want to be seen but my desire is my own. I can't force it; how the hell can you?

Nancy Reyes said...

So expect to hear lots of sob stories on why expensive elective plastic surgery to look beautiful (for either sex) should be paid for by tax dollars, while the elderly will be pushed into killing themselves because their life saving cancer or dialysis treatment is "too expensive" and we need the money to care for the children etc.etc. (and if that sounds paranoid, then could I suggest reading the bioethics literature over the last 30 years? Callahan's Setting Limits is a good place to start).

Plastic surgery is wonderful for those who need it, but facial reconstruction is a big procedure, both physically and financially.

Nancy Reyes said...

I should add: I am not underestimating the pain of the trans who want to be beautiful, and will do anything to fulfill their wishes.
But where is the line between desire and delusion?
I wonder if this drastic step, like those who get multiple piercings or tatoos or multiple plastic surgeries to look like Barbie or Bieber, are a variation of obsessive compulsive disorder: and alas if you don't recognize and treat that problem, no surgery will help in the long run.

Sebastian said...

"But where is the line between desire and delusion?"

When subjectivity rules, there is no such line. In fact, arguing there is one becomes doubleplusungood. Who are you to say, anyway?

Of course, the rule of pure subjectivity in practice amounts to the legitimation of social coercion, the telos of all forms of progressivism.

TreeJoe said...

If you can't feel yourself without significant external medical intervention - over-riding your body's endocrine system and physically altering your bone and skin structures - then the medical community is doing you a significant dis-service by saying that external intervention is the solution.

The rate of suicide or attempted suicide in this community is 32-50% in the U.S. as of 2015.

1/3rd to 1/2 of all people feeling this way attempt suicide.

In all societies, in all races, in all situations, never has there been an attempted suicide rate this high. Yet here we attribute it to lack of societal acceptance or the lack of sufficient medical intervention to alter physical appearance.

This is mental illness. It needs to be TREATED.

Be said...

Maybe I have it all wrong and should just stop seeing my shrink.

I am a Woman. I am a Woman who was trained in my culture to consider herself Ugly. In another cultuer, I have been called Gender Traitor by Dykes, and "bitch, you think you are better than you are" by Hetero Males.

Despite all this sort of bullshit, never once have I questioned my physical makeup.

Don't even get me started with the wanton misuse of Male Hormones in the name of "Cancer Therapy."

Snark said...

Easy for Laverne Cox to say...she’s a beautiful woman. Other trans women not so blessed may suffer mentally and emotionally, and wish to see something other than coarsened masculine features in the mirror. All the power to those trans persons who are happy in their skin, but all the power to those who aren’t as well. Some people are born to lead and be visible change agents. Others may just want to live a normal, anonymous life where their appearance doesn’t have to be a thing.

the 4chan Guy who reads Althouse said...

I do feel sorry for her.

But I don't feel nearly as sorry for her as for that woman who had her face bitten off by a monkey a few years ago.

And I don't feel nearly as sorry for her as for those children in the charity ads living in shit-hole countries with cleft palettes and shit.

And I don't feel nearly as sorry for her as I do for Rondo Hatton.

Look up a picture of him: I'll wait.

Anyway, from Wiki:

"Rondo Hatton (April 22, 1894 – February 2, 1946)[1] was an American journalist and occasional film actor with a minor career playing thuggish bit and extra parts in Hollywood B movies, culminating in his elevation to horror movie star-status with Universal Studios in the last two years of his life, and posthumously as a movie cult icon. He was known for his unique facial features, which were the result of acromegaly, a syndrome caused by a disorder of the pituitary gland...

Acromegaly distorted the shape of Hatton's head, face, and extremities in a gradual but consistent process. He eventually became severely disfigured by the disease.[4] Because the symptoms developed in adulthood (as is common with the disorder), the disfigurement was incorrectly attributed later by film studio publicity departments to his exposure to a German mustard gas attack during service in World War I. Hatton served in combat and served on the Pancho Villa Expedition along the Mexican border and in France during World War I with the United States Army,[2] from which he was discharged due to his illness."

Your face is what looks back from the mirror at you. Sometimes you just need to stop looking at mirrors.

mockturtle said...

This is mental illness. It needs to be TREATED.

It most certainly is, TreeJoe, and it certainly does.

Static Ping said...

It would be interesting to know what percentage of people unhappy with their sex are also unhappy with their looks. You would think they would be related given that both are fundamental rejection of self.

mikee said...

An ugly woman is just an ugly woman.
But a rich ugly woman is a rich woman.
If she's gonna be a woman, she'd better get ready to be judged on her looks.
Or to have sufficient funds that it doesn't matter.
And all cats are gray in the dark.

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Qwinn said...

It's a delusion, and it shouldn't be catered to.

Sorry if that bores you, but that doesn't make it any less the very necessary truth. Insisting that plain and obvious truth must be sacrificed for the sake of not boring you - yes, even though you own the platform - and we must all remain silent or pretend that helping these people physically mutilate themselves is any sort of correct answer to their mental illness - should be, but apparently isn't, embarrassing. Hell, if anything, it strikes me as a concordant mental illness. But go ahead, delete this post. Can't say you didn't make it very clear that our viewpoints aren't desired and will be silenced.

Bob R said...

"This is mental illness.." "This is a delusion.." For the sake of argument, I'll concede the points, but that doesn't make this condition any less real or any less biologically determined. And the condition is deadly serious: 40% have suicide attempts.

"It needs to be treated." Great, Dr. Welby. How? The fact is that medical science doesn't have any demonstrated, successful way to handle this. I deal with handicapped individuals on a daily basis. Individuals with conditions that have no cure. People who just try to figure out ways to cope.

You know what doesn't help them? Articles like the New Yorker piece, blog posts like this, comments like the ones above. But, of course, none of you give a damn about helping. Enjoy yourselves.

Qwinn said...

How? How about we treat it the same as any other similar form of illness?

But if you start treating anorexics by telling them they really are fat and giving them liposuction, don't expect the rest of us to think and say, well, at least they're trying something! At least they care! No.

LilyBart said...

“celebrate all those things that make trans folk uniquely trans.”

Thank you Laverne. Trans is different. It is its own thing. It seem so silly to say that a Transgender Woman is the same thing as a biological woman. But if you say this at the wrong time, you'll be crucified.

Birkel said...

Body dismorphia is a terrible thing.

Bill said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tina848 said...

This is a serious mental illness. We really need to treat the mental instability of trans individuals. Plastic surgery is probably not the first step, but counselling and other mental health practices should be. The suicide rate, the addiction rate of trans individuals is very high compared to the overall population. Why don't we try healing their psyche first.

Seeing Red said...

How much is all this costing We, the taxpayers?

Professional lady said...

Bob R,
I have two transgender individuals in my extended family. I call them by their requested new names and treat them as the gender they identify with. I haven't excluded or rejected them in any way (and I never would). However, because of the surgery/suicide implications I am very frightened for them. I really don't know whether I'm treating them in the way that's best for them. As an attorney, I've seen a lot of so called mental health experts who are venal, politically motivated, and/or incompetent. So, I don't trust their "therapists." Also, the environments they live in encourage them. I really don't know if I'm doing the best thing for them and I really don't know where or what would be legitimate and helpful therapy. I only know that it's politically incorrect in a lot of quarters not to celebrate and encourage their confusion.

RigelDog said...

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