Why I’m a transmedicalist, a truscum – Dana Pham

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According to Wiktionary, a transmedicalist is a person who believes that medically-diagnosed gender dysphoria is an essential trait to be transgender. Further, a transmedicalist is synonymous with truscum. Similarly, a truscum is slang and usually derogatory for a person (often transgender) who adheres to a strict medical definition of transgenderism/transsexuality and believes that gender dysphoria is an essential trait. I’ve only come across the term truscum this month, but it appears to have been around for some years.

It was a shock for me to find out that truscum is etymologically a blend between true and scum. Does that mean that I’m the truest scum of the Earth? I’ve been a transmedicalist since I figured out that I’m transsexual MtF in circa 2002, as a 14-year-old. And why not? It was the only logical way for me to make sense of my gender identity during those times, the same year Gwen Araujo was brutally murdered for being trans. I’m already considered scum by some so-called Christians, conservatives, right-wingers and feminists for being a transwoman, so why should I be considered more scummy than them?

I should clarify what transmedicalism means to me, since Wiktionary doesn’t necessarily speak on my behalf. In describing myself as a transmedicalist, I am a transwoman who believes that the science of being transgender, including especially the medicine of gender dysphoria, provides the most compelling case to society for why transgender people are genuine and valid. In simple, I believe that transgender science and medicine is writ large compared to the case for gender self-identification. Surely I’m not truly scummy still.

I genuinely want to understand why society (not me) should accept gender self-identification as a compelling case, with or without the science and medicine. As such I recently stumbled across a YouTube video by self-described ex-philosopher ContraPoints called “Transtrenders”. Essentially, Contra puts on a heated Socratic dialogue between a transmedicalist Tiffany Tumbles and Baltimore Maryland the ‘transtrender’, then a more subdued Socratic dialogue between the same transmedicalist and her ‘tucute’ friend Justine.

Tiffany was originally a satirical depiction of transmedicalists and was probably inspired by Blaire White. A tucute is someone who (is ‘too cute’ to be trans, and) believes that gender dysphoria isn’t necessary for identifying as transgender. It was quite the masterpiece on Contra’s part. The tl;dr of the video starts just after the 28 and a half minute mark, and the transcript of that (and my responses to it) is as follows:

Tiffany: Yeah thank God for transmedicalism right? Oh, except not because you just destroyed transmedicalism with facts and logic, so we have no theory. We have no theory Justine. What do we do now? How do we prove we’re valid?

(Earlier in the video Tiffany pretty much fitted the Wiktionary definition of a transmedicalist. I don’t exactly fit that definition because I don’t think it’s that black-and-white, hence my more nuanced approach to transmedicalism. As such, it’s no surprise that it seems like Tiffany got destroyed by facts and logic, but the medicine and science of being transgender is solid, as per my Gender Wars? What Gender Wars? opinion piece.)

Justine: Well maybe we don’t need a theory. Maybe we don’t need to prove anything.

(She’s right, in the sense that I was recently asked, “Aren’t you sick and tired of your womanhood being a constant topic of debate?” and my response was simply, “I don’t seek validation from others”. But how do we as trans people build a bridge with society at large? Not everyone in society would accept my response, and that doesn’t bother me because it’s okay to ‘live and let live’. That’s how it should be. What does bother me is trans activists taking little to no interest in building a bridge, and not respecting freedom of speech as a two-way street. Pronoun policing (as opposed to pronoun education) burns bridges, and I don’t want to live in a society where bridges burn.)

Tiffany: Bad things Justine, bad things!

(Bad things like Jessica Yaniv. Where do we draw the line to deal with the Yanivs of the world? And if we shouldn’t draw a line, why not?)

Justine: Well do we have a theory about why people are gay? No. They just are. The only reason we even feel like we need a theory about trans people is that society is so unaccepting of us that it’s constantly demanding we justify our own reality.

(Like being transgender, there is a science to being gay. Other than that, Justine’s right. Still, do we trans people want to be a part of society whilst being true to ourselves at the same time? Build a bridge then, because who wants to be an outcast long-term anyway? At least theory backed up by evidence means something, and therefore could be used to build a bridge.)

Tiffany: What am I supposed to tell the TERFs? That I’m a woman because reasons?

Justine: No, not even because reasons. Just because you are.

Tiffany: So it’s what, a leap of faith? Oh great, I’m sure that’s gonna convince all the rational skeptics. Justine, it makes us sound completely delusional.

Justine: Well, Tiffany, delusion is what separates us from the animals. Who do you think built the pyramids and cathedrals? Clearly not people with a perfectly rational worldview. But why do you care anyway? Aren’t you the one who thinks being trans is a mental disorder?

(It’s still a good idea for ‘delusional’ people to build a bridge with ‘rational’ people. Rationalising delusion is what built the pyramids and cathedrals, and bridges. Same could be said for gender dysphoria as listed in DSM-5, and gender incongruence as listed in ICD-11)

Tiffany: Well I wouldn’t describe it as the height of sanity. But I would prefer to think that my whole life and identity is based on something I can rationally explain.

Justine: Well what are we Tiffany, men? Isn’t the single most obnoxious thing about men, is that they think they have to wrap up the entire world in a little rational box? Maybe the most important things in life can’t be logically proved. Can you logically prove that you love your own children? No. And the attempt to prove it is as degrading as it is futile. Maybe gender identity is one of those things.

(Men make up roughly half of the world’s population, so it’s important to build a bridge with them, and everyone else. So unsurprisingly, many people in this world don’t see gender identity as one of those things, and Justine’s approach to tackling this issue isn’t helpful. As an aside, a parent’s actions can logically prove or disprove their love for their child.)

Tiffany: Okay, but then how do I prove I’m more valid than Baltimore Maryland, and the stargenders and the catpeople?

Justine: Well maybe we should stop getting so caught up in proving our validity to ourselves that we end up being horribly cruel to other people. What if we just accept all the freaks of the world? At the end of the day, maybe it’s just not as important to have logical proofs as it is to be empathetic, and open-minded, and compassionate.

(As above, I don’t seek validation from others, and I think all trans people should ultimately only seek validation from within. We shouldn’t accept all freaks though, since some freaks like Jessica Yaniv hurt others. And logical proofs can be useful in enabling empathy, open-mindedness and compassion, all of which don’t happen in a vacuum.)

ContraPoints did a good job trying to convince me to not be a transmedicalist, and I don’t think anyone else could’ve done a better job. But as you can see, she failed to convince me anyway, and that’s quite telling. Guess I’m the truest scum of them all then.

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