By Rhyannon Styles
In 2015 Stonewall had brilliantly achieved its goals of repealing Section 28 and legalising gay marriage and needed a new raison d’etre. So it took money from the Arcus Foundation to integrate trans with LGB as if it were a sexual orientation. Having campaigned on genuinely important issues, it had a great network of gay allies in important positions all over the world. Back then trans people seemed to pose no threat and there was initially no opposition to ‘including’ them. But gradually unscrupulous men, particularly autogynephiles, realised that claiming to be trans was a cinch, so in short order we got rapists in women’s prisons, sex offenders in women’s toilets and changing rooms, men in women’s officer posts, and males in women’s sport, all claiming to be trans and claiming to be women. Secretly, our judiciary, NGOs and charities (Stonewall, Oxfam, Amnesty..) were trained in trans ideology to flout the law (which was expected to change) and women started to be cancelled.
Slowly, the women’s movement sprang into action. Our fightback over the past 6 years has been incredible and has led to an unprecedented worldwide revival of feminism in the Suffragette spirit. What nearly killed us has fortunately made us stronger, but at a cost. Now, after Maria Maclachlan, Maya Forstater, Keira Bell, Kate Scottow, Dr Kathleen Stock etc decision-makers are at last looking more closely at the effects of the attempted trans coup, for example the thousands of girls claiming to be trans and are starting to see the context of porn use, early sexualisation, rape culture and sexual violence as significant. Which leads us to…
‘HELP! I’m an addict!’ by Rhyannon Styles
It’s always instructive to read autobiographies of trans people. They don’t always convey the message they are intended to. For example Bruce Jenner said in his: ‘I’m not a woman, I am a transwoman. It is different’ and probably got hell from the trans-women-are-women brigade for it. ‘Help! I’m an addict’ covers the experiences of the author and 8 other trans people. It’s billed as ‘a powerful account of recovery’ ‘highlighting the ways in which addiction and the transition process can overlap’. But to be honest it reads more like a list of reasons why the people in it are not competent to choose what they have for breakfast, let alone to decide to change their bodies for ever along complex medical pathways for which they are not paying.
Who’s it about?
The main character, ‘Rhyannon’, born male, is addicted to (I kid you not) clothes (‘it’s all about dressing up’), shopping, alcohol (for 15 years), sugar, coffee, drugs, social media, validation, people pleasing, sex and love, dating aps and masturbation to porn. Oh and exercise and (yes, really) lava lamps (linked to the excessive shopping). I make that 13 addictions, and they go on for years. Not just hobbies, they are real addictions which rule and ruin her life, and she confesses to many relapses. She is also co-dependent and admits to being economical with the truth is her earlier life-story. To sum up with a quote, ‘I am an addict and I can’t manage my own life’ (p230).
Is transition the solution or just a new fix?
One of the positives about his book is the insights the characters achieve into themselves, and the recoveries some make from addictions (via 12-step programmes) in order to transition. But I am not convinced that it is the transitioning that improves their lives so much as dealing with the addictions. How can we possibly tell?
The others addicts are similar. All are hooked on alcohol and drugs. All started life as the opposite sex to that indicated by their name. Many work in drag. Many confess to violent emotional meltdowns. Additionally, Roisin is addicted to sugar, Pablo has anxiety disorder, George (who partly detransitions) is in prostitution and has bulimia, dieting addiction, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) and habitually dissociates. Celeste was sexually abused as a child, has abusive sexual relationships, deals cocaine, is addicted to food and exercise, has BDD and PTSD, is financially abused and is frequently suicidal. Michelle is addicted to interacting via screens and suffers severe psychosis. Samantha has BDD, prostitutes herself to buy drugs, and is addicted to spending and sex, with daily hook-ups. Mia sees a different man for sex every day. Kate is addicted to food and sex.
I don’t dismiss this anguish, chaos and confusion as a mere pity party – it is truly concerning. Addicts need help. But seriously, when all of them are self-confessedly indulging in multiple self-harming compulsive behaviours daily and none appears to have a proper job, how can they possibly be fit to decide to make a life-changing long-term choice to ‘transition’? Rightly, they are told to get off drugs if they want surgery, but beating addictions in itself leads to a healthier lifestyle, although many attest to the feelings of flatness and lack of excitement that accompany this. How do we know that transitioning isn’t just the latest external fix for a person incapable of regulating their emotions and plodding through life earning our keep and building nice relationships in the way most of us do?
Testosterone suppressors given as part of transitioning will reduce the sex drive and thus help with sex and porn addiction. A key symptom of Body Dysmorphic Disorder is addiction to surgery. Is transitioning just giving addicted people new, different drugs and processes, just legitimising BDD to run amok on their bodies? Is it, yet again, encouraging them to seek external solutions because they have not been parented, supported and educated into a capacity to regulate their behaviour and live normal lives without drugs most of the time?
Many of the addicts benefit from structured 12-step programmes provided by Alcoholics Anonymous, Overeaters Anonymous, Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous etc. In fact these seem to be the only constant structures in their chaotic lives. But where does the transitioning actually lead them? Worryingly, Mia observes that ‘all the transwomen he knows have always gone into prostitution’ (p196) which is one of the most dangerous ‘jobs’ in the world. And there are still no long-term studies showing that transitioning ‘works’ in any way.
‘Kate’ sheds light on an easy way to meet the requirement to ‘live as a woman’ (a physical impossibility of course) by using 12-step meetings where people are compelled to accept you as you present yourself: ‘I had to transition in the meetings; it felt like another place to transition’ (p217). Are they using these meetings insincerely for their own purposes? How do other attendees feel about that?
Objective NOT achieved
This book apparently wants us to feel sorry for the brave transitioners in their quest for their ‘true selves’. Instead it made me question the whole long process of transition from diagnosis to final transformation. As usual with coverage of transition, there is no information about the ongoing daily grind of life once the objective has been achieved. Why should we validate a process for which there is no long term positive evidence?
I’ll end with a quote from Roisin with which I entirely agree: ‘Addicts are very cunning and baffling; they’ll mess you around if you let them.’ I think we let them and I don’t think it helps them or us.