Are Transgender People Ill? |Ambiguity and Abjection
Download the PDF : Are Transgenders Really Ill – Abjection and Ambiguity
I am ambiguous and disjunctive, I wear clothes of what society views as being for the opposite sex and yet I identify myself as male gender, heterosexual and yet I cross dress. If this has you confused, I suggest you forget about it, there is nothing to say really, you have to take me as I come, I am what I am, and things are how they are. If I have to give a reason as to ‘why’; I would object to the inquiry of ‘why’ as it implies a purpose, the truth is I don’t know with certainty and it doesn’t matter ultimately, if anything I have lots of fun and life is interesting for me, which may cover the ‘why question’, I really don’t know. For some people however, apathy just isn’t enough, they have to tell me and others like me how wrong I am, how I ought not, should not be doing what I am doing. This is what this essay is all about.
Before I begin I will add a further note on my personal ways. I don’t cross dress because I am gender confused, I don’t desire sexual reassignment surgery, although I have contemplated it from time to time, ultimately I decided it was not for me. I am in a relationship with a woman and have been so happily for three years and counting. I have learned so much about myself and life in general since I first tried on a dress or two, when I did it I felt elated, euphoric and relieved. Many stresses that I had over the years disappeared the moment I tried them on and it was at that moment when I truly began to grow as a person, I knew this was right for me. This can be seen as frivolous selfishness and self obsession to those on the outside of my experience, I see it as disjunctive with ideals of normality and utilitarian starting points for human rights and as I will elaborate throughout this essay, many reactions come without notions when it comes to my “selfishness”, which is better defined as ‘individual expression’, which can only ever be inherently selfish anyway. This doesn’t mean I don’t care about other people, I would say I am more interactive and compassionate, empathetic and inspired by other people since I came out of my shell, than I was before.
You don’t have to be gay to be trans-sexual, or if you like a ‘tranny’. Words are just words, if you require a label, go for it. I am not one to promote political correctness, (more specifically PC culture) but I stand firmly against bullying and mindless bigotry when it comes to issues surrounding the way I express myself and others who are similar. I don’t ask for special treatment, positive or negative, I don’t see myself as a victim either. I hope to clear up a few misconceptions that I have heard in my own experiences and those of others in order to improve the understanding of ambiguity with the aims towards tolerance, which means nothing more than apathy – meaning we should just ‘not care’ what others do if it doesn’t affect us directly. If you are involved with someone who is trans-gender, or are yourself transgender, then I strongly suggest talking to people about it. Be patient and know when you have hit limits with people, coming out shows you these limits very clearly, the trans-gender will see things in human interaction and know things about emotions that many take for granted, this is the disjunctive experience that holds many fruitful philosophical inquiries.
Scientific method and phenomenology
Phenomenology is the study of experience and how we experience. It studies structures of conscious experience as experienced from a subjective or first-person point of view, along with its “intentionality” (the way an experience is directed toward a certain object in the world). It then leads to analyses of conditions of the possibility of intentionality, conditions involving motor skills and habits, background social practices and, often, language.
Experience, in a phenomenological sense, includes not only the relatively passive experiences of sensory perception, but also imagination, thought, emotion, desire, volition and action. In short, it includes everything that we live through or perform. Thus, we may observe and engage with other things in the world, but we do not actually experience them in a first-person manner. What makes an experience conscious is a certain awareness one has of the experience while living through or performing it. However, as Heidegger has pointed out, we are often not explicitly conscious of our habitual patterns of action, and the domain of Phenomenology may spread out into semi-conscious and even unconscious mental activity.
The reason for this, is because I am talking about phenomena, experience and I will be drawing from my own experience as a cross dresser in society. Skeptics may reject this essay on the grounds that it is anecdotal and they will appeal to nature, the phenomenological method is entirely different to the scientific one, therefore the anecdotal fallacy is irrelevant, as I am not for the most part, making scientific claims about this subject. The question I implore you to ask is “Have I ever walked down the street in a dress?” if you are a man, or “Have I ever worn mens clothes and acted in a masculine way in public?” if you are a woman. If not, then you can’t possibly understand the phenomena of a transgender. Over all, I am challenging the “is-ought” dichotomy, using phenomenology as a method, drawing on Julia Kristevas’ work on abjection. I ask that the reader has an open mind, I am trying to use this method to best understand the reactions of others toward this phenomena, distorted empathy and the reliance on the idea of “normal” will be the central points in this essay. Ultimately, personal bias and a lack of understanding are the main blockages between transgender relations in society, fear of the unknown and unpredictability also play a role in radical conservative resistance.
Misunderstandings with regards to trans-sexuality are not surprisingly, fallacious. Before we get to the bigotry, which is the dynamic drive behind the ignorance and incredulity, there are a few simple logical fallacies that must be unearthed first of all. Understanding is the key, having presuppositions can prevent this from occurring.
The first presupposition of thinking that trans-sexuality is a mental illness, is circular in reasoning and falls at the first hurdle due to spite; deliberately ignoring anything outside of what the inquirer wants to believe is true about the matter making personal ignorance and assertions from incredulity the default position of many transphobes. We have to examine some meta-positions first of all, in order to tackle an inquiry that goes something like this:
“Coming out as a transsexual is like someone who has anorexia and who embraces their anorexia, as it destroys the life of others around them when they come out.”
This statement is a paraphrase of the points made in a video on YouTube made by a user called “Black Pigeon Speaks”. The first issue is that of projection. The inquirer is clearly not able to handle being-in a “coming out” scenario themselves, therefore anyone who does is clearly an embarrassment, lending to an ultimately ontologically objective view of norms and customs, which will be the main recurring theme we will examine. This is a loaded assertion (similar to a loaded question) in the sense that it is designed to provoke an emotion of guilt and bad conscience that puts the one who responds to the inquiry on the back foot, to give the impression that there is a ‘thing-in-itself’ that is ‘normal’. If you were to come out as trans-sexual you would be doing a great deal of damage to yourself and those around you because of your “mental illness” and you would almost certainly lose face. Therefore this inquiry projects these concerns on to the other, which is a matter of relative personal values placed into the one who is being inquired, or to elucidate the two participants further, the inquirer is the encoder of the message and the recipient, or as it would definitely appear to those on the outside, the one being interrogated, is the decoder of the message.
“It’s not normal”
Experience shows us there is not a thing-in-itself called normality. Signs lead to other signs in reality; binary reduction is not adequate for describing sex or gender. Historically, this form of binary thinking comes from enlightenment thought, which looks towards categorisation with a view towards utilitarianism as the ethical starting point, trans-sexuality will immediately be rejected, prohibited and an irrational phobia along with a view that sees any forms of self expression/individuality as selfish and frivolous, as it has no productive value in these types of ethics which have strong beliefs in norms.
In my own personal experience, outside society requires the label “cross dresser” to refer to me; projection is always the bumpy first few steps when mixing in society as the “other”. I recall walking nearby a popular spot for lunchtime hangouts in the summer, within the busy London borough of Islington one day, when lots of upstart professionals began to unpack their Waitrose lunch deals and eat them with colleagues in the park. Amid this scene were three of these types who I happened to overhear, their intention of course, one of them said “Oh my God, I want to tear my eyes out!” and then her friend replied, “You have to be professional.”, the other woman just laughed along with her friends. I recall “professional” as a catchphrase from a British TV show called “The Only Way is Essex”.
The first woman who I heard was clearly trying to impress the second, the second woman was stating the norm she expected her friends to conform to and the other was probably regretting not enforcing the norm as bluntly as her friend who wanted to perform optical surgery and provide that image to everyone around her, while they were eating their lunches. Peer pressure, social hierarchy and hegemony along with a “top down” view of how power functions in society, are expressed with projection toward those who are seen as different, disjunctive, or put simply out of place when compared to norms, customs and culturally articulated conventions. The norms in this case were dictated by a TV show catchphrase, a TV show that promotes flash cars, expensive clothes, lifestyles of general snobs who have a very Herbert Spencer view of Social Darwinism.
“You have to be professional”, was as bizarre as it gets to me. Who am I supposed to be professional for? What purpose would ‘being professional’ serve? I am completely outside of the office politics of these people, clearly that’s all that matters to them, which shows this misplaced ‘inside experience’ when encountering ambiguity. When I asked them what they were saying, I was given blank stares and silence. At that moment, I realised that customs and norms are mostly habitual, there was no real notion of why I had to be the ‘abject’. Julia Kristeva wrote about abjection in her book, ‘The Powers of Horror – An essay on abjection’, she comments on the way we react to phenomena and objects that are outside of our usual experience, the symbolic order in luminal space. The abject is neither subject nor object and the action of abjection is rejection, prohibition and in many ways, being a total snob. Many reject what they consider in binary terms “the impure and improper” in contrast to the “pure and proper” due to customs and norms; abjection describes many social interactions, including racism, bullying and phobias.
A peripatetic talk about Julia Kristeva’s “The Powers of Horror – An Essay on Abjection”
What is abjection?
Abjection gives one a sense of what they are not; it is ‘the me, that is not me’. My personal issue to take up with this professional woman, would be why it is so important to define what she is not, maybe it is to gather a sense of self righteousness, in order to fuel her position as alpha in the small group she plays politics with in her office, constantly worrying about another Queen Bee coming along to knock her off the top of the hive in her hegemonic metaphysical construction of top to bottom power games. I think the abjection is a defence mechanism of some sort, to reject and prohibit anything that reminds the one who is abjecting the other, of power being a two way street. Contemplation of being able to be outside of their own concerns is too dangerous a thought for them, therefore everyone has to be subject to the same rules, customs and measured in terms of how pure they are in this strict idealism of theirs.
Constantly defining what we are not, does not focus on what we are. I can hardly say I envy this mindset at all, sounds like hard work, constantly making sure I am not certain things and having to attack anything that could expose me to things that I ‘ought not’ or ‘should not’ be according to conventional cultural articulations that are viewed in the most empowering light as arbitrary and optional. I can’t say that lack of envy would be reciprocal here; I think this is at the heart of the abjection, a narcissistic fortress that protects the role one functions in, yet resents. Seeing that roles are illusions, even gender and identity, are optional, is just too much for some. All that hard work was for nothing; therefore we have to act like it meant something. How dare I, someone you have never met before, do things that you wouldn’t do as it means you wouldn’t have to take yourself and others so seriously!
In group/out group dichotomies
This outside/inside confusion when dealing with ambiguity is the default cause of abjection in transphobic individuals. They can’t imagine themselves being able to handle the “coming out” experience and misplace themselves within that experience while curiously being entirely outside of the situation. When they say I am supposed to be professional, they are talking about themselves if they were in my shoes. This empathy, or imaginary leap into the other as independent from their own subjective sense of values, is distorted due to abjection. What is even more bizarre is that most transphobes never actually deal with these matters face to face; most will probably never meet and know a transgender themselves. Why some people get so upset is amazing to say the least.
Norms and customs
It is true however, that coming out as homosexual, transsexual, or transgender can be traumatic for the one coming out and those around them, mainly due to misunderstanding backed up with utilitarian morality and the belief in norms. It wasn’t so bad for me, my family are tolerant. A few bumpy moments, but n the whole, I was lucky. I did have some grief on the internet with a small community of religious nuts who I was involved with, but that could hardly be seen as a problem. If I am comfortable with it, then that’s all that matters. It is fair to say that families can break up due to this, but then families can break up due to lots of scenarios. If a child from an aristocratic family were to desire marriage to someone who those around them consider to be below their class, this can be more or less the same scenario. The aristocratic parents may disown them cut them off from the supply of family money until they meet their demands and ultimatums. Oddly enough, although there are some obvious objections, this would be considered “acceptable”. If you wear a dress when you are a man, then this is somehow worse. Other scenarios surrounding wanting to do something that is disjunctive with the narrative one is surrounded by, all of which can lead to relationship disintegration, transexuality disclosure is no exception from this and can’t be treated as exceptional, it is rather ordinary once one understands the essence of being an individual and having drives, desires and values that one can’t ignore, to the extent that inclusion and exclusion are inevitable ultimatums. Coming out as a trans-sexual is not as unique in these matters as some may believe, norms and customs can become a blockade for many individuals.
The emotional appeal from the loaded assertion is a classic “somebody please think of the children” philosophical bullet shield. The child is held in the air to shield the bigot from understanding, letting the child take the hits and then blaming the one who dared to “make the child impure”. I am not saying that children don’t get hurt in these situations, if anything the children are subject to the same torments we all face where customs, norms and abjection are concerned. The abject in luminal space is that what sits in between the epistemic objective of purity and innocence and the ontologically subjective disclosure that is considered to be offensive and thus has to be prohibited from spreading impurity throughout this luminal space. Stress in children and other dependents within the social circle of the transgender are usually more to do with the trauma, as they resist understanding the situation due to norms and customs. Imagine what it’s like to one day be treating someone you know intimately like a human, the next they are public enemy number one just because they look different, this is very confusing to children and indeed the trans-gender. This one of the most prominent forms of patriarchy in modern society.
Time is a healer
Transsexual disclosure is not the paramount example of children being torn due to norms and customs. Tribalism is very prohibiting towards “the other”, therefore abjective. Time is a great healer however, norms and customs adapt to what is imminent to the situations we experience. For many people in today’s world, being a relative or friend of someone who is trans may have some conflicts, but a few months down the line the deal is not a big one anymore, tolerance sets in when one realises we can’t control everything and that we are wasting our energy doing so. Tolerance just means apathy. There is of course the problem of selection bias, not every trans-person will face the same problems when they come out, or if they do, it is not long lasting, it depends on the norms and customs around them, more on this shortly.
Identity is not illness
We are dealing with gender identity and the sense of it, trans-sexuality is an identity issue and if one is not fulfilling who they are, this can be more destructive in the long term. It is important to define what we are talking about when comparing trans-sexuality to mental disorders. Often more than not, transphobics love the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual from the American Psychiatric Association and use it to label that which is different, but not every label in the DSM is an illness, Gender Dysphoria being one of them. The transphobic not only uses his incredulity to ignore wilfully the fact that identity is not illness, but also the fact that mentally ill persons are not trying to prove anything to anyone, but as we have already covered, losing face is what bothers them the most and no amount of pictures and blocks can sway them away from their limited understanding of how some people are different from them and what they consider to be “normal”.
Anorexia Nervosa falls into the spectrum of “Body Dysmorphic Disorder”. The more psychiatrically literate of you will note how this spectrum is suffixed with “Disorder”. It is a psychosis, which means that the unfortunate victim of Anorexia Nervosa is in a delusional state that they are not aware of. Contra to psychoses are neuroses, which are when the patient is aware of disorder, conditions such as anxiety and depression are the most basic examples. Thinking you are fat when you are wasting away means you are mentally ill, especially when one refuses nutrition and begins to deteriorate sometimes, sadly to their death. Being thin or fat, is not identity. The causes of Anorexia Nervosa are not known, it is a fair assumption that it has something to do with the environment one is in, as it seems to be prevalent within modelling circles and high level athletics where thin body weight is seen as more desirable. It is a contingent occurance. To be classed as delusional, one has to have a strong conviction that despite strong contrary evidence, one will be certain that their conviction is true.
Let’s say that I said I had dinner with john Lennon last night and even if you showed me news footage of his murder being reported, I would still be convinced that it happened. I wouldn’t be lying, I would be delusional, I would be absolutely sure that something is happening when it isn’t.
Straight away here, I will be cut off by the transphobe. “They are delusional as they think they are a woman when they are a man”.
Hold that thought. To understand why this is not true, we need to understand more about the terminology used in psychiatry. A mental illness or disorder is a state of mind that causes suffering or a poor ability to function in everyday life. Anorexia Nervosa, part of Body Dysmorphic Disorder is certainly a mental disorder, as it causes suffering and a poor ability to function in everyday life, it can even cause death. Social context and norms are usually considered as part of a diagnosis of mental disorder, for example, Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University was once in a community where a schizophrenic who hears voices was hearing voices in an African tribe where hearing voices was considered a norm. A schizophrenic can still be diagnosed as strange behaviour even in this community. In some instances where this has occurred, the schizophrenic patient will be more reclusive and withdrawn from social activity and others within the same cultural group will note how the voices heard are not the same as theirs, or they hear them at the wrong times. A double standard arises when in some cases, Gender Dysphoria is sometimes diagnosed alongside Anorexia Nervosa, the incredulity and ignorance of the bigot will brush over this phenomenon, as it would mean having to take into account that they simply can’t be conflated if they are diagnosed conjunctly.
The reference to relative cultures is to be taken more as a side topic, rather than an argument against the claim at hand. The point is that our perceptions of mental illnesses and how we determine ethics is not as black and white as transphobes make it out to be. Their ‘ethics’ are something like ‘drugging to prevent illness’, instead of seeing identity as a normal individual variation. Drugging people to prevent their own choices, or physically retraining them through custody and probably in some instances, the firing squad is dressed up as a genuine concern for well being, rather than a cruel practice of intolerance.
Case in point – Black Pigeon Speaks bought up a medical paper that reviewed the drug pimozide which has been reported to repress cross dressing and transsexual urges in cases of doubtful gender dysphoria.
Harm and variation distinction
An Anorexic sufferer will be easily identified as ill, both from physical appearance and their behaviour and thought patterns, but what if an Anorexic was within a community of religious ascetics? Would starving yourself to the point of looking like a human tent of bone be seen as abnormal in a group of people who starve themselves for religious enlightenment? How do we know that religious ascetics are not really Anorexic? Being underweight when one believes they are overweight is something you can empirically measure, gender and sex are not only distinctly different particulars, they are also not as binary as you would first believe, in experiential terms the more we take in what gender is, the more we can come to terms with the conventionality of gender, it’s entirely arbitrary and subject to cultural articulation.
Like we mentioned in the case of the loaded assertion, sometimes coming out isn’t a disaster as the one coming out is in a community that understands the issues surrounding transsexual disclosure. Does that mean all of those who understand are ill too? Selection bias can lead to tautologies.
The subject of identity can’t be conflated with delusion, our sense of ourselves is determined in a number of ways concerning the environment, psychological development and beyond into the unknown. A rigid stance against phenomenology as a methodology is the inevitable extreme of the strong empiricist. Gender identity can’t be tested and measured with the scientific method. This rejection of method reveals science denial, by rejecting the human sciences, except for psychology when it suits their narrative.
Restrictions of naturalistic science terms
Having gender that is at odds with the conventional (not ultimate) binary of gender is not delusional, as there is no possible means to provide empirical evidence to contradict the experience. True and false don’t come into identity, it can’t be interrogated in the same way as the dinner with John Lennon, which either happened or it didn’t. Phenomena, or simply put – experience, of gender identity is not to be conflated with sex. Therefore conflations and appeals to nature are the problem here.
Difference between sex and gender
Sex is not gender. Gender is expressed as characteristics pertaining to and differentiating between masculine and feminine. Sometimes sex and gender “match” with our conventional metaphysics of gender and sex, sometimes, like those who experience Gender Dysphoria, don’t match with these conventional metaphysics. An individual experiencing Gender Dysphoria will clearly express characteristics, behaviours, thought patterns and other aspects of mental activity and being, in a way that is at odds with their biological sex, men will behave like women and women like men. There is no way to dispute these phenomena as actual and authentic, hence why sexual reassignment surgery will often overcome the Dysphoria and the identity of the person will match their subjective sense of self when the SRS is complete. More on this shortly, it’s worthy to note how abjection works into this eventuality along with projection, again, amongst transphobics.
Conflations of transphobia
Let us review the conflations. Anorexia is equivalent to Gender Dysphoria, yet Body Dysmorphic Disorder brings with it Anorexia, yet Gender Dysphoria is not Dysmorphic Disorder. If this was the case, psychiatry would diagnose Gender Dysphoria (which is basically the opposite to euphoria, it just means “not feeling elated about my sense of gender identity”) as a Disorder, as an illness, which as we will now see, is the subject of discussion regarding the structure of the DSM V and other previous and future volumes. Remember that Gender Dysphoria can be diagnosed alongside Anorexia Nervosa, which means they are distinct from each other in every way.
Problems with the DSM
A 26 page PDF http://apps.bps.org.uk/_publicationfiles/consultation-responses/DSM-5%202011%20-%20BPS%20response.pdf where the British Psychological Society responds to the APA regarding the DSM, primarily it addresses how –
“Clients and the general public are negatively affected by the continued and continuous medicalisation of their natural and normal responses to their experiences; responses which undoubtedly have distressing consequences which demand helping responses, but which do not reflect illnesses so much as normal individual variation”
This is the central issue for all disorders, classifications and diagnoses with the DSM V, but what really has relevance to this inquiry is the following quote from the response to Gender Dysphoria specifically :
“We believe that classifying these problems as ‘illnesses’ misses the relational context of problems and the undeniable social causation of many such problems. For psychologists, our well-being and mental health stem from our frameworks of understanding of the world, frameworks which are themselves the product of the experiences and learning through our lives… Of particular concern are the subjective and socially normative aspects of sexual behaviour. We are very concerned at the inclusion of children and adolescents in this area. There is controversy in this particular area – the concept of a ‘diagnosis’ of a ‘psychiatric disorder’ disputed. Labelling people who need help as ‘ill’ may make supportive and therapeutic responses more difficult. ”
With so much controversy and ongoing debate as to what mental illness actually is and what exactly the role of psychiatry is regarding Gender Dysphoria, the elements of social norms, the affirmation of experience as a learning curve in life that should not be restricted to outdated, stigmatised and dogmatic views regarding what mental illness is, for example, if one does not wish to work in a job because it makes them depressed, yet the society they live in has strong work ethics propped up by utilitarian morality, no other options would be available to that person, they would be forced to like what the society likes and would be considered ill until they submit to the moral code. Morals are not truth.
The rejection of relative realism and perspectivism, phenomenology as a methodology that can understand psychological phenomena, in fact it was from the phenomenological method that psychology was born, using psychiatry in a way where what we abject is “ill”, with less than satisfactory reading into the discourse surrounding labelling in mental health operations, reveals that comparing Anorexia Nervosa to Gender Dysphoria is not only an assertion and argument from incredulity, backed up with an argument from ignorance, it is also laced with conflations of sex and gender, empirical science with phenomenological inquiry, bought about from believing in an ontologically objective sense of morals, norms and customs that hold no value within the experience of the disjunctive sense of gender. We will address the use of the term ‘diagnosis’ shortly.
Another statement that clarifies one can’t use the same method of inquiry to explain another method is also elucidated in the same response to the American Psychiatric Association.
“The putative diagnoses presented in DSM-V are clearly based largely on social norms, with ‘symptoms’ that all rely on subjective judgements, with little confirmatory physical ‘signs’ or evidence of biological causation. The criteria are not value-free, but rather reflect current normative social expectations. Many researchers have pointed out that psychiatric diagnoses are plagued by problems of reliability, validity, prognostic value, and co-morbidity.”
Put simply, the transphobic position is one of cherry picking what suits the narrative that transexuality, sexual ambiguity and by extension, homosexuality, are to be discounted on empirical grounds, yet empiricism has no place in the description of the diagnosis. They think in misplaced concrete terms, values such as “bad” and “not good”, which is entirely subjective, it is “not value free, but rather reflect(s) current normative social expectations”.
Confusing ‘what is with what ought to be’ is the problem, the concerns are not for the one who is Gender Dysphoric , it is for the sake of some idea of what a norm is for that person, it is something outside, not inside and therefore has nothing to do with the inquiry. Our ‘professional’ friend comes to mind here again.
It is the equivocation of ‘diagnosis’ that may allow us to excuse the laymen and credulity of these encoding inquirers. Diagnosis is the identification of the nature and cause of certain phenomenon, not only for symptoms, it’s also for solutions. Gender Dysphoria is the diagnosis of a solution, not an illness. Anorexia Nervosa is the diagnosis of an illness. The YouTube channel ‘Black Pigeon Speaks’, conflated illness with identity, propping up this straw man assertion with the idea that transgenders are to be seen as a cult of mentally ill Anorexics who ’embrace their illness.’ I mean, are you guys serious?
Language is slippery
One cannot “cure” homosexuality or transexuality, as it is not the type of “diagnosis” transphobics have in mind. Just because someone had to go to a psychiatrist for a diagnosis does not mean they are ill in the same way as someone with Anorexia is ill. Having a sense of gender identity that differs from biologically assigned sex from birth is not harmful, therefore not ill, the only elements of illness that exist within this experience are ones of anxiety and depression, substance misuse and even suicide, but this is usually due to the frustration of not being able to come to terms with ones gender difference internally due to customs and norms, morality and other external pressures that may prevent the autonomy of the person, in that sense, yes there is illness, but these are not psychoses, they are neuroses, the person is not deluded, they are usually in denial, regressive and conflicted until such an eventuality where one confronts their gender issue and is able to reach acceptance, leading to a point of practical decision.
This is the human experience in general, the only difference between this person coming to terms with who they are and other people is that their issue is at odds with the social narrative. The same states of anguish, depression, anxiety, angst, substance misuse or even suicide can occur with anyone coming to terms with who they are in a number of situations. This is what I personally term “The Disjunctive”.
Take for example the struggle of being-within a religious family with strict orthodox beliefs, practices and etiquette and the disjunctive type begins to discover over time as disclosure that they are not as devout in these orthodox beliefs, they believe something else that is unorthodox, or to a greater extent, they don’t believe in any form of the doxa at all and are atheist. To those who understand atheism as nothing more than a lack of belief in Gods, one can place themselves within the disjunctive experience here to understand how difficult this would be in a rigidly dogmatic environment, to stand at odds with your upbringing, to expect consequences that could be very severe, for simply having a mind of your own that does not agree with the construction of yourself that belongs-in-the-world-of-others, that we in some sense are ‘confiscated’ by others in luminal space.
The stress of having notions that are not simply at odds with the self-for-others, one will be at odds with previous notions of their faith, to doubt is to sin, maybe it is better to forget about it and hope these thoughts will never return, with these emotions, that the faith alone will hold the answers in the future. This all serves to plunge the disjunctive type into further disjunction to avoid abjection in luminal space, a powerful mechanism of denial begins to operate, over the understanding that floats in the background of each moment of revelation, that seduces and tempts towards a greater sense of clarity, transformed intentionality, that one will be-toward-acceptance.
The denial-self is always a social norm, a custom, something that is part of the super ego that is culturally articulated, first initiated by the father figure as the source of our sense of conscience, guilt, etiquette, manners, remorse and other social interactions that construct the self that is sensitive to abjection. As Kristeva rightly asserts, “To each ego, it’s object. To each superego, its abject.”
Summary of Freud
The problem of worshipping these norms and customs is repression of drive, personal values, to have a sense of self that is a tug of war between id and super ego. The equivalent of an infant that has a sense of omnipotence and contra to the overly demanding infantile id that requires pleasure, we have no ego, no sense of self that could possibly regulate and balance the powerful dictator that is the overly judgmental, guilt ridden superego, as it yells at the infant of the id.
When drives are repressed, the ego cannot direct-itself-towards; therefore it has no self directive intentionality toward objects of its own choosing. All one will have are the constructs that please the superego, that conform to the customs and norms, or the wrath of guilt will be cast upon egoic objectives. The abject will be the only mode of interaction, only directive towards “not being rejected”, which undoubtedly causes emotional distress, shall we say, Dysphoria?
It is from this impractical life of denial, confiscation and fragmentation of the ego, depression, anxiety, Dysphoria and other issues of self harm, substance misuse and general psychological problems can arise. To even the most stubborn incredulity, one can see how the binary oppositions that govern our affectation, behaviour and thought, ideas, are constructed not as descriptions of what things are, but how they should be. The description/prescription dichotomy is a difficult duality to overcome when understanding phenomena. This makes these metaphysics identical to the phenomena of abjection outside of the inside of being disjunctive, such as experiencing Gender Dysphoria. When explained in the same terms as our example of a rejection of family traditions that extend to social traditions, we can see how conventionality can become very restricting, dominant, lazy – as customs, norms and traditions can be regarded as a given without any notions and finally, they are destructive, the tug and pull of hypocrisy within ones’ own experience of conflating inside with the outside through the fear of luminal abjection, leads the disjunct into denial and self harm, even outward projection towards others who express the prohibited abject. When we look at this behaviour and the motivation behind it, an inability or unwillingness to come to terms with this disjunction, we can see the way rigid dogma that judges everything around itself as prohibited, unclean and impure, in order to make denial of ones disjunction worthwhile. This over rationalisation of “I can’t and neither can you” is a forgotten choice for many until they are faced with some who did and can come to terms with disjunction, regardless of abjection. We are all humans, labels dehumanise and this adds to the loaded assertions, projection and general cherry picking and incredulity with ignorance, which builds up the structure of the transphobic. This is why I have to conclude that norms and customs are nothing more than habits, rather than conscious considerations, they are purely reactive.
Overall, we can quickly extract how common and usual this type of challenge is to people from all cultures across the world. It is not a mental illness to be at odds with customs and norms. One has to question the way norms and customs corrupt when it comes to understanding the mind of individuals, making a person what is desired by society is clearly degenerate, the liberation comes when society learns from individuality and changes with them, rather than grinding its gears against them, turning them into scapegoats.