Moshe-Mordechai van Zuiden
Psychology, Medicine, Science, Politics, Oppression, Integrity, Philosophy, Jews

Trans and Gay terminology musings

Psychologists need to clean up their parlance

I want to plead for us sharpening the terms we use in the area of sexuality. I’m not seeking a discussion — who has time for that? Not you.

Nuances are important in therapy but not so for our discussion about better basic phrases so I’ll talk in broad terms. Let’s acknowledge though, that adopting the crude categories Cis/Trans and Straight/Gay/Bi can be liberating to some, but oppressive to others.

A. Trans

I would like to request that you stop (co-)using the term “gender dysphoria” since there are two wrong words in this two-word phrase.

1. It’s not the gender that gives displeasure, but rather a deviating biological sex does. So, if anything, it should be called “sex dysphoria.” (Or to distinguish it from sexuality, “biological sex dysphoria,” BSD.)

Using “gender dysphoria” says that the essence would be the biological sex and that if there is a difference with the gender, the gender is the trouble-maker, makes trans people unhappy. That is untrue because trans-gender identity can’t be changed while sex appearance can be.

2. Who says that a difference between gender and biological sex must give unhappiness? When someone’s body doesn’t look like the way they see themselves, this may give others confusion and potentially stress. But are they “obligated” to be stressed about that themselves? Some people hate Jews but that doesn’t make me “dislike” being one.

Please, instead, (suggest to) use: “Gender Sex Discrepancy” (GSD). It’s pure and truthful, I believe. It also makes clear that much of the stress around Trans comes from Transphobia, not from any GSD.

NB: The whole idea that trans people should look like either female or male is a dictatorship of normalcy all over again. For more: Is It Rational to Be Transgender?, Thinking About Policy – Hormones and Operations.

B. Gay

Much of the confusion around the term Gay comes from it being used indiscriminately for two completely different things: 1. Sexual preference (dreams, wishes, self-identification) and 2. Sexual practice.

It’s not true that all gay practice betrays gay sexual identity (like in a case of a straight guy with an addiction to or habit of gay sex or in case of “situational” or “pseudo-homosexuality”). And, reversely, sexual preference may not always translate into matching sexual action.

It seems that therapists and researchers almost exclusively use Gay for sexual action. This obfuscates the deeper issue of sexual preference. Sexual habits can be changed, to a certain degree, but sexual orientation cannot. It is neuro-anatomically imprinted from a young age.

I understand that action is easier to measure, especially because so many people lie about their sexual preference (but also about their sexual activities). But still, using Gay mostly for action makes one miss the essence, that there is immutable sexual preference/orientation.

NB: In case of Trans people, the words Gay and Straight can be very confusing. Shall we popularize the terms androphile and gynophile? These words could also change our perspective by grouping Straight Cis Women with Gay Cis Men and Gay Cis Women with Straight Cis Men.

C. Bi

The same counts for the term Bisexual. Bisexual activity doesn’t always mean: no sexual preference. There is a world of difference between 1. the many Straight men who also enjoy Gay sex on the side, 2. the high percentage of Gay (wo)men who try their luck at Straight sex, 3. the small number of Straight women who want to get away from sex with men in favor of intimacy with women, 4. people who can have pleasant but calm sex with both genders, and 5. the tiny percentage of men and larger percentage of women who can have intense sexual feelings and attachment regardless of the gender/sex of their sexual partners.

For more on the difference between sexual action and sexual being, see point 1. and 2. in: There are four completely distinct reasons for outrage about reparative therapy.

D: Deep Attachment

The liberal attitude that therapists should espouse that in sexually all is possible, may make us forget that sexuality can help many people to bond deeply. I know that sex can be done in many ways, including outside of steady relationships. Yet, in steady sexual relationships, bonding through sex is a powerful possibility. Our awareness that sex can be done in endless numbers of ways may make us less aware of what really lies at the core of sexual preference: bonding. I’ll explain.

There is a major misunderstanding that neuro-anatomically ingrained sexual orientation would express itself quintessentially in a (partial) inability or dislike for sexuality with one gender. If this were true, there would not be such a thing as immutable sexual orientation since inability and dislike are for many people very much open to therapy and change.

Rather, sexual orientation towards one and only one gender must mean that one is capable of having intense sexuality leading to a deep attachment to sexual partners of the gender/sex of one’s sexual preference but not to the other. It seems that real love, commitment, and sexual satisfaction may still be possible with the other gender/sex but for that person not, cementing the relationship. (But if the other partner does have a partner in accordance with their sexual preference, s/he alone may bond alright.) This lack of sexual fusion leads many dis-orientated partners, sooner or later, to look for an appropriate partner, fitting their sexual orientation because the loneliness becomes unbearable, and not for lack of true love, commitment or sexual satisfaction.

I wonder if the terms sexual orientation and sexual preference should not be upgraded to sexual gender preference (SGP). Other preferences, like for body type or eye color, seem often modifiable by therapy or just change over time while sexual gender preference does not.

A sharper use of terms could help against confusions that could make us unhappy.

About the Author
The author is a fetal survivor of the pharmaceutical industry (DES - Diethylstilbestrol), born in 1953 to two Dutch survivors who met in the largest concentration camp in the Netherlands, Westerbork, and holds a BA in medicine (University of Amsterdam). He taught Re-evaluation Co-counseling, became a social activist, became religious, made Aliyah, and raised three wonderful kids. He wrote an unpublished tome about Jewish Free Will. He's a vegan for 8 years now. He's an Orthodox Jew but not a rabbi. * His most influential teachers (chronologically) are: his parents, Nico (natan) van Zuiden and Betty (beisye) Nieweg, Wim Kan, Mozart, Harvey Jackins, Marshal Rosenberg, Reb Shlomo Carlebach and lehavdiel bein chayim lechayim: Rabbi Dr. Natan Lopes Cardozo, Rav Zev Leff and Rav Meir Lubin. * Previously, for decades, he was known to the Jerusalem Post readers as a frequent letter writer. For a couple of years he wrote hasbara for the Dutch public. His fields of attention now are varied: Psychology (including Sexuality and Abuse), Medicine (including physical immortality), Science (statistics), Politics (Israel, the US and the Netherlands, Activism - more than leftwing or rightwing, he hopes to highlight Truth), Oppression and Liberation (intersectionally, for young people, the elderly, non-Whites, women, workers, Jews, GLBTQAI, foreigners and anyone else who's dehumanized or exploited), Integrity, Philosophy, Jews (Judaism, Zionism, Holocaust and Jewish Liberation), Ecology and Veganism. Sometimes he's misunderstood because he has such a wide vision that never fits any specialist's box. But that's exactly what many love about him. Many of his posts relate to affairs from the news or the Torah Portion of the Week or are new insights that suddenly befell him. * He hopes that his words will inspire and inform, reassure the doubters but make the self-assured doubt more. He strives to bring a fresh perspective rather than bore you with the obvious. He doesn't expect his readers to agree. Rather, original minds must be disputed. In short, his main political positions are: anti-Trumpism, for Zionism, Intersectionality, non-violence, democracy, anti the fake peace process, for original-Orthodoxy, Science, Free Will, anti blaming-the-victim and for down-to-earth optimism. Read his blog how he attempts to bridge any discrepancies. He admits sometimes exaggerating to make a point, which could have him come across as nasty, while in actuality, he's quit a lovely person to interact with. He holds - how Dutch - that a strong opinion doesn't imply intolerance of other views. * His writing has been made possible by an allowance for second generation Holocaust survivors from the Netherlands. It has been his dream since he was 38 to try to make a difference by teaching through writing. He had three times 9-out-of-10 for Dutch at his high school finals but is spending his days communicating in English and Hebrew - how ironic. G-d must have a fine sense of humor. In case you wonder - yes, he is a bit dyslectic. November 13, 2018, he published his 500st blog post with the ToI. * To send any personal reaction to him, scroll to the top of the blog post and click Contact Me. To see other blog posts by him, a second blog - under construction - can be found by clicking on the Website icon next to his picture.
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