You people, always wanting more, more, more. And here I spent the morning
trying to sleep carefully hand-crafting a video amusement for you.
After you watch that, a li’l bloggage:
One of the bright spots in an otherwise damp afternoon was catching this on one of my many trips up and down the Nautical Mile: Alix Spiegel’s fascinating look at two toddlers with gender-identification issues. From NPR/All Things Considered. Please don’t be put off by any ooh-ick feelings you might have; this is as intelligent and sensitive a look at the subject as you can ask for. You know all those transgendered people who say, “I’ve felt like I had the wrong body since I was very young?” These are those very young people.
A little past its sell-by date, my ol’ pal Lance Mannion’s sketch of his life in Indiana.
Fresh meat, thrown to the ravening herd! Tear it apart!
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 8, 2008 at 12:26 pm
It is a good piece, and yet . . . if you go to a doctor “who is considered an expert in gender identity issues” i guess the odds are good that you’ll end up hearing a diagnosis of “gender identity disorder.”
But if you go to an oncologist, they will have the same tendency, yet aren’t going to end up insisting that a hernia is a tumor. The story, such as we have it, is a kid with major obsessive tendencies (not that there’s anything wrong with that!), which seem to both include and go beyond identity issues.
I think there are indisputably people who have physical and psychological borderline status, and society (and yes, the church/s) need to proceed with great care and caution and compassion in figuring out how to deal with this category, which i’d call “transgendered” except it’s already become an ideological platform. This story left me uneasy for entirely different reasons — adults projecting their issues onto small children, and then shaping them to fit their needs (which can often masquerade as concerns).
And i’m talking about the doctor more than the parent. OCD the kid has in spades, but that was hardly mentioned and i wonder if it was dealt with — this is an area that medical science handles much better than just ten years ago, as with bipolar.
Good work by the reporter, either way.
beb said on May 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm
Do I get to shout “Frist!”?
So Lance Mannion is not connected with the Mannion Forum, a right wing outfit that put the John Birch Society to shame. The Mannions (I’m not sure if I’m spelling their name correctly) were horsey people and showed up at some of the same 4-H horse shows my sister participated in. It was a weird disconnect for my 12 year old self that someone so dispicable politically could have some other, more human activity.
beb said on May 8, 2008 at 12:30 pm
Oops, too slow. no frist for me.
nancy said on May 8, 2008 at 12:31 pm
Lance Mannion is a pseudonym for a man named David (mumbles), and it comes from an old episode of “Cheers” — it’s one of Sam Malone’s aliases when he checks into motels, I believe.
moe99 said on May 8, 2008 at 12:43 pm
nancy, great video!
Let me know if you ever make it to Honolulu. I have a good friend there who has his 24′ sailboat moored on the island there, and he enjoys taking friends out for a sail.
Connie said on May 8, 2008 at 1:07 pm
I recommend these books on the subject of transgender:
As nature made him : the boy who was raised as a girl by Colapinto, John, is about a boy whose botched circumcision led his parents to raise him as a girl and his choice to live his adult life as a male.
She’s not there : a life in two genders by Boylan, Jennifer Finney, is about a Colby College professor who has the surgery to become female, and how his wife, friends, co-workers, and students dealt with her gender change. Author Richard Russo was a good friend and I kind of chuckled over his difficulty in dealing with it.
Connie said on May 8, 2008 at 1:10 pm
I’m not an Indiana native, but have spent 22 years in the state, and am not quite as negative as Lance about it. (Perhaps because I’m closer to Chicago than he was?) I am far more negative about 14 years in southern Indiana than I am about my 8 yrs at the northern state line. I hate the old fashioned local politics, and I especially hate having to publicly reveal which party’s primary ticket I want to vote in. I will retire someday in Michigan, which has its own set of problems, but well, even though I left the state in 83 I’m a Michigander. And a Spartan. And a Wolverine. Which has its own set of problems.
Honeyboy Wilson said on May 8, 2008 at 1:14 pm
That’s a lie. Lance Mannion is his real name. I know the guy. We’re that close. This David Mumble person doesn’t exist.
alex said on May 8, 2008 at 1:15 pm
I heard the NPR program yesterday and thought it was well done. One phenomenon that doesn’t get much attention (and perhaps this is why these parents aren’t checking it out medically) is that of XX male syndrome.
There’s a wide spectrum of intersex physiology and most physicians, if they’re familiar with it at all, have seen only the obvious cases with ambiguous genitalia. The 46 XX male, however, may have a perfectly developed and absolutely unambiguous male body. Nobody checks chromosomes in perfectly developed babies. And so…
David Mumble Person said on May 8, 2008 at 1:16 pm
This is true. I don’t exist. But if I did and if I blogged and if I used as my nom de blog the name Lance Mannion it would be because Nancy Nall stuck with the name long ago.
sue said on May 8, 2008 at 1:46 pm
Nice boat, Nancy, but how are we all going to fit?
sue said on May 8, 2008 at 2:11 pm
Well I don’t know who this Mannion guy is but he likes Terry Pratchett so he’s obviously my kind of person (or people, apparently).
Danny said on May 8, 2008 at 2:20 pm
Alex/Nance, I think that “Unambiguous Genitalia” is the new “Makeshift Memorial” of garage-band names
Joe K said on May 8, 2008 at 2:35 pm
I just knew there would be yelling and such. I remember you writing about family projects in the past. Will actually be in dtw tomorrow for my nephew’s wedding. Up around Van Dyke and metro parkway. It will be strange to see from the ground,usually I am around 5000ft above the city. Will keep an eye out for your yacht whilst I fly over. Watch out for the big freighters there seems to be a lot of traffic this year.
Jolene said on May 8, 2008 at 2:59 pm
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides provides a fictional treatment of the fallout surrounding gender identity issues. From the Amazon blurb:
“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974.”
It’s been some time since I read it, but it was very engaging.
As for the real world, I’m worried about the first kid in that story. My totally untested (since I’m not a parent) theory of parenting is that parents ought to pay attention to what their kids are, like, excel at and then (a) get out of the way so that the kids can express those inclinations and (b) help in whatever way they can.
Opportunity is huge in terms of what we become, but, given that, I’m constantly impressed by how there’s an inner rightness for each of us and that, when its expression is thwarted, things just don’t turn out very well.
Both kids will face challenges as they get older, but at least Jona will know that her parents tried to understand her, accepted her, and tried to smooth the way for her to be herself.
nancy said on May 8, 2008 at 3:12 pm
What I found interesting is that neither of these boys are “intersex” in the way we usually think of it. No ambiguous genitalia (as in “Middlesex”), no obvious glitch in the works. Just a ghost somewhere else in the machine.
And what I found admirable about the journalism was how empathetic it was. You could see the heart, and the uncertainty, in both paths. Also, how much both parents really and truly loved their sons and wanted what is best for them. I shudder to think of kids like this in the hands of less compassionate adults.
alex said on May 8, 2008 at 3:30 pm
Nance, that’s why I’m perplexed that they didn’t have the kids’ chromosomes checked. They might very well be chicks with dicks. For real.
Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on May 8, 2008 at 3:37 pm
Alex, that’s the point — the doc in the first case seems to be so into a “model” he can’t see the forest for the . . . um, Dr. Freud, your witness. Anyhow, practice some medicine, doctor. First, do no harm — when you’re trying so hard to fix someone you don’t notice the harm you’re adding, it’s time to go back to Hippocrates.
Jolene said on May 8, 2008 at 7:06 pm
I agree, Nance, that both sets of parents were doing what they thought was best for their sons, but I couldn’t help but think that Bradley’s parents, despite the best will in the world, were acting with the outcome they wanted in mind rather than focusing on the facts at hand. Ordinarily, a goal is a good thing, but I don’t think reshaping another individual’s identity–that which we know about ourselves without being told–is a good goal.
brian stouder said on May 8, 2008 at 7:43 pm
Great video! It seemed like Spring was here last Sunday, and election day was sunny and beautiful….but since then (just like in the video) it’s all “Who’ll stop the rain?”
Looking at beautiful vessels flitting about as the wind crosses the water, I sometimes think I’d like to be a sailor, and then – upon reflection – I realize all I really wanna be is a passenger!
MichaelG said on May 8, 2008 at 9:30 pm
I’ve been in the L. A. area for a couple of days. It seems I missed some excellent sessions at NN.c.
The rental car people gave me a Passat. I was most favorably impressed, Nance, it’s a really, really nice car.
One of the neat things I did while in cool, cloudy Southern California was to survey restrooms for access compliance. During one fun packed morning, in the course of which we trooped through about 8000 restrooms, a great philosophic question posed itself to the members of our all male crew: While in the bog, do women read the newspaper society pages the way men read the sports pages?
This also raises the question of how the electronic media will respond to the male need for sports pages in the loo.
Great video. I was just wondering where the fire boat escort complete with all the spectacular water plumes might have been. Somehow I missed it. Seriously, I enjoyed the movie. This blog is taking on whole new dimensions and I love it. Somehow, with all the blogs I cruise, this is the best — my “home blog”.
Dexter said on May 9, 2008 at 1:04 am
All the while as I watched the boat being launched , I thought of J.P McCarthy. He always made a huge deal out of boat day. He had people on his show talking about boat day just before the calendar so proclaimed it had arrived.
He would get detailed weather reports from first Mal Sillers and later John McMurray, as boaters wanted to know .
J.P. has been gone for thirteen years now; I tried to listen to Paul W but quickly abandoned WJR in the mornings.
J.P. was usually a little late getting his show rolling and frequently we would get an extra cycle of news before he arrived. J.P. and his Rolodex containing numbers of presidents and senators and experts and interesting folks surely made my 50 minute commute a richer experience.
That Rolodex is probably is some radio museum now…it should be. I miss J.P.’s St. Paddy’s show the most.
I guess no one can replace people like J.P. and Neal Shine.
nancy said on May 9, 2008 at 8:14 am
Michael, there’s a restaurant near Mt. Pleasant with an empty frame in front of the urinals. Every day, the staff puts in the day’s sports page. There’s a lower-down urinal for boys, and that’s where they put the comics page.
And, yes, the ladies’ stalls have Features. I’d be mildly insulted if I were looking for something to be insulted about, but mostly I’m just amused. And the food is good.
Jolene said on May 9, 2008 at 8:38 am
Morning, everyone. I happened across another commentary on the NPR piece re the (apparently) transgender kids. Thought you might want to check it out. Some interesting observations by the blogger, hilzoy, and interesting comments by her readers as well.
MichaelG said on May 9, 2008 at 8:44 am
Nothing to be insulted about, Nance. I was making a mild joke. It’s well known that some men read the sports section on the pot. This applies more to workplaces than restaurants. Nobody really thought that women brought the paper to the potty much less the society pages. After surveying about your 968th restroom anything that seems amusing is welcome. Besides, they don’t even have society pages anymore, do they? Except in those slick city and regional magazines.
nancy said on May 9, 2008 at 10:14 am
No, I wasn’t insulted at all. Actually, what I forgot to mention was your use of the word “bog.” With all these David Mitchell novels on the nightstand, I’m getting acquainted with lots of British slang terms I’d never heard before, and “bog” was one. Funny to hear it used casually a few days later, for the first time in my life.