Updated: Apr 5
Earlier, my friend, “Jammies,” sent me a link to a Soft White Underbelly (SWU) YouTube video entitled, “Ex (Detransitioning) Trans Woman interview-Shape Shifter.” For those unfamiliar with the channel, I appreciate how Mark Laita helps people tell their stories.
Having expressed how uncomfortable she was with the story of the individual featured in the SWU video, because some procedures performed on a person’s body are beyond the bounds of possibility to reverse, Jammies inquired about what I thought concerning the topic.
Specifically, she stated, “It breaks my heart knowing people with such extreme mental illness are looking for relief in transitioning, then end up being worse off for it.” This conversation occurred via text.
While I generally encourage people not to engage in lengthy textual conversations, Jammies and I have years of working through misinterpretation issues which usually arise with texting. That stated it is my hope that presenting my written response herein will be met with similar understanding on the part of the reader.
Also, Jammies is well aware that I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) in my personal and professional life, as she can now recite tenets of the method to me. Additionally, the views expressed herein reflect mine and mine alone, not those of the Albert Ellis Institute.
Without further ado, here is how I responded to Jammies:
The main issue, as far as I see it, relates to—and go figure, as an REBT therapist, I’m takin’ it here—what people BELIEVE about their circumstances. Here’s the setup:
A [Action] - I’m unlike others of my same sex/gender.
B [Belief] - I believe, “Things SHOULDN’T be this way and I can’t stand that they are. Therefore, I MUST change my anatomy so that it better aligns with my psychological worldview.”
C [Consequence] - Sorrow, anger, and disgust with oneself as one is.
Without disputing the rigid belief, one proceeds with a remedy that is little more than an external Band-Aid to address an internal wound. Keep in mind that the wound is psychological (intrinsic) and is unlikely to be healed by extrinsic means.
Rather than treating a delusion—and I know it sounds judgmental to call it what it is—people are addressing symptoms of the delusion. Think of it this way: A slow leak underneath the sink may stem from a cracked seal, rusted pipe, or some other structural issue. Applying a dressing to the leak or placing a container to catch water only addresses symptoms, though not the issue.
But wait, you may think, “Deric, you’re using a metaphor about resolving the exterior issue and with a leak, replacing one damaged seal for a new one would actually work.” I like where your critical mind is.
In this metaphor, the leak is the belief, not an anatomical part. If left unresolved, the BELIEF will erode the foundation. Slapping on a temporary fix won’t work, nor will a permanent though misapplied fix.
To be crude, cutting off my [penis] and then having to keep the hole open by stretching the wound several times a day ain’t the answer. That only addresses the physical protrusion (my [penis]) and not the psychological delusion.
Therefore, disputing the BELIEF is the proper remedy. The self-disturbing belief is: “Things SHOULDN’T be this way and I can’t stand that they are. Therefore, I MUST change my anatomy so that it better aligns with my psychological worldview.”
D [Disputation] - (Shortened version) Why shouldn’t things be as they are? Who’s to say I ought to be like others? Is there genuinely a singular feeling associated with being a man, woman, etc.? Is it so that I can’t stand being as I am? If that were true, how’ve I managed all this time as I am? Why must I change the exterior when my interior is the issue? Wouldn’t becoming more accepting of who and what I am be a less intrusive place to start? (And so on and so forth.)
Effective new belief - “Although I’ve never believed I fit into my sex or gender, there is no universal box into which all sexes/genders fit. Placing the inflexible condition on myself, ‘I will only accept myself if I’m this or that,’ isn’t helpful. Heck, it’s not likely a healthy condition, at that. Therefore, while I’d prefer to be comfortable with what I believe about myself, I can unconditionally accept myself as I am. In so doing, I don’t deceive myself by pretending there’s a quick fix or that I’m always going to be happy. Rather, I can tolerate discomfort, accept what is, and lead as fulfilling a life as possible before my time on earth comes to an end.”
From time to time, I’m told that the voice within my blogposts isn’t the same as others perceive when I speak. Perhaps it’s the manner in which I write that confuses those who know me.
Still, as evidenced herein, my authentic self—promoting REBT in my personal affairs—is actually representative of how I live my life. Even as it involves controversial matters such as transitioning one’s gender or sex versus transitioning beliefs, I think REBT may be a helpful intervention strategy.
Now, I suspect there will be some people who suffer the delusion of an Action-Consequence connection—mistakenly believing that what they’ve read herein (Action) results in their disgust, anger, fear, or sorrow (Consequence). While I’m flattered that such people attribute immeasurable strength to me, I’m simply not that powerful.
I maintained these views before you read my thoughts and you weren’t disturbed in your ignorance of my worldview. Therefore, the existence of my perspective isn’t what leads to your emotive response.
Rather, it’s what you believe about what I’ve stated herein that leads to your unpleasant experience—forming a Belief-Consequence connection. Just as I used the ABC Model to demonstrate how to resolve an internal issue in my text with Jammies, you, too, can employ this method.
Noteworthy, the absurd non-sequitur appeal of an individual who denies biological facts of existence by accusing people who disagree with them of denying their ability to exist is not an argument I wish to validate. In fact, disputing irrational beliefs is what I do for a living—and I require compensation for my efforts.
Therefore, I’m not interested in hyperbolic absurdity used as a cudgel people wield so that ideological opponents can be beaten into submission. I think it is past time for people to address the reality of those who seek to de-transition, so intimidation has no place regarding my advocacy for those seeking to transition their beliefs.
While I don’t specialize in trans issues—ether assisting people to transition or de-transition—I do help people dispute unhelpful and unhealthy belief systems. Perhaps starting to transition the internal matters (beliefs) before drastically transitioning the external appendages (body) is a reasonable place to begin.
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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