Denial, Dissociation, and Transexuality as Incest

By Riki Anne Wilchins


(Note: In this essay, the acronym "CCD" stands for "Childhood Chromosomal-Sex Disorder," a term that, in Ms. Wilchins' usage, is roughly synonymous with childhood Gender Identity Disorder.)

Introduction:

When people are subjected to too much mental or physical pain, they find a way endure the unendurable: they dissociate from their current experience, and deny or completely suppress its memory once it is past. In incest survivors and abuse survivors, including those of us who suffer from CCD, this means many of us simply leave our bodies behind.

In my case, I just stopped being me. I spent about 36 years of my life, from about age 5 or 6 to about age 41 simply not being present. I can describe it other ways, ways I have also heard other survivors put it:

"I've always felt like my life wasn't real, as if it was all happening under glass."

"The most painful things could happen to me, but it was like it was happening to someone else."

"Everything that happened to me was like on a black-and-white movie screen. I would just sit there, and watch it happen, and feel nothing."

"All these things would be happening, and I would be just floating somewhere above it all, outside my body, just watching it."

One of the strangest things for me is that I know that much of what has happened in my life is painful, but I usually can't feel it. And my recovery process has been one of re-living, without my usual arsenal of addictions and other self-distracting tricks, all those painful moments. And this hurts like shit, but it sure beats another 35 years of numbness. I used to tell people, some friends, some virtual strangers, about some of what I've experienced. I'd see their eyes get wet and their faces get sad, and they'd say something like, "God, that's terrible" and I'd think, "Yeah, I guess it must have been." But I didn't know that it was terrible, except by their reaction, because there were no feelings around the events of my life, just a continuing sense of numbness, of no-feeling.

Denial, dissociation, and splitting off from one's experience are the ways many of us as transexuals have learned to cope. The sections on denial, dissociation and incest are arranged in the following order:

Denial I: Dissociation and Splitting Or "Look Ma, No Past!" This deals with our consumption of the family myths which made it possible for us to co-exist with our families. and they with us. It shows how many of us learned to split off from our experience and our bodies in order to survive.

Denial II: "Look, Ma, No Present Either!" or "No, That's Not a Thought Balloon Over My Head, Just My Little Sub-Acute, Chronic Depression." This discusses some of the effects of denial, especially the type of depression which results when feelings of rage and hurt are habitually repressed, the kind of depression which, over time, often begins to feel quite "normal." It also examines the kinds of physical and emotional symptoms which some of us experience as our feelings begin to come to the surface, in particular as we begin the journey of recovery. It focuses on how denial can also be a tool for repressing awareness of these compelling symptoms, just as the original, primary denial helped us avoid awareness of our abuse.

Denial III: Transexuality as Child Abuse, or, "For Your Own Good." If any women who did not have CCD were raised as many of us were, we would instantly recognize it as the rankest kind of child abuse. However, with us, many of us take the stance that our parents didn't know any better, or did what they did "for our own good." This chapter looks at this as a particularly pernicious form of denial, in which the events which occurred are now consciously known, and the emotional pain which accompanied them is acknowledged, but the victim refuses to identify it as abusive. It identifies and examines the raising of transexual children today as a form of child abuse and incest.

Denial I: Dissociation and Splitting Or, "Look Ma, No Past!"

Within the space of a single week I had heard three people say the same thing, in almost exactly the same words: "I don't want to be here." One was a close acquaintance of mine with CCD, another was a best friend of mine, an incest and abuse survivor and food addict who had once weighed over 500 pounds, and the third was me. We cry tears we have not acknowledged and so sit with dry faces at the very bottom of a well fashioned of our own pain and loneliness. With each instance of abuse, each instance of sexually inappropriate behavior by loved ones, each betrayal by those in whom we placed the total, unquestioning trust of childhood, the well grew a little deeper.

For us with CCD, the well deepened, too, at each moment we had to bury, camouflage or conceal our selves, each time we were taunted or humiliated, and each time we looked at our groins and located again and again the betrayal by our bodies that so clearly mirrored the betrayal by those about us, who claimed they loved us or had only our best interests at heart.

The well deepened further when we were socially cut off, isolated, strangled in the infancy of our desire to be loved, to be accepted, to be one of the crowd, to be treated like any other, to be understood, loved and valued in the heart of who we were, to be appreciated for what we continued to survive by living day by adolescent day with this distinctively difficult and humbling disease, survived day by day in the silent, brave and unknowingly persistent way of the young who cannot imagine alternatives and therefore know nothing yet of self-reflection or self-pity. As the gifts we brought into the world with so much heartache were discarded, ignored, despised or ridiculed by those who found in our innocence and youth a willingness to believe that it was we who were freakish and unfit and not the world which would impart such grotesque concepts to a child -- as we too often became the perfect lightning rod (solitary, receptive and accessible) for others' fear and hate; as we were simply forced into a premature hiding before age and maturity could lend our special gifts the strength and toughness they would need to bloom like Arctic flowers in the chill cold which would be their natural climate for much of our lives; as all this transpired, our well deepened still further.

And the only way out of that god-forsaken well is to climb out, scratching and clawing, bleeding fingers and broken nails, scrapes and cuts and bruises, Re-experiencing every brick and stone of which it is built, we remove it and climb to the next one. Stone by stone, brick by brick, no shortcuts, no help, no other way out. Alone, we re-experience our lives, re-live what has happened to us, how it has felt and what it has made and un-made of us.

There are no road maps for this journey, but there are very clear signposts: Follow the route marked out by those things we avoid most, or of which we are most ashamed. One of the sayings from 12-step programs is, "we're only as sick as our secrets," and as the secrets come out, the well becomes shallower. Sometimes this is even more difficult than it sounds. Alice Miller believes the Eleventh Commandment is: "Thou Shalt Not Be Aware." Many are in near-total denial over what has been done to us. People often joke there are only two answers in OverEaters Anonymous to the question, "Do you identify as an incest and abuse survivor?": "yes," and "Not yet." Denial is an amazing response to adapting to impossible surroundings. The average transexual knows by age three he or she is in the wrong body; however, a significant minority do not realize they have CCD until after puberty. For most of them, the realization will happened between the ages of 25 and 35. During all the time prior to that, they will be transexual, but not be consciously aware of it. I know, because I was one of them.

I knew something was deeply wrong, but I couldn't put a name on it and was too frightened and alienated from my own feelings to ever think about it. It wasn't until eight years after leaving home that I finally started to deal with my feelings. Even then, it took me two years of therapy to Put a name on something I was aware of plaguing me since age five. True to nontransexual form, my therapist, an otherwise gentle, compassionate and supportive man, quietly and completely freaked out, with visions, I suppose, of malpractice dancing in his head. He thereupon spent several hundred dollars of my money and hours of my time in weekly sessions devoted mostly to subtly and not-so-subtly trying to help me get back into denial again.

By that time, what was denial for me represented reality to him. Bob could only comprehend my naming and owning my transexuality as some type of psychotic break with reality. And this is interesting in itself. for this educated, enlightened and feminist man, my denial represented reality. Think about this: my denial was so complete that I could live for two and a half decades without once naming who or what was happening to me. This, by itself, was almost certainly psychotic. Yet this was not seen as crazy, and my coming to my senses was.

I feel no deep criticism of him, for I believed in this "reality" myself. Before he had even opened his mouth, my first sentences to him upon entering therapy were, "I don't want to talk about my family. My upbringing was a little tough, but pretty normal. So don't try to get me talking about my father and everything. This from someone with a background in psychology who was regularly having crippling anxiety attacks, accompanied by hyperventilation and breathing into little brown- bags, and munching enough Valium to subdue a horse. Luckily for me, his response was to take a slow sip of his coffee and say quietly, "Okay, what would you like to talk about?"

We are taught the family myths that allow our families to survive with us, and for us to survive within our families. Our father isn't abusive, he just gets under pressure once in awhile. We weren't incested by our uncle, or cousin, or brother. It didn't happen. Or it happened, but it wasn't much. Or it happened and it was wrong but they were drinking that time. Or it happened and it was wrong and they were always drunk in the evening, but why do we want to dredge up the past and hurt everyone over something that happened so long ago?

And we weren't gender female (or gender male) growing up. We were sensitive. We were just finding ourselves. We didn't have enough male (or female) role models. Or we were just experimenting a little like all kids do.

And we weren't really chronically depressed as kids, we were just kind of quiet. Or we were shy. Or we were introspective. We were obese or obsessed with dieting or always eating comfort foods because we had no self-control, or because we had too little self-respect, or a strange metabolism, or we were going through a phase. Or we cared about ourselves too much, and not enough about others. Or we just didn't care enough to take care of ourselves and our appearance.

And we accept these family myths, because to live with the truth, to see it and name it and speak it, would make it impossible for others in our families to live with us. It would make it impossible to survive with our peers. To be in social company, to not draw the anger and fear and rejection with which a child is totally unprepared to cope, we learn to split off from our experience, to dissociate (or, if you prefer, to disassociate). We begin by telling ourselves that we don't feel what we feel. We learn not to see, or we learn not to speak about what we see. We learn not to be ourselves, to be someone else with whom others, and eventually we ourselves can be comfortable.

In this effort we are ably assisted by euphemisms for everything. Drunkenness is "being a little tight" or "unwinding." Corporal punishment, beating or hitting a child is "teaching the kid a little discipline." Humiliating the children when they make a mistake is "teaching them how to get along in the world" or "teaching them right from wrong." Being sexually inappropriate is "just horsing around." A marriage in which the mother is beaten or cries herself to sleep each night is "just going through a difficult period." A raging alcoholic parent is "letting off steam" and a continually depressed, frightened and anxious child is "very sensitive."

By the time we are grown, these myths have become our reality. When we challenge them, when we attempt to re-experience the craziness and pain which made them necessary, when we climb out of the well, we are in turn called crazy by those around us who are still more comfortable with the myths than our reality. Most sad of all, we often feel crazy ourselves.

Too many of us decide, on some level, to stay in the well, living in a kind of numbness, a quiet darkness, which is for us infinitely preferable to going back through that which we have experienced, but not yet acknowledged. One of my best friends used to say: "Pray for a bottom you can recognize." What she meant was: pray for things to get so bad, you finally realize how much pain you are in, and there is no way out but to start recovering.

Too many of us never reach that bottom. Many of us, certainly myself included, live on in a kind of subsistence mental ecology, getting just enough from our environment to survive. We live within a state of chronic, sub-acute depression familiar to those with post-traumatic stress. It is chronic, that is to say, long term, but also sub-acute: never so bad that we need to be hospitalized or medicated and are therefore forced to acknowledge it.

Denial II: "Look Ma, No Present Either" or "No, That's Not a Thought Balloon Over My Head, Just My Little Sub-Acute, Chronic Depression."

Since we have been in this depression since we can remember, it feels "normal" to us. We may even deny we are depressed, because we have nothing else with which to compare it. Often friends would comment with a great deal of concern that I seemed depressed, and not my usual self, or I looked sad. I would react with amazement, because I felt almost nothing most of the time, and was certainly feeling nothing out of the ordinary, except a little quieter than usual. True to form, I'd also feel embarrassed about being so transparent and alarmed they were so troubled for me, so I'd start quickly covering up by getting peppy and cracking a lot of jokes. My friends would then perceive me as being back to "normal," they'd stop being concerned, and I'd lose touch with whatever was coming up for me: We were both more comfortable.

Just like an addiction, my depression helped me to survive. Psychologists say depression is just anger at others turned on ourselves. I'm angry at you. If I get angry at you, you'll probably sock me one. Since I can't afford to express my anger, and it ain't going anywhere, it comes out towards me. Instead of depressing your actions, which are upsetting me, I press down on my own, and my self, instead. in the short run, this helps me avoid getting a knuckle sandwich from you, so it looks like a pretty good bargain. As the conflict continues, the bargain becomes less and less attractive: I avoid a poke in the mouth, but I start feeling tied up knots inside. if I am stuck in a chronic predicament in which I am helpless to express my anger, for example, being abused as a transexual child by parents, society, or both, the "bargain" becomes disastrous for me. I avoid pain, but I become chronically depressed. After a few years of this, the memory of what it is like to not feel depressed becomes faint. Expressing my anger at the world becomes habitually difficult: when conflicts arise, I respond by depressing my emotions and myself. Depression comes to feel "normal."

Bad as this picture is, I want to stress that with serious abuse, within which I include the way almost all children with CCD are raised by their parents or treated by society at large, the bargain is unavoidable, as is the depression. As children we do not have the choice to confront everyone who forces us to act in gender-inappropriate ways. if we are suffering primary incest, especially by a parent, step-parent or guardian, we cannot afford to confront a perpetrator upon whom as children we depend for food, clothing and shelter, not to mention some kind of love and attention, however perverse that may be for us. Our depression enables us to endure.

Although our chronic, subacute depression may not require formal medical treatment, it nonetheless has many symptoms: sleeping difficulties (over-sleeping, insomnia, recurrent nightmares); eating problems (over-eating, lack of control with certain "comfort foods," lack of appetite); manic-depressive swings (in which we feel sad or conspicuously lacking in any enjoyment in being alive, followed by periods of excessive energy, activity, and enthusiasm); digestive problems (diarrhea, excessive gas, constipation, throwing up, ulcers); muscular conditions (lower back pain, tension headaches, chronic neck and shoulder tension or pain); compulsive over-work (to avoid being home alone); drugs or alcohol abuse (to enhance our numbness); difficulties with sex (having sex compulsively or compulsively avoiding sex, masturbating when we aren't aroused but are sad or lonely); suicidal ideation (planning or daydreaming about being dead or killing ourselves, especially a imagining how pleasant it would be to simply be gone from this life); recurring and bone-deep feelings of emptiness and despair; self-mutilation (cutting oneself, picking at scabs or sores, fingernail biting, repeated bruising and accidents); dissociation or splitting (a continuing sense of detachment as if our lives are being played out on a screen someplace or under glass).

These are all pretty much not only a catalog of such symptoms in general, but symptoms of my own experience. They are also consonant with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, or its new cousin, Chronic Traumatic Stress Syndrome. And yet, amazingly, since all of these went back more or less, to childhood, I didn't identify any of them as being other than "normal." In fact, no adult in my family, many of whom were aware on some level of man, if not all of these symptoms, ever stopped to think that anything was particularly wrong with me.

Such is the power of denial when victims are raised by other victims, who were themselves raised by other victims. Denial, like incest, is a family disease. All of these symptoms were safety valves for and distractions for the pain I had locked up inside, but which I continued to suppress, and with which I refused to deal. As such, they enabled me to live, but they killed the quality of the life that remained for me.

And so I see many others with CCD, still sitting far down in their own wells. Many are still in complete denial. if questioned, they will tell you they are fairly happy. If they could just pass better, get a better job, find a lover, whatever, their life would be okay. if you question them a little closer, you may get them to admit that, yes, they have been having a problem with food, or drugs, or sex, or migraines, or work, or depression, or sleeping, or shame, or isolation, but it's nothing they can't handle, that won't go away by itself. They go on, trying to pass, to be accepted, to put CCD away from them.

They continue relationships with family, perhaps a mother or father or brother or cousin who sexually or psychologically abused them unmercifully as a child, claiming it was done out of love, or because they didn't know any better, or, the mother of all lies, For Your Own Good. Someone who was particularly perverse and cruel in demanding that they behave as a male. Maybe someone who was wildly inappropriate when they allowed their proper gender any expression. Maybe the priest who Put a hand on their leg after Mass, the uncle who bounced them on his lap so their groin pressed against his thigh, the schoolteacher who seemed to take special pleasure in humiliating them in front of the class when they acted vulnerable or feminine, the parent who seems to enjoy smacking them and always did it too hard, the bullying cousin who threatened and beat them when the adults weren't around, or the mother who became silent and bitter and withdrawn whenever they couldn't be the Little Man Mommy needed them to be, or who seduced them into being a consort and lover, the mate who gave them, if not actual sex, then all the affection, comfort and attention their own distant husband neglected them.

Perhaps they avoid being seen with other transexuals. Perhaps they go through a succession of jobs which they leave as soon as someone outs them, as soon as the humiliating (because they must deny the obvious) whispering starts. They go on trying to accumulate success, or money, or love, or abusive lovers, or sex, or drama, because it keeps the pain at bay. And it you talk with them, they may admit that it's almost impossible for them to sit quietly, alone, and just feel. Like myself and my two friends, they don't want to be here.

We don't want to feel our bodies, or be aware of them, because our bodies have become unsafe places for us to be. They have become the location where abusive, humiliating and painful things happen. If we are present in them, we can be violated. If we are outside of them, we are safe. We don't want to feel our feelings, or be aware of them, either, because our feelings are dangerous. As long as we don't have feelings about what has been done to us, it can't be real. It happened somewhere else, and to some one else.

When we can feel how something felt, then what happens has truly happened to us. What we said was "not so bad" becomes very bad indeed. With each feeling comes the possibility, maybe the certainty, of more feelings, of tapping into the immense underground river of hurt we carry around inside ourselves. We fear being swamped by it, so that we might cry and grieve forever: hurt without end or consolation, just as our abuse and CCD themselves were hurt without end or consolation. We fear grief so profound it cannot be comforted, just as we were never comforted, and have learned over time not to grieve. And so eventually we stop praying for a bottom we can recognize, and pray instead for both the bottom and the recognition to simply go away and leave us in peace.

The truth about our childhood is stored up in our body, and although we can repress it, we can never alter it. Our intellect can be deceived, our feelings manipulated, our perceptions confused, and our body tricked with medication. But someday the body will present its bill, for it is as incorruptible as a child who will accept no compromises or excuses, and it will not stop tormenting us until we stop evading the truth.

- Alice Miller, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware

Denial III: Transexual Child Rearing As Incest -- "For Your Own Good."

We have seen how children with CCD are taught denial of their experience by way of the family myth structure. We have seen how they learn from this denial, to split off from the experience of their own bodies and emotions. We have shown how this often results later in life in a kind of long term, everyday depression, which, although it succeeds in both perpetuating the repression of feelings and acts as a safety vent for them, nonetheless carries its own physical and emotional costs. Finally, we have discussed how as feelings begin to surface, we may experience a spectrum of physical and emotional phenomena, and that our denial system can help us avoid acknowledging them as well, even though they are clear and present.

Consider the following: you bear a little girl child. From birth, you begin to treat her like a son. You give her a male name at birth, even going so far as to register her as a boy on her birth certificate. You address her as a male from infancy, and require of others in the family system do likewise. As she grows up, you dress her in boy's clothing. When she tries to act in any way female, you suppress it vigorously. If she attempts to be feminine, perhaps playing with other little girls, trying on your clothing, or playing house with dolls, you punish her by beatings, public humiliation, loud attacks of rage, or a silent and severe withdrawal of all attention, affection and approval. Perhaps you use a combination of these punishments until she comes around. As she grows up, you encourage her to date girls, and reject the slightest hint that she might find boys more attractive. Any hint of what you term her "homosexuality" is ruthlessly repressed: she is your son.

As she enters puberty, it becomes apparent that something is wrong with her body: she begins to grow hair on her face and chest, her voice cracks and deepens, things which all too obviously distresses her to distraction. Since this is in line with the son you want her to be, you deny her medical treatment. In fact, you deny there is anything wrong at all. As the years drag on, the effects of the puberty become more and more pronounced, until they are all but irreversible. She seems more and more depressed, anxious and withdrawn as the years go by. However, since she continues to look and act like the son you want, you do nothing to investigate this. At some point, perhaps years after she leaves home, she finally returns to confront you, to tell you that she is, after all, a female, and nothing on earth is going to prevent her from finally living as what she is. Your reaction is shock and horror, and you bend your best efforts to suppress this newest eruption of femaleness in your son.

If the little girl in our story were nontransexual, can anyone seriously doubt this parent would long ago have been sent to jail for child abuse? That they would have been featured on "Sixty Minutes" as Mike Wallace or Morley Safer profiled a story of exotic and ritual child exploitation and mistreatment? Is there anyone with CCD who has not lived part of this story, or is not familiar with some parts of it? How is it possible, then, that when you confront survivors of horror stories like these, they will tell you with a straight face only "my parents didn't know any better," or, "they did what they think was best," or worst of all, "they did it for my own good?"

For millennia it has been permissible and customary for children to be used to satisfy a wide variety of adult needs. They have provided... an ideal outlet for the discharge of stored-up affect, a receptacle for unwanted feelings, an object for the projection of conflicts and fears, compensation for feelings of inferiority, and an opportunity for exercising power and obtaining pleasure...

Since beatings and the tormenting, demeaning, and humiliating treatment of children [including transexual children] have always been regarded as forms of discipline "for their own good," these methods have been applied quite openly... therefore it need not take place behind closed doors... [If] children perceive that wrong has been done them and thus make it possible for them to integrate this unhappy segment of reality into their lives [then] they will not have to spend the rest of their lives blaming themselves for what happened to them.

[With some abuse] they have no choice but to repress the experience, because the pain caused by their fear, isolation, betrayed expectation of receiving love, helplessness, and feelings of shame and guilt is unbearable.

Further, the puzzling silence of the adult and the contradiction between his deeds and moral principles and prohibitions be proclaims by light of day create and intolerable confusion in the child that must be done away with by means of repression.

If children are talked out of what they perceive, then the experience they undergo will later be seen in a diffuse, hazy light; its reality will remain uncertain and indistinct, laden with feelings of guilt and shame,

and as adults these children either will know nothing of what happened or will question their memory of it. This will be even more the case if the abuse occurred in early childhood [as happens with CCD]. Since very young children do not find support within their own self or a mirror in the eyes of a witness [and since the entire community colludes in forcing them to act in an unnatural male role], they must deny the truth.

-Alice Miller, Thou Shalt Not Be Aware

At this point, the child has ceased to see things from their own point of view at all. They simply cannot afford to confront the totality of their abuse, which necessarily includes family, "friends," trusted adults, and the whole social community within which they are embedded.

Indeed, everyone treats them as male. And although we may tell ourselves that these were only going by our appearance, in fact we know in our hearts this is a lie. Were we to wake one morning at the tender age of say, seven, and decide to begin acting in a gender-appropriate manner comfortable for us; i.e., dressing to go to school in feminine attire, combing our hair in a feminine style, requesting to be addressed by a female name and referred to as "she," etc., we know what would happen: those about us would come down on us like the wrath of God. Our social world did not treat us as male out of some benign error, something they would have gladly corrected if they had been aware of it. No, they were more than willing to actively force us to conform a male sex role with which they were comfortable. This is not "for our own good;" this is our childhood being appropriated and exploited so they don't have to deal with their obsessions around sex roles, gender ambiguity, and "homosexuality." Let's not kid ourselves as to whose "good" this was for.

I can remember relating this to a transexual friend, who maintained that my parents "didn't know any better; they were just doing the best they could." And I found this totally blunted the anger I was just beginning to feel over my lost childhood. I thought about this for days, and then I realized, they didn't know because they didn't want to know. My parents certainly knew I was depressed, isolated and very unhappy. They saw the problems I got into at school, despite being academically an "A" student. And yet they never asked "is anything wrong?" They simply didn't want to know, didn't want to see the obvious. Not only that, but on the few occasions where I tried to act the least bit feminine, I was instantly humiliated, or was simply met with a stony and compete withdrawal until I returned to the masculine behavior with which they were comfortable. These were not the benign errors my friend represented to me at all, carried out by parents who were doing the best they could. In fact, they were strategies which kept them comfortable at my expense.

As adults, the denial we learned as children now prevents us from naming and owning how we have been exploited. In particular, what stops us is the totality of our abuse, the overwhelming knowledge that almost all the people we have known or loved or been loved by since childhood were involved in robbing us of our childhood, in exploiting us, in enforcing societal sex roles at our expense, and in suppressing and abusing us as women. This is simply devastating and overpowering. It is easier to blame ourselves, to engage in that habitual transexual sense of being somehow inferior and defective, so that we must have somehow brought this calamity upon ourselves (as if children who are somehow abnormal are not especially in need of love, tenderness and support, but deserve what abuse they get.) It is much easier to say it wasn't so bad, or it wasn't anyone's fault, or no one meant to than to start to process the rage we feel at the non-society which stripped us of any meaningful female childhood. To begin to see this, to start to shout at the top of our lungs that the emperor has no clothes, is a difficult and, for me, terrifying task. Again, from Alice Miller in Thou Shalt Not Be Aware (the emphasis is mine):

Each child is innocent. Each child needs among other things: care, protection, security, warmth, skin contact, touching, caressing, and tenderness. These needs are seldom sufficiently fulfilled; in fact, they are often exploited by adults for their own ends. Child abuse has lifelong effects. Society takes the side of the adult and blames the child for what has been done to him or her The victimization of the [transexual] child has historically been denied and is still being denied, even today. This denial has made it possible for society to ignore the devastating effects of the victimization of the [transexual] child for such a long time. The child [with CCD], when betrayed by society, has no choice but to repress the trauma and to idealize the abuser [as transexuals idealize non-transexual women]. [Abuse] cannot be undone by our understanding of the perpetrator's blindness and unfulfilled needs. As victims begin to see and be aware of what has been done to them... [they] will be able to bring about more awareness, consciousness, and a sense of responsibility in society at large... [And] other men and women [with CCD] will be encouraged to confront their own childhood, take it seriously, and talk about it. In so doing, they in turn will provide information to others about what so many human beings have had to undergo at the beginning of life without even knowing about it in later years and without an one else knowing about it either.

And this is part of the process of naming the unnamed, so it can be thought: It is the work only we can do, the story only we can tell and only we can truly hear.


"Denial, Dissociation, and Transexuality as Incest" © 1995 by Riki Anne Wilchins; used by permission.