I’ve heard lots of different reactions from friends and family to the Vanity Fair cover of former Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner, who has been rechristened as a woman called Caitlyn. They range from “beautiful,” “amazing” to “train wreck,” “horror show” and everything in between.
Some people might find it hard to understand the desire to change genders, just as it can be hard to understand the desire to believe in religion X, vote for political party Y, or indulge in hobby Z. But in a civil society, we fully respect the rights of people to do these things (within the law), and we abhor discrimination, prejudice and all forms of attack.
Transgenderism is as old as the hills, but only now, thanks to people like Jenner, Leelah Alcorn, former boxing promoter Frank Moloney, Chaz Bono, Eddie Izzard, Danny La Rue, Chelsea Manning, Jan Morris and Grayson Perry, is it becoming widely accepted and understood as a vibrant and valid thread in the tapestry of modern culture. Jenner’s very public transformation empowers all kinds of different people to accept and be proud of who they are.
One thing that didn’t change in the gender reassignment process: Jenner’s courage.
Kim Kardashian may have broken the internet, but Caitlyn Jenner united it
From The Guardian:
Caitlyn Jenner’s Vanity Fair cover was expected to create a controversial, watercooler cultural moment, but it turned into something much more extraordinary. Because the image of Caitlyn Jenner – winner of an Olympic gold medal as a man named Bruce, and member of the Kardashians, the family pop culture loves to hate – brought no controversy, only applause. Kim Kardashian may have broken the internet, but Caitlyn Jenner did something even more astonishing. She united it.
Jenner, Annie Leibovitz and Vanity Fair produced an image that won the world over. And this, in a society where acceptance and understanding of transgender issues – while progressing – is still in its infancy. The magazine is not yet on newsstands, and while the interview is available online for digital subscribers, the overwhelming majority of comment has been based on the cover image. In it, Jenner wears an ivory satin corset, so that her cinched waist, falling just above the coverline (“Call me Caitlyn”) forms the central focus. An hourglass woman’s body in white, in a 1950s cut bodice, surely references Marilyn Monroe – in the minds of Leibovitz and the Vanity Fair art directors, anyway, if not of Jenner. Monroe stands for all-Americanism, for blue-chip Hollywood glamour (as opposed, perhaps, to the modern Kardashian brand of fame), for ultimate femininity and for vulnerability. But while Jenner’s hands are out of shot, behind her back, the photo spotlights the strong muscles of her arms and thighs, reminding us of those Olympic medals, and serving as an antidote to the unguarded, exposed, Monroe-ish appeal of her corsetted waist and coy, expression, half-turned from the camera.
In guidelines reissued yesterday, the media-monitoring organisation GLAAD warns against “superficial critiques of a transgender person’s femininity or masculinity. Commenting on how well a transgender person conforms to conventional standards of femininity or masculinity is reductive and insulting.” I hope it does not break these guidelines to say that the cover image draws on the iconography of strong American women. Jessica Lange, to whom many have noticed a resemblance, has had a four-decade acting career. (Next spring, Lange will return to Broadway, starring alongside Gabriel Byrne in a revival of the Eugene O’Neill play A Long Day’s Journey Into Night.) Cindy Crawford, of whom Jenner’s Coke-can curls and athletic body are also reminiscent, has sustained a modelling career since the 1980s, and most recently starred as the take-no-prisoners Headmistress in the music video for Taylor Swift’s Bad Blood. Lena Dunham captured the spirit of the image immediately after its release, when she tweeted: “I just want Caitlyn Jenner to take me out and teach me how to drive a stick shift in heels.”
• Caitlyn Jenner's Big Début (The New Yorker)
• Here's what I learned after creating Caitlyn Jenner Twitter bot @she_not_he (The Independent)
PICKS OF THE WEEK
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Can’t take a compliment? Feel like a fake? Convinced you’ll be unmasked at any moment? From quickanddirtytips.com:
Impostor Syndrome is a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It strikes smart, successful individuals. It often rears its head after an especially notable accomplishment, like admission to a prestigious university, public acclaim, winning an award, or earning a promotion.
Impostor Syndrome doesn’t discriminate: people of every demographic suffer from feeling like a fraud, though minorities and women are hardest-hit.
Impostor syndrome comes in 3 flavors:
Type #1: “I’m a fake.”
Type #2: “I got lucky.”
Type #3: “Oh, this old thing?”
How does psychotherapy really work?
From Psychology Today:
Psychotherapy is a strange process. Two people get together and they talk. Somehow through this conversation, one of them offers help and the other receives it. From an outsider’s perspective, there are all sorts of ideas about how this so-called “talking cure” works—most of them, by the way, are not true. One is that your therapist knows all the answers. Another is that he or she will tell you what to do. Another is that people listen to their therapists because therapists have it all together—also, not true. While we might wish for therapy to work in these ways, that’s not how it works at all.
The poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, understood something about the mystery of how an interpersonal encounter can change someone’s life. In his Letters to A Young Poet, he wrote, “Ultimately, and precisely in the deepest and most important matters, we are unspeakably alone; and many things must happen, many things must go right, a whole constellation of events must be fulfilled, for one human being to successfully advise or help another.”
The psychoanalyst, Wilfred Bion, took it one step further. He wrote, “When two people meet, an emotional storm is created.” I like this idea because it begins to convey something of the way in which psychotherapy is an alive, dynamic, turbulent process, not just a sterile exchange of ideas or mechanical prescription for behavior change. Therapy is a vital process, a charged experience. Its power to transform and bring about lasting personal change cannot really be understood from psychology textbooks or experimental research, necessary and helpful as these methods are.
Government quells fears it could scrap coalition’s mental health funding pledge
Promises, promises. From Community Care:
The Conservative government will invest the extra £1.25bn in children’s mental health services over the next parliament that was promised by the coalition prior to the election, the Department of Health has said.
The funding pledge was included in the coalition’s 2015-16 budget proposals set out in March. But the Conservatives election victory means that chancellor George Osborne will announce an ‘emergency budget’ in July that will replace the coalition plans with his party’s own spending commitments.
Mental health organisations feared that the Chancellor could scrap the coalition’s promise of more investment in mental health services for children and new mothers but the Department of Health insists that the funding will be made available.
A DH spokesperson said: “Our commitment to mental health is clear — we are investing £1.25 billion over the next five years and we expect local commissioners to give real terms funding increases [for mental health] this year.”
The DH issued the statement in response to a report from six leading mental health organisations that warned that services are “heading for a real crisis” without urgent action on funding.
Frequently bullied kids 'twice as likely' to be depressed at 18
From Medical News Today:
A study of just under 4,000 teenagers in the UK has found that bullying - "victimization by peers" - during adolescence is associated with a higher risk of depression in young adulthood.
The study published in The BMJ was led by experimental psychologist Prof. Lucy Bowes of the University of Oxford in the UK.
It had a longitudinal observational design to examine the relationship between bullying at 13 years of age and depression at 18 years of age.
A survey about bullying was completed at the younger age, and a computer-based clinical assessment of depression was completed as the 3,898 participants entered adulthood in the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC), a UK community-based birth cohort.
A dose-response relationship was observed between increasing amounts of adolescent bullying and depression in later years:
• In the group of teenagers who had reported no victimization at all, just over 5% went on to have depression
• A greater burden of the mental ill health was seen among the teenagers who had reported being bullied at 13 years of age between one and three times in a 6-month period - 7.1% had depression at 18
• The proportion of depressed people at this age rose to 14.8% in the teenagers who had reported being bullied by their peers more than once a week.
Glan Clwyd Hospital: Mental health care was 'horrific'
From BBC News:
The leader of the Welsh Conservatives has called for a full inquiry into the NHS after a damning report into care at a mental health unit in Denbighshire.
Andrew RT Davies said assurances were needed that there could be no similar failings elsewhere after "institutional abuse" was found at the Tawel Fan ward at Glan Clwyd Hospital in Bodelwyddan.
Families described patients being treated like animals in a zoo.
Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board has since apologised.
Mr Davies called on the Welsh government to establish a Keogh-style inquiry - set up following the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal - and hold a "full and frank" debate in the assembly to ensure measures have been put in place to protect the NHS in Wales from a repeat of the problems at Tawel Fan.
"We have to have action to make sure this doesn't happen again," he told BBC Radio Wales.
From Health Affairs:
There is a preponderance of evidence that conventional approaches to the provision of mental health care do not meet the needs of a large portion of the population. Due to limitations of scale alone, there is an inherent misalignment between the number of individuals who can benefit from mental health assistance and the availability of traditional services.
Yet scale is not the only issue. Stigma, accessibility, and medical models of treatment are equal deterrents to seeking help. Poor mental health impacts us all and carries a huge socio-economic cost. Technology offers a solution and is already helping those experiencing depression, anxiety, and other such problems to lead healthier, more productive, happier lives.
Big White Wall (BWW)—a digital and behavioral health and well-being service facilitated by health care professionals—is one of these solutions. In the organization’s name, “big” recognizes the infinite nature of human emotion; “white” conveys the blank canvas the service provides; and, “wall” symbolizes shelter and support, as well as the barriers we sometimes need to break through to improve mental health.
We developed BWW in the United Kingdom in 2007, and in 2013, it was designated a High Impact Innovation by the National Health Service (NHS). In 2014, it became the first digital mental health service to receive Care Quality Commission registration, and in 2015, it was formally endorsed by the National Health Service (NHS) and promoted through NHS Choices.
Big White Wall expanded to Australasia in 2011, and to the United States in 2014. Our experience has shown that providing a wide range of behavioral health self-management services, anonymized peer support, and immediate access to evidence-based tools via a digital platform empowers people to seek assistance for their mental health challenges for the first time.
Clinton's campaign will make substance abuse, mental health key issues
From the Washington Post:
Hillary Rodham Clinton's policy advisers held discussions with stakeholders in Iowa and New Hampshire who are involved in helping people dealing with substance abuse and mental illness, as Clinton looks to make those issues a large part of her 2016 presidential campaign.
Clinton senior policy advisers Ann O'Leary and Maya Harris participated in Google hangouts Thursday and Friday with treatment providers, law enforcement officers, local politicians and others in Iowa and New Hampshire, a Clinton aide said. The groups discussed the scourge of opiate addiction, which is decimating New Hampshire and is a growing problem in Iowa, and the use of methamphetamines in Iowa.
Group sues to close Jewish gay counselling service
More death throes of the ridiculous “pray the gay away” practice known as “conversion therapy.” From Breitbart News:
Jury selection begins today in a trial that pits a $340 million left-wing group against a small Jewish non-profit. The result could be the closing of all counseling services in New Jersey that aim to help those with unwanted same-sex desires.
The Southern Poverty Law Center is using New Jersey’s strong Consumer Protection Act to sue a group called Jews Offering New Alternatives to Healing (JONAH) that refers men and women to psychological counselors working in the field known as “sexual orientation change efforts.”
SPLC claims JONAH defrauded four men by telling them their same-sex desires could be treated and they could become purely or largely heterosexual. The case is a blueprint for how SPLC intends to go after similar counseling services around the country. Indeed, SPLC and a group called Truth Wins Out, run by gay activist Wayne Besson, have spearheaded a legislative effort to outlaw counseling services to minors with unwanted same-sex attraction. They have been successful in California and New Jersey, which now outlaw the practice.
The case that will be heard over the next month in Superior Court for Hudson County, New Jersey, focuses on the claims of four men who voluntarily approached JONAH to help them with unwanted same-sex attraction. None of them self-identified as gay at the time and each wanted the attractions to end. JONAH, which works from what it calls “Torah values” referred the men to counselors who treated them.
SPLC is now claiming that JONAH made promises that do not comport with scientific findings about the permanence and changeability of homosexuality and that the treatment they underwent was odd. SPLC also claims that homosexual desires do not need to be “cured” and that it’s impossible anyway. All this adds up to consumer fraud, according to the suit that has been going on since 2012.
Not too long after he retired from the National Football League, Kareem McKenzie knew he wanted something more.
The two-time Super Bowl champion and former New York Giant was faced with a difficult task: Transitioning out of the game he loved for so long and into a more ordinary life.
“You can only go to the gym so many times, visit family and friends. You have to find something to do with your time,” he told nflplayerengagement.com. “If not, everything becomes very chaotic and dangerous. An idle mind is the devil’s playground.”
Then, it hit him: He would help others going through what he was.
McKenzie is on track to earn his Masters of Education in Professional Counseling in 2016 from William Paterson University. He will begin work on his doctorate after earning his master’s ... McKenzie’s goal is to provide counseling to professional athletes, and retired members of the military, by helping them navigate their non-rigid schedules and performance expectations.
How to fix Canada's mental health system
From The Globe and Mail:
One in five Canadians will be affected by mental illness in their lifetimes. The cost to the country’s economic is staggering: $50-billion a year in health care and social services, lost productivity and decreased quality of life, estimates the Mental Health Commission of Canada. The personal costs are more devastating – unemployment, family breakup, suicide.
Canadians who seek help for a mental illness will most often be prescribed medication, even though research shows that psychotherapy works just as well, if not better, for the most common illnesses (depression and anxiety) and does a better job at preventing relapse. According to a 2012 Statistics Canada study, while 91 per cent of Canadians were prescribed the medication they sought, only 65 per cent received the therapy they felt they needed. Access to evidence-based psychotherapy, which experts say should be the front-line medical treatment, is limited and wait lists are long.