If you change a few details, the story is one we’re all familiar with.
A woman does not feel at home in her body.
Since she was a child, she feels something is wrong and tries to change her outward appearance to conform to her inward reality, but without success.
Finally, with the help of a medical professional, she makes a radical change to her physical appearance, and now, at last, she is happy.
Does this sound like the latest transgender story, the latest version of Chastity Bono becoming Chaz Bono?
This is the story of “Jewel Shuping, 30, [who] was so desperate to be blind that she poured draining cleaner in her baby blues to wipe out her eyesight – and she couldn’t be happier.”
As reported by Melkorka Licea in the New York Post on Oct. 1, Shuping stated, “I really feel this is the way I was supposed to be born, that I should have been blind from birth.”
From a young age she wanted to be blind and attempted to blind herself by staring at the sun. She also pretended to be blind.
But by the time she turned 21, “the idea of being blind was ‘a non-stop alarm that was going off,’ and she sought the help of a sympathetic psychologist to help her carry out her ultimate desire in 2006.”
Incredibly, this psychologist, whose name is not mentioned and who may well have been guilty of a serious ethical violation – although that topic is not even breached in the article – actually “gave her eye-numbing drops before sprinkling a few droplets of drain cleaner into each pupil.”
Even more incredibly, Shuping is very happy with her decision, currently “studying for a degree in education and is hoping to help other blind people live an independent life.”
Her story is typical of those suffering from what is called Body Identity Integrity Disorder (BIID), and in case after case, those who have been successful in losing a limb or losing their sight now profess to be happy, content and, for the first time in their lives, feeling whole – even though the cost of their “wholeness” was amputating or maiming or destroying a perfectly healthy part of their body.
But here is what is so fascinating (and disturbing). The article rightly refers to BIID as an “illness,” stating that Shuping suffers from “a disease that causes able-bodied people to strongly desire a disability.”
It is a disorder, an illness, a disease, something so real to those diagnosed with it that they will go as far as sawing off a leg or freezing it until it has to be amputated – or in this case, having drain cleaner sprinkled into both eyes.
It is not something to be celebrated or made into a reality TV show (although who knows what could be coming next?).
It is something to be pitied, and a truly compassionate response to BIID would neither mock the sufferer nor deny the intensity of what they’re experiencing but rather try to understand the causes of this disease so the people could find wholeness from the inside out.
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But when it comes to those struggling with gender identity issues, we cannot call it an illness, disease or disorder. Indeed, what used to be called Gender Identity Disorder (GID) is now called Gender Dysphoria because the word “Disorder” was deemed offensive to transgenders.
Not only so, but far from seeing this as a disorder, we are told that we must applaud those who undergo sex-change surgery and celebrate them as “courageous” as they too remove or mutilate perfectly healthy body parts to become something they were not born to be.
Why the difference?
It can easily be argued that changing from male to female (although a total change is hardly possible) is far more radical than losing a limb – sex-change also requires hormones for life whereas body mutilation does not, and the change from male to female (or vice versa) also requires a change of identity whereas body mutilation does not.
So, why is the one considered the civil rights issue of the day (in the words of Vice President Biden speaking to the annual HRC fundraising event in Washington, D.C., “transgender rights” are “the civil rights issue of our time”), while the other is hardly known and certainly not regarded as any kind of “right”?
In both cases, the brain is not at home with some aspect of the body, causing deep pain and conflict, and when the body is changed to harmonize with what the brain is feeling, the person claims to feel relieved and whole.
In fact, from what I have read about BIID and GID, among patients with BIID who successfully disfigured their bodies, a higher percentage report lasting contentment than people with GID who underwent sex-change surgery (which, many would argue strongly, is no less a disfiguring of the body).
In both cases, we are dealing with tiny minorities of the population, and in both cases, scientists are still speculating as to what exactly causes this sense of conflict.
Yet rather than treat both as disorders, worthy of great compassion and sensitivity, it is now politically incorrect to treat GID as a disorder to the point that failure to affirm transgender identity is branded transphobia.
This is something I’ve addressed many times for some years now, citing medical professionals who addressed these issues before I was even aware of them.
But the story of Jewel Shuping’s self-inflicted blindness drills the point home afresh: The similarities between BIID and GID are too striking to be ignored.
The New York Post article ends by stating that Shuping “hopes that by sharing her story, it will encourage other sufferers of BIID to seek professional help.”
I certainly hope she doesn’t mean the same kind of professional help that blinded her. Can we not do better than that?
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