The Alaska Watchman’s reader comment sections are filled with back-and-forth dialogue between a host of folks who do not always see eye-to-eye. Earlier this week, a regular reader posted a particularly insightful comment explaining why the only truly compassionate response to someone suffering from gender dysphoria is to encourage them to embrace the reality of how they were created. Below is an excerpt from the comment, which was directed to a woman who believes we should affirm whatever gender identity people claim to have.
I can see you’re a compassionate person. Instead of seeing people who disagree with affirming a confused youth in their sense of themselves as being uncaring, I would encourage you to understand our concern comes from a place of love and an understanding that it is actually an evil to perpetrate a delusion held by someone with a body dysmorphism.
To underscore what I am saying, I will speak about an experience I had in college witnessing a friend struggling with another kind of body dysmorphism – anorexia. It would not have been loving for us to affirm her in this misguided sense of herself even as she was thoroughly convinced that her body was the lie, and her mind was the truth. Instead, we had to hold firm in the objective truth that she could not see and act as an anchor for her, as her mental illness threatened to destroy her.
She needed help, not affirmation. She needed counseling to deal with her anorexia and also to delve into trauma from her past that had triggered the body dysmorphism. She needed to heal a very fragile mind. It would not have been loving or kind for us to say, “Oh, yeah, I can see how hard you work to sweat off extra pounds by running for hours on the treadmill wearing two layers of sweatshirts. I can help you along that path by providing you with a down coat to wear over the top.”
Nor would it have been the loving thing to encourage her to continue to throw up any and all food she managed to allow herself to eat all in the pursuit of achieving the body that her brain told her she needed to have in order to be happy. It is not from fear, it is not from hate – it is from a place of love and compassion and recognizing the harm that can come from not holding firmly to a reality that needs to be accepted and cannot be changed.