I first became aware of Don Ennis due to his wild claims of having suffered a spontaneous and mysterious “sex change” in middle age (after a long heterosexual marriage and fathering children) through a miracle process heretofore unprecedented in existing medical literature. Perhaps “suffered” is the wrong word. According to his blog “Life After Dawn”, Ennis claimed that his penis suddenly retracted into his body and became a vagina. That must have been a shock. He speculated that this transformation might have been caused by his mother, whom he accused* of dosing him with puberty blockers in childhood in order to extend his pediatric career as a bit-actor in advertisements. Rather than seeking medical advice, “Dawn” decided to deal with this dubious happenstance by wearing a wig, make-up, and sexualized women’s clothes, an accommodation he documented via scores of cleavage heavy “selfies” which he dutifully posted each time he acquired “hot” new outfits.
I always thought his moniker of “LifeAfterDawn” (he had multiple accounts across various social media in this name) was a bit awkward. No, not for the lazy name change or the fact that he refers to his crossdressing persona in the (objectified) third-person tense (both of which are common in transgenderism) but because of the convoluted timeline. Surely he meant “Life After Don”. Or “Life After Becoming Dawn”, or “Life After I Changed My Name To Dawn When My Dick and Balls Spontaneously Became a Vagina Which Is Actually Pretty Convenient Since My Tastes Run Towards Cross-Dressing and Forced Feminization”. It just read awkwardly. It reads much better now that Don has publicly announced his intention to “purge” his transgender autogynephillia activities not to mention his wardrobe. Which is good because he is still using the accounts featuring that moniker to post “anonymous” comments on stories about himself as recently as yesterday. “Life After Dawn” indeed.
Several heterosexual male leaders of the transgender movement including Navy man Autumn Sandeen, Dana Beyer (the self-appointed “Executive Director of Gender Rights Maryland”) and Mara Keisling (the self-appointed “Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality”) among others have issued damage-control statements on the subject of Don’s publicized detransition. These statements all follow the same talking points: that despite all evidence to the contrary, the act of adopting a cross-sex persona based on social sex stereotypes is based on an inborn, unchangeable, biological imperative whose etiology is yet unkown. Beyer uses the opportunity to forward his pet theory that men and women who fail to conform to sex-role stereotypes are inflicted with a disease process caused by contamination with environmental toxins. Beyer says published stories on detransitioners “trivialize our lives and the efforts we make to live them fully and authentically.” The second damage-control talking point hammered home by this group is the unsubstantiated claim that rates of detransition are low, even miniscule. Beyer supports this claim in his piece by citing a 21 year-old paper (1992 Pfafflin) that contained a whopping 18 (whew!) postoperative transgender subjects. Great supportive data, Dana. There are no reliable data and statistics on detransition.
The Huffington Post offered a roundtable discussion on the subject which omitted all female transgender participants. Removing all female transgender points of view was not so much as acknowledged. The male-only panel included Keisling, news helicopter pilot Bob/Zoey “women are not competent to fly” Tur, Dr. Maddie Deutsch from the University of San Francisco “Center of Excellence for Transgender Health” (not to be confused by the one founded by Bill and Ted), and former transgender Philip Porter. Bizarrely, the only female guest on the show was not transgender, but was the heterosexual woman Romi Klinger Ray who pretended to be lesbian to get a spot on the television show “the Real L Word” and took flack when she was outed as straight by marrying her boyfriend as soon as the show ended. She took the opportunity to defend herself by saying she was genuinely confused, and offered that it must be “so hard” for Ennis to read critical comments on the internet, as it was for her as a fake lesbian. Strange.
Keisling did his usual “shrug” performance in his understated gray wig. He knows that the world loves gender and all he really has to do is keep his pulse down and phone in his talking points. In addition to the “detransition is rare” and “sex-roles and self-concepts are unchanging and innate” tropes already mentioned above, Keisling, Deutsch and Tur included the assertion that detransitioners are always motivated by external factors, such as failure to thrive in a cross-sex persona in employment, relationships, etc. and never due to a change in self-concept or simply out of personal choice.
Tur, who issued a press release the first day he took a hormone injection three months ago appeared sans hairpiece or laydee-clothes and called out Ennis for harming the transgender cause. Tur also claimed that the American Society of Pediatrics issued guidelines in June on how medical providers can proactively “identify” transgender children. I have seen no evidence of that- if anyone has, please let me know. It appears he just made it up out of thin air. It wasn’t clear whether Tur was implying that Don Ellis and co-panelist Philip Porter would have been “identified” by these mystery guidelines prior to their detransitions or not. He just sort of threw it out there nonsensically as an appeal to authority for the “born this way” meme and a head in the sand refutation of the whole subject of detransition. Must drink kool-aid. Must drink kool-aid. Must drink kool-aid.
Dr. Maddie Deutsch got the most air time. Deutsch is a male transgender physician who has prescribed cross-sex hormones for over 800 patients while bypassing all recommended psychological screening and counseling. Deutsch cited a “less than one percent” detransition rate, which is hilarious. He just flat out made it up. Which is kind of a scary thing for a medical doctor to do. He also accused Don Ennis of directly harming the transgender community by detransitioning publicly, blaming him (and presumably by extension all detransitioners) for endangering efforts to obtain insurance coverage for irreversible surgeries. Deutsch also went on a bit of a strange rant about how he believes same-sex relationships are exactly the same as heterosexual ones because biological sex and the social roles based on sex are of no consequence in the context of relationships (!) and therefor no distinction should be made between homosexual and heterosexual relations, but that the differences in experience of individuals based on their adopted sex stereotypes are socially significant and should be acknowledged. Shades of the old “Cotton Ceiling” there, sir. Lesbians don’t give a shit about your medical experiments sir: We do not want your dick (whether surgically inverted or not) in our relationships or our lesbian spaces sir, regardless of whatever “jendur” bullshit you believe. Sex matters to lesbians and gays, sir – and to heterosexuals, for that matter.
The only “off-message” person in the room (and the only homosexual) was gay male Philip Porter, and not a single panelist so much as acknowledged him. They had no response to him. Porter is a detransitioner who dropped the whole transgender shtick after 32 years of “treatment” which was started in his late teens when he was a gay man in fashion school. By his account he was quite happy and successful living a transgender life: “I was in his office the next day, an endocrinologist office the day after that, and just began my life living as a female. And did that very successfully and very happily for 32 years — I was an NFL cheerleader and I was a topless dancer for many years.” He dropped the sex-change act because being treated the way society treats males started looking like a better deal for his middle age and beyond. No detransition angst there, just mission accomplished, lots of wild times, and now time to return to his birthright as a man. Porter was there undermining the old “external factors cause transgenders to detransition” talking point. For that matter, Don Ennis himself explicitly debunked that trope in the email he sent out notifying coworkers of his detransition: “The new change I’m revealing to you today did not arise because I couldn’t hack it, or people wouldn’t accept the new/real/female ‘me,’ or I had trouble finding shoes that fit (Oh, I found plenty, more than I could afford)”, he wrote. Yet Keisling, Deutsch and Tur kept beating that tired old drum, seemingly off in their own little world. Sandeen and Beyer hit the same note in their Ennis response pieces.
One online commenter was quoted in the show. It was male lactation blogger Dana Lane Taylor, known for sharing his expertise with other male transgenders who wish to induce lactation as part of their transgender experience. His blog explores the process of obtaining and ingesting “not approved for use” black market substances for men who wish to express milk from their nipples. He had his comments read on air under the pseudonym “NunyaBeezwax”, stating that Ennis’s detransition should not be “used against us”.
* If Don’s mother or another family member would like to publicly respond to the accusations of abuse that Don has made against his mother I would be happy to post their statements here.
[bolding by me-GM]