June 7, 2011

Queer Issue: Thoughts on the Failed Sissy Boy Experiements

I just got done watching Anderson Cooper's 360 report on "The Sissy Boy Expirement". For a couple of reasons I want to discuss here, this viewing has left me somewhat emotionally shaken.

In this report (which can be watched below) Cooper talks about the experiments done on "Kraig" in order to make him more masculine. Kraig later committed suicide at age 38. It is stories like this remind me that as bad as I sometimes think I had it growing up, there are those who had it much worse.

The reason I am so emotional now is because how much my experiences growing up mimic Kraig. When I was a kid I played with these dolls (I believe they were called treasure trolls) and spent a lot of time cutting up socks and combing their hair. I can remember at the same time that I started playing with these dolls, that I was also starting to develop attraction to members of my own sex. If I knew friends were coming over, I made very sure that these toys were well hidden. But when I was alone, I spent a lot of doing things I imagine many of my more macho friends were not.

I also spent a lot of time reading (there was no TV in the house). Granted most of this was stuff like The Hardy Boys or The Boxcar Children but I also spent a lot of time reading a series called The Babysitters Club which was aimed exclusively at those of a feminine persuasion.

I feel I should be grateful then, that while my Mom's reaction to my coming out was not perfect (Sorry Mom, but telling your son that he's now safe to be dating girls because now there's no risk of him raping them, is not quite the best response), at least I was not shipped off to an Ex-Gay camp to be subjected to extreme aversion therapy.

Like Kraig, I did try to commmit suicide. Thankfully, unlike him, I did not succeed. While "The Sissy Boy Experiment" was a terrible thing, it simply a more extreme example of what society does to queer people everyday. Color coded chips may not be used to keep score, but people are constantly rewarded for conforming to heterosexual gender norms by *not* being subjected to bullying, not having to fear the lose of job and housing, or in the most extreme cases, not having to face actual violence.

What George Reekers, who did the study that was the focus of this report, was attempting to justify and normalize societies discrimination and ostracizing of LGBTQIA people. The fact that he failed is not surprising, but the fact that someone had the balls to do this is not only shocking, but is also extremely frightening on many levels.

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