Thursday, 17 May 2012

Are trans people more intelligent than most?

Has this ever been asked?

I made a comment on a post written by a non-trans blogger (CoolSouthwoldian, whose blog is called 'I'm Not Really Me' - see my blog list). It was his post entitled Are we or aren't we? on 13 May, chiefly about coping with austerity measures. My comment went as follows:

It's very hard to reduce your standard of living once it's become a habit. But it can be done, and the process of prioritising expenditure, so that you live within smaller means, can make you feel 'still in control', which is psychologically good. People like Alvin Hall make a living advising others how to get realistic, trim their costs, and start saving - even when they feel they're stuck in a financial hole. Given A Plan To Follow one can keep cheerful.

If only governments could do the same. The Coalition in this country is now having to admit that its initial cost-cutting review set in motion money-wasting initiatives as well as genuine economies. It was a hurried, patchy effort that Alvin Hall would have deplored. It was of course coloured by political considerations, something that a private citizen can ignore. The coalition had to produce a draconian scheme that clearly slashed budgets in most areas, yet left some bits 'protected', simply because this looked good. A private citizen wouldn't have done the same. A private citizen would, for instance, have got us out of Afghanistan. Then we could have afforded a proper defence strategy, more focussed, with proper cost controls; with certainly a less embarrassing outcome than the present fiasco. But the political courage wasn't there, and is still not there.

National pride plays a huge part. Look at poor Greece: the people feel sold out to the EU money men, their heritage and way of life mortgaged to the point of hopeless negative equity. No wonder they want out.

The same with the French: the French Way Of Life is now at stake. So exit Sarkozy: although personally I doubt whether anything much can be done under the new regime while politics interfere with everything.

Still, strong cultures can survive long submersion beneath iron regimes. Look for instance how France survived Nazi Germany's jackboot rule during its Occupation. The French Way of Life was sorely tested during that ordeal. Some would say it fell apart. But it came back. And all over the world, there are examples of cultures that have been ravaged by war and hyper-inflation, but still regenerate.

So the present situation in the UK is actually quite mild. May it stay that way. Or else we shall have to invoke the Blitz Spirit to see us through, won't we?

I just hope that the Argentines don't bankrupt themselves this year by mounting a Malvinas Invasion that will oblige us to respond.


And CoolSouthwoldian replied: 

Hi Lucy, thanks for those valuable insights, you're very well informed, and I mean that genuinely, not patronisingly.

Do you find that most transgendered people are of above average intelligence ? When I lived in a city a few years ago I mingled a few times with local male and female bdsm enthusiasts, and was struck by how intelligent almost all of them seemed.

Perhaps it takes a certain application of intelligence to realise that it's okay, not dirty and pervy, to live as one chooses, so long as no one is harmed (excepting consenting adults who want to be hurt during safe and sane play) ; I don't know.
Best Wishes, ~ Martin. 

Which seemed a pretty decent and well-intentioned response to me. I'm assuming that he wasn't actually implying that trans people are the same as fetish folk, nor specifically that I was pervy but ipso facto keenly intelligent! Of course, who knows what goes on in my mind (if I have one)? 

I like Southwold, it's a bright and cheerful place on the breezy east coast, with a distinctive seafront (famous beach huts), a distinctive modern pier (crazy sculpture), a distinctive townscape (with a lighthouse stuck in the middle of town, close to a pub, the Sole Bay Inn) and a distinctive brewery (Adnams). And this chap who lives there seems distinctive himself, and well worth reading. I suppose I appreciate anyone who has a rational point of view and can put a publishable piece together. I can easily forgive CoolSouthwoldian for not yet being well-attuned to the trans world. He's the person who miffed Jane Fae somewhat in an earlier post about an elderly man getting his op on the NHS (Gender Reassignment on 1 May), to which I made this comment: 

Well, the person in question might say, 'Hey, I could live another twenty years. I'd rather do it as the person I always should have been'. Who should play God and deny 'him' the chance to be 'her' for their remaining lifespan? Such a life-enhancing operation will make all the difference. It did for me - I invite you to dip into my 'Lucy Melford' blog (do a Google search using 'lucy melford'), and see how I'm now doing at nearly sixty, with (I hope) thirty-odd years of life still ahead.

By the way, transsexual people are driven to this, as you would be if tomorrow you woke up with a woman's body and had to face the world like that. You'd go nearly mad. And if, while trembling with the enormity of the situation, the NHS phoned and offered you remedial surgery to make you look like a man, wouldn't you jump at it? And wouldn't you defend your right to such surgery if it really was on the NHS menu, and you couldn't afford to go private? Especially if you'd paid taxes and NIC most of your life, and were a good citizen?

By the way, it isn't at all easy to get hormones and hair-removal and voice therapy and surgery from the NHS. There's a huge waiting list, and they are very careful about proceeding unless you convince them you really are trans. You can't just walk in and ask for these things.

It's not a simple matter to secure treatment even if you pay for the whole thing yourself, as I did.

It has cost me, by the way, about £20,000 so far for the medical side, and I still have two years of electrolysis to endure. Plus £200,000 (I kid you not) in lost savings. Those were invested in a property that had to be sold prematurely at a loss, just to repay a private loan from my ex-partner. Because of course I have lost a slew of people from my life - a social (and emotional) cost that the papers generally discount. Anyone transitioning can expect to have their life turned upside down and inside out, with collateral damage all round. Which is why it is good to transition as young as possible, in your late teens, so that you look better and won't bust up a career and a marriage and a family.

Nobody transitions for fun. Trans people are not transvestites, in it merely for the clothes and other trappings. They want the entire female (or male) life, all of it, and the clothes are incidental. They know it could leave them lonely, impoverished, and possibly dead if they fall victim to hate crime (remember the two trans girls murdered in London and Brighton in late 2009?) There will be a changed state sometime in the future that will feel 'right', but - my goodness - it comes at a cost. It's not a lifestyle choice. They are dealing with an inescapable condition that must be addressed or they will go bonkers - and ruin everyone else's life in the process. The NHS know this. And they've done their sums too. Don't believe a word you read in the papers. The Leveson Inquiry, which took evidence earlier this year of dreadful treatment of transsexual men and women by the press and media generally, is going to hammer the press on their attitude, but of course it won't make much immediate difference. Admittedly they've stopped poking fun at trans people, but the attack continues with NHS horror stories and 'they don't deserve it' articles.

Just you thank God on your bended kness that you're not transsexual and a potential victim.

As for the 'does this person deserve it' question, well, how can anyone judge? Did George Best 'deserve' his liver transplant a few years back, even though it was pretty clear he'd lapse into drink again and 'waste' this expensive operation. On principle, yes. On realistic gut feeling, maybe not; but could you or anyone else have condemned him to an earlier death?

Trans people - like eveyone else - want to live active, useful lives, which they can do once 'fixed'. They want to be out there, doing things in society, like every other ordinary person. I do. And I think my blog portrays the truth of this.

A person who is better than before, who is free of inner doubt, who has acquired a zest for life, is able to function so much better. That has to be good for the Big Society - and I'm not being cynical.

Lucy Melford 

There. Off the cuff opinion at 12/6 per yard! Cheap at half the price.

But the question here is: are my comments intelligent? And if they are, are they intelligent because I'm trans, and ‘therefore’ have a better brain than many? In other words, are cleverness and mature awareness of what's happening the common possessions of trans people?

I will at once depersonalise this, and speak generally. It does seem to me that (for instance) many trans blogs are written by articulate and educated men and women who have kept themselves very well-informed. But they can hardly be typical, because most trans people do not publish their thinking on the Internet. So the comparative few who do should not be used to measure the general standard of intelligence. It would be better to look at what people write on, say, Facebook, where the format is not at all formal and essay-like, but spontaneous to the point of inanity, and tends towards quippy one-liners. I think it would then be decided that trans people are as intelligent (or not) as the rest of society.

And when you meet trans people, they do not usually come across as anything more than averagely bright. I'm thinking of the dozens of people I have met at the Clare Project in Brighton since December 2008. There have been dunces and dreamers as well as committed rocket scientists.

I suppose a general case could certainly be made for a greater degree of quick-wittedness and nous. Trans people, especially those who are early in their transition (and therefore vulnerable to public scorn and ridicule) quickly develop a radar for trouble. But this is saying no more than experience hones and sharpens the mind; it's a simple matter of survival, of learning how to avoid danger and the bruising effects of discrimination.  

All this could be settled if some university carried out a research project into the IQs of trans people. But no such research seems to be going on.

Personally, if any funding ever becomes available for studies of this kind, I'd rather see it directed towards understanding the long-term effects of taking hormones. And not to discover whether trans persons ought to feel rightly smug about their enormous brainpower!


  1. I suggest you conduct some research into this matter by visiting some of the well-known web forums for trans people and asking a few everyday questions.

    My impression is that we're no cleverer as a group than any other. The blogosphere simply attracts those of us who can write.

  2. I'd grown a beard by the time I'd read all of this Lucy. A bit on the long side I thought with the original question not definitively answered but I have to say well written all the same. As for that question/suggestion I have read somewhere that indeed some medical professionals do suggest that on average transsexual people tend to be involved with things requiring a lot of intelligence. They tend to be more intelligent too, more artistic and generally reaching a higher level of education in specialist fields, so I believe. I think I'll go along with that.
    Quote:Just you thank God on your bended kness that you're not transsexual and a potential victim.Unquote..........You told me you didn't believe in God....LOL
    Shirley Anne x

  3. @Shirley Anne:
    Sorry to be so prolix! I did want to give adequate examples of my 'intelligent' prose. You get good value for money when you read my blog. It's the genuine Weekend Editorial. I don't like to fob people off with a couple of sentences and an easy link to some song or video!

    I never said I didn't believe in some overriding force or influence. I just don't believe in the conventional God of books like the Bible, for reasons given in in my September 2010 post 'Accusation number 12: Not in God's image: you're a deviant'. I haven't found reason since to alter my personal opinion. Nor would I seek to influence anyone else's.

    The series of posts (really essays) have to be read in the context of my forthcoming gential surgery. I was working through the Important Questions that had to be settled in my mind, not wanting any last-minute problems with matters that I hadn't faced up to.

    Rightly or wrongly, God's name is often used in forceful expressions, even when the speaker or writer clearly isn't a conventional believer.


  4. Mmmm...It would seem so

    Shirley Anne x

  5. The trans folk I've met range from the very well educated to the seriously deranged. I reckon Jenny's right - those who write or contribute to blogs generally more articulate than the average.

    (@Shirley Anne - I skipped through most of the italic bits!)


  6. Naughty girl Angela. I think that if I am to pass a comment on someone else's blog I feel I ought to have the decency to read everything they have written first. I know what you mean though.

    Shirley Anne xxx

  7. I well written post, as always.

    We're a bit worried over here as before becoming President, M. Hollande promised to hand out lots of money and reduce the retirement age back down to 60 for those who've worked 42 years.

    It crossed my mind as I read your title that perhaps trans people are like bilinguals. They use and develop more of their brains switching backwards and forwards as required. I imagine a lot of brain power is used fitting in two roles until the decision is made to change permanently.

    I'll ask my daughter if any research has been done.


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