One of the accusations targeted at trans people for the last century or so was that of mental illness. I mean who could possibly identify as anything other than the gender they were assigned at birth? We have a system of assigning gender at birth which works for most of us, why should trans people be any different? It is their minds that are wrong not their bodies.
This is not just one of those pieces of Weaponised Empty Rhetoric (WER) employed by TERFs and other assorted bigots, it is the view of many others. A typically "commonsense" view of the world where everything is simple and simplicity is best. Its roots are in the Foucauldian type of "scientific" investigation into trans people in the latter part of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Trans people were the objects of study by psychologists in those days and it is likely that this contributed long-term, to trans people being able to identify and come together as a group.
TERFs have long used the accusation of mental illness as a means to oppress trans people, claiming that "talking therapies" are the solution, as if it is better to play around with someone's mind than alter their body a little, a kind of reverse Cartesian Dualism in which the body takes precedence over the mind, something that reveals the profoundly essentialist basis of their transphobia.
However to see transphobes bombarding a discussion thread with these accusations after a TV news article about older trans people goes well beyond the WER of the TERF, even though you can bet your bottom dollar that some of these comments were from TERFs pseudonymously joining in to stir hatred for trans people. Yet this transphobic hatred is the meat and drink of parody. These people are a pastiche of themselves, a kind of Spitting Image caricature of their own lives. Anonymous behind their Macs, Sonys and Toshibas, they accuse those who differ from the norm as being mentally ill, of suffering from a kind of madness, however in doing so they enact the very things which do cause mental illness in trans people and many other minorities. They, in their ignorance are demonstrating what really causes mental ill health; the acts of bigotry and ignorance which result in social isolation and exclusion of minority groups.
The fact is that trans people have always existed in every civilisation worthy of the name throughout history and continue to exist, in different forms in many cultures around the world indicates the wrongness, ignorance and narrow-mindedness of their "opinions".
Yet it goes beyond this; their ignorance of difference and their intolerance of diversity betrays a mental incapacity to deal with the kinds of people who do not feature in their restricted, Barratt-home, Cornflake-packet, Mail-on Sunday lives. These are people whose existences are sheltered and normalised, their understanding of the world curtailed and impeded by wall-to-wall exposure to the effects of media blandification, their minds diminished by the everyday monotony that neoliberal indoctrination requires, the possibilities in their own lives circumscribed by the narrowness of their own, artificially-imposed microscopic horizons, rendering their own contributions to the world insignificant as they plod through life in harness to the system, yet without realising they are the ones in cages.
These people are the desperate slaves of a system that requires its population to be regimented inside and out, yet which does so in a way that its captives think they are free. Not only are they under the delusion that their opinions are their own but that their viewpoints are not controlled by those who oppress them, who own them.
Now, some might suggest that these people are mentally ill themselves as they are living in a state of delusion that they are free when they are not, that their knowledge and opinions are their own when they are created for them, that they "did it my way" when they have been manipulated not merely to do it someone else's way but to believe they made their own choices. To me that represents a form of mental illness which is all the worse because it is not recognised as such and because it is so widespread.
It is obvious that these people need to resort to cowardly insults and online bullying, when faced with the courage of trans people openly speaking on TV, suggesting their mental health is probably suffering from far greater damage than might have been assumed by their mental incarceration, regimented thinking and inability to understand their own circumstances. It is obvious that, given all this, they are more seriously affected by this restraining, regulating and reductive culture imposed on their minds. They are quite literally expressing hatred, motivated by envy, at those who are different, who have escaped from the cages they inhabit, cages which they build for themselves (directed by others) every day and which they delude themselves represent freedom.
The very act of bullying trans people, of accusing trans people of being mentally ill reveals their own mental and social problems, it exposes their own self-hatred, their own need to bully, their own need to try and harm others in order to feel good themselves. These are people I truly feel sorry for, they are the truly pathetic, the people neoliberalism has betrayed, deceived, imperceptibly manipulated and incarcerated. They peer out from inside their invisible (to them) cages and attempt to sneer at those who are free. They are undeniably in pain, an invisible pain, a pain of constriction, of ignorance and of self-delusion.
Their actions have shown that if anyone is mentally ill, it is they.