Envy and Narcissism
Before we add gender identity and expression to anti-discrimination laws and international agreements, it might be a good idea to try to understand what is driving those the law is supposed to protect –the transgendered, transsexuals, transvestites, cross-dressers, drag queens and kings, gender queer, adults and children with gender dysphoria (previously know as gender identity disorder), and autogynephiles (men who are in love with the image of themselves as a woman).
With such a diversity of expressions of gender dysphoria (being unhappy with the sex you were born), no single characteristic could be expected to be applicable to every person who could claim protection under “gender identity and expression” status, but there is reason to consider the possibility that many could be described as being motivated by pathological envy.
As I was trying to find a way to explain why men who claim to be women trapped in male bodies aren’t women, I came across a web post by Thorin25, a man struggling against the temptation to cross-dress. I felt his insights were significant since dressing in clothes associated with the other sex is the gateway to the transgender world. He wrote:
Recently I’ve been pondering the nature of cross-dressing desires and have become convinced that a significant component of cross dressing is envy or coveting…
What are cross-dressing desires if not envy? We want what females have, things that do not properly belong to us. We envy the beauty of females. We crave and desire that beauty. We want it for ourselves. We want to be as beautiful as the women we see or imagine. We envy the feeling of “being beautiful.” Is it any surprise that cross-dressers are so vain? We spend hours in front of the mirror striving for perfection in our beauty and admiring ourselves.
We envy the feminine experience. We want to experience what it is like to be a woman or a girl. We want to experience how men treat women or how they treat beautiful women. We want to be treated chivalrously. We want to experience the freedom women have to give in to specific emotions or behaviors that our culture tends to not be so accepting of with men. We envy that women get to feel sexy, sensual, spontaneous, daring, free from responsibility, provocative, cute, free to giggle, be expressive, vulnerable, sensitive, flirtatious, or gentle. We improperly think that we shouldn’t show these feelings as much as men, so we envy women being able to have these feelings, and when we cross-dress we then feel free to give in to these feelings…
We envy the soft or silky feel of the clothing. We envy the beautiful colors of the clothing. We envy the beauty of the feminine face with makeup. We envy the beauty of shiny painted nails. We envy the cool look of high heels. We envy what we perceive as the ability to dress in a sexy way. We envy the female clothing that we perceive as more comfortable.
As I read this, as a woman, I could not identify with this man’s idea of what it means to be a woman. I found it demeaning. Where was women’s intelligence, competence, power, motherhood? His envy driving image is not the heart of the feminine experience. I don’t spend hours in front of a mirror striving for perfection. I just try to cover up the obvious flaws, before I face the world. I certainly don’t feel free from responsibility, as a mother (even though my children are grown) I still feel responsible. This is a male illusion of what it means to be a woman and doesn’t match the reality of women’s lives.
The antidote to envy is trust. If we trust God the father, we believe that he will give us what we need. Unfortunately, the transgendered have trouble trusting their heavenly father because they don’t – often for understandable reasons – trust their biological fathers. Some of the transgendered go so far as to claim that God made a mistake that they should have been born with a woman’s body. Some deceive themselves into believing that they can change their sex with clothes, hormones and surgery. They can’t. Our sex is written on our DNA, wired into our brains.
Envy is the sin of wanting what you don’t have and what someone else has. The person who envies is unhappy and imagines that if he has what the other person has it will make him happy. He creates a fantasy, and then tries to make it real. Even if he were allowed to change his documents and be recognized legally as a woman, he wouldn’t be a real woman, only a simulation of a fantasy. Passing as a woman requires wiping out his past and living a lie. Society is under no obligation to give the envious what they covet.
According to the DSM-5, envy is one of the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissists are “hungry for adoration , admiration, acceptance , approval and any other kind of attention… Narcissists are, at times, suicidal and are always self-destructive.
Why does this matter to us? Because Narcissists’ needs can never be completely satisfied. No matter how much adoration, admiration, acceptance, approval and attention they receive it will never be enough. They will notice the smallest slight, the tiniest criticism, the inadvertent rejection and they will demand groveling repentance. If they don’t receive it, they will react with narcissistic rage. According to Heinz Kohut, the narcissist experiences a
…need for revenge, for righting a wrong, for undoing a hurt by whatever means, and a deeply anchored, unrelenting compulsion in pursuit of all these aims…. There is utter disregard for reasonable limitations and a boundless wish to redress an injury and to obtain revenge…. The narcissistically injured on the other hand, cannot rest until he has blotted out [the]…offender who dared to oppose him, [or] to disagree with him.
Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen in their blue print for gay activism After the Ball could not help but notice that a significant number of gay men fit the clinical description for narcissistic personality disorder.
If even only a small percentage of the LGBTQ community is pathologically narcissistic, according them legal protection will give them a weapon to use against anyone who so much as looks at them cross-eyed. People of faith who refuse to compromise religious principles are being dragged into court and charged with discrimination. Even those who support their agenda can be targeted, as the case of J. Michael Bailey, author of The Man who would be Queen demonstrates. Several members of the transsexual community were offended by Bailey’s treatment of his subjects and launched a vicious smear campaign against him, his friends, family, coworkers, and casual acquaintances. A comprehensive review of their attack by Alice Dreger was published in Archives of Sexual Behavior.
Narcissistic rage may also explain the LGBTQ activists’ demand that therapy for same sex attraction and gender identity disorder be made illegal. Gerald Schoenewolf, in an article entitled “Gender Narcissism and its Manifestations,” discussed the problem of narcissistic rage among some of his clients:
A number of both female and male homosexuals had politicized their feelings about homosexuality. Not only their gender was idealized, but also homosexuality as well. Homosexuals, they held, were more sensitive, more humane, more refined, and more moral than heterosexuals. “If straights were as peace-loving as gays, the world would be a better place,” was an often expressed sentiment. Underpinning this grandiosity was the narcissistic rage. If I did not mirror their idealization, I would quickly experience this rage in the form of character assassination, threats, or hasty terminations.
If a person who self-identifies as lesbian, gay, or transgendered seeks help with other psychological difficulties (which, as numerous, large, well-designed studies have shown, are more common among LGBTQ self-identified persons) and is challenged by the therapist to explore the roots of his problems, the person may react with narcissistic rage, going so far as to demand that the therapist be punished.
Anne Lawrence, a post operative male to female transsexual, in an article entitled “Shame and Narcissistic Rage in Autogynephilic Transsexualism,” acknowledges the problem of narcissistic disorders among transgendered and warns therapists to be sensitive lest they trigger “narcissistic rage.” All therapy with members of the LGBTQ will be compromised because a soon as the therapist touches on the key issues, he risks becoming a target.
Adding “gender identity and expression” to anti-discrimination laws cannot satisfy the envy that drives narcissistic rage, but will force the entire society to walk on eggshells for fear of being labeled homophobic, heterosexist, transphobic haters.