Confirmation Bias

This doesn’t sound like it has much to do with being trans, right? I’ll ask for you patience while I explain what it is, and then I’ll say how it affects us.

Confirmation bias is the phenomenon where the brain filters information based on a decision. The dictionary definition:

The tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories.

As you might imagine, this is particular problematic in certain fields. In detective work, any kind of decision on  a likely suspect will tend to cause all evidence to be interpreted to support the decision. This can happen to the extent that evidence that would normally rule out the suspect might even be ignored.

There are similar problems in areas like intelligence gathering. It affects people’s decision making with respect to value systems, political candidates, issues, and so on. It is part of the reason why people are very hard to shift off an opinion on an issue. Not only because they made a decision but because all information since then has been interpreted to  support the decision.

For us confirmation bias affects us in a number of ways. For people early in the process it can make it hazardous because you can make a decision like “I need to transition” or “I need to take hormones”. You then research a little and you look at your life and experiences and see all the supporting evidence. What is very hard to see having gone about the decision process in this manner are reasons not to make the decision.

Let’s say you want to decide if some particular decision is the right course. A better process might be to say, “Should I do this?” and then research what factors would argue in each direction. Then you could evaluate without the influence of the invested decision.

The other thing to do is to remain aware after making a decision that you will tend to disregard negative information. This makes it more important to be honest with yourself, to be introspective and make sure that you continue to understand the ramifications of your decisions, and how those effects change over time.

After the Deed is Done

If you were trying to decide some major step that is irrevocable then I suggest that this is the one time to allow confirmation bias to have its way. You’ve had SRS, there is no point to ever viewing why you wouldn’t have wanted to make the other decision after the fact. (and yet I still have thought through this – be smarter than I am!)

Be contented once these moments have come and gone and let the past be the past and swallow them up. If something happens that makes it imperfect then deal with it from your new reality, try to not ever say “but if only” because that just causes mental pain and anguish.

Seeing the Markers

Perhaps this should be a separate post, but one of the interesting  phenomenon that I think is part of confirmation bias is the reexamination of our lives to see where we might have seen signs we were trans or had a female/feminized brain. I see little harm in it since it doesn’t change the present and if you’ve made a permanent decision as I have done, it can set your mind more and more at ease.

I had such a thought today talking with a young woman who works in the building I live in. Years ago I was rear ended by a teen driving a minivan. A moment of inattention on her part, thousands in damages a split second later. Fortunately nobody was hurt, just shaken up, so the damages were just financial.

Her mom arrives on the seen and is entirely pissed at her daughter. Perhaps I had a reason, after all it was my car that was hit, and maybe she had some reason. Yet the first concern I’ve always had as a parent is for my kid’s safety. Money is, well, just money. It can be gotten again. Perhaps with great effort, but it isn’t like health or life that is irreplaceable.

I was surprised to have to go up to the mom at my then ancient age of 38 and say “We’re all ok and your daughter’s ok, all the rest of this is just property damage” i.e. take a chill pill.

Taking with the young woman I realized that my focus being on people and not things was a nurturing, feminine outlook, not really a male outlook which might have focused on the roughly $15k damage in 1999 dollars that had been done. Another marker for me to remember. Another reason to realize I’ve always been a girl underneath.

You will have your own story and your own markers and they will have happened when they will have happened. Let them help settle your mind if you’ve past a permanent decision.

 

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