Friday, 14 April 2006

What's On TV?

Actually, in the weird world I now inhabit, both "TV" and "CD" have very different meanings.

And neither should be confused with TS, and that link is to by far the best and most complete article I've ever seen on the subject.

But getting back to TV, that is, TeleVision on SBS for Sunday, April 16, at 8.30pm there's a programme originally made for the BBC's Horizon series.
Dr Money had used case studies of hermaphrodites to show that there was a window of opportunity for surgery - a 'gender gate' - which lasted up to the age of two. During that period, he argued, if the parents chose the sex of the child, the way they brought it up would determine the child's gender, not its physical characteristics. But until this point, Dr Money had never put his controversial theory into practice with a non-intersex child. Now he had the perfect and unplanned opportunity to do so: a set of identical twins, two biological boys, one of whom could be raised a girl.

Janet Reimer wrote to Dr Money of Brenda's progress and once a year the whole family visited him in Baltimore. When Brenda was five Dr Money started to publish her case - disguising her by referring to her as Joan/John - in his books. The case became a sensation. It was the proof that feminists in particular were looking for. It was proof, they argued, that there was no biological reason that boys are better at maths and that men should earn more than women.

Nurture not nature determines whether we feel feminine or masculine. Widely cited in many text books, the case was a landmark study - hailed as proof of the overwhelming force of nurture - in spite of increasing evidence that hormones both in the womb and throughout a child's life, play a huge part in an individual's perception of themselves as masculine or feminine.

Meanwhile, back in Canada, things were not so good for the Reimer family. Brenda behaved in a distinctly masculine fashion. She liked running and fighting and climbing and loathed playing with dolls. She had no friends and was increasingly lonely as her twin Brian was embarrassed to play with her in front of his other friends. She hated going to visit Dr Money.

He insisted that to fully understand that she was a girl, she needed to grasp the difference between men and women, and frequently spoke to her about her genitalia. He took photographs of her and her brother naked. He tried to persuade her to have a vagina constructed, which, at the time, would have been made out of section of her bowel or else from the skin of her thigh, which would then be inserted into the pelvic region.

He showed her graphic photographs of a woman giving birth when she was seven years old in an attempt to get her to agree to having a 'baby-hole' made. He also suggested strongly that she take hormone tablets in order to make her grow breasts when she was 12. Other scientists, including Dr Money's ex-students, argue that he did these things in the best possible interests for his patient - to make her believe that she was indeed a girl. Brenda however felt traumatised and became suicidal.

Finally when she was 13, the family told her and Brian the truth. Brenda was intensely relieved as she had felt she was going insane. Almost immediately she turned herself back into a boy and called herself David.

You might think, and I might think, that this is an unimpeachable argument for sex being determined by the brain, not the body.

Nope. It's the chromosomes that magically determine it. Or the original genitalia. Anyone claiming otherwise is mentally ill. Or so said Paul McHugh, the former Vatican advisor on Sexual Matters. Pardon me if I write the comments in bile...
The post-surgical subjects struck me as caricatures of women. They wore high heels, copious makeup, and flamboyant clothing; they spoke about how they found themselves able to give vent to their natural inclinations for peace, domesticity, and gentleness—but their large hands, prominent Adam’s apples, and thick facial features were incongruous (and would become more so as they aged).
Well he got that right, just look at my picture. Apart from the high heels. And the copious makeup. And the flamboyant clothing. But you can see the "prominent Adam’s apple" and "thick facial features". Fortunately my large hands aren't visible. How exquisitely sensitive of him to point this out, and how they are consequences of my mental health. What's that again? Now Facial Feminisation Surgery is available to fix that of course, but it's unlikely I'll ever be able to afford it. It's "cosmetic" you see, not covered by health insurance.

It goes on like that, in great detail.
With these facts in hand I concluded that Hopkins was fundamentally cooperating with a mental illness. We psychiatrists, I thought, would do better to concentrate on trying to fix their minds and not their genitalia.
Not that they or anyone else ever succeeded at that.
This information and the improved understanding of what we had been doing led us to stop prescribing sex-change operations for adults at Hopkins—much, I’m glad to say, to the relief of several of our plastic surgeons who had previously been commandeered to carry out the procedures.
Well, at least he was able to come to the conclusion he wanted in the first place. Johns Hopkins is noted for being the only hospital that has closed down its surgical program.

Possibly because much of the data from Toronto that he relied on turned out to be as bogus and deliberately faked as Dr Money's "John/Joan" book. There's been a lot of that in this field, people drawing conclusions first, then looking for the data.

As Prof Lynn Conway wrote :
Money for decades pushed sex reassignments of intersex infants, under a bogus theory of gender. Money insisted wrongly that gender is socially constructed and that intersex boys could be turned into girls if reassigned surgically early enough. He then deliberately prevented mounting counter-evidence to his theory from being widely revealed to his scientific colleagues. For several decades he pushed and promoted the practice of infant intersex surgeries, even in the face of mounting evidence that his theory was incorrect.

McHugh has for decades tried to stop transsexual sex reassignments, under a bogus theory that trans women are homosexual men or sexual paraphilics. By power of position and personality he stopped (not only the infant genital surgeries, but also) the transsexual surgeries at John's Hopkins. He then deliberately prevented mounting counter-evidence to his theory from being widely revealed to his scientific colleagues. For decades now he has pushed and promoted the idea that "sex changes are wrong", even in the face of mounting evidence that his theory was incorrect - evidence that transsexual transitions can work out extremely well.

And yes, McHugh's article is still being quoted, and was used as evidence in the last few months by the IRS to deny medical expenses associated with transition as deductible items.

But at least Dr McHugh came to the conclusion that genital mutilation (I use the phrase deliberately) of Intersexed infants before they had a chance to tell anyone what gender they actually were is a Bad Move.

Yet it still happens, every day, in Australia and elsewhere. I see the results nearly every day on various TS support fora. People who have been made Transsexual while infants, at the point of a scalpel blade.

It's still happening. It should be stopped. Hopefully the SBS program might make a few more people aware of the problem.

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