Wednesday, 11 February 2009

A Small Substitution

Imagine a newspaper account of prisoners in a punishment block for their own protection.
Kidnap mum Karen Matthews is shacked up in prison with a Black and a baby killer, the Yorkshire Evening Post can reveal.
Ms Barton, 32, said that Matthews had to be moved to the punishment block after just one night for her own safety.

Just two other prisoners live permanently in the block, Ms Barton claims, a child-killer and a Black.
It would be a public disgrace if anyone with more melanin than the norm was put in a punishment block, even if it was for their own protection from racists. The original is a little different, but not much. Now imagine a headline reading
Weekly's story sparks "Nigger Nigel" frenzy

A weekly paper inadvertently sparked an online football frenzy last week with a story about a negro's anger at the NHS.
The Sun ran it under the headline "Nigel Nigger lookalike jibes" with the intro: "Chelsea captain Nigel Terry is being taunted by rival football fans – who say he looks like a negro in whiteface."

By last Thursday afternoon, the day after the story went online, it had generated an amazing 2.5m page views on the Warrington Guardian's site.

Deputy editor Hayley Smith said: "This is a phenomenal response. The story was already popular but within an hour of somebody saying Nigel looked like Malcolm, it became massive. The reaction was amazing."
I think there'd be an outcry. Just a bit. Something about racist attitudes permeating society and the like. But the original article, while differing in only minor ways, is looked on as quite normal, and nothing to complain about.

Oh well, on with the posting to try to make things a little better.

A discussion of Fertility and Transition, something all too few consider. That could be because in many jurisdictions, sterilisation of transsexuals is mandatory. Wouldn't want them to breed, would we? The original article though is sensitive and thoughtful, something that isn't always the case.

Then on to the Nashua Telegraph, and a plea for legal reform. One that sometimes falls on ears that are not deaf, merely hard-of-thinking.
I have a mole on my neck. I will be getting it removed in a few weeks. It has been there for a couple of years. I always think people are looking at it(truthfully). It makes me feel different. Can I get a mole law? Then get some money when others look at it. Or don't pick me for some project. I feel discriminated against. Maybe I could leave it on and then make money off of it.
Hopefully this "Pleading" falls on deaf ears.

Thence to two Christian-oriented sites. The first is the Gay Christian Movement Watch,
Some points that the GLBT community seems unwilling to discuss or acknowledge are in the areas of curses and perverse spirits.
The word says the curse causeless shall not come. When people play with the word of God and refuse to repent the Lord can send a spirit of perversion just as he sent an evil spirit to plague Saul.
Proverbs lists some of the ways that people can anger God and receive his wrath in the form of an evil spirit and being blinded to it.
The devil has tried to kill male children of God from Genesis on and he’s doing a good job of it with these spirits of perversion telling transgenders that being MtF is alright and blessed in the eyes of God.
I'm not sure such people can be reached. Certainly no amount of rationality and scientific argument will get to them. They're impervious to citing scripture too. But to the superstitious, maybe my own unusual and unexplained transformation might get to them. I had to try, anyway.

On to The Professor, who should know better. Actually, no, he shouldn't, I can't blame him for knowing nothing about Intersex conditions, and professors pontificate about areas outside their speciality all the time. They shouldn't slander though.
I must admit that I have not followed the literature on transgender studies much; however, I do have a general idea as to what is being discussed in the academic literature as well as in mainstream society regarding gay, lesbian, and queer theory.
Honestly, I think Santhi was trying to cheat.
He was referring to Shanti Sounderajan, a woman with CAIS. The professor has no idea of the difference between transvestites, transsexuals, and the intersexed. Or for that matter, biology vs idiology, fact vs fiction, or sexual orientation vs sex. My reply (which has yet to make it through moderation, though I think it probably will) reads thus:

Please do some research on Intersex before saying something like “Honestly, I think XXXX was trying to cheat”.

As someone who is Intersexed, I appreciate your honesty in expressing your blatant ignorance. If you hadn’t said something like that, we wouldn’t have been given the chance to give you the information. I certainly don’t blame you for not knowing anything about a subject before expressing an opinion, not in this case anyway. It’s not exactly a subject most people know a lot about, and “common sense” would argue that you’re right.

Of course,”common sense” also says the Earth is flat, and the sun rises and sets rather than the Earth being round and rotating.

There’s hundreds of different Intersex conditions, and about the only thing they have in common is that the patient has a body neither 100% female nor 100% male. Now often, they’re not aware of their condition, and you could even be one of them. The odds are very much against it, but you could have at least some 46xx chromosomes, normally found only in females. The odds are higher that you have some 47xxy chromosomes, neither conventionally male nor conventionally female, but still not high.

It appears that Santhi has a condition called ‘Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome’. This condition means her cells just plain ignore the male hormone, testosterone. You could inject her with enough to change the Dallas Cheerleaders so they look like the Dallas Cowboys, and it wouldn’t affect her one whit. She’s more female in body than most women.

However.. she also has 46xy chromosomes, usually only found in males (though some women with them have given birth). That means that in the womb, she developed testes rather than ovaries, and these are internal. She also developed a vagina, though not a cervix or womb.

Moreover, her brain, specifically the lymbic nucleus, is unambiguously female. Her instincts, her reflexes, her senses of smell and hearing (all of which are sexually dimorphic) are female. If the terms “man” and “woman” are to mean anything, she’s a woman, albeit sterile.

It can be utterly devastating for a young girl to come to a fertility clinic to find out why she hasn’t had her first period yet - and to be told that it’s because she’s “genetically male”. She’s not, for 46xy chromosomes are found in some fertile women, but not even all medics are familiar with such unusual conditions. Usually 46xx means female, 46xy means male. Usually.

Two PopSci articles available online are PBS Nova Online’s The Intersex Spectrum and COSMOS Science magazine’s Intersex: The Space between the Genders.

More data on Intersex conditions is available from the Intersex Society of North America at , the UK Intersex Association at and Organisation Intersex International

Ignorance like yours leads to persecution: being called cheats, perverts, freaks, paedophiles… often by people who are highly educated in other areas, and who would normally never dream of treating anyone with a rare congenital medical condition as a pariah. Fortunately, unlike a genetic oddity, ignorance is curable, and it’s in our best interest to try to cure people like you of it.
Too much snark, not enough objectivity in that one, but I'm only human.

Not that everyone accords me that privilege. Still, at least I'm only "possessed by an unclean spirit" this time, and not actually accused of being the Spawn of Satan. Not yet.

UPDATE- The Professor left me a comment that was kinder to me than I deserve after my snarkiness. His students are more than fortunate to have such a mentor. I wish there were more in academe like him, and I hope I'll be able to follow his example.


Anonymous said...

Your comment over at my blog The Professor on transgender was right on; I need to do more research. Thus I deleted the post and will address the matter when I am more informed. Thanks for your comment.

Zoe Brain said...

Professor, you have no idea how rare it is to meet someone like you.

I'm honoured. If there's anything I can do to help you, please let me know. I also owe you an abject apology for the tone of my post. It was unjust as well as unkind.