Monday, 14 December 2009

Ron Gold on the Transgendered - A Dialogue

Recently, the GLBT group blog Bilerico published an article from their newest contributor. Someone who at age 90 is something of a legend for his work in helping co-found the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force in the USA and his agitation to remove "homosexuality" from the list of mental illnesses, on the grounds that there was no evidence that it was one.

What is transgender? Well, there are two sorts who seem to be covered by the name, the drag kings and queens so good at portraying cartoon imitations of straight people, and transsexuals, the folks who report that from an early age they've felt themselves trapped in the wrong bodies. Despite the equipment they were born with that belies their assertions, they say they are really men or really women.

What does it mean to be really a man or a woman? Since it's not about genitalia, it must be about personality, and what, one asks, is a male or a female personality? Even straight people nowadays concede that some men are the warm, loving type that used to be thought exclusive to women, and some women are the strong, action-oriented sort that used to be thought exclusive to men. And lesbians and gay men have always known that people of the same gender can be very different from each other. Isn't it true that those we form mated relationships with are always complementary - even polar opposites - to ourselves?

Let me state it categorically. There is no such thing as a male or female personality. Personality is not a function of gender.

So where does that put the concept of transgender? In my view, down the tubes! And that leaves the further questions of how transsexuals got to think the way they do, and what to do to resolve their dilemmas. I hope I'll be forgiven for rejecting as just plain silly the idea that some cosmic accident just turned these people into changelings. What happened, more than likely, is that, from an early age, when they discovered that their personalities didn't jibe with what little boys and girls are supposed to want and do and feel, they just assumed they mustn't be real little boys and girls.

So, parents of such little boys and girls, do not take them to the psychiatrist and treat them like they're suffering from some sort of illness. Explain to them that, whatever the other kids say, real little girls do like to play with trucks and wear grimy jeans, and real little boys like to prance around in dresses and play with dolls. And make sure the teachers are on the same page.

As for adults struggling with what to do about their feelings, I'd tell them too to stay away from the psychiatrists - those prime reinforcers of sex-role stereotypes - and remind them that whatever they're feeling, or feel like doing, it's perfectly possible with the bodies they've got. If a man wants to wear a dress or have long hair; if a woman wants short hair and a three-piece suit; if people want romance and sex with their own gender; who says they can't violate these perfectly arbitrary taboos? A short historical and cross-cultural survey should establish that men and women have worn and done all sorts of stuff. I recall reading something by Jan Morris in which it seemed that he thought he needed a sex change because he wanted men to hold doors open for him and kiss him goodbye at train stations. For starters, I'd have told him that I've had these nice things happen to me and I've still got my pecker.

Perhaps it isn't needless to say that a No to the notion of transgender does not excuse discrimination against cross-dressers or post-op transsexuals in employment, housing and public accommodation; and I strongly support legislation that would forbid it. I would, however, get after the doctors - the psychiatrists who use a phony medical model to invent a disease that doesn't exist, and the surgeons who use such spurious diagnoses to mutilate the bodies of the deluded.
Later, the article was amended with the following preface:
Editors' Note: All posts published on Bilerico Project do not reflect the opinions of nor any endorsement by the Editorial Team. Many Bilerico readers and contributors have found Ronald Gold's op-ed offensive or needlessly coarse. The idea behind Bilerico Project is to encourage dialogue among different facets of the LGBT community that might normally never interact this intimately. We encourage all readers to continue responding to Mr. Gold in the same spirit his post was written - with positive intent while bluntly stating your own opinion and experiences.
Later still, the post was removed in its entirety, though the comments remain.

My first comment on the subject:
A number of issues.

My first reaction was to thank Mr Gold for substituting his ideology for my narrative, so I don't have to form opinions of my own. He knows what I think, and tells me what that is. But to say that is too snarky. Not useful.

The second reaction, looking through the comments, was to be amazed at how few ad-hominem attacks there were. The level of politeness was high, and I hope that this continues.

The third reaction - just because someone's opinion is unpopular doesn't mean it's not true. Mr Gold's queer-theory ideology is an integral part of a substantial proportion of the GLB movement, so yes, Bilerico is justified in publishing it. It's one thing to have a "safe space", another to suppress competing views.

I think it's pretty safe to say that while his opinions may be widely-held in the circle he moves in, they're not shared widely here at Bilerico. And none of the people he's talking about share them. Though of course, by his thesis they're deluded so badly they mutilate themselves, so their opinions can be safely discounted.

The question though is not how popular his opinions are, but how true are they? If they're obviously unsound, we should be able to calmly and matter-of-factly refute them with evidence, not rhetoric.

I think the level of FAIL here is so great that it deserves a full article, rather than just a comment. Heck, it deserves a book.

I'll condense things though and post a separate comment as a preface, if you like. Starting with this comment, not by a psychiatrist, but an MD and professor of urology. An expert in anatomy, biology, and endocrinology:

We spoke for 2 1/2 hours on why cross gender identity was a normal inherited variation of humans. We showed how Transgender Brains think, smell, and hear like the opposite sex.

The fundamental issue is the boundary between the concepts of biological sex, gender role, and gender identity. Medical evidence shows that Gender Identity is part of biological sex based on physical measurements, while Queer theory insists that it must be part of Gender Role for philosophical reasons.

But to logically set out the reasoning to reach those conclusions, and to give the evidence, would, as I said, require a whole article. Not a short one, either.

I'll leave aside the morality of labelling some as "deluded" based on nothing more than a deeply-held philosophical belief system. A Faith-based set of beliefs of what *has* to be so, rather than what is. One thing we all have in common, Mr Gold included, is to be victims of that kind of thinking.
Mr Gold replied to the several hundred posts taking him to task as follows:
Woke up today here in Bangladesh to find not only that my post had run, but that I had a deluge of negative responses. Whoever said that I wanted to start off with a bang was right and, since my aim as a bilerico contributor is to take aim at some of the politically correct assumptions of our current movement, I was ready for a barrage of disagreement. I was distressed to find, however, that the bulk of the comments limited themselves to stating that I am bigoted, ignorant, abusive and too old.

One thing I regret about my post is that I failed to take on the question of gender dystopia head on. I concede I'm far from an expert on this, but I continue to believe that it is highly unlikely to have a biological basis (Is there any credible evidence for that view?; I'm willing to listen). So I posited an explanation based on societal pressure to conform to the gender stereotypes. (If there are other explanations, I missed them amidst the tirades.)The "conspiracy" I see is sex-role stereotyping, and the transgender concept, I suggested,is just that stood on its head. Yes indeed, people do tend to identify with one gender or the other. I attempted to inquire if that makes any sense. I'm in favor of gender-neutral restrooms.

My post was indeed an "attack on the very credibility of transgender diagnosis." and, for the record, I don't want to see ANYTHING in the DSM, which I view as a dead-wrong attempt to view human problems as pathology, and collect some insurance-company coin in the process. I don't apologize for using words like mutilation and deluded. That's what I think it is!

Next, somebody said, I'll be saying there's no such thing as homosexuality. As a matter of fact I think that's true (and no such thing as heterosexuality) and expect to say something along those lines in my next post, if I'm not hounded off the site.

Incidentally, I NEVER tried to keep drag people out of gay parades or any of the outrageous things a couple of commentators accused me of, and have no clue where they could have picked up such lies.

I wasn't trying to change the minds of 6 million people. I was attempting to open a dialogue with some of you who are willing. I hope to be allowed to try again.
My reply:
Dear Mr Gold

Thank you for dispelling some of my own tentative misconceptions about you. Thanks also for starting to engage with your critics.

I think you still owe an apology for misgendering Jan Morris. That was nyeh kulturny rather than a product of lack of knowledge. I won't say "ignorance", as I think that has overtones that would be misleading, and indeed unjust to you.

As for the "mutilation" and "deluded" bit, since that seems to be a genuinely held belief of yours, with no good way of expressing it in less hurtful tones, I'm willing to give you a pass from my own perspective. I claim no right to judge your remarks in absolute terms.

I concede I'm far from an expert on this, but I continue to believe that it is highly unlikely to have a biological basis (Is there any credible evidence for that view?; I'm willing to listen). So I posited an explanation based on societal pressure to conform to the gender stereotypes.

...ignoring (or not just being aware?) of the fact that many trans people can't be shoehorned into fitting this conjecture.

I can't really use my own narrative as a counter-example. I'm not trans, technically, but Intersexed. Born looking male, a partial female puberty at age 47, and transitioned then as the result. But I'd picked the name "Zoe" at age 10, as I knew I wasn't male then. No matter how much I wanted to be, because boys did all the cool stuff, they got to be astronauts and doctors, not beauticians and nurses.

I lucked out - eventually - and so got to be a Rocket Scientist (literally), but also finally was able to drop the "boy act", and have a body that didn't feel horribly wrong. The relief was indescribable, and had I known it would be like that, I would have sought a transsexual transition decades earlier. And been denied it, as my body wasn't feminine enough for the doctors of the day for me to be considered a good risk, and my preferred gender role was another strike against me. Some of your criticisms of the psychiatric profession in the past are close to the mark - but you confuse cause and effect. Effeminate men were not misdiagnosed as transsexual women because of their nonconformant gender behaviour as they are in Iran today; rather, transsexual women were refused treatment if their gender behaviour was nonconformant, or whose bodies were too "butch" until relatively recently.

As regards the evidence - you should look at the URLs in my previous comment to Father T. Maybe not the Catholic one, but certainly Dr Ecker's presentation.

A preview of some of the hundreds of papers on the subject:
Debate on the relative contributions of nature and nurture to an individual's gender patterns, sexual orientation and gender identity are reviewed as they appeared to this observer starting from the middle of the last century. Particular attention is given to the organization-activation theory in comparison to what might be called a theory of psychosexual neutrality at birth or rearing consistency theory. The organization-activation theory posits that the nervous system of a developing fetus responds to prenatal androgens so that, at a postnatal time, it will determine how sexual behavior is manifest. How organization-activation was or was not considered among different groups and under which circumstances it is considered is basically understood from the research and comments of different investigators and clinicians. The preponderance of evidence seems to indicate that the theory of organization-activation for the development of sexual behavior is certain for non-human mammals and almost certain for humans. This article also follows up on previous clinical critiques and recommendations and makes some new suggestions.


It's only "almost certain" as we can't do experiments on human foetusses to reliably and consistently induce transsexuality via hormonal manipulation, the way we can on animals.

That's from Clinical implications of the organizational and activational effects of hormones. M.Diamond, Horm Behav. 2009 May;55(5):621-32 BTW.

Others -

Specific Cerebral Activation due to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Male-to-Female Transsexuals Compared with Male and Female Controls: An fMRI Study by Gizewski et al J Sex Med 2009;6:440–448.

Neuroimaging Differences in Spatial Cognition between Men and Male-to-Female Transsexuals Before and During Hormone Therapy by Scoening et al J Sex Med. 2009 Sep 14.

Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids by Berglund et al Cerebral Cortex 2008 18(8):1900-1908;

Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041

Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relevance for gender identity, transsexualism and sexual orientation. Swaab Gynecol Endocrinol (2004) 19:301–312.

A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.

A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity by Garcia-Falgueras et al Brain. 2008 Dec;131(Pt 12):3132-46.

As to why a cross-sexed brain (in certain areas) universally leads to a discordant gender identity, you're actually close to the mark again.

Girls "know" they're girls not from preference for gendered behaviour (though even that's a simplification), but by unconsciously (or rarely, consciously in late crystallisation of gender identity after age 4) observing that their emotional response, sense of smell, sense of hearing, body language, spatial cognition, instincts, language and thought patterns etc correspond closely to that of female peers, and differ markedly from that of males.

See Biased-Interaction Theory of Psychosexual Development: “How Does One Know if One is Male or Female?” M. Diamond, Sex Roles (2006) 55:589–600

The field is complex; there are many unknowns; we've studied "classic" transsexuals (who are relatively easy to differentiate from the general population) but not transgendered people generally. I've simplified things, and both sex and gender are bimodal distributions, multivariant continua with two clusters, rather than a binary. A tiny proportion of gender behaviours has a clear biological basis, though the majority has none whatsoever, and much that does has a tenuous basis at best.

But we've gone well beyond the question of "is there a biological basis to transsexuality", and are now investigating exactly what brain structures are involved, and in what ways.

All of the papers I've mentioned in this comment are available online: you'll find URLs via the links I've given in other comments.
Mr Gold then initiated a dialogue with me via e-mail:
Rod Gold was kind enough to initiate a discussion with me. I think this deserves its own post, but here is what he wrote. I'll give my replies in comments below.

Thank you for your informative and respectful comment. It's a refreshing change. I'm struck by the fact that you yourself say that, despite all the references you offer, just a tiny portion of gender behaviors (I presume you mean genetic anomalies and biological androgynes) are biologically caused. This is my view exactly.

As for all the research you refer to, forgive me if I tell you I haven't the stomach to plod through it. I can only tell you that the studies I plowed through years ago, like those of John Money and Simon Levey, that attempted to find genetic/biological causes for sexual preferences and behaviors seemed to me totally flawed in their methods, and the conclusions drawn from the research unjustified by the research itself.

What do you mean you are intersexed? From most of the stuff I've read "intersex" seems to be entirely about women with enlarged clitorises who have sometimes been misidentified as males, and sometimes forced to undergo clitorectomies. At any rate I'm happy that you're happy now. As for those who've undergone the sort of surgery I've referred to as mutilation, I'm glad that some of them are happy too (though I worry about those who aren't).

I'd be pleased to continue our discussion.

(I sent this as an email reply, but would like it to appear on the site. Would it be possible for you to help out an old ditz, and try to do that for me?)


Now it's been said that Trans people don't owe others explanations. That there is a reasonable expectation that people should do their own darned research.

I agree.

I also think that sometimes... you shouldn't be precious about standing on principle. Sometimes you should go out of your way, beyond the call of duty. Life's too short to make a habit of it, but sometimes you have to be unreasonably kind.

From what I gather, the GLBT movement owes Mr Gold for past services rendered. So I'll try to explain, Trans 101 etc one more time. It might help lurkers too.
My reply:
Ronald Gold wrote:
Thank you for your informative and respectful comment. It's a refreshing change. I'm struck by the fact that you yourself say that, despite all the references you offer, just a tiny portion of gender behaviors (I presume you mean genetic anomalies and biological androgynes) are biologically caused. This is my view exactly.

Not quite - I'm actually closer to your position in some ways, further away in others. What we typically think of as "gendered behaviours" include women being more empathic, men less skilled with languages, "pink is for girls, blue is for boys", women being in arts, men in engineering etc.

Most such "gendered behaviours" are purely social constructs. They vary with geographical location, and over time. There is no "gene" or "neural complex" that dictates that girls prefer pink, and in fact, in the 19th century, pink was viewed as a "masculine" colour.

And yet, certain gendered behaviours appear invariant throughout the world, the same in Patagonia, Papua and Pittsburgh, Samoa, Sumatra, Swaziland and Southwark. Observations of young children, even ones brought up in the most politically correct "gender neutral" surroundings, show boys tending to gravitate towards trucks, girls towards dolls. Give a girl nothing but trucks and cars to play with, and she'll tend to take one to bed, saying "goodnight truckie" and make up stories about the big trucks and their children, the cars.

Interestingly.. children who show gender-atypical behaviour at an early age are not usually transsexual. 2/3 of the time, they're gay or lesbian instead. And most gays, and lesbians show no sign of cross-gendered behaviour when young.

Intersexed girls with certain conditions (but not others), and those who are twins of boys (so have hormonal anomalies in the womb) tend to have a more typically masculine behaviour pattern. While *almost all* of the sexist mysogynistic essentialist nonsense so anathema to feminists like myself is rubbish, not all is. Not quite. Some gendered behaviour is due to hard-wired tendencies, and the brain is far more sexually differentiated than we ever dreamed even 15 years ago. Men and women differ in the senses of smell and hearing, for example, and this has effects on more complex behaviour patterns.

As for all the research you refer to, forgive me if I tell you I haven't the stomach to plod through it.


I don't blame you. The over-simplified sound byte is that women have "female" brains, men have "male" brains. Which is about as accurate as saying that women are short, men are tall. Or that men are larger than women.

I can only tell you that the studies I plowed through years ago, like those of John Money and Simon Levey, that attempted to find genetic/biological causes for sexual preferences and behaviors seemed to me totally flawed in their methods, and the conclusions drawn from the research unjustified by the research itself.


John Money... are you familar with the David Reimer tragedy, otherwise known as the "John/Joan" case? John Money's theory was that everyone was psychosexually neutral at birth, that our sense of being male or female was totally the result of environment. Those assigned male were expected to have certain masculine gendered behaviour, so were forced into that by social pressure, and that is what made them "male". His great proof of this was when one of two twin boys had his genitalia severly mutilated in a botched circumcision. So this baby was castrated, and brought up as female, as he no longer had a manhood. And all was well, Joan (no longer John) was a happy, well-adjusted girl.

Except Money faked all the data, and this child never accepted the assignment, even though no-one revealed "her": past until teenagerhood. And they only did that because "she" insisted that "she" was male, dammit!

Now we know why - sexually-differentiated neurology exists at birth, and while no-one is born knowing they're male or female, the biasses, the hard-wired tendencies mean that as soon as they're exposed to other adults and children, it becomes obvious to them which group they belong to. Sometimes sooner, sometimes later, depending upon how strongly they conform to either "typically male" or "typically female" stereotypes in their lymbic system (part of the brain).

What do you mean you are intersexed? From most of the stuff I've read "intersex" seems to be entirely about women with enlarged clitorises who have sometimes been misidentified as males, and sometimes forced to undergo clitorectomies.


Oh Gosh. There are over a hundred relatively common Intersex conditions, and almost as many definitions of the word "Intersex". The most useful one is "having a body neither stereotypically male nor stereotypically female". While 1 in 60 people are technically Intersexed, most are asymtomatic, and never know. About 1 in 1000 have symptoms so obvious they're readily apparent. And Mother Nature provides a wide variety of conditions - 1 in 500 people who look apparently male don't have the usual 46xy chromosomes, but 47xxy. Perhaps 1 in 100,000 people who look apparently female are also 47xxy. Then there are some men and women who are mosaics, a mix of 46xy/47xxy, or 46xy/46xx, or 47xxy/46xx, or 45x/46xy or.... you get the idea. There's people with non-genetic intersex conditions, such as persistent mullerian duct syndrome, who have partial male and partial female reproductive systems. There's Swyer syndrome females, who have the 46xy chromosomes usually only found in men, and Turner Syndrome females, Kennedy Syndrome males, De La Chapelle syndrome males etc etc.

Those with 5ARD or 17BHDD syndromes look female(mostly, partly, or completely) at birth, but masculinise to look (mostly, partly, or completely) male later in life. The change varies a lot from a very masculine girl getting slightly more masculinised, to a complete "natural sex change". 17BHDD and 5ARD are each about 1 in 100,000 in the general population, so there's several thousand men in the USA who were born looking like little girls.

My own syndrome is one of the rare ones. One in 10 million perhaps. I was born looking (mostly) male, but changed to looking (mostly) female later.

You can imagine what a fertile ground we are for research on gender. We're "Nature's experiments". It would be evil, Mengele-esque to treat foetusses, babies and adult humans with hormones and surgery without consent to change their bodies, and see what happens to their minds, but Nature does that to some of us.

At any rate I'm happy that you're happy now. As for those who've undergone the sort of surgery I've referred to as mutilation, I'm glad that some of them are happy too (though I worry about those who aren't).


Transsexual regret - the minimum amount is 0.2%, but where care and diagnosis is poor, 5%. Often due to botched surgery that can leave the patient with a permanent colostomy, unable to walk, or (distressingly) by design, completely insensate. As one UK surgeon so infamously said "why would a nice girl like you want to have a clitoris?".

I'd be pleased to continue our discussion.

Me too - this reply is terribly condensed, over-simplified to the verge of being misleading, and there's so much more to say.

All the best -
Zoe
And a follow-up:
Ronald Gold wrote:
...before I write anything about what I've learned from this experience, I'd ;like to ask you a couple of questions: What, in your view, does the research you've referred me to establish? Does it suggest that there's actually such a thing as a man trapped in a woman's body, or vice versa? Does it indicate that people have such feelings about themselves due to hormones or whatever?


My reply:
Does it suggest that there's actually such a thing as a man trapped in a woman's body?

The simplistic answer is yes.

The more accurate answer - yes-ish. The brain is a really complex thing, more like a set of organs than a single one. And the concept of "male" and "female" is fuzzy, it's not a strict binary. Someone can be stereotypically female in most respects, yet some respects can be more neutral, or even closer to a typical male than a female norm. That's in both a psychological and anatomical sense.

The research shows *conclusively* that transsexual women - those with female gender identities but masculinised bodies - have stereotypically female-pattern brains in some areas. Not in others. In some areas, they're closer to the male stereotype, and in a few, they correspond to neither male nor female norms. Many other parts haven't been examined.

The areas where they are stereotypically feminine are mainly areas to do with the "hindbrain", the area that governs instinct, emotional response, hard-wired body language, sense of smell and a few other things. The higher brain areas may be equally feminised, but may not. And in a few areas, the left frontal gyrus IIRC, they are "hyper-male", likely to have Aspergers syndrome. Analogous patterns are found in experimental animals treated with cross-gendered hormones in foetu.

The drug DES was given to pregnant women throughout the 40s, 50s, 60s and into the early 70s to prevent miscarriages. 1 in 5 46xy(usually male)-gened people exposed to this drug, a female hormone, in the first trimester end up transsexual women rather than being men. That's a similar proportion to those affected by Thalidomide, which leads to phocomelia, "flipper limbs" in those with a genetic pre-disposition to it. DES increased the rate of transsexuality by a factor of 500.

Similar experimental results have been found in transsexual men. Their lymbic systems are highly masculinised. They smell, hear, feel, as other men do. Their hard-wired instincts are male. Their internal body map, the thing that tells you that you should have 2 legs and not say 7, is set up for external genitalia. The discomfort that is hard-wired in because of their somatic form at birth is the same as if you, a "standard factory model" man, had been castrated and had had breast augmentation surgery. It feels terribly, horribly *wrong*. Many amputees have the same problem - it's not just the inconvenience of missing a limb, it's the violation of the body map that insists that you must have 2 arms and 2 legs.

As regards hormones - the difference in neurology is visible at the cellular level. Women have 8 times the chance that men do of being subject to clinical depression, mostly due to the stereotypically female distribution of neurotransmitter receptors in their neural cell membranes.And partly due to sexism, the "glass ceiling" and other persecutions women suffer in western society. If this inequality did not exist, it might only be 6 times. We're not sure.

Having the wrong hormonal mix for the neuroanatomy - too much or too little, or of the wrong proportions - causes dysfunction. This can range from post-partum psychosis (the levels and instability in hormones immediately after giving birth are extreme), through to (relatively) mild symptoms at menstruation, andropause and menopause. Symptoms are visible in men treated with anti-androgens for prostate cancer, and women with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) who have excess testosterone.

What this means is that hormones can be used as both a diagnostic tool and a therapeutic one. Someone who has female neuroanatomy who takes estrogen will get an immediate increase in neurological function. The concurrent impotence can result in euphoria (if the body map is affected). In some cases, where the patient is asexual pre-treatment, and the hard-wired sexual reflexes strongly female, estrogen can actually give a libido, and the usual impotence doesn't happen, though the genitalia will atrophy.

Someone with a male neuro-anatomy will essentially suffer the symptoms of transsexuality if given estrogen in a high enough dose. Suicide is a real danger, as with Alan Turing. Gay men are men, not wannabe-women! Lesser doses - not enough to lead to permanent physical change - are a good diagnostic tool, and used as such by some clinicians. It is possible for a gay boy in his teens to be misled into thinking he's a girl, based on the gender-role stuff you espoused - but a few weeks on estrogen, and he'll be in extreme discomfort, and won't like being impotent at all, either.

In some cases where body-map is not greatly affected, hormone treatment may be the only therapy required to ameliorate the dysfunctionality sufficiently. Because it's all about biology, which is fuzzy and messy, there are significant differences in degree of severity.

Hormones only dictate what gender you are during gestation. Long before the time of birth, the pattern is set. Again, the study of Intersexed people is most illuminating. Only 10% of 46xx people with masculinising Congenital Adrenal Hyperplasia identify as male, regardless of how well endowed they may be. All the rest merely show "tomboyish" behaviour when young. Conversely, it appears that 100% of 46xy people with Complete Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome identify as female, and in fact *cannot* be transsexual. Their cells are immune to the testosterone their (internal) testes produce, so their neurology is very strongly feminised indeed - as are the rest of their bodies, internal testes or no. Those with the rarer Partial Androgen Insensitivity Syndrome (in various grades) may be TS though.

So the data indicates that people have such feelings - of being male or female - entirely due to neuro-anatomy. Hormones play no part outside the womb. One cannot make a man into a woman by any amount of surgery or hormonal manipulation. One *can* however give a woman with a masculinised body a normal endocrine (Hormone) level, and a relatively normal, feminised body too. That's handy if she wants a sex life, regardless of whether she's straight, or lesbian, as many are.

Sorry about the length. If only you knew how much I'm simplifying and leaving out....

Zoe

p.s.
A correction - I over-simplified a bit too much.... hormones *do* cause neurological changes - just not in the areas under discussion regarding gender identity. Call it icing in the cake, but the cake has to exist first.
To which Mr Gold replied:
Thank you so much for taking the time to send this extensive answer to my question. I am saving it for further thought and perusal --I'll take my time now thaat I'm no longer welcome on bilerico and don't feel pressured to write something about what I've learned. I'm certain to have further questions for you and hope to continue our correspondence.
I'll update this post as necessary.

Posts in this series:
Part VII
Part VI
Part V
Part IV
Part III
Part II

46 comments:

Hazumu Osaragi said...

Ny bonnet's off to you, Zoe. I hope that we (LGBT community and beyond) may yet see a heartfelt, sincere, unashamed apology from Mr. Gold. Reading this post was worth being late for work (~v^)

Mercedes said...

Definitely far more patient than I (but then, I think I'm burning out again).

I do hope he reads what you've sent. I suspect, though, that if it weren't for the overwhelming response to what he posted, he'd be less willing to reconsider.

Ultimately, the dialogue had to happen -- thank you for having the strength to take it on. It probably would have been otherwise lost in the anger at how the dialogue was unleashed on everyone.

Ana said...

Yes, a public apology would be nice (and help with the social fallout of this incident), but this exchange looks very promising. It seems that he's not just interested in placating angry readers but learning from this all.

Thanks for both of you for sharing the correspondence.

Sandra Louise said...

Zoe:

Thank you so much for taking this on. Your patience and forbearance once again is shining.

I could not get my blood pressure to equalize after reading the original post (multiple times) so that I could form any sort of coherent reply. I would have been gibbering by the end of it.

Also your research is so much more well organized and thorough than anything I could come up with.

I am also heartened that the response from Mr Gold was measured, inquisitive and thoughtful. Perhaps he is trying to understand. The tone of his original post felt so close minded.

Thank you again.

-Sandy

Nicole said...

Yesterday somebody said to me that if they came upon a car accident that involved a certain influential community leader, they wouldn't go out of their way to save them. I laughed but then I reminded them of Tyra Hunter and how that had actually happened to her. I reminded them that even good can come from saving those you intensely dislike, saving that influential leader and then letting them know who they were saved by, educating them and then having this already influential person influence others with a different story.

Zoe, I feel that you've done this with Mr. Gold, and I thank you very much for that. Perhaps we should now be lobbying "Bilerico" to allow him to publish a more informed piece in place of the article that they allowed to be published initially, then removed once they realised how unpopular that viewpoint really was.

Which leads me to this. There has been debate in Sydney in recent times about whether the T belongs as all in the GLBT, and while it's quite apparent to most of us that literally it doesn't belong, but as we are such a minority group we occasionally need to ride on the back of, share resources and support each other in our sometimes similar other times unique endeavours.

But this article was published by a group sprouting itself as an inclusive GLBT organization and unfortunately this is quite common. It makes me wonder about the whole thing again, and even just how much the B even belongs in that acronym as they are also pretty much a misunderstood group among the Gay and lesbian community.

Somebody suggested to me recently that although quite different in literal meaning, Bisexual and Transsexual people have a far better comprehension of continuums and that they very much exist and that perhaps the B and T groups should form some sort of alliance. Having read this article and your responses Zoe, I find myself starting to seriously agree with this person.

Kind regards and get well soon!

Zoe Brain said...

In Australia, it seems to me that TS people - by which I mean those who require hormonal and often surgical intervention - have more in common with Intersexed people than any group based on sexual orientation.

But trying to split the gender nonconformant into neat piles, transgendered here, lesbian there, transsexual over here, and the various categories of intersexed people in their own little cubicles, is impractical, even though from a philosophical and taxonomical view that would be correct. In truth they have little in common. But that little means they all get treated much the same.

I may not see myself as gay or lesbian - but others think differently, though they disagree on whether I'm gay, lesbian, or both simultaneously - consistency and logic is often not their strong suite. I may not see myself as transgendered, but I don't get a say in it.

Chassidic, Orthodox, or Reformed Jews, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi or Sepphadic, practicing or not, they all went into the ovens together, no matter how different they were from each other.

That provides a certain commonality of interest, no matter how much we may loath or just plain not comprehend each other.

I was dragooned into the GLBITQ-whatever camp (pardon the pun). But it was in some ways the best thing that could have happened to a priggish person like me.

Whether as an "ally" outsider of a strictly GLB group, or an "insider" of some grand GLBITTQXYZ conglomerate, I'd be doing the same thing. Trying to do what's right. Having experienced persecution myself, I can't ignore it just because it's not happening to me personally.

Nicole said...

Zoe,

It's not really about labeling, I'm generally one that doesn't apply labels, but to form more of a loose alliance with bisexual people because they have a better understanding of implications of the enforced gender-binary to me makes perfect sense, as too does everything you've said in your response.

The problem really is that we live in the oppressor's world and because we (all diverse groups) are striving for what is right and because we are clearly in the minority, in our attempts to gain equality and communicate with the oppressor, we are forced to use their language.

pe1biv said...

I did read Mr. Gold's article after a FB friend posted a comment, and was taken your blog that way.

We may not understand things from other people, but Mr. Gold denouncing transsexuality was nothing different from the mainstream society denouncing homosexuality.

As people in a 'community' where we have one big common in that we all suffer the unacceptance of that mainstream society, we should be better and refrain from treating our peers in this as we are treated ourself.
That's why I think we should firm stand together.

After all, as Zoe mentioned, we can all make our own cubicles, which in he end will be found to only be impractical.
For that I only have to look at myself, as I mostly present myself as Lesbian, while in fact I am not on the 100% scale and as such technically Bi. But, though my preference for partner probably is to the female/feminine side of the spectrum, I don't care what the person I love or might love is, so should the label be Pan?
And as I'm ot fully comply to stereotypical female behaviour and interests.... Eh...
So, what cubicle should I take..? Run from one to another?

I would say it is just best to accept that we are all different and even that our needs in the end might not fully be the same.. That is, unless we would take the stance that we all want to be accepted and respected as being a diverse group of human variations tht just want to be seen and accepted as 'normal'..

pe1biv said...

Eh.. That is unless we would NOT ...

Battybattybats said...

Well done Zoe.

I hope he can reason past old views to embrace the logical conclusions of the evidence.

Anonymous T said...

Concentration camp ovens?

*sigh*

The moment someone starts crying 'Nazi' against their opponents, or attempting to make parallels between themselves and Holocaust victims, they have just abandoned rational perspective for unreasoning hysteria.

You can attack me for pointing this out, or you can visualize making such rediculous statements while standing in front of *actual holocaust survivors*.

Then proceed accordingly.

Randy Wicker said...

Complicated X-Y discussions seem to be a way to physically determine the cause (or partial cause) of transness.
As a human cloning activist, I was fascinated by something called "The Disappearing Twin Syndrome". As many as one in eight pregnancies appear to be twins early in the term. However, only one in a hundred births is a twin birth. What happens to the "disappeared" twin? Yes, some are miscarried. However, Dr. Lee Silver (Princeton) believes that chimeras occur much more frequently in nature than we realize. In chimeras, two embryos merge into becoming one. In school, they usually show you a picture of a black & white mouse
that was produced by coaxing two embryos to "merge"--a whtie mouse embryo & a black mouse embryo. Such chimeras are very visible. However, if the merged embryos are not startlingly different, the offspring goes undetected. In the case of twins, one male & one
female, skin color, etc. is likely to be very similar. Dr. Silver believes that human chimeras are very common but are not detected. If he is correct, it seems reasonable that a male & female embryo merging could end up with the biological body of one gender and the mental "wiring" of the other gender. I have a male friend who has breasts which give milk & are "female". When i told him about the "disappearing twin syndrome" he felt he finally understood why he ended up that way--he had absorbed a twin sister while in the womb. This is my own unique take on transexualism. I have spent many years fascinated by twins--especially identical twins. However, studies of fraternal & identical twins are often combined in studies. Fraternal twins are simply two children who have shared a womb while gestating. Identical twins result from the division of one embryo into two identical ones.
Regardless, I believe "chimeras" are quite possibly part of the answer to the manner in which one person has the biology of one sex and the mentality/spirit of the other.

Nicole said...

Yeah, I'll attack your response Anonymous T.

You see, Zoe's analogy was quite appropriate in the context in which it was meant. It was an analogy to point out that different sub-groups within an overall group will be treated as one by a complete outsider.

And that how I took it, and I believe that's how most rational people would understand it too

Zoe Brain said...

That was my intent, yes.

JoanieH121506 said...

Hi Zoe,

I am impressed at your alacrity in this discussion and appreciate the chance to finally see what actually came out of the horse's mouth on this post.

Even so, I would have to state that no matter how much discussion follows the original post by Mr. Gold, the fact remains that the genie has been let out of the bottle and there is no way that his original words can ever be recalled or corrected in some circle.

For many opponents of the transgendered community, they seem to have a very selective sense of sight, being only able to see what agrees with their original positions on any topic. As they have been conditioned totally into a "faith-based" perception of the world, they inherently follow this course of behavior. Even the credentials of being a "rocket scientist" will not make any appreciable difference to them as, technologically speaking, they will only accept technology that does not make them uncomfortable. Technology that defies their sense of "natural order" of the world gets arbitrarily rejected as "man's wisdom" and deemed to be folly.

I do appreciate the time you've taken here, and the excellent job of presentation that you have done. However, while this may change the minds of some skeptics, it will not change those of the authoritarian mindset that I've described above.

I hope that Mr. Gold can appreciate that many of his responders come from the perspective that an icon, such as himself, can unwittingly do a lot of damage that will take years to heal. While he does have the right to his opinions, and to state them, it could have been done in a much less harmful way. Especially when offered through the good offices of an LBGtq website with a large following.

Just the humble opinion of a medically retired engineer - not a rocket scientist.

Joanie

Zimbel said...

"Give a girl nothing but trucks and cars to play with, and she'll tend to take one to bed, saying "goodnight truckie" and make up stories about the big trucks and their children, the cars.

Interestingly.. children who show gender-atypical behaviour at an early age are not usually transsexual. 2/3 of the time, they're gay or lesbian instead. And most gays, and lesbians show no sign of cross-gendered behaviour when young."

-I've seen you state this at least once before. Could you point to your source for this information?

margaret said...

That was a nice and respectful conversation with Mr. Gold but I can't help but notice how many times he claims to be a victim of mistreatment and misunderstanding. His response about not wanting to "plod through it" is exactly the problem. I have no sympathy for anybody too intellectually lazy to educate themselves because that's why he wrote the original piece to begin with. Thanks for trying though, you're a better person than me.

Zoe Brain said...

Zimbel - please look at the URLS you'll find in this previous post.

It's work done by Kenneth Zucker and crew over at CAMH in Canada. While I disagree with his conclusions, and consider his methods Mengele-esque, if you can stomach what happened to these children you'll learn a lot about the issues.

ShipofFools said...

Hi Zoe,
where did you find the DES study? Can I get in contact with you via email?
ShipofFools

Jennifer said...

Zoe,

I want to thank you for this. I approach from a position of much privilege - cis, white, middle-class, and I know that. I want to be a good ally, but I'm ignorant - not willfully so, but ignorant nonetheless. Your writing here helps me understand, and check that privilege, and I am grateful for your frankness, honesty, and willingness to educate.

Mr. Gold may or may not have benefitted from your largesse, but *I* certainly did.

Anonymous T-Girl said...

Really?

Because i can think of a half-dozen other analogies that would convey the same idea.

But of course, none of them are emotionally horrific and disproportionately provocative, are they?

Guess i'm not 'rational'.

Battybattybats said...

Hmm when mentioning Nazis and objections to mentioning them lets consider the following:

PINK TRIANGLES!

I'm sorry but having some gypsy blood from Germany, Poland and further east amongst the Carpathians knowing that relatives of mine died in those camps and similar Soviet persecutions it sends me into a near blind rage whenever the OTHER victims of the death camps and genocidal policies are forgotten.

Gypsies were slaughtered. Gays were slaughtered too. We know they had a symbol picked out for Lesbians though last I heard it was unknown if any were killed or not. So lets remember that Gays like Gypsies have a very real claim to discussing in context the death camps.

Now the Nazis IIRC also burned down the first transsexual clinic.

Rather than being irrational and nonsensical to bring up the death camps in these discussions it is an apt thing that our community has a very real right to do.

Nazi genocide and eugenics and persecution occurred to others too. Every group of victims have a valid claim to discuss and have recognised by history and society that persecution.

Anonymous said...

From one Rocket Scientist to another, thank you very much! I love reading that the BTSc difference was followed up with more high-quality work. (Does anyone have an FMRI unit I could borrow for a few years?) On a personal note, it was with great pride that I found in my 40's that I was a member of the LGBt community (MtF); but now, 10 years after transitioning, I find the "t" is still a "lower-case" letter, even at my job, where I was the original founder of our Gay/Straight alliance. There is almost no support for trans issues beyond simply not firing us.

Thanks Again,
PattiMichelle Sheaffer

Anonymous T-Girl said...

i will concede the infuriation felt when people forget those besides Jews that were also killed. It taps into some racial / family anger i have, which i won't bother boring you with.

But i wouldn't drag it, and my outrage of long-past genocides, out as debate tactics over sporatic violence or lost jobs.

There is a time and a place for everything.

And some analogies just aren't appropriate, no matter how emotionally worked up you, me, or anyone may get.

Death camp parallels are overwrought and melodramatic when compared to anything going on today. Period.

i guess this is the part where we agree to disagree.

Zoe Brain said...

Ship Of Fools - re DES:

See Kerlin "Prenatal Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) in Males and Gender-Related Disorders: Results from a 5-Year Study " and "The Presence of Gender Dysphoria, Transsexualism, and Disorders of Sexual Differentiation in Males Prenatally Exposed to Diethylstilbestrol: Initial Evidence from a 5-Year Study."

Ana said...

Battybattybats, yes. Not that it is too relevant for the discussion at hand, but you are correct. Some of the usually-seen pictures of the 1933 Nazi book bonfires show the final moments of the library and archives of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, and while they were at it they naturally took the opportunity to thrash the rest of the institute as well. Registers of names and addresses were not burned of course, just confiscated and saved for later use...

Jordynne Olivia Lobo said...

Gold's mistaken notion of transwomen (and, as I expect to be likely, also of transmen) is that of Gore Vidal in Vidal's novel 'Myra Breckenridge.' The Breckenridge character is familiar instantly to most transwomen, at least to those of us who have experience of gay male culture: Breckenridge is a gay man, a drag queen who'd gone too far and surgically attempted an identity inimical to his true self - and I and many like me have seen exemplars of such gay men having gotten carried away with what seems to be their monodimensioal, or very shallow, idea of who and what a woman is. This grievously mistaken notion of transwomen is, I've observed, most common among and entrenched in gay men, who parse the identity, the core sense of self, of transpersons solely through the lens of their homosexuality - and can admit the existence, or even the possibility of the existence - of transwomen's genuineness of identity, of being.

Jordynne Olivia Lobo said...

Apologia for the misspelling of 'monodimensional' and for, in the last sentence, of my earlier comment, my having typed 'can' when I intended to have typed 'cannot.'

Tab Hunter's Secret said...

Zoe, I want to thank you for this series of conversations. I am learning a great deal and am beginning to change my views on some issues. I hope that not only are you "educating" Mr. Gold but that you and the other "T" people are learning a little bit as well in this heathy, if painful, process.

Some of the issues that have arisen for me and those like me (gay men of a certain age), I'd wager, is the stance of many "T" people coming to the table as "experts" on all things "T", which means if you aren't "T" you must remain silent except for asking polite questions and also as experts on all things "G" and "L" as well.

This brings back a lot of ill will and anger that surfaced when our lesbian sisters first began to assert their rightful place at the table. Gay men were being constantly hit by society for being too much like women and by lesbians for being too much like men or trying to "steal" the identities of women (drag, etc,) and the takeaway was that all the ills of society were basically our fault because we were born with penises.

Pretty much every thing we said and did was suspect and open to ridicule. We separated in many cases and worked against each other in others. Our progress was stymied and hurt for a long time by this war and it would be sad to see it repeated.

Being a victim of oppression and privilege certainly conveys the right to speak one's own truths. It does not give one the right to claim victimhood while simultaneously defining the stance of opponents, whether they oppose by choice or through ignorance.

Ignorance, last time I checked, is not illegal nor immoral, though it is certainly dangerous. And while it may be advantageous to and desirable for oppressed groups for their opponents to seek enlightenment on their own it rarely happens, in my experience.

Your willingness to, however wearily, take the time to engage with us awful old gay veterans is appreciated. I hope you will continue to do us the courtesy of hearing us openly as well. Together I think we can learn much and change the world for the better.

Namaste

Zoe Brain said...

Tab Hunter's Secret -

I'm just doing what many GLB people have done for me - not so much educating as just informing me about areas where I don't share their experience.

It's a simple matter of doing for others what they've already been kind enough to do for me.

Thanks everyone for your kind words. I think though that the praise is undeserved : I'm in a position to inform, when many are not, so given that rare position, I feel it's no more than simple justice that I do my best to do so. It's my turn, if you like. To give what little I can, just as I've received so much from others. I just wish I could do more.

Danielle said...

" And in a few areas, the left frontal gyrus IIRC, they are "hyper-male", likely to have Aspergers syndrome. Analogous patterns are found in experimental animals treated with cross-gendered hormones in foetu."

Hi Zoe, I enjoy your blog, and your conversation with Ron is really the most honest look at this most recent controversy.

I quoted the above portion from your discussion of the research because it interests me extremely.

I am on the Asperger's spectrum, and I'm also... well... Genderqueer more then anything, or Not-Male as you said in this exchange. I believe I have a 46xy/47xxy mosaic, but can't prove it.

Anyways.. this preface is leading up to me asking for more information on this statement. I've seen the study where 6% of patients at one Gender Clinic also present with AS Symptoms.

I belong to a transgender aspie group, and I've had this discussion numerous times on Aspie support boards... there definitely seems to be a higher percentage of non-gender normative folks with AS.

I realize you said people should do their own research, but you didn't include the names of the studies... I would very much like that information!

Thanks

- Danielle

oatc said...

Zoe Brain:
| Effeminate men were not misdiagnosed as transsexual women
| because of their nonconformant gender behaviour as they are
| in Iran today

This is misinformation, no doubt based on the highly transphobic documentary 'Be Like Others' and associated interviews. The fact is that the Iranian clinic tries hard to ensure only transsexual people enter their programme but, as elsewhere, others lie to them, for their own reasons. In Iran those reasons are more numerous and include wishing to avoid the terrible choice between a hidden life, severe official persecution (including a possible death sentence), or exile (which many Iranians have chosen and so there are substantial support networks which make the path a little easier).

The documentary shows several such people who have entered the programme by falsely claiming the symptoms of transsexuality and argue they are being forced to then have treatment they do not want if they are to remain in the programme. Thus they threaten the provision for transsexual people, who were shown to appreciate the clinic greatly.

Gays worldwide have assumed that these were gay men, but it is more likely, since they were all dressed as women and not apparently unhappy to do that, that they are transgender.

The Iranian programme, because it is permitted under a religious order based on understanding that some are born in the wrong body and need that to be corrected, has, regrettably, no provision for transgender, leaving them, if they do not follow the path designated for transsexual people and are attracted to those of the same sex as that of their birth, with the same difficult choices as lesbians and gay men.

But, given the appalling situation of transsexual people where there is no provision for transition, against which joining a large exile community might seem relatively cushy, I find those attacking the Iranian clinic in that way selfishly despicable. But your taking their side is, I hope, simply ignorance.

oatc said...

Zoe Brain said...

>
> Ship Of Fools - re DES:
>
> See Kerlin "Prenatal Exposure to Diethylstilbestrol (DES) in
> Males and Gender-Related Disorders: Results from a 5-Year Study
> " and "The Presence of Gender Dysphoria, Transsexualism, and
> Disorders of Sexual Differentiation in Males Prenatally Exposed
> to Diethylstilbestrol: Initial Evidence from a 5-Year Study."

Both of those lack the authority of peer review and feature subjects anxious to prove, for some reason, that they were harmed by a commercial product rather than experiencing gender conditions for the same uncertain reasons as others. Since the incidence of these conditions did not increase and decrease in step with the adoption and then banning of the product, it seems unlikely there is such a connection.

Zoe Brain said...

oatc - see my 2006 post Homosexuality, Transsexuality, and Horror. My source is not some transphobic sensationalist film director recently thrust into the limelight, but Afsaneh Najmabadi, professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Harvard University. Someone who's been studying this area for many years. And my conclusions pre-date both the sensationalist film, and the professionally co-ordinated campaign to discredit it.

I hope to get a copy of the more extensive paper co-authored by Milton Diamond on the subject of DES to put on my blog. Mr Kerlin's serious medical problems mean that he has been unable to put the necessary finishing touches to it.

The increased use of pthalates and other chemicals shown to have "gender bending" effects on fish and amphibia coincides with the discontinuation of DES, and may mask the expected drop we should have seen from about 5 years ago. Conversely, the presence of a bolus from DES may confound the study of the onset of effect of such chemicals in the environment.

I suggest you contact Dana Beyer on the subject. As she wrote to me: if you have any ideas how I can get this paper published without too much effort, please let me know. Scott has dropped out for medical reasons, and I don't want to bother Mickey. Yet I've waited four years already, and people should have access to it.

oatc said...

Zimbel:
>>
>> "Give a girl nothing but trucks and cars to play with,
>> and she'll tend to take one to bed, saying "goodnight truckie"
>> and make up stories about the big trucks and their children, the
>> cars.
>>
>> Interestingly.. children who show gender-atypical behaviour at an
>> early age are not usually transsexual. 2/3 of the time, they're
>> gay or lesbian instead. And most gays, and lesbians show no sign
>> of cross-gendered behaviour when young."
>>
>> -I've seen you state this at least once before. Could you point
>> to your source for this information?

Blogger Zoe Brain replied:
>
> It's work done by Kenneth Zucker and crew over at CAMH in
> Canada. While I disagree with his conclusions, and consider his
> methods Mengele-esque, if you can stomach what happened to these
> children you'll learn a lot about the issues.

If you (rightly) disagree with his conclusions, why echo them? In fact many children who are not trans these days ignore the strictly gendered stereotypes Zucker uses, and many lesbian and gay people did so as children. It doesn't necessarily have anything to do with being transsexual, and some transsexual children keep things very well hidden until puberty scares them to hell. So cross-gendered behaviour, upon which Zucker bases everything, shouldn't be used as diagnostic.

I don't know where you got the sweet "goodnight truckie" line from, although it sounds straight out of the boy-oriented 'Thomas the Tank Engine' to me, rather than a girl's words. Denied dolls or domestic toys, I tucked the cat up in cushions and blankets like a baby, until they got rid of it, because of me. I helped my mother and grandmother with housework, and populated the diecast toy vehicles I was given with people who continued their lives in my imagination when the vehicular events were over and the never-damaged toys were carefully put away in their garages/boxes, just as my mother and father garaged their cars. The vehicles weren't people.

Toys are only aids to imagination, which is still easy without them. I would play house under garden bushes with the children, guests, fixtures and fittings entirely, as we would say now "virtual". In my early years I often had five or more stories in my head at any time, ready to be picked up when I fancied, and all mainly featured women, or girls, including me. It was private.

Zucker and his colleagues do evil to transsexual children in two respects.

At the Toronto clinic they use reparative therapy on suspected transsexual children up to the age of about 12, claiming it is "diagnostic", since they will later enable transition of those who wish to after that time, but ignoring the huge harm it must do to someone to suffer years of attempted conditioning against the gender role in which they live the rest of their life. Not to mention all the other harm, such as the children being denied acceptance of their identity, their parents being told to act against the child's interests, and the child being denied any normality all those irreplaceable years. They advocate that other clinics do the same. By that they also perpetuate the lie that gender identity can be changed, deny that it is inborn and should have the special protection of inborn characteristics, and hinder research into inborn causation. They viciously attack parents who instead accept a child's strong and firm identification at such ages, even to their faces and with the child present. I have witnessed that.

Secondly...

oatc said...

...if that was not enough, they campaign and publish in every possible way (and their connections are vast and influential) to muddy the waters on transsexuality in children. A prime achievement of theirs for that is the 'Gender Identity Disorder' diagnosis, which replaced transsexuality, especially its childhood variant. It is deliberately drawn so widely, and then used so loosely, that many other children than transsexual can be and are swept into the category. Then, voila, it turns out many aren't transsexual, and, instead of blaming the faulty diagnosis, they claim transsexual children have changed their minds or been "cured". Either way their identities cannot be trusted and must not be accepted or acted upon because "so many change their minds".

In fact it is most unlikely any do. I know I'm biased, but I cannot imagine someone alienated from the wrong body and fearing it growing into its adult form ever being happy with that. Someone who identifies with women suddenly becoming a happy man. You'd need a totally new brain with totally replaced memories and dreams. And other clinics report (although they fear to publish, so powerful is Zucker) that children they firmly diagnose as transsexual (rather than GIDC) never change their minds. Cohen-Kettenis, of Amsterdam, who pals along with Zucker extensively, nevertheless let the cat out of the bag way back in 1996 when she was filmed telling the mother of a 12-year-old T->M that the key symptom is explicitly and consistently asking for the body of the other sex. Those children she said "never change their minds".

When it comes to blocking further advances of the wrong puberty, at 12, they back that up with a set of psychological research instruments that take many hours to administer, and are administered to every child at several points, to watch for any changes. Hopefully that allows for the inclusion of transgender children, who are sure, too. They won't let us see those instruments so we have no way to know.

And so those figures you, Zoe, quoted, are misinformation, and you should see why.

The adult GID diagnosis, which was created at the same time by the same colleagues of Zucker, has similar effects. Again it is used to suggest people change their minds, but it is also often used as the qualifier for research subjects, creating uselessly mixed data, contrasting with, and strangely often thought to invalidate research reporting on post-surgical subjects. The Monash genetic study in 2008, which held out that is had a large number of transsexual subjects when in fact only GID had been used, with some samples collected at first visits to a gender clinic, results all over the place, both wasting very scarce resources and time, and seeming to invalidate a previous, Swedish study of a few actual transsexual subjects, being a really disastrous example.

oatc said...

Blogger Zoe Brain said...
>
> oatc - see my 2006 post Homosexuality, Transsexuality, and
> Horror. My source is not some transphobic sensationalist film
> director recently thrust into the limelight, but Afsaneh
> Najmabadi, professor of History and of Studies of Women, Gender,
> and Sexuality at Harvard University. Someone who's been studying
> this area for many years. And my conclusions pre-date both the
> sensationalist film, and the professionally co-ordinated
> campaign to discredit it.

What campaign, never mind a professionally coordinated one?

That is totally unevidenced, transphobic rubbish, Zoe. Even worse than the film which was shot in Teheran with real clinic clients. The women's studies academic hadn't even started her "research" when making those accusations!

> I hope to get a copy of the more extensive paper
> co-authored by Milton Diamond on the subject of DES to put on my
> blog. Mr Kerlin's serious medical problems mean that he has been
> unable to put the necessary finishing touches to it.
>
> The increased use of pthalates and other chemicals shown to have
> "gender bending" effects on fish and amphibia coincides with the
> discontinuation of DES, and may mask the expected drop we should
> have seen from about 5 years ago. Conversely, the presence of a
> bolus from DES may confound the study of the onset of effect of
> such chemicals in the environment.
>
> I suggest you contact Dana Beyer on the subject. As she wrote to
> me: if you have any ideas how I can get this paper published
> without too much effort, please let me know. Scott has dropped
> out for medical reasons, and I don't want to bother Mickey. Yet
> I've waited four years already, and people should have access to
> it.

Why, when transsexuality has been found in so many cultures, in so many environments, for thousands of years, should those recent factors be the cause, rather than coincidence? There are dozens of potential, naturally occurring genetic causes anyway. Why waste effort on ones that could not have been having any effect more than 50 years ago, and only in some countries, and for which there is rarely even any actual evidence of exposure? Where's the science in your approach?

oatc said...

Furthermore, the effects on fish and amphibia are cross-sexing, with no way to show evidence of gender being affected. I don't see these trans claimants claiming to have been cross-sexed in any similar ways. And with DES, it was not administered early enough in pregnancy to have affected brain gender. They are being led up a garden path for some reason.

JoanieH121506 said...

After reading through all of this, I am struck with one very obvious aspect of reality in the thread. People want to have black and white answers, regardless of the real nature of so many things in the universe being spectral in nature. People love their paired dualities as they make it so much easier to cling to their comfort zones and will simply refuse to accept anything that defies their individual sense of logic and order.

Take this scenario into consideration: Transsexualism has been a noted occurrence in every culture that has ever occurred within the history of mankind, yet Abrahamic Religions fail to mention it, even though it is certain that transsexualism was very evident within both Jewish and Christian cultures, long before they became such. Even so, most people simply ignore the usefulness of Occam's Razor in dealing with the topic as it is much easier to construct elaborate myths and attribute transsexualism to "...theories suggest..." and "...God made them man and woman..." and assume a behaviorist etiology that precludes any possibility of genetics and/or prenatal dysgenesis as the cause.

One of the things that I believe needs to be brought to the forefront here is one simple little condition that pertains to the situation. Having spent years in various peer groups, it becomes crystal clear, from my personal perspective, that one can pretty much take any transsexual's story, file off the serial numbers and the dates, and apply it to just about any other transsexual. This is called a "syndrome" in the medical sciences and its very consistency, from person to person, minimizes the possibility of behavioral/psychological etiology - as it is just too consistent to be such.

Sometimes, I despair of the people of "normal" sexual/mental congruity as it seems to be all too consistent that transsexualism is totally an example of "only the burned believe in fire." It is not rocket science, but its very simplicity, and inherent nature within the human organism renders it, simply stated, "unimaginable" to the non-affected as they can not even begin to imagine what it must feel like to experience this type of fundamental incongruity. Not having felt the flames, they simply can not conceive how painful and devastating it can be to those affected, thus the condition gets minimized, while so many of the afflicted pay the ultimate price for being born different.

I can only hope that someday the tautological aspects of gender dysfunction, held by the mainstream of our cultures, will fall to education and the final acceptance that even the sexuality and gender perceptions of individuals are just as prone to biological deviation as are limbs, palates, vision and other aspects of the human organism. I also believe that people also need to simply recognize that it is the brain, not the genitalia, that is the primary sexual organ of all animal species - as without the central nervous system, no system of a colonial organism is capable of any function in harmony with the rest of the organism whatsoever.

This all seems so simple, yet like all areas of human life, it is more natural to arrive at contention than acceptance. This is especially true where the sacred cows, cherished misconceptions and dualities/dichotomies are at stake, which make an unpredictable universe seem somehow more ordered and tame than it really is.

Best regards to all,
JoanieH

Christy Martins said...

I believe you are correct about chimerism being at the root of poorly understood behaviors such as same sex attraction and gender identity confusion and I also believe the processes that give rise to these behaviors occur in the womb.

Please consider the following article from Dr Charles Bocklage entitled "Embryogenesis Of Chimeras, Twins And Anterior Midline Asymmetries":

http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/21/3/579

Dr Boklage believes like Dr Lee Silver that human chimeras are very common (1 in 8) but are not detected. If he is correct, it seems reasonable that a male & female embryo merging could end up with the biological body of one gender and the mental "wiring" of the other gender.

A plural pregnancy (i.e. boy and girl) that ends up as one individual is a chimera comprised of male and female genetic material. It is possible that such an individual could have a genetically female forebrain (including the hypothalamus) and all other tissues genetically male or vice versa. This is called a "brain chimera".

Brain chimeras are impossible to identify by means blood tests or tissue sampling. Their physiology is of one gender, but their forebrain is the other. The only way to detect a brain chimera at this time is via autopsy.

I posit both same sex attraction and gender identity confusion can arise when a brain chimera is created in the womb. It is a scientific fact that the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad (HPG) axis coordinates displays of sexual behavior with reproductive physiology. Sexual brain development therefore defines the ability of brain areas,including the neural part of the HPG axis, to respond to particular physiological signals in adulthood

So it follows that a brain chimera -- with the physiology of one gender, but the forebrain of the other -- would display sexual behavior incongruent with his/her physiology (same-sex attraction) and/or gender behavior incongruent with his/her physiology (gender confusion).

This has already been documented in the lab settings and the real world and in labortory settings with Japanese Quails and Male Tortie Tomcats:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164695/pdf/1007959.pdf

http://www.messybeast.com/mosaicism6.htm


In sum I accept the following are true

a) Spontaneous Human chimeras are not rare and
b) Brain chimerism resulting from the fusion of male/female fetuses can produce behavior such as same sex attraction and gender confusion.

Christy Martins said...

I believe you are correct about chimerism being at the root of poorly understood behaviors such as same sex attraction and gender identity confusion and I also believe the processes that give rise to these behaviors occur in the womb.

Please consider the following article from Dr Charles Bocklage entitled "Embryogenesis Of Chimeras, Twins And Anterior Midline Asymmetries":

http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/21/3/579

Dr Boklage believes like Dr Lee Silver that human chimeras are very common (1 in 8) but are not detected. If he is correct, it seems reasonable that a male & female embryo merging could end up with the biological body of one gender and the mental "wiring" of the other gender.

A plural pregnancy (i.e. boy and girl) that ends up as one individual is a chimera comprised of male and female genetic material. It is possible that such an individual could have a genetically female forebrain (including the hypothalamus) and all other tissues genetically male or vice versa. This is called a "brain chimera".

Brain chimeras are impossible to identify by means blood tests or tissue sampling. Their physiology is of one gender, but their forebrain is the other. The only way to detect a brain chimera at this time is via autopsy.

I posit both same sex attraction and gender identity confusion can arise when a brain chimera is created in the womb. It is a scientific fact that the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad (HPG) axis coordinates displays of sexual behavior with reproductive physiology. Sexual brain development therefore defines the ability of brain areas,including the neural part of the HPG axis, to respond to particular physiological signals in adulthood

So it follows that a brain chimera -- with the physiology of one gender, but the forebrain of the other -- would display sexual behavior incongruent with his/her physiology (same-sex attraction) and/or gender behavior incongruent with his/her physiology (gender confusion).

This has already been documented in the lab settings and the real world and in labortory settings with Japanese Quails and Male Tortie Tomcats:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164695/pdf/1007959.pdf

http://www.messybeast.com/mosaicism6.htm


In sum I accept the following are true

a) Spontaneous Human chimeras are not rare and
b) Brain chimerism resulting from the fusion of male/female fetuses can produce behavior such as same sex attraction and gender confusion.

Christy Martins said...

I believe you are correct about chimerism being at the root of poorly understood behaviors such as same sex attraction and gender identity confusion and I also believe the processes that give rise to these behaviors occur in the womb.

Please consider the following article from Dr Charles Bocklage entitled "Embryogenesis Of Chimeras, Twins And Anterior Midline Asymmetries":

http://humrep.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/21/3/579

Dr Boklage believes like Dr Lee Silver that human chimeras are very common (1 in 8) but are not detected. If he is correct, it seems reasonable that a male & female embryo merging could end up with the biological body of one gender and the mental "wiring" of the other gender.

A plural pregnancy (i.e. boy and girl) that ends up as one individual is a chimera comprised of male and female genetic material. It is possible that such an individual could have a genetically female forebrain (including the hypothalamus) and all other tissues genetically male or vice versa. This is called a "brain chimera".

Brain chimeras are impossible to identify by means blood tests or tissue sampling. Their physiology is of one gender, but their forebrain is the other. The only way to detect a brain chimera at this time is via autopsy.

I posit both same sex attraction and gender identity confusion can arise when a brain chimera is created in the womb. It is a scientific fact that the hypothalamus–pituitary–gonad (HPG) axis coordinates displays of sexual behavior with reproductive physiology. Sexual brain development therefore defines the ability of brain areas,including the neural part of the HPG axis, to respond to particular physiological signals in adulthood

So it follows that a brain chimera -- with the physiology of one gender, but the forebrain of the other -- would display sexual behavior incongruent with his/her physiology (same-sex attraction) and/or gender behavior incongruent with his/her physiology (gender confusion).

This has already been documented in the lab settings and the real world and in labortory settings with Japanese Quails and Male Tortie Tomcats:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC164695/pdf/1007959.pdf

http://www.messybeast.com/mosaicism6.htm


In sum I accept the following are true

a) Spontaneous Human chimeras are not rare and
b) Brain chimerism resulting from the fusion of male/female fetuses can produce behavior such as same sex attraction and gender confusion.

So in reality, Chimeras are part of the natural way of things and not abnormal at all. Indeed, chimeras are just as much a part of Gods plan as anything else.

~Christy

JoanieH121506 said...

One of the things that I disagree with, in Christy's post is the recurrent reference to "gender confusion". From my perspective, the only gender confusion that has ever occurred in my life was in the perceptions of others toward who and what I really am. Internally, I have never had any doubts about my situation, far surpassing any type of religious or other faith. To use the term gender confusion points, semantically, toward a behaviorists etiology, indicating that the condition may be cured or moderated by psychological means.

For a transsexual, there is absolutely no confusion about their sexual identity. If this were not so then the approaches, outlined in the DSM, would have some demonstrable degree of consistent results and the concept of "having the patient accept their physical gender" would not be deemed an unrealistic goal.

From a social point of view, many Christian organizations - those severely opposing transitional medicine and any form of legal protections for transsexuals here in the U.S. - are increasingly using the term "gender confusion" as a means of denigration and denial that this is in any way a condition of physiological or prenatal onset.

Christy Martins said...

Oh...well I have no attachment to the term "gender confusion" and by no means meant to imply the condition could be "cured"

There is no "cure" for someone who has a female forebrain and a male physiology...it just "is"...that was my point

I'm not going to get bogged down in semantics...if the "gender confusion" offends you please substitute your own phrase that's more palatable...no need to throw the baby out with the bath water here.

Anonymous said...

Hi Christy,

I certainly meant no offense to you by the use of the term you are comfortable with. However being a citizen of the U.S., where a dark ages mentality still applies to GID, I just wanted to toss out the fact that the term "gender confusion" is not what many here believe it to be.

All in all, I appreciated and support your conclusions as they are much more in tune with the reality of the situation than is the generally accepted tenets of the religious conservatives here in the U.S.

All the best,
Joanie

Christy Martins said...

Hi Joanie =)

No offense taken, so no worries.
The more I think about it, the more I come to see the phrase "gender confusion" as inappropriate.

Not only does it have a lot of negative baggage attached to it, but the term "confusion" implies an individual either has false ideas about an issue (such as their gender) or doesn't know what to think.

So I am seeking a new phrase to describe gender behavior in-congruent with ones physiology