Saturday, 16 January 2010

A Dialogue with Ron Gold - Part VIII

On 15/01/2010 6:12 PM, Ronald Gold wrote:
Thinking that if you are still preparing your reply to my last email, what I'd like from you is a straightforward statement on your current "transgender" position. What do you now think is the cause of transsexual ideation, and what do you think personally is the proper curremt amd future remedy? Spare me the references to allegedly scientific research, and spare yourself the obligation to respond to every point I've made. I just want to know what your present point of view is, and maybe we can start over from there.

I'll leave aside the questions of whether what could be seen as a natural variation requires a "remedy", and whether destroying someone's personality is ethical.

The following only applies to Transsexuals, not the Transgendered in general:

Cause - hormonal screwup in the womb causes cross-sexed neuro-anatomy. Cross-sexed anatomy in turn leads to predispositions, biases towards crystallisation of a cross-sexed sex identity. Some gendered behaviour (a minority) is affected too.

Current remedy
- whatever works, The only thing that we've found is to modify the body in accordance with the sex identity.Otherwise premature death is certain in severe cases, likely in the rest (with severe misery certain) due to the body map problem. There are also usually gender issues.

Future remedies
- in order of ease

1. Complete post-birth body modification including functional reproductive anatomy may only be 30-50 years away

2. If we knew more about "phantom limb syndrome" and "lost limb syndrome" then even today we could surgically intervene after birth to change the body map. This could be done with current technology, if we knew just what parts of the brain to destroy. Then you'd just get Transgendered women and men, cross-gendered but not cross-sexed, and likely frigid or impotent. Add psychological intervention during post-birth sex identity crystallisation, and you'd get very butch women or very femme men instead. We don't know how to do that yet, Zucker's work on crude aversion therapy doesn't cut the mustard, but it should be possible by surrounding the child with nothing but cross-gendered people for the first decade of life - longer if sex identity crystallisation is delayed.

3. Early 'heroic" hormonal intervention to "force" the issue one way or the other before the natural path is known. But we'd need to know far more about development in the womb before we could do this safely. If we did, we could do this now. Parents (or Governments) could choose the desired sex of all children, ignoring chromosomes.

4. Make hormonal adjustments in the womb to give a body (fully functional reproductive system etc) congruent to the neuro-anatomy later than 13 weeks in gestation. This would require diagnostic technology we don't have, but would be relatively safe.

5. Use really advanced nanotechnology to modify individual cells, and rebuild the brain completely, either pre- or post-birth. This would require diagnostic technology beyond our wildest dreams.

Remedying undesirable sexual orientation is another matter, but would involve similar issues.

I must emphasise that this is only applicable to Transsexuals. The Transgendered don't require treatment, as there's no body-map issue to address.

Now I'm feeling nauseous after writing that. "Remedying" undesirable sexual orientation? Destroying parts of the brain? Killing a mind and building a new, more acceptable one? This is stuff only a Mengele would do.



Emily said...

What a shocking thought, intervening to change the brain of transsexual people. Yes, being transsexual is something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, but changing my brain changes me, who I am. I find that quite horrifying, even if it were done at a foetal stage.

Why is it so abhorrent to change the body to match the brain rather than changing the brain to match the body? Why do critics of surgical intervention feel it is so much 'better' to force us to become 'untranssexual' or, even worse, force us to live with bodies that match neither our brains nor our body maps.

Another great post, Zoe! I hope that with such posts we can finally make some people understand.

Diana_CT said...

Future remedies...

Change society to appreciate diversity.

Lloyd Flack said...

You've left out, prevent the in-utero hormonal anomalies that lead to cross-sexing the brain.

Pomegranate said...

There is also pre-natal testing and abortion as a future remedy, as ghastly a thought as that is.

I think Mr. Gold's hang-up is revealed by the phrase "transsexual ideation." What does he believe is the cause of "homosexual ideation"?

There seems a presumption that TS about some errant thought process rather than instincts and recognition (for lack of a more concise way of putting it).


PS love your blog, Zoe!

Battybattybats said...

It's worth noting that Diana_CT's suggestion also fixes problems for non-transsexual transgender, Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, Pansexuals, ethnic minorities, the diffently abled, the mentall ill....

All in one single action!

Nicole said...

You're right Batty! I nearly wrote something similar earlier.

But y'now, they seem to think that being in the majority makes them right.

If only they'd realised the extent to which they've been conned.

Anonymous said...

I was shocked to read the comments on the conservative blogs regarding a couple of recent news items - the appointment of Amanda Simpson and the 16 year old in Spain who got her SRS.

In a nutshell, the people on the other side just don't believe us. Even bringing up the subject of obvious physical Intersex conditions doesn't result in any hint of compassion or attempt at understanding in them.

Ok, I can understand all of that. It's a difficult and uncomfortable subject for the average person to grasp. It's a lot easier and more comfortable for them to fall back on church teaching and quoting (selected) scriptures than to question their view of the world.

What really bothers me though is the same people who cry about police state abuses of power are quick to jump up and suggest using the power of the state to enforce laws banning SRS or even cross gender hormone therapy.

If it doesn't fit neatly in their little boxes, then they are perfectly happy with using the power of the state to restrict it.

It turns out those very same people I have agreement on when it comes to other individual rights and areas of personal freedom do not a very freedom loving point of view when it comes to gender variance (or sexual identity for that matter).

They seem to miss the obvious point that if some things can be prohibited because they don't want them around, then other things - perhaps things that are personally important to them - could be prohibited as well because other people don't want them around.

Hazumu Osaragi said...

>>"What do you now think is the cause of transsexual ideation, and what do you think personally is the proper current and future remedy?"<<



Those two words especially jumped out at me. They're loaded with bad connotes.

Although Ideation has other less common (and connotionally neutral) uses, it's most often heard following the word 'suicidal'.

And Remedy implies that there is something bad/wrong that needs fixing.

Zoe, thank you for your bland, neutral and necessarily long answer to Mr. Gold's latest question. It was necessary to skirt/avoid the rhetorical landmines that were contained in that sentence.

And, having documented minefield clearing operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the remediation is wildly more expensive than the installation.

I support the ideals of freedom of speech, such as stated in the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

It allows Mr. Gold to ask a question that also contains a statement that it is his position that transsexualism is a abhorrent and ought to be eradicated.

And it allows me to attempt to illuminate that 'payload' hidden in his exercise of free speech.

Anonymous said...

"Spare me the references to allegedly scientific research,..."

If that isn't a loaded statement. Is he not willing to even try to understand science? In that case, he's no better that a fundamentalist {Christian|Muslim|Jew|Hindu|(select (religion any))}


wreckage said...

"Spare me the references to allegedly scientific research,..."

Huh? Isn't the whole argument one regarding the nature of reality?

Zoe Brain said...

Hazumu - thank you. For not just sitting round gasbagging, but for your concrete help on Bosnia and elsewhere - including Cyberspace.

Ana said...

Diana_CT, while changing society is an important part — especially for other gender-diverse people than 'classical' transsexuals — it is not sufficient by itself. It's the gender vs. sex identity again: no amount of social change will make someone comfortable with a body that doesn't match the internal map, but on the other hand no amount of surgery will help someone who has a similar mismatch regarding gender.

Zoe was focussing on transsexuals, so she presented possible remedies for a cross-sexed body map. There, of course, any working treatment must involve minimising the mismatch, and in general, making changes to someone's body has far fewer ethical problems than making changes to their mind.

As for the question leading to this post, 'Spare me the references to allegedly scientific research' sounds pretty disturbing. It gives a strong impression that he's not interested in reading the background material but figures that even so he is better qualified to assess the validity of that material than those in the peer-review process who are familiar with both the field and the content of those articles. In other words, it sounds like he has already made up his mind and just goes through the motions of having a discussion in order to not appear as a privileged bigot. I have to say that I'm disappointed.

Battybattybats said...

Ana, changing society so it lives up to it's century old ideals of equality and diversity would help transsexuals too.

It'd stop preventing them getting the surgery. It'd get rid of meaningless sex markers on I.D. so it stopped using that to discriminate against them. and with an end to pointless job discrimination then Transsexuals would be able to afford proper healthcare etc.

So the social change would also solve primary roadblocks for Transsexuals.

Ana said...

Yes, of course society needs changing from the point of view of just about all of us – I'm sorry if I came across as doubting that. It's just that for some it is not enough, medical treatments are needed too. Of course access to those medical treatments is a social issue...

Anonymous said...

It seems that almost every aspect of Ron Gold's statement is as concerning as it is loaded.

In addition to the points about "ideation", "remedy" and "allegedly scientific research", I take exception to his request to "start over from there". It rather appears that he is not acknowledging the weight of evidence against his position and is asking for a do-over. Tends to remind me of a small child declaring the score null when they're about to lose a game.


Anonymous said...

Dear Zoe,

I have to wonder why you even bother with people like Aria Blue. Why you even bother to debate or even go there ? You have nothing in common at all with those "classic transsexual and everyone else is a transvestite" skags !

Happy JB

Zoe Brain said...

Of course I have something in common.

Just as I have with Batty.

We may disagree on some issues, and I really don't understand BBB at all. But she's educating me on the subject.

We're all human. The same people persecute us, whether we're "Real" women who are biologically intersexed female, "real" women who are "classic transsexuals", women who are "transgendered", whatever. We're all seen as the same.

We don't have the privilege of self-definition to those who mistreat us. And while we fight to gain it, let's not lose our humanity in doing so. Human Rights for all Humans, not just ones like us. Not just for those we agree with, or understand, or identify with.

Imogen said...

"Allegedly scientific research?" Jesus H Christ on a crutch, is Ramachandran not good enough for him??

Zoe, you write that we mustn't lose our humanity. Unfortunately, I've had my ideology severely battered over the last few years. I still believe that too, but it's hanging by a thread. Part of me is always thinking, "they think I'm a monster no matter what I do; I have nothing to lose by being one."

Zoe Brain said...

Imogen - that's why we must all help each other, no?

Or we'll be like this.

Battybattybats said...

Hey if Zoe's got the superhuman raw toughness, resiliance, endurance and added to that the qualities they recognise sufficiently not to close off their minds automatically, to be able to try and reach people then i definately support her attempting to.

When people filter logic presented to them through an automatic ad hominem filter of bias then the only way they'll accept the argument is if someone they filter as like them makes it even if it's no different from the same point made by someone they filter as 'other'.

Just as some men only realised they were being sexist when other men told them, or racists when members of their own race told them etc etc.

So if those folk won't realise their arguments against the rest of gender diverse humanity is hyocritical and completely self-refuting from a human rights and reciprocal ethics perspective as well as being anti-science quackery of the same sort they themselves have suffered in the past etc if i point it out then maybe they'll listen if Zoe does.

Whether its an efficient use of her time compared to educating others more open minded I don't know, but i appreciate her attempts nevertheless. You have my thanks Zoe.

As for understanding me.. i had no idea i was so complex :)

Anonymous T-Girl said...

Darlie Brewster-

Thank you for calling me a 'skag'.

i supposed in light of what you've done so far, it's actually not that bad.

The 'approval of actions through silence against them' that you have recieved even here now has been very enlightening to me, and where i stand with others.

i want to thank you for at least that.


Imogen said...

Zoe - yes. Though I like cookie monster. He reminds me of my cats' total dedication to food. Om nom nom.

I'm a lumper, not a splitter, so solidarity in the face of adversity is important to me. People like this, who have made up their minds and aren't listening really get up my nose. Accusations of false consciousness get up my nose even more. He's someone who should know better.

Turf warriors like that make me lose heart. Same with the radfems and the HBSers. Solidarity is supposed to be a two-way street, right?

ARIA BLUES said...

"Thank you for calling me a 'skag'."

Oh Ella , Im afraid you misread , yet again .

"You have nothing in common at all with those "classic transsexuals and everyone else is a transvestite" skags !" people.

Ooops, I was in a hurry ! Silly me ! Zoe got it though. It was quoting you and yours little AB pals.

Let me quote my own blog :

"Darlin , since when did anonymously calling my non op TG friends "transvestites " qualify as "honorable" ? "- Aria Blues

ARIA BLUES said...

"The same people persecute us, whether we're . . . . "

That's what makes no sense Zoe . You can see it's a case of equality and not a matter of common nature or process. Aria Blues group can't. Oh far from trying to silence them I'm just responding to their statements.

And asking me to take it down ? Tell you what, when they take their blogs down I will. Till then though think of me as CNN and to their Fox Fox. I like that. ;)

Zoe Brain said...

I've seen the "Aria Blues" site.

It's malicious.

While I can, with gritted teeth, understand it as a cry of pain at having experienced injustice and insult from those who should know better...

It's beneath you. In fact, it crosses a line that should never be crossed. It's as bad as using Bailey's words about Trans children as captions for pictures of his own kids. Justice? Perhaps. But Cruelty, certainly. It demeans you.

I urge you to get rid of the foetid thing, and remove it from all archives you can.

Please look at
You may have to manually abort the automatic re-direct.

Many of us are outraged by J. Michael Bailey’s lurid book on transsexualism and his crass self-promotion surrounding it. I doubt there is anyone more infuriated by his intellectual dishonesty and reckless lack of respect for women in my community than I am, for reasons I will be outlining on the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence clearinghouse over the next several months.

In April, I let Bailey’s bigotry and my anger about it get the best of me, and I wrote a response which some felt was over the line.

In retrospect, I see the error of my ways.

Bailey characterized it as a “tantrum,” and I suppose that’s accurate. During the course of the ongoing investigation into Bailey, I have come to see how my attempt to reach him emotionally was counter-productive and getting in the way of attempts by myself and others to explain why his book is so offensive.

Hatred breeds Hatred, unjust Cruelty received is too often matched by even worse Cruelty in return.

Please break the cycle. Who knows, maybe if you do we can work against removing the initial cause.

Now I've made myself unpopular with both sides of course. Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last. Sometimes we have to be unreasonably kind to one another, and endure insult without retaliation.

Me first of course. If I'm to preach about this, I better darn well have a track record of practicing it first, no? Lead by example so those who I love and respect won't continue tearing each other apart?

ARIA BLUES said...

I don't hate you Zoe , I would find that impossible. Not at all, and I don't hate them even though they REALLY want me too.

Far from malicious, it's reflective. I could write a book on the maliciousness I found in their writing. Particularly in Ella's and that for someone with , what, HRT since mid 2008? Common Zoe, she is still in diapers even though she tries to talk like an adult.

I've already made friends with some of them so don't despair. I think that is a fair offer though , don't you ? I'm happy to close mine if they close theirs . Aria , Cassandra , Leigh . A malicious person wouldn't but I'm a happy go lucky kinda girl . Now I know who called my friends "transvestites" I'm just ducky. :)

Anonymous T-Girl said...

'Die in a fire' is not in context. It was stated at a robot spammer. Not an actual person.

i stand behind everything else quoted there.

The pink bag is a reference to the Breast Cancer website link hidden beneath the pic.

i encourage anyone who may see it, regardless of what they think of me, to visit it.

ARIA BLUES said...

So you think talking to robots is . . . .say . . normal? Hmmmm ?

Yes ,the little interracial children holding hands and breast cancer awareness imagery. You are so giving aren't you E!

Oh , except for all that hate speech n stuff. Except for all the insulting,close minded, idiotic, "classic transsexual" stuff. Yeah.

Zoe Brain said...

As a favour to me - if any of you have the slightest respect for me at all - enough please. All of you.

"All this hate must stop and stop now before it gets even more out of hand."

as Cassandra said over at Aria Blue. Someone who has been known to speak of me in less than favourable terms (to say the least). :D

She's right.

I *am* asking you to be unreasonably kind. To turn the other cheek, if you will.

Battybattybats said...

I'll put in an olive branch.

I'm perfectly happy to become friends with any of those i've argued with in the past. I bear none of them any malice. I hold no grudges.

Who's with me? Liberty and Equality and Justice for everyone, without exceptions, has always been my intent as well as my need.

So here and now is a great opportunity for us all to work together with respect, to build bridges, gain understandiong, let the hurts of the past be set aside to instead build a real and decent future for everyone, again without exception.

Who's with me?

ARIA BLUES said...

Fine fine fine. Done. Look Zoe darlin, I don't hate anyone but it had to be done, you know it did. I could care less if they out me or who they think I am, none of this is for me. It's my family. As someone who has been victim to these bullies how did you get so darned pacifist? I like that.:)

Ok, respect given , I gotta go sweets !

Common Teri said...

Calling out classic transsexual elitist hate speech for what it is, isn't hate. Cloaking separatist TS dogma in clean white sheets that degenerate transgenders to the status of fetishists can't hide the self righteous dirt that lays beneath.

How can anyone make assumptions or state unsubstantiated facts when there is no scientific proof of a difference between transsexuals, transgenders, and non-trans brains? We can't so we have to be very careful trying to decide who goes in what category.

Zoe, stating that there is "no body-map issue to address" for transgenders is a fact-less assumption. I identify as transgender and have never been happy with my male body. Because I'm not having SRS doesn't mean I'm afraid of losing it or want to go and poke my penis in anyone. Those are the false accusations of classical transsexual elitists.

I'd like to think that such TS self righteous supremacy died with the flame wars that destroyed the support groups of the late 90's. Sadly some folks still need to walk on others to reach some perceived higher level of self justification.

I appreciate your frustration with seeing a site that may seem to rekindle the old TS/TG flame wars. It shouldn't be needed. I've known of some of the folks it pokes at from way back. They haven't changed their self righteous dogma and probably never will. Most see such TS elitism for what it is. It plays into those looking for a way to legitimize and excuse their need to live as women. It gives rise to the distasteful fallacy of "I'm more woman than you"

ARIA BLUES said...

Thank you Teri. A woman after my own heart.

To those who think my not posting on Zoe's distinguished blog means I'm stopping mine, no. I agreed to give Zoe freedom from the drama, she is a good person. I gave the conditions for my blog removal. Aria , Leigh, Cassanda , when those blogs come down , so will mine. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

i am confused. there seems to be 2 zoes that come to mind. there is zoe s. in whom you mention on your blog and talk about and there is this zoe whose blog you are posting on. which zoe are you talking about? if you are talking about zoe s. then why include her picture and information on your site. if you are talking about zoe b then you are posting on her site now. i am confused

Zoe Brain said...

Zoe, stating that there is "no body-map issue to address" for transgenders is a fact-less assumption. I identify as transgender and have never been happy with my male body. Because I'm not having SRS doesn't mean I'm afraid of losing it or want to go and poke my penis in anyone. Those are the false accusations of classical transsexual elitists.

Then by my definition, and mine alone, and purely for the purposes of this article, you're more TS than TG.

There are degrees of both, and borderline cases. Some can live with the discomfort. Some cannot. But the discomfort is there, and it's not "psychological".

Until we have some good experimental results though, this assertion of mine must be regarded as a "plausible conjecture" that fits the facts, rather than an evidenced hypothesis.

Imogen said...

I have to say, I'm on Aria Blues' side on this. Collecting someone's words and fisking them isn't a new practice in Blog World. And it couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

The problem I have with these people has nothing to do with the actual premise of their arguments. It's in the delivery. They create a new category, the mysterious and elusive creature known to them as the "TeeGee," which oddly seems to comprise all of the people they don't like. They have the amazing ability to diagnose people as TS or TG over the Internet, between which they and they alone have the power to distinguish.

I don't think I have ever seen a post from any of them which didn't denigrate or demonize these TG people in some way, or make sneering and indirect reference to their allegedly perfidious nature. It's like a broken hate speech record.

There are only a few of them, but their swarming and derailing various blogs whenever those blogs try to discuss trans issues have earned them rightful bans time and time again.

On top of that, they have displayed shocking bigotry on other subjects. Remember what one of them did to Mercedes Allen? That was unforgivable.

I'm not including Anonymous T-Girl in this group, btw. I think she got sucked into this vortex by happenstance, and she'll figure it out. It's the others, the ones who have gnawed the bones of their bitter resentment for literally decades, for whom I reserve my contempt.

Any arguments they might have are drowned in a sea of hate.

I don't believe in censorship. Rather, I believe that sunlight is the best disinfectant. Exposing people for what they are is not beyond the pale.

I am not a Christian, and I don't believe in turning the other cheek. I respect your intellectual honesty and devotion to finding the middle ground, Zoe, but these people are every bit as poisonous as the radfems or your good friend Nick.

Sorry about the rant, but this has been bottled up a long time.

Battybattybats said...

Regarding body distress issues.. well then this may cause some major re-defining because some self-identified crossdressers have body issues!

Some have periodic body issues, imagine that, hate your genitals or chest sometimes and not others. Weird huh. Yet it happens.

Certainly my own experiences with slight breast growth during puberty and it's natural reversal involved distress and comfort in both cases simultaneously.

Things may be far more complex than many have considered them...

Zoe Brain said...

Some take the attitude that studying the borderline cases is next to useless, we need to shackle as many variables and reduce as much ambiguity as we can.

Others say that it's by looking at the boundary cases that we learn most.

As for me? I see fellow human beings in distress. I want to help. I think a necessary step in that is to learn more, however we can.

I'm beginning to think that every binary model we make must have provision for exceptions in.

Zoë Suzanna said...

HappyJB- I cross posted this comment at Istar's page:

HappyJB –

Allow me to retort. I did ask specifically in a post on 1/15/09 on my site that I have since removed. Perhaps you have not seen it and if this is the case, I will once again post what was on my blog on 1/15/10:

I did not give you permission to post them on your blogs and kindly request you take them off your site. This exposure poses a serious safety risk to me from one person in particular who would like nothing more than to harm me.

Granted I was naive when I posted the pic where you found it, I have removed it from there. I appreciate you may not like what I have said, and I am fine with that – agree to disagree. I don’t mind if you rip apart my comments and educate me.

Simply put – please remove my pictures – I have no problem with the article – just not pictures.

Thank you.


My 2nd request:
The reality of the danger I do face from a specific member of my family is in fact real. I was unaware of the danger when I posted my pic. When I became aware of it, I promptly removed it though I forgot about the one other site it was posted to.

I am asking nicely to please take my photo down – that I have offended you, I publicly apologize to you, here, for the offense and pain my choice of words have inflicted on you and your friends.

Thank you.

Zoë Suzanna

Common Teri said...

I'll give you "plausible conjecture" but what "facts" do you refer to Zoe? Without any substantiated proof it all still seems to be just presumption based on personal feelings. Granted I rely on my feelings a lot but I don't know of any scientific evidence to back them up.

radicalbitch said...

"As for me? I see fellow human beings in distress. I want to help. I think a necessary step in that is to learn more, however we can.

I'm beginning to think that every binary model we make must have provision for exceptions in."

This would be fine except for one thing...the problem I've had since first contact with the "transgender" alleged "community" is that this respect is completely one sided. Those of us who actually have no problem with diversity do not and never have received the mutual respect of self. That's it in a nutshell. I am currently one of the group being trashed on a certain over the top website and have been threatened with "exposure" Exposure of what is what springs to my mind. I took the risk of being fairly out when I first transitioned and that genii is not going back in the bottle. But I also was instrumental in the founding of several trans civil rights organizations, at the forefront of exposing HRC's double dealings, took every thing I had left in the world when I became disabled and sunk it into a project to house and bootstrap the newly transitioned women. I organized the only known LGBt Katrina relief effort and personally made damn sure many transwomen were returned to home after being shuttled all over the country. I wrote what is still the definitive set of essays on transsexual priestesses in the ancient world.

And I have never received any respect of my womanhood from this "community" in return, never had my right to reject the label "transgender" respected, hell I was even ousted from the local gender community when I first transitioned for refusing to go to the "right" therapist.

In my mind the issue has always been the same, those demanding respect refusing same to others and so today I find myself taking a much more hard line position than I wish.

If you wish a third gender identity, fine, but accept what that means and do not force others to reject a binary they are comfortable in. There should be room for both but that is never the case.

valeriekeefe said...

Would it be terribly pedantic and a little bit misandristic to note that all the 'mind cures' and gestational hormone manipulation could also be used to 'cure' male identity and androphilia? And at that point we'd know with a certain degree of surety that every child would be best having a female puberty...

Now what makes that more wrong than the inverse?