Monday 15 March 2010

Sneak Preview

From the ABC's Hungry Beast programme:

This week on HUNGRY BEAST, reporter Ali Russell meets two intersex Australians – people born with both male and female physical attributes. Click on the video above to see an excerpt.

Zoe Brain, a 51 year old aerospace engineer, was born male but at the age of 47 her body spontaneously changed to female over the course of three months. Zoe’s case is particularly rare being 1 of about 100 cases like this in the world.

Natalie Kirk, a 23 year old graphic designer, was born with female anatomy except for underdeveloped ovaries. This means she has never gone through puberty. But she doesn’t feel entirely female.

Intersex is something we almost never hear about, but is surprisingly common – as often as 1 in 100 people. Despite this, the overwhelming majority of intersex people live in secrecy.

Zoe and Natalie are two of a very small handful who are willing to speak publicly about their experiences.

We will be hosting a live forum here after the show at 9:30pm AEDT. (On Wednesday 17th - that's 10:30 am GMT)

Both Zoe and Natalie will participate in the discussion along with Ali Russell, who produced and part-filmed the story. We’ll also be joined by Dr Milton Diamond, a professor of anatomy and reproductive biology at the University of Hawaii, Mānoa. In Zoe’s words, “Milton Diamond is to the science of sex and gender what Albert Einstein is to physics".

Neither Natalie nor Zoe has ever appeared on television before and they hadn’t met before the story was produced.
But we've been longtime friends via the net, and Nat comments here reqularly.

(Geek Interlude) I hadn't noticed the similarity in skull structure between us before. Genetically related, or a consequence of particular kinds of Intersex conditions, the way that those with various genetic anomalies sometimes have distinctive commonalities in facial structure?

I did notice that my forehead still shows the marks where I was hit by a crowbar around age 8. A recent CAT scan showed the brow sinus lower down had been partly crushed. Although I didn't appear unusual at the time, some Trans and some Intersex kids "smell funny". They have body language, vocabulary, and instincts that set them apart from their peers. Not all Intersex kids, though they may have an unusual appearance. But Trans kids, yes.

There's a reason why most Intersexed people aren't willing to decloak.


Nat said...

Agh it's embarrassing seeing myself on film! Nevertheless I'm very excited!

Hazumu Osaragi said...

RE: "smell funny", et al -- I was a 'bully magnet'. Another metaphor was that bullies were like moths and I was like a 100-watt porch light. Wondering about that later in life were some of the small pebbles that led to my eventual (overdue?) epiphany.

Natalie, your feelings about seeing yourself are common, even among professional 'talent'. Pretending you're looking at a relative or a doppelganger or some such may help...

Vene said...

Smell funny? Okay, now I'm curious. My TS girlfriend has stated that she had never developed the male scent, despite living as a guy for ~25 years. Zoe, if you have something I can read about this, I would greatly appreciate it.

kae said...

Good luck, Zoe & Nat - I hope the program is well-received.

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Hazumu Osaragi said...

When I see a poster (such as yourself) make really dumb, grade school grammar mistakes such as 'your' for you're, or 'their' for there, I find that posters' criticism to have about zilch-point-$#!^ credibility.

Zoe Brain said...

Hazumu - I see you've not met my stalker, Nicky Chaleunphone, the man of a thousand aliases and sockpuppets.

If he'd just stick to the one monicker he chose, RAD FAB, and abided by the terms of service, his posts wouldn't get deleted.

Battybattybats said...

Very much looking forward to this. Good on you both for giving this issue such visibility!

The skull structure is interesting but could still be councidence.. a worthy avenue of future study as would be geneology whether it ruled out a link or ruled in one.

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Nat said...

I think someone needs to get a hobby.

Zoe Brain said...

Nat - don't put yourself in his line of fire. He has a thing against some Intersexed people. I'm not the only one he's gone after, Sophia Seidelberg of OII took her blog down rather than endure his cyberstalking.

Sometimes he claims he has Kalmans syndrome, sometimes he claims he's XXY.

He's been banned on every Intersex support group I know of, simply because of his threats of violence, trolling, rabid transphobia, and general obnoxiousness. And his nappy fetish, and his forced feminisation fantasies etc etc all of which are either still on his blog or available via the wayback machine.

He's got into hot water with the US Coastguard, where he claims to be an Auxiliary, and also several volunteer firefighting groups, again due to his penchant for making threats full of obscenity.

I'm glad he's on another continent, as he's the archetypical Net Nutter who could get violent in 3D. I've tried to help him as much as I can, but he has no insight into his own illness. He doesn't perceive anything that would contradict his view, such as eyewitness accounts etc.

Battybattybats said...

If he's been banned from any of those because of "his nappy fetish, and his forced feminisation fantasies etc" Then in that i think he may have been misstreated as both while frequently condmened and villified nonetheless are not intrinsicly unethical practices making the condemnation of them and discrimination towards those who enjoy such the clear wrong. Now if he was being innappropriatly sexual on any such list where it would not be appropriate it should be that and not his ethical proclivities that should be criticised and if not then it should be immaterial to the rest.

That said his behaviour where i have seen it has been more than enough to justify banning and your simple request that he use a regular online-name is far from unreasonable.

But irrespective of the rest of the hurtful, vindictive, stalking, villifying behaviour of his lets not be a part of the tolerance of the prejudice towards people with non-mainstream yet ethical sexual practices and fantasies.

Nikola Kovacs said...

Zoe and Nat,

That was a really nice story, thanks for putting yourselves out there like that, you both deserve huge congratulations and thanks.

I hope that segment helps to change some of the misguided assumptions that seem all too abundant in society.

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Nat said...

I don't know what to make of that guy. He gets so worked up about complete strangers - it's pointless and childish.

Zoe Brain said...

Nat, he's not well. He has a serious psychiatric problem, and no insight into his condition.

If you really must, you can see some of his collected posts here.

His personality appears to be disintegrating. He should have our sympathies, not our scorn. He's not a troll, he actually believes what he writes, and is immune to any reality which contradicts that. He can't actually perceive it.

Zoe Brain said...

Example - fertility.

"With an incidence of ~1 in 500 male newborns, the 47,XXY genotype is one the most common sex chromosome anomalies. It is also the most frequent genetic cause of human infertility. Some non-mosaic 47,XXY patients have sperm production which allows infertility treatment to be offered by ICSI. Therefore, the risk of transmitting a chromosome anomaly to the next generation is an important problem in reproductive genetic counselling of these patients. Here, we report on a twin pregnancy where two karyotypically normal neonates 46,XX and 46,XY were born after the use of ICSI in assisted reproduction of a patient with a non-mosaic 47,XXY syndrome. To date, only 38 evolving pregnancies including the present cases, have been reported after ICSI using sperm from non-mosaic 47,XXY patients. Although these data are scarce, they suggest that the risk of chromosome anomaly in the offspring of these patients is low; hence, their reproductive genetic counselling can be reassuring, and management of the pregnancy can proceed with caution."

Or this:
"Proper management of patients with Kallmann syndrome usually allows them to attain normal reproductive health."

On his blog -
The fact is Intersex people in general are sterile from birth to death. Fathering a child for an intersex person is practically and medically impossible. Intersex people can’t even father a Child NATURALLY. Anyone who claims to be an intersex and fathered a child is not really an intersex person to begin and it just makes you think that people who are claiming intersex are just intersex wannabes and intersex fakes. Their is no way under any current medical technology out their that will allow an intersex person to reproduce and father a child Naturally.

Of course some of the IS women may have the option of motherhood instead - sometimes only as surrogates though, of course.

HUG, Ok?