Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Tying it all together - They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

I'll start with another story of Equine Intersex. Because it doesn't just happen to Humans.

See previous posts here and here. And here, where the pigs get a look in too.

From CTV News in Canada:
TORONTO — When Sam Campbell's mare Koko began acting in a decidedly unmare-like manner, aggressive to people and trying to mount other females in the herd like a stallion, she was baffled by what was causing such behaviour. Well, it turns out that Koko was no lady in more ways than one.

Scientists at the University of Guelph discovered that the six-year-old "Paint" is a rare intersex, or sex-reversed, horse. Outwardly, Koko has all the characteristics of a mare but was born with internal testes that were juicing her system with testosterone and making her act like a stallion.

"I'd been training her and she'd be fine and the next day she'd go wild. Her behaviour was very erratic," said Campbell, who owns four other horses at her hobby farm near Cobourg, Ont., east of Toronto. "Then she started showing stallion-like behaviour, urinating on other horses' feces, mounting the mare horses."

"I'm thinking, what is wrong with this horse?"

Campbell said a local veterinarian she called in performed an ultrasound examination on Koko and found what looked like internal testes, a fact confirmed when the horse was taken to the University of Guelph's Ontario Veterinary College.
It was no wonder Koko became a problem when she was turned out with a herd of mares, said Chenier, "because she was a he, and rightly so acted like it."

But Koko's anatomy wasn't the only eye-opener for the Guelph specialists working on the case -- they found out she (or he) was not the only one.

"I was very surprised when Sam said 'I have another one at home that I think is the same,"' said Chenier, explaining that Koko's younger sister, Sequoia, had been born to the same mother, a mare called Angel that Campbell had purchased at a horse sale in nearby Lindsay, Ont.

Sure enough, an examination of Sequoia showed the filly also had internal testes, which like Koko's were surgically removed. They then discovered that Angel's sister, who had been bought by a different owner, had a female foal named Pandora that was also an intersex horse.

Professor Allan King, a specialist in animal reproductive biotechnology at the University of Guelph, said it is extremely rare to find three animals with the same genetic disorder.

"That's why we're quite interested, because it's a family rather than a random occurrence," he said. "We believe that it's inherited on the X chromosome. So their fathers were normal male stallions and their mothers are carrying this gene, which they're passing on to their offspring."

"It only comes to light when one of these animals is examined in a clinic."
"In my eyes, she was born a girl, she had some boy parts, but on the outside she looks like a girl," said Campbell, adding that since the removal of the testes, Koko is like a different horse.

"She's amazing ... Now she's very docile, she's a lovely horse, so much so that a friend's daughter asked if she could work with her and take her into the local schooling show," she said. "It's nice that I feel safe putting somebody's child on her, because before I wouldn't let anybody ride her but me."

"It's been a wild ride."
Tell me about it, she says ruefully.

I won't attempt to guess which particular Intersex condition caused the genital dysgenesis. 5ARD? PAIS? Neither will I speculate on equine psychology - whether this horse is more properly considered a gelding or a mare. Was the obnoxiousness a sign of hormonal influence, or possibly something akin to Gender Dysphoria in humans? I don't know, I don't even know how we'd find out. I have no idea how sexually dimorphic an equine brain is, nor how much influence endocrinology has. Probably not much, and quite a lot respectively, based on the quite different psychologies of stallions and geldings.

I do hope this horse is happier now, anyway. They may not be human, nor particularly bright (compared to, say, an African Grey Parrot), but they do have feelings.

I will point out though that human children are often given the same treatment. Their owners guardians - or the vets paediatricians, arbitrarily decide which sex they "really" are, and intervene accordingly. Two times out of three, the foal child can at least live with it.

And often humans only find out they're Intersexed when they go to a clinic as young adults. To find out why things aren't happening as they should be.

And sometimes children get treated worse than foals. Who would be so inhuman as to separate a foal from its mother?

From The Stony Brook Press, on the history of the Feminine Boy Project :
This project was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) from 1972 to1986. The original stated goal on the grants was “treatment of pre-homosexuality”–the, idea that if children were kept from stepping outside gender stereotypes, they wouldn’t turn out gay. When being gay was taken out of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) in 1973, the goal was changed to “treatment of pretranssexuality,” conflating gender identity and sexuality as the same, based in biased assumptions that anything other than stereotypical gender identities and heterosexuality were wrong. Children were declared “pathological” for behavior like boys playing with dolls, wearing dresses or helping in the kitchen, or girls climbing trees, playing with boys’ toys or wearing boy clothes.

This was collaboration between anti-LGBTI (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex) members of the psychiatric establishment and the “religious right.”
When I read this, I was sceptical. Until a name caught my eye.
Richard Green is a colleague of John Money. Money instituted the “Money protocols” for nonconsensual surgeries on intersex children after forcing David Reimer to live as a girl (until Reimer changed back to male before killing himself). During the “experiment” Green co-wrote the book Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. Green has made a career of pathologizing LGBTI people. This has included making inflammatory comments like his 1995 Dateline remark “plays with Barbies at five, sleeps with men at twenty-five.” While head of the now closed Human Sexuality branch of Stony Brook’s Psychology Department he got NIMH to approve nearly $1 million for the project.

George Rekers belongs to several anti-gay fundamentalist groups, published his essay “Gender Identity Disorder” through the notoriously anti-gay Family Research Council and is “scientific advisor” to National Association for the Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), which claims to “cure” gays despite the American Psychiatric Association (APA) condemning “reparative therapy.”
Money's fraudulent research is infamous of course. The David Reimer case is an object lesson on how, while two in three Intersexed children may be able to live with an arbitrarily assigned sex, the other one in three cannot - because it's the wrong one, an they're not bigendered.

That doesn't prove any involvement by the "Religious Right" though. It was the other name, George Rekers, that rang alarm bells. Because I'd come across him before.
In January 2005, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy White ... called Rekers' testimony "extremely suspect." He also accused Rekers of testifying solely for promoting his "own personal agenda."
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman ... said "Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy."

Lederman may have been put off by the fact that Rekers said based on "research," a case could be made for banning Native Americans from adopting children.
Some other familiar names and places cropped up.
Several institutions were used to justify funding this dubious research and brainwashing children. Fuller Theological Seminary is a Christian fundamentalist college with anti-gay alumni including Billy Graham, Jerry Falwell and Rekers. Logos Research Institute is a “religious-right” think-tank promoting fundamentalist “science,” currently funding the edited edition of Darwin’s Origin of Species from actor Kirk Cameron and his colleague Ray Comfort (known as YouTube’s “Banana Guy” for claiming bananas disprove evolution). Green used Stony Brook to get most of the NIMH grants and to do most of the clerical, statistical and administrative work of this “study.” Most of the brainwashing went on at UCLA, though such other efforts happened at New York City’s Luke’s Research Hospital’s Childhood Gender Identity Unit (funded through the Roosevelt Institute).
Oh yes, good old UCLA's gender project... I've blogged about that as well..
“I was subjected to forced testosterone injections and used as a study subject against my wishes. These things happened (under the physical beatings and punishment -recomended by a therapist of a reparative mindset- the urging of my father and the all too eager compliance of UCLA doctors and researchers).”
The combination of Reckers and UCLA also jogged my memory. I'd blogged about that before.
Parents who brought their children to Rekers had to agree to participate in the "curing" of them. "Kraig," a four-year-old who participated in the UCLA Feminine Boy Project, was also monitored in the clinic's play-observation room. Only this time, it was his mother who wore the bug-in-the-ear, listening for her behavioral cues from the folks behind the wall. While playing, "Kraig would have seen her suddenly jerk upright, and look away from him toward the one-way window," Burke reports (based on transcripts of his case):

His mother was being prompted, through the earphones, by the doctor. She was told to completely ignore him, because he was engaged in feminine play. Kraig would have no understanding of what was happening to his mother. On one such occasion, his distress was such that he began to scream, but his mother just looked away. His anxiety increased, and he did whatever he could to get her to respond to him, but she just looked away. She must have seemed like a stranger to have changed her behavior toward him so suddenly and for no apparent reason . . . He was described as being in a panic, alternating between sobs and "aggressing at her," but again, when his distraught mother finally looked at him and began to respond, she stopped mid-sentence and abruptly turned away, as if he were not there. Kraig became so hysterical, and his mother so uncomfortable, that one of the clinicians had to enter and take Kraig, screaming, from the room.

Kraig's treatment continued in this vein. He was also put on the "token system" at home. Inappropriate, feminine behaviors earned him a red token, masculine ones, a blue token. Each red token earned him a spanking from his father. After more than two years of treatment, Kraig's behavior had turned around. He was now described by his mother as a "rough neck," and he no longer cared if his hair was neat or his clothes matched. But when he was eighteen, after years of being held up (under a pseudonym) by Rekers as "the poster boy for behavioral treatment of boyhood effeminacy," Kraig attempted suicide, because he thought that he might be gay.
I wasn't aware of the Creationist Connection though at the time. To continue:
Children were diagnosed using pseudoscientific “gender tests” including the “Barlow Gender-Specific Motor Test,” using stereotypes to “measure” gender identity by whether children sit/stand/move like men or women “should.” Diagnosed with “pathological gender development,” they would be recommended for invasive behavior modification, including placement in special playrooms where they would be repeatedly coached to choose gender-stereotypical toys with staff spying through mirrors. Behaviorists like Shasta Mead directly interacted with children, slowly gaining trust to reinforce stereotypical behavior, repeatedly suggesting they would rather wear or play with the “right” items. Children were made to wear wrist counters to monitor whenever they thought about playing with the “wrong” toys. Rewards and demerits were issued for “right” and “wrong” choices. Patients were enlisted to police childrens’ choices, throw out toys, force boys out of the kitchen and “steer” children more toward stereotypical choices at home as well as in the facility. This would go on until the child was declared “cured.”

This project was declared “successful,” though it succeeded only in traumatizing children. “Becky,” for example, was declared “successfully cured,” because the eight-year-old saw a male orderly old enough to be her father as her “boyfriend.” The “poster child,” called Kraig by Rekers and Kyle by Green, attempted suicide. This didn’t stop expansion of “Gender Identity Disorder” (GID) and “Gender Identity Disorder of Childhood”
I've blogged about the Barlowe Gender-Specific Motor Begaviour Test too.
The tests--many still used today--strike Burke as Orwellian. In one, a child being tested is asked to draw the figure of a person. Girls who draw boys first, predominately, or in positions of power and strength, are suspect, as are boys who draw princesses or mommies. The Barlow Gender-Specific Motor Behavior test examines such things as how far from the back of a chair a seated child's buttocks are--farther is "masculine," closer is "feminine." All the precision of science was applied in developing these tests to measure such things as the angle between the wrist and the hand, how often a child touched his or her hands together in front of his or her body, and how far the hips swayed as the child walked across the room. Especially damning for boys was a lack of hand-eye coordination.
The thing is... there's a grain of truth in the dross. Sex Identity is a function of neurology, and if the Lymbic Nucleus that appears to determine sex identity is cross-sexed, odds are that other parts of the brain are too. MRI imaging and crude behavioural tests have shown obvious sexual differentiation in cognitive functions such as instinctive ballistics calculations, and senses of smell and hearing. Yes, and even body language and instinctive behaviour. The one thing they got wrong was that this is based on neural anatomy set before birth, not a result of post-birth environment. And it appears to be immutable.

But worse is to come when you mix Religious Fanaticism, Pseudo-Science, and the Law.
In 1980 Dylan Scholinski, a young transgender man then named Daphne, was incarcerated in psychiatric institutions for four years for “Gender Identity Disorder.” His memoir The Last Time I Wore A Dress shows his school reported him to psychiatrists and he was diagnosed using the Barlow Gender Motor Test and treatment including forced makeovers. In 2000, a six-year-old child was taken away from loving parents for “exacerbating a mental disorder.” The “disorder?” Aurora Lipscomb told her parents she was not a boy but was a girl, and her parents supported her decision to live as a girl. Because her parents “exacerbated” her “gender identity disorder” the court took Aurora from loving parents and put her in a household where for four years she was forced to live as a Christian boy rather than a Jewish girl.
That was in 2000, in the USA. Not Spain in 694, where "The 12th Council of Toledo again called for forced baptism, and, for those who disobeyed, seizure of property, corporal punishment, exile, and slavery. Jewish children over seven years of age were taken from their parents and similarly dealt with in 694.". Or Portugal in 1497 :
Friday March 19, 1497 (the first day of Passover) Jewish parents were ordered to take their children between the ages of four and fourteen to Lisbon. On arrival in the capital, they were told that their children would be taken from them and given to Catholic families to be raised as good Catholics.
At the appointed time, those children who were not presented voluntarily were seized by the officials and forced to the font. Scenes of indescribable horror were witnessed as they were torn away by the royal bailiffs. ... In many cases, parents smothered their offspring in their farewell embrace. In others, they threw them into wells in order to save them from the disgrace of apostasy, and then killed themselves. Sometimes, even old men were dragged to the churches and forcibly baptized by over-zealous fanatics, who were under the impression that a general conversion of all the Jews had been ordered. The desired effect of forcing the parents to accompany their children into baptism rather than lose them for good was achieved only on exceptionally rare occasions. In all other cases, the unwilling neophytes, some mere babies, were distributed throughout the country, as far as possible from home, to be brought up in Christian surroundings.
More than thirty years later, the terrible scenes still lived in the mind of the old Bishop Coutinho. " saw many persons dragged by the hair to the font," he wrote. "Sometimes, I saw a father, his head covered in sign of grief and pain, lead his son to the font, protesting and calling God to witness that they wished to die together in the law of Moses. Yet more terrible things that were done with them did I witness, with my own eyes." The children of the Moslems, who were included in the edict of expulsion, were untouched. The authorities cynically confessed the reason. It was that there were lands in which the Crescent was supreme, and in which reprisals might be carried out!
History may not repeat, but it rhymes.

There you have it. The connections between topics I've blogged about over the years. The Science of Intersex. The mistreatment of Trans children, and the pseudoscience used to justify it. The enormities and sheer barbarity only possible to Fanatics who are convinced of their own Righteousness. Anti-Semitism. The use of the Law and Religion to inflict appalling cruelty, cruelty so severe no-one would dream of inflicting it on animals.

And it's happening today, right now. As you read this. Not in 694, nor 1497, nor even 2000. But today, in 2010.

I didn't intend to write such a long post, nor to tie things together. But as I wrote it, the connections between all of these things became apparent. The only thing I didn't include was the post about bananas. Oops, just did.

I guess that given my interests, my becoming some kind of "Activist" was inevitable. The things I find intolerable are all tied together you see. Fanaticism. Hatred. Ignorance. Cruelty. Hypocrisy. Mendacity. Pseudo-Science. Superstition. Legalised Inhumanity.

I can't hate though. Not just because it's unhelpful, but because so many in this saga are trying to do the right thing. Not all though, not all. While the vast majority whose views I oppose, and vehemently so, are doing what they see as right, just as I am, those who torture children, treating them worse than animals, get no benefit of the doubt. They're not opponents: they're my Enemy. How I pity them!

UPDATE : Ir's not just the parents who suffer. From HuffPo:
In 1998, the couple divorced and a year later Michael had gender reassignment surgery and changed her name to Monica. After that, Barbara went to court in their home state of Kentucky and successfully got an order prohibiting Monica from contacting any of their four children because she was now living as a woman.

But things soon got even worse for Monica. Barbara eventually remarried and she and her new husband petitioned the court to terminate all of Monica's parental rights so that the new husband could adopt the one child out of the four who was still then a minor.

The Kentucky trial court granted the petition after concluding that Monica becoming a woman meant that she had neglected her child and caused her grave emotional harm, necessitating the termination of her parental rights. That ruling was upheld by the Kentucky Court of Appeals in 2007.

1 comment:

MI said...

Hi Zoe, This is NO secret. I don't know why people at SUNY-SB are denying this. Stanley Yolles who was the director of the National Institute of Mental Health and the task force on homosexuality, founded the psychiatry dept. at SUNY-SB. Later on he got Green on board. Green writes in the book How I Got Into Sex "I was on a National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) study section that funded sex research projects throughout the country. Our postdoctoral program training program at Stony Brook..."
But as for those horses, I remember my friend Steve Wachtel's colleague, Dr. Kent-First
did alot of work on XY female horses in the 1980's-some of whom were fertile XY females. When it became known that some of her XY female horses were horseracing, the "bookies" threatened all kinds of mean things against her.
It seems like whether it is the for human athletes like Ms. Semenya or with XY female fertile horses in horseracing, there
is this antagonistic hostility which is mind boggling