Wednesday, 12 September 2007

The Smell of a Million Melted Computers

An account from a casualty from 6 years ago. A friend of mine.

Lest We Forget.


Anonymous said...

Congrats on not having to pretend anymore.
Was it a change in diet that caused the proper effect, or just random?


Zoe Brain said...

Good Question (and thanks)

There was no change in diet.

The only hypothesis that both fits the facts and is consistent with what we definitely know about the human body involves a chain of not particularly unlikely coincidences.

First, there is the same Leydig Cell anomaly that had caused (temporary) sterility in a number of cases of males treated with statins. Maybe 1 in 1,000. It appears this is associated with an inability of the testes to process serum LDL (low density lipids - cholesterol - in the blood stream) to produce the various hormones, testosterone, oestrogen, cortisol etc. They can still produce it using locally available cholesterol, but at low amounts, and the person has high LDL levels in the blood as the stuff isn't being consumed.

The second is a common (1 in 100?) mutation, causing adrenal hyperplasia. The adrenal glands produce excess cortisol (and testosterone etc) so the low testicular output is partially balanced. However, such people balloon out, they gain weight even on a starvation diet. They're Fat and have low energy, as much of their food intake goes into fat cells.

The fat cells also sequester oestrogen, the female sex hormone, so the low testosterone just means a partial masculinisation, no feminisation.

A person with male chromosomes with these conditions will be chronically hormone starved, and may have an incomplete puberty. Anomalies such as undersized genitalia, long or short arms or legs (due to "glitches" causing early or late closing off of bone ends), pectus carinatum etc. There may be some feminisation at puberty, but not much. The oestrogen levels are even lower than the testosterone ones.

If the same statistics for DES administration in the first trimester hold, then 1 in 6 genetic males with this set of conditions will be transsexual females (that is the bits of the brain that determine whether you're a Boy or a Girl are set to Girl), but this is a guess.

Now add a statin, in particular, Lipitor.

This shuts down LDL production in the liver. But also in the testes and adrenals. So suddenly, no more cortisol, no more testosterone. All the fat melts away, remember, they're already on a low cal diet. Immediately there is a huge energy boost, but also a massive bolus of oestrogen released as the fat dissolves. It hits a chronically hormone-starved body, and instant precocious female puberty on a mostly masculinised frame.

This fits all the facts like a glove. It may be completely wrong of course, but my adrenals are hypertrophied, that at least was shown on the ultrasounds.

The thing that concerns me is that this may happen to guys too. It was difficult enough for me. I always thought that I should have been born female, but I'd resigned myself to the fact that I wasn't. Unlike most in that situation, I never cross-dressed or attempted androgeniety. I was a guy, or at least, that's the role in life I was assigned. I tried to be the best Man I could be. Think Sir Gallahad, protector of the weak (well, I always did have a huge maternal instinct).

I never truly got the hang of it, though others have told me I did pretty well. While a failure as a Man - at least in my own eyes - I did manage to be a decent Human Being.

Now I'm a woman, always have been really. My personality is almost identical, though the different hormone mix did some re-wiring. I feared that, but could do nothing about it, and it turns out everything is so much more natural now. I was born for this, no more mismatch.

But if this happened to a Man - Instant Transsexuality - male brain, female body - I'm not sure it would be survivable. The physical stresses were bad enough, PMT-Menopause and back again cyclically. Night Sweats, Hot Flushes, the human body is not meant to change so rapidly. Add some of the worst psychological stress possible too, and the odds of survival would be remote.

That could be why such things have not been reported. Perhaps only 1 in 6 have any chance of survival. But we just don't know.

I have no insight into male psychology. I've never been one, though I played one in the movies, so to speak. I do have insights into two things though.

The first is the Raw Deal men get when it comes to matters like divorce and property settlements, sexual harrassment claims, working with children etc. Not forgetting the societal expectation of "working till you drop" and never having a home life.

The second is the Glass Ceiling, as I've been treated quite differently Before and After, despite (obviously) having the same qualifications.

A Feminist should work at persuading people that both situations should change. That being a housewife is a valid option, but it should be a choice. That having a Life outside work is every man's right, should he choose to go that way. We should get rid of the injustices that afflict both sexes in different ways.

Thanks for dropping by, hope to see you here again.