Tuesday 30 September 2008

Transphobia vs Misogyny : The effect on earnings

Well, this is a surprise.
These estimates imply that male-to-female respondents...lose about 31 percent of their earnings after their gender transition... Female-to-male respondents ...are estimated to gain about 10 percent in earnings following their gender transition...

What's so surprising? That misogyny has double the effect of transphobia. About 10% vs 5% - translating into a 20% and 10% pay difference respectively.

Someone going from Female (-10%) to Male (+10%) Would get a 20% pay rise.
Someone going from non-TS (+5%) to TS (-5%) would get a 10% pay cut.

So someone doing both - an FtoM transition - gets a 10% pay rise.

Someone going from Male (+10%) to Female (-10%) would get a 20% pay cut.
Someone going from non-TS to TS gets a 10% pay cut too - so someone doing both gets a 30% pay cut.

Yes, I know I'm assuming they're independent variables, and they're probably not. But as a back-of-the-envelope calculation, it's in the right ballpark.

Figures are from Before and After: Gender Transitions, Human Capital, and Workplace Experiences Schilt K, Wiswall M in The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy

Monday 29 September 2008

A Case of Homicide

As promised in a previous post, another amateur and amateurish comment on a legal case. This one in Greeley, Colorado.

The facts:
Angie Zapata, a transwoman age 18, died of blunt force trauma to the head by a person or persons unknown, in her flat, on July 16, 2008. Her body was found the next day.

On July 30, Allen Andrade was arrested in the Denver suburb of Thornton, where he lives. Police responding to a noise complaint said they found him in Zapata's 2003 PT Cruiser, which had been missing. He was arrested on existing warrants. Andrade has a lengthy record that includes attempt to commit first-degree criminal trespass, attempt to commit theft from a person, possession of a contraband, attempted escape and attempt to commit theft by receiving. He served time for each of the convictions.

Abndrade was also found to have used Angie's credit card.

From Denver News :
Andrade told investigators that he met Zapata through MocoSpace, a social networking Web site, and that they agreed to get together after exchanging contact over several days, according to an arrest affidavit released by Greeley police. The two met July 15 and spent the day together.

Andrade told investigators that Zapata performed oral sex on him but wouldn't let him touch her, according to the affidavit.

He said he also spent the night at Zapata's apartment, but in separate beds. The next day, Zapata left Andrade alone in her apartment, and Andrade noticed several photographs that led him to question Zapata's gender.

Andrade confronted Zapata when she got back. Zapata answered: "I am all woman."

He grabbed Zapata's crotch area, felt male genitalia and became angry, the affidavit states. He took a fire extinguisher off a shelf and struck Zapata twice in the head, telling investigators he thought he "killed it."
Andrade told investigators he covered Zapata with a blanket and started gathering evidence he thought might link him to the crime when he heard gurgling sounds and noticed Zapata was sitting up. That's when he picked up the fire extinguisher and hit her again, police said. He left the apartment and took her car, he said.
Note that we only have the alleged killer's statement in evidence of that. The actuality may have been quite different. From the Denver Post
Only when Andrade grabbed at Zapata's crotch did he discover the truth. But when she smiled at him and said, "I'm all woman," it drove an enraged Andrade to commit murder, attorney Annette Kundelius said.

"At best, this is a case about passion," Kundelius said. "When (Zapata) smiled at him, this was a highly provoking act, and it would cause someone to have an aggressive reaction."

She argued Thursday that the first-degree murder charge filed against Andrade for Zapata's murder be dropped to second-degree murder.

But Weld County District Judge Marcelo Kopcow ruled otherwise Thursday, citing evidence the 31-year-old Andrade killed Zapata with deliberation.

Andrade hit Zapata several times with a fire extinguisher after he confronted her about her transgender status, Kopcow said.

He said he also considered several statements Andrade allegedly made while in custody that showed his anger toward Zapata and gays in general, including Andrade referring to Zapata as "it."

When his girlfriend told him her cellphone was dying during a conversation with him, he said that was gay and "all gay things need to die," Tharp said.

Andrade also said that he was trying to put the murder behind him and there was "no use crying over spilled milk," Tharp said.

The charges Andrade faces are :
  • first-degree murder after deliberation,
  • felony motor vehicle theft,
  • felony identity theft and
  • bias-motivated crime
Let's see what the law actually states about each of these offences. So we need to refer to the Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18, the Criminal Code.

Let's start with Bias-Motivated Crime 18-9-121 and work up.
(2) A person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, he or she:
(a) Knowingly causes bodily injury to another person;
(5) For purposes of this section:
(b) "Sexual orientation" means a person's actual or perceived orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgender status.
(3) ...Commission of a bias-motivated crime as described in paragraph (a) of subsection (2) of this section is a class 5 felony;
I wouldn't convict on the facts. Apart from the accused's confession, there is no evidence at all that hatred was involved. From the accused statements, the victim was killed because they were perceived as homosexual, not for being a straight transgender. But there was no evidence that this killing was intended to intimidate or harass - unless you define murder as extreme harassment.

The essence of a "hate crime" is not a crime motivated by hate: it is a crime whose intent is to terrorise or whose effect can only reasonably be assumed to terrorise the segment that is hated. The wording of the Colorado legislation reflects the first but not the second. Of course the jury may disagree here, it is arguable either way. In any case, the Defence will argue that Angie wasn't killed merely because she appeared to be gay, but because she "duped" this poor innocent.

A Class 5 Felony is punishable by 1-3 years imprisonment with a parole period of 2 years.

Next, Identity Theft - 18-5-902.
(1) A person commits identity theft if he or she:

(a) Knowingly uses the personal identifying information, financial identifying information, or financial device of another without permission or lawful authority to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or any other thing of value or to make a financial payment;
(2) Identity theft is a class 4 felony.
This seems fairly straightforward and inconstestible on the evidence, though it doesn't preclude a more serious charge if there are other circumstances. More on that later.

A class 4 Felony is punishable by 2-6 years, with mandatory parole period of 3 years.

Aggravated Motor vehicle theft 18-4-409:
(2) A person commits aggravated motor vehicle theft in the first degree if he or she knowingly obtains or exercises control over the motor vehicle of another without authorization or by threat or deception and:
(a) Retains possession or control of the motor vehicle for more than twenty-four hours;
(3) Aggravated motor vehicle theft in the first degree is a:
(a) Class 4 felony if the value of the motor vehicle or motor vehicles involved is twenty thousand dollars or less;
The book value of a second-hand 2003 PT Cruiser is about $10,000. Again, relatively simple and incontestible, but again, the unlawful taking may be a more serious crime than theft, depending on the circumstances.

Again, punishable by 2-6 years.

An alternate charge is that of Robbery 18-4-301, and I'll discuss that now.
(1) A person who knowingly takes anything of value from the person or presence of another by the use of force, threats, or intimidation commits robbery.

(2) Robbery is a class 4 felony.
This is where it gets murky, and beyond my meagre expertise. Here's some commentary on the elaborating caselaw:
Felony murder based on robbery precludes conviction for robbery. The defendant's conviction of the greater offense of felony murder, predicated as it is upon his killing of the robbery victim, precludes his simultaneous conviction of the lesser included offense of robbery. People v. Bartowsheski, 661 P.2d 235 (Colo. 1983).

Robbery conviction not precluded by conviction for murder of another after deliberation. Although a separate judgment of conviction for robbery may not simultaneously exist with a judgment of conviction for first degree murder predicated upon the killing of the robbery victim, there is no such impediment to the entry of both a judgment of conviction for first degree murder based upon the killing of another after deliberation and a separate judgment of conviction for the robbery of the same victim. People v. Bartowsheski, 661 P.2d 235 (Colo. 1983).

"Robbery" in felony murder provision used in generic sense. The term "robbery", as used in the felony murder statute, is to be construed as meaning this type of felony in its generic sense, including all types of robbery as defined in the statutes. People v. Raymer, 626 P.2d 705 (Colo. App. 1980), aff'd, 662 P.2d 1066 (Colo. 1983).

Any resulting death from robbery supports felony murder conviction. Any death that results in the course of any type of robbery may serve as a basis for a felony murder conviction, and all such types of robbery are necessarily merged in a felony murder charge. People v. Raymer, 626 P.2d 705 (Colo. App. 1980), aff'd, 662 P.2d 1066 (Colo. 1983).

The gravamen of robbery is the application of physical force or intimidation against the victim at any time during the course of a transaction culminating in the taking of property from the victim's person or presence. People v. Bartowsheski, 661 P.2d 235 (Colo. 1983); People v. Villalobos, 159 P.3d 624 (Colo. App. 2006).

Property is taken from the "presence of another" when it is so within the victim's reach, inspection or observation that he or she would be able to retain control over the property but for the force, threats, or intimidation directed by the perpetrator against the victim. People v. Bartowsheski, 661 P.2d 235 (Colo. 1983); People v. Benton, 829 P.2d 451 (Colo. App. 1991); People v. Fox, 928 P.2d 820 (Colo. App. 1996); People v. Villalobos, 159 P.3d 624 (Colo. App. 2006).
The question is... was the assault resulting in death "in the course of" the unlawful taking? That is a matter for a Jury to decide. Certainly bashing someone's head in, then coming back to finish them off would be force, and without this force having been used, the victim would have been able to retain her property. The Defence would then argue that the killing and the unlawful taking are separate acts, not the same "transaction".

Note that we only have the accused's statement to guide us as to what actually happened. He has a record of similar thefts, and it's possible that Angie came home at an inopportune moment, interrupting the theft. Had she not been transgendered, that would have been the only reasonable interpretation of the evidence.

In order to argue that the unlawful taking was not Robbery though, the Defence would have to argue that the unlawful taking was almost a victimless crime, a mere removal of property belonging to a deceased person's estate.

Hmmmm.... I don't think that argument would go down well. But the phase "in the course of" is key.

It all comes down to whether the Jury believes that the accused took any of Angie's possessions in the course of "removing the evidence", or afterwards. If the former, it is definitely one "transaction". If the latter, arguably two. And that will be determined by the accused's exact statement to the police.

Now let's look at the killing itself - manslaughter, 2nd degree murder, felony murder, or murder with deliberation.

First, manslaughter 18-3-104 :
(1) A person commits the crime of manslaughter if:
(a) Such person recklessly causes the death of another person; or
(b) Such person intentionally causes or aids another person to commit suicide.
(2) Manslaughter is a class 4 felony.
Beating someone's head in is hardly "reckless'. Coming back later to "finish them off" when it's apparent they're not quite dead yet certainly isn't. Not even the Defence tried to argue this at the pre-trial hearing. But of course, we must remember, this is all on the unsupported word of the accused.

Second, Murder in the second degree, 18-3-103, and this is where it gets tricky yet again.
(1) A person commits the crime of murder in the second degree if the person knowingly causes the death of a person.
(3) (a) Except as otherwise provided in paragraph (b) of this subsection (3), murder in the second degree is a class 2 felony.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (a) of this subsection (3), murder in the second degree is a class 3 felony where the act causing the death was performed upon a sudden heat of passion, caused by a serious and highly provoking act of the intended victim, affecting the defendant sufficiently to excite an irresistible passion in a reasonable person; but, if between the provocation and the killing there is an interval sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, the killing is a class 2 felony.
Some explanatory notes:
Elements of murder in second degree concerning defendant's state of mind are: (1) That the death was more than merely a probable result of the defendant's actions; and (2) that the defendant was aware of the circumstances which made death practically certain. The first is an objective standard; the second, a subjective standard. People v. Mingo, 196 Colo. 315, 584 P.2d 632 (1978); People v. District Court, 198 Colo. 70, 595 P.2d 1045 (1979).
Subsection (3) sets forth the elements of provocation, which is a mitigating factor and not a separate crime or a lesser included offense of murder in the second degree. If proven, provocation is a statutory mitigating factor that will reduce a defendant's sentence for second degree murder, but it is not an element of a separate offense. Further, to secure a conviction of second degree murder, the prosecution must prove a lack of provocation beyond a reasonable doubt. People v. Garcia, 1 P.3d 214 (Colo. App. 1999), aff'd, 28 P.3d 340 (Colo. 2001).

The general assembly intended to eliminate the offense of heat of passion manslaughter and create a single crime of second degree murder with two different felony levels by making provocation, or acting in the heat of passion, a factor in mitigation of second degree murder. People v. Martinez, 32 P.3d 582 (Colo. App. 2001).
And here's a quote from an actual lawyer on the subject:
Colorado judges have decided that, in some cases, a provocation for which there is evidence is nonetheless not permissible and cannot be argued in court. For example ... in People v. Valdez (183 P.3d 720, Colo.App. 2008), the Colorado appeals court held that a provocation argument could be ruled out. Here's what happened:
The defendant drove to his wife's house, from whom he was separated, saw a car there of a friend of his whom he suspected was having sex with his wife. He broke into the basement, went out into the yard, picked up a metal pipe, re-entered the house, and grabbed a knife. He walked upstairs to the bedroom, hit the boyfriend in the face with the metal pipe, and stabbed him in the chest. Defendant then woke up his estranged wife and told her that her boyfriend was dead and that he was going to get rid of her, too. He said if he could not have her, nobody was going to have her. The boyfriend survived, and defendant was arrested.
Okay, wife having sex with friend of husband's - not a crime but nonetheless "provocation" within the meaning of the statute, satisfying all five elements (...the five elements of a provocation defense requires that the act resulting in death 1) be performed upon a sudden heat of passion, 2) caused by a serious and highly provoking act 3) of the intended victim, 4) affecting the defendant sufficiently to excite an irresistible passion 5) in a reasonable person....). The appeals court did not dispute this, but nonetheless held that the provocation defense was barred. The court said that where a person places himself in a position, by his own actions, to encounter the provoking act, then the provocation argument is barred. Thus, while the Cassels case seems to indicate that a provocation argument must be allowed no matter what, no matter how vile or prejudicial, that is not, in fact the law in Colorado.
The element of provocation that the accused alleges is twofold: first, that the alleged sexual act many hours before the killing was "deception"; and second, that it was only when he confirmed his suspicions by deliberately grabbing her crotch that he knew what had happened. It is at least arguable, and would be argued by the prosecution, that the accused by his own actions encountered the provoking act. Alternately, if the provoking act was the sexual encounter itself, then the overnight time interval was certainly enough for "the voice of reason and humanity to be heard."

This assumes that having a sexual encounter with a transsexual "in stealth" is by itself a provocation so very terrible that it would excite an irresistible passion in any reasonable person to commit homicide. And that I would argue against, but I am certainly not objective there. I would argue in fact that it is exactly the same as someone finding out the woman he had sex with is only "passing for white", or "didn't look Jewish".

Furthermore... how many "momentary lapses of reason" do you get? By the accused's own admission, he attempted to beat the victim to death. He then calmly went about "tidying up" and removing incriminating evidence. He then noticed the victim gurgling and feebly moving under the sheet he'd put over the body, so he hit her again to deliberately kill her. Though of course, we only have his word for this.

2nd degree murder after provocation is good for 6-16, with a parole period of 5 years. It would be 4-12, but it's increased because it's a Class 3 Felony involving violence.
2nd degree murder absent provocation results in 8-24, also with a parole period of 5 years.

Finally... and I'm sure you thought I'd never finish... let's look at Murder in the First Degree. 18-3-102. But even there, there are two possibilities - Felony Murder, and Murder after Deliberation.
(1) A person commits the crime of murder in the first degree if:
(a) After deliberation and with the intent to cause the death of a person other than himself, he causes the death of that person or of another person; or

(b) Acting either alone or with one or more persons, he or she commits or attempts to commit arson, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, sexual assault ... and, in the course of or in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or of immediate flight therefrom, the death of a person, other than one of the participants, is caused by anyone;
Murder in the First Degree is a class 1 Felony, and thus punishable by Life Imprisonment, or the Death penalty.

Basically, if the jury determines the killing and the unlawful taking were one transaction, it's Felony Murder, and thus Murder in the First Degree, with or without "deliberation".
No verdict other than first degree murder possible where the evidence overwhelmingly establishes the guilt of the defendant in a brutal and heartless assault and robbery committed upon the person of the deceased, and the defendant had a fair trial, one that was conducted in all respects pursuant to law. Ceja v. People, 142 Colo. 447, 351 P.2d 271 (1960).

Where murder is committed in the perpetration or attempt to perpetrate one of the felonies specified in this section, there is only one degree of murder, namely, murder of the first degree. If the uncontradicted evidence is to the effect that murder was committed in one of the ways specified above, and in no other way, the question of second degree murder is not in the case, and the defendant should be found guilty of murder of the first degree or acquitted; there is no middle course. Jones v. People, 93 Colo. 282, 26 P.2d 103 (1933); Early v. People, 142 Colo. 462, 352 P.2d 112, cert. denied, 364 U.S. 847, 81 S. Ct. 90, 5 L.Ed.2d 70 (1960
So why was the accused not charged with Robbery? Because as stated before,
Any death that results in the course of any type of robbery may serve as a basis for a felony murder conviction, and all such types of robbery are necessarily merged in a felony murder charge.
Furthermore, Felony Murder with Deliberation is properly charged as Murder with Deliberation.
Murder after deliberation and felony murder are not separate and independent offenses, but only ways in which criminal liability for first degree murder may be charged and prosecuted. People v. Lowe, 660 P.2d 1261 (Colo. 1983); People v. Brown, 731 P.2d 763 (Colo. App. 1986).
Unlawful killing followed by Robbery as part of the same "transaction" is treated the same way as if the events were concomittant.
Sequence of events is irrelevant as long as sufficient evidence is produced to show that a felony was committed by defendant and that a death occurred during the commission of that felony. People v. Braxton, 807 P.2d 1214 (Colo. App. 1990).
The Defence will argue that the second assault was "on impulse" even if not provoked. They may argue that the cause of Death was the first assault, not the "coup de grace", though I don't think that will fly, for even if the first wounds would have been mortal, the second ones caused an earlier mortality.

The Prosecution will attempt to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the second, deadly, assault could only be construed as being part of the "tidying up" process the accused was involved in. Making sure there were no witnesses to testify. And thus an unplanned, but deliberate act.
Time is not essential if there was a design and determination to kill formed in the mind of the defendant previous to or at the time the mortal wound was given. Van Houton v. People, 22 Colo. 53, 43 P. 137 (1895).

The element of deliberation requires that the decision to commit the act is made after the exercise of reflection and judgment concerning the act; however, the length of time required for deliberation need not be long. People v. District Court, 779 P.2d 385 (Colo. 1989).
Now there may be other evidence too. For example, an examination of computer forensic evidence could show that the accused already knew of the victim's status before he met her - which would not merely blow apart any "provocation" defence, but strongly indicate that he went in with the intention to commit theft, as he had done in the past. And when interrupted, killed the victim. From Rocky Mountain News :
"She was always happy," said Alicia Portillo, one of Angie's friends. "She loved music. She didn't care what people thought of her. She always just wanted to be who she was, and that was female, and to be loved."

Portillo said Zapata's courage helped her with her own identity as a lesbian.

"Angie gave me the power to not care what people thought of me," Portillo said.
There's evidence Angie didn't try to hide, you see.

The Defence will be hoping to gain a Class 3 Felony result for the killing - 2nd Degree Murder after provocation - but won't be able to argue that the theft convictions (which will probably be pled guilty to) are part of the same "transaction". So the sentences for the thefts may be served concurrently with each other, but consecutively with the murder penalty. Unless they get an exceedingly sympathetic Judge. In that case, he gets out in 6 years, with another 5 years on parole.

An unsympathetic Judge would give him 18 years, with only the two theft charges concurrent with each other, plus 5 years on parole. Given the heinous nature of the assault, this would not surprise me. Except the victim was transsexual, so maybe 6 isn't unlikely after all. The average tariff is 8 - but parole before then.

The Prosecution would go for Murder One, and Life without parole. Whether with deliberation or Felony murder is immaterial. Failing that, 2nd degree murder without provocation, and go for a maximum sentence. 24 years, plus another 3 for the thefts.

Of course... I Am Not A Lawyer. So bear that in mind too. And this is the Law, not Justice.

Sunday 28 September 2008

China's Triple Space Success

From The Australian :
Mission commander Zhai Zhigang left the Shenzhou VII spacecraft at 4.43pm Beijing time (6.43pm AEST) to float in orbit for just under 15 minutes, making China the third country to complete a space walk after the United States and the former Soviet Union.
The space walk, broadcast live on television, was the highlight of the 68-hour voyage - China's third manned foray into space - and considered an important step towards building a space station, China's next major ambition in space.
Cdr Zhai waved a small Chinese flag shortly after climbing out of the spacecraft, 343km over the Earth.

Tethered to the craft with two safety wires, Cdr Zhai, 41, slowly moved towards a test sample of solid lubricant outside the module, Xinhua news agency said.

He took the sample and handed it to fellow astronaut Liu Boming, who stayed in the module and closely monitored Cdr Zhai's moves.

The move was a drill intended to replicate the type of task future space walkers will have to perform.

A fire alert heard during the live transmission of the space walk turned out to be a mistake in one of the sensors, Mr Wang said.

"To be frank, at that very moment, many of us felt a little bit concerned," he said.

But after finding out the alarm came from an area outside where Cdr Zhai was working, he said they relaxed.

As part of China's space program, two more unmanned craft will be launched by 2010, as well as another manned spaceship with a crew of three to start work on the lab or space station, according to the China Daily.

And from the ABC:
China's three astronauts have landed safely back on Earth after a challenging voyage, including a space walk, that showcased the country's technological mastery and put it one step closer to the Moon.

Spacewalker Zhai Zhigang and two other astronauts on board the Shenzhou VII landed around 5.40 pm (local time) on the steppes of northern Inner Mongolia region, where helicopters with crews trained in search and rescue were on stand-by.
It was China's third manned space mission. The ability to space walk is key to a longer-term goal of assembling a space lab and then a larger space station, and maybe one day making a landing on the moon.

The fast-growing Asian power wants to be sure of a say in the future use of space and its resources, and its space program has come a long way since late leader Mao Zedong lamented that China could not even launch a potato into space.
Now, some armchair analysis:

They were confident enough to broadcast the spacewalk live. And if you compare the pictures with what the US did in its first spacewalk with Gemini IV in 1965 - an event I remember - it was no umbilically-connected bespoke suit either. It was autonomous, just the thing you need in space construction. In 1965, the US had yet to put a 3-man crew into space. And needless to remind everyone, 4 years later they were on the Moon.

The Flag is a nice "Hurray For Us!" bit, but it also proves another thing. If one can manipulate a flag, one can manipulate a tool such as a spanner. It tests the gloves' freedom of movement. This was no mere "stunt", despite appearances. It was the first qualification test of gear they intend to use later.

Now if I were in charge of the Chinese space program... I'd be doing much the same. Some more uncrewed launches of the Shenzhou to work out the inevitable bugs. Development of a robotic moon lander, and an overpowered "kicker" to get it into Lunar orbit. Perhaps a permanent constellation of lunar satellites for communications and survey. More work on a space station and assembly point in LEO - Low Earth Orbit.

I wouldn't try developing a Saturn-V class behemoth to launch everything at once. Instead I'd have 3 launches: one for the lander, one for the "kicker", and one for the "people locker", the Shenzhou capsule. Stuff put in orbit does degrade due to exposure to vacuum, and lubricants in particular need a lot of work. But a few months in orbital storage should be safe, and if anything goes wrong, a backup can be flown instead. A single launch failure does not mean a complete mission scrub.

Assemble the stack, kicker, lander, and capsule in orbit. Do an integration test, a lunar orbit and return with the lot, possibly uncrewed at first. Then a landing.

But with such a modular system, with spares, no need to stop there. The same system can be used to land habitats, supplies, and a permanent base established using existing, proven, reliable hardware. And it's a lot cheaper and easier to build than honking great boosters. Just the kind of thing you want when you're the only team in the competition, and you can take your time and do things right. When you're not into space spectaculars, but colonisation in the long term. And that is not small potatoes.

Saturday 27 September 2008

Alleys Blind and Sighted

A common polymorphism of the SRD5A2 gene and transsexualism. Bentz EK, Schneeberger C, Hefler LA, van Trotsenburg M, Kaufmann U, Huber JC, Tempfer CB. Reprod Sci. 2007 Oct;14(7):705-9.
The relation between genetic variation of the androgen metabolism and transsexualism is unknown. In a case-control study of 100 male-to-female (MtF) transsexuals, 47 female-to-male (FtM) transsexuals, and 1670 controls, the authors assess allele and genotype frequencies of the steroid 5-alpha reductase (SRD5A2) Val89Leu polymorphism using polymerase chain reaction. Allele and genotype frequencies are not significantly different between MtF transsexuals and male controls
Allele and genotype frequencies are also not significantly different between FtM transsexuals and female controls
Of note, there is no gender-specific genotype distribution among controls. The SRD5A2 Val89Leu SNP is not associated with transsexualism, refuting SRD5A2 as a candidate gene of transsexualism.
As they say in the Classics, Bugger.

A polymorphism of the CYP17 gene related to sex steroid metabolism is associated with female-to-male but not male-to-female transsexualism
Bentz E, Hefler L, Kaufmann U, Huber J, Kolbus A, Tempfer C Fertility and Sterility , Volume 90 , Issue 1 , Pages 56 - 59
OBJECTIVE: To assess the association between transsexualism and allele and genotype frequencies of the common cytochrome P450 (CYP) 17 -34 T>C single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP). DESIGN: Case-control study. SETTING: Academic research institution. PATIENT(S): 102 male-to-female (MtF) and 49 female-to-male (FtM) transsexuals, 756 male controls, and 915 female controls.
The MtF transsexuals had an allele distribution equivalent to male controls, whereas FtM transsexuals did not follow the gender-specific allele distribution of female controls but rather had an allele distribution equivalent to MtF transsexuals and male controls. CONCLUSION(S): These data support CYP17 as a candidate gene of FtM transsexualism and indicate that loss of a female-specific CYP17 T -34C allele distribution pattern is associated with FtM transsexualism.
See also New Scientist on the subject.
While there are many women with the variant who are not transsexual and many FtM transsexuals who lack it, the finding raises the possibility that the variant makes women more likely to feel that their bodies are of the wrong sex, and that this is a result of their brains having been exposed to higher than average levels of sex hormones during development.

"It may increase the likelihood that people will become transsexual," says Tempfer. But he stresses that their cultural environment is also important.

"The present study found that a mutant gene that ultimately results in higher testosterone levels is overrepresented in female-to male transsexualism, says Mikael Landén of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, Sweden.

"This is in line with what we previously know about masculinisation of the brain and is therefore less likely to be a chance finding", he says. "Hence, the study is important and adds to the notion that gender identity is influenced by sex hormones early in life, and that certain gene combinations make individuals more vulnerable to aberrant effects."
That would be in accordance with the known effects of DES - and Thalidomide. For Thalidomide to cause "aberrant effects", there must be a genetic pre-disposition, which is why only 1 in 10 were affected. We know that only 1 in 5 "aberrant effects" happen after DES exposure in the first trimester, strongly suggestive of a genetic predisposition being required too.

More pieces of the puzzle. And negative results, pruning the possibility-tree, are just as valuable as the occasional "find".

In summary, the model we now have is:
  1. Hormones and/or gene sequences (not necessarily related to "sex chromosomes", but usually) cause a pre-natal pre-determined pre-disposition for later brain development.
  2. This development leads to emotional and thinking patterns that usually (not always) result in solid gender identity formation, in accordance with Diamond's Biased-Interaction model.
  3. Later still, both gross and fine structures of the brain differentiate to such an extent that they're detectable, caused by the same pre-natal factors.

Friday 26 September 2008

Australian Human Rights Commission Proposal

The original is at the HRC's Human Rights Blog. I'm quoting it in full here because, quite frankly, my blog has more exposure, worldwide. And I think people outside Australia should know about this:


The Commission’s Sex Files project was established to conduct research and consult with the sex and gender diverse community in Australia on the issue of legal recognition of sex in documents and government records.

During the Commission’s project, members of the sex and gender diverse community raised concerns about the legal recognition of sex, particularly in relation to the ability of a person to change the sex recorded on their birth certificate. The Commission has been told that a desire to identify legally as a particular sex may be due to psychological sex or gender identity reasons.

This document outlines proposed reform to the legal recognition of sex in Australia. Its purpose is to stimulate discussion and input to assist in shaping the Commission’s reform agenda in relation to legal recognition of sex. The Commission will also seek further input from the sex and gender diverse community on the details of the proposed reform in due course.

What is the identification system in Australia and how does it effect people who are sex or gender diverse?

Australia has a common framework for confirming and protecting the identity of its citizens. This framework classifies types of official documentation as evidence of a person’s identity. Information about sex or gender is an important component of a person’s identity. Most official documents and records contain information about a person’s sex. However, some documents and records contain information about gender not sex.

The most important identity documents are known as cardinal documents, which are seen as the most trusted evidence of identity and citizenship. Usually cardinal documents contain information about a person’s sex. For persons born in Australia, cardinal documents are birth certificates or name change certificates. For persons not born in Australia, cardinal documents are citizenship certificates or the information contained in the database held by the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

People who are sex or gender diverse may seek to change the information that is recorded on these cardinal documents and records. Once those cardinal documents are changed, a cardinal document can be used to amend the sex or gender noted on other documents and records.

However, there are currently some significant limitations. Reform of the process for changing cardinal documents and other related areas dealing with gender-identifying documents and records would enhance the rights of the sex or gender diverse community to identify as a particular sex.

What is the current system for changing information on cardinal documents?

The current system by which a person can amend a cardinal document will depend on whether that person was born in Australia or elsewhere. Changing a cardinal document is important as it provides an official identity and enables the alteration of other documents and records.

For a person born in Australia, state and territory legislation enables a person to change their legal sex on their birth certificate if they satisfy certain criteria. Different processes exist depending on the state or territory, although throughout Australia certain categories of people who are sex and gender diverse are excluded from accessing those processes.

For a person not born in Australia, the process for changing information on a citizenship certificate or in immigration records will depend on several factors. Some of those factors include when and where the person underwent sex affirmation surgery.

The current system generally excludes:
  • married persons
  • persons who have not undergone genital surgery or other sex affirmation surgery
  • persons who have undergone genital or other sex affirmation surgery overseas
  • children and young people under 18, and
  • persons who wish to be identified as intersex.

The key reform features for the legal recognition of sex

In order for persons to legally identify as a particular sex, several reforms to the current system for altering documents and records would be useful. The main focus of the reform is to ensure that cardinal documents and records can be altered to appropriately reflect the sex with which the person identifies.

The key features of the reform proposal being developed by the Commission are as follows:
  1. Married persons: a person’s status as married would not impact on whether a person can request a change in sex.
  2. Persons who have not undergone sex affirmation surgery: a person who cannot or chooses not to undergo surgery would not be automatically ineligible to request a change in their legal sex. Note 1
  3. Persons who undergo sex affirmation surgery overseas: a person who undergoes sex affirmation surgery overseas would be able to have that change appropriately recognised, without necessarily requiring supporting documentation from the overseas surgeon who performed the procedure.
  4. Children and young people: children, young people and their parents would be able to seek a birth certificate and passport that match the identity of the child or young person.
  5. Recognition of intersex: persons who cannot or do not identify as either male or female would be able to choose to be identified on their birth certificate and passport as intersex.
  6. Centralised and uniform system: a central body would be created with the function of co-ordinating and facilitating changes of sex in official documents and records. In addition, or in the alternative, state, territory and federal processes would be made consistent in order for persons who seek to identify as a particular sex to be treated equally.
  7. Clarity in definitions: current Australian law uses different terminology and definitions for persons who require their sex to be legally recognised. There is debate regarding the meaning of terminology such as transsexual, transgender and intersex. Reform would focus on the process for changing legal sex rather than seeking to define persons. This will promote a more inclusive system. Note 2

Who would be able to request a change in sex under the proposed system?

Under the proposed reform, a request for a change in sex could be made by a person who:
  • is 18 or above, and
  • is an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia, and
  • has undergone or is undergoing ‘sex affirmation treatment’, and
  • seeks to be permanently recognised as another sex.

Under the proposed reform, the parent(s) of a child or the guardian of a child could also make a request for a change in sex on behalf of a child who:
  • is under 18, and
  • is an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia, and
  • has undergone or is undergoing ‘sex affirmation treatment’, and
  • seeks to be permanently recognised as another sex.

The definition of ‘sex affirmation treatment’ under the proposed reforms would mean a surgical procedure or medical treatment to alter the sexual characteristics of a person. Alteration of genitals or reproductive organs would not be required to satisfy this definition.

Will the proposed system provide for an option to identify as intersex?

Under the proposed reforms a request to be indentified as intersex could be made by a person who:
  • is an Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia, and
  • seeks to be permanently recognised as intersex.

The definition of ‘sex’ in the proposed reforms would mean the attribute of male, female or intersex.

Who would determine whether a change in sex is accepted under the proposed system?

The preferred model would include the establishment of a national board as part of the proposed reforms.

Appropriate appointments to the board could be outlined in legislation. For example, legislation could provide that the board include a person with a transsexual or intersex condition and a medical specialist working in the area of sex and gender diversity.

Legislation would provide the national board with functions to liaise with other departments to change records, including state/territory birth registries and to provide advice and publicly available information about the policies and procedures concerning the legal recognition of sex. The board would also have the function of receiving and determining applications for official recognition of a change in sex.

If a national board is not created, a uniform scheme could still operate with determinations about sex made by state/territory births registries Note 3 , state/territory magistrate courts Note 4 or a specialist board established at the state/territory level Note 5.

What documents would be required to support a request for a change in sex under the proposed system?

Legislation would outline what documents are needed to support the request of a change in sex under the proposed reforms.

For example, legislation could state that a request for a change in sex must be supported by:
  • one statutory declaration by a doctor or medical practitioner stating that a person has undergone or is undergoing sex affirmation treatment, and
  • one statutory declaration from the person requesting the recognition of sex that they identify as a particular sex and intend to do so permanently. In the case of a child and depending on the age of the child, the legislation could stipulate that the parent(s) or guardian must make a statutory declaration in relation to the child’s desire to identify as particular sex.

Legislation could also outline different supporting documents for a request to identify as intersex.

How would documents and records other than cardinal documents be changed under the proposed system?

The national board as described above would be tasked with assisting the alteration of other documents and records.

The national board could also advise on inconsistent policies and procedures and any future reform if necessary.

How would the proposed reforms be implemented?

In order to support these reform features, a combination of legislative and policy reform would be necessary. Harmonisation of state, territory and federal systems would also be required to ensure that the systems were consistent and streamlined.
Legislative reform could occur either through the enactment of federal legislation or by uniform state/territory legislation.


1. The Commission notes that views and opinions vary on the necessity of surgery to request a legal reassignment of sex. The Commission has heard from people who require or required psychological and anatomical harmony achieved through surgery to alleviate their condition. For others surgery is not required for a person to live, identify and present as a particular sex. The Commission acknowledges that access to affordable sex affirmation treatment is of concern to many in the sex and gender diverse community. The Commission also believes that a person who genuinely lives as a member of a particular sex should not be prevented from legal recognition on the basis that they have not undergone genital or reproductive surgeries alone.

2. Much of the research and consultation conducted by the Commission during the sex and gender diversity project has focused on the issue of terminology. The Commission will use this research to determine the use of affirmative language in any reform proposals.

3. As currently occurs in some states/territories in Australia.

4. As currently occurs in South Australia.

5. State/territory specialist boards could be modelled on the existing Western Australian Gender Recognition Board.


Australia has a Constitution that borrows heavily from the US model. It is a Federation of States and Territories, each with their own legislative framework. The main difference is that Marriage is a Commonwealth (ie Federal) issue, not a State one.

This document could be useful as a framework for a similar home-grown made-in-the-USA solution.

I Am Not A Lawyer

IANAL... but for the second time, I'm going to give an amateur (and no doubt amnateurish) analysis of a legal case. A Civil case. And not even in Australia, but the USA, and in different jurisdictions, yet.

Well, one's reach should always exceed one's grasp. If I'm going to be ambitious and make a public spectacle of myself, no point in half measures.

The case has been adjudicated, though may be appealed. It's the case of Colonel Diane Schroer, US Army (Retd) vs the Library of Congress, as I've blogged about before.

The transcript of the judgement is available, and I suggest you read it. There have been many excellent analyses by legal professionals (and some not so wonderful ones by non-legal bloggers). The best analysis I've seen is by a TS Employment Law expert, Assoc. Prof Jillian T. Weiss. I'll just add my own comments, amplifying hers.

The facts: The Library of Congress offered Col Schroer a job, a position that was really important from a national security viewpoint. Basically the LOC's "guru" on International terrorism, advising military and political leaders of the highest level. Col. Schroer was deemed by far the best candidate. I'll quote her own words in testimony before a Congressional Committee to show why:
I served 16 years in Special Forces including tours as a detachment commander, company commander, and battalion commander, accumulating 450 parachute jumps. I participated in combat operations in Panama and Haiti as well as missions in the Middle East, Central America, Africa, and Europe. Additionally, I initiated humanitarian demining operations in Namibia, Rwanda, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

As the Senior Assessment Director, I orchestrated the Program Objective Memorandum or “POM” for US Special Operations Command, reviewing 5,000 programs covering all aspects of Special Operations for four years. I knew every unit, piece of equipment, operation, exercise, development program, and construction project; I knew where every dollar was supposed to go and how it was spent.

Following the attacks on 9/11, I was selected to organize and direct a classified 120-person interagency organization responsible for all Department of Defense operations against the country’s most significant terrorist threats and all long-term planning for the Global War on Terrorism. After almost two years of successful operations, with 25 years in the U.S. Army, I retired in January 2004.

Since my retirement, I have been intimately involved in Homeland Security, Critical Infrastructure Protection, and Maritime High-Risk Counterterrorism Operations.
You can see why they chose Colonel Schroer. The record of experience was unmatched.

But then Colonel Schroer told her new employer - a verbal contract had already been entered into - that she was transitioning, and thought it would be best if she started her new position as Diane, not David. There were still many months before she'd be taking up the position anyway.

Instant Panic and Consternation. Followed immediately, the next day, by recension of the employment contract.

Various excuses were offered in the court case that followed. That Col Schroers credibility with clients would be damaged (though she gave references, and they didn't bother checking with them). That she'd need as new security clearance (though they didn't follow their own procedures to check this). That she was untrustworthy (though they commended her for her honesty). That the medical aspects of transition would somehow interfere with her work (though they didn't inquire about that, merely assumed it).

But basically, they contended that discriminating against someone who was transsexual was not illegal. They had a point, in my opinion. But the judge disagreed.

Justice was served. And this is a big deal, not so much because it affects a lot of transpeople - it doesn't - but because of the arguments the Judge used. Some of which I don't know how he could express with a straight face. I couldn't.

This was about Transphobia, pure and simple. But it required some creative and unreasonable (IMHO) interpretation of the law for justice to be served.

Remember, this is only a District Court, not a Circuit Court. And I'll quote from the Judgement:

...the Seventh Circuit held that discrimination based on sex means only that "it is unlawful to discriminate against women because they are women and against men because they are men."

The Ninth Circuit took a similar approach, holding that Title VII did not extend protection to transsexuals because Congress's "manifest purpose" in enacting the statute was only "to ensure that men and women are treated equally."More recently, the Tenth Circuit has also held that because "sex" under Title VII means nothing more than "male and female," the statute only extends protection to transsexual employees "if they are discriminated against because they are male or because they are female."

The Judge had to say, in effect, that all three circuits were full of it in order to rule as he did.

And he did it by adducing a theory of law that is only espoused by the most Arch of Arch-Conservatives - that the plain letter of the law is all, and intent is meaningless.

It is a Judo argument, turning their own words against them. It's also the direction the most Right-Wing of the El Supremos are steering the law, much to my discomfort. I'm right-wing, but not that right-wing.

Oh, but it gets better.

The Library asserts that the introduction and nonpassage of H.R. 2015 and H.R. 3686 shows that transsexuals are not currently covered by Title VII and also that Congress is content with the status quo. However, as Schroer points out, another reasonable interpretation of that legislative non-history is that some Members of Congress believe that the Ulane court and others have interpreted "sex" in an unduly narrow manner, that Title VII means what it says, and that the statute requires, not amendment, but only correct interpretation.
When I saw that, I laughed out loud. Not just chuckles either, tears were streaming down my face.

Such a contention would only be "reasonable" - being defined as "not certainly known to be completely impossible" - in a court of law.

Does anyone seriously believe that a single congresscritter who voted against ENDA did so purely because they thought it was un-necessary, that trans-people were already protected? Does anyone believe that a single congresscritter who voted for a Trans-Exclusive ENDA that only covered Gays did so because Trans people didn't need the protection?

If so, I have this wonderful matching Harbour Bridge and Opera House in Sydney to sell you. Only used by a Little Old Lady from Parramatta. I'll throw in Tasmania for free.

Even those who argued this point in an attempt to justify Trans-Exclusion in ENDA did so with no enthusiasm. In view of the decisions by the Seventh, Ninth and Tenth circuits, it was too self-evidently absurd, and they soon stopped trying to argue the point. It was all about Pragmatism, not Principle, "Incrementalism".

The Judge is a very, very clever jurist. By giving the reasons he did, those conservative judges in other jurisdictions are caught in a zugzwang. They must either affirm conservative principles, and abide by the strict letter of the law, or appear to be one of those terrible liberal "judicial activists" they fulminate against. This is Judicial Judo at its finest. More liberal judges will just have to try to keep a straight face as they give their oh-so-conservative judgements that finally dispense, rather than dispense with, Justice.

Coming Up : another case, this one criminal. And involving Colorado Law.

UPDATE : This is what the differently-sane people at The Traditional Values Coalition said.
She-Male Wins Lawsuit Against Library Of Congress
As an aside, "She-Male" is a term denoting a pornographic transgender performer, and is only used by pornographers and the fans of pornography.
September 25, 2008 – Former Special Forces officer David Schroer, who now calls himself Diane, has won a federal lawsuit against the Library of Congress. David had been offered a job with the Library of Congress in 2005, but the offer was withdrawn after his potential employer learned that he was going to have a sex-change operation. He had interviewed for the job as a man, but then told them he was going to come to work as a woman.
Schroer’s Political Agenda

Judge Robertson’s claim that the Library of Congress violated Title VII of the 1964 civil rights act by not hiring Schroer is incorrect – and judicial activism. Title VII only addresses the issue of males and females – not confused individuals who think they’re the opposite sex. Robertson’s use of this section is illegitimate and should be appealed to a higher court.

A person who thinks he’s the opposite sex is medically diagnosed as having Gender Dysphoria, which is still listed as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). A person who wears opposite sex clothing has a mental illness described as transvestic fetishism in the DSM.

There is currently no federal law in effect that provides cross-dressers, transsexuals, drag queens, or she-males federally protected class status. However, efforts have been underway in Congress for years to pass legislation doing this. The brief filed by the Library of Congress in this case points out that Title VII does not protect transgendered persons from discrimination.

One of those laws is the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), which has been blocked from passage by the aggressive work of TVC. ENDA originally contained protections for “gender identity” but was stripped from the bill by homosexual Barney Frank in order to get it passed.

Pro-homosexual legislator Robert Andrews (D-NJ) held a hearing in July 2008 featuring a panel of so-called “transgendered” individuals – including David Schroer who described his lawsuit against the Library of Congress. TVC staff attended this hearing and made videos available of the testimonies of these sexually confused individuals on the website.

By providing special legal protections in the law for transsexuals, homosexuals, and bisexuals, Congress will be opening up a pandora’s box to also “protect” 30 different sexual orientations listed in the DSM.
There's currently a debate within both the American Psychiatric Association and American Psychological Association as to whether the classification of GID as a "mental disorder" is warranted. On one hand, it's a convenient way of encoding the diagnosis of a medical syndrome - similar to the encoding of the distress suffered by rape victims. On the other hand, it's been claimed that it stigmatises those with it, and leads to persecution by ignorant bigots. This is exhibit A for the latter proposition.

It's more important to some that they be allowed to persist in their persecution than that they win the War on Terror. And no lie, no untruth, no malicious libel is too odious in such a "worthy" cause.

They're a lot like many on the Far Left in that respect. Blair's Law in action.
The notion of far right and far left groups allying with extremist Islamists is sometimes called "Blair's Law" ("the ongoing process by which the world's multiple idiocies are becoming one giant, useless force") by conservative and libertarian bloggers
And I, no matter what changes I may have been through, have always been, and remain, a most Conservative Blogger.

The Next Step in the Long March

As I blogged a few weeks ago, China's next step in the long march into space is the launch of a 3-man spacecraft. They have now taken that step.

From Xinhua

BEIJING, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Three Chinese taikonauts who blasted off on the Shenzhou-7 spacecraft told the ground control center that they felt "physically sound" in the first few minutes of the flight.

The space voyager took off at 9:10 p.m. on Thursday from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center with leaders including President Hu Jintao present seeing off the taikonauts -- Zhai Zhigang, Liu Boming and Jing Haipeng.

"The solar panel has unfolded and we feel well," one of the crew members told the Beijing control center.

The Shenzhou-7 mission, featuring a spacewalk, is China's third manned spaceflight.

A successful test with 1 man, then with two, then (hopefully) three, including a spacewalk. Liftoff, anyone?

The trouble is, only one player is playing now.

Wednesday 24 September 2008

What She Said

Carolyn Porco on what we should be doing regarding space exploration.

One can argue that Jupiter / DIRECT or even existing boosters may be a better bet than Ares V, but basically, what she said.

And meanwhile, the more I see of Ares I, the more I'm convinced that the project will fail. I've never seen a project of any kind with so many "marginal"s in its preliminary design review, and with essentially no budget for unforeseen circumstances. The Constellation program, consisting of the Orion spacecraft, the Ares I booster to carry it, and the Ares V heavy lift vehicle, is failing, and mainly because Ares I is a dog.

What started out as a simple concept using existing parts has mutated until it's something quite new.

From Transterrestrial Musings :
This past week, Constellation patted itself on the back for getting Ares I through its first preliminary design review (PDR) but glossed over the fact that Ares I still has to conduct a second PDR next summer to address the unresolved mitigation systems for the first stage thrust oscillation issue, with unknown consequences for the rest of the design.
More worrisome than the PDR slips are the grades that Ares I received in this partial PDR. The pre-board used a green, yellow/green, yellow, yellow/red, and red grading scheme, which can also be depicted as the more familiar A (4.0), B (3.0), C (2.0), D (1.0), and F (0.0) grading scheme. The pre-board provided ten grades against ten different success criteria from NASA's program management handbook. The ten grades had the following distribution:

One "Green" (A, 4.0) grade
Two "Yellow/Green" (B, 3.0) grades
Four "Yellow" (C, 2.0) grades
Three "Yellow/Red" (D, 1.0) grades
No "Red" (F, 0.0) grades

So seven of Ares I's ten grades were a C or a D. Ares I is NASA's planned primary means of crew launch over the next couple of decades and should define technical excellence. But instead, the project earned a grade point average of 2.1, barely a "gentleman's C" (or a "gentleman's yellow").
Can it be bailed out by more time, and more money? Not without mending it with a new one, and the budget is more likely to be axed than tripled.

Which will leave the USA with no crew launch capability from 2010 to at least 2020.

Tuesday 23 September 2008

My Hair's Longer

Reconstruction from skeletal remains of a Neanderthal Woman, from National Geographic.

My hair's darker, but has red highlights like hers. And my hair's longer. My brow isn't ridged. But otherwise, we could be sisters - or at least relatives.

There is mitochondrial evidence showing little (if any) genetic mixing between H.Sapiens and H.Neanderthalis. But I can't help wondering. There is other evidence that says there may have been interbreeding. Apart from people like me.

Monday 22 September 2008

Today's Battles

At the Salt Lake Tribune :
Our definition of marriage is the union between a man and a woman and we don't have to alter it to include the deformed or defective.
No comment necessary.

At RightPundits.com :
Forty years ago the federal government began to take on the role of Orwell’s Big Brother, inserting Washington DC into the hiring and management practices of almost every business in the United States. State governments soon followed, which leaves us today with an ever-increasing tangle of titanic-sized regulations that dictate what we can and cannot do as small-business owners in the interest of achieving state-desired social engineering.

The case of Diane Schroer is different. This is the public sphere and so the public deserves the most value for the buck. As long as her gender change does not affect productivity on the job, the decision of the court was morally right.
Yes, that should be the view of all on the right, not just the more sane. But it means we're making progress.

At The Other McCain
Just because I'm at a very early stage of transition -- being a married father of six and all that -- doesn't mean that I don't have rights as a transgendered lesbian.
Well, at least there's an attempt at (sarcastic) humour.

And Pursuing Holiness :
Zoe, you mistakenly equate brain abnormalities with genetic problems. In reality, pathological thought patterns shape the brain, and one of the best ways to cure many psychological ills (for example, anxiety disorders) is to correct the patient’s thoughts. That is the essence of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
Finally, no reasonable person has a problem with taking an intersexed, genetically diseased child and trying to mould him into whichever gender seems the most appropriate...
We assault masculinity in almost every area of our society, and now we have idiot judges blatantly encouraging men literally to castrate themselves. It is no wonder men are so weak these days.
If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, this guy is a category V disaster. Ignorance and Arrogance are a toxic combination.

Sunday 21 September 2008

When does a Smile Excuse Murderous Violence?

When the smiler is TS. Well, that's the novel theory adduced by the Defence in a recent court case.
"At best, this is a case about passion," Kundelius said. "When (Zapata) smiled at him, this was a highly provoking act, and it would cause someone to have an aggressive reaction."
Today's Battle : combating this idea.

From the Denver Post Forum:
Post by cboyd62 on Yesterday, 7:45 am

Totally agree cheating on his girlfriend was wrong, killing this person was wrong, but the victim is at fault here too. You have an obligation to be honest with other people, especially when you are being "intimate". Any reasonable man would be disturbed to find the gender he expected in a partner was different than portrayed. Even a gay man would have problems with this switcheroo. This would be an interesting jury to be on.
"An interesting jury to be on". Right.
Post by ZoeB on Yesterday, 8:27 am

I agree completely with cboyd62. Why, her deception was just as bad as an African-American "passing for white" in the Deep South in the 1920's. I mean, any reasonable fine upstanding white man would be upset, and take violent action under those circumstances, right?

It's as bad as one of the Aryan Brotherhood finding out his date was Jewish. Maybe they should be made to wear stars or something just so they don't deceive purebred Aryans. I mean, you can understand how upset he'd be. Especially if she provoked him to violence by smiling at him.

Oops, forgot the <sarcasm> tags.

The trouble is, the world is full of cboyd62's. It would only take one on the jury who "understands" how upset a guy would be after sexually assaulting his robbery victim - by grabbing her crotch, as he's admitted doing - and revealing the secret she was so at pains to hide. And this guy would walk.

Most such murder/robberies of transgendered people are by killers who know the victim's status beforehand. They stalk them as they're vulnerable, and the killers also know that such "understanding" people as cboyd62 exist, and at worst, they'll get 5 years for "voluntary manslaughter" if just one is on the jury. That's if they don't get away with it completely.

And I'm sure the killer revealed his criminal record and homicidal homophobia to the victim beforehand, there would have been no deception there, right? Oops, forgot the <sarcasm> tags again.
cboyd62 is not alone in her opinion. There's more of the same over at the Greeley Tribune. And more of my replies.

And that is why I fight Today's Battle. And tomorrow's and tomorrow's and tomorrow's. These ideas cannot be allowed to pass unchallenged, as they have done in the past. It's not that I object to people expressing these views: quite the contrary, if I had my way they would be publicised far and wide, the stone upturned so we know what foul memes wriggle and slither underneath. They should be fully exposed to the harsh glare of publicity, so like the Shadow, we too would know "what evil lurks in the hearts of men".

And they should be answered, refuted with logic, and with humanity, and yes, with passionate outrage at the injustice they represent. As do Bird of Paradox, and Feministe, and an increasing number of others.

Saturday 20 September 2008

Friday 19 September 2008


Create Fake Magazine Covers with your own picture at MagMyPic.com

Today's Battle

Shiver me timbers, and avast ye scurvy swabs!

Tis the time that I do be unleashin' a full broadside, over at AntiMoon. Arr.

Ye may think 'tis a poor innocent "learn English more effectively" site, but I tells ye, Jim Lad, there be no fouler gang of black-hearted cutthroats that be sailin' the seven seas. Arr. Or at least, the internet.
I always call them (transsexuals) 'it'...
Sex change ops should be illegal. The pervs who have had the done should go into solitary confinement in prison or hospital for the remainder of their natural lives.
Imagine if you found out your wife used to be a man! That would be worse than death!
Changing sex is a violation of God's will. God urges that people be satisfied with what fate brings them....
Skippy, OK, but the person really is a male still. If the person is not truly female, then why do we play his game? We shouldn't be giving in to mental disorders.
Good point. If I manage to convince myself that I am the President of the United States, and have an operation to make myself look just like Bush, are you going to call me 'Mr President'? Are you going to allow me to come into the White House and command the troops and take control of the nuclear weapon stockpile? I think not! You will treat me like a lunatic. It's the same situation.
Open the Gunports and let them have it! A full broadside of heavy-calibre medical papers to hole 'em amidships and carry away the mizzenmast, Arrr!

Did I be mentionin that today be International Talk Like a Pirate Day? Well it do. Arr.

Wednesday 17 September 2008

Evidence-Based Medicine

From the British Medical Journal:
Parachute use to prevent death and major trauma related to gravitational challenge: systematic review of randomised controlled trials


To determine whether parachutes are effective in preventing major trauma related to gravitational challenge.

Design Systematic review of randomised controlled trials.

Data sources: Medline, Web of Science, Embase, and the Cochrane Library databases; appropriate internet sites and citation lists.

Study selection: Studies showing the effects of using a parachute during free fall.

Main outcome measure Death or major trauma, defined as an injury severity score > 15.

Results We were unable to identify any randomised controlled trials of parachute intervention.

Conclusions As with many interventions intended to prevent ill health, the effectiveness of parachutes has not been subjected to rigorous evaluation by using randomised controlled trials. Advocates of evidence based medicine have criticised the adoption of interventions evaluated by using only observational data. We think that everyone might benefit if the most radical protagonists of evidence based medicine organised and participated in a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled, crossover trial of the parachute...

Tuesday 16 September 2008

Today's Battle

Over at NewsBusters.
September 15, 2008 - 15:11 ET by Wilbur747

Correct me if I'm wrong...

but wasn't there a provision in the bill that stated a person could enter a locker/restroom of the opposite sex based on their 'perception' or 'feeling' of which gender they were that day?
So Corrected. In detail. With references.

Next case?

Reading Lists

Some more Transsexual, Intersexed and Transgender Information - and Misinformation.

I better add a disclaimer here. Not everything included here bears any resemblance to reality, other than the fact that some people hold beliefs of this kind.

First is a reference list by Gender Menders, an arm of the Australian Gender Identity Awareness Association (GIAA). Basically, the sole member appears to be Alan Finch, who I've blogged about before. It's an anti-surgery anti-hormones site. Part of it's Mission Statement:
To Bring awareness that there is an alternative view to that of SRS practitioners. This view, which is supported by majority of the medical profession, is that the surgical intervention for treatment of individuals whose gender identity disorders are purely of a psychological or emotional origin is unethical, illusory and become culturally driven, ineffective to the resolution of underlying causes of gender confusion and should not be promoted.
As I believe that most, if not all cross-gendering is the result of biology, not of "psychological or emotional origin", I disagree with the basic premise.

However... the list of references is a very good resource indeed.

None of the resources under "Theories of the origin of Gender Identity Disorder" are later than 1992, and most are from the 70's and 80's. The latest data is
Walter Bockting, Eli Coleman, "A comprehensive Approach to the Treatment of Gender Dysphoria", J of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 5:4 1992, pp. 131-153
Today, more clinicians recognize that gender dysphoria is far more complex than previously assumed. There is no scientific consensus about a single developmental pathway which leads to gender dysphoria. Determinants of gender dysphoria remain controversial and hypothetical.
There is insufficient evidence for a biological determinant of gender dysphoria. Interactions theories of psychosexual development are more likely to represent reality.
Compare and contrast with an earlier statement of particular interest to me:
Michael Ross, William Walters, "Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment", Oxford University Press, 1986 p20
p20: While at present there is no evidence to suggest a biological basis for gender dysphoria, it is premature to rule out completely either a biological-environmental interaction or the fact that there may be some cases or subgroups of transsexuals with biological involvement. The insistence by some individuals, both transsexuals and medical scientists, that gender dysphoria is biologically determined is an entirely different matter. Such a belief on the part of transsexuals themselves is often an indication that they do not want to question the origins of their condition or explore its causes and development: Such individuals are often unwilling to accept any responsibility for their gender dysphoria and will not entertain any attempts to change it. Professionals who believe that gender disorders are biological may also be attempting to justify the continuation of gender reassignment surgery without too close an examination of the basis of gender dysphoria in particular patents. It is important to separate belief and fact in such cases, and to recognize the difference between individuals having a need to believe in biological determinism, on the one hand, and on scientific support for theories of biological causation on the other.
It is difficult to see primary gender dysphoria as anything other than a psychological disturbance. It is of particular interest that, of the many transsexuals presenting for treatment, primary gender dysphoria is not the most common diagnosis nor gender reassignment the most common treatment.
Since then, a mountain of evidence for a biological cause has come in. Over 50% of the publications on the subject have been produced in the last 10 years, well after 1986. Much of what was thought then has been thoroughly and most comprehensively debunked.

This passage did "give me furiously to think" though. Was I fooling myself? Do I have some peculiar need for "justification"? How would I know if I did? Those were extremely good and valid questions, and deserved much introspection. Which they got.

The trouble is, there was photographic and eyewitness evidence that my body was changing. At some point in evaluating evidence, doubts about your own objectivity can become not essential tools to ensure intellectual honesty, they become irrational notions that don't pass the giggle test. When the only person still retaining any doubts at all about your thinking is you, maybe you should wake up and listen to what others say. They're objective.

Initially, part of me hoped that it was all psychological anyway. Something that therapy could fix. The prospect of the inconvenience and disruption to my life caused me stark terror. But I soon recognised from my readings that even if it was "psychological", there was no therapy that worked other than surgery.

As for the argument for biological justification, consider the following similar argument: "Broken legs are a figment of psychotic belief. Those who insist that their bones are actually broken are merely seeking justification of their mental illness. It is important to separate belief and fact in such cases, and to recognize the difference between individuals having a need to believe in biological causation, on the one hand, and on scientific support for theories of biological causation on the other." Lacking X-ray machines, and with only a crude knowledge of human anatomy, one can see how such a belief could be reasonable.

All of these articles, however flawed they appear with hindsight, were "best guesses" based on the evidence available at the time, by people genuinely trying to find out more about an intractable puzzle. I can only hope that my own opinions based on the evidence available to me now will hold up as well or better in 20 years time, when we know more.

Moreover, such views are still useful. If our current view of reality is so good, it should be able to withstand a little criticism. Or a lot, as long as it's intellectually honest. Unfortunately, not all is, but that's another issue. Anyway, I recommend looking at both the biological and psychological causation references - the latter in particular contains much that will cause some rueful chuckles amongst the cognoscenti.

Next on the list:
The ethics of surgically assigning sex for intersex infants (PDF) by Merle Spriggs and Julian Savulescu . The definitive discussion paper on the subject, IMHO.
A growing number of objectors have argued against early genital surgery on the grounds that it is not necessary, it is not reversible and it can cause harm. Some commentators argue that surgery to normalize the infant is based on parent’s fears and concerns rather than the best interests of the child and amounts to ‘the medical management of a psychological condition’ performed on the child for the sake of the parents: ‘Cosmetic surgeries are performed without the subject’s consent because of adults’ discomfort with intersexuality’.
The central questions in the management of intersex infants are:
• When, if ever, should surgery be carried out?
• Who should decide?
• On what criteria should decisions be based?
One of the criticisms of the traditional treatment model is that it fails to recognise the experience of intersexed people and to recognize that they are experts in terms of theirexperience of intersex conditions.
We have argued that the critical ethical issue is whether early surgery benefits or harms a particular individual in the sense of making that person’s overall life go better or worse. Strikingly, there is very little empirical evidence to answer this question. The management of intersex speaks to the moral imperative to conduct ethically informed scientific research. Only then will we know what we should do.
After that, we have Dorner's original research paper from 1988, which provided the first clues as to a biological basis for transsexuality, and homosexuality too. I wish I'd seen this before, it fits nicely into the unolding pattern I described in Bigender and the Brain.
In clinical studies, we induced a positive estrogen feedback luteinizing hormone secretion in most intact homosexual men, in clear-cut contrast to intact heterosexual or bisexual men. In addition, the evocability of a positive estrogen feedback was also demonstrable in most homosexual male-to-female transsexuals in significant contrast to hetero-or bisexual male-to-female transsexuals. The following relations have been found between sex hormone levels during brain differentiation and sex-specific responses in adulthood: (i) Estrogens, which are mostly converted from androgens, are responsible for the sex-specific organization of gonadotropin secretion and hence the evocability of a positive estrogen feedback in later life; (ii) both estrogens and androgens, occurring during brain differentiation, predetermine sexual orientation, and (iii) androgens, without conversion to estrogens, are responsible for the sex-specific organization of gender role behavior. Furthermore, the organization periods for sex-specific gonadotropin secretion, sexual orientation, and gender role behavior are not identical but overlapping. Thus, combinations as well as dissociations between deviation of the neuroendocrine organization of sex-specific gonadotropin secretion, sexual orientation, and gender role behavior may occur.
More work needs doing, not just with fMRI scans, but in sexually differentiated biochemical responses to hormones.

Moving on to matters legal, the Transgender Law and Policy Institute list of caselaw in the anglosphere. Some of the cases are heartbreaking - such as that of Jacob B. Nash and Erin A. Barr. Denied marriage in Ohio in 2002, and lost an appeal in 2003. And this one:
In a ruling that shocked GLBT activists, a Cook County Judge ruled last week that although he and his son “have a good and loving relationship,” a transgender father named Sterling will not be granted custody of his 10-year-old son.

Judge Gerald Bender said although the man has been a good father, his previous marriage to the child’s mother is invalid because he was a woman at birth— same-sex marriages are illegal in Illinois.

The child’s public guardian, the nationally known and respected child advocate Patrick Murphy, disagreed with the ruling and says he will appeal.
In view of these considerations, the judge in Kantaras declined to hold that phalloplasty is required for a transgender woman to be recognized as legally male, since any such requirement would be at odds with current medical knowledge and practice. In contrast, in the Chicago case, the trial court relied on the "lack" of genital reconstructive surgery to declare Sterling S. to be legally female, despite his male gender identity, extensive medical treatments, and twenty-plus years of living and being accepted as a man.
The Kantaras verdict was overturned on appeal too.

Finally, in 5 parts, we have a TG Timeline up to 2007 by Marlene A. Bomer. Parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5.

Monday 15 September 2008

Sarah Palin and HIllary Clinton

From "Saturday Night Live"

This is what politics, and political attack should be. Exaggerating for effect, and with humour. Just enough of the truth to make you think about the issues. And bi-partisan, without fear or favour.

Also, it really helps to be funny, as this one is.

Wordle from September 5

Image (click to enlarge) generated by http://wordle.net/.

Sunday 14 September 2008

Lucy's Story

My story too, to some extent. I arrived in Chonburi a few days after the camera crew had departed, and got to know her in the recovery period after her surgery.

All of us had a great time, and she had a lot of support from the other women who were patients at the clinic. We visited a number of places, such as a Chinese Temple, as I blogged about before.

There was a 29 year age difference, and some our experiences were different. I had no family there, but I didn't feel the need: I had all the support I needed from friends, even though I met them for the first time when I was over there. Also, my feelings at her age were nowhere near as strong. To me, being a girl in a boy body just wasn't that bad. Not compared with others who are paraplegic, or blind, or who have MS. I didn't even feel hard done by. I guess I had low expectations, a normal life was something others would have, but not me.

And now it's not quite normal, but close enough. And better than I ever could have imagined.

There were many similarities though. I too did very extensive research indeed in choosing a surgeon. And I too suffered the effects of hormone withdrawal - you have to discontinue weeks before surgery. Hence the acne that marred Lucy's face, and the distressing psychological effects of an instant menopause, something that can leave you feeling terribly vulnerable.

Last time I saw Lucy, she was concerned about her future life. Would she be able to get a job? What about a boyfriend? Would she always be "LUCY, TEEN TRANSSEXUAL!!"?

Today's headlines line tomorrow's birdcages. She's fine, according to last reports I have from her. After a year, she was no longer in the Public Eye, and although her past is on record and available on the net, it's no great drama. She's a good kid. Her complexion has cleared up, the menopausal symptoms ditto, and she looks stunning. And better than that, happy just to be herself.

Am I jealous? Of her appearance, a little. Of her future life, not really. Mine was more interesting, even if not as happy. And I have a child. I hope that soon medical technology will allow girls like Lucy to have a normal motherhood too. That's not an essential part of being a woman, not for everyone. It was for me though, and I got the quintessence of it, even if the details varied a bit from the norm.

It was good seeing Dr Suporn and the Angels of Chonburi again. They really are some of the best people on the planet.

Lucy in Thailand. I recommend anyone who wishes to understand the situation view this video.

Oh one last thing - the woman who talks to Lucy's Grandad is Liz. Her story is here.

Friday 12 September 2008

Addictive Game #7

Or it could be #8. Anyway, here's another one for your gaming pleasure, Contour.

Thursday 11 September 2008

Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien

No, I regret nothing. Not even that I didn't transition earlier, for then my son would not have been born.

Some do though, have regrets I mean. Not many, and they usually have other problems too.

I've blogged about one before, Josef Kirchner. Born intersexed, 45x/46xy, a mix of Turner Syndrome Female/Standard Male.He had a partial MtoF natural transition at puberty, took it all the way, lived for 20 years as a woman, then "grew out of it".

NBC has a Documentary about Josef, and another, even more problematic case, that of Michael Berke too.

Michael never did see a gender specialist. He's suicidal and mentally unstable, lived as a boy, lived as a woman (though he didn't have genital reconstruction), and is just as unstable and unhappy as a man.

Both Michael and Josef share three things in common.

The first is that they have been poorly served by the medical profession. Josef's Intersex condition was hidden from him until comparatively recently, and Michael was in the hands of a general psychiatrist, not a specialist. On the other hand, Michael would be dead now if he hadn't (partially) transitioned to female. And back.

The second is that they were even more poorly served by religious "reparative therapy" groups. Ignorance, Bigotry and Prayer is not a substitute for medical and scientific knowledge.

The third is obvious - they lived as boys, then as women, and now as men.

That similarity seems to me, from my observations, more apparent than real though. For Josef, being a woman was always partly acting. His natural gait, his body language when walking, is naturally male. Now he looks like a guy, the act isn't needed: he can walk without thinking. This is a great relief.

I know. My natural gait is female, and I had to train myself from boyhood not to let that show. Now I just relax and am me, not worrying how my hips do or do not swing. (I've been told they do - a lot).

Michael's gait though is female. Despite the bald head, the bad boy look, the tatoos, the deep voice, the Harley. That to me strongly suggests at least partially cross-gendered neurology in some areas of the lymbic system. His history of congenital neurological and cognitive defects, and substantial (pardon the pun) substance abuse, and general mental instability are all indicative of severe neural screw ups, complicated and concealed to some extent by higher-level psychiatric illness that may be responsive to therapy. And he wants to be Michelle again. Maybe. From the Daily Telegraph :
High on prescription painkillers and four days without sleep, Michael Berke raced his Harley to the megachurch where he'd found a home.

He barged into the church office, cursing loudly and wearing a mesh shirt printed with profanity. In his hands he held a picture of a woman with long, red hair and pouty lips.

"This is who I used to be", he said.

"And this, (he gestured to his breastless chest, bald head and red goatee) is who I've become."

After a lifetime as a social misfit, he had transformed himself into Michelle, a saucy redhead.

Then, three months ago, he had become Michael again with the financial aid and spiritual encouragement of Calvary Chapel of Fort Lauderdale.

Now, he wanted to be Michelle again, and he blamed Calvary for making him the man he had become.
It's always someone else's fault.
Realistically, he knows he can't become Michelle again.

"If I do it again people are going to think Im even more unstable," he says. His mom and sister stopped talking to him, he says, when he switched back to Michael.

"I still struggle just living on a daily basis," he says.

Then, minutes later: "Maybe I just need to meet the right woman and have a relationship. Really Im without any sense of direction right now."

If I had to offer an uneducated opinion, I'd say that Josef has found himself. Quite understandably misled by the natural changes to his body, his gender identity finally consolidated 25 years after most people's does. He's a guy who's taken the scenic route to being himself.

Michael - I'm not sure has a gender identity, or a stable identity of any kind. He has partly female neurology, but there are so many co-morbidities, I'm not sure the concept of gender identity can be adequately addressed. A temporary transition to female saved his life, and transition to male saved it again. I wouldn't be sure that that transition won't be temporary too, and there may be others after that. Unlike Josef, he's not in good shape.

There's a case of regret recorded in Australia too, that of Alan Finch. There are certain similarities to Michael Berke's case too.

Now bear in mind that Mr Finch's lawsuit against the Monash Gender Centre in 2004 caused an effective moratorium on all transsexual treatment during the first few months of my transition. This caused me significant difficulty, everyone was running scared. So my objectivity on the issue should be called into question.

Having said that, here's some articles on the subject.

From the Sydney Morning Herald of August 2003:
In his 20s he had his penis and scrotum removed and a false vagina fashioned from the penile skin and inserted into his body, and he became a woman called Helen.

He got married illegally and was later in another relationship that fell apart when his male partner discovered Helen was born a boy.

Then he had a relationship with a woman, who encouraged him to become a man again.

"I knew with my whole being that was what I wanted to do," Mr Finch, 36, of Melbourne, said.

About five years ago, he began taking male hormones, something he says now was "a roller-coaster ride emotionally". He was angry at himself for having been so gullible that he was sucked into the fantasy that becoming a woman would solve his identity crisis.

And he was angry with his then-girlfriend. "I blamed her for having awakened this in me, and I just pushed her away. And there was this total confusion again wondering if I could function as a man, let alone function as a man who has been mutilated to this degree."

Like about 10 per cent of people in Australia who have the operation (about 80 a year in Sydney, Melbourne and on the Gold Coast), he was desperately unhappy with the result.
The 10% figure appears to be unevidenced. Or based on figures 10 to 30 years old at the time.
The final hurdle before the surgery that would effectively castrate him was the psychiatric test.

First time around, he failed. Then he learned how to fudge the test and answer the questions to put him into the female zone. The operation got the go ahead.
He deliberately and consciously faked it to get what he wanted. Right.

From Polare #61 , the magazine of the Sydney Gender Centre.
Quite by chance I found in my files an article from Woman's Day, 19 December 1989, headed "Goodbye Alan, hello Helen ... and happiness" it tells the heartwarming story of Alan Finch who, "because of a chromosome imbalance" spent his early life feeling like a girl. At seventeen he read about sex change and for the "first time understood what was wrong". Blood tests showed that Alan was "missing a male chromosome" [sic] and he was given the option of going on to male hormones immediately or waiting until he was eighteen and going on female hormones. At eighteen he decided he wanted to be a woman and transitioned as Helen. In 1986 he, his mother and sister emigrated to Australia and after saving the SRS fee he had the irreversible operation "which she says she will never regret." In June, 1989 he used his British passport, which had been amended after the operation, to marry illegally. It made Helen angry to discover the marriage was void. "I will fight it. I am going to campaign for the law to be changed. I haven't got a problem any more. I see it as a problem I had which has been solved."

Yet now, Helen has reverted to being Alan and wants to sue the Monash Clinic, despite admitting to having cheated on the assessment tests and despite the long history of unhappiness in the male gender role and long-standing desire for gender reassignment.
A transcript of Mr Finch's story as told to the ABC is revealing:
JOAN FINCH (Alan's Mother): He'd had the Boy George look, he'd had the Adam Ant look, he tried the Marilyn look with the dreadlocks....
ALAN FINCH: When I was 20, the doctors requested that I have a psychiatric assessment to see if I was suitable for the final surgery. My psychological responses were not only masculine, but they were more masculine than they would expect from an average man at my age. And I just couldn't believe it. I mean, it was like my whole dream had fallen apart. Eight months later I resat the testing and by that time I had learned what I should be saying, so in ink blots, instead of saying, "Oh, it's a blob," or, "I really can't see anything," well, then, there was a flower there, or a daisy. And the results came back and it said that the answers I'd given were more socially desirable, and, um, from a defensive pattern, but anyway, they agreed to do it.....
When I woke up after the operation, I just couldn't believe it because I felt like I'd been conned actually. I felt like I'd been ripped off. I thought I was going in for a soul transplant. I didn't feel transformed. I felt mutilated. The core of who I was, I felt, had been cut out. That's what it felt like.
Anatomically, I was never really a woman. It was creating a battleground within my own body. It's just rearranging flesh, but the tissue that's used is still male tissue. I never was able to have any orgasm or sexual pleasure. Everything was fake about it from top to toe.
DR BYRON RIGBY:Given that the operation is irreversible I think the gender reassignment surgery that was done on Alan - I can't imagine how it could be medically justified in the absence of much, much more adequate counselling than what I understand he received. And the tests showed that he, in fact, even in the presence of oestrogen treatment, was well on the masculine side of average. In fact, he's more masculine than I am, if you like. So I would think that a great spotlight should be placed on this kind of surgery in general and this case in particular.

I think it warrants a full investigation at a governmental level. Any thorough history taken by a competent psychiatrist or even non-specialist, would reveal what was apparent to me within three or four sessions - he had never had any role-modelling. His father was a very violent man, and the whole reason he attempted to take refuge in womanhood was simply that he couldn't learn from his father how to be anything he'd want to be.
An interview with Mr Finch on video. In it he says "There's only one person responsible..." and my immediate reaction was to expect the word "me" to follow. He admits to "gaming the system" after all. But no, the one person responsible is... the surgeon. The surgeon should have known he was lying, you see. It's not his fault.

As I said, my objectivity is open to question. Certainly Mr Finch's actions have caused misery to hundreds, and probably a few deaths too. For me it was a mere minor delay.

For those who want to know what the regret rate in the early days was, it's available at Sex Reassignment. Thirty Years of International Follow-up Studies After Sex Reassignment Surgery: A Comprehensive Review, 1961-1991 by Friedemann Pfäfflin and Astrid Junge (Translated from German into American English by Roberta B. Jacobson and Alf B. Meier)
Regarding the global percentages of unsatisfactory results, resp., of worsening, they range from about 8.1% for females in the early reviews (Pauly, 1981), over 10.3% (Lundström et al., 1984) to 13% (Green & Fleming, 1989). For males, from 6% (Pauly, 1981), over 9.7% (Lundström et al, 1984) to 3% (Green & Fleming, 1990). Abramowitz (1986) found in 7% of the operated and not differentiated by gender patients, severe complications to which he counted, amongst others, desire to revert back, psychotic episodes, hospitalization and suicide.
Later figures show a failure rate of about 3%, with less than 1% showing regret.