Tuesday 24 February 2009

The Evidence

In response to a request that read:
What I'm requesting from anyone and everyone that can help, to please provide me with any and all creditable medical and/or psychiatric documentation that supports our condition that are completely legitimate. I have to use facts because some will try their hardest to tear it apart. I would like to use as much as possible genetic/biological proof to go along with the DSM.

Here is my reply:

Male-to-female transsexuals show sex-atypical hypothalamus activation when smelling odorous steroids. by Berglund et al Cerebral Cortex 2008 18(8):1900-1908;
...the data implicate that transsexuality may be associated with sex-atypical physiological responses in specific hypothalamic circuits, possibly as a consequence of a variant neuronal differentiation.

Male–to–female transsexuals have female neuron numbers in a limbic nucleus. Kruiver et al J Clin Endocrinol Metab (2000) 85:2034–2041
The present findings of somatostatin neuronal sex differences in the BSTc and its sex reversal in the transsexual brain clearly support the paradigm that in transsexuals sexual differentiation of the brain and genitals may go into opposite directions and point to a neurobiological basis of gender identity disorder.

Sexual differentiation of the human brain: relevance for gender identity, transsexualism and sexual orientation. Swaab Gynecol Endocrinol (2004) 19:301–312.
Solid evidence for the importance of postnatal social factors is lacking. In the human brain, structural diferences have been described that seem to be related to gender identity and sexual orientation.
A sex difference in the human brain and its relation to transsexuality. by Zhou et al Nature (1995) 378:68–70.
Our study is the first to show a female brain structure in genetically male transsexuals and supports the hypothesis that gender identity develops as a result of an interaction between the developing brain and sex hormones
A sex difference in the hypothalamic uncinate nucleus: relationship to gender identity. by Garcia-Falgueras et al Brain. 2008 Dec;131(Pt 12):3132-46.
We propose that the sex reversal of the INAH3 in transsexual people is at least partly a marker of an early atypical sexual differentiation of the brain and that the changes in INAH3 and the BSTc may belong to a complex network that may structurally and functionally be related to gender identity.
There's a pile more with URLs at BiGender and the Brain. See also Dr Veronica Drantz's Powerpoint presentations, and the specific quotes from Dr Harry Benjamin's The Transsexual Phenomenon at Two for the Reference Library.

Legal Findings:
Re Kevin – Significant Findings Of Justice Richard Chisholm In Respect Of The Expert Medical Evidence In That Case As To The Causation Of Transsexualism And As Strongly Affirmed By The Full Court (Australian Family Court) On Appeal. Deakin Law Review 2004 v22
At paragraph (247): 'In my view the expert evidence in this case affirms that brain development is (at least) an important determinant of a person's sense of being a man or a woman. No contrary opinion is expressed. All the experts are very well qualified. None was required for cross-examination, nor was any contrary evidence called'.

At paragraph (248): 'In my view the evidence is, in essence, that the experts believe that the brain development view is likely to be true, and they explain the basis for their beliefs. In the circumstances, I see no reason why I should not accept the proposition, on the balance of probabilities, for the purpose of this case.'

At paragraph (252): 'The traditional analysis that they are "psychologically" transsexual does not explain how this state came about. For example, there seems to be no suggestion in the evidence that their psychological state can be explained by reference to circumstances of their upbringing. In that sense, the brain sex theory does not seem to be competing with other explanations, but rather is providing a possible explanation of what is otherwise inexplicable'.

At paragraph (253): 'In other words (as I understand it) the brain of an individual may in some sense be male, for example, though the rest of the person's body is female'.

At paragraph (265): 'In my view the argument in favour of the "brain sex" view is also based on evidence about the development and experience of transsexuals and others with atypical sex-related characteristics. There is a vast literature on this, some of which is in evidence, and I can do no more than mention briefly some of the main points'.

At paragraph (268): 'It seems quite wrong to think of these people as merely wishing or preferring to be of the opposite sex, or having the opinion that they are'.

At paragraph (270): 'But I am satisfied that the evidence now is inconsistent with the distinction formerly drawn between biological factors, meaning genitals, chromosomes and gonads, and merely "psychological factors", and on this basis distinguishing between cases of inter-sex (incongruities among biological factors) and transsexualism (incongruities between biology and psychology)'.

At paragraph (272): 'In my view the evidence demonstrates (at least on the balance of probabilities) that the characteristics of transsexuals are as much "biological" as those of people thought of as inter-sex'.

Kantaras v Kantaras - some excerpts from the expert testimony.
When asked does a person choose their own gender identity? He (Doctor Bockting) replied:
"No. This is something that develops. It's believed to
develop very early on in childhood. There are some
theories that say that it is fixed at the age of two. So this is
not something we choose, this is something we become
aware of as we grow up."
Q. Would you say (transsexualism) is more of a
psychological problem or more of a physical
A. I think it's both. It's not physical in the sense that
they have been able to detect with certainty a
physical cause of their conflict.
Q. So you think its both, or you think its only
A. I think its psychological distress, but there's also an
aversion - - - sense of a process that people feel
physically. I think that's part of this condition. It's
really the anatomical and the psychological really
interact in this condition ***
Well, I mean, another way of saying is that what
we have been able to establish very consistently the
emotional suffering and distress when somebody
has this conflict.
Yet, the way to alleviate that conflict it involves
physical changes because the conflict is very tied to
their body image. And, then - - - there is evidence
of studies that hormonal and sexual differentiation
of the brain is believed to play a role. So its really a
condition where all of these things come together.
Q. Right. But it's a medical condition, correct?
A: Its recognized – in the medical field, a recognized
disorder. That is, a mental health disorder - - -
where a physical intervention is providing the relief.
Q. Okay. And that's exactly my point. It's a
psychological disorder with a – what did you say?
A. Where a physical intervention - - - well, it's rather a
social role change.
Q. Okay, so it's a psychological disorder that physical
intervention medically physical intervention
A. Correct.
Q. Dr. Cole, does the fact that a condition is listed in the DSM
mean that it necessarily has a purely mental or
psychological cause?
A. Absolutely not. It's listed in the DSM because it
has to do with the mind, with the brain, with
emotional suffering. I mean, you also have learning
disabilities in there.
You have, you know, people who have sexual
problems, a man with erection problems, a woman
with orgasm problems, that's listed in the DSM, but
it has nothing to do with somebody being unstable.
Q. So the fact that gender identity disorder is listed in
the DSM, does that tell us anything one way or the
other about whether the condition has a
physiological or biological cause?
A. No, it doesn't. It's very controversial even within
the Benjamin Association to have it listed in the
DSM. There are many people who argue it should
be moved over to a medical kind of diagnosis as
opposed to a psychiatric diagnosis.
Dr. Cole was asked about Michael Kantaras and if he is a victim of a more mental problem, there's been some suggestions in this case that because gender identity disorder is in the DSM that Michael Kantaras should therefore be viewed in a pejorative sense as sick, or unbalanced or mentally ill. He was asked some questions as an expert in this area to help sort through this issue. He was asked if he was familiar with the criteria for gender identity disorder in the DSM?
A. Yes, I am.
Q. And do those criteria refer exclusively to the
conflict between the person's gender identity and
their anatomy as well as distress that conflict
A. Yes.
Q. Is there anything in those criteria relating to having
any kind of bizarre or disordered thinking or
behavior or to any kind of emotional unbalance or
instability apart from the distress caused by having
the wrong body?
A. No.
Q. So would it be true that being diagnosed with GID
does not mean that the person is otherwise unstable
or disturbed or mentally ill?
A. Absolutely.
Q. In practice, are transsexual people who have
completed their gender transition anymore likely to
have psychological problems than non-transsexual
A. No.

Mr. Minton thus asked Dr. Cole are transsexual people who have completed their gender transition any more likely to have psychological problems than people who are not transsexual? Dr. Cole answered "no" and added that in the mid-nineties he and his colleagues undertook a scientific study of over 400 charts of people they worked with at the clinic and found that this group of transsexuals had no more pathology, meaning problems with suicide attempts, depression, etc., compared to the normal American population. They took a subsample of 100 people who completed MMPIs, personality tests and they did not have significant elevations on anxiety, depression, or paranoia.
Q. Okay. So you don't see a gender disordered person
with gender dysphoria, you don't see that as any
A. I see that as not in a typical example of the
schizophrenia or affective disorders, the
psychopathology of that nature.
Q. So you do or you don't? Maybe I didn't follow
you. You do see it as psychopathology or you
A. Oh, I don't.
Q. Well, does Harry Benjamin or the people in the
Harry Benjamin Association see it as some form of
A. I don't think so. I believe it's simply seen as a
persistent misidentification in terms of that sense of
identity with anatomic self.
Q. Okay. Well, let me ask you something, why is it
listed as a mental disorder then?
A. Well, I think, as I said in my earlier testimony, that
is because it has to do with the mind and distress of
the mind it was listed in the DSM way, way back.
But there's still controversy even today of having it
listed in the DSM as opposed to some other type of
medical disorder.

Androgen Receptor Repeat Length Polymorphism Associated with Male-to-Female Transsexualism by Hare at al Biological Psychiatry Volume 65, Issue 1, Pages 93-96 (1 January 2009)

A polymorphism of the CYP17 gene related to sex steroid metabolism is associated with female-to-male but not male-to-female transsexualism by Bentz et al Fertility and Sterility , Volume 90 , Issue 1 , Pages 56 - 59

Functional MRI
fMRT zur Diagnose bei Transsexualität geprüft Ärzte Zeitung, 30.05.2006
So würden bei Männern das limbische System und dort vor allem Regionen im Hypothalamus, in den Mandelkernen und im Inselkortex wesentlich stärker aktiviert. "Diese Vorbefunde konnten wir beim Vergleich der heterosexuellen Männer und Frauen unserer Kohorte bestätigen", sagte Gizewski.

Bei den transsexuellen Männern gab es diese spezifisch männliche Aktivierung des limbischen Systems nicht. Die mit der fMRT erzeugten Bilder entsprachen vielmehr exakt denen der weiblichen Probanden.

Die Radiologen können also das, was die transsexuellen Männer angeben - daß sie sich nämlich "wie im falschen Körper" fühlen - anhand der Aktivierung des Gehirns auf erotische Stimuli bestätigen. Es gibt offenbar ein biologisches Korrelat des subjektiven Befunds.

In men, the limbic system and upper regions of the hypothalamus, the amygdalae and the insular cortex were activated substantially more strongly. "We confirmed this finding in the comparison between the heterosexual men and women of our Cohort", said Gizewski.

This specifically male activation of the limbic system was not found in the transsexual sample. Under fMRT, the pictures corresponded rather accurately to those of the female sample.

Radiologists can now confirm what transsexuals report - that they feel "trapped in the wrong body" - on the basis of the activation of the brain when presented with erotic stimuli. There is obviously a biological correlation with the subjective feelings.

To which I'll add the Official American Medical Association policy on the subject.
Whereas, An established body of medical research demonstrates the effectiveness and medical necessity of mental health care, hormone therapy and sex reassignment surgery as forms of therapeutic treatment for many people diagnosed with GID; and
Whereas, Health experts in GID, including WPATH, have rejected the myth that such treatments are “cosmetic” or “experimental” and have recognized that these treatments can provide safe and effective treatment for a serious health condition;
RESOLVED, That the AMA support public and private health insurance coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder (Directive to Take Action); and be it further
RESOLVED, That the AMA oppose categorical exclusions of coverage for treatment of gender identity disorder when prescribed by a physician (Directive to Take Action).
7. Brown G R: A review of clinical approaches to gender dysphoria. J Clin Psychiatry. 51(2):57-64, 1990.
Newfield E, Hart S, Dibble S, Kohler L. Female-to-male transgender quality of life. Qual Life Res. 15(9):1447-57, 2006.
Best L, and Stein K.(1998) “Surgical gender reassignment for male to female transsexual people.” Wessex Institute DEC report 88;
Blanchard R, et al. “Gender dysphoria, gender reorientation, and the clinical management of transsexualism.J Consulting and Clinical Psychology. 53(3):295-304. 1985;
Cole C, et al. “Treatment of gender dysphoria (transsexualism).” Texas Medicine. 90(5):68-72. 1994;
Gordon E. “Transsexual healing: Medicaid funding of sex reassignment surgery.Archives of Sexual Behavior. 20(1):61-74. 1991;
Hunt D, and Hampton J. “Follow-up of 17 biologic male transsexuals after sex-reassignment surgery.Am J Psychiatry. 137(4):432-428. 1980;
Kockett G, and Fahrner E. “Transsexuals who have not undergone surgery: A follow-up study.Arch of Sexual Behav. 16(6):511-522. 1987;
Pfafflin F and Junge A. “Sex Reassignment. Thirty Years of International Follow-Up Studies after Sex Reassignment Surgery: A Comprehensive Review, 1961-1991.” IJT Electronic Books, available at http://web.archive.org/web/20070503090247/http://www.symposion.com/ijt/pfaefflin/1000.htm;
Selvaggi G, et al. "Gender Identity Disorder: General Overview and Surgical Treatment for Vaginoplasty in Male-to-Female Transsexuals." Plast Reconstr Surg. 2005 Nov;116(6):135e-145e;
Smith Y, et al. “Sex reassignment: outcomes and predictors of treatment for adolescent and adult transsexuals.” Psychol Med. 2005 Jan; 35(1):89-99;
Tangpricha V, et al. “Endocrinologic treatment of gender identity disorders. ” Endocr Pract. 9(1):12-21. 2003;
Tsoi W. “Follow-up study of transsexuals after sex reassignment surgery.Singapore Med J. 34:515-517. 1993;
van Kesteren P, et al. "Mortality and morbidity in transsexual subjects treated with cross-sex hormones." Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 1997 Sep;47(3):337-42;
How much more evidence do we have to give? How many more scientific articles, research papers, journals of neurology, reproductive science, psychology, psychiatry, endocrinology, and medicine must we quote? How many expert witnesses must we call, and how many legal cases must we lose, because even at college, people are only told about "usual" circumstances regarding sex and gender, and not exceptional ones? How many pardonably ignorant journalists must we seek to educate, because the colleges and universities have let them down?

People have been fired for being Transsexual. People have been fired for being Intersexed. But now people are being fired for even teaching that Intersexuality exists. - See important updates below and in the comments.

From Atlanta Progressive News (yes, the word "progressive" doesn't instill confidence, but the facts are the facts no matter who reports them.)
"I was basically fired for teaching about intersex people in my Introduction to Sociology course this Summer against the wishes of Stombler. Stombler said she agreed with me that sex is socially constructed-in that we, as a society, have to define how many sexes there are, who gets to fit into each category, and how to handle the anomalies-but she said that it was too advanced for 101 students," Cardinale said.

"Because we do define sex and gender in any 101 class, I felt it was important to define those terms accurately and inclusively from the beginning," Cardinale said.

Last summer, an Atlanta Police Officer, Darlene Harris, came out as intersex, as reported in Southern Voice Magazine, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Atlanta Progressive News.

Cardinale had invited Harris to come in and speak to his class about her experiences as an intersex person, to help illustrate the social construction of sex. Unfortunately, afterward, Stombler took issue with Harris's guest lecture and said the Department would not support Cardinale's lesson plans.
Enough. To persecute us for existing is one thing : to deliberately conceal that we even exist, another.

The next time someone who's a product of this mis-education system starts saying "Oh, I read somewhere the treatments don't work", or "don't give me any of this brain-sex nonsense", or "but aren't they just, you know, crazy like the DSM says?" - please quote them this article. Especially the last part, which shows them why not only don't they know the facts, but what facts they were taught are often wrong.

UPDATE: Please see the comments section for a first-hand account that differs significantly from that reported by the Atlanta Progressive News. Here, I'll quote:
It's unfortunate that Matthew had a bad experience, but there is much more to this story. For a Graduate Student Instructor to get taken out of the classroom, there have to be a lot of problems in the classroom, with the course design and the instructor. Every GSI undergoes extensive pedagogical training and ongoing evaluation. It is peculiar that one would claim to get fired for featuring an intersexed speaker within a climate where we are encouraged to include intersex issues in gender, sex, and sexuality curriculums.
..I hope you'll take the time to consider that there are other factors involved here. Please consider my alternate viewpoint and divergent experience in teaching and studying intersex at GSU.
As always, my thanks to those who comment here, and for this comment in particular. I don't claim to be correct all the time, but do try to issue corrections, or where the situation is unclear, give all the evidence.

As the result of numerous comments from people with first-hand knowledge of the situation at the University concerned, I'm now convinced that the situation has been substantially mis-reported. Rather than deleting the incorrect part of the post, and pretending I hadn't got it completely wrong, I'll just unreservedly retract my statements with apologies, and refer readers to the comments section as to why my opinion has changed. It's not just a matter of accuracy or inaccuracy though. My comments were unjust to the people concerned. I can't apologise for the initial error given the limited data, but I can and should apologise for the injustice I've done them, and in public. I so do, here, now.
“When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”- John Maynard Keynes


pirateboi said...

February 24, 2009

I am a transgender and queer scholar within the Georgia State University Department of Sociology. I am also a Graduate Student Instructor, which is what Matthew Cardinale was during his time within the graduate program. (He was not a Lecturer as his press release reports.) I am writing to state that there is much more to this story than Mr. Cardinale reports.

The professors that Cardinale charges with discrimination have both supported my research and teaching interests, which have challenged gender and sex binaries. Mindy Stombler has been my Master’s thesis chair, is my doctoral dissertation chair, and is a great friend and mentor to me. I have known her since 2002, and came to GSU because of her experience with research and teaching in gender and sexuality issues. In my research of graduate school programs, she was the only professor who was informed about trans issues. She actually assigned Bornstein's Gender Outlaw in her Sexuality and Society class. She is an ally of transgender, intersex, and queer communities. I can also vouch for Dr. Stombler’s support of examining intersex issues in the classroom. As her former Teaching Assistant, I know her support goes beyond simply using intersex as a way to illustrate a sociological theory.

In addition, most of us in the sociology department teach extensively about intersex issues--in the substantive courses. I include the topic in all my courses. I have taught the upper-level sociology courses: Gender & Society, Sexuality & Society, and Queer Identities. In these classes, it's great to be able to get into depth on issues like transgender and intersex because we expect that students have already gotten "the basics" in their intro classes. If I were to teach an intro class, I could not get as depth into these issues because there is so much to cover in intro. Yes, I would include them in an intro discussion, but then would refer students to take the upper-level substantive courses (and outside reading) to give the necessary attention and context that these issues deserve. In my mind, it's inappropriate to extensively engage intro students on upper-level substantive gender, sex, and sexuality topics. These students have often not yet gotten the basic theory of social construction, let alone intro gender topics like socialization and stratification. With all the other topics included in an intro class (racism, poverty, war, environmental issues, etc.), it's unrealistic to expect to give much more than an overview of all these hugely important social issues. It's also unfair to students to cover the same issues in an intro class as they'd get in the upper-level classes. The latter are designed to get into these issues so that students can indeed "get it," which often takes time at GSU (as you see in Matthew's experience, where his students appeared to not get past basic misconceptions about biological imperatives). 101 courses are introductions to a wide range of sociological topics. The upper-level courses allow for the context and foundation so that students truly do "get it." In fact, in my gender classes, the most popular final paper topic is based on arguments against surgical intervention on intersexed youth. I see how impacted students are by examining this topic in depth. It takes weeks of material, not a day or two in intro class.

It's unfortunate that Matthew had a bad experience, but there is much more to this story. For a Graduate Student Instructor to get taken out of the classroom, there have to be a lot of problems in the classroom, with the course design and the instructor. Every GSI undergoes extensive pedagogical training and ongoing evaluation. It is peculiar that one would claim to get fired for featuring an intersexed speaker within a climate where we are encouraged to include intersex issues in gender, sex, and sexuality curriculums.

Based on knowing about other aspects of Mr. Cardinale’s grad school experience, I believe he is acting out of bitterness. His letter is mean-spirited and highly skewed. I don't want to spend time disparaging him as he has done with my colleagues. But I hope you'll take the time to consider that there are other factors involved here. Please consider my alternate viewpoint and divergent experience in teaching and studying intersex at GSU.

In solidarity,
Elroi J. Windsor, M.A.
Doctoral Candidate, Graduate Student Instructor
Department of Sociology, Georgia State University

Judith B said...

Another interesting take comes from Dr. Sidney Ecker, he's trans, and was Prof of Urology Georgetown U School of Medicine. Not sure if his papers are on the web. makes a very good, very technical case that there's a genetic change that renders us less susceptible to androgens, so that our stem cells and such don't react to the androgens that are present during fetal development, so we don't grow the androgen receptors that regular folk have. Really cool concept.

here's one link

Good luck.

I fear that the bottom line is that folks don't believe if they don't want to believe.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, it looks like the insurance companies successfully put pressure on the AMA before the policy statement passed:


The bit about opposing categorical exclusions of coverage for treatment was removed.


Unknown said...


I don't know how to thank you enough!

I'm kinda overwhelmed with all the info right now. Only have a week and a half to put it all together.

Thanks Again

Anonymous said...

Before you assume that people are being fired for teaching that Intersexuality exists, you should ask to see his student evaluations. That was not why he was fired. Oh, and he wasn't fired. He was welcome to keep his assistanship. He was just asked not to teach undergraduate classes anymore because he was so bad!

Unknown said...

I am a Doctoral Candidate at GSU in the Family, Health, and Life Course specialty who has taught a number of introductory and advanced level courses in Sociology. During my tenure here, I have received outstanding mentorship and guidance from all of the faculty members in the department, especially Dr. Stombler and Dr. Reitzes. I am writing this letter as a student in the department, not as a close and personal friend, nor as an advisee of Dr. Stombler. Neither Dr. Stombler nor Dr. Reitzes are on my dissertation committee, but I have a vested interest in making sure that one person does not slander the reputation of this department. I am proud to be a doctoral student in a department that allows me a high level of academic freedom. I have more teaching experience and pedagogical mentorship than many of my contemporaries at similar institutions.

In my Social Problems course (a similar course to Introductory Sociology) I discuss intersexuality and I have never been advised not to do so. In fact, I have never been told what I can or cannot cover in my course. However, I have been advised (and rightfully so) not to spend too much time on any topic that students can explore in greater detail and with greater benefit to their learning in an upper level course. I have also been encouraged to supplement the curriculum in areas where I find it lacking. For example, when I first started teaching I noticed that most social problems text books ignored issues related to disabilities. In order to address this, I found a suitable chapter on disability rights in a text that was of similar quality to the text used for the course and I dedicated a week of my syllabus to this topic. I planned this before the semester began and under advisement from my advisor as well as from Dr. Stombler. There are alternative ways of supplementing a curriculum without creating an atmosphere of highlighting one person or one topic. Did Matthew Cardinale use a single guest speaker when discussing the social construction of race? What academic support did Cardinale use in addition to the guest speaker? Was this a topic that was allotted specific time during the planning of the course or did he just decide to bring in a guest speaker because a student asked to know more? If a student wants to know more I would encourage them to find out more and possibly take an upper lever course where the complexities of sex and gender can be fully explored.

While I am sad to learn that Matthew Cardinale did not have a pleasant experience with the teaching mentorship in the department, I do not think it is the standard or consensus in the department.

Alexis A. Bender, M.A.
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology
Georgia State University

Anonymous said...

I am a visiting lecturer at Georgia State and I specialize in Gender and Sexuality. I also teach Intro to Social Problems and Introductory Sociology. I recently graduated with a PhD from Georgia State's Sociology program.

I have never blogged before but I feel compelled to respond to some of the assertions made as I could not more adamantly disagree with the negative commentary. Frankly, I am blown away by Cardinale's "press release" (I thought it was an article he wrote himself but really that isn't what bothers me).

I am OVERWHELMINGLY proud to have been mentored by Dr. Stombler and supported by both Dr. Stombler and Dr. Reitzes on various occasions.

I teach “controversial” subjects all the time. While not everyone always agrees on the best way to convey information, or even what information should be conveyed, as long as I cover my material in a sociological manner—which I consistently do—I have never not received the backing of my department. Period. I am not saying that Cardinale did not cover his material as a sociologist. I have no way of knowing that as I am not privy to his teaching. I can only speak to my personal experience. My experience has been the polar opposite of what he described.

Clearly teaching topics related to sexuality can be touchy (no pun intended). I should know - I cover it in all my classes. I feel as a sociologist and educator it is imperative that I constantly challenge our socially constructed realities and I do--almost daily. I have never been censored by any faculty or received any reprimands. Rather, I have received a teaching award, have high evaluations, and was hired on after graduation to be a Visiting Lecturer. Both Dr. Stombler and Dr. Reitzes have come to my defense whenever there have been issues—without fail.

I want to mention that I JUST left my introductory course where I covered issues related to intersexuality. Clearly, I cannot cover it in the same manner I cover it in a sexuality class nor do I think I should as this is by definition an INTRODUCTION to sociology. While we all have our areas that we like to focus on, and I certainly am no different, my responsibility as an intro teacher, I believe, is to provide my students the tools and basics so they may have a solid foundation in sociology and have the tools should they desire to continue their sociological studies. I need to cover a wide spectrum of topics so they are adequately prepared for whatever direction they choose to go. I envy that Cardinale could even find that much time to dedicate to this one specific topic as I am clear in my intro class I could not.

Again, I have never blogged before and I am about to go teach my second Introductory class of the day but I could not sit silently as people that I respect and admire keep getting attacked. I do not write this as a friend, or as a student, but as a person that has worked in a myriad of professional occupations for over 20 years and I can say openly and honestly that rarely have I been so impressed with a group of people and their professionalism as I am with those in the Sociology department—particularly Stombler and Reitzes the two currently under attack. It is my pleasure and honor to write this as they are certainly deserving of my support.

I am sorry that Cardinale’s experience was so unpleasant. That saddens me. Truly. However, I truly hope the exception is not made into the rule for I know I am not alone in stating my support for this program and the people that represent it. NOW I MUST GO TEACH!

Anonymous said...

I don't know Matthew Cardinale, so I can't comment on his particular situation. But I as a first year PhD student in the sociology program, I have found the department to be extremely supportive and open. It is hard for me to imagine any of the faculty members not getting excited about any research topic.

Christina barmon

Unknown said...

I too am a doctoral candidate and graduate student instructor at GSU. I have taught both intro level courses - Introduction to Sociology and Social Problems- and I have taught all three gender/sexuality upper level courses - Queer Identities, Sexuality and Society, and Sociology of Gender. I have covered intersexuality (and trans issues, and queer theory) in ALL of those classes. For Mr. Cardinale to suggest that he was removed from teaching because the Department does not support teaching about intersexuality is preposterous and irresponsible.

Furthermore, Mr. Cardinale is misrepresenting his own status at the University and also his “firing.” He was not a Lecturer, but a graduate student assistant taking part in the teaching internship. There are many ways to fulfill funding requirements at GSU – as a research assistant, a teaching assistant, or as an instructor. Prior to being an instructor, you must complete a two-semester teaching internship where you learn not only pedagogical theory and techniques but also have a forum to develop your own teaching philosophy. Your first semester teaching is also considered part of the internship and includes extensive feedback from not only Dr. Stombler (the Director of Instruction) but also a graduate student teacher mentor. Your ability to continue teaching in the department is heavily based on your performance throughout this teacher internship experience. However, ongoing teaching commitments as a graduate student instructor are based primarily by both past performance and also by departmental need. Being able to teach is not a guaranteed right for all graduate students. Mr. Cardinale’s “press release” makes it appear as though he was fired for covering controversial topics. He was not “fired” at all – just not asked to continue to one possible path for graduate students – being a graduate student instructor. He was not removed from the program, nor, to my knowledge, did he lose funding.

I do not want to continue reiterate the points made by other graduate students and alumni who have already spoken on the matter on this blog. In my experience at Georgia State as a Master’s and PhD student, as a former teaching associate, a teaching and research assistant, and as n award-winning graduate student instructor I can without question say that the climate at GSU generally, and promoted specifically by both Dr. Reitzes and Dr. Stombler, has been incredibly supportive for teaching and all topics relating to sex, gender, and sexuality. I hope Mr. Cardinale’s experience can be taken for what it is – the experience of one person, and not reflective of the department as a whole.

Beth Cavalier MA, Doctoral Candidate
Georgia State University Department of Sociology

Zoe Brain said...

There's nothing that improves quality in Computer Science (and any other branch of human knowledge) than peer review.

And there's no-one more valuable than someone who can tell you you're wrong, and why you're wrong, and do so in a courteous and respectful manner.

My thanks to you all for taking the time and trouble to help me. It's appreciated. I strive to get it right the first time, but due to human frailty, or reliance on limited initial information, sometimes I "screw up by the numbers" to put it bluntly.

I aim for academic honesty, not concealing my past errors, merely correcting them to the best of my ability. By not so concealing (as is the habit of many publications), others can more accurately judge my credibility.

Anonymous said...

Yet another study:
Elke R. Gizewski; Eva Renate Krause; Marc Schlamann; Friederike Johanne Happich; Mark E. Ladd; Michael Forsting; Wolfgang Senf

Specific Cerebral Activation due to Visual Erotic Stimuli in Male-to-Female Transsexuals Compared with Male and Female Controls: An fMRI Study

The Journal of Sexual Medicine 28.08.2008 doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2008.00981.x

Transsexuals harbor the strong feeling of having been born to the wrong sex. There is a continuing controversial discussion of whether or not transsexualism has a biological representation. Differences between males and females in terms of functional imaging during erotic stimuli have been previously described, revealing gender-specific results.

Therefore, we postulated that male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals may show specific cerebral activation differing from their biological gender.

Main Outcome Measure:
Cerebral activation patterns during viewing of erotic film excerpts in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

Twelve male and 12 female heterosexual volunteers and 12 MTF transsexuals before any treatment viewed erotic film excerpts during fMRI. Additionally, subjective rating of sexual arousal was assessed. Statistics were performed using the Statistical Parametric Mapping software.

Significantly enhanced activation for men compared with women was revealed in brain areas involved in erotic processing, i.e., the thalamus, the amygdala, and the orbitofrontal and insular cortex, whereas no specific activation for women was found. When comparing MTF transsexuals with male volunteers, activation patterns similar to female volunteers being compared with male volunteers were revealed. Sexual arousal was assessed using standard rating scales and did not differ significantly for the three groups.

We revealed a cerebral activation pattern in MTF transsexuals compared with male controls similar to female controls compared with male controls during viewing of erotic stimuli, indicating a tendency of female-like cerebral processing in transsexualism.

Anonymous said...

Sorry.......the url for the study is at: http://transray.com/1.2130

Bad hair days said...


That study was mentioned in the text above (but with its german title). What is not mentioned in the abstract by the way, that they used mental rotation tests and not only sexual stimuli to see differences.