Sunday 28 February 2010

For the Man in your life

Because they never really grow up. Part of their charm, I guess.

The Fart Soundboard

Friday 26 February 2010

Yes, some do believe this

Screenshot attached:

I believe that intersex/transgender people are the offspring of human females that have had sex with demons or Satan himself.

I do not think we should allow into the church as once you invite them in they can come in anytime and corrupt the House of the Lord.
The dangerous ones aren't the ones who say it openly though, just believe it - and act on it.

Thursday 25 February 2010

As I Recall.....

My original PhD topic was to be on improving the manufacture of reliable automotive programs. Here's some of what I wrote nearly four years ago.

Methodology and Major Sources of Data

An initial Internet Search using Google was performed, and major sources of data were found in the first phase. The most fruitful sources of data were:
● The Proceedings of the Software Engineering for Automotive Systems Workshops in the International Conference of Software Engineering [1,2,3,4]
● Society of Automotive Engineers of Japan On-Demand Library [5]

The second phase involved review of the (several hundred) papers and abstracts found in the first phase, usually from the major data sources, and further papers found as article references were identified.

The third phase involved review of these referenced papers where available on-line, sifting out the most important data, and summarising the issues and conclusions in a preliminary report.

Trends Identified
3. Increased Recognition of Value of Software Development

The Keynote presentation at the 4th Workshop on Software Engineering for Automotive Systems [16] reported that the cost of Software relative to Hardware is now typically 3:1. It also reported that the cost of remedying software defects causing product recalls is growing at an alarming rate. We are in the Horsepower and Buggy era.

Commercial considerations are driving software development, in order to provide market differentiation between similar products from different suppliers.

Recent market research published by IBM [21] shows that 90 percent of automotive innovation is expected to come from electronics by 2010. Electronics can increase automakers' ability to differentiate automobiles in an increasingly competitive marketplace. With the constantly rising amount of software code in automobiles, electronics expertise and reliable process development among suppliers have become vital.

As stated by IBM spokesmen in an article in the New York Times [28], IBM also predicts that by 2010, almost all cars will have essentially the same mechanical systems. What will make the cars different will be software that operates the systems in ways specific to the brand of car. With so much of a vehicle's identity riding on computer code, carmakers must get the software right.
5. Recognition of Unique Attributes of Automotive Software Development

There is widespread recognition and agreement within the Industry on the characteristics of the Automotive Software Domain that make it so challenging and unique. The Emaus speech [23] summarised in one slide the Unique Attributes of Automotive Software Development, and the consequences thereof:
  • For the typical vehicle program, automotive module requirements begin at this state:
  • 80 percent is known and 20 percent is unknown
  • The software developer only knows 4/5 of what is needed and the rest later
  • The date of “later” is not defined
  • The size of the “later” is not defined
  • Few in the industry expect this to change
  • Why? Last minute feature additions or changes are common
  • This is the normal business process of developing software
This may help to explain why so many cowboys are in automotive software
The last line is a comment on the current state of Software Development Methodology in the Advanced Automotive domain : that in the main it is amateurish and haphazard.

6. An Increasingly Litigious Environment

Although a careful search has revealed no publicised cases of software being directly to blame for a serious automotive mishap, the current “state of the art” of software development in the automotive domain leaves car manufacturers very vulnerable to litigation. According to Chrysler Group President Tom LaSorda [30], it has been estimated that the cost of litigation already exceeds $500 US per car in the USA.

Unlike avionics, where there are industry safety standards and techniques for software development (DO-178B) and formal proof of correctness required in key areas, no professional expert witness could say under oath that automotive software is being developed in accordance with safety-critical software “best practices”. It is not enough to be actually safe, the software must be seen to be safe, otherwise the manufacturers may be held partially liable even if entirely blameless, as noted in the San Francisco Chronicle as early as 1988 [26]
Fear of litigation has already caused a “split” in features offered within the USA as opposed to Japan and Europe. As the New York Times [32] recently reported :
Fear of legal action has also stopped Toyota from offering its Intelligent Parking Assist feature, which is now available on the hybrid gaselectric Prius model sold in Japan....
And from today's :
Toyota has announced that it has received subpoenas from both the U.S. Grand Jury and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over documents related to “unintended acceleration” issues with millions or cars, as well as the braking system on the Prius.
From Gizmodo a fortnight ago:
Toyota just announced a recall of its 2010 hybrid cars. Four hundred thousand worth. The reason? A change in "brake feeling" caused by faulty antilock braking software. There is no fix for cars on the road yet.

This problem, unrelated to the sticky gas pedal issue that other drivers complained about. But I'm still wondering what exactly is bothering our Prius-loving friend Woz, who claims he has a faulty cruise control issue that is software related, not mechanical.

Remember that old joke about if cars were as crash prone as computers? Yeah, not funny in 2010.
Some important things to note:
That this was the situation 4 years ago. It may have improved since then.
That NONE of the car-makers were any better at the time. They were all as bad as each other.

However... the AutoCRC decided that this effort wasn't important in an Australian context. The local automotive electronics maker had just ceased trading, and any such research would be best conducted overseas.

I wonder if Toyota would be interested in re-starting the project? Or for that matter, anyone else? The thing is, that all the auto manufacturers keep such research a closely guarded trade secret. For all I know, it may already have been done.

From Breitbart:
Toyota Motor said Thursday it was staring at a two-billion-dollar hit from a global safety recall that has now spread to Britain and battered the credibility of the world's biggest carmaker.

Accelerator problems with its vehicles have tarnished Toyota's vaunted reliability record, raising questions about whether it sacrificed quality in its successful drive to overtake General Motors as the world's number one.
Members of the US Congress have scheduled hearings into Toyota's recall crisis, and want proof that the problems with the accelerator pedal are mechanical and not a more complex one related to electronics or software.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak said this week he believed Toyota's troubles with the defective accelerator might be linked to "some bad software" after his Prius sped up while in cruise-control. Related article: Toyota may have software trouble

Now new concerns are being raised about the brakes on the Prius, Toyota's flagship hybrid car which is in the vanguard of the company's push to produce a new generation of greener vehicles.
If they haven't... maybe they should, hmm?

Wednesday 24 February 2010

So THAT'S how they did it!

The Ugandan Death Bill

See previous posts on the subject. Under section 18, being Transsexual is a "related offence" too.

This video makes it quite clear what the law actually says. The text is online - read it for yourself. Yes, it really is that bad.

Tuesday 23 February 2010

Withholding the Franchise - Highly Suspect

This is a story from Texas, and how someone got to be denied the one thing that Democracies depend on. The Franchise. The Right to Vote.

Where to begin... start with a court case. One involving medical malpractice.

From Transsexualism and the Binary Divide: Determining Sex Using Objective Criteria by Dean of the Liberty University Law School, Matthew D. Staver.
Liberty University is a private, Baptist, Evangelical Christian university located in Lynchburg, Virginia. - Wikipedia
Background to the case, again from Wiki :
(Christie Lee) Littleton was born in San Antonio, Texas. She dropped out of school at age 15 and began living as a woman. In 1977 she began taking female hormones and legally changed her name to Christie Lee Cavazos. In 1980 she completed her surgical reassignment and had her state-issued identification changed to female. In the 1990s she met and married Jonathan Mark Littleton in Kentucky, later moving to San Antonio, where she worked at a salon and he worked as a window washer. After her husband's death, Littleton brought a medical malpractice suit against her husband's doctor, Mark Prange.
Now onto what Dean Staver says about the case, decided 10 years ago.
In Littleton v. Prange (9 S.W.3d 223 (Tex. App. 1999), cert. denied, 531 U.S. 872 (2000)) the Texas court found that a ceremonial “marriage” between a man and a transsexual born as a man, who was later surgically and chemically altered to have the physical characteristics of a woman, was not valid and thus void. The court queried: “[C]an a physician change the gender of a person with a scalpel, drugs and counseling, or is a person’s gender immutably fixed by a Creator at birth?” The court began the discussion by observing the following:
In our system of government it is for the legislature, should it choose to do so, to determine what guidelines should govern the recognition of marriages involving transsexuals. . . .But this court has no authority to fashion a new law on transsexuals, or anything else. We cannot make law when no law exists: we can only interpret the written word of our sister branch of government, the legislature.
The Texas court found that the matter presented a “pure question of law and must be decided by this court.” The court then observed that Christie was created and born a male and her original Texas birth certificate clearly so stated. The court acknowledged that Christie amended the original birth certificate to change the sex and name during the pendency of the suit, but then pointed out that the trial court’s role in considering the petition is merely a ministerial one, which involves no fact-finding. “At the time of the birth, Christie was a male, both anatomically and genetically. The facts contained in the original birth certificate were true and accurate, and the words contained in the amended certificate are not binding on this court.“There are some things we cannot will into being. They just are.” The court therefore held “as a matter of law, that Christie Littleton is a male. As a male, Christie cannot be married to another male. Her marriage to Jonathan was invalid, . . .”
And thus it was. No evidence was presented as to what Ms Littleton's Chromosomes actually were. Neither did the court consider such situations as this one:
A 46,XY mother who developed as a normal woman underwent spontaneous puberty, reached menarche, menstruated regularly, experienced two unassisted pregnancies, and gave birth to a 46,XY daughter with complete gonadal dysgenesis. - J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2008 Jan;93(1):182-9. Epub 2007
Anyone with 46XY chromosomes had to be male, and anyone who looked male at birth had to have 46XY chromosomes.
But at least the court didn't direct that Christie Lee Littleton's birth certificate be changed back. It just took no judicial notice of it for the purposes of marriage.

Democrat 4th Circuit Appeal Judge Phil Hardberger went further though:
Citing Corbett v. Corbett, 2 All. E.R. 33 (P.1970), an English case, the Texas court concluded that “the biological sexual constitution of an individual is fixed at birth (at the latest), and cannot be changed, either by the natural development of organs of the opposite sex, or by medical or surgical means.”
Thus those men with 5ARD who were born looking female, remain so, even if their genitalia changes so much as to enable them to father children.

The Texas registrar continued to ignore this eccentric ruling, and continued to amend birth certificates wherever the Federal 4th Circuit of Appeal's jurisdiction did not hold sway. They did so through the authority granted by the Texas Legislature, under Section 192.011 :
Sec. 192.011. AMENDING BIRTH CERTIFICATE . (a) This section applies to an amending birth certificate that is filed under Section 191.028 and that completes or corrects information relating to the person's sex, color, or race.

(b) On the request of the person or the person's legal representative, the state registrar, local registrar, or other person who issues birth certificates shall issue a birth certificate that incorporates the completed or corrected information instead of issuing a copy of the original or supplementary certificate with an amending certificate attached.

(c) The department shall prescribe the form for certificates issued under this section.
It very much depended on who you asked though, and whether you could find a friendly judge to order the registrar to make the correction. That very much depended on the Judge's religious beliefs. And the registrar's. From Dr Beckie Allison's guide to changing one's birth certificate in the USA:

Updated Information as of 2009

(Note: it may be worth the expense to have an attorney handle the TX procedure for you.)

Go to:

and open Form VS-170, it's in PDF format.

Print it out and fill it out.

You will need to send the following documents:
1. Filled out form VS-170
2. ORIGINAL COURT ORDER for your name and gender change (one that has the original stamp on it; if you have only one copy, get another one first from the court)
3. A notarized copy of your SRS letter, from your surgeon
4. A photocopy of your driver's license
5. Applicable fees in money order, as listed on the website

From the Dept. of Vital Statistics:
"Medical/Surgical Sex Changes require a certified copy of a Court Ordered Gender Change. I verified with a supervisor over our amendments department that the documentation we require to file the gender change on the birth record is a certified copy of the court order that specifically states to change the current gender (male/female) listed on the birth record to the new gender. The court order must be a specific court ordered gender change. Once our office receives these court orders our legal department first reviews them to see if they are acceptable to us as documentation for filing the gender change on the birth record."
Send it to the following address:

Texas Vital Statistics
Department of State Health Services
1100 W. 49th Street
Austin, TX 78756-3191

You HAVE to send this by UPS or FedEx, they will not accept it from the USPS (=post) and only expedited service. Don't send it to the PO Box address, it will take 2 to 3 months for them to start on it. They will send it back via Express mail or UPS.

Their phone number is 1-888-963-7111.

Keep calling them to find out the status of your request.
Expect to get different answers from different people.

This is, of course, NOT a guarantee that you will get your birth certificate amended, but this is how others have done it.

Good luck!

Please note: Although there is apparently no official policy change, there are areas of Texas where the officials are simply refusing to follow the listed procedure. This has been going on since the Littleton case was decided by the Texas supreme court. At this time you may not be able to change your Texas B.C., but some persons as of summer 2006 are successful by hiring an attorney to take them through the process.

Formerly, Texas would change both name and sex, and will issue a new birth certificate rather than amend the old one.

You will need an original or certified copy of the court order for your name change AND your sex change (court order for both), and an original letter from your SRS surgeon. You must enclose a copy of the old birth certificate, and specify exactly what you want changed. The fees are $15.00 to file, $15.00 for changing the information on the birth certificate, and $11.00 for each copy of the new birth certificate.

Debra Owens or Sandra Cooper
State Registrar (512) 458-7366
Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics
US Constitutional lawyers will immediately start fuming about the 14th amendment, "equal treatment for those equally situated" and so on, but let us lay that aside for now. That's what the situation was.

Now let's step back a bit, and look at some legislation recently passed by the Texas State Legislature. The Voter Photo ID Bill (SB 362). A harmless enough bill, that supposedly just prevents fraudulent ID theft in voting. Supposedly. But this is the actual effect:
“Identity Matters!” — TX State Sen, Florence Shapiro (R-Plano)

Both the transgender community and I couldn’t agree with the good senator more! For well over a decade, the transgender community has been pushing for passage of a name and gender change bill that would make the process much easier (alleviating the need for attorneys, courts, the idiosyncratic judges and their individual “discretion,” and especially the cost!) And for well over a decade, the legislature has ignored us. People transitioning, who have an ID in one gender but live as the other, will effectively be disallowed the vote per the Voter ID bill.

As Sen. Shapiro said in debate on the Senate floor, “we’re just trying to make sure everyone’s identification matches.” Sen. Fraser as well reiterated, declaring “I just want to make sure this person is who they say they are!” Basically it means if a black man walks in with the voter registration and an ID of someone who is obviously white, they don't vote. Similarly, if a 25 year old skate punk with long hair walks in with the voter registration and an ID of a 70-year old woman, he doesn't vote.

Now think of the prospect of someone named Kathy who's gone through transition from female to male and after a year's worth of testosterone has a full beard, the beginnings of a receding hairline and maybe some chest hair peaking over the collar. If Kathy still has the female ID, even though living as a male, do you think Kathy will vote under the new law? No. If I walked in with my former male voter certificate and my male ID, but appearing notably female in body and appearance, will I be allowed a vote under the Voter ID act? No.
The legislature passed it immediately. The argument seemed to be that the actual harm was minimal, that transition did not last forever (though it may seem like it), and that the birth certificate would, in the normal course of events, soon be corrected. A debateable point, for the vote should never be withheld, even for one election: but at least arguably rational, if unfair.

No-one thought of those with some Intersexed conditions with the same problem, but they'd be covered too, as soon as they got their ID corrected.

Except.... well, it appears that the Dallas Area Transport Company - DART - a publicly owned enterprise - wanted to save a few cents on their medical insurance bills. Well, that's the most charitable interpretation. That, or a particularly nasty and virulent case of transphobia. Here's a witness, Pamela Curry, commenting on the situation:
She was told by a VP of H-R this is the bible belt we are not going to allow you to marry and put your husband on insurance.

So if keeping health insurance risk to a minimum is the issue. Then even straight cisgendered couples should be very concerned. What happens when they go to adopt a special needs kid. The company not wanting to allow the high risk kid on insurance can challenge and block the adoption.

As further evidence of the separate and not equal treatment she received. After her return from Montreal her first post op followup at OB was denied care because the company listed her as a MALE. They changed her insurance marker as Male with Sex Change, but they refuse to mark her as Female.

This case qualifies as Twilight Zone material on many faces.
Judge reversed order after transit agency fought longtime employee’s gender-marker change last year

DART stands accused of bigotry and transphobia after attorneys for the local transit agency intervened in family court last year to challenge a gender-marker change granted to an employee.

According to court records, a transgender DART employee obtained a court order in February 2009 directing all state agencies to correct their records by changing her gender-marker from male to female, including on her birth certificate.
In their motion for a rehearing, DART attorneys Harold R. McKeever and Hyattye Simmons argued that Texas law grants registrars, not judges, the authority to amend birth certificates. They also argued that birth certificates could be amended only if they were inaccurate at the time of birth.

It’s not a DART issue, it’s a point of law,” Lyons told Dallas Voice this week, in response to the allegations of bigotry. “The lawyers concluded that the birth certificate could not be altered by law, unless there was a mistake made when the birth certificate was completed, and again, the judge changed the order before we even wound up going into court with it.

Asked about DART’s LGBT-related employment policies, Lyons said the agency’s nondiscrimination policy includes sexual orientation but not gender identity/expression.
Curry, who helped the employee file her pro se petition for a gender-marker change, said the employee has worked for DART for more than 20 years and has an outstanding performance record.

The employee began to come out as transgender in 2003 and had gender reassignment surgery more than three years ago, Curry said. Curry said DART supervisors have at various times told the employee that she couldn’t have long hair, couldn’t wear skirts to work and couldn’t use women’s restrooms at work.

The employee has responded by showing up at work in her uniform so she doesn’t have to change and using public restrooms on her bus route, Curry said.

Supervisors have also told the employee she can’t talk to the media and can’t join political groups, such as Stonewall Democrats, Curry said.

She’s intimidated and she’s scared,” Curry said. “One supervisor even suggested to her that if she doesn’t lay off it, they will mess up her retirement.”
All the DART lawyers had to do was mention the Littleton vs Prange decision. In the face of that, it would take a courageous Judge to say that the ruling had no effect.

Such abominable and discriminatory treatment, if it happened to a suspect class, would be illegal. Harassment, overt and blatant. But as transsexuals are not a suspect class, it isn't. It's still abominable, inhuman, detestable, discriminatory - but not actually against the law.

Here's Wiki yet again on the subject.
Strict scrutiny is applied to regulations that affect groups that fall under a "suspect classification." The US Supreme Court has mentioned a variety of criteria that, in some combination, may qualify a group as a suspect classification, but the Court has not declared that any particular set of criteria are either necessary or sufficient to qualify.

Some of the criteria that have been cited include:

* The group has historically been discriminated against, and/or have been subject to prejudice, hostility, and/or stigma, perhaps due, at least in part, to stereotypes.
* The group is a "discrete" or "insular" minority.
* They possess an immutable and/or highly visible trait.
* They are powerless to protect themselves via the political process
For example, being effectively denied the opportunity to vote, via a poll tax or other means.

Now IANAL - I Am Not A Lawyer. A Lawyer wouldn't have used Wiki, she would have quoted the articles the Wiki entries were based on, the original sources. Caselaw, precedents, legal decisions, legislation, and much else besides, to bolster her case.

But a Lawyer would be unlikely to know about such medical syndromes as the one in the Journal of Endocrinal Metabolism, nor indeed about 5alpha-reductase-2 deficiency (5alpha-RD-2) and the similar syndrome 17beta-hydroxysteroid dehydrogenase-3 deficiency (17beta-HSD-3). And to draw the strands of jurisprudence, human rights and medicine together.

Maybe it does take a Rocket Scientist to show that this is Suspect. Highly Suspect. And just maybe, it it was put before them in a clear, concise and professional manner by a lawyer, a court, even the Supreme Court of the USA, might agree.

Monday 22 February 2010

Another Part of the Puzzle

Thanks to Professor of Urology Sidney Ecker.

Disorders of sex development expose transcriptional autonomy of genetic sex and androgen-programmed hormonal sex in human blood leukocytes. by Holterhus PM, Bebermeier JH, Werner R, Demeter J, Richter-Unruh A, Cario G, Appari M, Siebert R, Riepe F, Brooks JD, Hiort O. BMC Genomics. 2009 Jul 1;10:292.
BACKGROUND: Gender appears to be determined by independent programs controlled by the sex-chromosomes and by androgen-dependent programming during embryonic development. To enable experimental dissection of these components in the human, we performed genome-wide profiling of the transcriptomes of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) in patients with rare defined "disorders of sex development" (DSD, e.g., 46, XY-females due to defective androgen biosynthesis) compared to normal 46, XY-males and 46, XX-females.

RESULTS: A discrete set of transcripts was directly correlated with XY or XX genotypes in all individuals independent of male or female phenotype of the external genitalia. However, a significantly larger gene set in the PBMC only reflected the degree of external genital masculinization independent of the sex chromosomes and independent of concurrent post-natal sex steroid hormone levels. Consequently, the architecture of the transcriptional PBMC-"sexes" was either male, female or even "intersex" with a discordant alignment of the DSD individuals' genetic and hormonal sex signatures.

CONCLUSION: A significant fraction of gene expression differences between males and females in the human appears to have its roots in early embryogenesis and is not only caused by sex chromosomes but also by long-term sex-specific hormonal programming due to presence or absence of androgen during the time of external genital masculinization. Genetic sex and the androgen milieu during embryonic development might therefore independently modulate functional traits, phenotype and diseases associated with male or female gender as well as with DSD conditions.
Nothing terribly novel, except a way of testing something we already thought to be true. But every piece of the puzzle helps us become just a bit more confident in what we think we know. To say that this kind of thing is still "unproven" or "controversial" is, I think, inaccurate now. There's too much evidence, from too many independent sources, in too many different disciplines. I think we have a good handle on sexual development now.

How neurological anatomy leads to sex identity, that we're less sure of. That trans people have cross-sexed neuro-anatomy, we know. But exactly what areas are affected, and by how much, that's less well understood. We know some areas quite well, others not. And it's not a simple "male or female", there's degrees, and trans people appear to have some neuro-anatomy that matches neither sexual stereotype. This basic research, not concentrated purely on neuro-anatomy, but anatomy generally, may help us understand why, and how this anomaly occurs.

I think that some further work on what happens during puberty is going to be our next challenge: the extent to which hormones can affect anatomy long after foetal development is complete. The externals are obvious, but the BSTc layer of the hypothalamus, a "touchstone" for sex identity, only differentiates during puberty. And it does so regardless of whether in a masculine or feminine hormonal bath. In trans people, a masculine hormone bath still produces a feminine outcome, (or the reverse for FtoMs). If we understood why that is so, what causes the pre-destined outcome, I think we'd have a good grasp of the whole picture. We know it's pre-destined, because the signs of transsexuality are visible long before puberty, in general. What we don't know is why, what is the mechanism.

Friday 19 February 2010

Today's Battle

Actually one of many. I don't have time to document them all, I'm rather busy with PhD work.

Over at the New American :
Is the APA Playing Politics With Sexual Disorder Definition?
Dr. George Rekers, a professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral science at the University of South Carolina medical school, told that, like its earlier decision to delete homosexuality from its list of sexual disorders, the APA is once again caving in to political pressure. “I think they are bowing to activist groups to downplay the actual psychopathology involved by just calling it gender incongruence,” he said. “They don’t want to go back to put homosexuality as the disorder. Now it looks like they’re backpedaling on Gender Identity Disorder.”
My reply:
Rekers... where have I heard that name before?
Rekers... Rekers... Oh yes...
In January 2005, Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy White ... called Rekers' testimony "extremely suspect." He also accused Rekers of testifying solely for promoting his "own personal agenda."
And there's this:
Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Cindy Lederman ... said "Dr. Rekers’ testimony was far from a neutral and unbiased recitation of the relevant scientific evidence. Dr. Rekers’ beliefs are motivated by his strong ideological and theological convictions that are not consistent with the science. Based on his testimony and demeanor at trial, the court can not consider his testimony to be credible nor worthy of forming the basis of public policy."

Lederman may have been put off by the fact that Rekers said based on "research," a case could be made for banning Native Americans from adopting children

I think there might just be more credible sources. Though they wouldn't fit your pre-conceived Lede, would they? You have to rely on crackpots eccentric witnesses, because they're the only ones that support your eccentric ideas.

You must have gone to a lot of trouble to find one that told you what you wanted to hear. Unfortunately, his notoriety as the archetypical unreliable "expert" precedes him, even in Australia.
Compare and contrast with this exchange from Slate:
Will Saletan
Update: Zoe, thank you for these cites. I've forwarded them to Dr. George Brown, one of the three expert witnesses (he testified for O'Donnabhain), and asked whether the court's description of his testimony ("The experts all agree and the Court accepts, for purposes of deciding this case, that no organic or biological cause of GID has been demonstrated") is accurate. He indicates that it is not. I've contacted O'Donnabhain's attorney to request a copy of his testimony.

I may have some crow to eat on this one. Let me see what the testimony says.

Zoe Ellen Brain

"You don't use science to show that you're right, you use science to become right."

Crow-eating not required. You gave an honest opinion based on the facts available to you, and when apparently new facts came in, started checking those and re-evaluating your position. You may not find the new facts sufficiently persuasive. That's not the point: the point is that you're honestly trying to find out what the situation actually is.

"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" - John Maynard Keynes
Another quote from Keynes:
There is no harm in being sometimes wrong — especially if one is promptly found out. - Essays in Biography (1933)
Thank goodness, or I'd be in real trouble.

Thursday 18 February 2010


I'm not saying it was Mossad. I am saying it was an intelligence agency. A first rate one.

I'm also saying the Dubai Counter-Intelligence are very, very good indeed.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

A letter from M.Italiano

Published at his request.

As the people addressed by this letter have made many personal attacks on me, I must disqualify myself from making further comments as there's an obvious conflict of interest.


I was stunned to read what I consider Andrea Brown's bizarre attack on intersexed individuals.

It is flawed and has poor fact checking.. I have written an open response to her letter. For her statements I abbreviate her name using the letters AB which then is followed by her statements which I have quoted.
My comments are between the signs designated ***. Finally I include
citations from pubmed and other references. I hope my response
validates the lives and experiences of not only the intersexed individuals whose existence she negates, but all intersexed individuals as well.


M. Italiano, MB BS (AM)
Board Certified in Alternative Medicine (India)
Advisor, Biosex variations, Organisation Intersex Internationl
Staff, Gendercare Inc.

The letter itself:
AB: "People claiming to have fathered children then suddenly claim to have had a spontaneous sex change, found an ovary, uterine tissue or uterus in surgery are liars or deluded and may require psychiatric help, which transsexual people normally do not require."

***Fertile individuals who have fathered children can have a uterus.***

***A fertile individual who has fathered two children can have an ovary with follicles and devloping ova. This individual also has a Fallopian tube and a uterus.***

***A fertile individual who fathered a child and also had an ovary with ovarian follicles and evidence that ovulation also occured. It is the first case where cytogenetics and not just a buccal smear was used***

AB: "Some transsexual people have claimed to have a period because they have pissed blood. They have not had a period. Kidney infections can cause a person to piss blood. Physical damage from impacts can cause a person to piss blood. A period cannot occur when a person has two testes, as the testosterone would suppress any possibility of a period if the tissue actually existed. People who have pissed blood because of childhood surgery are people who have had just that happen. They would strongly refute any claim that they are having a period, regardless of what any LGBT activist, queer theorist or trans activist states. They will state the truth and inform you it is from a bladder or kidney infection or scar tissue failure."

***While having a period as an ovulatory cycle is not likely, certainly
Andrea Brown's statement that "They will state the truth and inform you it is from a bladder or kidney infection or scar tissue failure" is WRONG since the blood may be coming form the uterus or uterine tissue. Not only is Andrea Brown wrong in this regard, but people who believe her may be harmed since they may be overlooking a possibility of having endometriosis or other problems associated with their uterus or uterine tissue. Blood in the urine coming from a uteurs or uterine tissue in these cases is sometimes called menouria or hematuria which may or not be cyclic. ***

AB: "The number of female to male transsexuals and transgenderists also falsely claiming to have CAH is also a problem....Issues such as gender identity are quite often a non-issue for people with CAH. Most are to worried with trying to stay alive to worry about gender identity, contrary to what LGBT transgender and queer activists like to claim."

***In at least one report, F to M transsexuals have a higher incidence of non-classical CAH than control females.***

***Secondly, there is quite a bit of controvery as to how to assign gender in CAH individuals due to issues with their gender identity. Andrea is very wrong in her dismissive attitude with regard to gender identity in individuals with CAH.***

AB: "Regarding gender identity in 5 alpha people, it literally can be anywhere from male to female. Contrary to the literature that is quoted, which also appears to be highly suspect. Most actually appear to identify as female, not male."

***Again Andrea Brown is not correct. Here are two recent reports on gender in 5 Alpha Reductase Deficiency individuals. They both contain a review of the literature. The first study link demonstrates that about 70% develop a male gender identity. The second demonstrates that of those raised as girls, 56-63% changed gender roles.***

AB: "Spontaneous sex change. This does not occur in humans and is a fiction created in pornographic magazines, porn films and the minds of deranged fantasists."

***While I am not aware of penis to vagina spontaneous sex changes in humans, there can be no doubt that gonadal changes occur where a post-natal or adult human gonad changes and acquires features of the gonad of the opposite sex. Commonly associated with a tumor, the organ nonetheless acquires both structural and functional properties of the other sex gonad.
Thus, although an adult ovary has not been known to become a fertile testis, it may undergo pseudo-male transdifferentiation and even develop Sertoli and Leydig cells which are male-specific testicular cells as well as other testicular specific structures. (Links below). This process is known as gonadal transdifferentiation. It also occurs in other mammals such as mice and cattle.***$=relatedarticles&logdbfrom=pubmed

AB: "Hermaphroditism. On very rare occasions a person has been born with an ovary and a teste. However this is so rare that it is practically unknown in the majority of intersex clinics and there appears to have never been a case of this in a transsexual person either."

***This needs clarification. Zucker and colleagues have indeed described a case of gender dysphoria in true hermaphroditism ***

AB: "The existence of people who are true hermorphodite is extremely rare and most experts in intersex will never meet one."

***Andrea's attack on intersex seems evident here with her very plain use of the offensive and slang term "hermorphodite".***

AB: "If a person has two testicles, even if they are undescended, there is no ovary. The only possible combinations are, two testes, a testis and an ovary (so rare it is almost unheard of), or two ovaries."

***No Andrea. These are not the only combinations. There are also persons who have bilateral ovotestes, OR a testis on one side and an ovotestis on another OR an ovary on one side and an ovotestis on another.***

AB "Some facts: It is impossible to have two testes and two ovaries.
It is impossible to have two testes and one ovary. It is impossible to have two ovaries and two testes. It is impossible to have two ovaries and one testis."

***The first and third categories of Andrea's are the same biological categories which oddly she uses in reverse in her bizarre dismissive and blanket anti-intersex statements. Actually 2 ovaries and two testes in a single human individual HAS been reported 4 times. Although cases a and b below are spurious, case c provides ample evidence of 2 ovaries and 2 testes in one human individual and case d is quite definitive of this.***

***It should also be noted that an individual can have penile duplication (2 penises) and two vaginas (vaginal duplication). Since this occurs, it is not difficult to understand that a penis can co-exist with a vagina in the same individual.
Furthermore, it should be added that it does not seem to be impossible for a human to be self-fertilizing with assisted reproductive technologies or even without the use of technology***

***Andrea Brown negates the very existence of several types of intersexed conditions which negate intersex experience. An example of an attack on intersexed woman Zoe by someone who goes by the name of "Nicky" is also in the comments section of her article. (Nicky's comment follows and is in the response area of Andrea Brown's article).***

"Nicky Says:
02/04/2010 at 4:24 PM
'Well, even a good example would be ____is one of those Transsexuals who like to claim intersex and claim to have a spontaneous and natural Intersex condition. Zoe is one those who goes around online proclaiming to be an Intersex person and claiming to have 5ARD or 15BHDD...'"

***An attack on intersex and intersexed individuals to try to discredit intersexed women who may have thought or been told that they are instead transwomen seems unfortunate.***

*Sigh* I'll answer to both. Whatever. The reason that I'm publishing this is because a)It contains at least two articles I wasn't aware of, so deserves a place in my reference list, and b) Because although I'm virtually immune to personal attacks, they don't bother me, obviously other people are bothered by them. I should not be guilty of universalising my own experience, and should think of other people.

I think it could be because the Women Born Transsexual blog is usually of such high quality that Dr Italiano feels so strongly about it. If some nutter says something factually incorrect, it does no harm. If it comes from a usually credible source, it may do.

UPDATE: A previous version of the letter appeared on this blog briefly, but Dr I sent me a version with some minor changes of wording shortly thereafter, and this version is definitive.

UPDATE II: - M Italiano's letter is now available at

Tuesday 16 February 2010

Computer Social Engineering

"To create an authentic look, Barbie® designers worked closely with the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering to develop the wardrobe and accessories for... Computer Engineer Barbie®.

Wearing a binary code patterned tee and equipped with all the latest gadgets including a smart phone, Bluetooth headset, and laptop travel bag, Computer Engineer Barbie® is geek chic"

And she might just help a few girls realise that this computer stuff isn't just for boys. It's the purest propaganda, aimed at moulding young impressionable minds. Not just the girls who might like to go into Engineering as a career, but those that would never consider it. To make them realise that it's socially acceptable now, with-it, hip, cool, rad, neat, gas, or whatever the term-du-jour will be in 2020.

Today's Younger Geekette looks more like this:

That's Kelly Reeves, Managing Editor of Urlesque.

Here's Marissa Maye, Vice President of Search Product and User Experience at the search engine company Google. A child of the 70's.

And here's a child of the 50's.

And if Computer Engineer Barbie had been around then, my life would have been different. For one thing, I might not have been averse to playing with dolls.

Monday 15 February 2010

Of Course We're Much More Civilised

From the Daily Nation of Kenya :
He travelled all the way from the little known village of Dandu in Mandera to Nairobi because he was convinced it was the only way the world could learn from his experience.

At his birth 25 years ago, Shukria Abdi Issak had a genital abnormality known as undescended testicles or cryptorchidism – a condition in which the testes are missing or they may be felt as lumps in the groin. His parents in a state of panic, lack of information and scanty healthcare facilities, decided to ‘turn’ him into a girl. They feared they would ruin the marriage prospects of a healthy child if discovered and bring shame to the family.

‘He’ was dressed in female attire, including the hijab, a headscarf for Muslim women all his life. Shukria performed chores meant for the Garre woman, sat and was taught all a woman needs to know. As a strict Muslim adherent, Shukria was also not allowed to mingle freely with the boys though he confessed that he always wanted to join them in their games and chores.

“Everybody in my village knows me as a woman,” he said in his native Garre language. He also did not go to school as his parents gave preference to the boys. And so, he speaks only Garre language. Shukria’s identity card, issued in Dandu, Mandera district, in 2004 too identifies him as female.

But the person many know as a woman was not actually one, nor was he androgynous. “My malformation resulted in my parents confining me to a state I did not belong simply believing I was cursed,” he said through his brother Alinoor Aliker. After his parents’ death in September last year, Shukria felt the chains had been loosened on him and decided to “go back to where I belong”.

So he decided to dump the female attire for the male clothing. He even went as far as befriending a girl who is now engaged to him. However, his neighbours and relatives who are convinced he is a woman were never going to take the matter lightly.

“My relatives turned down my request to wear male clothing. When my fiancée’s parents also heard that, they too have now changed their mind and told me plainly that I could not marry their daughter,” he told the Nation. The girl’s parents said they could not trust him because he has been a woman since birth, he added.

Still intent on convincing the girl’s parents and his relatives that indeed he was a normal man, he went to Takaba district hospital for medical examination. “The doctors confirmed that I was a man except that I had a malformation in my genitalia. But everything about me is fine,” said Shukria.

But even this confirmation by the doctors has not achieved much in changing the conviction of his relatives, neighbours and would-be in-laws. “His case has been closed in the village. He cannot marry and nobody wants to associate with him,” his brother said. “But I know he is a man, he is my younger brother and I cannot abandon him because some people want to exploit the mistakes of our parents to alienate him.”
Psychiatrist Dr Sobbie Mulindi explained that such occurrences are normally difficult for people to accept. He said that people need to be educated to appreciate such conditions as undescended testicles they can seek help early on. “In Europe the malformations are detected early and dealt with but for us in Africa, it takes long and creates fear of discrimination and identity crisis,” he said.

Yes, here in the West they'd likely have castrated him, fashioned a "neo-vagina", and labelled him "mentally ill" when he didn't accept that he was supposed to be a girl.

And some political parties would make it illegal for state-funded universities and medical schools to teach about this. As his documentation says he's female, any transition to male makes him "transgendered" - assuming the transition is recognised. If not, he'd just be considered a very very butch lesbian. From the Oklahoma Republican Party Platform:
2.25. We support the prohibition of non-charter public schools from instructing on behaviors relating to homosexuality, bisexuality, and transgendered in a manner that encourages, promotes or sanctions such behaviors. We support sanctions for noncompliance by any public elementary or secondary school or by any public institution of higher education, and their employees in their official capacity, including loss of all or part of state funding.
As he'd be deemed Lesbian, killing him shouldn't be subject to civil or criminal penalties in some places either, according to some. From the Texas Republican Platform :
We believe that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit, and leads to the spread of dangerous, communicable diseases. Homosexual behavior is contrary to the fundamental, unchanging truths that have been ordained by God, recognized by our country’s founders, and shared by the majority of Texans.
We oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction, or belief in traditional values.
And yes, it's been made clear that they really do mean that a "belief in traditional values" would be a lawful excuse for an otherwise unlawful act against him. Like killing him.

Sunday 14 February 2010

Next question.

And lest you think that's funny... from Tim Blair's blog:
Some 180 words into an ABC piece on female genital mutilation in Australia, this paragraph appears:

Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital says it is seeing between 600 and 700 women each year who have experienced it in some form.

And that’s just in Melbourne. What about Sydney? Adelaide? Perth? What the hell is going on here? The hospital’s Zeinab Mohamud tries to explain:
“Some people when they hear they say, ‘how can that happen?’ It’s when something is cultural and the people have been doing it for so long, it’s not easy to either eliminate it or to say, ‘you have got a bad culture’,” she said.

You have got a bad culture. It’s not that difficult to say.
That's happening in Australia. Today.

From the comments:

Wanglese of Dapto
Tue 09 Feb 10 (02:10pm)
I’d love to see some feministas come right out and say they utterly, and without reservation condemn and religious or cultural practice such as this. Without qualification.

I’s like to see them say that they utterly will not tolerate such practices, and they, like me, want harsher penalties (heck, I want penalties, fines, and imprisonment for practitioners) for this.

Zoe Brain replied to Wanglese
Tue 09 Feb 10 (05:36pm)

“I utterly, and without reservation or qualification condemn religious or cultural practice such as this.”

That’s one of us.

I don’t want harsher penalties though : I just want the penalties we have to be enforced, 100% of the time.

Achillea replied to Wanglese
Wed 10 Feb 10 (06:53am)

“I utterly, and without reservation or qualification condemn religious or cultural practice such as this.”

That’s two.

Winston Smith replied to Wanglese
Wed 10 Feb 10 (11:51am)

“I utterly, and without reservation or qualification condemn religious or cultural practice such as this.”

Feel free to add your name in the comments section.

And also feel free to contribute to this organisation, even though it's associated with the cult of the Raelian UFO nutters. Special thanks to Dr Marci Bowers, who provides surgical reconstruction to FGM victims in the USA free of charge.

Friday 12 February 2010

Who Elected Me?

From Ali Russell of Zapruder's Other Films:
"Just wanted to let you know the story edit is coming along really well, I had a meeting with Andrew yesterday to review the rough cut and he said it’s “a very strong story”. Exciting!

It can only be 5 mins long so it’s really just a snapshot into both of your stories - I’m sorry it can’t be longer and more in-depth, it would be a great 1-hour doco! We’re looking at dividing it into 2 self-contained parts and running one on the show and directing people to the second one on the website.

Everyone who’d seen the rough cut so far has been very moved. Jon Casimir (who is our senior factual team advisor and was the head researcher on Enough Rope) said it’s something he’ll never forget. So there you go! Very inspiring. Everyone has so much admiration for you both!

So in other exciting news, Andrew is looking into the possibility of doing a live online forum after the show about Intersex, similar to the Refugees one we did last year:

Just wanted to float the idea with you guys and see whether you’d be interested in being on the forum on the Wednesday night immediately after the show goes to air? It would be AMAZING for the audience to be able to chat with you!
Who elected me spokesperson for Intersexed people? I mean, what right have I to talk about any situation other than my own?

I hope we can get others involved. My biology is so atypical, yet I'll be seen as "one of the faces of Intersex" rather than a statistical outlier. :( In 5 mins none of my disclaimers about that are likely to make it in.

At least Nat is standard Swyer syndrome. I'd really like some more representative IS people though.

From the remarks by Ali and other members of the production team, we did hit them where they lived though. Hopefully not so much as victims deserving sympathy, but those unjustly treated quietly but firmly doing what they can about the unnecessary legal and medical problems they face.

Maybe we'll get some more understanding in the general community. We could hardly get much less.

Anyway... watch this space.

Thursday 11 February 2010

Don't use these, OK?

From Tom's Hardware:

Others to avoid - THX1138, NCC1701, R2D2C3PO, sesame, obafgkmrns, mtwtfss...

Wednesday 10 February 2010

The DRAFT (emphasis added) DSM-V

Is available at :

DSM-5: The Future of Psychiatric Diagnosis
Publication of the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in May 2013 will mark one the most anticipated events in the mental health field. As part of the development process, the preliminary draft revisions to the current diagnostic criteria for psychiatric diagnoses are now available for public review and comment. We thank you for your interest in DSM-5 and hope that you use this opportunity not only to learn more about the proposed changes in DSM-5, but also about its history, its impact, and its developers. Please continue to check this site for updates to criteria and for more information about the development process.
Areas of particular interest are:

Gender Identity Disorders
302.6 Gender Identity Disorder in Children
302.85 Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents or Adults
302.6 Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

302.3 Transvestic Fetishism

Taking it from the top.....
302.6 Gender Identity Disorder in Children

The Good:
A. A marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and assigned gender, of at least 6 months duration, as manifested by at least 6* of the following indicators (including A1): [2, 3, 4]

1. a strong desire to be of the other gender or an insistence that he or she is the other gender [5]
At last! The requirement that a child be deemed TS only if they think they're of a different sex from the one they have been assigned! Mere cross-gendered behaviour is not enough. I'm not sure of the duration being reduced to only 6 months though. The rationale is this:
However, there is no clear empirical literature supporting this particular period (e.g., 3 months vs. 6 months or 6 months vs. 12 months). There was, however, consensus among the group that a lower-bound duration of 6 months would be unlikely to yield false positives.
I would have put the bar higher - out of sheer conservatism. In this case, I must grudgingly bow to the consensus. I'd like some empirical evidence though, especially from the Dutch group that have a 100.00 batting average on diagnosis.

The Bad:
With a disorder of sex development
Without a disorder of sex development
Being Intersexed is no longer a "defence" against the charge of being "mentally ill". Exactly what various IS groups have been afraid of with the classification of Transsexuality as being effectively an Intersex condition.

So now children who were surgically mutilated surgically assigned a sex of convenience are now not merely "disordered" (rather than "different") due to their biology, but suffer a "psychiatric illness" should they dare to object to an incorrect assignation.

It's as .. perverse... as reacting to a situation where, because broken arms are mis-classified as a "mental illness", and research shows that broken legs have a similar etiology (ie a physical fracture of the skeleton), that broken legs should now be classed as a mental rather than a physical condition too.

Whisky Tango Foxtrot Interrogative.

The Ugly:

The references - nothing, absolutely nothing, by Swaab, or Gooren, or Diamond, or... anyone at all writing anything on neuro-anatomy.

Harry Benjamin, back in 1966, wrote:
Many psychologists, particularly analysts, have little biological background and training. Some seem actually contemptuous of biological facts and persistently overstate psychological data, so much so that a distorted, one-sided picture of the problem under consideration results.
Psychiatrists with biological orientation strongly disagree and even decry the exclusive psychoanalytic interpretations. But their voice is heard too rarely."
Never has this been more obviously illustrated than here. Anything which might contradict Money's debunked theories of psychosexual neutrality at birth has been... ignored. Just plain not referenced, either to confirm of refute.

Moreover, in the references, amidst a number of journals with one, sometimes two citations, there's reference after reference to the "Archives of Sexual Behaviour", of which many on the panel are editors, and where the editors contribute much of the content. Calling it a "Vanity Press" publication would be most unjust and very inaccurate. It is however... monocultural. Incestuous. That can happen in any specialised area and is often inevitable. But it's not inevitable here, it appears to be the consequence of many of the people on the DSM-V revision panel (in this area) being part of this clique. Calling it a clique is harsh, but I'm afraid to say no other word fits. And the chair of the section revision committee, Ken Zucker, is an editor of this publication.

Moving right along...

302.85 Gender Identity Disorder in Adolescents or Adults

The Good

Not so much what has been included, as what hasn't been. Nothing about paraphilias, nothing about mis-directed sexual drives. The renaming to "Gender Incongruence" is also good. The "Exit Clause" better.
The change also makes it possible for individuals who have successfully transitioned to “lose” the diagnosis after satisfactory treatment. This resolves the problem that, in the DSM-IV-TR, there was a lack of an “exit clause,” meaning that individuals once diagnosed with GID will always be considered to have the diagnosis, regardless of whether they have transitioned and are psychosocially adjusted in the identified gender role (Winters, 2008). The diagnosis will also be applicable to transitioned individuals who have regrets, because they did not feel like the other gender after all. For instance, a natal male living in the female role and having regrets experiences an incongruence between the “newly assigned” female gender and the experienced/expressed (still or again male) gender.
This recognises that Gender Incongruence is something experienced by some no matter what situation they're in. The Gender Binary fits most people well, as does the Sex Binary. But it fits some not at all. Just as some are Bi-Gendered, able to function with adequate (if not good) facility in either Gender role, some unfortunates can't fit in either.

I don't like to think about them. I should, but I find their situation too distressing. I also wonder if this can be called a psychiatric condition, or one induced by a sick and overly-rigid society, composed of people like me. People who fit in, and don't understand people who don't.

The Bad

The criteria have been considerably relaxed. Now no distinction is made between the Transsexual - those for whom physical change of the body, the sex, is a matter of life-and-death (literally), and those who are merely gender variant. Sex and gender are completely conflated, biology and social construct inextricably mixed.

Now while some of what we normally think of as "cross-gendered" behaviour is actually cross-sexed, a matter if neurology.... most isn't. It's a matter of convention, a social construction if you will. I've had to "fight the good fight" to point out that it's not 100% social construction, that male and female brains differ in significant ways. But there's a practical issue here: merely Transgendered people do not require bodily correction. Transsexuals do.

Now while it may be that more Transgendered behaviour than we think has a physiological causation - I think it probably does - I'd be flabbergasted if it all did. Worse though, the conflation of the two might encourage Transgendered people into seeking body modification when it's highly undesirable, inducing a medical condition where none existed. Even worse, causing Transsexual people to be denied life-saving treatment as "Gender is just a social construct". That's a very popular notion with many "Gender Studies" Departments, but is contradicted by the facts - unless you believe in psycho-sexual neutrality at birth, and ignore neuro-anatomy. Which is what they've done.

The Ugly

Many of the Ugly bits are the same as for the previous diagnosis. But there's this, which I think shows some insight. These are smart people.
Although the DSM-IV diagnosis of GID encompasses more than transsexualism, it is still often used as an equivalent to transsexualism (Sohn & Bosinski, 2007). For instance, a man can meet the two core criteria if he only believes he has the typical feelings of a woman and does not feel at ease with the male gender role. The same holds for a woman who just frequently passes as a man (e.g., in terms of first name, clothing, and/or haircut) and does not feel comfortable living as a conventional woman. Someone having a GID diagnosis based on these subcriteria clearly differs from a person who identifies completely with the other gender, can only relax when permanently living in the other gender role, has a strong aversion against the sex characteristics of his/her body, and wants to adjust his/her body as much as technically possible in the direction of the desired sex. Those who are distressed by having problems with just one of the two criteria (e.g., feeling uncomfortable living as a conventional man or woman) will have a GIDNOS diagnosis. This is highly confusing for clinicians. It perpetuates the search for the “true transsexual” only, in order to identify the right candidates for hormone and surgical treatment instead of facilitating clinicians to assess the type and severity of any type of GI and offer appropriate treatment. Furthermore, in the DSM-IV, gender identity and gender role were described as a dichotomy (either male or female) rather than a multi-category concept or spectrum (Bockting, 2008; Bornstein, 1994; Ekins & King, 2006; Lev, 2007; Røn, 2002). The current formulation makes more explicit that a conceptualization of GI acknowledging the wide variation of conditions will make it less likely that only one type of treatment is connected to the diagnosis.
So far so good. I think that identifying the "true transsexual" is no bad thing though, as long as you have good criteria, and you define "true transsexual" as someone requiring hormonal and surgical intervention. I hate the phrase, as it inevitably leads to all sorts of elitist cliquishness, who are the "cool kids", the "real McCoys" vs the "wannabes".

At the moment we have an unholy conflation of sex and gender, illustrated by the confusion in the diagnostic criteria:
1. a marked incongruence between one’s experienced/expressed gender and primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (or, in young adolescents, the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [13, 16]

2. a strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s experienced/expressed gender (or, in young adolescents, a desire to prevent the development of the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [17]

3. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other gender
It's got nothing to do with gender. Now it may be, as in my own case, that after transition I found that I was far, far more feminine in many ways than I'd thought. But I'm still a Geek Girl, a Tomboy, and while I fit in exactly with these gals, they're not exactly gender-typical in some ways.

It's about sex. Not sexual orientation. Not about who you want to go to bed with, but who you want to go to bed as.

You know, on various blogs I've been accused (at the best) of "sitting on the fence". Of being a "TG Activist", of engaging in Gender Politics to the detriment of the "cool kids". I haven't blogged about that as I don't consider it important. I'm not actually interested in the least in "gender politics" and certainly not activism purveying some obscure technical doctrine. Human Rights, now those I'm interested in. But that's separate from the Science of Sex and Gender, my main interest. Just the facts ma'am. So it's ironic that here I am, criticising a group for doing what I've been (inaccurately) accused of myself. But I digress.

I'd re-write that as follows:
1. a marked incongruence between one’s neurological sex (as measured by tests of smell, hearing, MRI patterns) and somatic primary and/or secondary sex characteristics (or, in young adolescents, the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [13, 16]

2. a strong desire to be rid of one’s primary and/or secondary sex characteristics because of a marked incongruence with one’s somatic sex (or, in young adolescents, a desire to prevent the development of the anticipated secondary sex characteristics) [17]

3. a strong desire for the primary and/or secondary sex characteristics of the other sex
Neither Gender nor sexual orientation come into it - but one or the other will often be involved as well, depending on how much of the brain is cross-sexed, and which parts.

If we don't simplify and clarify like that, we have this kind of thing
Taking the above regarding the avoidance of male-female dichotomies into account, in the new formulation, the focus is on the discrepancy between experienced/expressed gender (which can be either male, female, in-between or otherwise) and assigned gender (in most societies male or female) rather than cross-gender identification and same-gender aversion (Cohen-Kettenis & Pfäfflin, 2009).
Assigned gender???? Bafflegab.

Some "gendered behaviour", that which is a constant across all societies through time and space, is sexed behaviour, and while there's overlap, and few if anyone wholly stereotypical, it's as physically defined as height or genital shape. Both of which have overlap, and many who don't fit in either male or female stereotype, not completely. But most of "gendered behaviour" has at best a tenuous connection with biology, and often none whatsoever.

Let's look at the rest of the diagnostic criteria:
4. a strong desire to be of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

5. a strong desire to be treated as the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)

6. a strong conviction that one has the typical feelings and reactions of the other gender (or some alternative gender different from one’s assigned gender)
I'd not qualify for anything other than 1) and 6) when pre-op. I didn't want to be a woman - I just was one. Now that the body's been fixed.... I rather like it, and rather like a lot of the stereotypical gender stuff too. Not all though: some doesn't fit. I'm arrogant enough to say that it doesn't have to.

302.6 Gender Identity Disorder Not Otherwise Specified

Not Finished yet. But now that Intersexed people are included in the other diagnoses, it will have to be changed. The DSM-IV-TR version has:
This category is included for coding disorders in gender identity that are not classifiable as a specific Gender Identity Disorder. Examples include

1. Intersex conditions (e.g., partial androgen insensitivity syndrome or congenital adrenal hyperplasia) and accompanying gender dysphoria

2. Transient, stress-related cross-dressing behavior

3. Persistent preoccupation with castration or penectomy without a desire to acquire the sex characteristics of the other sex
Basically, nothing to do with any of the rest, a grab-bag of bizarre behaviour associated with other conditions.

302.3 Transvestic Fetishism

Here's the total list of all of the references used in this section.
Blanchard, R. (1989). The classification and labeling of nonhomosexual gender dysphorias. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 18, 315–334.

Blanchard, R. (2009b). The DSM diagnostic criteria for Pedophilia. Archives of Sexual Behavior. Sept 16 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI 10.1007/s10508-009-9536-0

Blanchard, R. (2009c). The DSM diagnostic criteria for Transvestic Fetishism. Archives of Sexual Behavior.Sept 16 [Epub ahead of print]. DOI 10.1007/s10508-009-9541-3.
See previous remarks about monoculture and intellectual incest. Did I mention that Dr (PhD not MD or of Psychiatry) Blanchard is on the working-group in charge of writing this section of the DSM? IIRC he actually heads it...

I know it's a "work in progress", but still...
This approach leaves intact the distinction between normative and non-normative sexual behavior, which could be important to researchers, but without automatically labeling non-normative sexual behavior as psychopathological. It also eliminates certain logical absurdities in the DSM-IV-TR. In that version, for example, a man cannot be classified as a transvestite—however much he cross-dresses and however sexually exciting that is to him—unless he is unhappy about this activity or impaired by it.
Now while I'll never understand male sexuality.... I thought that we were trying to make a diagnostic manual for mental illnesses here. So while I can understand having a definition of non-normative behaviours that may be signs of a mental illness - such as an aversion to eating rotted chicken embryos in the shell in the Phillipines, or a desire on the part of a woman to vote in Saudi - I don't think any of them qualify as a mental illness, any more than "sluggish schizophrenia" with "democratic idealism" qualified in the late and unlamented Soviet Union. Whether they cause distress or not.

OK, I think transvestites are weird. But some would say that I'm weird too. Not so much for being Intersexed (many don't know that, I don't tell everyone), but for being a Rocket Scientist and sometime Naval Combat System Architect who's doing a PhD in Genetic Algorithms and Evolutionary Computation. THAT some men find weird in a chick - weird and threatening.

Tuesday 9 February 2010

An Alternate Space Program

An alternate history - sort of:

This was the reality - some 5 years later

And then this, 10-20 years later:

But that was over 45 years ago. After this year, the US as a nation will no longer have the ability to put people in space, and the deputy head of NASA has said that she "hopes" that Americans will return to the Moon in her lifetime. No guarantees though - and it may be as late as 2050.

Monday 8 February 2010

One of my favourite songs

I've already mentioned it in a previous post, but now I have a good translation from the Thai. I'd picked up the gist, but missed out on much of the subtlety.

Now be warned - Thai songs are 100% shmaltzy. Chick songs especially, but middle-of-the-road stuff too. And there's certain cultural differences that may take getting used to, like the attitude to sex work - at least in a house of ill-repute with a good reputation, so to speak.

Anyway, if you want to Karaoke, here it is once more:

And the lyrics and translation - first the Thai, then my own free version that conveys the meaning.


greet yaang yoo dtai mai bplot pai
There's no future in being a hick southern rubber-tapper

maa kap win mor-dter-sai yoo nai gor-tor-mor
So he went to the Big Smoke as a "Win" company cycle taxi driver

ai kai nui look tak-sin roop lor
He's quite a stud, this Hunk from Thaksin

mai chop pleng haat-kor chop pleng kaa raa-baao
Not into hard-core (haat-kor) rock, but Caraibao's stuff, yes!

daai faen bpen dek naew saai dieow
Picked up by an UpTown Girl, a Fashionista Princess

dtae yoo gan dieow dieow gor ok laai nam-nao
But she cheated on him, treated him like dirt

bok yoo gan bpai gor ot dtaai bplao-bplao
Said stay with me or starve, you bore me

beua laew kaa raa-baao yaak ja moh dern-dok
Treated him like dirt, just because he was dirt poor

คนจนก็เลยไม่ยิ่งใหญ่ น้ำตาตกใน รักมาสุดราง
kon jon gor loie mai ying yai naam dtaa dtok nai rak maa soot raang
But even a poor guy has his pride, so with tears flowing inside, his love ended.

สัญญาหน้าฝนมันเก่า หัวควายต้องเศร้าสาวเจ้าล้างบาง
san-yaa naa fon man gao hua kwaai dtong sao saao jaao laang baang
Spring's promise withered, his dream of living with his princess dead

saao jan nong naang jaak baan naa
A simple innocent country girl

maa siang duang cha dtaa peua ja jer chohk dee
Comes here to find fortune and fame

จบ ม.3 ยังไม่ข้าม ม.4 เลือกอาชีพสตรีขายบริการ
jop mor 3 yang mai kaam mor 4 leuak aa cheep sa-dtree kaai bor-ri-gaan
Hadn't finished grade 4 in hich school, but landed a good job as a courtesan

เป็นบ้านเล็กของเสี่ยใหญ่ เสี่ยไม่เข้าใจทำไมลื้อชอบเพลงปาน
bpen baan-lek kong sia yai sia mai kao jai tam-mai leu chop pleng bpaan
Mistress to a rich guy, but one who doesn't like Parn's chick music

มันด่าผู้ชายหลายใจทั้งวัน เสี่ยชักรำคาญเลิกกันดีกว่า
man daa poo chaai laai jai tang wan sia chak ram-kaan lerk gan dee gwaa
Too feminist for him, talking about cheating guys - so he told her to stop listening to it or hit the road.

ผู้หญิงทุกคนเอาแต่ใจ น้ำตาตกในตบมือข้างเดียว
poo ying took kon ao dtae jai naam dtaa dtok nai dtop meu kaang dieow
She has her pride too, so with tears flowing inside, she's left having to clap with one hand.

เรื่องง่ายๆ ที่ผู้ชายไม่รู้ แต่ผู้หญิงเค้ารู้ ผู้ชายไม่เกี่ยว
reuang ngaai-ngaai tee poo chaai mai roo dtae poo ying kao roo poo chaai mai gieow
Girls understand matters of the heart, even though guys don't.

kwaam ngao bpen kua-buak kua lop
Loneliness is like positive and negative poles,

noom saao daai maa pop gan nai keun raao raan
boy meets girl in the night of sadness.

kon ngao yom kao jai kon ngao
The lonely understand the lonely

เมื่อสายตาเศร้าๆ ส่งไปทักทายกัน
meua saai dtaa sao ๆ song bpai tak taai gan
when their sad glances meet.

noom kor pleng baao saao gor kor pleng bpaan
Boy requests Carabao's songs, girl requests Parn's songs.

noom rong pleng baao saao gor rong pleng bpaan
Boys sings Bao's songs for her, girl then sings Parn's songs for him.

ดอกรักผลิบาน ณ ตะวันแดง
dok rak pli baan na dta-wan daeng
And the Flower of love blooms at the "Tawan Daeng" (Red Sun Nightclub)

kwaam ngao bpen kua-buak kua lop
Loneliness is like positive and negative poles,

noom saao daai maa pop gan nai keun raao raan
boy meets girl in the night of sadness.

kon ngao yom kao jai kon ngao
The lonely understand the lonely

เมื่อสายตาเศร้าๆ ส่งไปทักทายกัน
meua saai dtaa sao ๆ song bpai tak taai gan
when their sad glances meet.

noom kor pleng baao saao gor kor pleng bpaan
Boy requests Carabao's songs, girl requests Parn's songs.

noom rong pleng baao saao gor rong pleng bpaan
Boys sings Bao's songs for her, girl then sings Parn's songs for him.

ดอกรักผลิบาน ณ ตะวันแดง
dok rak pli baan na dta-wan daeng
And the Flower of love blooms at the "Tawan Daeng" (Red Sun Nightclub)

noom saao saan kwaam sam-pan
Boy and Girl weave a life together

yaai bpai yoo duay gan yaang kao ok kao jai
They move in together, understanding each other's hearts.

bpert pleng bpaan fang duay gan dton baai
She listens to Parn in the afternoon, after work;

กลับจากวินมอไซค์ ก็เปิดคาราบาว
glap jaak win-mor-sai gor bpert kaa raa-baao
When he returns from Win Motors, he listens to Carabao

สองแรงร่วมด้วยช่วยกัน หวังว่าอีกไม่นานมันต้องดีกว่าเก่า
song raeng ruam duay chuay gan wang waa eek mai naan man dtong dee gwaa gao
Stronger together than apart, helping each other and hoping for a better future
bplian sa-wan bon din hai bpen daao
Making a piece of heaven on earth
ว่าจะเปิดร้านเหล้า ชื่อว่าร้านบาวปาน
waa ja bpert raan lao cheu waa raan baao bpaan
Opening a winebar, the "Bao-Parn".

หนุ่มบาวสาวปาน หนุ่มบาวกับสาวปาน
noom baao saao bpaan noom baao gap saao bpaan
Boy Bao, Girl Parn; Boy Bao with Girl Parn,
สองกายหัวใจเดียวกัน รวมสร้างตำนานรักทรหด
song gaai hua jai dieow gan ruam saang dtam naan rak tor-ra-hot
Two bodies with hearts as one, together they'll build a legend of enduring love.
หนุ่มบาวสาวปาน หนุ่มบาวกับสาวปาน
noom baao saao bpaan noom baao gap saao bpaan
Boy Bao, Girl Parn; Boy Bao with Girl Parn,

สองกายหัวใจเดียวกัน รวมสร้างตำนานรักทรหด
song gaai hua jai dieow gan ruam saang dtam naan rak tor-ra-hot
Two bodies with hearts as one, together they'll build a legend of enduring love.

A more literal translation is at

Sunday 7 February 2010

Second Paper In

Just before midnight, and perhaps 12 hours before the cut-off date.
...We describe the results of a set of experiments using the PyEvolve Genetic Algorithm (GA) toolset to determine optimum parameter settings for a simple GA in the Computational Chemistry problem domain....Results suggest that there are weak emergent properties from combinations of parameter settings, and that they cannot be studied adequately in isolation.
Now for a well-earned rest, before proceeding with the next step.

If it's accepted - a big if - I'll be going to WCCI 2010, the World Conference on Computational Intelligence, in Barcelona.