Saturday 23 April 2011

Welcome to my world

Trigger warning, as I know some people reading this blog have been through this, and worse. I'm sorry to say that my first reaction was to think about the things the victim did wrong - leaving her spine exposed. Allowing her head to be hit so she went into temporary seizures, and so couldn't protect her vital organs by covering them with her arms and legs - items which, in extremis, are disposable. Things which can be severely damaged without killing you. As I had to do, a long, long time ago, in my childhood. And to give thanks that it wasn't a lot worse.

The video itself:

From the Facebook account of McDonald's employee Vernon Hackett, who filmed and laughed at the assault. And posted it online, to amuse his friends:

This happened after the President of the Maryland Senate said, on camera, that a bill granting the most limited human rights to Trans and Intersexed people was "Anti Family". And that as neither he, nor any other Maryland Senator or Representative would ever hire one, he couldn't ask his constituents not to discriminate too.

The bill was shelved. Parenthetically, Maryland has had equal rights for Gays and Lesbians since 2001.

This is the third beating of a Trans woman in a McDonald's store in the last few months, but it happens everywhere. The only thing unusual about this one was that it was recorded on video.

My main concern is for the psychological health of the victim. The physical damage appears not to be too bad, as long as there's no permanent damage to the brain. But the scars from something like this aren't all external. Trust me on that one. You don't forget, even 45 years later.

Thursday 21 April 2011

Mercenaries in the Culture Wars

Assuming you're a bigwig in some Ideological group, with vast funds from a tiny handful of financiers, but very few people who actually support your position. How do you make it seem to politicians that you've got far more popular support - and hence influence at the ballot-box - than you actually do?

One way is to run an Astroturf campaign. From Wiki:
Astroturfing is a form of advocacy often in support of a political or corporate agenda designed to give the appearance of a "grassroots" movement. The goal of such campaigns is to disguise the efforts of a political and/or commercial entity as an independent public reaction to some political entity—a politician, political group, product, service or event. The term is a derivation of AstroTurf, a brand of synthetic carpeting designed to look like natural grass.

Astroturfers attempt to orchestrate the actions of apparently diverse and geographically distributed individuals, by both overt ("outreach", "awareness", etc.) and covert (disinformation) means. Astroturfing may be undertaken by an individual promoting a personal agenda, or highly organized professional groups with money from large corporations, unions, non-profits, or activist organizations. Very often, the efforts are conducted by political consultants who also specialize in opposition research. Beneficiaries are not "grass root" campaigners but distant organizations that orchestrate such campaigns.

Here's the "Win Points to Earn Valuable Prizes" scale for the National Organisation of Marriage. Which, oddly enough, actively campaigns against marriage. But only those involving gays, lesbians, transsexual and intersexed people.

That's from a spreadsheet recently made public by Louis J. Marinelli. You see, he was anti-same-sex-marriage on moral grounds. But.. one problem with having people who work for you out of a sense of morality. If you're obviously morally bankrupt, they're likely to defect.
As part of my job with NOM, I was instructed to create a point system to reward the propagandists. Everything they do will be tracked and NOM plans to reward them. In the future, when this team gets off the ground, NOM intends to use the technology behind Mr. Brown’s ActRight conservative activism website to facilitate tracking, create a competitive atmosphere between the propagandists and allow them to redeem the points they earn in a variety of ways, including lunch with Mr. Brown himself.
Cheapskates. From another article, about the financing:
I am sharing this with you because I want you to realize that NOM is a small group of devoutly religious Catholics supported by a couple of undisclosed sources. NOM is essentially made up of Brian Brown, its President, Maggie Gallagher, the CEO, a handful of other Board members (who are scattered across the country involved in other matters), a couple of advisors to Mr. Brown and a small and largely incompetent office staff.

Their social media management isn’t operated by NOM – they’re not big enough for that nor do they understand social media! As Jeremy Hooper detailed, Opus Fidelis manages NOM’s social media and websites.

From the Opus Fidelis website:
OPUSfidelis is an advisory services firm specialized in:

- Management Strategy (go-to-market and operations turn-around),

- Sales Acceleration (business development & sales coaching),

- New Media Strategy (Viral & Social media, and Cloud-based enterprise technologies).

Through its unique consulting approach, OPUSfidelis is delivering high value strategy advisory services to corporate customers, US Federal Contractors, Not for Profit (501c3-c4...), and political organizations & candidates.

OPUSfidelis is headquartered in Reston, Virginia, and works with local, national, and international organizations. Our portfolio of customers include Fortune 100 REIT (Real Instate Invesment Trust), US-based leading Real Estate Services provider (commercial, corporate, residential), political organizations including congressional and senatorial campaigns, US Federal contractors (technology and consulting), IT companies (software vendors, system integrators), international engineering firms, and Non for Profit organizations.
And... the "non denominational" "no contact with any religion" National Organisation for Marriage.

Also, it's "Estate" not "Instate". "Investment" not "Invesment".And "Not for Profit" not "Non for Profit".
We provide solutions for a dynamic environment where business and technology strategies converge. Our work team approach focuses on new ways of business combining best practices innovation and adoption while also leveraging an organization's current human talents and IT assets.

We are distinguished by the technical expertise of our staff and partners, our solid foundation in business strategy and operational improvements.

Business Performances are paramount to us and are the drivers to our customers’ relationship: we accelerate schedules with a high degree of time and cost predictability. OPUSfidelis helps industry leaders make crucial business decisions; increasing agility, slashing schedules. A chain reaction of success that dramatically improves efficiencies and positively impacts the achievements of an organization.
That's obscene. Not their secrecy or dishonesty, the Dilbertesque Full Buzzword Compliance, together with a lack of actual professional competence. Not even bothering to check the spelling of words on their website.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Thought For Today

It's the last frame that makes the difference, you see. Indomitable.

Monday 18 April 2011

How Young is too Young?

One of the great dilemmas in treating children whose neurology is cross-sexed to some degree is that the pubertal clock is ticking. Children become pubescent before their brains have developed adequately for them to be judged competent to make decisions as an adult.

This leads to laws about "statutory rape" of adolescents, where although their reproductive systems may be physically developed, their intellect and ability to make informed decisions hasn't caught up. This is partly due to inexperience - innocence - but also due to incomplete neurological development.

From the Herald-Sun:
A Court has allowed a 10-year-old boy (girl-ZEB) to become the youngest Australian to have sex-change therapy.

The boy (girl-ZEB), known as Jamie, has lived as a girl for two years, dressing in feminine clothes, using the girls' toilet at school and "presenting as a very attractive young girl with long, blonde hair", the court heard.

Jamie's parents, medicos and psychiatrists feared early-onset puberty could lead to self-harm or suicide and supported an urgent application for the child to receive sex-change therapy.

Family Court Justice Linda Dessau ordered that Jamie be allowed to start drug therapy to stop male puberty and that the court reconvene when she turned 16 to consider approving the second stage of taking female hormones to feminise the body.
A medical expert said when he first saw Jamie in February 2009, she "looked convincingly female in every way" except her genitalia.

The doctor said he was concerned about Jamie's rapid-onset puberty, which was equivalent to that of a 14-year-old, and that sex-change treatment should start immediately.
Sometimes Nature rushes us. 10 is too young to make a decision. But we have to guess what the right thing is to do here. Get it wrong one way, she may die, and will have entirely preventable problems her entire life. Get it wrong the other way, and we have interrupted the natural development of an effeminate gay boy, who may be just as happy living that way.

The best guess we have is to let puberty start, to let the child get a feel for it. If they react in utter horror, if symptoms of distress significantly worsen, then allow administration of puberty-delaying drugs. This is not a simple, clear-cut issue, many Gay and Lesbian advocacy groups think that we should let the brain develop naturally as puberty progresses, that we may be creating transsexuals out of gays. Not surgically, but by interrupting the natural neurological development process. They point out that mere gender non-conformant behaviour when young is usually a symptom of future homosexuality, not transsexuality. We can argue whether 20% or 35% of such children are transsexual[1], but there's no argument that 2/3 are gay or bisexual, not transsexual. It's complicated by the fact that many of those advocating a moratorium on treatment want all transsexuals to die on ideological grounds, and have said as much. One therefore might suspect their motives here,but what matters is not the motives, it's whether they're right or not.

The thing is, we don't allow treatment based purely on gender non-conformant behaviour of short duration, which is what pre-gay children exhibit. Or at least, we shouldn't. Given the general lack of knowledge in the medical profession in this particular area, it sadly wouldn't surprise me if a few incompetents did.

Here's the definitive paper on the subject:

Clinical management of gender identity disorder in adolescents: a protocol on psychological and paediatric endocrinology aspects-- Delemarre-van de Waal and Cohen-Kettenis 155 (Supplement 1): S131 -- European Journal of Endocrinology.
First, patients were considered eligible for a staged hormone treatment if they were (i) between 16 and 18 years, (ii) suffering from life-long gender dysphoria that had increased around puberty, (iii) functioning psychologically stable, and (iv) supported by their environment.

Since the experience of a full biological puberty may seriously interfere with healthy psychological functioning and well being, we have changed our protocol after the first follow-up studies on the 16–18-year olds (4, 5). Adolescents are now allowed to start puberty suppressing treatment with gonadotrophin-releasing hormone analogues (GnRHa) if they were older than 12 years of age and fulfil the same criteria as were used for the 16–18-year olds. They should also have reached Tanner stage 2 or 3 in combination with pubertal levels of sex hormones. The suppression of puberty using GnRHa is a reversible phase of treatment. This treatment is a very helpful diagnostic aid, as it allows the psychologist and the patient to discuss problems that possibly underlie the cross-gender identity or clarify potential gender confusion under less time pressure. It can be considered as ‘buying time’ to allow for an open exploration of the SR wish.

It is conceivable that lowering the age limit increases the incidence of ‘false positives’. However, it most certainly results in high percentages of individuals who more easily pass into the opposite gender role than when treatment commenced well after the development of secondary characteristics. This implies an improvement in the quality of life in these individuals, but may also result in a lower incidence of transsexuals with postoperative regrets or poor postoperative functioning. Clinically, it is known that some patients who were treated in adulthood regret SR because they have never been able to function inconspicuously in the opposite gender role. This holds especially for MFs, because beard growth and voice breaking give so many of them a never disappearing masculine appearance. But, since the number of ‘false positives’ should be kept as small as possible, the diagnostic procedure should be carried out with great care. Until now, no patients who started treatment before 18 years have regretted their choice for SR.
Jamie, the girl in Australia, would not have qualified. She would have had to wait another two years - and as her pubertal development was already that of a 14 year old, the consequences would have been grave. As in, quite possibly fatal, and leading to lifelong misery.

Had such treatment been available in the 1960's, I would not have qualified either. I showed little or no gender-nonconformant behaviour at the time. I was polite, biddable, shy, emotional, but I wanted to play with trucks and spaceships, not dolls. I was also extremely determined, quite happy to die in the attempt if it meant I succeeded, or that was the only chance of success. I didn't "know" I was female at age 3 or 4. It was only through a process of deduction that I realised it, and not before age 7. The process was complete by age 10. The re-think and re-evaluation when I learnt a bit more about biology a few years later never shook that knowledge. I never managed to convince myself completely that I was male, and goodness knows, I tried.

We're talking about extreme cases here. The so-called "Primary Transsexuals", far more strongly neurologically sexed than most humans. They literally cannot function as the opposite sex, the complete opposite of the many who are bi-gendered, who can.

From the UK Telegraph:
Nicki was born a boy but as early as 18-months-old, she was already trying on her mother's dresses and underwear.

At nursery, she shunned boys' games and preferred to play with the girls.

By four, Nicki was telling her mother Sharon, an IT manager, that "God made a mistake by making me a boy".

Two years later, she was already asking for a sex change operation.
See the difference? You can recognise these cases a mile away. They're nothing like me, I survived till age 47 without treatment. They can't make it past 25. Many don't make it to 20.
"She got quite a lot of stick because she was going to school as a boy and saying she was a girl.

"So, at eight, we made the decision not to let her do that.

"I let her grow her hair and she got a blouse and a skirt. She didn't have to wear boys' clothes at all anymore.

"As soon as I did that she was so much happier and the other kids understood it because she looked like a girl now."

But matters took a turn for the worse when Nicki moved on to secondary school, where she became suicidal because of bullying.

"She took four overdoses," said Sharon, from Yorkshire.

"For a year and a half she was spat at, kicked, punched, pushed over.

"One day, when she was walking home from school a group of boys surrounded her and tried to pull her skirt down."

"When she first got to the school, one boy announced 'So where is the tranny?' It was awful."

With the abuse expected to get worse as Nicki got closer to puberty, her mother began to look into the possibility of her daughter being prescribed hormone blockers.

She went back to the Tavistock clinic but was told they were unable to prescribe the treatment because it was against their guidelines to do any interventions before 16.

Fearing that her daughter may take her own life if forced to go through puberty, she went to an American expert Dr Norman Spack in Boston.

To her relief, Dr Spack, who runs a Gender Identity Disorder clinic in Boston, agreed to prescribe the 13-year-old Nicki the blockers.

Now 17, she has had a sex change operation and works as a care assistant.

"She holds down a full time and has been with her boyfriend for 18 months and she is gorgeous," said Sharon.

"I am absolutely positive she would not be here without the treatment."
I've seen one of Norman Spack's patients. Breathtakingly lovely, an elphin beauty, a girl who has had little psychological damage from her unusual biology. Some though. We can only reduce the harm, not prevent it, not without changing society. We can start though by legalising the best kind of medical treatment that we know of. Again, from the UK telegraph :
Until this month, British doctors were prevented from offering youngsters diagnosed with gender issues any medical intervention before the late stages of puberty usually at 16.

But now the National Research Ethics Service has given approval to the UK's only specialist clinic for GID – the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust in London – to prescribe the drugs to youngsters from 12 years old.

Dr Polly Carmichael, the clinic director, said the reduction in the age limit will be welcomed by families who would have otherwise had to travel abroad to the US for the treatment.

"The majority of our referrals are 15-plus and we get fewer from a younger age group," she said.

"Certainly, of the children between 12 and 14, there's a number who are keen to take part.

"I know what's been very hard for their families is knowing that there's something available but it's not available here.

[1] Psychosexual outcome of gender-dysphoric children.Wallien MS, Cohen-Kettenis PT. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2008 Dec;47(12):1413-23.
At follow-up, 30% of the 77 participants (19 boys and 4 girls) did not respond to our recruiting letter or were not traceable; 27% (12 boys and 9 girls) were still gender dysphoric (persistence group), and 43% (desistance group: 28 boys and 5 girls) were no longer gender dysphoric.

Friday 15 April 2011

Science! Molecular Octopi!

One from Science Daily. I need some cheering up after all the struggle vs stupidity, ignorance and malice.

First, The 'molecular octopus': A little brother of 'Schroedinger’s cat'
For the first time, the quantum behaviour of molecules consisting of more than 400 atoms was demonstrated by quantum physicists based at the University of Vienna in collaboration with chemists from Basel and Delaware. The international and interdisciplinary team of scientists has set a new record in the verification of the quantum properties of nanoparticles.

In quantum physics, the propagation of massive particles is described by means of matter waves. In a certain sense, this means that the particles loose their classical property of a well-defined position and their quantum wave function can extend simultaneously over a large area. Formally, this state resembles that of a cat that is at the same time dead and alive. In quantum physics this is called a 'superposition'.
The use of specifically synthesized organic molecules consisting of complexes of up to 430 atoms enabled the researchers to demonstrate the quantum wave nature in mass and size regimes that hitherto had been experimentally inaccessible. These particles are comparable in size, mass and complexity to Insulin molecules and exhibit many features of classical objects. Nevertheless, in the current experiment the tailor-made molecules can exist in a superposition of clearly distinguishable positions and therefore -- similar to 'Schroedinger's cat' -- in a state that is excluded in classical physics.
So it's both there and somewhere else at the same time. Now it's OK for subatomic particles to do this, even individual atoms, bose-einstein condensates where bosons all occupy the same place, but now we're demonstrating it in molecules big enough to comprehend.

Thursday 14 April 2011

How did this happen?

The Veronnica Baxter Inquest
"I have been going to Coronial Inquests for over 20 years and never have I attended an Inquest with so many anomalies."

From the SMH :
Two years after Veronnica Baxter died in a men's jail, her brothers are still asking why.

A coronial inquest into Ms Baxter's death last week found she committed suicide at Silverwater in 2009, sometime between her single-cell door closing on March 15 and when it was opened the next morning.

Greens MP David Shoebridge said questions remained about why Ms Baxter, a transgender Aboriginal woman, was put in an all-male facility when she identified as a woman, and why she was not given hormone medication prescribed to her.

Corrective Services policy states transgender prisoners should be put in a centre based on which gender they identify with - unless there are concerns for their safety or that of other prisoners. Mr Shoebridge will refer her death to a parliamentary inquiry with the power to call witnesses.

''It is a serious disappointment and a failing in the system that there was a two-year delay for a half-day coronial inquest,'' he said. ''That delay has meant that witness recollections were stale.''
In her last hours, Ms Baxter made emergency calls from her cell to corrective services officers. These calls were not recorded, and officers at Silverwater could not say who answered them.
A Parliamentary inquiry may get rid of some of the coronial whitewash. And whitewash it was, the Coroner didn't enquire why or how Ms Baxter was given this 'special treatment' by persons unknown, nor what threats she may have been reacting to when she called for help. There is a real fear that the "suicide" may have been "assisted".

I fear the trail may be cold, but we're not giving up on this one.

Wednesday 13 April 2011

Days of Future Past

A look at today from the year 1900, from the Ladies Home Journal. Click to make readable.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

A Minority View of Transsexuality

From the Frontispiece of ‘Lectures on Violence Perversion and Delinquency’, part of the Portman Papers, containing articles by staff at the Portman Clinic, selected and edited by staff at the Portman Clinic, and peer-reviewed by staff at the Portman Clinic. :
“The Portman Clinic has been applying a psychoanalytic framework to the understanding and treatment of violent, perverse, criminal and delinquent patients since its foundations in the early 1930s. All Portman Clinic patients have crossed the boundary from fantasy and impulse to action – action that defies legal and moral boundaries but that also breaches the body boundary of the victims. Ultimately, the violence underlying most of such violent, perverse and delinquent action also attacks and disturbs the mind of both the victim, be that an individual or society and that of the perpetrator. In this volume, contemporary staff describe their thinking and clinical work. Theoretical underpinnings for the understanding of perversion and violence, questions of risk and ethics and the institutional difficulties which emerge during the care of these patients are presented alongside chapters on clinical work with adults and adolescents, including chapters on pedophilia, the compulsive use of internet pornography and transsexuality. ”

Quotes from the article (emphasis in the original)

“A recent ruling in the European Court of Human Rights resulted in the decision that a postoperative male to female trans-sexual had the right to marry a biological male (2002). In response to this I and a number of other clinicians wrote a letter which appeared in the national press stating our views on the condition and how we felt that such a decision by the European Court of Human Rights was a victory of fantasy over reality…”

“Of course neither I nor any of the other clinicians with whom I work are opposed to a trans-sexual being allowed the right to marry,
How generous of him. I have been treated with such affability, such condescension, as I would never have dared to hope for. as was said in "Pride and Prejudice".
but our objections are that they be allowed as a person of the sex they are not. If legislation was to change to allow individuals of the same sex to marry, then this would allow trans-sexuals to marry individuals of either gender without problems. It seems that the recent ruling is a step backwards for the right of same-sex marriage, an issue that affects homosexuals in this country and to prevent them from having the opportunity of marriage. It seems that rather than change this legislation (although the recent developments in ‘civil partnerships’ goes some way towards this) the ruling for trans-sexuals that it is not acceptable for members of the same sex to marry with the exception that it is acceptable if one of the sexes can at least have the suitably deceptive appearance of the other sex.

“A similarly related ongoing battle is the fight for the trans-sexual to be allowed to change the gender specified in the birth certificate. Again, we are faced with deception.”

“A further illustration of the deception would be the possibility arising in the event of both of the aforementioned pieces of legislation. They could result in a man marrying what he presumed to be a woman who had a female passport, a birth certificate declaring him to be female at time of birth, who is taken to be female and an individual whom he believed he could marry and who could be the mother of his children but in reality his wife actually being a man.”

“This is followed by the psychiatric profession entering in the ultimate collusion with the psychosis manifest in their insistence that these patients dress up and live in their desired gender role for two years, in order to ascertain how successful the deceptive process can be.”
Elsewhere the author states that this psychosis is an encapsulated psychosis, which is why the patient doesn’t show any signs of mental illness. The same justification as the old Soviet diagnosis of “sluggish schizophrenia”.

No reference to reports of results of course. Such things are below them. No references at all, really.Of the case reports, none meet the ICD-10 diagnostic criteria for Transsexuality.

See also this letter written by... you guessed it... staff at the Portman Clinic.
Sir - The recent judgment in the European Court of Human Rights (report, July 12), in which a post-operative transsexual person was granted permission to marry in his adopted gender role, is a victory of fantasy over reality.

The experience of many psychiatrists, psychoanalysts and psychotherapists working with transsexual patients is that they are individuals who, for complex reasons, need to escape from an intolerable psychological reality into a more comfortable fantasy. By attempting to live as a member of the opposite sex, they try to avoid internal conflict, which may otherwise prove to be too distressing.

It is a measure of the urgency and desperation of their situation that they frequently seek surgery to make their fantasy real. By carrying out a "sex change" operation on their bodies, they hope to eliminate the conflict in their minds. Unfortunately, what many patients find is that they are left with a mutilated body, but the internal conflicts remain.

Through years of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, some patients begin to understand the origins of their painful conflicting feelings and can find new ways of dealing with them, other than by trying to alter their bodies. The recent legal victory risks reinforcing a false belief that it is possible to actually change a person's gender. It might also strengthen the view that the only solution to psychic pain is a legal or surgical one.

Sira Dermen, Dr Damian Gamble, Dr Az Hakeem and five others Portman Clinic, London NW3 12:01AM BST 15 Jul 2002
Oddly enough, they've not published any record of the results of their "talking cure" in long-term follow-up. Neither has anyone else.

The issue here is the PoMo snake oil. The labelling of GID as a "psychosis" when it meets none of the diagnostic criteria for that - like calling Clostridium Botulinum a "virus", or the Fibula a Tibia.

The a priori assumption is that Transsexuality is a pathological, dangerous and violent form of delusional insanity.

That these are "violent, perverse, criminal and delinquent patients".

Making no exceptions, the lectures state that "ALL Portman Clinic patients have crossed the boundary from fantasy and impulse to action – action that defies legal and moral boundaries but that also breaches the body boundary of the victims."

So who are the victims here? The patients themselves? No, that's made clear in the distinction between "victim" and "perpetrator". Society is the victim. Society gets disturbed, just as Society was disturbed by "Sluggish Schizophrenia with Delusions of Democracy".

"Ultimately, the violence underlying most of such violent, perverse and delinquent action also attacks and disturbs the mind of both the victim, be that an individual OR SOCIETY and that of the perpetrator"

It is a classical case of political or ideological diagnosis. The "violence", as with the "hooliganism" of the Russian Dissidents, is only to socially and politically acceptable beliefs. The same as with the previous diagnoses of "drapetomania" - the psychosis of slaves desiring emancipation - and "suffragette hysteria" - the psychosis of women wanting to vote.

As for "encapsulated psychosis"? Possible, yes. Controversial, certainly. How could one test for its existence?

Subjectively speaking, I'd have to believe it, having experienced it as a defence mechanism for many years. I had to "forget" things and deny objective evidence in order to believe on a superficial level that I was male. The alternative was literally unthinkable, as in "I was unable to think it" regardless of observable facts. Yet in other ways, I was relatively well-adjusted, with only a few signs of eccentricity and, not exactly bizarre, but inexplicable quirks of behaviour.

It's scary because, once you realise that it happened once, you also realise that if it happens again, you will have no insight into it, and must therefore listen to what others say.

Getting back to the view of Trans and Intersexed people who object to their assignment of sex at birth... this view, that they are "violent, perverse, criminal and delinquent" while once very much in the mainstream (before 1965 anyway) is no longer fashionable. So it seems Dr Haleem must change with the times.

On 20th May, Dr Az Hakeem is due to speak to the Gay and Lesbian Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

Dr Az Hakeem: Deconstructing Gender and Parallel Processes:
Features specific to a Specialist Transgender Psychotherapy Service

Dr Hakeem's recent works:
Deconstructing Gender in Trans-Gender Identities'. Group Analysis. The International Journal of Group Analysis Volume 43 Issue 2, June 2010
In this theoretically informed clinical study the author draws upon the psychoanalytic and group therapeutic literature in addition to the works of Judith Butler and his own clinical group analytic work with trans-gender in order to discuss the author’s hypothesis that binary gender rigidity stands at the core of trans-gender states. The author suggests that the analytic task is to deconstruct gender and trans-gender constructions in working with these patients. In addition to working towards greater analytic understanding such an endeavour may also be considered as a social, political and cultural exercise in working towards shifts in our societal foundation matrix.

Small group psychotherapy is used as a medium for these observations and as the basis for this study.

Parallel Processes': Observed in the Patient, Therapy and Organization. Group Analysis. The International Journal of Group Analysis Volume 43 Issue 4, December 2010
In this theoretically informed clinical study the author introduces the term ‘parallel process’. Five parallel processes of ‘confusion’, ‘genital-centrality’, ‘binary rigidity’, ‘rejection’, and the ‘questioning of authenticity’ are observed in the analytic material presented by trans-gender patients in specialist small group psychotherapy, and observed similarly in the organizational context in which the group takes place. The author provides a theoretical explanation for the occurrence of such parallel processes. The author concludes that the term ‘parallel processes’ describes a phenomenon currently without definition in the existing group-analytic vocabulary and suggests it should be added as a group-analytic term to describe the processes that are clinically and theoretically detailed in this article.

Wait a sec... didn't he write about "... a false belief that it is possible to actually change a person's gender."? Now he's saying that Binary Gender Rigidity is the problem, and Gender should be deconstructed?

Full text (omitting the non-traditional Cromwell verse) here.

UPDATE: From Dr Hakeem's website
Whilst most people are familiar with transsexuality and gender reassignment as a physical intervention for transsexuals, there is little awareness around those people who do not fit neatly into a typical 'transsexual' diagnosis and for whom gender reassignment may not therefore be a suitable option. Such people may have a less certain, less fixed, more fluid, confused or intermittent sense of their gender identity and clearly a permanent gender reassignment physical intervention is not a suitable option for such people. Others may have conditions which similarly presents with confusion, dissatisfaction or unhappiness in relation to their sex/ gender or bodies but who do not neatly fit a diagnosis of transsexual and for whom physical gender reassignment is not considered either by themselves or professionals as a suitable option.
If a person is assessed and is clearly seeking physical gender reassignment and has no uncertainty about this then they are referred to the appropriate gender clinic. For other patients who may have more atypical gender presentations such as those described above they may be suitable for a specially tailored psychotherapeutic intervention aimed at further clarifying and establishing an understanding and certainty of their sense of gender which may or may not correlate with their biological sex.

Traditionally, psychotherapists have had very little experience of working with transgender and speculative hypotheses have been constructed based on only a few cases. Having been involved in therapeutic work with over a hundred patients with transgender and other gender identities for over a decade; my own understanding and attitudes to this field have been moulded and informed by my patients over this time. The evolution of my understanding of the condition is reflected in the qualitative shifts evident in the papers I have written in this field. For many years now I have moved away from what appeared in my early published work as appeared in 'A Case of The Emperors' New Clothes'. The reader will notice qualitative shifts successively up to my latest paper 'Parallel Processes' which gives an up to date and accurate account of the my specialist work in this area and the issues clinicians and institutions face in this work.
Well said. When the facts change, I change my opinions too.

Friday 8 April 2011

Another piece of the puzzle

We're starting to get a good handle on the degree of cross-sexing in the human brain in cases of Transsexuality. We know it's not complete - the anecdotal behavioural anomalies of Transsexed people, greater creativity, increased intelligence, the kinds of profession many enter - have been noted for many years. But such accumulations of anecdotes don't match the standards of proof we'd like. Better is actual measurements of the brain.

From Sex Dimorphism of the Brain in Male-to-Female Transsexuals. Savic I, Arver S. Cereb Cortex. 2011 Apr 5:
Gender dysphoria is suggested to be a consequence of sex atypical cerebral differentiation. We tested this hypothesis in a magnetic resonance study of voxel-based morphometry and structural volumetry in 48 heterosexual men (HeM) and women (HeW) and 24 gynephillic male to female transsexuals (MtF-TR). Specific interest was paid to gray matter (GM) and white matter (WM) fraction, hemispheric asymmetry, and volumes of the hippocampus, thalamus, caudate, and putamen. Like HeM, MtF-TR displayed larger GM volumes than HeW in the cerebellum and lingual gyrus and smaller GM and WM volumes in the precentral gyrus. Both male groups had smaller hippocampal volumes than HeW. As in HeM, but not HeW, the right cerebral hemisphere and thalamus volume was in MtF-TR lager than the left. None of these measures differed between HeM and MtF-TR. MtF-TR displayed also singular features and differed from both control groups by having reduced thalamus and putamen volumes and elevated GM volumes in the right insular and inferior frontal cortex and an area covering the right angular gyrus.The present data do not support the notion that brains of MtF-TR are feminized. The observed changes in MtF-TR bring attention to the networks inferred in processing of body perception.
"Both male groups"... oops. That assumes something not actually true, and that there's plenty of evidence against. That MtoF Trans people are "really men". No matter, the data's what's important.
Like HeM, MtF-TR displayed larger GM volumes than HeW in the cerebellum and lingual gyrus and smaller GM and WM volumes in the precentral gyrus. Both male groups had smaller hippocampal volumes than HeW. As in HeM, but not HeW, the right cerebral hemisphere and thalamus volume was in MtF-TR lager (sic) than the left. None of these measures differed between HeM and MtF-TR.
In summary, we can't tell someone's sex just by looking at volumes of brain structures.

We knew that before, as I'll discuss later. But what about other variables? Age for example? Were there post-menopausal women in the control group? While the experimental subjects were all gynephillic - lesbian - the sexual orientation of the control groups weren't mentioned in the abstract (all we have at the moment), and neither was experimental group's HRT status - were they pre-op, post-op, on hormones? We know that latter's an important issue when it comes to gross volumes of brain structures from other experiments. We know the sexual orientation has correlations with characteristic brain activities too, though not brain volumes as far as I know.

See Changing your sex changes your brain: influences of testosterone and estrogen on adult human brain structure by Pol et al, Europ Jnl Endocrinology, Vol 155, suppl_1, S107-S114 2006
Methods: Magnetic resonance brain images were made prior to, and during, cross-sex hormone treatment to study the influence of anti-androgen + estrogen treatment on brain morphology in eight young adult male-to-female transsexual human subjects and of androgen treatment in six female-to-male transsexuals.

Results: Compared with controls, anti-androgen + estrogen treatment decreased brain volumes of male-to-female subjects towards female proportions, while androgen treatment in female-to-male subjects increased total brain and hypothalamus volumes towards male proportions.
If the Trans women had had little long-term Hormonal treatment, nor surgical intervention with hormonal balance consequences, little would be learned. If, on the other hand, HRT was underway, we'd need to look at the ages of those involved. If all were old, we could tentatively hypothesise that the effects on brain volume of sex hormones decreases over time.

We know that MtoF and FtoM are not simple mirror-images either: from Dichotic Listening, Handedness, Brain Organization and Transsexuality Govier et al International Journal of Transgenderism, 12:144–154, 2010
It was hypothesized that the MtF participants’ dichotic performance would be significantly different from the control males and resemble the control female pattern. This hypothesis was supported. It was also hypothesized that the FtM dichotic pattern would be significantly different from the control females and would resemble the control male pattern. This hypothesis was not supported. Finally, it was hypothesized that there would be significantly more nonexclusive right-handers in both trans-groups. This hypothesis was supported. Taken together, the dichotic and handedness data reported here indicate that the MtF and FtM conditions are not mirror images in terms of the verbal-auditory aspects of their brain organization and neurobiology plays an important role, particularly in the development of the male-to-female trans-condition.

Moving right along: from Regional gray matter variation in male-to-female transsexualism. by Luders et al Neuroimage. 2009 Jul 15;46(4):904-7.
Results revealed that regional gray matter variation in MTF transsexuals is more similar to the pattern found in men than in women. However, MTF transsexuals show a significantly larger volume of regional gray matter in the right putamen compared to men.
So it's not as simple as "girl brain in boy body", though that captures the essence of it. In certain ways, Trans people match neither a male nor female stereotype, nor anywhere in between.

Back to the 2011 paper "Sex Dimorphism of the Brain in Male-to-Female Transsexuals":
MtF-TR displayed also singular features and differed from both control groups by having reduced thalamus and putamen volumes and elevated GM volumes in the right insular and inferior frontal cortex and an area covering the right angular gyrus.
OK, that narrows things down a bit.
The present data do not support the notion that brains of MtF-TR are feminized.
I'd say more than that: I'd say that a simplistic "boy brain" vs "girl brain" hypothesis had been disproved. The brain volumes are different, and hormones make a huge difference anyway. I think we had enough evidence of that already to treat it as a working hypothesis, just as we do that the brains of Trans people are cross-sexed in more subtle ways.

There's something more useful though.
The observed changes in MtF-TR bring attention to the networks inferred in processing of body perception.
Bingo. The Body Map. One more variable - were these Trans women all desirous of having sex reassignment? My working hypothesis is that some are not simply because that part of the brain is not affected by the generalised cross-sexing, visible not in brain volumes so much as cell type and grey matter distribution in certain brain structures, but not others. We should only say "boy brain in girl body" etc when telling "lies to children" on the very bottom rungs of Wittgenstein's ladder. There it's the best approximation to the truth, but not higher up.

TLDR version: Brain volumes alone aren't reliable for determining sex: you have to look at the deeper structure, the pattern of activity, and distribution of cell types.

I'll look forward to seeing the full paper: the abstract doesn't tell us enough. I'd also be interested in further work, with both androphillic male and gynephillic female controls, and of different age groups. We may just be detecting sexual orientation, nothing else.

My thanks to OII researcher M.Italiano for bringing this paper to my attention.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Thank You, Ms Stanton

From a report about proposed bills protecting TS and IS people in Nevada:
Following the SB 331 hearing, Chairman Schneider opened the hearing on SB 368, which would prohibit housing discrimination against transgender people. Equality Nevada Executive Director Lauren Scott, and vocal advocate for civil rights, related a story of housing discrimination she faced when she first relocated to Nevada from Florida. Senator James Settlemeyer (R-Minden) questioned the accuracy of Ms. Scott’s testimony, but she was not afforded an opportunity to respond as the Chair called an end to the meeting due to the lateness of the hour, telling both Sen. Settlemeyer and Ms. Scott that their disagreement could be handled off the record.
Because of course, there's no discrimination against Trans people in Nevada. None. Doesn't happen. I mean, the Senators would have noticed it, wouldn't they?
As the committee room emptied, Darlene Stanton, an unpaid lobbyist representing her own interests, but also involved with the Lyon County Republican Women, told Ms. Scott, who is a decorated veteran of the US Air Force, that she was a “disgrace to America.” Ms. Stanton also remarked that as a homeowner, she could “discriminate against whomever [she] wanted,” and that “people like [Ms. Scott] should leave the county” because it is “God’s country.” Ms. Stanton also said Ms. Scott was a pervert. The accost lasted not more than 10 seconds and was broken up when Elisa Cafferata of NAPPA stopped Ms. Stanton as she was approaching Ms. Scott, who remained seated and calm during the whole encounter. The incident was witnessed by many of the senators on the committee.

After, Ms. Scott said that such an encounter was to be expected, and that if it had to happen, it was good that it happened in front of the committee.
Fortuitous timing, but inevitable that it would happen. The strength of the bigotry is so strong, they can't keep their mouths shut, and physical assault is always a possibility. I don't think the "no discrimination happens in Nevada" meme is going to be very convincing after that. No rhetoric on the part of human rights activists could compare in credibility with the actions of the redoubtable Ms Stanton. We owe her thanks for her honesty.

Lyon County Republican Women
Club Mailing Address: P. O. 619, Yerington, NV 89447
President: Darlene Stanton
430 Pearl St., Yerington 89447

Tuesday 5 April 2011

The Shape of the Earth

Roundish, obviously. And constantly changing shape, due to weathering, tidal forces, moving masscons in the mantle causing gravitational effects, plate tectonics... even relativistic curdling of spacetime due to rotation.

But roundish. Quite close to a spheroid. But what about the Geoid, the notional surface of gravitational equipotential, after removing tidal effects etc?

From ESA Portal - Earth's gravity revealed in unprecedented detail - images:
ESA's GOCE mission has delivered the most accurate model of the 'geoid' ever produced, which will be used to further our understanding of how Earth works.

The colours in the image represent deviations in height (–100 m to +100 m) from an ideal geoid. The blue colours represent low values and the reds/yellows represent high values.

The geoid is the surface of an ideal global ocean in the absence of tides and currents, shaped only by gravity. It is a crucial reference for measuring ocean circulation, sea-level change and ice dynamics – all affected by climate change.

Monday 4 April 2011

Dai Ichi Situation Reporting

The best source of data and analysis I've seen is the Physics Forum thread on Japan Earthquake: nuclear plants. This has commentary from radiologists, nuclear engineers, former nuclear power plant operators, physicists, and in general, a lot of people who know their stuff. It's confined to the physics of the situation.

A more politically-oriented thread on the same forum is the aptly named The "more political thread" besides "Japan Earthquake: nuclear plants" scientific one

Now some of the hard data regarding the power plants. First, the general environmental radiation close to the reactors, and a few hundred metres away. Note that Your Radiation May Vary, with hot-spots considerably in excess of these figures just metres away.

Now a bit of a worry: the aftershocks continue, so in addition to there being a generally high level of atmospheric and "skyshine" radiation from scattered gamma rays, plus the "hot" water that's at 100 Rem/Hour in places, plus the internal environment adjacent to the reactors which may be more like 2,500 Rem/Hr (down from 10,000)... the buildings are F*cked, to put it bluntly.

The toughest components were designed to take 440 gals - that is, sideways accelerations of up to 440 cm/sec/sec. They took 500.

Then got hit by a tsunami that inundated the buildings up to about 3m, from the looks of it. The traditional overturned semi-trailers, displaced cars etc.

Then took 3 separate explosions, one of which was considerably more violent than the other two, and partly directed sideways. The whole plant, all the buildings, are a mess, airtight they're not. Watertight they're not either, there's cracks everywhere, foundations, pipe channels, electrical conduit ducts, and the "hot" water will get everywhere eventually. Time is not on our side here, the contamination is getting worse and worse just as the reactors themselves are in dynamic equilibrium, being adequately cooled by water injection rather than circulation.

But it's worse than that, because aftershocks are still hitting the region, major earthquakes in their own right. If the buildings were structurally sound, no great drama, they could take that easily. But they're damaged, sometimes severely. Band-aid patches to stop water flow aren't supposed to take such treatment, even if they do work initially.

Note that in the following diagram, the severity uses the Japanese measure. Add about 12% to get the equivalent Richter magnitude.

Source: Graphing Earthquake, Radiation and Water Data in Japan

A technical challenge... and getting just a bit more difficult with every hour that passes, just as the environmental radiation some distance from the plant is becoming less hazardous. The most complete and accurate readings of the general area come from the extensive radiation monitoring equipment at the nearby Dai-Ni Nuclear Plant.

Compare and contrast to the Dai-Ichi figures.

And just to make your day... pressure in #1 Pressure vessel is rising (good that it's not leaking - the others are at ambient pressure), and so is radiation in the drywell surrounding it. Now close to 5,000 Rem/hr, and 650 kPa pressure, 250 over the usual (4 atmospheres - 400 kPa). Oopsie.

Source : based on #Fukushima reactor temp, pressure, water level+rate, CAMS radiation to #NISA / #METI release 72 (apr/04 08:00).

More Details on individual reactor status at Japan Atomic Industrial Forum Information on Status of Nuclear Power Plants in Fukushima

This is going to need a decade-long cleanup.

Saturday 2 April 2011

Fukushima Dai ichi Contamination Distribution Map

Click to enlarge

Source : Japan's Nuclear Safety Commission

This shows accumulated dose in the immediate area without protection. It also shows the two area stretching to 40 km away with significant contamination, and that some areas 15km away are not affected as much.

This dose came from the short-lived radioactive nucleotides released in the first few days. Unfortunately, they also show where the dangerous Iodine-134, and the long-term problem Cesium-134 is as well.

So no green leafy vegetables grown inside the 5 boundary should be harvested for at least 30 years or so. Most should be relatively safe-ish (if checked) within 18 months. Just not grass, cabbage etc.

But then... the salt-contaminated soils in the whole of the tsunami region will be affected anyway, with all sorts of chemicals and heavy metals disturbed from their safe deposition by the tsunami. Plus the benzenes from the wrecked oil refineries etc. There will be birth defects and cancers from these far in excess of those caused by radiation, unfortunately, and not just confined to a small stretch of coast, but all the towns and cities along hundreds of kilometres of coastline.

The scale of the total received dose as of one week ago, I found shocking. Not so much the 10Sv (100% fatal dose) at the reactor site, but the extent of the 1/2 Sv (50 Rem) area. Although actual dose might be at most 1/2 and often 1/10 of this, they didn't evacuate any too soon: and the evacuation radius should be extended to 40km.

Friday 1 April 2011

A History Of The Warfare Of Science With Theology

That's the name of a book written by Andrew Dickson White, in 1896.

A History Of The Warfare Of Science With Theology

We've descended into superstition since then, quite literally. When people were closer to the soil, they could see Reality more clearly - the curvature of the Earth visible on the plains, the existence of livestock with Intersex conditions, and the efficacy of lightning rods vs prayers and ringing bells vs the Thunderbolts of Heaven.

We live in a world of sufficiently advanced technology, to many people. I refer to Arthur C. Clarke's quote:
"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from Magic"
The scientifically uneducated live in a world filled with magic buttons that turn on lights, magic machines that allow them to watch films, magic, magic everywhere. So why not believe that it's captive demons inside the computer, that ghosts are real, and that the Earth is Flat because their Pastor tells them so.

It's not just the uneducated either: it's the morally and ideologically bankrupt, those who believe in the Triumph of the Will, that there is no such thing as objective fact, only useful and not-useful beliefs. Those who look upon the rest of humanity as legitimate prey, sociopaths.
We affirm that the scientific method is useful in carrying out the creation mandate of Genesis 1:28 to subdue and have dominion over creation when the investigators have Biblical presuppositions and when the Bible does not directly give us the answers we seek; that the use of the scientific method is entirely controlled by the presuppositions of the investigators and therefore the results are a pronouncement of faith rather than of scientific fact;...

We affirm that creatures who have only a spiritual dimension exist, that some serve God faithfully (angels) and others are in active rebellion against God (demons), and that the latter may possess unregenerate persons and oppress or influence regenerate persons. We deny that the Christian counselor may neglect the reality of demons, and that personal problems, organic or non-organic, are never the result of the influence of or possession by demons....

We affirm that all personal problems have their roots in the sin of Adam and Eve; that non-organic (and even many organic) problems are immediately affected by personal selfishness and rebellion against God and His Law, and that man's restraint against worse sin is due primarily to God's common grace and secondarily to the governing structures of conscience, family, state, and society. We deny that these problems may be explained entirely on any other basis; that men are basically "good" (moral); and that any man has within his own knowledge and energy all that he needs to solve his problems.
That's all from The Christian World View of Psychology and Counseling, which I've blogged about before.

They're evil: so they assume that everyone else is too. So to keep them in line, it's necessary to have an Invisible Sky Policeman who chastises the Ungodly with Natural Disasters.

From Martinsville Media
Though he later apologized, Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said Monday that the calamity that hit his country was “tenbatsu,” or divine punishment, for the wickedness of the Japanese people. In some right-wing religious circles, leaders have called the disaster a prophecy about the need for more Japanese to turn to God.

“Because the Japanese people shun God in terms of their faith and follow idol worship, atheism, and materialism, it makes me wonder if this was not God’s warning to them,” Rev. David Yonggi Cho of South Korea’s Yoido Full Gospel Church, considered to be the world’s largest single congregation, told the online newspaper News Mission.
U.S. Christian televangelist Pat Robertson said the 2009 earthquake which rocked Haiti and claimed more than 200,000 lives was because the country was “cursed” after making a “pact to the devil.” In 2005, after Hurricane Katrina slammed New Orleans, Texas mega-church pastor John Hagee said the storm, which left 1,400 dead, was the “judgment of God” for the sins that took place on its streets.
And for some of course, it's all about the money. From World Net Daily:
Tim LaHaye, the best-selling author of the "Left Behind" series of Bible prophecy novels, was one of many visiting the island of Maui who had to be evacuated to upper floors of the Marriott Hotel today.

He said being caught in the crossfire of the fourth largest earthquake in modern history helped prepare him for two prophecy conferences he was scheduled to address in Hawaii.

"The Bible tells us in Matthew 24 that one of the signs of the last days – one of the birth pangs to occur – is an increase in earthquake activity and intensity," LaHaye told WND. "We're seeing that happen here. It's not just earthquakes, but hurricanes and all kinds of natural disasters."
LaHaye, an evangelical pastor, has written more than 60 non-fiction books on a wide range of subjects such as family life, temperaments, sexual adjustment, Bible prophecy, the will of God, Jesus Christ, and secular humanism with over 14 million in print, some of which have been translated into as many as 32 foreign languages.

The books of his "Left Behind" fiction series, co-authored with Jerry B. Jenkins, have broken all publishing records with a total of 80 million in print. Based on the Bible, the apocalyptic thrillers follow the lives of those left behind after the sudden disappearance of millions of believers.
I'll leave with some quotes from Robert A Heinlein:
The profession of shaman has many advantages. It offers high status with a safe livelihood free of work in the dreary, sweaty sense. In most societies it offers legal privileges and immunities not granted to other men. But it is hard to see how a man who has been given a mandate from on High to spread tidings of joy to all mankind can be seriously interested in taking up a collection to pay his salary; it causes one to suspect that the shaman is on the moral level of any other con man. But it is a lovely work if you can stomach it.

It is a truism that almost any sect, cult, or religion will legislate its creed into law if it acquires the political power to do so, and will follow it by suppressing opposition, subverting all education to seize early the minds of the young, and by killing, locking up, or driving underground all heretics.

I contend that the disgusting behavior of many of their alleged 'holy men' relieves us of any intellectual obligation to take the stuff seriously. No amount of sanctimonious rationalization can make such behavior anything but pathological.
In many ways, we're a lot more ruled by superstition than in 1896. Part of that is because Science has shown itself to be perfectly corruptible. The invention of Poison Gas in World War I, the Industrial Death Camps in Nazi Germany..
"If we fail, the whole world will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister and perhaps more prolonged by the lights of a perverted science." — Winston Churchill, June 18, 1940
Yes, we won. But Science was shown to be a very human endeavour - as it is - and thus fallible. Many turn their back on evidence and rationality in search of infallible truth as the result, with horrific consequences.